Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00062
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: February-April 1989
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: VID00062
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

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Full Text

. K -

Treasures of Jamaican Heritage

Staffordshire reverse slipware cup. White vertical trails and swirled
decoration. Late C17. Height 23/4"

Staffordshire slipware cup.
Combed and feathered
Late C17. Height 4 1/4"

Slipware Cups

were recovered only slightly chipped from the
sunken ruins of Port Royal by marine
archaeologist Robert Marx during his explorations
between 1966 and 1968.
The cups were almost certainly made in the
Potteries in North Staffordshire, England. By the late
seventeenth century, the Potteries had become a main
production centre for the lead-glazed crockery known
as slipware. The name comes from the decorative
technique by which a 'slip' of liguid clay in a contrasting
colour is applied to a ceramic piece before firing.
Designs are drawn through the slip to show the colour
underneath. In most cases, a light-coloured slip is used

on a dark background, so the smaller cup in reverse
slipware would be comparatively rare.
These pieces are in an excellent state of
preservation. Even after centuries in the sea, ceramics
require only a prolonged bath in fresh water to rid them
of sea salt and return them to the state they were in on
the day they sank.
Museums Division, Institute of Jamaica

Photographs by Martin Mordecai

JAMAICA JOURNAL is published on behalf of the
Institute of Jamaica by Institute of Jamaica
Publications Ltd.
All correspondence should be addressed to:
IOJ Publications Ltd.
2a Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone (809) 929-4785/6
Olive Senior
Assistant Editors
Leeta Heame
Dahlia Fraser
Support Services
Faith Myers Secretarial
Ricardo Henderson Sales
Design and Production
Dennis Ranston
Back Issues: Some back issues are available.
List sent on request Entire series available on
microfilm from:
University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, USA.
Subscriptions:J$60 for 4 issues (in Jamaica
only); U.K: Individuals: 10, Institutions 15.
All other countries: Individuals: US$20.
Single copies:J$17 (in Jamaica only); U.K.3;
Other countries: US$7.
All sent second class airmail.
We accept UNESCO coupons. Contact your
local UNESCo office for details.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in JAMAICA JOURNAL
are abstracted and indexed in HISTORICAL
Vol. 22 No.1 Copyright 1989 by Institute of
Jamaica Publications Ltd. Cover or contents
may not be reproduced in whole or in part
without written permission.
ISSN 0021-4124

Andreas Oberli
Cover: This detail from an untitled 1978
painting by Carl Abrahams (Wallace Campbell
collection) exactly illustrates the article by
Robert Witmer beginning on page 11.

History and Life

48 The Apprenticeship Experience on
Jamaican Livestock Pens
By Verene A Shepherd

57 Diary of a Westmoreland Planter:
Conclusion. 'Above all others: Phibbah'
Edited by Douglas Hall

The Arts
2 The Frats Quintet
By Cheryl Ryman

11 Kingston's Popular Music Culture-
Neo-Colonialism to Nationalism
By Robert Witmer

20 Archie Lindo
Interviewed by Martin Mordecai

38 Poems
By Loma Goodison

Regular Features
29 Art: The Dynamics of
Metamorphosis: The 1988 Annual
National Exhibition
By Gloria Escoffery

43 Books and Writers
Reviews: Mark McWatt's Interiors and
Ian McDonald's Mercy Ward by
Velma Pollard
47 Briefly Noted

42 Feedback
41 Contributors




Vol. 22 No.1 February-April 1989

l1T ]-HE NIGHT WAS 1 Novem-
ber 1954. The applause
died slowly. The first half
of the programme had
ended on a high note.
The new group of five male singers had
lived up to the reputation of the East
Queen Street Baptist Young Men's Fra-
ternal, the larger group from which they
had been formed three years before.
This was their first formal recital and
they had so far pleased the large audi-
ence. But now an air of anticipation
hung over the Ward Theatre. What had
been billed as the'Jamaica Folklore -
Special Feature' section of the pro-
gramme was about to begin. For the
Jamaican audience it was to be a rare
experience to hear Jamaican folk
songs not only brought on to a concert
stage but presented as the main item in
a recital.




By Cheryl

'Every dawg mus have im day,
every puss imfour o'clock'

The change was heralded by the bright
bandana jackets worn by the five men
as they walked back on to the stage.
They went on to perform with the con-
summate style which was to become the
hallmark of the Frats Quintet. The
stunned silence which greeted the end
of their recital reflected myriad reac-
tions ranging from rejection and shock
to pleasure and reconnection. It was the
colonial governor, Sir Hugh Foot,
patron of the concert, who rose to his
feet and shattered the silence of cultural
insecurity and ambivalence. His pur-
poseful and insistent clap galvanized
the rest of the audience into loud
For the next seventeen years or so,
the Frats Quintet woold represent
Jamaica on the concert stages of the
world and sing their way into the hearts
of their fellow Jamaicans. When the





and EDMUND REID Violin Guest Artist


Programme of the first formal song recital (1954)
of the 'Quintette' -as they were then called at
which they performed their historic folklore
selection of 'Jamaican folk and digging songs'.
Included were 'De Riber ben come Dung', Mrs
Flannigan, Razam Goomah and a Medley.

