Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00052
 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: August-October 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: VID00052
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
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    Table of Contents
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Full Text

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Treasures of Jamaican Heritage


Pocket Watch

This 17th century silver pocket
watch is perhaps one of the most
interesting artefacts retrieved during
the underwater excavations con-
ducted by Robert Marx in Port
Royal in 1965-66.

The watch which is two inches in
diameter was recovered intact ex-
cept for the broken crystal cover,
pieces of which were found close
by. It boasts a combination of
Roman and Arabic numerals de-
noting the hour and minute res-
pectively. Engraved clearly on the
face is the maker's surname 'Gibbs'
and the place of manufacture
'London'. Examination of the
back plate revealed the maker's
name 'Aron Gibbs'.

The restoration and preservation of
artefacts excavated from the sunken
city of Port Royal are the primary
tasks of the Port Royal Archaeo-
logical Museum which now occu-
pies the buildings of the old Naval
Hospital. National Library of Jamaica

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

Olive Senior

Assistant Editor
Maxine Patricia McDonnough

Design and Production
Camille Parchment

Support Services
Faith Myers Secretarial
Eton Anderson Accounting
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 postpaid
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. 3 Copyright C 1986 by
Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited.
Cover or contents may not be reproduced in
whole or in part without written permission.

ISSN: 0021-4124

Adrian Boot
stellar artiste Louise Bennett this year
celebrates 50 years as a professional
writer/performer.Barbara Gloudon captures
some of Miss Lou's magic in our story
beginning on page 2. (Photo courtesy
Island Records, London).



Vol. 19 No. 3



by Kenneth Bilby and Elliott Leib

by Swithin Wilmot


by Wendy Shaul and Ann Haynes


by Barbara Gloudon

by Louise Bennett


by Gloria Escoffery

51 BOOKS AND WRITERS. Reviews by G.H. Sidrak and Gloria T. Hull

by Pamela O'Gorman



The Hon. Louise Bennett, O.J.

Fifty Years of Laughter

By Barbara Gloudon

L ouise Bennett computes her
fifty years as an active con-
tributor to Jamaican theatre
and literary arts from the time in 1936
when she performed in an end of term
concert at her alma mater Excelsior
College, where the guest star performer
was one Eric ('Chalk Talk') Coverley.
Coverley a rising impresario at a time
when concerts provided the standard
entertainment was very impressed
with the skinny, 'shine-eye' girl who re-
cited verse in Jamaican dialect.
Recitations in those times were
commonly taken from the English clas-
sic poets with imagery of daffodils,
winter-winds and all that. Few recita-
tions which found their way on to con-
cert programmes were about things Jam-
aican. Even fewer still were in the dialect,
considered then and alas, even now -
as 'talking bad'.
But when Louise Bennett did her
verse, it was in dialect, it was vibrant
and it was Jamaican. Mr Coverley invited
her dependent on her mother's
approval to perform on that year's
Christmas morning concert, at Coke
Hall, and she did. She received her first

professional fee the princely (or is it
queenly?) sum of one guinea. There's
no way of equating the size of that
fee one pound one shilling in to-
day's world where a guinea has become
an historic curiosity and video stars get
paid in units of millions of dollars. But a
guinea was big enough to purchase a
nice pair of shoes at one of the fashion-
able stores of the day which is how
young Miss Louise Bennett celebrated
her entry into the world of professionals,
defined as those who get paid for their
The Coverley concert experience was
later to blossom into one of the Great
Marriages Of Our Time but if Louise
and Eric are to be believed, their first
encounter was more about love of the
arts than of the heart.
Her words tumble out one on top of
the other, like the river pounding over
the rocks below her home at Gordon
Town: 'Me chile, you wouldn't know
what a guinea mean in those days. Only
the big artistes ever got paid that much.'
And he says, face alight with the
memory: 'Granville Campbell, one of
the greatest voices of the Jamaican stage

in this century, for my money, once de-
manded two guineas as his fee for a con-
cert I promoted. I nearly fainted. It was
unheard of.'
And she says: 'That guinea, me chile,
it was something. Up till then, I was per-
forming all over the place, for little and
nothing. Mostly nothing.'
Those performances were of her
verses which were being published in
the Gleaner, in the days when Michael
DeCordova was editor. Nothing like
those poems had been seen before and
each Sunday, when they appeared in the
Gleaner, people in town and country
rushed to get that week's read of what
Miss Louise Bennett was saying. And
what she was saying was what was occur-
ring each day in the lives of the ordin-
ary people their capacity to 'tek bad
sinting mek laugh', to 'tek kin teet kib-
ber bun heart'; in other words, to
laugh at their problems, to see the best
in the worst.
Louise wrote about anything and
everything, 'so till I even wrote a poem
which landed me in the courthouse'.
She laughs now, but it couldn't have



THE EARLY YEARS: A teenage Louise (13-
years-old) strikes a pose identical to that struck
earlier by her beloved mother Kerene (top,
right). Below, a fairly slim Louise caught in an
early pantomime and at right, at the Village
Vanguard where she was billed as 'Lady Louise
Bennett of Jamaica Famous Calypso Singer:
The maracas player is Eric Coverley. Louise
Bennett's New York sojourn was tohave a pro-
found impact on international folk music
since it was from her that composer-arranger
Irving Burgie learnt many Jamaican folk songs
that were later popularized by Harry Belafonte.
(See Islands p. 13 this issue).

been funny then. She had just compiled
the first volume of her writings. Enthu-
siastic and inexperienced, she didn't
read the fine print in the publisher's
contract. Not only had she signed away
the rights to that volume and all future
works, but she found herself served with
a summons for non-payment for copies
of the book which she had assumed
were part of the payment for her ef-
forts. Enraged at the injustice, she
dashed off a poem titled "Old Puss". It
appeared in the Gleaner. She called no
name in the poem but the publisher
chose to be identified with the matter.
He brought suit against her and the
Gleaner. Persons adept at reading be-
tween the lines came to their own con-
clusions also about the Aged Feline re-
ferred to in the poem. The matter arous-
ed wide public interest. The day of the
case, crowds gathered at Sutton Street
court, to cheer their heroine.
'Actually, some of them were hop-
ing I would have to read the poem in
court. Well, just as we were getting ready
to begin the Ashenheims representing
the Gleaner, Manton and Hart represent-
ing me it was announced that the
gentleman who had brought the case
had decided not to go any further with
the matter.'
The crowds were disappointed. "Old
Puss" was not read in court that day or
any other day. Case dismissed. To cele-
brate, Louise was taken to lunch by an
old family friend and schoolmate from
St. Simon's College Sam Carter, then
an employee in the civil service, now
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kingston.
Louise takes pride in some of the
long friendships which have sustained
her over the years including the Carter
family's love and caring. She was at
school not only with Sam but also with
his sister Mary, now a medical doctor.
An incident in the Carter house, then
located on Hagley Park Road, where
Louise and others in theatre spent many
days of laughter and camaraderie, is im-
mortalised in the poem "Roas' Turkey".
Miss Marie's bird which met its un-
timely end in confrontation with a dog,
was very much a part of the Carter
yard. Louise was there the day of the
showdown. In those days, she let nothing

escape her wit and her pen and she
wrote the turkey's death straight into
Jamaican history. Today, this poem is
recited with much gusto at speech
festivals all over the island, often by
youngsters whose parents were not even
born when Miss Marie's turkey took one
look at 'the dawg', dropped dead and
brought anticipation of a festive meal.

But back to the first book. As a re-
sult of the legal debate, the fine print
in the publisher's contract was read by
legal minds, found to be unjust and of-
fensive and was duly made void, leaving
Louise free to write other books and en-
gage in contracts with other publishers
over the years.
We returned to the story of fees in
the old days. 'You know how many
performances I did for little and nutten
S. .mainly nutten'? Louise asked. In
those days, there was much community
effort. People worked together to build
community centres, church halls and
so on. Concerts were a popular way of
entertaining and fund-raising. There was
no radio and no TV, so people enter-
tained themselves. 'When I began to
write my poems, I wanted them to
reach the people who inspired them. I
wanted them read. My mother en-
couraged that. She said that even if I
didn't get paid for writing, I should let
people hear the work. That is why I
would perform for little or nothing.'
In such a situation, the 'advantage
takers' were legion. 'You know how
many times I performed for nothing
more than the privilege of the car drive
and some aerated water', she said with
wry amusement.
She told of one day in which she
gave four performances in Kingston,
in Spanish Town, then on to Porus and
back to Spanish Town before the day
ended. Not a farthing did she receive
and yet, she did not complain.
There were occasions though, when
she did get paid and paid the conse-
quences. A particular story she tells sug-
gests that her performing career really
began long before she earned the guinea
at Mr Coverley's Christmas morning
'When I was little, one of the places

we lived was at North Parade, to the
west of the Ward Theatre. In those days,
the park (now St William Grant Park)
was the centre of everything. The gates
used to be opened at six in the morning
and closed promptly at nine every night.
As children, we used to play there every
afternoon after school.
'Every morning my grandmother, Mee
Mee, would send me with a quattie
(penny ha' penny) to buy the Gleaner. I
must have been around six or seven years
old at the time. Coming back home with
the paper, I used to stop and sit down
on a bench in the park, "cut mi ten" and
read. Of course, I couldn't read half of
what was written but nuff big people
around couldn't read either. They were
surprised to see a "lickle gal", as they
called me, reading the paper and so they
used to gather round. They make all
kind of remark about how I bright.
When I read enough and cause plenty
excitement, I would go home and Mee
Mee would always ask what took me so
long. If she did ever know ..! '
That wasn't the child Louise's only
moment of playing to the gallery at
North Parade:
'Near where we lived, the Salvation
Army used to have the school for the
blind. It was in a building with a high
staircase. One day, I decided to go up
to the top of the step and do some reci-
tation . '

Here she backtracked to tell about
her cousins. Although she was an only
child she was not, she says, a lonely
child. Her mother's home was always
filled with assorted cousins and cousins
of cousins. Besides, they often lived in
shared premises the good old Kingston
yard. One of the cousins was nine years
older than Louise who was known to
one and all then by the 'pet name' of
Bibsie. That cousin Eura used to
come home from school and recite
poetry learned in classes sonorous,
Victorian verses about men in search of
El Dorado, of broken love and dreams
shrouded in twilight, of knights and fair
damsels in distress and all that. Bibsie
had a photographic memory and with
apparently little effort, came to know
all the verses by heart. In an era when

MISS LOU AND PEOPLE: Wherever Louise
Bennett goes, a crowd gathers. On Indepen-
dence Day in 1962, she just went out, she siad
to buy some pork from a man when... (top).
At centre left) she and Ranny Williams are
greeted backstage by Lady Allan (right) with
Faith D'Aguilar in a Jamaica Tourist Board
promotion. Below (right) in a memorable
scene from an LTM pantomime. She was a
leading light in pantomime for over 30 years.
During a London concert (below) she is joined
onstage by dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Miss Lou is regarded by the dub poets as the
first dubberr'.

the ability to recite was highly prized,
no wonder Bibsie was regarded as a
child wonder in the yard.
She had another cousin named Fatty.
'If anything she was mawgerer than
me and you better believe I was very
mawger' says Louise who is not noted
for being 'mawger' today. 'Anyway, you
know how Jamaica people stay. We
call you the opposite of what you are.
So my cousin's nickname was Fatty
although she was anything but fat.'
'Fatty' was part of the gang which
used to play in the park. They were
charged with reaching home by a certain
time each afternoon or facing the com-
bined wrath of mother and grandmother.
The two good ladies were skilled dress-
makers. Louise's mother (fondly known
as Kirrie) had a foot machine and grand-
mother (Mee Mee) had a hand machine.
'Well, me dear, one afternoon, me
mother and me grandmother were at
home sewing. I get it into my head to
climb up on the Blind School steps and
start reciting "El Dorado" or one of
them poem that Eura bring home. Next
thing we know, people gather round and
start clap like is concert. Then Fatty she
get bold and she loop up her frock into
a kind of basket and go round the
crowd collecting. People drop farthing
and ha'penny so tell we get about two
pence ha'penny. When I done perform
and come down off the step, me and
Fatty go buy pinda cake and coconut
drops and such things for candy woman
and peanut man were right there at the
Fatty and Bibsie made their way
home, no doubt with the roar of the
crowd in their ears. The smell of the
greasepaint of theatre legend might have
been missing, but the odour of freshly
roasted pinda (peanuts) and sweet boil-
ed coconut and sugar certainly compen-
The crowd kept asking for more, so
the girls returned to their concert stage
at the top of the Blind School steps for
other performances. Then one after-
'There was a lady who used to come
to my mother's to get her dresses made.

This particular afternoon she was on her
way to collect her dress when she saw
me performing on the top of the steps.
Next thing I know, she drape me up in
one hand and drape up Fatty inthe
other. As she dragged us home, people
began jeering and telling her what a
wicked old woman she was, to ill-treat
two nice little pickney.
'By the time we get home and she
tell my mother and grandmother all
kinds of things about us, not the least of
which was how Fatty was immodest
enough to loop up her dress in a way
so that her underwear showed .. well,
that was the end of my performing career,
for the time being at least. Me and my
impressario Fatty had to be content
thereafter with just playing in the park
and no pinda and no grater cake.'
But the stage and Louise Bennett
were destined for each other. As she
searched her memory for recollections
of her formative years and this thirst
to perform, to act, she recalled some-
one who made a very early impression
on her, as to the value of self-expres-
Boysie lived in the same yard as she
did at East Street. He was a precocious
youngster, not the least bit intimidated
by the fact that he had a 'liss tongue'
(known in other cultures as a lisp) nor
was he worried that his English was far
from perfect, earning him reprimands
about 'speaking properly'.
Anyway, says Louise, Boysie was
once sent 'to the country' to spend
some time.
'I bet you can't tell me where the
country was?'
I came up with Clarendon? St.
James? Portland? . and other rural
places. Louise laughed.
'Beechwood Avenue. Yes me dear.
Compared to East Street, in those days,
Beechwood Avenue was country. Any-
way, it seemed to have made a great im-
pression on Boysie for when he came
back to the yard, he asked me to write a
letter for him, to the people he had spent
time with. He was very precise about
what he wanted to say. He instructed
me, more than once: "Mek sure yuh

write it dung, same like me say". '
So he dictated and she wrote ..
and over fifty years later, the words
tripped off her tongue, with a life and a
rhythm of their own. Boysie's com-
munication ran:

Dear Godfather and Godmother
Cane, socks, Merry Christmas
Love fe all de gal dem and some
plenty book
Tanks fe how yuh treat me good
Me wi send some banana fe dawg
Cat and dawg and Godfather,
Dem tief any more a Godfather
Tell Mitchell bwoy dem howdy-do
And tell dem fe come outa
Godfather buggy
Me and Mama have plenty good
De whole a oonu fe come have it

When Louise recited it, Boysie's let-
ter rang with urgency and earnestness.
Above all, it had a rhythm. Maybe this
is why Louise has never forgotten it.
It could also be because every two
lines, Boysie would stop and ask, 'Yuh
writey dung same like me say?' 'And I
really writey dung', says Louise.
Boysie was later to star in an ill-
fated attempt by Louise and friends to
stage The Sleeping Beauty. Boysie was
assigned to say the critical line 'I am lost
in the woods'. He was warned to 'talk
good'. But alas . despite repeated re-
hearsal, the line came out 'Me larse inna
de hood'. He rehearsed, alternating the
dreaded 'Me larse inna de hood' with
the good-talk 'I am lost in the woods'.
And it came to pass, as they say, that on
the night of the performance with the
yard full, Boysie at the crucial moment,
declaimed, 'Me larse inna de hood'.

Howling with glee at the memory,
Louise recalled how one 'delicate'young-
ster who was ashamed of Boysie's
'bad talk', fled in tears from the scene
while the yard audience cracked up.

have been heaped on Miss Lou, including
an honorary doctorate from the University
of the West Indies (top). But the most re-
warding feature of her life has been her part-
nership with Eric Coverley (right) solemnised
in marriage (below).

When Louise laughs at memories like
these, there is no malice in her amuse-
ment. Malice is not a word anyone asso-
ciates with her, not even in the theatre
where generosity of spirit can be in
exceedingly short supply. In the history
of the LTM National Pantomime,
from the time when she performed in
the first Jamaican-production, Soliday
and the Wicked Bird in 1943 to The
Witch in 1975 when she decided to step
back from that phase of her life in thea-
tre, everyone who has worked with her
remembers her generosity of spirit over
those 32 years.
That generosity has not always been
rewarded. There are impresarios who
have 'carried her down', reneged on
agreements. Remind her of it and you
find she has released them long ago:

'Cho. Me leave dem to God yuh hear.'
She'd much rather talk about the
wealth of love and caring which has
been shown to her by countless persons
at home and abroad. To travel on the
road with her in Jamaica is an experi-
ence in itself. As her car pauses at a traf-
fic light and she is recognized, the cry
goes up:
'Miss Lou. See Miss Lou deh.'

She waves, regal, smiling. She is hap-
piest when the greetings come from
children. Many of them remember her
from those exciting Saturday mornings
on the television show "Ring Ding".
The show had its share of behind-the-
scenes events, sometimes even more
interesting than on camera. Few things
cause Miss Lou displeasure. One which
does is indecent language. Persons who
know her well can attest that if she is
telling a story and there is a 'bad wud'
involved, she will go to any length to
avoid saying it. When she comes into
direct contact with indecent language,
worst of all from a young person, her
brow knits in disapproval. She tells the
story of a seemingly sweet little girl who
came to perform on "Ring Ding". Miss
Lou was quite pleased with what she
had chosen to perform. It was one of
the rhymes she herself knew from her
youth. But her youth and the little girl's
apparently were not the same. When the

dear child came to present her offering,
live on the air, the final line was no
utterance of childhood innocence. It
reverberated in all its four-letter stark-
'The word came right out of her
mouth and I couldn't do a thing about
it except bawl out to everybody "Clap
her. Clap her". That is what we used to
say to take off the performers at the
end of their turn. And just in case any-
body had heard what I heard, I repeated
the verse, using the words which I knew
as a child. Afterwards I called the little
girl and asked her why she had said the
verse that way. She said somebody in
her yard told her to do it. It made me
very sad to think that an adult would
manipulate a child that way.'
Louise's love for children is legen-
dary. Although she has no 'birth-
children' of her own, she has been a
loving and caring mother for several,
from babyhood to adulthood. She has
a collection of beautiful daughters who
now live in Chicago. One made her a
proud grand-parent recently. She had
three lusty grand-sons before that, by
way of her 'big son' Fabian, who lives
with his family in Toronto. She is
'goddy' god-mother to many others.
The mother of one recalls Louise arriving
from a trip triumphantly bearing a set
of beautiful baby things for her newest
god-daughter. Her enthusiasm waned a
bit when she found that the garments
couldn't fit the baby. Reason? The baby
things were size 'petite'. They were so
little and dolly-sized that Louise couldn't
resist buying them. However, the baby
had long grown past the dolly stage.
'Lawks and she was so little and so
cute', says Louise. It was at that same
baby's christening that Louise and the
other god-mother vied to see who was
better at holding a baby properly.
Lucky is the child who has Louise
as god-mother. She gives all her child-
ren imaginative gifts accompanied by
colourful cards inscribed with unique
good wishes in Jamaica talk e.g. "Walk
good and good spirit walk wid yuh'.
She often invokes the love of God
in her sharing with friends and family,
for her belief in the Almighty is

strong. The Coverley family has been
staunch in the Methodist Communion
over the years, worshipping mainly at
Coke Church. Louise's mother was of
the Roman Catholic faith. In the
household where they all lived happily
for many years until first Louise's much-
loved mother passed away and then
Eric's, diversity of religion created no
disharmony. They lived as one in
The Coverley family home has
been one to which persons feel privi-
leged to be invited, for the love and laugh-
ter found there make every visit special.
For many years, the Coverley New
Year's Eve party was legendary. A fea-
ture of the annual fete was the music
of the Gordon Town mento band. As
usual, no occasion of that nature was
without 'pop sport'. Like the time
when, at midnight, the band produced
the hymn "Now the day is over", a tune
more associated with funerals and other
solemn occasions than with midnight
revelry when Auld Lang Syne was ex-
Those New Year's Eve parties took
place around a fire blazing in the fire-
place of the old stone and timber house,
for New Year's Eves in Gordon Town
can be cool enough for a winter cere-
mony. When the midnight hour struck,
Louise and Eric would lead the whole
assembly in the formation of the circle
of friendship while Auld Lang Syne was
sung to a rocking mento beat. Then she
would insist that everyone should pro-
ceed to 'do the ting right and proper' by
touching the lips with a piece of pork -
roasted or jerk, but always spicy, in the
best Jamaican seasoning.
As the family circle narrowed, the
New Year's Eve parties were scaled
down. In more recent times the ritual
has become more private. A few good
friends still find their way to her 'fire-
side' to share their hopes for another
She travels widely these days -
throughout North America, Britain, etc.
Everywhere she goes, the reception is
the same an outpouring of love and
respect, not only for her talents but the
warmth of her personality. In the course

:40 AOlllI~l~:nml


of a month, she was honoured by West
Indian community leaders in Chicago
and Toronto, among other places. Her
home abounds with commemorative
plaques, scrolls and other badges of hon-
our. Amid all this, she remains the same
modest, down to earth person. Does a
Louise Bennett ever get depressed, un-
able to laugh?
Put the question to her and she res-
ponds: 'Ah me chile. I learn so much
from my mother, you see. She used to
say to me, "Bibsie whatever happen,
you give thanks. Give thanks for all that
you are blessed with. And when you
give thanks for everything and to every-
one, remember, give thanks to God." I
always remember her words, so even if
I'm depressed, it is not for long.' 'Cover-
ley' agrees. Louise calls her husband
various names. Sometimes, Rico. Oc-
casionally, Eric. Most often 'Coverley'.
It is a word imbued with 32 years of
love and devotion. On her anniversary
this year, she claims that she forgot the
date. 'Coverley' went into the garden and
came back with one perfect rose. He
claims also that he had 'forgotten the
date'. Then when they both 'remember-
ed', the rose had special significance, ac-
cording to them.
'Tell that the birds', says someone
close to them.' He'd no more forget that
date than anything else. They're too
special to each other....'

Tell that to Louise and she giggles,
like a young girl and says 'Yuh see you?
Yuh can gwan ....'
Over the mantlepiece at Gordon
Town there's a picture of them on their
wedding day. They were married in New
York and lived in the Big Apple for a
while. Those were the days of 'mince'.
'Ahh me chile. When we just got
married, money was tight, so I learn to
cook mince every possible way. Poor
Coverley had the job of going to the
store every day for the mince. One day
he came home hopping mad. When I
asked him why, he said as soon as he
reached the door of the store, the man
behind the counter called out "Mince,
sir?" Remember that Coverley?'
'Of course, I remember! How could I

forget. Pretty embarrassing. I vowed
never to go back to that store. Imagine
how I feel, with all the people looking
at me . "mince, sir .. mince". '

Both 'crack up' with laughter and
Thirty-two years of marriage; fifty
years of a theatrical life together; the
stuff of which legends are made.

7 September 1919), O.J., M.B.E., D. Litt
(U.W.I.); numerous other local and inter-
national awards and honours including
the Norman Manley Award for Excellence,
1972. Miss Lou's remarkable career spans a
multitude of activities other than those record-
ed in Barbara Gloudon's interview.
For many years she taught drama, first at
Excelsior her alma mater, then for Jamaica
Welfare. For some six years she criss-crossed
the island on their behalf, helping Jamaicans
to express their identity and cultural heri-
tage through drama.
Then there are her broadcasting activities.
Her entry into this medium started with
"Caribbean Carnival", a BBC live radio show
which dealt with West Indians in London;she
became resident artiste on this show while
still a drama student at RADA. During a
second sojourn in London in the 1940s, she
compared 'West Indian Guest Night" which
introduced budding West Indian talent which
flowered later into 'big names' such as Cy
Grant and Winnifred Atwell. Her radio pro-
grammes in Jamaica included "Laugh With
Louise", "Calling Miss Lou", (RJR) and "Miss
Lou's Views" which stayed on the air for
fifteen years (1966-82), starting at RJR,
ending up at JBC. And of course there was the
unforgettable "Lou and Ranny" show which
teamed her with fellow comedian, folklorist
and friend Ranny Williams, also her partner
for many years in the annual national LTM
Pantomime, and on stage shows.

Miss Lou's association with the LTM started
with the first Jamaican pantomime in 1943
and continued unbroken until 1971 when she
announced her retirement. She came back in
1973 for a revival of Queenie's Daughter, her
favourite, but starred in her last pantomime in
1975. Her many other excursions in theatre
have ranged widely, including Shakespeare.

She has also been featured in many films; per-
haps her biggest role was in Calypso made in
Haiti and Puerto Rico; her latest role was in
Club Paradise which was filmed in Jamaica
last year and recently released.

She has also been the subject of a JIS feature
film, The Honourable Miss Lou.


Jamaica Folk Songs, New York: Folkways
Records and Service Corporation FP 6846,
Children's Jamaican Songs and Games, New
York: Folkways Records and Service Corpo-
ration FC 7250, 1957.
Listen To Louise, Kingston: Federal Records
Manufacturing Co. Ltd., 212
Anancy Stories, Kingston: Federal Records
Manufacturing Co. Ltd., 129
Miss Lou's Views, Kingston: Federal Records
Manufacturing Co. Ltd., 204,
Carifesta Ring-Ding, Kingston: Record Special-

The Honorable Miss Lou, Kingston: Boonoon-
oonoos LB, 1981.
"Yes M' Dear" Miss Lou Live, Kingston:
Imani Music, Island Records, c. 1982.