lead tenor, Granville Lindo, left the
island in 1968 he was not replaced, and
the remaining four members of the
group continued as the Frats Quartet.
In their time, the Frats Quintet
were among the significant contributors
to the awakening of Jamaicans to their
cultural heritage. The Frats brilliant
harmonizations revealed the full purity,
wit and brilliance of the music. They
were the pioneers in making Jamaican
folk music 'respectable', the forerun-
ners of groups such as the Jamaican
Folk Singers, the NDTC Singers, and
the University Singers who have
brought folk music to such a high art
form in Jamaica today. [See Pamela
O'Gorman's series in JAMAICA JOURNAL
20:2 and 20:3].
The Frats were not the first to col-
lect and perform Jamaican folk songs.
There was, of course Walter Jekyll's
pioneering work, Jamaican Song and
Story published in 1907, and the work
of researchers such as the American
Martha Warren Beckwith. And there
were the efforts of people such as Ast-
ley Clerk [JAMAICA JOURNAL 18:4]. The

singing duo Slim and Sam [JAMAICA
JOURNAL 16:3] in the late thirties and
forties had gained renown for their wit-
ty topical songs that they wrote them-
selves and Philip Sherlock had daringly
included them on a concert programme
at the Institute of Jamaica. But folk
songs were mostly relegated to the
more 'popular' stage shows, and were
not considered fit for the respectable
concert stage. The leading group to put
Jamaican folk songs on a concert stage
were the Cudjoe Minstrels [see JAMAICA
JOURNAL no.43] who were active in the
1930s. They were a group of upper class
citizens who performed in blackface,
done, claimed founder Linda Stock-
hausen, for the sake of 'authenticity' -
the group wanted to look like African
Jamaicans and not for burlesque pur-
poses as was the case in the foreign
music hall tradition. The Minstrels usu-
ally presented their songs as part of a
more elaborate staged variety concert
with folk tales, dancing and other pre-

Folk songs: The 'lowly art'
Until the Frats Quintet emerged on
the scene, folk songs were regarded as
highly unrespectable and the numerous
choral groups in Jamaica at the time
were far more likely to include Negro
Spirituals and foreign folk tunes in their

repertoire. Such was the case, for
instance, of the East Queen Street Bap-
tist Fraternal.
The educator J.J. Mills, who had a
great deal of interest in Jamaican music
and culture, summed up the attitude to
folk music in his day when he wrote in
his autobiography [J.J.Mills: His Own
Account of his Life and Times]:
Folk songs were plentiful in St Ann
when I was a boy. The peasantry and
'meeting' people sang and danced them.
But they were largely tabooed by the
churches and schools because they often
had vulgar themes and exclusively used
patois which was considered a great en-
emy to good taste and learning of good
English. At picnics for Sunday schools,
day schools and the Christian Endeavour,
some caution had to be used in the selec-
tion of ring-songs lest the 'Jamma' songs
should drag down the day's function to a
coarse and immoral level.
Mills also remarked that over the
years from 1929, when the first All-
Island Musical Competitions Festival
was staged, 'It was extremely difficult
to get entries in folk lore, especially
folk songs' for the festival.
The Frats Quintet were the first to
treat Jamaican folk songs as a genuine
art form which could stand on its own
as concert material for all types of audi-
ences. They performed without any stage
effects, movement or accompaniment.


The music, the purity and blend of their
voices, was the thing. The undeniable
technical excellence of the Quintet mar-
ried to the equally excellent transforma-
tion and arrangements of the songs
established a standard in authentic folk
music renditions for theatre. The Frats
lifted a 'lowly' art of the people from
the 'yard' to the concert stage; rescued
it from obscurity and denial to accep-
tance by and respectability among
Jamaicans of all classes and artistic per-
suasions, and presented it with author-
ity to audiences at home and abroad. It
won them acclaim as 'the undisputed
masters of the choral renditions of
Jamaican folk songs'. Through the
Frats Quintet, 'dawg and puss' began to
enjoy their 'day and four o'clock'.
It wasn't easy. Although national-
ism was in the air in the decade before
Independence, although Louise Bennett
had collaborated with the Englishman
Tom Murray to produce a new book of
Jamaican folk songs and music which
came out in 1951, strong resistance still
prevailed in certain sections of the soci-
ety, particularly in the world of music.
The Gleaner music reviewer Peter
Dawson in 1962 noted that:
Among our musicians and musical bod-
ies ... (the Frats Quintet is) unique -
ironically enough unique only in being
unmistakably and unselfconsciously
Jamaican. Who else suggests the capa-
bility of being equally acceptable to an
audience at King's House and one in
West Kingston? Who else has taken
similar time and trouble to seek out our
own folk song and spend such devoted
care in its presentation as to draw equal
response from native and foreigner