Verses, compiled and published by
R. Bowen, Kingston: Herald Ltd.,

Jamaican Humour in Dialect, Kingston: Jam-
aica Press Association, 1943.
Anancy Stories and Poems in Dialect Verse,
Kingston: Gleaner Co. Ltd., 1944.
Jamaica Dialect Poems, Kingston: Gleaner Co.
Ltd., 1948.
M's' Lulu Sez: A Collection of Dialect Poems,
Kingston Gleaner Co. Ltd., 1949.
Anancy Stories and Dialect Verse, co-author-
ed by Una Wilson, Dorothy Clarke and others,
Kingston: Gleaner Co. Ltd., 1949.
Lulu Says, Dialect Verses with Glossary,
Kingston:Gleaner Co. Ltd., 1952.
Anancy Stories and Dialect Verse, Kingston:
Pioneer Press, 1957.

Laugh with Louise, Kingston: City Printery,
c. 1961.
Jamaica Labrish, Kingston: Sangster's Book
Store, 1966.
Anancy and Miss Lou, Kingston: Sangster's
Book Store, 1979.
Selected Poems, Kingston: Sangster's Book
Store, 1982.


by Louise Bennett

Lawks is fifty 'ears a 'ready!
Lawks me glad me live fe si
Me and me Jamma Culture
Ketch Golden Jubilee

An' Dubbers dah dub poetry
Eena we Jamma talk!
An' Movies dah show movin'-Pickcha
Eena Jamma talk!

Jamma talk gawn eena Dictionary,
Gawn a University!
Edication dah teck Jamma talk
So meck College degree!

An' me fling back me remembrance
To ole-time days gawn by
W'en me teck kin-teet keiba heart-bu'n
Fe dry cry outa me y'eye.

For Jamma talk was less-counted,
Low-rated, poppishow.
But now, Jamma talk tun "Culture"
An' Jamma Culture dah flow -

Eena singin', dancin', painting ,
Eena Church an T'eatre show,
Jamma Culture enna "Culture"
Any part a worl' we go!

Mento, Bruckins', Yanga, Shay-shay,
Bessi-dung dah sweeten Reggeh!
An' what ole-time smady use to sey
Meck young smady feel proud today.

We ole-generation duppy dem
Jumpin' duppy-jamboree
Wen dem se how now-a-days time
Jamma Culture leggo free!

Tengad fe fifty fruitful 'ears,
Tengad me live fe se
Me and me Jamma Culture
Ketch Golden Jubilee!


Jamaica's national cultural institution was
founded r. 1879. Its moai func.orns are to
foster and encourage the 'development of
culture, scenrte and-hisfiy in the national
interest. II ope[aies as a silautory bode un-
der the nstitle of Jamaica: Act 1978 and
falls under ri2l'lortfol.o ot ihe Prme
The Instilule's central decilon.makLnrg body
is the C:-.nlrI which is appolnled b, the
Minister. The CouncI constss o j .d...jduals
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 Moll 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


I -


Barbara Gloudon, well known journalist and communi-
cations consultant is one of the hosts of the popular
radio call-in programmes "Hotline". Mrs Gloudon has
also authored seven pantomimes. Her previous con-
tributions to Jamaica Journal include "Twenty Years
of Theatre" [No. 46], and an interview with the Hon.
Lady Bustamante, O.J. [17:4].

Shirley Maynier Burke, artist, broadcaster, writer, and
editor, has published extensively on arts and public
affairs. A pioneer of JBC open line broadcasting in
1971, she has appeared on local and BBC Open Uni-
versity Television, acting as liaison for BBC producers.
A former editor of Jamaica Journal, Mrs. Burke is pre-
sently working on Dr Wesley Powell's history of

Kenneth Bilby is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department
of Anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University. He
has conducted field research in New Mexico, Sierra
Leone, and Jamaica, published articles in academic
journals, made a number of ethnomusicological phono-
graph recordings, and produced (with Jefferson Miller)
a documentary film about the Jamaican Maroons,
Capital of Earth. He is currently carrying out research
among the Aluku (Boni) Maroons of French Guiana.

Elliott Leib is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of
Anthropology at Yale University, and is currently com-
pleting his doctoral thesis, "Ethiopia Risen: Rastafari
religion and Afro-American anthropology". He has pro-
duced (with Renee Romano) two ethnographic pro-
grammes on Rastafari in Jamaica, Rastafari Voices
(1978, 16 m.m.) and Rastafari : Conversations Con-
cerning Woman (1985, 3/4" video).

Wendy Rudick Shaul is a free-lance writer and illus-
trator. On a two year assignment to Jamaica as a United
States peace corps volunteer, she works at the Natural
History Division of the Institute of Jamaica as an assist-
ant education officer and consultant in museographics.

Ann Haynes is acting chief of the ecology branch of
the Natural Resources Conservation Division and has
been actively involved in wild life conservation for
many years. She has a special interest in ornothology
and has been studying the Morant Cay terns. She is
president of the Natural History Society of Jamaica.

Swithin Wilmot is a lecturer in the Department of
History, University of the West Indies, Mona. His pre-
vious contribution to Jamaica Journal "Not 'Full
Free': The Ex-Slaves and the Apprenticeship System in
Jamaica" [17:3] reflects his special area of interest:
the society and politics of the post-emancipation period.








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Shirley Maynier Burke: The first
thing that struck me was the music
for your Islands. It was satirical,
wasn't it? Though later on I did see
interpretive chronology and social his-
tory. Can we come to it first from the

Rex Nettleford:, Well, I will tell
you the story. The Royal Phil-
harmonic Orchestra of London
had done these recordings of Caribbean
songs, and a studio tape had been sent
to the original arranger/composer, Irving
Burgie, who selected four pieces and
sent them to me. I was struck by the
integration of the music and quite im-
pressed; impressed because it seemed to
confirm something that I have been noti-
cing for some time now that Europe
was, in a funny sort of way, making an
effort to understand the periphery in
our terms. I felt that whoever arranged
the music for that symphonic rendition,
did try to understand the rhythmic and
melodic contours of Caribbean tradition-
al music, and to present something which
would be as true to the original as was
possible. This was a far cry from Arthur
Benjamin's Jamaica Rhumba,1 which
was just laughable.

In this symphonic treatment by the
RPO, there was something thatwas right.
Although I remember not taking too
readily to Harry Belafonte's actual
yodelling of "Day me seh day, me seh
day ... ."2 nevertheless the symphonic
use of the French horn in imitation here
is haunting and quite beautiful, follow-
ed by the full orchestra picking up the
strict rhythms. I wrote to Irving Burgie
to say how impressed I was with the
seriousness of the effort, the musician-
ship, the overall approach it was not
simply something exotic that they were
playing around with. Soon after I saw Irv-
ing in New York and confessed that I
had taken the liberty to choreograph
one of the pieces, and he said 'Well that's
why I sent it to you'. The coast was
clear, and I proceeded.

But back to the music itself: you are
quite right about the satire satire in
the best sense understatements and
overstatements, efforts to catch what I
suppose is the English ideal of a tropical
environment. We get cascading water-
falls and what have you. In working out
the scenario I took the touristy image
into account, but we can come back to
that later.
Tell me about the chronology from

"Day-O" to "Dolly Dawn", how the
order relates to the symbolism of the
musical offerings.
Well, that's not the order on the record
which has since been released in Eng-
land.3 The re-ordering was done to en-
sure some sort of congruence in getting
my ideas across. For the manipulation
of sociological symbols, if you like, is
very evident here. Some very important
statements are being made, really the
migration phenomenon to begin with;
people yearning to come back home be-
cause of the particular kind of alienation
they suffer wherever they might have
settled. Our metropolitan contact has
been a long-time one, the colonial ex-
perience, the syndrome of dependency,
we being periphery to some centre...
But we extol the virtues of the metro-
politan exile when we return home ...
Oh undoubtedly! There is of course that
whole Maroon phenomenon that is,
our being fugitives and at the same time
guerillas preying on the turf from which
we have fled. There is, too, the ambiva-
lence in our response to the periphery
we have left. For while there is all that
talk about us being 'paradise and a fun-
loving people', we lament. There is in
fact a lot to cry about .. so the dance

begins with the West Indian, or if you
like, Caribbean, or Jamaican being in the
metropole, yearning to come back.
"Day Dah Light and Me Waan Go
Home" is shifted from any banana
port perhaps Port Antonio or Ora-
cabessa to New York or London;
and there is that yearning to come
back. Perhaps not a physical return so
much as a yearning to make psychic
contact once more with roots. Perhaps
the dance-work is crafted from the point
of view of the Caribbean migrant, the
Jamaican say, living abroad.
I was also very conscious of what is hap-
pening to the first generation of Black
Britons. It is interesting that while many
people here, in seeking an ancestral back-
ground, look to the Old Worlds of
Europe and Africa, these youngsters in
Britain are looking to the Caribbean for
their ancestral connection. Which is a
very complex matter, and a very telling
thing. In Orlando Patterson's Slavery
and Social Death4 which I was reading
recently, he speaks about 'natal alien-
ation' being at the heart of slavery -
the deprivation of any roots, of any
sense of being born, the trauma of being
a non-person, a person not organically
attached to any soil. It was that ances-
tral yearning that informed my feelings
about that first piece of music in a
strange sort of way ...

The next piece in sequence was "Haiti
Cherie"5 also nostalgic, (and which
I understand Haitians cry over when
they sing). This immediately conjured
up religion, our rite de passage, or as
Brathwaite would pointedly pun, our
'right of passage'.

The shepherd figure, the red wrappings
and the figures and symbols borne
aloft ...

Yes the icon of the shepherd, the
shango priest, the houngan if you will
This is the one thing that all our people
in the Caribbean are able to identify
with, to appeal to. He is introduced on
those rather self-consciously 'orchestral'
passages of music the big, grand, bel-
lowing fortissimo . I thought of cut-
ting out that bit of music, but on re-
flection it seemed imprudent to inter-
fere with it; and in any case our people
are quite game for big, grand, bellowing
fortissimo moments; it formed a bridge
to introduce the indigenous icons. The
secular noise of the metropole precedes
the more tranquil promises of religious
faith forged in Caribbean realities. The
veve symbols found on the floor of voo-

doo temples are hoisted alongside the
priest-figure. The scene conjures up all
sorts of other things. The red wrapping
reminds us of spreading the Table in
Pukkumina and Revival, of the river
flowing and the waterspirit, of the line
'Wash me in the blood of the Lamb',
and of Damballah the snakegod. All this
establishes, or offers, a sense of place,
of purpose to existence; it serves to
restore, or reconfirm if you like, the
natal legitimacy of a people.
Then we break into "Hosanna, Me Buil'
Me House" a kind of readjustment
though still with a religious feeling; for
religion is a part of everyday living -
building our house, building our
country, building our society. The
use of three male figures makes a strong
masculine emphasis on movement just
movement the energy and vigour of
Caribbean existence. (Of course this
refers to what I would like to see, not
what is necessarily always so . ). A
statement is being made: 'We have to
produce, we have to do'. Having said
that, the scene is deliberately shifted to
that other view of the Caribbean the
'paradise', because you have to admit
that in the minds of millions of people
all over the world, we have perpetuated
the myth that this lopsided place is a

Or the myth has been perpetuated as a
tourist marketing strategy, or as a con-
Well you know the tune "Jamaica Way"6
-'Down the way where the nights are
gay, and the sun shines brightly on the
mountain-tops'. That song has become
almost a signature-tune to every Carib-
bean tourist resort. Itsuited my purpose;
it brought back the pis-elegance of our
own people playing at being middle-class,
as well as the foreigners coming to have
fun with the sun and the beach. We try
to get the costume right for what is a
somewhat pis-elegant dance with folksy
underpinnings. Definitely satirical! Even
the fellows at the end, arms outstretched
like so many Albrechts in pursuit of
their tropical Giselles. In dance terms
many people should understand this.
Lord, how we imitate others to be what
we aren't!
Juxtaposed to this is the "Yellow Bird"
sequence. The hauntingly beautiful
Haitian song "Chacoune" has long be-
come the ever-popular "Yellow Bird", a
kind of Hollywoodised rendition which
is tiresomely banal to some Caribbean
ears. The somewhat vulgarish cabaret-
turn is intended to be glitzy although I

did settle for the understatement, and
deliberately so, in order to maintain
contact with ourselves despite Holly-
wood. Hence the Caribbean folkloric per-
ceptions of the macho male, the snake-in-
the-grass, unfaithful, sweet-mouth fel-
low (Damballah again?) and all that.
The male partner in the duet exists on a
strong diagonal using splits and a rip-
pling snakelike movement through the
spine ...

The sharp change of scene after this
may be a bit off-putting to some, but
this is the one moment when a deli-
berate change was made from the light-
hearted indulgence to something on the
other side of paradise (to borrow from
the title of a recent study on the afflic-
tions of Caribbean contemporary life).7
We hear the lament "Liza" 'evry time
me memba Liza, wata come a mi yeye'.
Dancers are brought on to look at the
departing figures in consternation if you
like, as if to say 'this is not us, this
mustn't be us'. Costume-wise we com-
promised to catch something of the
psychic inheritance of the region the
long dresses hark back to our slave back-
ground and the plantation figures move
with the langourous gait of the oppres-
sed in lamentation. Redemption and
hope come through religion, so the
religious leader returns decked in red
wrapping, to join the lament, and to
soothe rather than to project the easy
way out by leaving everything to God.

The sequence is danced in what we call
canon, to portray the different views or
time-frames of consciousness-raising
among different people. The exit of the
dancers is anxious and even abrupt. But
there is no gap. Life goes on. There is an
overlap visually between the former
group and another group of dancers
now stripped of dresses and decked out
in unitards which emphasise the line of
the body sense of form. We are 'be-
I concentrated on the intent of the
statement I really wanted to make. You
will recall, in this sequence the bodies
were always linking together and draw-
ing apart, as though there isa force which
is pulling them now together, now
apart. In the end they had no choice;
they just had to link. I am making a
statement quite simply, if we don't hang
together, we will hang separately . .
this is the section I used to call "Is-
lands" when I started to choreograph
the work. There is the affirmative of
faith in some kind of regional family
perhaps. Whether we like it or not we

are closely linked by history and
circumstances, by culture.
This pulling apart and together is
thought of in political or geo-political
terms, but might it not be that the un-
breakable Anglophone link is mutual
isolation of language in an Hispanic
area? This isolation is brought into fo-
cus by some international regional
groupings. We are tied by specific Com-
monwealth links notably cricket -
totally incomprehensible elsewhere in
this hemisphere.
Despite the differences in language, all
the Caribbean share underlying unities,
as the late Eric Williams understood so
well. The French Antilles which gave us
Cesaire and Fanon have long wanted to
identify with the Anglophone Caribbean.
The Cuba of Fidel Castro is determined
to enter the family, declaring itself Afro-
Latin. Santo Domingo is not averse to
relating I hear, even before the Carib-
bean Basin Initiative, and Haiti has al-
ways been a kind of a dean of the corps
among us. I myself have worked with
the Netherlands Antilles in trade union
education for over 20 years, and the
many Carifestas in Guyana, Jamaica,
Cuba, and Barbados have confirmed
among us all the many things we have
in common ... we are a string of rocks,
limestone rocks, hills and mountains,
yes, but to pick up an image used by
Eddie Brathwaite, we share a life which
is 'submarine'.8 In a mountainous
country like Jamaica, our Maroon his-
tory makes us feel that one usually goes
underground. But to Brathwaite, a
Barbadian and adopted St. Lucian,
more closely attuned to the sea, I sup-
pose life is submarine as well as sub-

The lighting was strongly supportive of
the 'submarine' imagery, from the rising
sun in "Day-O" to the sky-blue, sea-
green shades in the "Islands in the Sun"
and "I Adore Her" sequences.
Well, Rufus MacDonald and George
Carter have to take full credit for that.
They brought their creativity to the
work. Of course there were criticisms:
the stage was too blue, but one wanted
the visuals to be soft on the eye though
not to presume the absence of turmoil
and conflict underneath, and afflictions
in our midst. In fact we made the
changes deliberately imperceptible.
Then there is the imagery of 'the wind-
swept vines' a phrase used in refer-
ence to the NDTC by Washington critic

Alan Kreigsman many years ago to
describe our female dancers. (We had
a lot of tall female dancers in the com-
pany at that time)
The costuming too was effective, going
as it did through several changes. I parti-
cularly liked the hummingbird.
The hummingbird is of course a familiar
icon all over the region, used for ex-
ample as the name of one of Trinidad's
national honours and Air Jamaica's
logo. So we had to be very careful not
to be too literal or too ordinary (at
least one member of the audience told
me that she hated it). Designer Sonia
Vaz was doing her first costuming for
stage, so we had lengthy discussions
on how to avoid pitfalls. Take the use
of red material by the priest-figure. The
choreographer of course wanted his
movements to be seen, but he also want-
ed something that represented a gown, a
head wrap, a ceremonial cloth, Dam-
ballah the snake, and the river which
turns up so often in Caribbean religious
lore. We had to grapple to get on top
of the stereotypes, and at the same
time not to be esoteric with our ab-
But let's look again at the "Island in the
Sun"9 sequence. On one level the music
could be regarded as being very syrupy,
or sentimental romantic. A lot of
people just love it because of this; to
many it is a sort of 'light classic', all
part of the pis-elegant respectability
which has assaulted us in the recent
past. One had to fight against the very
thing, and not be seen as indulging in
what I am known to detest. I was, ad-
mittedly, presented with some serious
tension here.
I think that Islands gained a great deal
from being placed on the programme
between dance works with genuine
traditional music. It gained depth from
the contrast.
Undoubtedly! We usually programme
our concerts that way. In fact I did jux-
taspose it next to Peter Ashbourne's
Puncie. Here is a local composer using
traditional music as a basis for his com-
position. He has all the formal clar-
ity and cleanness of line expected from
a western trained musician. But at the
same time he has been able to stick to
what he is.
But let's get back to Islands. So as not
to stay in the rather solemn mood of
our historical circumstances, I shifted
next to a really satirical light encounter

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Box 421, Tel: 986-2598

between the hummingbird and her three
admiring suitors. It depends on who
dances that bird. Monica McGowan is
petite and unmistakably Afroid, so the
piece becomes a kind of innocent yard-
play. On the other hand, Melanie Graham
who is strongly Caucasian in appearance,
transforms the piece into a satire on the
visiting tourist 'going native' with the
ready assistance of the beachboys. Their
costumes were designed with the Bar-
bados harbour police in mind a real
tourist attraction at that end of the
Caribbean. The entire piece calls up
Caribbean femininity, coquetry, and the
cock-crowing machismo of Caribbean
men, the great 'women-killers'. It was
a relief from the solemnity. You see,
we are sprinters, not long-distance
runners. We can't stay too long with
that heavy mood.

If you stay too long, it hurts too much?

Exactly! the pain has to be assuaged.
Well, West Indian men can't stand pain
you know...

It is fascinating that when you mention
the word 'pain' you are laughing. It says
so much about the protective devices
we build around ourselves, our image
as happy-go-lucky ....

Hence the obvious piece of jollification
which ends the entire dance. Which is
really carnival, because whether you like
it or not, the fete is definitely part of
our life. The fun, the festival, the carni-
val, is used to cover so many sorrows. We
are concerned about the falling dollar,
unemployment, redundancies? Well just
watch how hard we fete at Christmas-
time in Jamaica!
Again one had to fight against the banal
rhythm-line, against being tempted into
the well-known Hollywood Carmen
Miranda samba-line. The full company
enjoyed the piece in rehearsals the
controlled abandon and dynamic
dancing. This encouraged me. We still
have the capacity to enjoy life after a
fashion. That is a kind of survival.
The costuming in the evening scene had
a strong feel of western evening dress.
I wonder if this is a convolution in which
youngsters are becoming what they are
acculturated to be. Another aspect of
this is touched on in an article in yes-
terday's afternoon paper,10 entitled
"Caribbean Tourism the New Colonial-
ism", in which the writer Ben Henry
points out the effects of having market
control in the metropolitan centre. One
of the most embarrassing experiences of

my life is to return to Jamaica through
the Montego Bay airport, and to be
greeted by these little girls, swinging their
skirts as though a penny had been put
into a slot every time a plane touched

I understand your unease about this little
piece of minstrelsy at the Sangster Inter-
national airport. The NDTC is of course
supposed to be an antidote to this sort
of thing, but the poison is sometimes
more persistent than we would like. I
am not sure whether these little girls
believe themselves to be portraying their
traditional culture. There is however one
group in Montego Bay for which I have
a lot of time, and that is the Hatfield
Singers who are genuinely trying, al-
though they are entertaining tourists
and earning an honest living by it, they
are holding on to the ancestral integrity
of the stuff they present. They believe
in who and what they are.

This brings me back to the music of
Islands so familiar to the tourist, but
now coming back to us through two
evolutionary processes as it were. Evo-
lutionary in Irving Burgie and Harry
Belafonte adapting it to a popular U.S.
market, and further adapted by the
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with
their refined if somewhat romanti-
cised -sensibilities and competence. Did
you have a problem with the feel of the

It is unfair to expect a symphony or-
chestra to sound like a mento band. As a
symphonic rendition, Islands is a trans-
lation. If you were to translate Louise
Bennett into French, all we could pre-
sume to expect is a rendition.

As I have said, some of it can be fright-
fully romantic, but what I have done in
choreographing to it, is to re-orchestrate
it using the dancers. The dancers' bodies
become new instruments. We are hear-
ing the drum all the time and we see it
and feel the vibrations through the dan-
cers' bodies.

In other words, you are 'reconstructing'
the music through the dance, so that in
watching you are hearing more than you
would from the music alone, coming
back to the very African concept of hear-
ing the dance and seeing the music.1

Seeing the music and hearing the dance!
That is precisely it. You have hit the
nail on the head. All great dancing any-
where in the world relies on this pheno-
menon for impact. Some people have

wondered about my being drawn to
this music; others said that the dance
in its suite form, without a strong nar-
rative line, lacked the usual hard-hitting
Nettleford message; but that is a mis-
understanding about how varied human
forms of communication can be. Some
of the most profound truths in life can
be said with the greatest levity or in the
simplest of utterances. In any case it is
very Caribbean to assert oneself without
rancour. You know what I mean? You
are standing firm but not needing to
pick up arms to do it. The NDTC is not
unknown for that approach foam-
rubber on the knuckle-duster if you
like. Many a profound message has been
delivered without beating a pan over the
fowl's head to raise the consciousness.
Islands is one of those works; and in any
event, it celebrates an attempt at
serious treatment of our music by an
international symphony orchestra.

There is a parallel in the visual arts,
where serious attention has been paid to
the travelling exhibition mounted by
the Smithsonian Institution and our
own National Gallery.12 It is not as you
say, regarded as an exotic curio. Here
you will find the works of some Jamaican
artists, who having acquired the Euro-
peanised academic form of African
cubism, have infused it with Caribbean
colours and feelings to create something

This is as it ought to be, the whole pro-
cess of cross-fertilisation which we are
experiencing is a dynamic process of
interchange across the Atlantic, which
has actually been going on for half a
millennium. It is a mark of our sophisti-
cation that we can accept this all with-
out too much angst.

When the ex-slaves and descendants of
slaves went back from Bahia to Lagos,
they influenced the architecture in part
of that Nigerian city. Sparrow's music
went back to influence West African
'High Life' music . similarly black
Americans, Latin Americans, and reg-
gae, have gone across to Europe to in-
fluence Europeans. Our songs went
through a process through Irving Burgie
as adapter-arranger and composer. Bela-
fonte as the original performer gave it a
particular stamp, bringing the Caribbean
(and especially Jamaica) to the conscious-
ness of millions all over the world. Burgie
visited his parents' island Barbados and
made contact with Haiti with its ances-
tral mythic attraction for Blacks in

Now the London Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra have taken it to themselves
and it is repatriated back to us again.
Many of these repatriations are unac-
ceptable, even if they come in rather ex-
pensive packaging, because they have
not been true enough to the source. But
there is something in this RPO version
of the Burgie-Belafonte version of the
music of Caribbean people, which be-
trays a serious atte.Ipt to come to
terms with sources. The wheel some-
times comes full circle, or the ripe fruit
fall, and other trees grow.

I hope that this interpretation will be
available to the British-born Blacks,
because the saccharin-sweet European-
ised Caribbean music is exactly what
they might rebel against. They are trying
to be as roots as possible.

The National Dance Theatre Com-
pany will be in England this year as part
of Caribbean Focus. So will a Trinidad
steel band I gather. One hears of the
RPO's interest in playing with a genuine
steelband. I hope it happens. The more
this happens, the more certain the basis
for mutual respect.

The call for a new international econo-
mic order makes little sense without a
new international cultural order. A new
world order implies the whole thing of
an appreciation of the values which
underpin different cultures as well as
of this thing of sharing, which has al-
ways gone on in the world.

I think it would have been disingenuous
of me, and somewhat ungracious, not
to have taken this genuine attempt by
the Royal Philharmonic seriously. In
this sense I suppose I am making a poli-
tical statement. For I want the world
to take our music, our art, seriously -
not as some exotic curio, but as the
genuine outpouring from a Caribbean
that has long revealed more than the
germ of a civilisation in its life and
ways of living .


1. Arrangement of Jamaican folk tune
"Mango Walk" c.1938.
2 Banana Boat (Day-O) Belafonte-Burgess-
Attaway. His Master's Voice F2PB-8702,
London, 78 rpm.
3. Island in the Sun by the Royal Phil-
harmonic Orchestra, arranged and con-
ducted by Larry Ashmore, Cherry Lane
Records 1984.

4. Patterson, Orlando, Slavery and Social
Death A Comparative Study, Harvard
University Press, 1982.
5. Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean (Bela-
fonte-Burgess) RCA Victor, LPM 1505,
Camden, New Jersey.
6. See 2 above (flip side).
7. Barry, Tom; Wood, Beth; Preusch, Deb,
The Other Side of Paradise Foreign
Control in the Caribbean, New York:
Grove Press, 1984.

8. Brathwaite, Edward Kamau, Keynote
address to a Caribbean Dance Seminar,
6 December 1979, at the Jamaica School
of Dance, Cultural Training Centre,
9. See 5 above. (From Daryl F. Zanuck's
Cinemascope production titled Island in
the Sun)
10. Henry, Ben, "Caribbean Tourism, the
new Colonialism", The Star newspaper,
Kingston, 31 October 1985.

11. Source of this is Cheryl Ryman, for-
mer research fellow of the African Carib-
bean Institute of Jamaica, who credits it
to Professor Bertie Opoku, founder and
first director of the Ghanaian Dance En-
semble, in the early1970s.
12. "Jamaican Art 1922-1982", an exhibi-
tion of 50 paintings and 26 sculptures,
mounted jointly by the Smithsonian
Institution and the National Gallery of
Jamaica, which has just ended a tour of
North American cities.


The Editor welcomes letters which deal direct-
ly with articles which have appeared in

Re Gloria Escoffery's article on the Har-
mony Hall Intuitives exhibition (18:4):
I have been observing a gallery in Mon-
tego Bay under the direction of Eliza-
beth DeLisser whom I can see has been
largely responsible for the fostering and
development of the newer artists. It was
from the sheltering atmosphere of this
gallery that Albert Artwell, Veron
Williams, Tony Bag, Robert Medley the
woodcarver and Imogene Binns, to name
a few, emerged and were later exhibited
at Harmony Hall. Two of these artists
were shown in National Gallery exhibi-
tions and in Europe long before any
exhibition at Harmony Hall. They had
all been exposed to the buying public
whose appreciation created their pro-
fessional status. It would be disrespect-
ful to think that any gallery preceded
the artist. Albert Artwell was known to
the buying public from, I believe, 1975.
Might we have another article from
Gloria Escoffery perhaps interviewing
Mrs DeLisser? Would it be interesting to
hear what the artists themselves have to
say about her efforts on their behalf? I
appreciate Gloria Escoffery's openness
and caring attitude towards art and
Jamaican artists in particular.
Joanna Brown
Great Valley P.O.


I wonder if you could explain to me
why Eric Smith has dropped from fav-
our? He is neither represented in the
National Gallery nor mentioned in
Gloria Escoffery's review articles. I
fear there must be a Kingston cabal,
as in London's Bond St. to determine

today's favourites. I think it is very
shabby treatment of one of your best
pioneer primitives who I know fails to
'mix in the rightcircles' Any comments?

Dr. E.M.M. Besterman
Department of Medicine
University of the West Indies
Mona, Kingston 7.


1. If there is a Kingston cabal your re-
viewer is unaware of it; she accepts no
responsibility for the selection of works
represented in the national collection
and would be the last person to discrim-
inate against rural artists; if they are
under-represented in the national shows
and therefore in the reviews, it is their
own fault, or maybe it is a matter of
economics (see the plea made in my
review in 19:1). If Eric Smith's name
was omitted from the list of absentees,
it is not surprising. His work may be
seen in the Frame Centre buthasappear-
ed only once (1983) in the national
exhibition since I started writing this
column; with 180 works by 100 artists
exhibited that year, it would have been
possible to mention only a small pro-

2. One wonders if Eric Smith would ap-
preciate being described as a 'primitive.
His work does not quite fit into the
category known in Jamaica as 'intuitive'
though he may well be self-taught.

3. There have been many pioneers. No
doubt Eric Smith and the Montego Bay
group of intuitives and their promoters
deserve some special notice. There is al-
ways so much to write about that it is
impossible to please everyone in the allo-
cation of attention and publicity.

4. The term 'shabby treatment'suggests
some malignant motivation on the part
of the art critic. This is hardly in keep-

ing with the positive tone I adopt in my


I enjoyed the issue of JAMAICA JOURNAL
with articles on Louise Bennett and
Astley Clerk (18:4) as I knew both
Astley Clerk and Louise Bennett when
she was a youngster.
If someone were to write a history of
music and theatre in Jamaica, I would
have interesting material.
I was formerly Fay Crosswell, daughter
of A. Noel Crosswell, one of the founders
of Boy Scouting in Jamaica; Noel Cross-
well, late commissioner of police, was my
I was well known as a singer and actress,
as my mother was before me. She was
Una Soutar, daughter of Simon Soutar,
a prominent businessman andlandowner
of long ago. She was a protege of
Madame de Montagnac. During world
war one, my mother and father had a
musical troupe called The Vagabonds
which toured Jamaica in aid of the Red
I was associated with Greta Bourke,
Noel Vaz and the Little Theatre Move-
ment from its inception. I took part in
the first pantomime staged at the Ward
Theatre and several others thereafter. I
have complete scrapbooks of all the
shows I took part in, as well as my
mother's scrapbooks.
I have been living in Hawaii since 1948,
doing nothing spectacular apart from
raising four children! I am now 73 years
old and a widow and at the time of life
when one reminesces.

Fay Schulmeister
170 Ohana Street
Kailua 96734
Hawaii, U.S.A.

This is what Mutual Life

is all about.



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
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* Graham Street, Telephone: 97-42701, 97-42447

Kumina, the Howellite Church and the

Emergence of Rastafarian

Traditional Music in Jamaica

By Kenneth Bilby and Elliott Leib

M music history, as much as any other kind, tends to be
bound up with the ebb and flow of current tastes,
often catering to trends of the moment. Once called
'the Caribbean's only entirely new musical form in this cen-
tury' [Roberts 1972 p.132] reggae music spawned in the
ghetto of West Kingston, Jamaica in the early 1960s sur-
vived its humble origins, and has emerged as a major current
in international popular music. Now that reggae has won eager
audiences on every continent (not to mention massive bor-
rowing and co-optation by American and British Top 40
pop), and has risen to become 'a prime world-pop music'
[Bergman 1985 p. 18] ,its history is considered to be worthy
of serious study.
It has become standard practice for popular treatments of
reggae to include a brief section on the traditional Rasta-
farian music that contributed to the development of the style.
Owing to the popularity of reggae, the religious music of
Rastafari, particularly the drum-ensemble form known as
Nyabingi, has begun to receive wider recognition. Comment-
ators on the reggae phenomenon, wishing to point out the

music's 'deeper' African roots, have tended to represent the
Rastafari Nyabingi music as merely a modified version of an
older recreational African-based drumming form known as
Buru.1 This, however, is but a part of the story, an over-
simplification that neglects the importance of early cross-
fertilization between various styles. Growing popular interest
in reggae and Rastafari, and the rush for simplistic answers to
questions about origins, has led to hasty and incomplete con-
This article takes as its point of departure not reggae, but
traditional Rastafari music itself; it sets out recent evidence
of an important historical connection between the Rastafari
Nyabingi tradition and the musical practices of the religious
cult known as Kumina.
Kumina is an African-derived religion which originated
among post-emancipation African contract labourers sent to
Jamaica during the late 19th century. Today, practiced pri-
marily in the eastern parish of St. Thomas, Kumina centres
on possession by, and communication with, ancestral spirits.

A great many aspects of the Kumina tradition, including the
ritual language, music, and dance through which contact with
the ancestors is maintained and fostered, are derived pri-
marily from Central African (and particularly Kongo) cultur-
al traditions [See Moore 1953; Warner-Lewis 1977; Brath-
waite 1978; Schuler 1980; Bilby and Fu-Kiau 1983; Ryman
The Debate on Origins

Ever since the earliest days of the movement, Rastafari
attitudes toward traditional Afro-Jamaican religious ex-
pressions such as Kumina and Revivalism have been ambi-
valent, and this attitude has been carried over to associated
musical styles. Writing in the early 1950s, George Eaton
Simpson noted [1954 p.4] that:
Despite the fact that they have thesame general socio-economic
status, Revivalists and Ras Tafarians are enemies. Revivalists
often take an interest, outside their church meetings, in Cumina
drumming and John Canoe music. Members of the Ras Tafari
cult spurn both of these activities, as well as Revivalism, and
regard them all as 'backward'.

Ambivalence toward certain African-derived folk traditions
continues. The position that Rastafari Nyabingi music is part-
ly derived from Kumina remains unpopular with many
present-day Rastafari, who, in spite of a respect for the
'Africanity' of Kumina drumming, disapprove of certain
fundamental aspects of the Kumina religious experience,
such as ancestral spirit possession and the emphasis placed on
the continuing participation of the dead in the affairs of the
living. Many younger Rastafari today, and some elders as
well, categorically reject the idea that Nyabingi music has
roots in Kumina.2
The scholarly literature on Rastafari music, however, has
not been so quick to dismiss the possibility of Kumina in-
fluence. Although researchers often mention Kumina as an
influential source, in addition to Buru, the nature of their
mutual influences remains ill-defined. Count Ossie, for one a
towering figure in the development of Rastafari drumming -
is said to have been steeped in Kumina music, as well as that
of Buru [Reckord 1977 pp. 6 8; White 1980 p.7, 1984].3
Still, others perhaps influenced by the oft-expressed
Rastafari distaste for Kumina 'duppy (ghost) worship' have
argued that Kumina played no role in the development of
Rastafari music. Yoshiko Nagashima sums up the current
state of the debate in her recent monograph on Rastafari
music [1984 p. 72] :

There is controversy . about the local origins of Rastafarian
music. Two different opinions exist among the authorities. One
is that Rastafarian music links with Kumina and Buru with
respect to the instruments used, the rhythmic patterns follow-
ed, and, to a certain degree, the participants' backgrounds.
This opinion seems to be shared by some of the staff of the
(Jamaica) School of Music and others including the art research-
er, Verena Reckord. The other opinion, which is supported by
the excellent folk singer-folklorist, Olive Lewin, relates Ras-
tafarian music to Burru only and recognizes no signiticant con-
nection with Kumina. In short the Burru-Rasta linkage is
generally accepted, while the Rasta-Kumina connection is con-

Disentangling the Historical Threads
More than 20 years ago, Count Ossie and others helped to
re-Africanize Jamaican popular song with the introduction of
the Rastafari drum ensemble into the then emerging ska
form. Less than a decade before the Folkes Brothers teamed
up with Ossie to record "Oh Carolina", there was a marked

absence of drumming in Rastafari music in West Kingston
[Simpson 1955, p.4]. In the urban Rastafari gatherings of
this early period, music was characterized by hymns and
choral chants, sometimes accompanied by a shaka (rattle),
rhumba box, and scraper [Simpson 1954, 4] .4

The introduction of drumming into Rastafari music was
born from the 'camp' and 'yard' experience of black shanty
town life in the ghettos of West Kingston. An urbanized ver-
sion of Buru drumming was in vogue at a time when the nas-
cent Rastafari movement was still without drums of its own.
Taking the three-part drum ensemble of Buru (consisting of
the bass, fund, and repeater drums), and freely adapting it
to the musical needs of the cult groups, the Rastafari helped
to create a new style of African inspired dance-drumming
known today as Nyabingi.5 (The three drums used in Nya-
bingi today are also referred to as Kete or Akete drums.).
This process of musical genesis cannot be reduced, though,
to a simple wholesale adoption and incorporation of the
Buru tradition into Rastafari worship. What in fact occurred
was a good deal more complicated than this. It must be
borne in mind that West Kingston of the 1940s and 50s -
the period when Nyabingi drumming was born was a
cauldron of competing cultural and musical styles and forms,
all of which were interacting and influencing one another.
The rural migrants who were flowing into Kingston from all
over the island in search of opportunities gravitated mainly
to West Kingston, bringing with them their varied musical
traditions. Along with Buru and Kumina, other rural African-
based forms (and certainly Revival as well) were present. As
styles began to interpenetrate one another, a certain confusion
of terms or labels resulted or rather, there was some fluid-
ity in their application.
The flexibility in the application of names or terms to
different folk musical styles is nothing new, making the task
of pinning down specific origins that much more difficult
and hazardous [see Ryman 1980]. The potential for con-
fusion is exemplified by the term 'Buru'. This term refers not
only to a specific dance-drumming tradition found today in
St. Catherine and Clarendon the form discussed above as
having contributed to the Nyabingi tradition but has also
been used in many other areas of Jamaica as a sort of generic
label covering a wide variety of African-derived dance and
drumming styles (sometimes with pejorative connotations)
[Cassidy and LePage 1984 p. 83; White 1984 p.78]. It is still
used in St. Thomas, where the traditional religious form of
Kumina is centred, to refer to secularized Kumina dances held
for mere entertainment rather than to invoke the ancestors.
Kumina practitioners also sometimes use the term 'Buru' to
denote the 'bailo' segment of religious ceremonies, viz. the
early 'warming up' part of the dance which serves a primarily
recreational, rather than religious, purpose [Ryman 1984
p.121]. So it is easy to see how in the urban context where
traditional musical forms such as Buru and Kumina met and
mingled, any of a number of terms might have been used,
possibly interchangeably, to connote the resultant African-
derived and oriented fusions.

This seems to be precisely what was happening in the shanty
towns of the Jamaican capital as the stage was being set for
the development of a new style of music to serve the reli-
gious needs of urban Rastafari. It is well known that Buru, in
the strict sense of the term, existed in Kingston as early as
the 1930s. In the urban setting it had become secularized,
losing whatever religious vestiges it might have once had, and

was danced mainly on holidays and to celebrate the return of
discharged prisoners to their communities in the slums. It is
this urban tradition which is said to have later merged with
Rastafari ceremonial observances to create the new Nyabingi
form. When George Eaton Simpson was undertaking research
in West Kingston in 1953, he found that a secular drumming
style known as 'Cumina' was also in use there (it will be re-
called that at this time Rastafari music in West Kingston, ac-
cording to Simpson, was still performed without drums). Pro-
fessor Simpson's description of this style provides us with
valuable evidence of ongoing cross-fertilization between Buru
and Kumina at a crucial period in the history of Rastafari
music, a historical moment almost coincident with the first
appearance of the Nyabingi form:

Cumina drumming is seldom used in the religious ceremonies
of Revivalist groups. Informants refer to this drumming as
"African," and this appears to be an accurate characterization .
.... Usually the members of a Cumina band sing as they play,
and hand clapping and body swaying, as well as drumming,
accompany the singing .... The rituals associated with Cumina
drumming in some of Jamaica's country areas seem to have
disappeared in the urban fringe . . In West Kingston, the
occasions for Cumina drumming are: the celebration of some
one's release from prison, a "day of sport" in the country,
Emancipation Day (August 1), a big gambling game, and rites
marking recovery from a serious illness. Since it is regarded as
"rejoicing" music, it is not used in ceremonies connected with
the dead (wakes, funerals, Nine Nights, Forty Day services,
or memorial services) [Simpson 1954 p.5].

Simpson's statement that this 'Cumina' drumming was
associated with 'the celebration of someone's release from
prison' shows that its functions overlapped with those of the
urban 'Buru' tradition which eventually fed into Nyabingi.
Moreover, this urban form of 'Cumina', like Buru and unlike
the rural religious Kumina tradition, had no association with
ceremonies connected with the dead, and thus its stigma
would be reduced for Rastafari musicians seeking inspiration
from African-derived drum-related musical forms. Even more
interesting than the above description is the photograph of
'Cumina' drums that accompanies Professor Simpson's notes
(p.22). In this illustration, it can be clearly seen that the
modified three-drum 'Cumina' ensemble used in West
Kingston was very similar to the traditional Buru set. The
photo shows a large double-headed bass drum (played
with a beater), and two smaller drums which, according to
Simpson, were held between the knees and played with the
hands (as opposed to the pair of drums used in the rural reli-
gious Kumina tradition, which are turned on their sides and
mounted by the player). These smaller drums are of a design
which combines features of the Kumina playing cyas and the
Buru fund and repeater; although they are somewhat similar
in shape and length to Kumina drums, their skins are attach-
ed to the bodies and tightened by means of iron clamps and
bolts, as is usually the case with both types of Buru hand
drums. This contrasts with the two traditional Kumina
drums, whose heads are normally fastened by means of nails
which are driven in to increase tension.
To top all of this off, Simpson's field recordings of this
urban 'Cumina' music present the listener with a drumming
style that is clearly related to in fact, essentially indis-
tinguishable from present-day variants of the Nyabingi
style used by Rastafari worshippers (it certainly would not
be recognized by contemporary rural Kumina devotees as
'Kumina drumming').6 Like modern Nyabingi drumming,
with which it shares all the essential features the 'heart-
beat' double-pulse of the funde (here shifted to the 'off-

Bass (top left), Repeater (top, right) and Fundeh (bottom, left)
used by Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelations of Rastafari, and
Kumina Playing cyas (below, right).

beat,' as sometimes also occurs in Nyabingi); the 'thunder
clap' of the bass drum which is free occasionally to vary and
set-up complex cross-play against the patterns of the other
drums; and the rolling syncopations, high-pitched rim tones
and pops, and strongly accented 'cuts,' or slaps of the repeat-
er the drumming on this recording combines elements of
both Buru and Kumina, and yet is recognizable as neither
one nor the other.7 Like most successful musical fusions, it
is more than the sum of its parts.
An important conclusion to be drawn from all of this is
that the fundamentals of the style that has come to be
known as Nyabingi were already present in West Kingston by
1953, and had already been fused into a Nyabingi-like hy-
brid, although this had apparently not yet been claimed by
Rastafari as.their own. That this new style bore the name
'Cumina' even if it might also have been called 'Buru' at
the same time would seem to be more than fortuitous.
Nor is there any reason to believe that cross-fertilization
between Buru and Kumina was limited to the urban context
or the period of time when Professor Simpson happened to
make his field recordings. On the contrary, indications are
that representatives of the two styles have long been in con-
tact in a variety of settings. As Cheryl Ryman points out
[1984 p.121] traditional Buru performers in Clarendon and
St. Catherine see Buru drumming as being related to Kumina;
and some of them possess, in addition to the three-part
Buru set, traditional Kumina drums, which they also play -
in the Kumina mode.

The Howellite Connection

It has only recently come to light that Leonard P. Howell
(alias 'Gong'or 'Gangunguru Maragh'), a tremendously influen-
tial figure in the early Rastafari movement, used and sanction-
ed Kumina drumming and other aspects of the Kumina tra-
dition in his ceremonies. Howell is widely acknowledged
as being among the first to preach the doctrine and creed of
Rastafari in Jamaica. He is also famous (or perhaps infamous)
as the founder and leader of one of the first and most import-
ant Rastafari communes, called Pinnacle, in the parish of
St. Catherine. Starting out by preaching the divinity of Haile
Selassie I at street meetings in various parts of metropolitan
Kingston and parts of St. Thomas during the 1930s, Howell
suffered repeated persecution by the police. By 1940 or so,
he had moved his operations to St. Catherine and founded
Pinnacle. When Pinnacle was raided by police and finally
broken up in 1954, several hundred members dispersed into
West Kingston, contributing to the urban spread of the move-
ment. Several important features of modern Rastafari reli-
gious practice, such as the wearing of dreadlocks and the
sacramental use of ganja, are thought to have been evolved
by the Howellites before or during the Pinnacle era.8

Barry Chevannes, in his historical study on the origins of
Rastafari, writes:

On Sunday it was customary for Howellites who owned goats
to slaughter and sell them to members who did not. And after
the Sunday dinner they would gather in the Parade, dancing
and singing to the rhythm of the baandu and funde, the two
Kumina drums [Chevannes 1979 p.151].9

This was confirmed by the present authors in 1982, when
they visited a small community of Howell's remaining follow-
ers in Tredigar Park, St. Catherine, and again in 1983 and
1984, when one of the authors (Leib) carried out further

research among this group. (Tredigar Park is located on the
outskirts of Spanish Town, a few miles from the original
site of Pinnacle, which was in the vicinity of Sligoville.)
The Tredigar Park Howellites, consisting of 20 or so indivi-
duals, several of whose association with Howell goes back to
the early days, were residents of Pinnacle during its heyday
in the 1940s and 1950s. Today they continue to observe
practices that formed part of the daily life at Pinnacle.10
The oral testimonies and reminiscences of these Howel-
lites allow us to reconstruct, to some extent, particular links
with Kumina. What appears to have happened is as follows:
originally in St. Thomas during the mid-1930s and later at
Pinnacle, after 1940, a core of Howell's followers integrated
Kumina dance-drumming with their seminal practice of
Rastafari ritual. A number of informants state that the origin-
al group at Pinnacle was composed primarily of persons
originally from St. Thomas, the parish where Kumina is most
strongly represented.1

One younger Howellite, born at Pinnacle in 1945, indi-
cated that Kumina figures prominently in his earliest memo-

I remember when I was a kid in Pinnacle, in the early days in
Pinnacle, I remember we . have a parade (square). Every six
o' clock, that (Kumina) drum play and everybody got to come,
because it is a gathering, like what we annually keeping on here
now. And we learn our language there, and learn our descen-
dence (i.e. descent) there, so we can get along. He (Howell)
teach us a lot of discipline, and a lot of ways of going on about

The language and music referred to in this passage taught
by Leonard Howell and his St. Thomas associates was
largely the language and music of Kumina. This cultural heri-
tage has been retained, if in somewhat fragmentary form, by
the present-day Tredigar Park Howellites, who still know and
use a large number of standard Kumina songs, and who also
possess a limited vocabulary of Kumina 'African Country' or
'Bongo' words, derived from Kikongo. In interviews, for ex-
ample, Howellites used, and provided accurate glosses for the
words malembe ('a greeting'), kento ('a woman'), Zambi
('God'), langu ('water'), kwenda ('to go'), matato ('earth'),
and a number of other words and stock expressions from
the Kumina 'Country' lexicon. One informant pointed out a
connection between this language and a number of African
'tribes', which he referred to as 'Muyanji', 'Mumbaka', and
'Mumbundu'; all of these are among the 'tribes' most com-
monly cited by Kumina people as having contributed to their
own tradition.13

Likewise, the drum-based music of the Tredigar Park
Howellites (called by them 'Kumina' or 'Kumeka') evidence
the Kumina heritage.14 It does not make use of the Akete
drums the three part set derived from Buru that have
become standard in Nyabingi. Rather, it is still played, as it
has been since the Pinnacle days, on the traditional Kumina
drums, the bandu and playing cyas, referred to as such by the
Howellites. These drums, as in St. I homas, are turned on their
sides and mounted by the players. The drumming itself is
essentially the same as the St. Thomas variety, although
slight modifications and an overall simplification can be
heard in the style of some cyas players (the bandu pattern
remaining unchanged), giving it what seems to be a distinc-
tive St. Catherine flavour.
Many of the songs used by the Howellites in their present-
day services and recreational performances are well known

Kumina songs that form an integral part of traditional cult
ceremonies in St. Thomas. Among these are both 'bailo'
(recreational) and 'Country' (sacred, African language)
songs, some of which are specific to St. Thomas Kumina and
not found elsewhere. A Kumina song sung by present-day
Howellites which shows as much as any other connection
with the St. Thomas religious tradition is the following,
recorded by one of the authors during a Howellite perform-
ance at Tredigar Park in 1983:

Kongo man, delay
you know de law. 15

This is the same song cited by Ryman, who interprets it as an
exhortation to participants in Kumina to heed the 'Bongo
law' the Kumina canons for proper living [Ryman 1984
p.10]. Other common Kumina songs recorded among the
Howellites are "Tan to you war", "Tambu lele", "Nki
balongo" "King Zambi", and "Malembe mbem, soso
water".16 In addition to all this, the female leader among the
present-day Howellites refers toherself as a 'Kumina Queen",1
and is often invited to attend government-sponsored
Kumina functions.
Clearly, if it were culturally significant at that time, the
Rastafari aversion to ancestral spirit possession, or rituals
having to do with death, did not prevent the early Howellites
from adopting and reinterpreting those elements of the Kum-
ina tradition that appealed to them. In learning and passing
on the 'Kongo language' or 'Bongo language' of Kumina, as
well as other aspects of the tradition, the Howellites had only
to make the necessary ideological adjustments to bring this
body of cultural knowledge into line with emerging Rastafari
tenets and doctrines, as preached by Howell. The possessing
spirits of Kumina, for example, seem to have been abolished,
while the omnipotent deity of Kumina, Zambi or Kinzambi,
became identified with Haile Selassie I, Jah Rastafari. (The
Howellites continue today to state that 'King Zambi' and
'His Imperial Majesty, Earth's Rightful Ruler'are identical.)18
The Kumina dance-drumming tradition, with some modifi-
cations, was also allowed to make the transition from one
religious form to the other, and after the necessary reinterpre-
tations, prevailed as the key drum-based liturgical music
among the Howellites.19
In 1954, only a matter of months after Simpson made his
observations and recordings in West Kingston, Pinnacle was
broken-up by the police, and Howell's followers dispersed,
many of them heading for the city. Whether some of the
Howellites brought Kumina drums of their own to the ur-
ban ghettos is unknown, but their mass exodus to Kingston
coincided with, and appears to have been directly related to,
the merging of 'Buru' (or a hybridized form carrying this or
other names) with Rastafari worship, and the consequent
emergence of Nyabingi as the leading Rastafari dance-drum-
ming form. [Smith et al 1960 p.11].20 It seems more than
probable, then, that some of the Pinnacle Kumina drummers,
recently displaced to West Kingston, were among those who
helped to forge and embellish the nascent Nyabingi tradition
being nurtured by their urban Rastafari brethren. And even
before the mass migration to Kingston, throughout the
Pinnacle period, Kumina-steeped Howellite musicians were
probably contributing to the West Kingston musical brew;
for Howell's operations were not limited to his St. Catherine
settlement, and frequent traffic between the rural commune
and the capital ensured a flow of ideas, probably including
musical ideas, back and forth.21

The precise weight of the Howellite contribution to the
Nyabingi musical tradition has yet to be established. Further
research, drawing on the recollections of some of the remain-
ing musician elders, may eventually help to settle the ques-
tion. It seems certain, in any case, that the Howellites, and
their brand of Kumina, did play a part.