common denominator they loved to
In this age of television and other
pre-packaged entertainment, it is diffi-
cult to understand the importance that
music, especially choral singing,
assumed in Jamaica and elsewhere up
to recently and especially in the earlier
years of this century.
But the Fraternal was more than a
singing group. It was also a social club,
and it played a central part in moulding
the characters and developing the
national and patriotic sensibilities of the
young men who flocked to it. Debates
and informal discussions on a variety of
topics were a part of Sunday afternoon
meetings, and sports and recreational
activities were important. Football,
cricket, boxing, weightlifting, cycling
and activities such as hiking, sea-
bathing, weekend camps and picnics
were all part of the programme.
Although affiliated with a church,
the group sang not only sacred music.
Their repertoire included light classics
and some folk songs (international and
The founder, Mr Tomilyn Ander-
son, had also introduced Negro Spiritu-
als before he departed for the United
States in 1948 to further his studies. It
was to these spirituals that the choir
gave their whole hearts and souls and to
which their audiences showed the most
enthusiastic response.
Anderson's successor, Joseph Jes-
sel (J.J.) Williams, maintained much
the same emphasis while encouraging
inclusion of more Jamaican folk songs.
But opportunities for Williams to pur-
sue research into and the arrangement
of such songs was limited, given his

The Origins of the Frats

The Fraternal

To trace the history of the Frats
Quintet and their impact on Jamaican
music, we must go back to their parent
body, the East Queen Street Baptist
Young Men's Fraternal (which we will
refer to as the Fraternal).
The Fraternal started in 1934 with
eight teenage boys associated with the
church. By the 1950s the choir had
grown to a membership of nearly forty
and was interdenominational, attracting
young men of different backgrounds
and interests drawn together by one


awesome duties as church deacon, con-
ductor and leader of two choirs. In addi-
tion, opportunities to perform Jamaican
folk music on a larger scale were lim-
ited. The choir already had a busy
schedule of performances in churches
throughout the island, in prisons, hospi-
tals, homes for the aged, and in their
annual concert recitals which displayed
their full range and quality as a leading
male choir. They held the cup presented
for Male Voice Choirs in the biennial
music festival competitions from 1940
to 1952 and again in 1957.
In any event, not all members of
the choir were keen on performing
Jamaican folk songs. In the ranks of the
Fraternal there was periodical soul-
searching as to the appropriateness and
morality of a church group performing
'suggestive', 'naughty', or 'near lewd'
songs. (Some members felt so strongly
about the issue that at least one resigned
in protest when the Frats Quintet was
formed). Nevertheless, a few members
of the choir were anxious to explore and
perform more of Jamaica's own music
and the separation of a smaller group
within the Fraternal to work with folk
music had begun long before the forma-
tion of the Quintet. In 1934 some of
these singers came together as featured
singers in Una Marson's Pocomania -
a milestone in theatre, then as now
regarded as the first all-Jamaican play.

The Quintet is Born
Pocomania fortuitously brought
together these restless members of the
Fraternal and young Winston White,
originally from Trelawny but now total-
ly in love with the sights and sounds of

the capital city to which he had moved.
This meeting was to be the catalyst in
the formation of the Frats Quintet.
White loved especially the traditional
music which he could hear thumping
from Kingston's streets and yards. He
found the music of the revival cult,
Pukumina, particularly exhilarating and
used to frequent famous 'Poco'yards
such as that of Mother Surr, Brother
Samuel's balm yard in Jones Town and
that of Shepherd Levi. At first he would
climb a tree to watch undetected. Later,
pulled by the drumming and singing
'which sounded in my chest and fired
my imagination', and, he admits, the
sight of an attractive 'sister', he would
pluck up his courage and join the meet-
It was these experiences that drew
him like a magnet into the Ward The-
atre one night in 1934 when he heard the
familiar pocoo' sounds. What he found
was Una Marson's play in rehearsal.
White remembers simply 'crashing' the
rehearsal and finding himself on stage
with members of the Fraternal some-
times even leading the songs. Una Mar-
son heard this new authoritative voice
before she saw the owner, talked to him
and succumbed to the beguiling charm
of Winston White. He was invited to
join the production. After that, as he
recalls, 'Music started oozing out of
In 1937 he joined the Fraternal.
White, a born leader, proved an ideal
partner for JJ.JWilliams. In time, the
work of running the Fraternal was har-
moniously distributed between them.
White acted as choirmaster, as presi-
dent, and shared some of the responsi-
bilities for the wide-ranging social pro-
grammes that were offered outside the
White, like Williams, was one of
those anxious to perform folk music. In
1944 he was, with others of the Frater-
nal, among the featured singers of the
cast of the pantomime Jack and the
Beanstalk. They were the only black
members of the cast and among the first
dark-skinned Jamaicans to appear in a
While White and perhaps ten or so
others in the choir were anxious to sing
folk music, it was not yet a preoccupa-
tion of the majority of the choir. But
Archie Lindo, who was then working
with Jamaica's first radio station, ZQI,
apparently knew of this interest for in
1951 he approached J.J.Williams with a