A major conclusion to be drawn from this brief study is
that the origins of the Nyabingi drumming style cannot be
traced back along a simple unilinear path. A careful search
reveals, rather, an inter connecting web of influences span-
ning several parishes and decades, several strands of which
have yet to be explored by researchers. Like most Jamaican
folk musical traditions, the Nyabingi style must be seen as
the product of a complex and gradual process of adaptation
and blending between a variety of earlier creole traditions.
There remains no room for doubt that Kumina was among
This sort of ready borrowing between different tradi-
tions is still common in Jamaica. In 1974, for instance, one
of the authors (Bilby) attended a Kumina ceremony on the
urban fringe of Spanish Town, St. Catherine, in which a
Nyabingi repeater drum (painted in the Rastafari colours,
red, gold, and green, and with a metal tuning apparatus)
was used, turned on its side and mounted, in place of the
traditional Kumina playing cyas. In fact, this penchant for
blending is central to the vitality and creativity so evident
in African-Jamaican folk and popular music. Through such
interchange, the invigorating rhythms of Kumina, meshed
with those of Buru and perhaps others, have indirectly been
able, via Nyabingi, to enter the Jamaican musical mainstream
and travel throughout the world. Time and distance, in such
cases, tend to obscure origins. But, as it turns out, the Rasta-
fari insistence on the 'African roots' of Nyabingi may be
historically accurate in ways that even many Rastafari breth-
ren themselves, not to mention others, do not realize.


We gratefully acknowledge the comments andencouragement
given by Professor George Eaton Simpson, whose early work
in West Kingston provided essential data for this study. We
would also like to thank Marjorie Whylie of the Jamaica
School of Music, who provided information that helped to
make the connection between Pinnacle and the Kumina
This article has been expanded and updated from the notes
to an I.p. disc, From Kongo to Zion: Three Black Musical
Traditions from Jamaica (Cambridge, Massachussetts: Heart-
beat Records, 1983), by the same authors. The l.p. notes also
treat certain aspects of traditional Rastafari music not covered
in this paper, such as the Revivalist influence in chanting and
hymn singing.

1. Although the word is often spelled 'burru', we have chosen to
render it throughout this article as 'buru', in accordance with the
systematized orthography for Jamaican Creole used in Cassidy
and Le Page [1980].
2. One of the authors (Bilby) has several times heard young Rasta-
farians looking on (but not participating) at Kumina dances, as-
sert that Kumina is derived from Nyabingi and not the other way
around, and that it is therefore less authentically 'African' than
the latter. Interestingly, some of the Howellites discussed in this

study make a similar ideological reversal, claiming that the St.
Thomas Kumina practitioners got Kumina from them, although
what in fact occurred, as shown in this article, is very clearly the
3. Mortimer Planno, a Rastafari elder who became active in West
Kingston in the late 1950s, is also known as Bro. Cummie a
reference to his skill as a kete man. Note here the creolizing mer-
ger of Kumina and Rastafari references in the role of the'African'
master drummer.
4. In a 1983 interview with one of the oldestliving Rastafari women
active in Kingston at the time of Simpson's field work, one of
the authors (Leib) was informed that the type of instrumental
group described by Simpson was associated with the 'yard' of a
Bro. Miles.
5. For a background on Nyabingi music and dance, see Smith et al.
[1960 pp. 13-14]; Reckord [1977]; Nagashima [1984]: Leib
[1983]. The ethnographic film Rastafari Voices (1979,col.,sou.,
58 minutes) includes footage of Nyabingi dance-drumming re-
corded at the 1978 Nyabingi meeting held at National Heroes
Park, Kingston (available on request from Eye in I Filmworks,
1919 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92012 U.S.A.).
6. Simpson, Jamaican Cult Music, I.p. disc, Side 2, Band 7. Interest-
ingly enough, these field recordings were made in Trench Town,
a section of the West Kingston ghetto especially noted for its
musical activity and the large number of reggae musicians it
has produced.
7. For notated examples of the fundamental rhythmic patterns
belonging to Kumina, Buru, and Nyabingi, and more detailed
comparative descriptions of these drumming styles, see Reckord,
[1977 p.8]; Nagashima [1984 pp. 77-8] Recorded examples of
traditional Kumina music may be heard on the following I.p.
albums: From the Grassroots of Jamaica (Dynamic Sounds,
Kingston, n.d.); Folk Music of Jamaica (Folkways Records,
N.Y., 1956); More from the Grassroots of Jamaica (Jamaica In-
formation Service, Kingston, n.d.); Bongo, Backra, and Coolie:
Jamaican Roots, Volume 1 (Folkways Records, N.Y., 1975);
From Kongo to Zion: Three Black Musical Traditions from
Jamaica (Heartbeat Records, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1983);
Jamaican Ritual Music from the Mountains and Coast (Lyri-
chord Records, New York, 1985). Examples of Buru drumming
may be heard on a cassette tape entitled Rhythm Kit No. 1
(Jamaica School of Music, Kingston, 1981). Examples of Nya-
bingi drumming may be heard on the following: The Mystic
Revelation of Rastafari's Grounation (Dynamic Sounds, Kingston,
n.d); From the Grassroots of Jamaica (Dynamic Sounds, Kingston,
n.d.); Churchical Chants of the Nyabingi (Heartbeat Records,
Cambridge, Massachussetts, 1983).
8. For background on Howell and his role in the development of
the Rastafari Movement, see Smith et al. [1960] ,Barrett [1977].
For a recent appraisal of Howell's contribution to early Rasta-
fari in Jamaica, see Hill [1981]. An abridged version of Hill's
article, with photographs, and re-titled "Leonard P. Howell and
Millenarian Visions in Early Rastafari", can be found in Jamaica
Journal 16: 1.
9. The use of the term 'funde' here is interesting; in the St. Thomas
Kumina tradition, the lead drum which plays alongside the
bandu is always referred to as playing cyas, never as 'funde',
which is associated in the minds of Kumina people (those who
have heard it) with Rastafari Nyabingi music.

10. Yoshiko Nagashima briefly visited and talked with Leonard
Howell at Tredigar Park in July 1980, but she apparently did not
learn of the Howellites' use of Kumina drumming, for she does
not mention it in her monograph. [Nagashima 1980 pp. 39-40].
Cheryl Ryman also visited Tredigar Park, and presents a few data
she collected there, but she does not make it clear whether or
not her Tredigar Park informants were Howellites. She speaks
of a strong Rastafari influence on the Tredigar Park Kumina
group she writes about, implying that they were originally a
traditional Kumina group without Rastafari connections who
have recently been absorbing influences (including elements of
drumming) from Rastafari. We wish to emphasize so as to
avoid confusion that those Tredigar Park Howellites we inter-
viewed claimed to have been playing Kumina since the earliest
days of Pinnacle or before; they are Howellite Rastafari who

long ago integrated Kumina into their worship, and are not
traditional Kumina players recently coming under the influence
of Rastafari. See Ryman [1980].
11. One Howellite informant stated that some of the earliest and
most important Kumina drummers at Pinnacle were associated
with Duckenfield, a sugar-producing area in the eastern part of
St. Thomas that is still known as an important centre for Kumina.

12. Tape recorded interview conducted by Elliott Leib, Tredigar
Park, 23 July 1983.

13. See the 'Kumina Lexicon' in Bilby and Fu-Kiau [1983 pp.
65-97; 9-10]. For a more detailed discussion of Kumina in-
fluence among the Howellites, treating other aspects as well as
music, see Leib [1984].

14. In the 'African Country' language of Kumina in St. Thomas,
'kumeka' (or 'Kumeika') is also used to refer to ceremonial
music and dance; see Bilby and Fu-Kiau [1983 p.76].

15. Tape made by Elliott Leib, July 1983.
16. All these songs are on a tape made in Tredigar Park by Elliott
Leib, July 1983. For a version of 'Nki balongo' from St.Thomas,
in Kikongo/'African Country', and with an English translation,
see Bilby and Fu-Kiau [1983 pp. 55-9].
17. 'Kumina Queen' is the title given to a female spiritual and
organizational leader in traditional Kumina; one of her several
important functions is the 'raising of songs' or the invocation of
ancestors. See Ryman [1980 pp. 91-7].

18. Leonard Howell eventually proclaimed his own divinity, and
now he also is identified by his remaining followers with both
'King Zambi' and 'His Imperial Majesty, Earth's Rightful Ruler'.
In his early manifesto, The Promised Key, an important literary
document of early Rastafari theology, Howell admonishes 'revi-
valists' against practices associated with obeah (esp. p.5 ff.).
There is, however, no clear indication that the early Howellite
church in any way linked the possession rituals of Kumina reli-
gion with the practice of obeah. As indicated above, among
traditional Rastafari of the Nyabingi Order, obeah and spirit
possession are both identified with death and the works of
duppies, and are therefore considered to be satanic.

19. In 1980, CBS News correspondent Dan Rather visited Leonard
Howell and his congregation in St. Catherine, in the company of
Jamaican journalist Arthur Kitchin. At this time, a CBS film
crew shot footage of a ceremony held by Howell's followers, in
which traditional Kumina drums were used, played in the tradi-
tional manner (turned on their sides and mounted, with the heel
of the foot used to change pitch). Some of this footage was in-
corporated in the CBS news programme "60 Minutes" (Vol.XIII,
No. 12, broadcast on Sunday 7 December 1980); the segment in
which it was included was entitled "The Rastafarians", Jeanne
Solomon, producer. Howell died only a few months after Rather's
visit, in February 1981.

20. The influence of Kumina on the urban dance-drumming styles of
Rastafari should also be related to the ganja trade associated
with Pinnacle. Ganja grown at Pinnacle was marketed in Kingston,
and elsewhere, along with bread baked at the commune. The
illegality of ganja subjected the early Rastafari to criminal pro-
secution, and harsh penalties for its possession and use. The link-
ages between Buru, which, as mentioned, was often perform-
ed on the occasion of a prisoner's release, and Kumina, in Rasta-
fari dance-drumming are best appreciated with this sociological
background in mind.

21. It should be remembered that both the St. Catherine and Claren-
don Buru traditions (which differ in several ways) the best
documented examples of Buru to date are located in the same
general area as the former site of Pinnacle. It is likely, therefore,
that at least some contact occurred between the Howellites at
Pinnacle and the Buru people at both Spring Village in St.
Catherine and Lionel Town and Hayes in Clarendon. So rural
Buru influences could have been operating as well among the
Kumina-playing Howellites at Pinnacle. This deserves to be
researched further. See Nagashima [1980 pp. 73-77].


BARRETT, Leonard, The Rastafarians: Sounds of Cultural Disson-
ance, Boston: Beacon Press, 1977.
BERGMAN, Billy, Hot Sauces: Latin and Caribbean Pop, New York:
Quill, 1985.
BILBY, Kenneth M., and Kia Bunseki FU-KIAU, "Kumina: a Kongo-
Based Tradition in the New World", Cahiers du CEDAF 8:4,
BRATHWAITE, Edward Kamau, "Kumina: the Spirit of African Sur-
vival in Jamaica", Jamaica Journal 42: 1978.
CASSIDY, F.G. and R.B. Le PAGE, Dictionary of Jamaican English,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 1984.
CHEVANNES, Barry, The Social Origins of Rastafari, Kingston:
Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of the
West Indies, 1979.
HILL, Robert A., "Dread History: Leonard P. Howell and Millenarian
Visions in Early Rastafari Religions in Jamaica", Epochs 9:
LEIB, Elliott, "Churchical Chants of the Nyabingi", notes to Heart-
beat Records Album No. HB 20, Cambridge, Massachussetts:
Heartbeat Records, 1983.
-, "The Kongo Presence in Early Rastafari Culture in Jamaica",
paper presented at the 1984 African Studies Association meet-
ing, Los Angeles, California.

MOORE, Joseph G., "Religion of Jamaican Negroes: A Study of
Afro-Jamaican Acculturation", Ph.D. diss., Northwestern Uni-
versity, Evanston, Illinois, 1953.
"Music and Dance as Expressions of Religious Worship in
Jamaica" in John Blacking and Joann W. Kealiinojomoku (ed.)
The Performing Arts, The Hague: Mouton, 1979.

NAGASHIMA, Yoshiko S., Rastafarian Music in Contemporary Jam-
aica, Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Language and Cultures
of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 1984.

RECKORD, Verena, "Rastafari Music An Introductory Study",
Jamaica Journal 11: 1 and 2, 1977.

ROBERTS, John Storm, Black Music of Two Worlds, New York:
Praeger, 1972.

RYMAN, Cheryl, 'The Jamaican Heritage in Dance: Developing a
Traditional Typology", Jamaica Journal 44: 1980.
"Kumina: Stability and Change," ACIJ Research Review 1:

SCHULER, Monica, "Alas, Alas, Kongo": A Social History of In-
dentured Immigration into Jamaica, 1841-1865, Baltimore
and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.

SIMPSON, George Eaton, "Jamaican Cult Music", notes to Ethnic
Folkways Library Album No. FE 4461, New York: Folkways
Records, 1954.
- ', "The Ras Tafari Movement in Jamaica: a Study in Race and
Class Conflict", Social Forces 34: 2,1955.

SMITH, M.G., Roy AUGIER and Rex NETTLEFORD, The Rasta-
fari Movement in Kingston, Jamaica, Kingston: Institute of
Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies,

WARNER-LEWIS, Maureen, 'The Nkuyu: Spirit Messengers of the
Kumina", Savacou 13: 1977.

WHITE, Garth, "Reggae a Musical Weapon", Caribe, December
"The Development of Jamaican Popular Music Part 2, The
Urbanization of the Folk: The Merger of the Traditional
and Popular in Jamaican Music", ACIJ Research Review,
1: 1984.

Habitat~. an isributio
i.e c sace: wa:' ters of Jamaica'.


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Manatees and their

Struggle for Survival

By Wendy Shaul and Ann Haynes

Illustration by Wendy Shaul

I isolated south coast rivers, murky
Sweaters of major estuaries, and vast
coastal turtle grass beds are home to
gentle sea cows or manatees. West Indian
Manatees (Trichechus manatus) are large
herbivorous mammals which occur
throughout the wider Caribbean, from
Florida to north-eastern Brazil. The
largest populations occur in the coastal
waters of Belize, Guyana and Venezuela.
They are also found near several islands
including Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica.
Once common in numerous scattered
herds, they have been intensely hunted
and today are among the rarest mammals
in the Caribbean. The population in
Jamaican waters is probably between
13-100. Thirteen was the maximum
number of manatees spotted on a single
day by monthly aerial surveys flown by
the Natural Resources Conservation
Division (NRCD) from May 1981 to
February 1983 to investigate the status
and distribution of manatees, turtles
and porpoises in Jamaican waters.
NRCD surveys also showed that mana-
tees are more common on the south
coast of Jamaica, where there are exten-
sive shallow vegetated flats and fresh
water outflows.1

Map showing the distribution of the West Indian manatee (in colour).

A drawing of a manatee (above) made by the
Spanish chronicler Oviedo in 1535. Columbus
at first sight of these reputed mermaids
reported that 'they are not so beautifulas they
are painted' or as mermaids are traditionally
drawn (right).

MONTHS 1981 1982

Manatee sightings in Jamaican Waters






141 -ca1


The first written records of the West
Indian Manatee appear in the diaries of
Christopher Columbus. In 1493 the
admiral reported seeing three mermaids:
'They are not so beautiful as they are
painted', he noted, 'though to some ex-
tent they have the form of a human
face'. The historic confusion between
mermaids and manatees is revealed in
the name of the taxonomic order to
which they belong Sirenia. This name
reflects the fanciful link between these
massive sea creatures and the sirens of
Greek mythology whose songs lured
sailors to their deaths on rocky shores.
1VNith such a reputation, it is disappoint-
ing to. note that manatee 'songs' consist

o kio mo 3o
a -- |

The distribution of manatees in Jamaica (in colour).

of a few faint squeaks). The order in-
cludes the West Indian, two other species
of manatee and one related species, the
Dugong (Dugong dugon). The other
species are the West African Manatee
(T. senegalensis) which is found in the
river and coastal regions of Central
and West Africa, and the Amazonian
Manatee (Tinunguis) which is restricted
to the fresh water rivers and lakes of the
Amazon river basin. The Dugong of the
Indo-Pacific isfound near the Philippines,
Indonesia, India, Australia and the is-
lands of the Indian Ocean. All were once
abundant, but are declining because of
over-hunting. A fifth species, the Stellar's
Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) was hunt-
ed to extinction by Russian seamen
within 30 years of its discovery in the
Bering Sea in 1741.2


Manatees and elephants are both
descendants of the same large land
mammal, their paths diverging over 60
million years ago. Manatees took to the
water and became adapted to a herbivor-
ous life on the expanses of sea grass on
tropical coastal shelves, while elephants
ranged the tropical savannahs. Mana-
tees became streamlined for rapid move-
ment in water. Their heads merged with
their bodies with the absence of a neck

compensated for by a flexible spine.
Fore-limbs became flippers and hind-
legs disappeared, leaving small vestigial
pelvic bones as evidence of their descent
from a terrestrial ancestor. Tails became
rounded and flattened horizontally. But
many similarities between the two crea-
tures remain. The thick, finely wrinkled
hide of there manatee with its sparse
covering of hair is like elephant hide.
The nails found on their flippers are
strongly reminiscent of those on ele-
phants' feet. Elephants' trunks and
manatees' large, flexible padded lips

(which are strengthened with lateral
horny pads), are adaptations to their
different patterns of food manipulation.
Chewing abrasive vegetation has result-
ed in a variety of adaptations to tooth
wear in mammals. Some herbivores such
as cows, have high-crowned wear-resist-
ant teeth. In other species teeth are re-
placed as they wear out. Manatees and
elephants have a conveyor belt-like sys-
tem of replacement for their low-
crowned, perishable molars. New teeth
erupt at the rear of the jaw and wear
down as they move gradually forward.

Manatees and elephants evolved from a common ancestor.

Manatee's head and flippers reflect its adaptation to water.



'- 5 West African Manatee length i14'-
- / 1


length 12'-14'


'/ 7 ;!

Alligator Hole River, slated to become the
focus of Jamaica's manatee public education

| D:ugwong dugon (D,,gotng) [- Hydrodamalis gigas (Sleller's sea cow)
0. .: outh m. kni\tched tail fluke. \\ ithoutll l Dlark. heavily textured skin. Forked tail
n.nls i on flippers. larm, habitats Found fluke. t'p to 3(1 feet in length. Weight
i I nii-Puals re.onii. Iltinted for t"rl 3's tons. Toothless. Formerly found in
1i\ I;n ol i' f Ids 1n1 munarme arctic waters of the Bering Strait.
g* r* (IHunted to extinction within 27 years of
its discovery in 1741.)

STrichechus manatus (West Indian manatee) Trichechus nunguis
S Round. paddle-shaped tail. Nails on flippers. Length up to 13 feet I (Amazonian manatee)
and weight over 3,0.X) pounds. Found in southeastern United States Smooth slin. No nails on nippers. Found
and Caribbean Sea as far south as Recife. Brazil in salt, fresh, or in fresh waters of Amazon and Ormicoi
brackish waters. Principal threats are boat collisions and habitat Rivers and tributaries. Hunting pressures
degradation. Feeds on marine, estuarine, and fresh water vegetation, from native people. Feeds on fresh
water vegetation.

D Trichechus senega'ilnsis
(West African manal'e)
similar ,I appearan mu('(' It lh.I io th
\\ est lidian u nalu a 'nueu \ r\ little is
kino, in alu t tIl se'tes I iiiiound \\ -
\fric'an coa stnal ire's.

The Manatee Family (Florida Department of Natural Resources poster.)

~Li ~:
i 'i

:^VQ W J *- , .n ..t
AY ^ -^ ir '71'Z

.. . .. ... .. .

Manatees rest for several hours each day,
surfacing only to breathe. Below is the
Waterweed (Ceratophyllum) which forms a
major portion of the creature's diet.

Old teeth are lost as they reach the
front of the jaw. This process continues
throughout their lives.


Gray to brown in colour, the cigar-
shaped adults of the West Indian Mana-
tee reach lengths of 4.5m and weigh as
much as 100 kg. Unlike other mammals,
female manatees are usually longer and
heavier than the males. Despite their
somewhat ungainly appearance, they are
fast, agile and playful in the water. They
propel themselves with their flat, round-
ed tails and use their flipper-like fore-
limbs for steering. Somersaults, barrel
rolls, and head stands are favourite an-
tics. Over very short distances they can
swim at 25 km/hr but generally cruise
at 4 to 10 km/hr. When resting they
breathe about once every four minutes
but when frightened may dive and stay
submerged for over twenty minutes.
Newborn calves are repeatedly pushed
to the surface by their mothers until
they learn to breathe.

Manatees spend the majority of their
time feeding and the remainder sleeping
or playing. They are the only marine
mammals that subsist solely on vege-
tation. In shallow coastal zones they
browse on turtle grass beds, using their

flippers to stir up sediments to ob-
tain roots as well as leaves. Their habit
of slowly grazing on aquatic plants
while floating lazily through estuaries,
rivers and springs, prompted early ob-
servers to call them sea cows. In the
rivers of south Clarendon and Man-
chester, they are often seen eating
morass weed (Ceratophyllum) and the
starchy roots of the reed (Phragmites).

Although primarily vegetarian, on one
occasion Jamaican manatees were report-
ed to have eaten fish. In 1977 fisher-
men in the Rio Bueno area of Trelawny
found their gill nets contained intact
skeletons of fish including Jacks (Caranx
spp.) This was attributed to the activi-
ties of a herd of manatees which had
been observed near the nets. It appear-
ed the manatees had mouthed the flesh
off the captured fish with their lips,leav-
ing only the bones. This is the only
documented case in the world of mana-
tees eating fish.

Social and Reproductive Behaviour

Manatees communicate primarily
through sound, utilizing a variety of
calls to maintain contact between social
groups. Vocalizations between cows and
calves are the most frequent and mothers
will respond to calls from their calves
from up to 60m. They seem to rely
more on their acute hearing than on
vision. Taste, smell and touch may also
be important in manatee behaviour
as they are affectionate, hugging and
mouthing one another frequently.

------ ---
-- ---2---

The only long-term social bond in
manatee society is that between mother
and calf. When in oestrus, a female will
be persistently pursued for up to a
month by a group of bulls forming a
temporary mating-herd. These can be
spectacular to observe as the female
spends most of her time performing
evasive manoeuvres while attempting to
flee from the attentions of the ever-
amorous bulls. The female appears to
be receptive for only a short time dur-
ing which she will copulate rapidly in
a belly to belly position with succession
of males.

Females reach reproductive maturity
at 8 9 years, males at 9 10 years.
Gestation is 12-13 months. Females calve
every 3-5 years and usually produce a
single calf. New born calves are 1.2-1.4m
long and weigh about 30 kg. They nurse
from teats resembling human breasts
which are located at the base of the flip-
pers. In fact, the word manatee is deriv-
ed from the Carib Indian word manati,
meaning breast. Although young calves
begin to graze vegetation within a few
days of birth, they continue suckling
and stay with their mothers for up to 2

Migration Patterns

Nothing is known of the migration
patterns of Jamaican manatees. In the St.
John's River in Florida, observations of
individuals fitted with radio transmitter
collars on their tails, showed that non-
oestrus females tend to stay in loose
groups in relatively restricted areas where
food and water are readily available.
Males patrol larger areas, apparently
looking for receptive females, travelling
up to 100 km per day. This suggests
that they are capable of migrating
between islands in the Caribbean and
the mainland. However, there is no evi-
dence to suggest that the apparent season-
ality of manatee sightings in Jamaica is
due to migration, and no offshore sight-
ings have been reported.

The Declining Manatee

In Jamaica, decline of manatee popu-
lations appears to be due solely to the
activities of man. Manatee bones found
in Arawak middens suggest they were
used for food long before the European
exploration of the new world. Exploit-
ation of manatees continued during
colonial times and after. During the
17th century manatees were hunted in

the Guianas and shiploads of their dried
meat transported to the Caribbean to
feed labourers on sugar plantations. The
Florida Indians hunted them and sold
the meat to the Spanish settlers who
relished it, particularly because they
were allowed to eat it on religious fast
days. An active trade in hides and meat
from the Amazon continued until at
least 1945. Manatees were valued not
only for their meat but for the clear,
pleasantly flavoured oil prepared from
the thick layer of blubber beneath their
skin. Their thick hides were used to
make leather which was used for shields,
cords, shoes and whips. Their bones.
were believed to have medicinal value
and the dense heavy bones of the ribs
and forelimbs which have no marrow
cavity, were polished and carved as a
substitute for ivory.
Manatees have no known enemies
apart from man. In Florida, many die
after collisions with ships and power
boats and others are squeezed to death
in flood control gates. They are often
found washed up on Florida beaches
but in Jamaica no adult carcasses have
been reported in the last 10 years. This
suggests that few die of natural causes
and their decline is likely due entirely to
hunting. Sir Hans Sloane, in 1707, was
the first to note the decline of manatees
in Jamaican waters: 'This is sometimes
taken in the quieter Bays of this Island
tho' rarely now a Day. They have for-
merly been frequent, but are by the
multitude of People and Hunters catch-
ing them destroyed'.

Conservation Measures

Manatees in Jamaica are protected by
the Wild Life Protection Act (1945) which
outlaws all hunting and possession of
protected animals. However, many people
remained ignorant of the law until 1980
when the NRCD launched a public aware-
ness campaign which included talks and
slide shows to schools and community
groups as well as distribution of posters
and leaflets. Operation Sea Cow, a joint
NRCD-OAS (Organization of American
States) project, is based around several
semi-captive manatees in a south coast
river. The project will feature a display
centre which will explain the ecology
of the area. There will also be the op-
portunity to glimpse manatees in natural
surroundings. The aim of the project is
to promote public awareness, under-
standing and conservation of Jamaica's
diverse plant and animal communities.

However, illegal capture and killing
of manatees continue. Perhaps about
three manatees are killed each year,
usually in the most depressed areas of
the south coast. On occasion they may
be pursued by fishermen but capture
can be risky to boats, crews and nets.
Generally, catches occur accidentally in
beach seines which are set parallel to
the shore on gently sloping beaches.
They are retrieved by 10-15 men haul-
ing on both ends simultaneously. Form-
ing a large crescent, the nets drag up
anything in their paths including, some-
times, an unsuspecting manatee.

Fishermen claim that manatees caught
in this way frequently drown before
their presence is noted. They also say
that it is impossible to free a manatee
from the nets without jeopardising the
entire catch. However NRCD conserva-
tion wardens and fisheries officers con-
tradict this. Areas where manatees are
likely to be found are easy to recognize
and in these areas fishermen are advised
to take special care when setting and
hauling nets. If a manatee does become
ensnared, it may be freed before it be-
comes entangled and scared by carefully
pushing down the upper edge of the net
so the animal can swim to freedom.
Four animals are known to have been
captured in seine nets at one particular
south coast beach since 1981. Three
were adult females and one a young
calf. The behaviour of females and
juveniles may make them more vulner-
able to net capture. Eliminating females
and young in disproportionate numbers
would accelerate the decline in the popu-
Their low reproductive rate means
that manatees are particularly vulner-
able to exploitation. Low reproductive
potential is also a limiting factor when
economic uses for this species are con-
sidered. Manatees' prodigious appetite
for aquatic plants (a typical adult may
eat 50kg a day) suggests they might be
useful in controlling aquatic plants in
waterways. Since 1916 manatees have
been used in Guyana to control weeds
in sugar plantation canals. The NRCD
has been evaluating their potential for
weed control in Jamaica but preliminary
studies have shown that it is unlikely
that they could be used for this purpose.
At least 20 would be needed to keep
even a small river clear, and the breeding
population in the wild is too small to
sustain the removal of sufficient num-
bers for this purpose. Also, they prefer



variety in their diet and may not always
be efficient at controlling the worst pest
species. For these reasons an alternative
had to be found in 1984 to a proposal
from Alcan to introduce manatees into
the Bowers River to maintain an open
waterway and reduce flooding near their
Port Esquivel plant.
Semi-captive ranching of wild popu-
lations for meat is also unlikely to be
profitable in the short term. However,
effective protection could lead to an in-
crease in the population and some con-
trolled exploitation might be possible
through a licence system.

Manatees are considered endangered
and are declining throughout their range.
Many countries are taking action to pro-
tect these animals and their habitats. In
Jamaica, improved public awareness and
observance of wildlife laws could help
to reverse their decline. Development of
a national parks system including coastal

Public awareness and education are among the
keys to ensuring the manatees' survival The
State of Florida has embarked on a public edu-
cation programme using material such as
bumper stickers, booklets and other teaching
aids shown here.

areas would provide sanctuaries for
many species including manatees and in-
spire appreciation of and pride in Jam-
aica's natural heritage. Perhaps with
greater public awareness and involvement
in the plight of manatees, a way may be
found to ensure the survival of these fas-
cinating creatures.
Illustrations have been used from The
West Indian Manatee in Florida, Florida
Power and Light Co. and from education-
al material published by the Department
of Natural Resources, State of Florida.


1. It is not known to what extent manatees
are dependent on fresh water but they
have been observed drinking it from pipes
and hoses.
2. First recorded following the shipwreck
of Vitus Bering and his crew in the
north Pacific, they were named for the
expedition's naturalist and surgeon Georg

Wilhelm Stellar. Growing to a length of
10m and weighing several tons, they
were easily harpooned and taken for
meat. They soon became a major food
source for expeditions searching the
Arctic for oil and furs and were hunted

BYERS, Anne M., "Of Manatees and Mer-
maids", Americas, March-April 1982.
HARTMAN, Daniel S., "Ecology and Beha-
viour of the Manatee (Trichechus
manatus) in Florida", Special Public-
ation No. 5, The American Society
of Mammalogists, 1979.
HAYNES, Ann, "Manatee Conservation in
Jamaica", unpublished draft NRCD
report, 1985.
SLOANE, Sir Hans, Vol. II A Voyage to the
Island Madeira, Barbados, Nieves, S.
Christophers and Jamaica, 1707.
VAN METER, Victoria Brook, "The West
Indian Manatee in Florida", Florida
Power and Light Co., 1982.

Music in Local Advertising

By Pamela O'Gorman

F rom the time when Sonny
Bradshaw, as president of the
Jamaica Federation of Musi-
cians (JFM), led the campaign for local
advertisers and advertising agencies to
use the skills of Jamaican composers and
performers, the advertising industry has
developed into one of the most fascin-
ating cultural phenomena in the island.
Not only does it provide an outlet for
the creative energies of some of our
most versatile musical talents and a
source of income for a number of com-
posers, performers and technicians, it
also offers an interesting insight into the
prevailing cultural values of our time.
Whether these values are imposed on
us by a powerful industry that manipu-
lates our cultural tastes and prefer-
ences or whether it merely reinforces
an existing pattern of such preferences
- 'giving the public what it wants' -
cannot readily be answered. I only
know that when I recently took a closer
look at the musical component of local
advertising, I became very much aware
of the powerful influence the industry
can have on public tastes and cultural
The way in which music is used com-
mercially to manipulate our thoughts
and feelings is a fascinating study in it-
self. We are so often passive recipients
of the streams of gratuitous messages
that bombard us through the media day
and night, we tend to underestimate the
effect they have on our subconscious.
In advertising, music is used not so
much for its inherent meaning qua
music as for its symbolic function; not
so much as an end in itself as a means
to a further end which is a psychological
'softening up' process that will induce
us to buy a product. And if it is thought
that I am exaggerating the power of
music and what the industry calls Sfx
(sound effects), you have only to
imagine radio and TV advertising com-

pletely devoid of either, to realize how
dependent they are upon the functions
they perform.
Music has the power to evoke mood,
stimulate psychological and physical res-
ponses and add a subconscious dimen-
sion that appeals to our deepest cul-
tural beliefs, whether they be at a
national, social or family level. What
emerges overall says something about
our cultural value system that is of
fundamental importance.
This is probably one reason why the
JFM, some twenty years ago, urged that
local advertising be placed in the hands
of Jamaicans. If we are going to be
manipulated, then surely it is better to be
manipulated by our own people, than
by foreigners!

Psychological Manipulation

I do not share the notion of a num-
ber of my colleagues that commercial
music is inferior and unimportant be-
cause it is not art. It is of the utmost
importance because it is so pervasive
and so powerful and so much a part not
only of every individual's life, but also
of the nation's life.
Furthermore, on a purely aesthe-
tic level, many a short commercial is in
fact more pleasing in terms of concept,
imagination and craftsmanship than
many a piece of more pretentious art
Commercials have to concentrate a
lot of information into a very short
space of time. They have to do it with
a sureness and definition that can be
brought off only in the hands of master
craftsmen. They can be stimulating,
maddening, thought-provoking, pleasur-
able they can even, occasionally, of-
fer an aesthetic experience. Certainly,
where local television is concerned, they
are often more interesting than the pro-

There are a number of ways in which

we are manipulated by music some of
them universal in the response they
evoke, some dependent wholly upon
our cultural conditioning.
On a universal plane, we are affected
most by rhythm, tempo and pitch.
Generally a fast tempo generates excite-
ment, a slow one calms us down. A
rhythm consisting mainly of long, sus-
tained notes has a more soothing ef-
fect than one consisting of short ones.
As far as pitch is concerned, extremes of
high and low are unsettling; a fairly low
bass line can give a sense of solidity, a
fairly high one arrests our attention.
There are a number of local commer-
cials that have used these single elements
alone to help communicate a certain
message very effectively to the poten-
tial consumer. For example, take either
of two current TV advertisements which
are very similar: one for ICWI insurance,
the other for Wray and Nephew's 8-year-
old rum. Both are rhythmically static,
both use sustained bass sounds to send a
message of solidity and dependability
in the case of ICWI; of long-lasting tradi-
tion and timelessness in the case of
Wray and Nephew's rum. Against this
sustained background ICWI uses slow
horn calls at a higher pitch, which call
our attention to the words which are
flashed on screen. At the same time
they communicate a sense of occasion,
of importance. Altogether the advertise-
ment inspires confidence; which no
doubt is its prime intention.
A bottle of Wray and Nephew's 8-
year- old rum is illuminated from the
back by the sun rising over the moun-
tains, synchronized (again) with a horn
call, above the sustained bass. The voice-
over is unhurried, reassuring, authori-
tative. The image is one of quality.
Where rhythm is concerned, one of
the most memorable examples, broad-
cast both on radio and TV, has been the
PSOJ's "Support the Force". A short,
verbal sketch of the life of a policeman
who was killed in the line of duty is

vividly underlined by a repeated tone,
by now universally familiar as that heard
on a life monitoring machine. It begins
at a normal pulse rate, accelerates at the
moment of action where he confronts a
gang of criminals, stops and then con-
tinues as one long sustained note after
he is killed. It is a brilliant advertise-
ment, not only in its dramatic force,
but also in its utter simplicity.

Cultural Conditioning
Instrumental timbres have very defin-
ite effects upon our sub-conscious,
mainly through generations of condition-
ing. A drum, a trumpet, a group of
strings, a flute, a solo violin, a piano, an
electric bass each makes an individual
impact, based on long cultural asso-
ciation. To Jamaicans, drums convey a
wealth of sub-conscious meaning. A
very simple yet very effective example
is one put out for the Planning Insti-
tute of Jamaica's Economic and Social
Survey (could any agency be confront-
ed by a more daunting product to pack-
age and sell?) By a clever polyrhythmic
combination of accompanying drum
rhythms and high pitched percussion,
they have succeeded in simultaneously
projecting a Jamaican identity and an
underlying sense of urgency to reinforce
a message which begins: 'Mr. Business-
man! Manufacturing grew strongly in
the first quarter of 1985 . .' I have
no doubt that the format persuaded a
number of business people to invest in
a publication that would otherwise have
been attractive mainly to academics.
Just as Jamaicans respond to drums,
they respond also to a bass guitar play-
ing either a reggae 'riff' or a fast-driving
doh, soh ,doh, soh ,rhythmic pattern
that is found in so many popular songs.
It is the favourite reinforcement for any
spoken message that seeks to induce
people to run out and buy a product or
enter a competition. Its associations are
fun, excitement, movement, Saturday
nights. It is used with a frequency that
amounts to being a cliche'
The cultural modes ancestral-
traditional, popular-contemporary and
classical appeal to our deepest cul-
tural prejudices as much as our deepest
cultural responses and it is here that the
composer has to know exactly to whom
he is appealing and at what level. Music
has powerful family, racial, social and
national connotations and the style of
the music used in advertising reveals the
'target audience' more than anything
else apart from straight dialect.

For us in Jamaica, the ancestral-
traditional means 'folk'. It can cut across
all social barriers, having a very wide
appeal, or it can be very limited in its
application. For some reason, it is sel-
dom used in advertising, perhaps be-
cause its associations are mainly rural
and nowadays there are few products
that can afford to appear as what some
people might interpret as 'backward'.
At the other end of the spectrum, classi-
cal orclassical-type musiciselite, 'classy',
white. There is a classic (no pun) ex-
ample of this being shown at present on
TV in the form of an advertisement for
gin. The settings are sophisticated, the
people are 'class', the background music
is Baroque strings (Vivaldi, perhaps)
beautifully played, beautifully record-
ed. Not a word is spoken. At the end,
three words appear on screen: 'Gilbeys.
First Class'. A powerful message, at
many levels.

Many styles of music can be sub-
sumed under the popular-contemporary
mode. Locally, reggae is 'roots', dub is
even deeper 'roots', calypso or soca are
'roots' too, but less so. All are black.
Black culture is also emphasized in the
use of 'call and response', where a state-
ment by a solo leader is answered by a
chorus. The format, originally ancestral-
traditional, is to be found frequently in
contemporary music. It not only allows
for the transmission of a great deal of
information by the lead voice, it also
engenders a sense of participation in the
listener, whether actively involved or
not. At the same time it reinforces one
of the most fundamental and universal
forms of black musical expression. It is
to be found frequently in the local in-
dustry and features strongly in advertise-
ments for rum. Appleton Jamaica,
Reggae Rum ('Rich and Spicy') and
Sugar Ray all use it.

Jazz, these days, denotes black 'style'
or black elite. Many readers will no
doubt remember the TV advertisement
for a certain rum entitled "The Am-
bassador" in which a Jamaican diplomat
a man of obvious taste and discern-
ment makes a dramatic entrance into
a party and, when offered a drink, re-
quests rum in preference to other spirits.
The jazz music that reinforces this scen-
ario is just right: it suggests class and
sophistication without compromising
racial identity.

Contemporary-popular also includes
a great deal of foreign-style music of

differing racial hues; country and west-
ern and Tin Pan Alley, through popu-
lar, pop, rock to rhythm and blues and
soul and a host of combinations and
permutations of these, including MOR.1
All belong to a general category that
speaks a kind of universal language to a
wide cross section of society all over the
world. In Jamaica, its main orientation,
apart from West Indian forms, is towards
North American style and this consti-
tutes the predominant mode of musical
expression on the local advertising

The RJR Golden Microphone
In May, Radio Jamaica held its Third
Annual RJR Radio Advertising Award
competition. To my mind, it is an im-
portant cultural event because it focus-
es attention on one of our most potent
cultural forces. The competition was
established by Radio Jamaica in 1984
'as a means of encouraging excellence in
Radio Advertising'.2 According to the
rules, entries in the competition must
have been created and produced in Jam-
aica and, 'Generally speaking, entries
with the greater local input are favour-
ed over those having foreign input since
one of the basic aims of the competition
is to encourage and reward local talent
and skills'. The spirit of the JFM's earlier
campaign could not be better expressed
or upheld.
When RJR invited the School of
Music to provide a nominee for the jud-
ging panel, they graciously acceded to a
request of mine to be allowed to sit in on
the judging sessions as an observer.3 My
intention was to obtain an overall view
of the industry which is simply not pos-
sible given my own haphazard listening
and viewing habits. My approach, then,
was quite different from the judges'.
While their interest lay primarily in the
concept, quality, production, effective-
ness and overall impact of an advertise-
ment, mine lay in discovering the differ-
ent ways in which music is used in local
advertising to elicit a response from the
public in order to influence their choices.
Furthermore, I approached the exer-
cise out of interest in the industry it-
self, what goes into it and who com-
poses for it.4
I closely audited almost seventy
different advertisements entered in the
contest, which used music in one way or
another.5 For my purposes, I grouped
them in product categories as follows:

food, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks,
cosmetics, hardware products, travel
and books, commerce and public serv-
ice to try to discern the target audience
through the cultural mode used; to see
how the advertisements were construct-
ed and to try to discern any trends. This
was to throw up some surprises.

Of the twenty-one advertisements for
food (the largest category, followed by
alcoholic beverages and cosmetics) only
one, for Grace Cock Soup by Clay
Bradley had a Caribbean orientation.
The rest were country and western (4),
MOR (1) and international pop (13).
Two leant more towards classical than
Among them there was some superb-
ly-crafted music: for Eve foods, acatchy
melody by Grub Cooper (performed by
the Fab Five Inc.), for "Butter is Best"
by Peter Ashbourne (words by Reggie
Carter) in a varied up-tempo, light pop
style that used call and response pat-
terns; for J.F. Mills by the Grub Cooper/
Fab Five combination in a light, clean,
attractive format using a solo voice and
a clear texture that evoked a spotlessly
clean kitchen; an outstanding jingle for
HTB Buns by Peter Ashbourne in coun-
try and western style with a mixed
vocal group giving a tight performance
in close harmony; and Boris Gardiner's
prize-winning "Slenderella" a clear,
simple, well-produced country and
western jingle that one would swear
has been imported from Nashville,
Tennessee. Along with his "Butter is
Best" ad, Peter Ashbourne had the
ingratiating "Mr. Cheez" whom, I hear,
all children now love and the prize-
winning Grace Cock Soup duet ("Hey,
sweet lady") that could have been lift-
ed straight out of an American musical.
What is most interesting in all this is
that of the twenty-one examples, six
were written by Peter Ashbourne and
six by Boris Gardiner.

Alcoholic Beverages
The target audience for an alcoholic
beverage is always obvious. The white
spirits vodka and gin are clearly
aimed at the sophisticated consumer
and the music is usually classical, quasi-
classical or a sweeter brand of pop.
Smirnoff Vodka for instance is project-
ed by the Fab Five Inc. using some at-
mospheric sounds in static rhythm and a
wide pitch range, mainly as a background

to a seductive voice. Rum is aimed at
both audiences. Appleton Jamaica Rum
uses a reggae by Grub Cooper and
Reggae Rum uses a mento-like jingle
by Perry Tole and Peter Couch using
plenty of call and response in a clean,
catchy outline that communicates a lot
of information in a short space of time.
Peter Scarlett's "Sugar Ray" is Carib-
bean-oriented with a good melodic
line, relaxed feeling and use of call and
On the other hand, Wray and Neph-
ew's 8-year rum ("The Dawn of Per-
fection") is an arrangement by Mongoose
Productions that is quasi-classical, using
static rhythm and instrumental timbres
(horn and strings) to evoke atmosphere.
Wray and Nephew liqueurs, on the other
hand, feature a voice of the older gener-
ation ("Have it your way") backed by
some early North American 'swing' to
suggest a period background.
Beer and stout usually have a 'roots'
orientation. Guinness'es "Good for
you", used as the response in its straight
'call and response' format is by now a
catchword, and McEwan's Strong Ale has
received a strong push with a first-class
reggae call and response by Peter Scar-
lett. This is why Red Stripe's latest jingle
is surprising. An American-flavoured,
American-accented marching chorus
that takes the beer right out of its usual
class even Jamaican-orientation it
was composed by Grub Cooper. It is an
excellent piece of contrapuntal work,
well-performed, and its Christmas ver-
sion won an award. Nevertheless, I find
it an interesting change of emphasis.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

The soft-drink category is more
Caribbean in orientation, generally.
Grub Cooper's make-over of the Ameri-
can original "Coke is it" which features
Carlene Davis ("Carlene Davis for Coca
Cola") is an exciting, hard-driving song
that combines an international pop fla-
vour with a call and response format. The
vitality is infectious.
Coke's rival Pepsi has "Moving up the
Ladder" by Perry Tole and Peter Couch,
a team that excels in Caribbean-type
music, especially soca and calypso. The
song's dependence on the Arrow caly-
pso "Raise your hand" ("Raise your
hand if you want a Pepsi") might lead
to questions of plagiarism, save for the
appearance of Arrow himself in the
chorus. Guinness (Jamaica) have put out
a "Ting Soca" composed by Peter Scar-

lett and arranged by Grub Cooper which
is also highly attractive and, by now,
The virtue of soca and calypso styles
and the call and response format is that
they address a wide audience across the
social spectrum in all age groups. They
induce a relaxed atmosphere and sub-
conscious participation from the listen-
er. For soft drinks, the style is exactly
right, and the repetitive nature of the
response allows the brand name to be
hammered home.


One of the most interesting cate-
gories I found was that of cosmetics.
There was a time, in the days of foreign
advertising, when the accent in cos-
metic advertising was on glamour and
romance. There was a plethora of sing-
ing strings, even solo violins, and the
atmosphere tended to be soft and hush-
ed, with the accent on seductiveness.
Not so in the 1980s. Judging by most of
the cosmetic advertisements, the target
audience these days is young, smart and
unsentimental. The musical style is inter-
national pop, the tempo fast and hard-
driving. Not only are today's young
men and women 'on the move', their
search for gold is obviously not con-
fined to clawing their way through
plastic bottles of Vaseline Intensive
Care Lotion. It is an interesting shift.
There were two 'softer' examples which
I heard, one for Impulse composed and
arranged by Peter Ashbourne, the other
for Sta-Sof-Fro by Peter Scarlett; both
owed something to Burt Bacharach.
Ashbourne is obviously the first
choice for cosmetic advertisements.
He has composed no less than three
(Seventeen Plus, Impulse and Vidal
Sassoon), four if one includes Petro-
gel. It says much for his originality that
each manages to be distinctive. The
Petrogel ad is outstanding in its original
use of speech and silence to attract the
listener's attention.


Space does not allow for details
about the other categories. I must, how-
ever, mention two outstanding ones -
for NCB and Life of Jamaica. Banks and
insurance companies usually try to pro-
ject a quality image, leaning more to-
wards classical style music. NCB's
"Courtesy 1985" by Boris Gardiner es-
chews the usual format for a well-pro-

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duced 'music-voice-over-music' format
that is clear, ingratiating and relaxed.
It is a friendly ad which, no doubt, is
exactly what NCB wanted. The LOJ
advertisement by Peter Scarlett, ar-
ranged by Peter Scarlett and Grub
Cooper, is a slow, beautifully-shaped
ballad that climaxes effectively on the
words 'Life of Jamaica' after a beau-
tiful lead-up: 'now your dreams unfold'.
The climax is constantly reinforced by
echo-effects that give a multi-dimension-
al feel to the music. The advertisement
inspires confidence and gives the im-
pression that no pains have been spared
in using whatever forces were necessary
to achieve the intended effect. It is a
superb piece of work, in every detail.
Listen to it.
There is just one more that should be
mentioned, as an interesting example of
how associations are built up in the pub-
lic mind. For Christmas, Sangster's
Book Stores ran an advertisement ar-
ranged by Grub Cooper based on the
'Chimes' motif, to which were added the
words, 'Sangster's Book Store'. The en-
tire advertisement is based on the repe-
tition of this phrase, as an introduction
and as a background to the voice-over.
In June, Sangster's ran a "Christmas in
June" ad with the same music, but a
different message. Then came August's
ad, with the same music, but this time
without any mention of Christmas. By
virtue of conditioning, the original Christ-
mas Chimes motif, has now effectively
been taken over by Sangster's. The impli-
cations of this are interesting. Pavlov's
dogs started salivating at the sound of a
bell, perhaps henceforth we shall start
running to Sangster's at the sound of
Christmas Chimes!


Production techniques are generally
good, but could often be improved. The
main faults are clumsiness in splicing
and bridging sections and bad balance
and lack of clarity in over-dubbing.
As in all art, it is not what is put in that
counts so much as what is left out and
many an ad could be made more effective
by lightening the texture and allowing
the main idea to be more clearly project-
ed: a piling-on of voicings and effects
often does more harm than good. Need-
less to say none of the leading writers is
guilty of any of these misjudgements.
As I said previously, my survey of
the 1985 entries brought a few surprises.
Firstly, the industry is dominated by
four composers: Boris Gardiner, Grub

Cooper, Peter Scarlett (who also uses
Grub Cooper to arrange) and Peter
Ashbourne. Peter Couch and Perry
Tole are young and coming up fast, but
do not yet command the range of the
others. Of almost 70 entries, 60 were
by Cooper, Scarlett, Ashbourne and
Gardiner combined.
Their range is enormous. They are all
first-rate musicians and craftsmen and
they all command musical groups that
can carry out their ideas at a high level
of performance. Gardiner masters all
idioms and gives to each an authenticity
that belies its Jamaican origin. Both
Cooper and Scarlett have a beautiful
melodic sense (a rare attribute, strange-
ly enough, among musicians) and a
compelling sense of climax. In addition,
the Fab Five Inc. who perform their
work are a first rate professional group.
Peter Ashbourne, while not having
the consistent melodic gift of Cooper
and Scarlett, has a composer's mind
which he applies with originality and a
good tonal and harmonic sense that al-
lows his work to withstand repeated
hearings. The further attribute that all
have is the ability to remain anonymous
and not project any personal style.
Secondly, despite the intention of
using local material in the industry, the
predominant style is North American
pop. It is not difficult to see why. First,
it appeals to a wide cross section of to-
day's audiences. It is almost classless
and colourless (though perhaps leaning
towards white musical elements rather
than black), being usually a blend of
Afro-American and/or white American
elements. It can be composed and per-
formed almost entirely with voices and
synthesizers if necessary, which cuts
down on costs.

I wonder whether this prevailing
mode is dictated by the manufacturers,
the advertising agencies, the composers,
the general cultural orientation of the
broadcasting media or by hard know-
ledge of what the public wants.
It is an important question. While the
spirit of the JFM ruling is being upheld
by the RJR Awards competition, I am
not sure that the industry is producing
exactly what was intended, in terms of
cultural orientation and its domination
by a mere handful of musicians.
I can hear all the arguments that can
be brought out in defence of the present
trend: the wide expressive range of
international pop, the need for local
products to be competitive with import-

ed ones and therefore to be given an
appropriate image, the fact that the
talents of the four main composers are
Even so, we need to be conscious of
where the industry is taking us and to
decide, at some stage, if this is the way
we really ought to go.


1. MOR Middle-of-the-road.
2. From the manifesto on the Third Annual
RJR Radio Advertising Awards Competi-
tion, 1986.
3. The author wishes to thank Mr Lester
Spaulding, managing director of RJR
Mr Milton Weller, sales manager and Mr
Don Cooper, public relations supervisor
for their co-operation and assistance, which
greatly facilitated the researching of this
4. The names of authors of entries are not
mentioned in judging sessions. I obtained
this information separately.
5. It should be noted that with one excep-
tion, the remainder of this article is based
on entries in the RJR competition. It can
therefore not claim to be comprehensive.
However, I believe that the sample is rep-
resentative enough to indicate trends.