tempting proposition. Lindo was inter-
ested in producing a fifteen-minute
radio series of folk songs. He already
had a sponsor R.A.McKenzie and
Sons Limited. All that he needed was
the talent. And he wanted a male quar-
tet. The programme, Let's Go Native,
was triumphantly aired with the Frats
The suggestion for a quintet rather
than a quartet came from White who
pointed to the greater effectiveness of a
well harmonized sound punctuated by a
lead solo voice the fifth voice.
Granville Lindo possessed such a voice.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the
Frats Quintet 'sound' was dominated by
his readily identifiable and inimitable
tenor cry. Lindo's 'Chi-chi Bud O!' still
resounds for those who had the privi-
lege of hearing them perform or of
'growing up' with the Frats.
Although Winston White soon
assumed leadership of the Quintet, the
role of J.J.Williams, the founder, con-
tinued to be central. He sang second
bass, but unfortunately had to withdraw
the first year because of ill-health. He
never rejoined because of his many oth-
er responsibilities within the church and
the Fraternal. Nevertheless, Williams
continued to lend artistic and technical
assistance to the Quintet, and facilitated
its members whenever performance
scheduling conflicts arose. This was no
small sacrifice, considering the ever-
increasing demand for the Quintet to
perform their folk repertoire and given
the fact that the group had drawn the
best voices of each category from the
J.J. Williams was replaced in the
Quintet not by a bass but by a second
tenor, Altamont Wilson. This decision
was taken to counteract a certain imbal-
ance or heaviness detected in the bass
section. The group, now comprising
Sydney Clarke (one of the foundation
members of the Fraternal) and Granville
Lindo as first tenors; Altamont Wilson
as second tenor; Winston White as bari-
tone (first bass) and Ludlow Dawes as
bass (second bass), was to create the
sound which made the Frats Quintet
One minor change took place
shortly after their 1954 performance.
Their name, the Frats Quintette, with
its feminine ending, had brought a lot of
teasing. It was replaced by the mascu-
line Quintet and was so printed for the
first time in their 1956 programme.

The new Quintet remained intact
until 1959 when Altamont Wilson
migrated to England.Ludlow Dawes left
for the United States in 1960. Robert
Henry Richards, a member of the Fra-
ternal from 1949 became the new sec-
ond tenor, and Wilfred Emmanuel
Warner, also an early member of the
Fraternal, became the new second bass.
They echoed what Clarke had exuber-
antly said when he joined: 'This is it!'
Their enthusiasm was understand-
able since by then the Quintet had built
up a solid reputation and worldwide
exposure. The final change occurred in
1968 with the migration of Granville
Lindo to the United States. He took with
him his unique and memorable voice
and style. He could not be replaced. The
Quintet became the Quartet.

The Sound Repertoire
It was the rare combination of high
technical skill and commitment to an
enjoyment of Jamaican folk songs that
helped the Quintet to achieve and main-
tain the levels of excellence which
became their hallmark. It was a mar-
riage of well-prepared arrangements
and joyous spontaneity in performance
together with the exceptional ability to
maintain an almost perfect pitch indi-
vidually and collectively.
Although the Frats were able to
draw on the ready-made repertoire of
sacred songs, light classics and negro
spirituals of the Fraternal for at least the
first half of their formal song recitals, a
great deal of work still had to be put
into the development of their folk reper-
toire. They willingly accepted the chal-
lenge 'to dig up, resurrect, study and
perform the old Jamaican songs which
are fading out'.
They did much more than this, of
course. They transformed for stage,
popularized and preserved many of
these songs for generations to come.
They also inspired the formation of oth-
er groups which were to carry on the
Winston White was not only lead-
er, but also conductor and folk-song
researcher for the group. White was
well positioned both by inclination and
background to be the primary collector
of songs. Kingston, and in particular
Camp Road which was under extensive
reconstruction, provided a plethora of
revival and digging songs for inclusion.
These, in addition to those collected


when the group toured all over Jamaica,
constituted the raw material of their
folk song repertoire.
But aside from learning the words,
melody and rhythm, the group had oth-
er work to do before these songs could
be considered ready for presentation to
'respectable' audiences. The Frats
Quintet, like groups before and after
- had to 'clean up' the lyrics of many
of the traditional songs. It required skill
and imagination to find appropriate
substitutes for the offending words. For
example, in 'Rukumbine':
Train overhead a run pon de line
Gal underneath a wine her b-------
Gal underneath a wine a ball a
In another song,
De higher de mountain de sweeter de
De blacker de gal the sweeter de a--
De wider de ribba de harder fe cross.
Even with this important step
behind them, there was still a lot more
work to be done. The harmonizing
parts of the songs had to be designed,
set, scored and rehearsed. Here White's
job as arranger and choirmaster was
made easier by the fact that the pitch of
each singer's voice was near perfect.
Nevertheless, it was no mean feat to
find an appropriate 'stage' arrangement
for the traditional songs without losing
their original flavour and style. In this,
all members participated by each play-
ing around with 'spasmodic'chords
appropriate to the individual parts.
When White heard the right sound, he
would note it and then combine it with
the other parts. Beginnings and endings
had to be powerful, unforgettable.
White drew on the experience
gained from the jamming sessions with
Bob Lightboume which sometimes
turned into all-night private concerts in
Mr Lightbourne's living room Light-
bourne played the piano and composed,
creating complex chords and phrases. It
seemed that each finger had an individ-
ual life ten chords competing with
the five voices of the Frats. White
admits that Lightbourne's chording
style and very Jamaican sounding com-
positions had a great effect on him in
his own arrangements for the Frats
Scoring fell into the able though
sometimes over-tired hands of Ludlow