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The Impact of Nationhood

The Art World of The Early Sixties

By Gloria Escoffery
Jamaica attained INDEPENDENCE [sic] on
August 6th, 1962, as a dominion within the
commonwealth. The new constitution pro-
vides for full control over internal and foreign
affairs. It is a great achievement.1

Almost a quarter century has
passed since Jamaicans experi-
enced the euphoria which
immediately preceded and followed that
moving ceremony in which the Union
Jack flopped down and the black, green
and gold jerked open in the balmy night
air. I had no official invitation but I was
there, thanks to the insistence of my
most important, perhaps I should say
my sole faithful patron, Mr later Dr -
Willie Gocking, the Trinidadian Univer-
sity Librarian at Mona. He somehow
managed to obtain an extra ticket so
that I could attend in style with his
By 1962 I had been through half of
my life to date, and going on for one-
third of my working life. Most Jamaicans
of my age group, those who have with-
stood the surge of movement away from
'the beloved rock', look back with nos-
talgia to an era in which, for one thing,
there was so little crime. But as an artist
I feel I should put on record my aware-
ness of the tremendous improvement
that has taken place in the status of the
Jamaican artist since Independence. The
self-confidence of the artist today is, of
course, underpinned by the availability
of good professional training in his own
country, and by a National Gallery which
confirms Jamaica's artistic primacy in
the English-speaking Caribbean. Looking
back over the years I find that so much
has happened that it would be impossible
to cover the whole story. I shall there-
fore focus my attention on a very brief
period from about 1961 to 1965 the
years in which independent nationhood
became a reality. Did it make an appre-
ciable difference to the way artists per-
ceived themselves? To the type of art
The development of the School of

Art is a separate story which will be told
elsewhere. I am more interested in look-
ing at the assumptions which influenced
people involved in producing or pro-
moting art. What part did the critics
play, and what were the assumptions
which influenced press coverage of the
fine arts? What was the response of the
How naive, amorphous and adven-
turous were the assumptions and ex-
pectations of the artist at the time of
Independence! Constantly referred to as
if he were already 'an old master' though
perhaps still under forty,2 he felt some
pressure to exhibit before he was really
sufficiently mature; because of the close
association between the struggle for
national sovereignty and the art move-
ment in its formative years he was ex-
pected to produce, like a rabbit from a
magician's hat, some sort of national
'face' preferably a smiling one with
colourful tropical flora forming a touris-
tic background. He nevertheless lived
on the sidelines of the real, meaning
material success. The workers, the
'masses' were real, and even more real
were the commission agents who im-
ported real goods people could use. Yet
somehow the artist survived, intensely
real in his own private world as he strug-
gled to exist by selling the odd work on
the side while teaching if he were
lucky enough to be sufficiently well
educated, or signpainting if he had the
right flair.
Then, as now, the daily press consist-
ed of the Gleaner and the Star which, in
accordance with editor Theodore Sealy's
commitment to the arts as the front line
of Jamaican culture, provided stereo-
typed coverage of art events, with em-
phasis, then as now, on wise words ut-
tered by guest speakers at exhibition
openings. Reviewing for the entire period
was the function of two critics for the
Gleaner, Norman Rae and Ignacy Eker
(now known to the public as Andrew
Hope) and one for the Star, Archie
Lindo; then as now Archie attended all
the shows and laboured to convince the

man in the street that this was a pleasur-
able exercise, and that art appreciation
was not merely a matter of being fami-
liar with such household names as Edna
Manley and Albert Huie.3 Of course the
media as we now know it, with all that
live TV coverage, did not exist. No
doubt Archie was even then doing his
bit for art on radio. JBC seemed alive to
the existence of art, and showed it in
a practical way by making its foyer avail-
able for small exhibitions. I think the
larger public was, then as now, mainly
passive, being quietly conditioned by
the systematic, routine coverage pro-
vided by the newspapers. But it could
be electrified over issues in which
artists seemed to be going off the rails
and challenging the norms of public
morality, or the right of the citizen to
say what type of public monument he
would have in his streets or parks.


But what was taking place on the art
scene in this era? There was more going
on than I had remembered when I start-
ed doing research for this article. There
seemed to have been less because the
pace was slower and there were far few-
er artists. Exhibitions had a longer run.
There were fewer one-man shows and
more mammoth group events which, in
commercial galleries such as Hills, then
at the height of success, attracted huge
crowds; the names of the more socially
prominent attenders at openings would
be published in the Gleaner. The galler-
ies tended to be more scattered. Of
course there was the Institute of Jam-
aica's Art Gallery on East Street, the
birthplace of art and the downtown
rootsman's privileged domain. Across the
street, that kindly godfather of the art
movement Bob Verity, presided in his
small office at the Junior Centre of the
Institute; surrounded by live works that
the artists kept bringing in for his in-
spection; he was at the centre of the
planning for everything cultural, but
could always find time for chitchat
with artists. Now and then he would

open the door and pat the head of some
of the dozens of children who stream-
ed upstairs for art classes.
Some time before the period cover-
ed in this article the Institute Gallery
was extended. In what seemed at the
time to be a huge, almost intimidatingly
austere setting, with movable parti-
tions covered in burlap, a well planned
programme bearing in mind the budg-
etary limitations produced an al-
most unbroken series of exhibitions.
These included not only shows by liv-
ing Jamaican artists, and some retro-
spectives, but samples of culture from
abroad. The artists of the time were
mostly young and passing through a
formative stage; it was a valuable ex-
perience for them to be exposed, say,
to paintings from China, or a selection
of casts and photographs of works by
Henry Moore, or prints by Picasso. The
culminating event in this line of ex-
posure to other cultures was a fine
selection of British paintings from the
British Council collection which open-
ed in midsummer 1962, a graceful fare-
well gesture of the institution which,
in partnership with the Institute, had
for many years guided the cultur-
al destiny of our artists. Some folks
would have complained at the time that
the British Council (located a few doors
down from the Junior Centre in a charm-
ing eighteenth century house) was rather
too highhanded in its side of the partner-
ship; whatever the personality problems
that arose in the lower East Street cor-
ridors of cultural power, I think we
should be eternally grateful for British
Council assistance in the form of scholar-
ships and all sorts of educational pro-
grammes; most of all, perhaps, for pro-
viding funds and expertise in setting up
the Jamaica Library Service.
By the end of the period under dis-
cussion, not only had the British Coun-
cil disappeared from East Street but
with the expansion of suburbs into the
foothills of St. Andrew, the growing
importance of the university as a rival
cultural centre and the development of
that area known as New Kingston,
middle class culture was moving uptown
and here the new galleries tended to be
located. The Kingston and St. Andrew
Parish Library, more popularly known
then as the 'Tom Redcam Library' pro-
vided a cultural focus. Following, on a
more modest scale, the example of the
Institute of Jamaica, the library made its
foyer available to local artists (I was the
first one to exhibit at that venue, some
time in the late fifties) and also staged

a series of educational exhibitions which
helped to make a rather insular public
aware that there were diverse and fas-
cinating cultures located in other parts
of the world.4
A word must be said here about what
was taking place out in 'the country'.
Hills' van, packed with Jamaican works
of art, had blazed a trail into the resort
areas in the early fifties, perhaps even
earlier. In the first half of the sixties
various attempts were made to set up
permanent galleries, notably at Brim-
mer Hall in Ocho Rios and in Portland.
The White River Gallery opened with
fanfare in February 1963, featuring the
elegant gouache marine studies of Marion
Simmons, an American artist who had a
home in Ocho Rios. In Portland there
was a brave attempt by Dr Sam Street,
an early generous patron, to set up an
art centre, or colony, at Long Bay. This
didn't work because, with the exception
of Van Pitterson, who had taken root in
that parish, the urban artists favoured
by Dr Street didn't really want to leave
Kingston. There was, however, the begin-
ning of a trend continued today as
some artists set up their studios in re-
mote spots far from Kingston. Moving
to Rio Bueno in 1960, because I never
really liked the hassle of city life, I was,

I The Contemporary
Jamaican Artists
pioneered the use of
graphically interesting

I think the first to move out. Very soon
after that the Todds, American potters,
rooted in Highgate, and were joined by
the Parboosinghs who later moved to
a headland on the St. Mary coast.

The major cultural event of the first
half of the sixties, the culmination of
an unspoken unease by artists that none
of the existing galleries really represent-
ed their aspirations to avoid excessive
control, was the opening of the Con-
temporary Jamaican Artists Association
Gallery later simply referred to as
"the Gallery" on Constant Spring
Road. The opening on 13 August 1964
was a tremendous occasion;5 one had to
jostle for a place from which to hear the
words of guest speaker Rex Nettleford,
who made the interesting observation
that the challenge to Jamaican artists
was all the greater and full of potential
because of the complexity of a society
in which people managed to live simul-
taneously on three social levels. To ob-
tain an authoritative, well-written jour-
nalistic account of this event, and of the
plans of the co-founders Karl Parboo-
singh, Eugene Hyde and Barry Watson,
I advise readers to consult the Daily
Gleaner of 18 September 1964. In an

article titled "Art and the Public",
Barbara Gloudon sets the achievement
of the directors clearly in historical con-
text vis-a-vis the existing galleries, and
gets down the essence of the philosophy
behind this experimental first non-profit
gallery. Eugene Hyde, communications
expert and ideas man, was really the driv-
ing force behind the venture, I think.
Here he is, as quoted by Barbara Glou-
don: 'This [sic] artist needs to be aware
of public interest. This doesn't neces-
sarily mean compliance. In fact one
wishes there was more counter-reaction
to the artist from the public. It is hard
to describe just what we're seeking, but
it is a kind of friction, a sort of force,
one against the other, which the artist
must have, if he is not to exist in a
vacuum'. The promoters had great
plans, some of which, including a fram-
ing department, were carried out. I
don't think they ever achieved the ob-
jective of a theatre in the back yard.
For the first time the middle class
Jamaican public, hungry for new ex-
periences, could drop in at the Gallery
and chat with artists at the bar; for the
first time jazz programmes became a fea-
ture of art exhibitions, and paintings
and sculptures seemed to step down
off the hallowed walls of the Institute
Gallery into the casual setting of bour-
geois life. Soon after the opening
the promoters gave its clientele a fresh
stimulus in the form of a show of Haitian
paintings last seen in the Alcoa con-
test travelling exhibition of 1955-6.
At a later date they managed to round
up an exhibition of Cuban art.
Sad to say, by the end of 1965 the
avant gardism of this experiment seem-
ed to be running out of steam, and re-
viewer Norman Rae was complaining
that most of the Kingston galleries and
display centres including the Gallery, had
begun to behave like the Mona Dam,
and had gone dry. Later on the Gallery
moved to premises on Oxford Road.
Perhaps the management was a bit more
professional, but the spirit there was
never quite the same. The basic problem
was that Hyde was way ahead of his
time. The Gallery clientele wasn't really
up to the intellectual give-and-take he
had in mind; nor were the artists, most
of them unsophisticated persons and/or
loners who, even if they did think a great
deal about the sort of aesthetic prob-
lems that vexed Hyde, preferred the
solitude of their studios.


Another rising wave of the time was

the emergence of the dedicated Jamaican
patron. Foremost in the line was A.D.
Scott, himself inspired to enter the arena
as a sculptor. He was very much involved
with the intellectual leaders of the Gal-
lery clique, and other artists whose
works he collected. I recall a weekend
spent with a group of artists at his
Skyline Drive home; we were all chal-
lenged to produce a painting which in
some way reflected our response to this
environment; for me the grand drama-
tic panorama of the city spread out be-
low, the liveliness of the company, and
the pressure to produce something from
on the spot exposure to a more or less
alien type of landscape were just too
much. Hyde knocked off an abstract
expressionist work which carried off the
prize. Patronage by the private sector
was still in its infancy. The Gallery
group went after this too, believing that
art, as a matter of right should be visible
in every public or commercial building
in the city. The Daily Gleaner records
an occasion on which the managing
director of Carreras was seen handing
over a carving, Mother and Child by the
sculptor Lawrence Edwards, to the
directors to be exhibited at the Gallery
on semi-permanent loan. In more than
one sense this indicated that new winds
were blowing. Lawrence Edwards's intui-
tive carvings long appreciated by cogno-
scenti at the Institute, were really not
the sort of art that up till then had been
favoured by collectors in the private

Reading this account of pointers to
the future, someone is sure to ask,
'What of women's art? Were there no
signs of emerging feminism?' Women
had, of course been holding their own
for quite a long time, and included such
names, still familiar today, as Susan
Alexander, Heather Sutherland, of
course Edna Manley, Valerie Bloom-
field, and myself; one of the foremost
contributors to Hills Gallery in this era
was an English teacher at the art school
named Moya Cozens who excelled at
print making. But it took the initiative
of the Gallery to emphasize to some
slight extent the feminist angle. In a
Gleaner review titled "The Girls at the
Gallery" dated 23 May 1965, Norman
Rae in response to a three woman exhi-
bition by Moira Small, Valerie Bloom-
field and Ruth Kohn, makes the follow-
ing comment: 'These artists are less con-
cerned with quietly safe, feminine es-
says designed to project domesticity

than with establishing themselves on
equal footing with the men in their ef-
fort to solve the artistic problems posed
with each picture'. This oddly old-
fashioned comment must be seen in re-
lation not to women's participation in
general but rather to the type of art
produced by some St. Andrew ladies
who had carried on as a group known
as "the Tuesday Painters" which had
originally been established in the late
fifties by Vicki Noonan, wife of the
USIS director of the time.


The lively involvement of the Noon-
ans, whose Barbican home had come
close to providing the sort of intellectual
centre Hyde had in mind, signalled the
beginning of a new era of influence flow-
ing from the U.S.A. rather than from
Britain. The pro-British faction still had
its supporters, of course, including re-
viewer Ignacy Eker, who carried his
British bias to absurd lengths. It is
tempting to quote in full the remarks
which appeared under his name in an
article titled "What's in a Name?"
(Daily Gleaner 16 August 1964) which
appeared on the occasion of the open-
ing of the Gallery, but I shall be kind
and summarise as far as possible the gist
of his argument. In brief, he was incen-
sed because the directors of the Gallery
had selected the adjective 'contem-
porary' rather than 'modern', the lat-
ter having, according to him, a strong
basis for acceptance in the aesthetic
canon of British criticism: 'To someone
like myself, who lives actively with art,
that decidedly derogative meaning at-
taching to "contemporary" has been
known for quite a while, and to those
who might say they are not concern-
ed with the London art situation I
should reply that London today is un-
doubtedly the art centre of the world
and that the vocabulary of her art
critics must be studied closely and
seriously. Perhaps it is not too late to
jettison that unflattering adjective.
After all we are going to have visitors
from abroad and we do not want to
appear as a bunch of self confessed dul-
lards'. Several paragraphs down he actual-
ly turns his attention to the works on
view, expressing displeasure at the ab-
sence of some artists and scornfully dis-
missing the works of the main exhibi-
tors the three directors because it
does not excite him: 'All those super-
public portraits and nudes by Barring-
ton Watson and all those flashy ab-
stracts by Eugene Hyde with their

insistence on bravura performance
rather than on feeling do not send
my temperature up at all'. On another
occasion he takes a review of Hyde's
work as an excuse to air his anti-
American bias: 'Hyde [who had just re-
turned from a period of study in Cali-
fornia] demonstrated favourably the
peculiarities of the American art situa-
tion. Those acquainted with it know
that painting and sculpture are there
mainly for the sake of theories which
can be built round them, and that the
critic is the creator, while the artist
seems to provide the raw material from
which an interesting article can be writ-
ten.' Poor Eker! Unable to free himself
from the prejudices and canons of taste
of whichever small London group had
shaped his reactions in his younger
Of the two Gleaner critics of the
time, Norman Rae was far more open-
minded. Moreover he wrote in a bright,
colloquial style, so that his harshest
criticism, and his criticisms could be
very stringent indeed, lost some of their
edge. On one occasion he accused Alex-
ander Cooper of using the yellow, green
and black of the Jamaican flag in what
he described as 'an extraordinarily ugly
piece of art from any point of view'
(Daily Gleaner 6 June 1968). When in
1965 the Gallery mounted a preview of
Canada-bound works, he outraged these
artists' loyal patrons by slating them in
no mean terms. Watson for his 'con-
servatively fashionable approach', Huie
as 'the doyen of Jamaican artists who
has now settled into a relentlessly
mechanical pattern'. None of that friend-
ly pat on the back for 'fine portraits of
women' accorded to them by Archie
Lindo in the Star. To Rae these artists
seemed to have reached a dead end, and
he did not hesitate to produce the harsh
adjective 'sterile'. Then as now, Huie
had his coterie of patrons in Canada, so
he did not need to be overdisturbed if
Norman Rae chided him back home.
Likewise Barry Watson, who had it
made as one of the under-forty exhibi-
tors in a huge exhibition titled "The
Present Art of the Americas and Spain"
which had been staged in Madrid in
1963, had no cause for worry. Were
these two not already established as
the leading Jamaican artists, along with
Edna Manley, of course, 'of internation-
al repute'? Very soon there appeared in
the Sunday Gleaner a long article by
Robert Hill titled "Jamaican Art in
Canada: Impressions of a Nationalist"
in which the writer reported on the re-

action of Canadians, who were said to
have 'swooned' over Barry Watson's
works, quoted the sociologist Hersko-
vits to provide an authoritative backing
for his rather confused account of an
interview with the artists, and pro-
claimed for all the world to know, that
Albert Huie had provided him person-
ally with his 'most impressive experi-
ence of Negritude'. 'Absolutely refus-
ing to enter the recesses of abstract
form and colour, Barry has been able to
preserve himself and his works as still
the finest expression of one element [he
did not say which] in the Jamaican cul-
tural focus'.
I refer to this clash of viewpoints not
to embarrass the writer of the article,
who may by now have improved his
style, or to stir up a controversy which,
although so patently irrelevant today,
can still excite some uneasy tremors in
Jamaican art circles, but to clarify the
issue somewhat. The avant gardism of
Hyde and his followers was a liberating
influence, but it tended to confuse by
associating all tendencies to abstraction
with quality. Today we have a wider his-
torical grasp and realise that whatever
the style or mode of expression, ab-
stract or figurative, there is good and
bad art, or if one wishes to be unduly
cut and dried, art and non-art. The 'dis-
covery' of our intuitives and their ex-
posure locally and to the outside world
has brought the realisation that the true
originals are not necessarily 'academic'
virtuosos, nor are they those who ride
on the currents of international stylistic
In the period of the first half of the
sixties, however, to be 'serious' meant
to be in the process of searching for new
solutions within the scope of current
international styles. While the Jamaican
middle class had broken away from the
influence of well-bred British painting -
as represented in the British Council
show of 1962, it was still sympathetical-
ly backing such polished exponents of
academic tradition as, for instance
in the field of sculpture, the work of
black American sculptor Richmond
Barthe, who had a home at the top of
Fern Gully and frequently exhibited
with local artists. This public seemed
therefore to be casting aside the gen-
teel influence of artists like Edward
Molyneaux, Hector Whistler, and Noel
Coward6 self confessedly an amateur,
for an American equivalent. Meanwhile
Parboosingh, greatly influenced by the
Mexican tradition, was pointing in the
direction of something more earthy,

which would reflect our own peasant
consciousness and Hyde, of course, was
the main proponent of American ab-
stract expressionism. Looking back
from the vantage point of 1986 this was
a curiously stimulating time; but all
these new influences impinged only
marginally on that roots based school of
urban artists which included David Pot-
tinger, Whitney Miller and Vernal Reu-
ben. Of course there was also a rising
generation of Jamaica School of Art
graduates, young men like Osmond
Watson and George Rodney who were
emerging at that time and rapidly grow-
ing in sophistication.

To understand the extraordinary
consistency of Norman Rae, and ex-
plain his harshness in handling any-
thing that seemed from his puritanical
viewpoint to lack 'seriousness', we must
set his reviews within this context. The
pervasive tone that emerges as one
rereads his reviews is one of genuine
concern and unflinching integrity. Rae,
who was then in the process of building
up his own collection of Jamaican art
which included such contemporaries as
Vernon Tong but most of all focused on
the masterpieces of John Dunkley, real-
ly cared about the future of Jamaican
art. His reviews of shows at the Hills
Gallery on Harbour Street where most
of the action was located before it moved
up to the Gallery, repeatedly draw a
line between the artistic commercialese
of the purveyors of art for tourists and
those in search of aesthetic 'solutions'.
Reviewing one of these mammoth Hills
events actually a tenth anniversary
celebratory show in 1963 which as usual
featured a much larger proportion of
picturesque landscapes, still life, street
scenes and attractive natives than one
would find in a reputable gallery today
he writes, 'One begins to distinguish
between the works in which colour is
used picturesquely to create the "tropi-
cal illusion" and to decorate the native
and those used for purposes most inte-
grally bound up with the individual
nature of the piece'. (Daily Gleaner 26
November 1963). Anyone wishing to
read a coherent exposition of the Rae
point of view should consult the chap-
ter on the arts which he contributed to
the Andre Deutsch guidebook lan Flem-
ing introduces Jamaica (1968). Using
the 1962 British Council show as his
launching pad, he proceeds to outline
the seductions which lie in wait for the
artist who tries to interpret the Jamaican

scene: blinding tropical glare, too much
in the way of gaudy fauna and exhilar-
ating, seductively picturesque native life U
in the raw. This was okay for the tourist
amateur artist who wanted nothing
more than a personal postcard memento, u
but serious Jamaican artists avoided that
sort of thing. Ironically, one of the illus-
trations shows Parboosingh posed before
a very Jackson Pollockish canvas in the ..
production of which the quality of the lipm q MM ngle
Jamaican sunlight would hardly have ru MLN
mattered though one might say, of
course, that the artist had predigested
it in his subconscious and produced this F
work as an aesthetic equivalent.


Pressure to cop out as a producer of
what has later been defined as 'airport
art' was not the only sort of pressure to
which the Jamaican artist in the early
sixties was exposed. There was the in-
fluence of the nationalist creed, more
insidious, because of its basis in as-
sumptions so firmly rooted in the early
history of the Jamaican art movement
that they were never articulated, and
only barely hovered on the threshold of
consciousness in artistic circles. I remem-
ber a discussion at a dinner party given

AD. Scott's proposed monument to celebrate Jamaica's Independence in 1962 caused a sensation
when a photograph of the maquette appeared on the cover of the Sunday Gleaner magazine (top)
Sculptor Alvin Marriott has quietly continued work on the monument which on completion will be
placed at the Harbour View roundabout. Details already complete include the life size couple
depicting the new Jamaicans (left) which will be placed at the top of the monument and the Jamaican
coat ofarms

by the Parboosinghs at which the subject
of artistic motivation came up. Seya
Parboosingh was adamant in the view
that the artist couldn't possibly be ex-
pected to paint or sculpt as a nationalist
- but then she wasn't a 'born-ya' Jam-
aican. According to Seya, the true
artist duly purified by prayer and fast-
ing, sought to extract from within him-
self a kernel of truth which would be
relevant for all mankind.

I would say that by the time In-
dependence became a reality, and the
political or entrepreneurial Establish-
ment was subtly putting some pressure
on the artist as the faceman for Jamaican
'culture', the artist was already putting
up some resistance to being used as a
national facecard. The official cele-
bratory arts and crafts exhibition
mounted at Wolmers Schools in 1962
(there was a follow up in 1963) was not
a success, described by critic Norman
Rae as 'too amateurish'. Rae asked,'How
can we explain the plethora of Leslie
Kadleighs, Eugene Kellys, Gerry Dun-
lops, Daisy Jeffrey-Smiths or Corah
Eatons and even much as I adore
them John Dunkleys.' The heart of
the artist simply wasn't in it. Besides,
his talent couldn't be commandeered
to produce for something so patently
amateurish and in the Jamaican way
- hurriedly got together.7 What an oc-
casion 1962 Independence August would
have been for a well planned historical
retrospective of the sort which such a
challenge would produce at the Nation-
al Gallery today. But remember, though
the artistic directorate located at the
Institute had done their best, they did
not have the facilities or the profession-
al expertise we can call upon today.
Probably because the ideas of the
organizers were too democratic -
or too grandiose, these exhibitions
weren't mounted within the walls
of the Institute Gallery, as one might
have expected. Perhaps this gallery was
still occupied, in August 1962, by the
British paintings. [No wonder Sir Ken-
neth Blackburne, our first governor-
general, was to be heard in 1963 making
a plea for the establishment of a national
gallery. This would take more than a
decade to become a reality].
Soon after Independence came what
is described in cliche as 'a golden oppor-
tunity' to project the 'Face of Jamaica'
in Europe. A selection of about 40
works by 23 artists was sent off to
Flensburg in West Germany:8 in the
following year it turned up at the Tea
Centre on Regent Street, sponsored by

the West India Committee and hailed
with typical British diplomacy as 'im-
pressive'. The German reporter, or per-
haps public relations officer, detailed to
report on this show was encouraging,
but less effusive: 'Although hardly 25
years have passed since these artists
have picked up their brushes and
chisels, the cultural institutions [my
emphasis] are striving hard to bypass
several cultural epochs. Of course no
Rembrandt, Rubens nor Picasso has
been produced . This was an era
in which, as opportunity arose, artists
were called upon to supply works for
various events abroad, and obediently
complied, unaware that in later years
they would be able to include when
compiling their cv's, 'debut in Flens-
burg West Germany' or wherever. One
of these opportunities was the Chicago
Worlds Fair which opened in October
1963.9 Another was a 'promotion'
by the Jamaica Tourist Board which
dispensed limelight in 1963 to some
Jamaican artists. A Gleaner photo of the
time shows, over the caption 'Jamaica
on Fifth Avenue', an array of still-life
paintings and landscapes in a city show-
One older artist who remained at
home apparently unmotivated to en-
hance his international reputation was
Carl Abrahams, who at that time was
producing some of his most original
pieces, including an early version of the
Last Supper. He had, of course, already
made his mark as an award winner in
the Alcoa Steamship Company competi-
tion of 1955, which, incidentally, for
the first time brought Caribbean paint-
ing, including Cuban, Haitian and Puerto
Rican selections, to the attention of ar-
tists in Jamaica.