Dawes and, later, of Wilfred Warner.
The problem with Dawes was that he
tended to be overcome by his early-ris-
ing habits and hectic schedule. Sleep
often beckoned in spite of deadlines.
White recounted some of the 'house-
arrest' procedures that he and other
members of the group had to put in
place. Lots were drawn by members to
go on two-hour shifts to see to it that
Dawes kept awake to complete the
score. He was not allowed to eat, sleep,
or leave the room until the scheduled
time. It worked.
With White's arrangements and
Dawes's score solidly in place and sev-
eral rehearsals under their belts, there
was still more work ahead for these per-
fectionists. J. J.Williams was sometimes
called in to give the final touches to
arrangements. But even such fine-
tuning could not guarantee the perfor-
mance. For some members, especially
Granville Lindo, dutiful rehearsal and
the setting and scoring of an arrange-
ment could be considered an exercise in
futility if one were to judge by what
happened in performance. On stage,
creativity and spontaneity often took
over and there was many a departure
from the rehearsed score. Lindo would
all too frequently hit unheard-of notes
and keys, improvise parts and arrange-
ments. It is to the credit of the rest of
the group, to their musical sensitivity,
improvisational skill and sense of team-
spirit, strengthened by the near-tele-
pathic rapport between them, that they
were able to join Lindo on these musi-
cal adventures.
In most cases, the results were
memorable but not always capable of
duplication not even by the Frats
themselves. Perhaps it was the fact that
Lindo's improvisations inevitably
worked, sometimes better than the pre-
arranged score, that gave him the
licence to continue.
The surviving Frats all attest to the
harmonizing abilities of Warner (bass)
and Lindo (tenor) even in sleep. They
were reputed to have unfailingly main-
tained snoring harmony as effectively
asleep as when coming out of sleep.
This they did smoothly and correctly
straight into conscious harmonization.
Dropping off in mid-rehearsal was
not uncommon, given the multifarious
activities in the business, artistic and
church worlds in which members of the
group operated. The road to success for
the Frats was paved not only with sacri-

fice, hard work, creativity, fun and
exhilaration but also with many
moments of anxiety bordering on near
panic during performances. This
undoubtedly is what contributed to
what everyone hailed as the 'exuber-
ance and spontaneity' of their perfor-

The Success of the Frats
In emphasizing a folk repertoire in
their very first concert, on ZQI in 1951,
the Frats placed themselves at the van-
guard of cultural assertiveness in music.
By 1954 when they gave their first for-
mal song recital at the Ward Theatre,
they had established pride of place for
traditional and folk material. Later they
became almost exclusively associated
with the presentation of Jamaican folk
songs. They also established a tradition
for folk singers to be associated with
Jamaican Dance theatre groups, a tradi-
tion which began with Ivy Baxter in the
Their excellence, combined with
the fact that the society was beginning
to accept what the Frats had to offer
was attested to by the fact that they
were frequently chosen to represent
their island in preference to many other
excellent choirs in Jamaica at the time.
They were the only choir selected to
perform before the youthful Queen
Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh
when they visited Jamaica in 1953.
They were the only male choral group
included in the 1955 Tercentenary
Bandwagon Show which toured the

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was one of the
many celebrities who heard and were con-
quered by the mellow voices of the Frats.



fourteen parishes of the island. Other
participants in this stellar show includ-
ed the Ivy Baxter Dancers, Louise Ben-
nett, Ranny Williams, Hope Sealy,
Easton Soutar and Tiroro, a Haitian
Their fame also spread abroad as
they were often called on to represent
Jamaica overseas. In 1955 they were
selected to participate in the predomi-
nantly Latin American Miami Music
Festival. In 1961 they became the first
Jamaican group to participate in the
Mariposa International Music Festival
in Orillia, Canada. Later, they also per-
formed (with the National Dance The-
atre Company) at the famous Canadian
Stratford Festival.
Closer to home, they received
acclaim for their performance at the
1958 Festival of Arts staged to cele-
brate the opening of the Federal Parlia-
ment in Trinidad. They were the only
choral group and, according to the
Trinidad Guardian headline, received
'a million rose gardens' from the
Caribbean audience.
But their greatest achievement was
probably their participation as the
Caribbean/Jamaican group entry in the
12th International Music Eisteddfod
held in Wales in 1958 where twenty-
five countries competed. Wycliffe Ben-
nett, who initiated their invitation and
who covered their performances throug-
out, reported that the Frats were proba-
bly one of the most popular groups and
one of only three groups which gained a

Among their souvenirs is the certificate which
they won for placing third in the world at the
prestigious Welsh Eisteddfod.

Conct in hour of
of he podPaan orf

conort occa i .


Autographed programme and contents (right) showing the Frats listed among other international per-
formers on the 16th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

perfect score of 94 for any entry. They
placed third in the competition with 185
points; the first and second place win-
ners scored 187 and 186.
They again made history on 10
December 1964 when they became the
first Jamaican group to perform before
the United Nations Council on the occa-
sion of the 16th anniversary of the Dec-
laration of Human Rights. Winston
White rated this as the highlight of their
career. The entire occasion was sur-
rounded by an aura of history in the
making. They were representing
Jamaica not only in the internationally
prestigious forum, but in the presence
of such renowned fellow performers as
the world famous soprano Eileen Far-
rell,violin virtuoso of Bolivia, Jaime
Loredo, and British actor Sir John Giel-
gud who narrated the preamble to the
Universal Declaration of Human
White recalls that they were, under-
standably, all keyed up and that the
damaging effects of the central heating
system of the United Nations building
produced a crisis their throats dried
out. White immediately issued strict
instructions to the Quintet to cease all
talking until after the performance and
their throats were nursed by 'medicinal'
doses of honey and brandy. The dramat-
ic moment arrived and the first note hit
by Granville Lindo, the inimitable lead
tenor, promised that their efforts would
pay off. White claimed that they sang
'as we had never sung before'.
The next year, the Frats had anoth-
er triumphant overseas tour, this time
to the Commonwealth Arts Festival in

Cardiff, Wales, and to Brixton and
Parallel to the highly successful
independent career of the Quintet was
their continued association not only
with the East Queen Street Young
Men's Fraternal but with the National
Dance Theatre Company which was
founded in 1962. They performed as
featured singers with the NDTC from
its inception until 1967. By then, the
NDTC had formed its own choral
group, under the leadership of Joyce
Lalor, which became the NDTC
The Frats also pioneered regular
performances by a high quality 'native'
group in exclusive north coast hotels
such as Round Hill, Frenchman's Cove
and Tower Isle.
After 1968 when Granville Lindo,
the unique lead tenor, migrated to the
United States of America, the group
performed less and less. Although
replacements had been found for other
members in the past, it seems that Lin-
do was irreplaceable. The remaining
four members of the group have never-
theless continued to sing together as a

Who were the Frats?
To have survived as a group for so
long, the Frats must have shared more
than the combination of their wonderful
voices and the desire to perform beauti-
ful music. What they shared was a deep
bonding and a friendship and rapport
which allowed them to communicate



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A moment of triumph before the UN General Assembly 1964.

almost telepathically on stage. The lives
of the Quintet and more so of the four
who still survive as the Quartet show
a web of similarities in the backgrounds
and sensibilities of the men involved;
yet each one contributed something spe-
cial to the whole.
They all had outstanding voices,
among the best in their respective
ranges, near 'perfect pitch'. Their com-
mon love for Jamaican traditional folk
music and songs forged a bond that
transcended musical taste and national
fervour. This, together with the career
satisfaction they each experienced in
the outside world led them to a shared
vision of being 'amateurs with profes-
sional standards'. So much so, that
Winston White firmly rejected an offer
in London to go professional. White's
rejection of the offer is explained by
Wycliffe Bennctt in the context of the
prevailing sentiments of that period
which 'glorified' amateur status in the
arts. A paid professional somehow
seemed of lower social rank than those
who performed free, with the support of
Most of the members of the Quintet

were born and raised in rural Jamaica
before settling in Kingston. Trelawny
was the ancestral parish for both White
and Clarke, St Catherine for Richards,
and Warner was a Kingstonian by birth.
Clarke and Richards were born in the
same year,1919, Warner in 1924. At
least three of them attended Kingston
Technical High School without meeting
at that time; Clarke graduated from St
George's College. They may all be
described as self-made men who
became economically secure. White and
Richards were insurance salesmen -
White for 13 years and Richards for
over 43 years. Clarke started at the
Government Printing Office in 1944
and retired in 1979 as Assistant Gov-
ernment Printer. All the members of the
Quintet married and had children, sev-
eral of whom have excelled in the world
of music.
The Frat's early musical back-
ground came through singing in school
and church choirs, culminating in their
membership in the Fraternal.
Clarke probably came from the
most 'middle class' background which,
he admits, limited his own exposure to

Jamaican culture. He recalled that his
entry into the Fraternal and the Frats
Quintet represented the first time that
he was coming face to face with his
own culture at that level; he appreciat-
ed it and later came to love it. As he
explained it,'Singing with the Fraternal
and the Frats Quintet made my life