Apart from official pressure on artists
to project a good face to the world,
there was a populist hangover from an
earlier period of struggle for national
autonomy. This took the form of an
implicit belief in the artist as true repre-
sentative of 'the masses'; and in many
cases this was absolutely true, for artists
like Pottinger lived close to their roots
and provided a mirror in which the man
in the street saw himself faithfully re-
flected. But beyond that, there was an
implicit involvement on the basis of the
assumption that art was the creation, or
possession of that man in the street,
who had, therefore the right and duty
to protest if the artist seemed to be

going off the rails. Nothing arouses the
Jamaican, whether or not he attends art
exhibitions, so much as the belief that
someone is about to foist on him some
public monument he doesn't like. A
whole article could be written about the
parallels between the recent reaction to
the Christopher Gonzalez Bob Marley
statue and the storm in a teacup in the
early sixties over a proposed national
monument by, ironically, Alvin Marriott;
the choice of Mariott, for the second
Marley statue seems like an act of jus-
tice, restoring due respect to an honour-
able elder who had suffered public in-
dignity by having his design for a nation-
al monument insulted and rejected. The
photograph of the maquette published
in the Gleaner did not do justice to the
artist's concept of the large scale work
but it electrified the public into protest
- in the newspaper though. Not, as
later, in the streets. A.D. Scott, founder
of the Olympia Gallery which opened in
1964 [Gleaner 26 July 1964], was the
generous patron and promoter of this
Even Huie, that 'doyen of Jamaican
artists', or of Jamaican bourgeois taste,
was capable of drawing the tongue of
citizens if they felt he had betrayed the
moral aspirations of the middle class
and, temporarily at least, slipped from
grace. In order to close this article on a
light note, which may send readers away
smiling, I shall end with some excerpts
from a letter to the editor of the Star,
occasioned by a centrespread repro-
duction of a female nude by Huie.

In the Star of 14th inst. that paper has
completely outclassed itself by publish-
ing a completely nude painting of a
woman . what I would like to be
told is where does art stop and porno-
graphy begins? [sic] .... Sometimes I
do wonder if the entire Jamaica has
gone mad. It sounds very lofty and
highly intellectual to say that ordin-
ary mortals cannot appreciate art in
the nude, but knowing the delicate
moral structure on which we are now
building our young Jamaicans, pic-
tures of that sort help to convey to
them the idea that they are being help-
ed in their indecency and licentiousness.
[Star, 3 May 1961].

Dear, enlightened, liberated, reader
of today; pause for a moment and hon-
our Jamaican artists for mulishly con-
tinuing to do their own thing regardless
of the assorted pressures; make sure that
the smile on your sophisticated face, if
superior, is justifiable; and think twice
before you commit yourself to print!


"uf the IM pdmtiu. g artist who Uiend owrt be Jewt ferhi
*, of the Inutitute o J(agkLa.

STAR centrespread of 1961 (top) which provoked at least one irate response from a reader and the
Albert Huie painting (below) which is now one of the treasures of the Wallace Campbell collection.

1. Jamaica Heritage n.d., c1968. Govern-
ment of Jamaica.
2. As far back as 1954, Harry Milner refer-
red to Ralph Campbell then 33, as 'one
of Jamaica's Old Masters' (Daily Gleaner
30 March 1954). In 1955 the Hon. John
O'Brien, speaking at the opening of an
art exhibition, proclaimed, according to
the report published in the Gleaner (9
February 1955) 'Jamaican Art has come
of age'.
3. See Star 23 June 1965 for a typical
sample of reviewing by Archie Lindo.
4. Shows in 1963 included a UNESCO
exhibition of Persian Miniatures in June,
Inside Peru in August, and Reproductions
of European Art in October.
5. Artists other than Hyde, Parboosingh,
Watson present at the opening of the
Gallery were J. McDonald Henry, Seya
Parboosingh, Milton Harley, Carl Abra-
hams, Ralph Campbell, Gloria Escoffery,
Douglas Warner, Valerie Bloomfield,
Vernal Rueben, Robin Oliphant, Corah
Hamilton Eaton. Report of opening ap-
peared in Daily Gleaner 13 August
6. English artists who, among others, exhi-
bited at the Institute Art Gallery in the

7. In 1962 Montego Bay staged its own
independence show, jumping the gun by
opening before Independence. The mov-
ing spirit was flamboyant Polish artist
Michael Lister who had his own gallery
in the heart of what he prematurely des-
cribed as 'Jamaica's second city'. Deplor-
ing the cultural hegemony of Kingston,
Lister chided Montegonians on this oc-
casion for 'lagging behind in doing things
on a big scale'. Gleaner 3 August 1962.
8. Artists selected for the Flensberg show
were Carl Abrahams, Ralph Campbell,
Leslie Clerk, Henry Daley, John Dunk-
ley, Gloria Escoffery, Albert Huie,
Eugene Hyde, Roger Mais, Edna Manley,
Alvin Marriott, Cleveland Morgan, Wins-
leigh McDonald, David Miller, Leonard
Morris, Dorothy Paine, Karl Parboo-
singh, David Pottinger, Mallica Reynolds
(Kapo), Gaston Tabois, Vernon Tong,
Barry Watson, Osmond Watson. The only
unfamiliar name today is that of W.
McDonald. Can any reader supply in-
formation about this artist?
9. Artists exhibiting at the Chicago World
Fair were Ralph Campbell, Alexander
Cooper, Dorothy Henriques, Albert Huie,
Whitney Miller, Karl Parboosingh, Vernal
Reuben, Gaston Tabois, Osmond Watson.
10. The Star 3 May 1961. The Huie painting
in question is now a treasure of the
Wallace Campbell collection.



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By G.H. Sidrak
Ferns of Jamaica
G.R. Proctor
British Museum (Natural History) 1985

he publication of this long-awaited
book is particularly welcome, it
being the only reference work on
Jamaican ferns. This monumental work
has taken the author some 35 years to
complete.The text of 631 pages is
divided into two main parts which cover
the four classes are described in some 49
pages, while the fourth class, which
comprises the ferns, is afforded the
major part of the book.

The method of presentation is particu-
larly useful as it facilitates the treat-
ment of an otherwise difficult and tedi-
ous subject. Thus the description pat-
tern set by the author stating syno-
nyms, characteristics and distribution,
aided by maps and illustrations will
be a great help to interested persons. It
should be noted that, as the book is pri-
marily a scientific publication, descrip-
tions are given in scientific and special-
ised terms. These are not easily under-
stood, especially by those who have not
studied botany as a subject. To assist
the various users, the author has included
a glossary, though this is somewhat
While there is little to fault in the
subject matter, one may examine a few
aspects of the book. To start with, the

vantage. However, the equation of ferns
with pteridophytes, as the full title
implies, is most unfortunate. The book
should have been entitled 'Ferns and
Allied Species' or'Ferns and Fern Allies'.
The inclusion of some 135 plates and
drawings is very salutary, as it will facili-
tate the task of identification and com-
parison, especially for those who cannot

two titles given to the book, namely
Ferns of Jamaica on the cover and the
first flap paper, and then Ferns of
Jamaica a Guide to the Pteridophytes
as indicated on the title page, is not
only confusing, but scientifically
unwarranted. The inclusion of descrip-
tions of the various species of Jamaican
pteridophytes is indeed an added ad-

easily follow the specialised terms used
in the descriptions. However, the omis-
sion of identification of the different
parts indicated by letters or numbers on
many of the plates, and the failure to
indicate the size of the scale-bars on
some of the drawings is regrettable.
While one appreciates the difficulties
arising from a common plant name
being given to many species, or many
common names being given to one
species, the absence of a list of common
names is a great handicap to persons
interested in Jamaican ferns, especially
as floras have very strong local interests.

There is no doubt that this book will
be most appreciated by the many
persons who have great interest in
ferns. It is unfortunate that the high
price of the book (over $600 at time of
writing) might put it out of the reach of
those persons who would like to own a
G.H. SIDRAK is professor of botany at the
University of the West Indies, Jamaica.


aS a aI a

For Travel Values
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By Gloria T. Hull

The Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain
Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe
London: Virago Press, 1985
250 pp. 4.50

Our aim has been to tell it as we know it, placing our story
within its history at the heart of our race, and using our own
voices and lives to document the day-to-day struggles of Afro-
Caribbean women in Britain over the past forty years.

With this introductory statement, authors Beverley
Bryan, Stella Dadzie, and Suzanne Scafeannounce
their subject and firmly identify theirwork as an
exemplary piece of the new black women's scholarship
which is transforming traditional notions both about black
women and about scholarship. Their book is also inform-
ative, absorbing reading for anyone who is at all interested
in women, African diasporan studies, or the politics of his-
tory and culture.
The Heart of the Race begins with a brief, but loaded,
historical overview which originates in Africa, exposes
British colonialism and its legacy, and analyses the socio-
economic conditions which led to the post-world war II
emigration of thousands of West Indian women and men.
Entitled "Labour Pains: Black Women and Work", the first
formal chapter discusses this experience as 'one long tradi-
tion of back-breaking labour in the service of European capi-
talism'. Many women went from cane field to factory floor,
schoolyards to the hospital wards of the National Health
Service, fighting on-the-job racism while bearing unplanned
children and the brunt of domestic chores. Chapter 2 reveals
the painful inadequacy of the British educational system
where 'our hair, habits, language and customs were seen as
the manifestations of savagery, confirmation of our uncivili-
zed past'. Unguided and relegated to 'sin bins', those who
made it to '0' levels, college and university werethe exception-
al few.
As the next chapter proves, the health and welfare services
were even less accommodating. Women are attacked by racist
vandals and their children injured in unsafe tower block
'estates'; preventive health care is impossible to obtain;
family planning pushes Depo Provera and stereotypical racial-
sexual myths; children are abruptly put into foster care and
teenage girls straitjacketed in mental health institutions;
women in prison are drugged and beaten. Despite all of this,
these black women stubbornly fought back, using their
bodies and spirits to set up community schools, stage demon-
strations, and generally perpetrate the 'individual and col-
lective acts of defiance and resistance [which] are proof that
Black women are refusing meekly to accept relegation to the
ranks of the living dead'.

This resistance materialized in such organizations as the
West Indian Gazette, black power groups (where women en-
countered sexism from the 'brothers'); the Brixton Black
Women's Group; and OWAAD (the Organization of Women
of Asian and African Descent), where issues of feminism and
nationalism were warmly debated. The final chapter, "Self-
consciousness: Understanding Our Culture and Identity",
presents those 'rituals, symbols and practices' ranging from
creole language, dreadlocks and drums to religion, dancing,
singing, and painting 'which have given expression to our
struggles to triumph over poverty and exploitation'. Poet
Louise Bennett extols the "Jamaica 'Oman" while Donna
Moore mashes up "Sexism at de Club" and lyamide Hazeley
declares in her poem "To a Dear Friend" that 'The men may

come and go/but the women in your life are always con-
This history of black women in Britain is by definition a
continuing history of Afro-Caribbean women which will be
especially relevant to this region's readers. Suggesting the
complex dialectic of colony and metropole, home and
'foreign', it takes up the story of the mothers, daughters,
sisters, aunts, cousins and sweethearts who migrated, yet
kept ties with those who were left behind. We see them
joining wounded soldier-husbands after the war, playing
'pardner' for plane fares to bring over relatives, and suffer-
ing dismay at discriminatory immigration rules, cleaning
office buildings at dawn to go to school during the day,
fighting off punks and skinheads in short, making their
lives. The Heart of the Race has a definite working class
focus. It slices through a cross-section of nurses, child minders,
industrial workers, students, a few teachers and artists. And
though the post-1960s black professionals (in social services
and the media) are mentioned, there is no parade of token
female doctors and lawyers or leisured brown ladies.
It is clear that the strengths these transplanted women sur-
vived on are the ones they took with them, broadening the
tradition of Ashanti warrior-priestesses, Nanny the Maroon,
Mary Seacole, and Kingston market women from which
they came. The implication is that things may be harder,
albeit in different ways, for later generations:

. in a country where Black culture is the dominant force in
everyday life, this process [the recognition of blackness] is
more likely to be a positive one, bolstered by the security of
knowing that one is part of a people and a culture which is
valid in its own right .... But for those of us who were born
or raised in Britain, the process often involves a long struggle
with definition of Self, Culture and Identity.

The fact that numbers of children are of mixed race adds
yet another dimension to this process, as do the centuries-
old contradictions and nuances of colour.
As part of the literature of the black women's studies
movement which has burgeoned during the past 8-10 years,
this book consciously articulates an increasingly-legitimate,
dynamically-vital scholarship which places black women at
the centre. It is thorough and well-researched, but also per-
sonal and engaged (speaking in terms of 'we' and 'us' rather
than 'they' and 'them'). It willingly adopts from oral history
the effective technique of including the women's testimony
in their own words. Because 'we' are a collection of 'I's',
ascriptions for some of these testimonies especially the
longer passages, and in cases which pose no danger to the
speaker could have been given. The work also has a multi-
disciplinary vision, though the social science aspects weigh
heavier than the arts. Just as obviously, The Heart of the
Race (as its title implies) has a black nationalist focus, which
is where most black women define their struggle. But what
would a black lesbian working in the movement think of
lesbian-feminist discussions of sexuality being seemingly dis-
missed as privatized irrelevancies?
Finally, this book is significant as another piece in the
developing construction of a diasporan and internationalist
picture of black women. Links with the African past occur
throughout. However, ties between Britain, the Caribbean,
and North America are even more striking. Claudia Jones,
who was born in Trinidad, worked for the Young Com-
munist League in the United States, and ended her activist
life in England, is a good example. So is the fact that Bryan,
Scafe, and Dadzie themselves multi-nationals, with the first
two being Jamaican-born adopted their title from a poem
by Harlem Renaissance poet-artist Gwendolyn Bennett. Then
there are the alliances formed by black women in Britain
with other Third World sisters. The Heartofthe Race furthers

our knowledge about these important connections. In fact,
at a time when not only computers, satellites, and the IMF,
but apartheid and nuclear power are making of this globe one
tangled world, we are all connected and need to know as
much about each other as we can.

Gloria Hull has been 198486 Fulbright Senior Lecturer in
the Department of English, University of the West Indies,


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

Rural Development in the
P.I. Gomes (ed.)
Kingston: Heinemann
1985, 246 pp.

A collection of essays
which look at the underlying
structural factors which ex-
plain the prevailing patterns
of underdevelopment in the
rural Caribbean. Suggestions
are made as to the strategies
which may be adopted to as-
sist development. Contributors
include: Yvonne Acosta, Jean
Casimir, Susan Craig, Victoria
Durant-Gonzalez, P.I. Gomes,
T.H. Henderson, Patricia
Manchew, Woodville K. Mar-
shall, Curtis Mclntosh,
Michael Quinn Patton, Car-
lisle Pemberton, Brian Poljit,
Michael J. Sleeman and Robert

Talking of Trees
Olive Senior
Kingston: Calabash, 1985
86 pp.

The unifying element in
these forty-four poems which

embrace a wide variety of
subjects is the Jamaican exper-
ience. The work explores per-
sonal and collective history,
tensions between rural and
urban life, between races and
classes, between male and
female attitudes, between
faith and unbelief.

Cultural Adaptation and
Resistance on St. John:
Three Centuries of Afro-
Caribbean Life
Karen fog Olwig
1985, 227 pp.

An anthropologist at the
University of Copenhagen
combines history and ethno-
graphy to trace the develop-
ment of Afro-Caribbean cul-
ture on St. John V.I. as the
island evolved from a colonial
plantation society, to a pea-
sant society to its current
status as a society serving
tourism. Richard Price notes:
'Olwig presents two refreshing
perspectives on life in a Carib-
bean community:the develop-
ment of an Afro-American
way of life and an appreciation
of the dignified ways in which
St Johnians use an ideology
of exchange to help them
shape a distinctive sense of

Garvey, Africa, Europe, The
Rupert Lewis and Maureen
Warner-Lewis (eds.)
Kingston: Institute of Social
and Economic Research,
University of the West Indies,
1986, 208 pp.

A collection of papers ori-
ginally presented at the inter-
national seminar on Garvey
organized by the African
Studies Association of the
West indies (ASAWI) in 1973,
now published to mark the
upcoming centenary of
Garvey's birth. Garvey's influ-
ence and activities on three
continents are explored by
Amy Jacques Garvey, Tony
Martin, E.U. Essein-udom,
Theodore Vincent, W.F.
Elkins, Rupert Lewis and
John Henrick Clarke.

I am Becoming My Mother
Lorna Goodison
London, Port of Spain:
New Beacon Books, 1986
50 pp.

Lorna Goodison's second
book of poetry consists of 30
poems which explore the ex-
perience of the woman in her
various roles as daughter,
worker, lover,wife and mother.
Two strong motifs which run
through the collection are a
sense of the African heri-
tage and the role of the

Word Rhythms from
the life of a woman
Elean Thomas
London: Karia Press, 1986,
112 pp.

A collection of poetry and
short stories by a writer and
political activist who explores
the issues facing women in
the society. However, her
struggle for women's libera-
tion is subsumed in the larger
battle for people's liberation.

Debonair The Donkey
Diane Browne
Kingston: Festival Literary
Committee of the Jamaica
Cultural Development
Commission, 1986,24 pp.

This children's story rep-
resents the Festival Com-
mittee's first publication of
an award winner. Narrates the
escapades of a charming but
confused donkey that carries
the burden of an exotic name
which neither he nor anyone
else in the village understands.
In addition he is subject to
the changes brought about
by the introduction of motor
vehicles into the town which
deprive him of his livelihood.
However, all ends well.

Emancipation in Action

Workers and Wage Conflict in Jamaica 1838-40
By Swithin Wilmot

he first -of August 1838 mark-
ed a new era in labour relations
in the British West Indies. With
the termination of the apprenticeship
system, ex-slaves were fully free to bar-
gain for wages and to establish their
general working conditions [see Jamaica
Journal 17:3]. Walter Rodney has shown
how the ex-slaves in British Guiana
mobilized for improved wages and work-
ing conditions which led to protracted
strikes in 1842 and 1848. However, the
planters successfully undermined the
workers' struggles by importing inden-
tured labour and weakened the bargain-
ing power of the ex-slaves in British
Guiana.1 This article looks at labour
relations in Jamaica during the first de-
cade of this fundamentally new inter-
action between planters and the new
class of free workers. It will be demon-
strated that the workers had very clear
notions of their rights and determinedly
protected them against various planter
strategies to maintain a command over
labour. Moreover, the article underlines
the extent to which the new class of
free workers had positions on issues
such as immigration and free trade which
affected their living standards.

Initial Wage Bargaining

The months after August 1838 were
very unsettled ones throughout Jamaica.
Deep suspicions and misunderstandings
characterized the relationship between
employers and workers. The former
held their meetings and attempted to
iron out a common approach to dealing
with their ex-slaves, while the latter

made it known that they were willing
to labour after 1 August, once they
were offered 'equitable' and 'just'
terms. Generally, the workers were ask-
ing for a minimum of ls 6d per day, the
same rate which obtained during the
apprenticeship when they had worked
on the estates in their free time. There
were workers who insisted that the daily
rate ought to be twice that, but such de-
mands were not as widespread as the
planters complained. The planters too
had varying wage offers. The most com-
mon was 71/d per day plus two days
labour in lieu of rent for the continued
occupation of the cottages and provi-
sion grounds belonging to the estates.

Festivities dominated the first week
of full freedom and the bargaining over
wages began in full earnest after that
time, In the initial stages both groups
tenaciously adhered to their positions.
The liberal newspapers, stipendiary
magistrates, missionaries, and other
known friends of the workers, tried to
get them to moderate their demands
and warned against 'avaricious requests'.
For instance, the Rev. James Watson,
Presbyterian missionary stated, and his

appeal was published for others to read:

Do not arrest the progress of the culti-
vation of the country by refusing to
labour for a fair rate of wages. If you
demand more than is proper as a re-
muneration for your labour then the
progress of cultivation must cease. Pro-
prietors will withdraw their capital,
and thus you will bring injury upon
yourself, and the cause of liberty will
be impeded. Far better to begin with a
moderate rate at first, and as the coun-
try continues to improve under the
state of things, masters will be enabled
and encouraged to invest their capital
and increasing prosperity will bring
increasing wages ....

Such efforts failed to impress the work-
ers who adhered to their initial demand
of 1s 6d.4

Sir Lionel Smith, the governor, also
intervened when it became abundantly
clear that both employers and workers
were unwilling to alter their original
positions. He concentrated his efforts
in the sugar areas near to his residence
in Spanish Town. On 8 August 1838,
he visited Bushy Park, one of the chief
properties in the parish of St. Dorothy.
There he met with the workers in that
area and reminded them that he had no
power to fix the rate of wages though
he promised that he would do his best
to encourage their employers to be
'liberal', provided that the workers
adopted 'reasonable' positions. In con-
versation with the Bushy Park workers,
Smith suggested that they agree to ac-
cept 1s per day and pay 2s per week as
rent for the use of their houses and pro-
vision grounds. The spokesmen for the
workers respectfully informed the
governor that although they harboured
no animosity towards their attorneys
or their overseers, and held the greatest
of respect for the governor himself,
they would network for less than 1s 6d.5
The workers' polite but resolute re-
fusal so impressed the governor that he
altered his proposals to resolve the stand
off. With the support of stipendiary
magistrates and missionaries, the gover-
nor formulated new terms to get the
estates started. When he visited the
parishes of Vere, Clarendon, Man-
chester, and St. Thomas-in-the-Vale, he
successfully managed to convince the
workers to resume once he assured them
that their employers would pay them
1s per day and they would be permit-
ted to occupy their houses and grounds
rent free for three months.6 Thus, by
the middle of September, some amount
of normalcy had returned to these areas
due mainly to Smith's intervention.

Sir Lionel Smith

In two other important sugar parish-
es, St. James and Trelawny, work re-
sumed but only after the planters in-
creased their offers. In St. James, the
planters offered 7%d for day labour.
Though the workers were disappoint-
ed by such an offer especially when
they had earned between ls 6d and 2s
during the apprenticeship, they offered
to resume labour as early as 5 August, and
to negotiate a final wage structure while
they worked. The planters stubbornly
refused this conciliatory proposal and
prohibited any work until their terms
were accepted. The workers stood firm
and industry did not resume until George
Gordon, an attorney with extensive in-
terests in the parish, broke this deadlock
by offering his workers terms similar to
those which Smith had offered on the
south side of the island. Gradually, the
other attorneys offered Gordon's terms
and by late September 1838 the estates
were operating again.7
The behaviour of the Trelawny work-
ers suggests that they were eager to re-
sume labour on the estates after the
festivities celebrating the advent of full
freedom were over. All that was required
was fair treatment and conciliatory
action on the part of their employers.
On 10 August 1838, Charles Mathew
Farquharson, the attorney for Cam-
bridge and Oxford estates, met with the
stipendiary magistrate and workers and
agreed on terms which were quickly

adopted by other properties. The con-
tract stipulated that able bodied workers
would receive ls per day and were ex-
pected to work four days per week out
of crop and five days during. No rent
was to be charged for the houses and
grounds. The contract also included
terms for skilled workers and for other
categories of labourers. Moreover, the
attorney agreed to provide free medical
services for his workers and watchmen
for their provision grounds. As if to
cement the agreement, the workers put
on a 'sumptuous dinner'for the attorney
and stipendiary magistrate in the eve-
ning of 10 August.8
On the 41 properties where employ-
ers adopted the 'Cambridge and Oxford
terms', the ex-slaves quickly turned out
for work while those properties that
held out against these terms suffered
from very irregular labour.9 On Green
Park for instance, out of the 404 resident
agricultural labourers, only 35 were at
work up to 15 October. The resident at-
torney had initially offered 712d per
day. Later he increased his offer to 9d
when his neighbours were offering 1s
plus the other allowances mentioned
in the terms above. In early October,
the attorney belatedly offered these
terms but still the labourers on his
estate travelled elsewhere to work.
He had antagonised his former appren-
tices by adhering to the old slave prac-
tice of shell blowing and sending dri-
vers to the fields to supervise the
work. Moreover, he refused to permit
the workers to do task work which was
already growing in popularity in the
area. On Tiltson, similar recalcitrant
behaviour on the part of the attorney
drove away the resident labourers; only
26 had worked on that property since
August.10 Clearly, the workers in Tre-
lawny where the provision grounds were
not as fruitful as in other parts of Jam-
aica, were eager to come to terms with
their employers." However, their dig-
nity was not for sale especially when
other employers understood the need
to handle their workers as free men.