The Frats 'Legacy'
A set of albums, Authentic
Jamaican Folk Songs Parts 1 and 2,
and Caribbean Sing-along together
with a collection of folk songs commis-
sioned by the Jamaica Tourist Board are
some of the more tangible aspects of the
Frats Quintet legacy. Their real contri-
bution lies in their elevating a 'little tra-
dition' to undreamed of levels of
respectability. This they did by holding
up a mirror of comparative excellence
for Jamaican and Caribbean folk songs.
In the process, they demonstrated their
intrinsic value alongside the other forms
of music conventionally performed -


A Note on their Music
by Pamela O'Gorman

What were the qualities that made the Frats
Quintet preeminent in their day?
The first two words that spring to mind
are 'precision' and 'discipline' at this
time unusual enough in relation to perfor-
mance of folk songs as to give the Frats a
unique and memorable reputation. Their
diction was crystal clear, their attack and
release faultless, their chording and intona-
tion and the balance of their voices in rela-
tion to one another were impeccable.
But it was not the mechanics of perfor-
mance alone which accounted for their
uniqueness. There was the peculiar blend of
vocal timbres a kind of diversity within
unity in which the natural and penetrating
tenor voice of Granville Lindo stood out in
stark contrast against the other four voices,
each of which was distinctive, but all of
which blended into a velvety smoothness.

sacred, light classics, British folk songs
and Negro Spirituals.
The Frats Quintet must be credited
with inspiring the formation of most of
the pure folk or folk-oriented groups in
existence today; groups such as the
Jamaican Folk Singers, the NDTC
Singers and the University Singers all
acknowledge a debt to the Frats. These
groups have, of course, moved the folk
music tradition forward in many ways.
But they all differ from the Frats in one
important respect; they have all become
more theatrical in their presentations,
introducing movement, choreography
and musical instruments to a greater or
lesser degree. Indeed, a folk music con-
cert nowadays is likely to be not just
music but a highly theatrical event.

The disposition of parts was also note-
worthy. The frequent use of the top voice in
a soft falsetto register adding an obbligato
to the melody line rather than to stating it (a
function that was left to the lower voices)
was redolent of barbershop quartet tech-
niques; but the harmonic flavour was
unmistakably Jamaican.
The rhythmic attack and the often bril-
liant contrapuntal movement of the lower
voices to 'fill in' melodic space gave the
music a forward momentum that was irre-
Although they eschewed body move-
ment, the rhythmic thrust that was con-
tained in the unaccompanied voices a
thrust that owed as much to the use of
silence as of sounds kept audiences
Their repertoire was extensive. The
sample which follows could well be used as
a test of the reader's knowledge of contem-
porary Jamaican folk repertory: Hosanna,
Run Mongoose,Day Oh, Mattie No Drown-

The complex settings and musical
accompaniment which are now all an
integral part of performances were ele-
ments consciously eschewed by the
Frats. White felt that these frills
would detract from the effect desired by
'robbing the voices of their true choral
quality'. For them only the purity of
their voices was important. They
always performed without accompani-
ment, and movement was restricted to a
slight rock or bounce and animated
facial expressions.
The East Queen Street Fraternal
was awarded a bronze Musgrave Medal
by the Institute of Jamaica in 1977 for
their contribution to choral music. In
1986 Winston White received a bronze
Musgrave Medal in recognition of the

I w

Another historic meeting The Frats and Ahur Godfrey.
Another historic meeting The Frats and Arthur Godfrey.

ded, Linstead Market, Rocky Road, Chi
Chi Bud, Nobody's Business, Los' Cyan
Find, Jackass Wid Im Long Tail, Matilda,
Brown Skin Gal, Fan Me Solja Man, Rain,
Coverley, Come we go down a Unity,
Angelina, Emmanuel Road, Mattie Rag,
Colon Man... and so it goes on.
A list like this makes us realise the
tremendous debt that the country owes to
the Frats Quintet. It is instructive, also, to
recall how many of these songs are in the
repertoires of today's folk groups and to
observe how frequently the Frats's original
arrangements and interpretations have been
imitated by others.
There are a number of songs that the
Frats made definitively their own: Para-
keet in the Garden, Chi Chi Bud,O ZuZu-
Wa, Dog War a Matches Lane, and the
unforgettable Mrs Flanagan.

What an achievement!

Frats's contribution to Jamaican folk-
lore. Despite the accolades heaped on
the group at home and abroad during
their heyday, the greatest tributes have
come from their peers. As Wycliffe
Bennett, who has been associated with
the arts in Jamaica for so long and who
was closely associated with the Quintet,
The Frats Quintet sang for the sheer joy
of singing and they sang with excellence
and such splendid authority. There was
nothing pretentious about them. They
were willing and happy to sing anywhere
and anytime. Whenever anything impor-
tant was happening in Jamaica or wher-
ever Jamaican representation was
required abroad, the Frats Quintet were
always invited. They gave some of the
most satisfying performances of any per-
forming arts group in Jamaica in the
fifties and sixties.