Two other parishes stand out for
very strained class relations during the
first year of full freedom. These were
St. Thomas-in-the-East and St. George.
In both areas the workers resolutely
resisted various strategies to coerce
labour. In the former, the stipendiary
magistrates managed to keep the peace
and helped to smooth labour relations
in time to take off the crop in 1839.
However, in St. George, despite the ef-
forts of the governor in 1838, relations

The parishes in 1844 (map from Mike Morrissey, Our Island, Jamaica, London: Collins Educational, 1983)

deteriorated and violence erupted in
1839. In August and September 1838
the workers refused the planters' terms
in St. Thomas-in-the-East. In the Morant
Bay area the workers scorned offers of
between 6d and 7%d per day and insisted
upon ls 6d. When Morant's manager
met the workers' demand, not only did
the Morant people resume work in late
August, but over 200 other workers of-
fered their labour to cut canes.12 The
other properties gradually offered the
terms which Smith had successfully pro-
posed for the southern parishes and by
early October more workers resumed.13
However, it was in the eastern section
of the parish, the Plantain Garden River
District, that the conflict between the
planters and their former slaves was most
pronounced. Up to the end of the
apprenticeship, labourers had earned ls
6d in their free time. Moreover, valu-
ations for manumission purposes had
used this figure. The workers were very
aware that even when they received
extra wages in the apprenticeship, their
masters had provided housing, medical
care and other allowances. The stipen-
diary magistrate in the area had warned
workers that these 'indulgences of sla-
very' terminated on 1 August. Thus it
was reasonable for the workers in the
Plantain Garden River District to ask
for at least 1s 6d per day. However, the
planters offered 7%d per day and com-
bined this with three months notice to
quit estate houses and provision

grounds.14 Clearly, at the same time
that the employers were offering low
wages, they were also threatening to
deprive the workers of access to the
grounds that could supplement these
The labourers on Golden Grove led
the way in opposing such terms. Interest-
ingly, these workers enjoyed a higher
degree of literacy than many others
since the estate had had a chapel and
a school room from the time of slav-
ery.15 Ten workers on the estate, led
by Richard Edwards, who had been a
slave for 27 years on Golden Grove,
combined with other workers in the
area and staged very successful strikes.
The strikes ended in September 1838
when the planters dropped their rent
claims and withdrew the notices to
quit.16 They also offered task work
from which a very diligent labourer could
earn up to is 9d per day.17
However, the women still refused to
resume field work since they consider-
ed it incompatible with their new status.
The planters led by the custos quickly
revived the rent issue so as to penalise
those who refused to labour on the estate
but occupied estate houses and pro-
vision grounds.1s The workers on Golden
Grove, notably Richard Edwards, refused
to meet the rent demands. Edwards
travelled to Spanish Town and returned
telling the other workers that the gover-
nor had told him not to pay rent. Of
course, such a statement was a fabri-

cation, but it strengthened the resolve
of the workers to hold out against the
rents demanded.19 Furthermore, the
literate workers had read accounts of
stipendiary magistrates' decisions. These
had forestalled ejectment proceedings
against workers in St. Andrew who had
refused to comply with iniquitous
rents.20 The impasse was resolved in
January 1839 when the stipendiary
magistrate in the area of Golden Grove
convinced the workers that they had to
pay rent.21 The planters too adopted
more reasonable rent practices so as to
attract labour to take off the crop. The
workers, though eager to make arrange-
ments to secure their tenancies, stead-
fastly refused to enter into any con-
tract with their employers unless the
stipendiary magistrates were present.2

Class Conflicts

Once these contracts were agreed,
estates operated smoothly throughout
the parish of St. Thomas-in-the-East,
but only after six months had passed
since August 1838. Whenever the em-
ployers again arbitrarily altered the
agreed terms of rent or wages, the work-
ers promptly struck until the status quo
was restored.23 All the workers asked
for was even-handed treatment. Nor did
they necessarily have it all their own
way. There were instances when the
labourers tried to demand higher wages
which violated the agreements. On Wey-
bridge they tried this during the crop.

However, the new owner, Charles Dar-
ling, who was also the governor's sec-
retary, politely explained the pro-
perty's financial state which did not
allow for any increase. The workers
understood and the issue was settled
amicably. Indeed, Darling explained the
ingredients of smooth labour relations
in an otherwise unsettled area as 'civil
treatment combined with cash wages
regularly paid'.24
The first year of full freedom was
marked by serious class conflict in St.
George. Ridiculously low wages and
oppressive rents intensified old antagon-
isms. The workers in this parish were
particularly embittered and the stipen-
diary magistrates' efforts in August to
mitigate the conflict failed.25 When
some of the more moderate workers
tried to resume labour they were intimi-
dated by the militants.26 In the coffee
areas of the parish the employers were
forced to improve their offers when the
berries began to ripen. The workers were
offered 1s 6d per day with rent free ac-
commodation, and in some cases, task
work on even more favourable terms
was proposed. Still, the workers refused.
Such militancy alarmed even the usually
moderate press. The Morning Journal
criticised the workers especially since
such terms had been gladly accepted by
the labourers in other coffee areas such
as Manchester and St. Andrew. The edi-
torial commented:

It is not the refusal of a portion, or
even half of the peasantry, but with
one or two trifling exceptions, so tri-
fling indeed as scarcely to be deserv-
ing of notice, the whole. All appear
actuated by the same motive. It is not
a struggle for high wages .. .but one
not to labour on any terms.27

Clearly, the workers of St. George had
been deeply disturbed by their em-
ployers' oppressive tactics after 1 August
1838, and no attempt to repair the dam-
age was about to restore labour in the

It was against this background that
Sir Lionel Smith had to intervene again
to resolve a crisis in labour relations.
Smith's address to the workers of St.
George who had travelled over the
mountains to meet with him at Dunsin-
ane, in St. Andrew, on 6 September
1838, is instructive of the methods he
had to use to get labourers to work for
employers whose policies had precipi-
tated serious class conflict and distrust.
First, the governor appealed to the
workers' gratitude and loyalty:

My friends, I am happy to see you. I
wish you joy of your freedom. I have
come up to this place to talk to you
for your own good. A month and a
week have now gone by and very little
work has been done by you. This I
regret very much. It is not in my power
to satisfy you or to fix the rate of
wages. You must make your bargain
with your employers . . Perhaps
your masters have made unfair pro-
posals, and yourselves unjust demands.
I would however recommend you to
lose no time in coming to terms
and commencing work or you will
lose your characters, and give great
offence to your good friends in Eng-
land who have written and said many
things in your favour . .I am sure
no man feels more anxious about you
than I do, and if you have any regard
for me, or are willing to attend to my
advice, the greatest compliment and
obligation you could pay me would be
to make your bargain at once with your
employers and return to work ... .28

Second, the governor appealed to the
workers' material interest:

I am anxious to see you working
hard, in order that you might get rich
and independent. Some of the gentle-
men have said that they will give you a
macaronie [1s] a day,which is a dollar
for four days labour, your giving a
macaronie or the fifth day for house
and ground. This will be a dollar week
clear . . Are you satisfied? (Cries of
yes and no) . .. If you consider that
you have been offered too little, I can
only inform you that in Manchester
and several other parishes the people
are working at a much lower rate ....
On the subject of task work, I think
that it would be more satisfactory ....
I wish that you would think of this
and come to any early arrangement
with your employers. Believe me, I am
consulting your best interests, idleness
will bring you to poverty and misery
.... By your refusal to work, you have
been a loser of so much money which
you should have earned ....
Third, the governor followed this ap-
peal to self-interest by a stern warn-
ing against any future strikes: 'If I hear
of combination among you, I will punish
the parties engaged in it.'30 Finally,
almost in despair, Smith pleaded with
the gathering, 'I must leave you Do
for God's sake go to your masters,
agree with them, and bargain to
work.'31 One can only speculate, but
it would be hard to imagine that a
colonial governor had had to use such
imploring language elsewhere in order to
get workers to labour. Such was the
determination of the St. George labour-
Nonetheless, Smith's efforts were re-
warded. The workers gradually resumed
labour in the parish. By the middle of

October 1838, more labourers were in
the fields and the labour force was set-
tling down on those properties where
wages were paid punctually and employ-
ers were conciliatory.32 However, rent
remained a burning issue and was the
cause of much misunderstanding and
litigation in St. George. On some pro-
perties rent was levied on each occu-
pant of a cottage while on others no rent
was collected at all so that the labourers
could be ejected as no tenancy would
exist. Workers' requests for annual
tenancy were turned down. Generally
rent was manipulated in such a fashion
that it was a penalty rather than a
charge for the use of estate property.
If the worker refused to pay increased
rental, then the employer initiated legal
action in the Courts of Common Pleas
where the juries and not the stipendiary
magistrates decided the issue.33 Further-
more, the composition of these juries
reflected old prejudices against free
blacks. Whites of questionable char-
acter and notorious for their states of
inebriation, were chosen over blacks
known for their 'honesty, intelligence
and respectability'.34
In July 1839, the workers on Spring
Hill coffee plantation in St. George con-
fronted by vexatious rents and denied
justice in the courts, violently resisted
parish constables who were levying on
their goods for outstanding rent. Even
when the stipendiary magistrates ac-
companied the constables on their
second attempt, the workers, especially
females, confronted them with missiles
and 'violent language'. Indeed, the levy
was only effected after the governor had
dispatched military forces to support
the civil authorities. Clearly awed by
the presence of the military, the work-
ers permitted the levy and the arrest of a
female who had earlier wounded one of
the parish constables.35 Rent had also
seriously affected labour relations in
many of the other parishes of the is-
land. However, remarkably, only the
Spring Hill workers resorted to violence
to settle disputes. Other workers resist-
ed by moving to other properties where
amicable arrangements were made or, as
increasingly happened after 1839, they
settled in free villages.36

The Decline of Sugar
Gradually, between 1839 and 1842
labour relations improved as the employ-
ers abandoned their coercive tactics in
the face of determined opposition from
the workers. Those connected with Jam-
aica who gave evidence before the select

I J .- .",

A sugar estate of the period, by Hakewill

iV I r,


The Newly Freed? Cane Workers
(above) and Country Higglers (right)

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committee on West Indian colonies in
1842, stressed this improvement.37
However, as willing as the workers were
to offer their labour for fair wages, they
were very vigilant in the protection of
gains which they had won in the first
year of full freedom. When sugar prices
declined in 1841, some employers at-
tempted wage reductions. This was done
in an arbitrary manner in St. James, and
the workers struck. They contended
that the workers alone should not be
called upon to bear any retrenchment
necessitated by reduced prices. William
Allen, a labourer on Virgin Valley, ex-
plained this position to over 'two thou-
sand labourers' at the Salters Hill Baptist

De Busha dem all hab five to six harse;
dem lib well nyam belly full; lib na
good house; we lib no hut .... We pay
half a dollar rent; den dem want to gib
we shilling a day. Tell me now, how
much lef fa you when week out? No
half a dollar lef fe you? Den wha fe
buy fish? Den wha fe gib paason? ....
De Busha get ten shilling a day; dem
want to rob we . . Unoo will take
one shilling a day; (Cries of no, no, no,
no, from the audience) . . Well den,
tick out fe good pay and see if dem no
blige and bound fee gee wha we ax a

Other workers took a more militant
position and demanded additional wages.
The strikes were called off when the
planters restored wages to the old

In St. Mary the attorneys used more
conciliatory methods. Rather than sum-
marily cutting the wages, they invited
workers to a public meeting and tried to
explain that the survival of sugar required
reduced costs. The attorneys went even
further. They agreed to lower rents by
the same one-third that they proposed
to reduce the wages. The headmen ex-
pressed agreement with this reduction
and were expected to explain the pro-
posals to the ordinary labourers. How-
ever, the field workers objected to the
headmen negotiating for them and warn-
ed the employers that none of the head-
men was empowered to make 'any pro-
mises' on their behalf. Robert Nelson,
a spokesman for the workers, expres-
sed the deep distrust of his class when
he dismissed the proposals as a plan by
'the white people of taking them in'.
The employers shelved their plan when
strikes broke out on the properties
which attempted to reduce wages.40

Opposition to Immigration

Confronted by the loss of control

over labour and the effective bargain-
ing by the ex-slaves, the employers in
Jamaica increasingly turned to immi-
gration after 1838.41 However, the
failure of the early schemes to import
European and African labour strength-
ened the workers' position. Francis
Munroe, a carpenter, boasted to the
Salters Hill workers meeting that 'All
the great, lazy, big bellied fools send for
Emigrants to do we harm, and now dat
we find Emigrants cant harm we, it is
we business to tick out for good wages
whatever come'.42 The Jamaican ex-
slaves had rather unflattering views of
the Indian immigrants and criticised the
planters for importing labour when locals
were willing to work, provided that they
were treated properly and fairly. Ronald
McArthur, a worker on Retrieve in the
parish of Hanover, forcibly expressed
this view at a workers' meeting summon-
ed by Presbyterian ministers to protest
the Sugar Duties Act:

The attorney bring Coolies to take their
work and their bread. They make good
house for Coolies, but anything good
enough for we black nega. Now Coolie
is the ruination of Jamaica. Coolie
never can work with we; black people
can work round about them; them
is the most worthlessest set of people
we ever saw; them can't work, and yet
attorney give them fine house and a
shilling a day for doing nothing; but
when we black people do work them
get plenty busing. Now dis is what ruin
Jamaica. Send back the Coolies, them
robbers that are brought to this coun-
try, and leave the country to us, and
give us fair play and regular wages and
Jamaica will stand good again ..43
Phillip Dehaney, a labourer on Great
Valley, echoed these sentiments and
added a novel dimension. He claimed
that the Indians were driving the young-
er workers from the estates:

The Coolies ruin Jamaica, the people
often work for less than a shilling a
day and sometimes they no get paid
for three and four weeks, and then
when we go to get we wage them keep
back half. Some time we work for four
shillings a week them keep back two
for rent. A worthless Coolie get him
four and five shillings a week, a good
strong man because him a labourer and
have house on the estate only get two.
This make young people are holding
back them hands.44

Although McArthur and Dehaney
were opposed to immigration, they were
very clear about the importance to them
of the survival of the estates. Both ex-
pressed strong sentiments against the
free trade policies which endangered the
Jamaican estates and the livelihood of
labourers who were dependent on the

estates. Dehaney boldly stated that
'Sugar is the best thing we can't grow
cotton, and ships no come from Eng-
land for we yams and cocoas'.45 But
his message was clear:

Slavery in Cuba ruin the Jamaican pro-
prietors, so Coolie in Jamaica ruin the
Jamaican labourer; them both stand
the same put away Coolie, put away
the slavery and gie we fair play, and
you will see our young people hold up
them heads, and Jamaica will turn
around again ....

These views were even more remark-
able for they were expressed by work-
ers in the parish of Hanover, one of the
finest regions in the island for provision-
growing.47 This suggests that by 1847
some of the alternatives to labour on
the estates had already become less
attractive to ex-slaves. Benjamin Robert-
son, an ex-slave who made his living as a
fisherman, complained that the failure
of estates had affected his market. He
and his family, who assisted him, had
now to travel longer distances to seek
markets for his catch.48 This link
between the estates and those who had
left was also appreciated by Richard
Nelster, a labourer who dismissed as
'foolish' the view that since 'there were
no estates in Africa' no harm would
come to the labourers if the estates in
Jamaica were abandoned. He explain-
ed that 'if no money were made on the
estate no one could live for if a car-
penter sells a chair or a table, the man
who buys it must get his money from
the estate'.49 These Jamaican labour-
ers were as concerned as their employ-
ers about the future of the estates in
Jamaica because of the free trade
crisis.50 Unfortunately for Jamaica
the planter class failed to respond to the
conciliatory sentiments expressed here.
Instead, as credit dried up, wages were
slashed by as much as 50 per cent in
some areas.51 Planters agitated for strict-
er vagrancy legislation which 'would
make a supply of labour attainable,
upon more easy and convenient terms'.52
Some misguided employers went even
further. They openly stated that Jam-
aica would be better off under the
'American flag' and overseers boasted
that such an event would restore their
command over labour.53

These wild rumours of annexation to
a slave republic, coupled with wage re-
ductions, and in some cases, no pay-
ment of wages at all, revived class an-
tagonisms to the extent that some mili-
tant workers were convinced that the
'White and Brown People were wanting

to make them slaves again'.54 Authori-
ties in western Jamaica claimed that the
militants were planning to stage violent
strikes to coincide with the tenth anni-
versary of the termination of the ap-
prenticeship. Panic and alarm spread
throughout the western parishes as a
repeat of the confrontation of 1831
seemed imminent. Fortunately, the
governor acted quickly to defuse the
situation by restraining the planters who
wanted to mobilise the militia, and as-
sured the workers that their freedom
would be jealously guarded by the
Ten years after the era of free wage
bargaining had begun in Jamaica, the
executive had to intervene to forestall
a class war. In this period the Jamaican
workers had demonstrated that while
they were willing to labour under reason-
able and equitable conditions, they
would resist any planter policies which
failed to take account of their new status
as free workers entitled to the fruits of
their labour.


1. W. Rodney, A History of the Guyanese
Working People, 1881-1905 (HEB:
1981) pp.32-33.
2. C.O. 137/223, Smith to Glenelg, No.
140, 27 July 1838; Morning Journal,
8 August, 1 September 1838. (Wages
and rents quoted in this paper are in
3. Falmouth Post, 29 August 1838;
Morning Journal, 4 and 21 August
4. Morning Journal, 3 and 4 September
5. Morning Journal, 20 August 1838.
6. Morning Journal, 5, 11, 19 and 24
September 1838.
7. C.O. 137/230, Smith to Glenelg, No.
189, 1 November 1830, enclosed Re-
ports of Stipendiary Magistrate (S.M.)
Finlayson and (S.M.) Carnaby. The
George Gordon must not be confused
with George William Gordon.
8. Falmouth Post, 15 August 1838.
9. Falmouth Post, 29 August 1838.
10. C.O. 137/230, Smith to Glenelg, No.
189, 1 November 1838, enclosed
Reports of (S.M.) Lyon and (S.M.)

11. P.P. 1842, XIII (479), Knibb's evidence
before the Select Committee on West
India Colonies, questions 6151, 6183-
6191, Geddes's evidence question 6849
12. Morning Journal, 1 September 1838.

13. C.O. 137/230, Smith to Glenelg, No.
189, 1 November 1838, enclosed
Report of S.M. Ewart, 25 October
1838; Morning Journal, 1 September
14. C.O. 137/242, Smith to Gleneig, No.
41, 6 February 1839, enclosed Re-
port of S.M. Chamberlaine, 31 Janu-
ary 1839.
15. Ibid.
16. C.O. 137/243, Smith to Normanby,
No. 99, 11 May 1839, enclosure No. 1,
McCornock to Darling, 8 May 1839.
17. C.O. 137/242, Smith to Gleneig, No.
41, 6 February 1839, enclosed Report
of S.M. Chamberlaine, 31 January
18. Ibid.
19. C.O. 137/243, Smith to Normanby,
No. 99, 11 May 1839, enclosure No. 1,
McCornock to Darling, 8 May 1839.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. C.O. 137/237. Smith to Gleneig, No.
53, 25 February 1839, enclosed Report
of S.M. Ewart, 13 February 1839.
23. C.O. 137/242, Smith to Glenelg, No.
65, 23 March 1839, enclosed Report
of S.M. Ewart, 6 March 1839; C.O.
137/243, Smith to Normanby, No.
103, 14 May 1839, enclosed Report
of S.M. Ewart, 8 May 1839.
24. C.O. 137/243, Smith to Normanby,
No. 100, 13 May 1839, enclosed letter
of Darling to Smith, 13 May 1839.

25. C.O. 137/241, Smith to Glenelg, No. 8,
1 May 1839, enclosed letter of S.M.
Fishbourne to R. Hill, 14 November
26. Morning Journal, 23 August 1838.
27. Morning Journal, 6 September 1838.
28. Morning Journal, 10 September 1838.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. C.O. 137/230, Smith to Gleneig, No.
189, 1 November 1838, enclosed Re-
port of S.M. Fishbourne, 10 October

33. C.O. 137/242, Smith to Gleneig, No.
74, 6 April 1839, enclosed Reports of
S.M. Fishbourne and S.M. Hewitt,
20 March 1839.
34. C.O. 137/244, Smith to Normanby,
No. 160, 16 August 1839, enclosed
Report of S.M. Fishbourne, 7 August
35. C.O. 137/244, Smith to Normanby,
No. 136,17 July 1839, enclosed Report
of S.M. Fishbourne, 15 July 1839.

36. C.O. 137/243, Smith to Normanby,
No. 108,27 May 1839,enclosed Report
of Richard Hill, 23 May 1839.
37. P.P. 1842, XIII (479) Select Committee
on West India Colonies, Knibb's evi-

dence question 5994-5997; Geddes's
evidence questions 6821, 6945; Bar-
rett's evidence question 5443; Mc-
Cornock's evidence questions 4798,
38. Royal Gazette and Jamaica Standard,
25 September 1841. Wages were re-
duced from 1/6d to 1/- per day.
39. Ibid, 8 October 1841.
40. Morning Journal, 3, 6, and 28 January
41. Select Committee on West India Colon-
ies, McCornock's evidence questions
4754-4755, 4844-4851; Geddes's evi-
dence questions 6869-6874.
42. Royal Gazette and Jamaica Standard,
25 September 1841.
43. Morning Journal, 6 December 1847.
44. Ibid.
45. Ibid.
46. Ibid.
47. D.G. Hall, Free Jamaica (CUP 1969),
48. Morning Journal, 6 December 1847.
49. Ibid.
50. Ibid.
51. Morning Journal, 13 September 1847,
6 December 1847.
52. Falmouth Post, 1 September 1848.
53. Morning Journal, 29 January, 28 March
1848; Falmouth Post, 27 June.
54. C.O. 137/299, Charles Grey to Earl
Grey, No. 64, 7 July 1848, enclosure
I.L.H. Evelyn to Pilgrim, 12 June 1848.
55. C.O. 137/299, Charles Grey to Earl
Grey, No. 68, 22 July 1848.


Rockfort, Kingston 2, Tel: 928-6231.



History and Culture
Carifesta Forunm An Anthology of 20
Caribbean Voices Edited and with an Intro.
ductlan by John Nearne
Produced for Carifesta '76
in Jamaica, this unique collection of
essays aimed to define 'the present
state of culture in the Caribbean'
through the consciousness of 20
formidable minds. Contributors from
the English, Spanish, French and Dutch
Caribbean and circum-Caribbean
include C.L.R. James, V.S. Naipaul
and Gordon Rohlehr (Trinidad); Aime
Cesaire (Martinique); Nicolas Guillen,
Roberto Retamar (Cuba); Octavio Paz,
Carlos Fuentes (Mexico); Rene
Depestre (Haiti); Jan Carew, Wilson
Harris, Denis Williams (Guyana);
George Lamming, Edward Kamau
Brathwaite (Barbados); Derek Walcott
(St. Lucia); Sylvia Wynter, John
Hearne, Rex Nettleford (Jamaica);
Robin Dobru (Surinam); Rene Marques
(Puerto Rico); Gabriel Garcia Marquez
PI 248 pp (1976) JS10 or U.S.54.50 ppd.

The Rebel Woman In the British West Indies
During Slavery by Lucllle Mthurln
"... women, who are often regarded
as the submissive sex .. took an im-
portant part in forms of protest against
slavery. Female slaves adopted some
of the same techniques as men to defy
the system". Many of these techniques
as well as those peculiar to women are
described in this booklet. "The Rebel
Woman" is.placed in a historical
context starting with women's roles in
the West Africa kingdoms from which
they came to the New World to their
most powerful manifestation in
Jamaica Nanny, leader of the
Maroons. This interesting and simply
written approach to one aspect of our
history is a perfect gift for students
and adults.
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First published in the 1970s, these
are still stimulating accounts of
"Jamaicans of Distinction". Lively
reading for young and old.

George 'Atlas' Headley by Noel Whirt and
George Headliy The inspiring story of
S one of the world's greatest cricketers,
written mainly with the young in mind,
but also of interest to adults. George
Headley collaborated with White to
produce an intimate portrait. Appendix
includes statistics relating to Headley's
PB 161 pp. Illustrated (1974) J$6 or U.S.S3.50
ppd.(But me special offer below)

Herb McKenleyl Olympic Star by Errol
Townsend, James Carnegie and Herb McKenley
Story of the Jamaican athlete
who achieved world fame, touted as
m 'the greatest quartermiler of all time'
and 'the greatest allround sprinter'.
Extensive appendix on McKenley's
performance and performances of
Jamaica's athletes in international
meets compiled by Richard
P 97pp. Illustrated (1974) J6or U.S.s3.50
ppd. (But see special offer below.)

The Life and Timesof Willie Henry by Clyde
Hoyte Story of a remarkable Jamaican
who was an outstanding agricultural
leader. His life story from 1899 is
placed against the backdrop of
Jamaica's early 20th century history.
PB 74pp. Illustrated (1975) J$6 or U.S.$3.50
ppd. (But see special offer below)

Special Offer to JAMAICA JOURNAL
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Historic Structures

St. Paul's Anglican Church, Chapelton

St Paul's Anglican Church in Chapelton, which celebrates
its 320th anniversary this year, is one of the island's oldest
churches. A brick and stone structure of simple dignity located
in the town centre, St. Paul's stands on the site of the original
church which is described by the historian Edward Long (1774)
as 'a small but neat building, and furnished with a good organ'.
Intended as a 'chapel of ease' for the Cross Church, then the
parish church of Clarendon, church services were held at St.
Paul's on alternate Sundays, but it eventually assumed the role
of parish church when the Cross Church fell into disuse.
Additions were made to the original structure at least twice
before major restoration and refurbishing, necessitating the
closure of the church for a year in 1906-7, were carried out.
The simplicity of the original design was maintained as far as
possible and the new features served merely to enhance its
dignity. The new roof raised approximately two feet in height
facilitated the construction of east and west gable ends of cut

stone. Lofty windows were inserted in the latter, affording the
church much improved ventilation and light. The plain glass of
the east windows was replaced by beautifully designed stained
glass depicting Jesus playing with children. Screens were erected
at the eastern end of the church to form a chancel with vestries
and an organ chamber and the whole flooring was redone in tiles
and concrete. The most outstanding feature is perhaps the mag-
nificent ceiling of mahogany boasting a series of elegant arches
and tied beams. Displayed on the walls are some very fine
memorial tablets, the oldest being to the memory of 19-year-
old Lieutenant Mathew St. Clair who died of yellow fever in
1827. St. Paul's followed the old practice of burying deceased
members under the church and there are five tombstones in the
main aisle.
In the early days St Paul's was popularly referred to as 'the
chapel' and the town which grew up around it adopted this
name, calling itself Chapel Town, which was eventually short-
ened to Chapelton.

:i pses of Jamaica's Natura!


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