I am indebted to the Frats Quartet, and Mr
Winston Wkite in particular, for their gen-
erosity of spirit in sharing with me many
hours of their time for interviews and for
their trust in lending me many of their clip-
pings, photographs and other memorabilia.
My thanks go also to Mr J.J. Williams, Mrs
Hazel Bennett, Professor Rex Nettleford,
and, in particular, Mr Wycliffe Bennett.




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Producing Bauxite and Alumina, Restoring Lands for
Farming and Protecting the Environment
For years, Alcan researchers have weighed the "pros" and "cons" of alternative disposal methods for red mud -the
by-product of alumina processing. In 1981 a variation of the dehydration process was chosen for Ewarton Works
because of its non-polluting characteristics. In this capital-intensive, multi-million U.S. dollar project, red mud is
thickened and the resulting slurry pumped to a disposal area for drying. Dried in sunlight, red mud does not
re-slurry in rainfall, and can even be used as land-fill.
Restoring mined-out bauxite land to productive use is another area of concern at Alcan. Over the years,
the Company has diligently carried out its responsibility for the restoration of mined-out-lands
for use as pastures for cattle, and other productive activities.
At Alcan, concern for the environment is something we
take very seriously.

Alcan Jamaica Company
A Division of Alcan Aluminium Limited (Inc. in Canada)
Quietly Achieving Inportant Goals
A member of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica

ALCAN 111111

, ~EJ~.


and his 5R.R ALL-STARS

12 i GfMGEniNoDESnd D cdMio
p0iog CONTINUOUSLY 9o. 9.30 p.m to 230 am.
il, l ilL U I I.A p m i I ,i1j ~

n the modern musical world,
Kingston, Jamaica, is best known
as the progenitor of reggae music.
Reggae coalesced in Kingston's
recording studios in the late 1960s and
early 1970s, scarcely a decade after the
Jamaican popular music recording indus-
try had begun, and ever since has been a
ubiquitous presence in the soundscape of
Kingston (and elsewhere). Two other
local popular music styles, ska and rock
steady, held a similar sway in the early
and mid-1960s.1
But what of the popular music scene
in Kingston before the late 1950s? What
preceded this phenomenon and what led
up to it? This article attempts to sketch
the history of the popular music culture
of Kingston from the late nineteenth cen-
tury up to the final stages of the 'Federa-
tion' or pre-Independence period (1947-
1961) when the rise of an indigenous
popular music recording industry added a
significant new dimension. An examina-
tion of the documentary source materials
in the print media, supplemented by the
testimony of older informants, reveals
that the urban popular music culture of
Kingston has been closely tied to that of
North America since at least the late
nineteenth century.




Genteel amateur music making and
LT locally provided public musical enter-
tainment also existed, but evidently
with the same low profile as in many
C U LT U E colonial North American outposts.2
Nevertheless, by the early twentieth
century there appears to have been a
NEO-COLONIALISM sufficiently large and competent pool of
TO NATIONALISM resident musicians to replicate certain
of the popular musical institutions
prominent in many North American
by Robert Witmer urban centres of the period:
The coming of moving pictures in the
Impresarios and theatrical agents early twenties had created a demand for
theatre orchestras to play before shows
imported touring vaudeville shows and to accompany silent films. Orches-
to Kingston in the 1890s and early 1900s tras and bands were also used at fairs,
[Baxter 1970], and a contemporary garden parties, and on civic occasions...
chronicler and church organist com- Some of these orchestras were the Palace
plained that 'musical performances at Theatre Orchestra, the Y.M.C.A. Orches-
that time were "limited to ballad concerts tra, and Buckley's String Orchestra.
and entertainments of a vaudeville char- [Baxter 1970]
acter".' ibidd.: quoting Marson 1964]. It is possible that ensembles capa-
As brief, but tantalizing, evidence of ble of playing on such occasions were
the impact of American popular music staffed entirely by expatriate musicians
on the general Jamaican populace in the (or foreign-trained Jamaican musi-
early decades of the twentieth century, cians). However, the history of local
we have Helen Roberts's observation, music education suggests that this was
made during a 1920-21 field trip, that probably not the case: extensive instruc-
'even the back neighborhoods now tion in Euro-American wind band
boast a knowledge of American rag-time instruments and repertoire was already
tunes'[Roberts 1925]. well under way by that time.


The Wind Band Movement
The establishment of Europeanized
schools, missions, and the importation of
'European bandmasters to build up and
train military brass bands' are mentioned
by Laade [1969] as some of the common
agents of European imperialism in
Africa. These manifestations were also a
part of the colonial experience in Jamaica.
Kingston's Alpha Boys School best
reveals the syndrome in Jamaica.
Founded in 1890 as an industrial
mission school by the Sisters of Mercy, it
already boasted, by 1892, a Drum and
Fife Corps [Gleaner 25 May 1965]. By
1910, this Corps had become the Alpha
Boys Band,'the nursery for brass band
music in Jamaica' [Gleaner 25 Nov.
1960]. Throughout its long history the
Alpha Boys Band has been the prime
provider of instrumentalists for at least
four established wind bands: the Jamaica
Military Band, the Jamaica Constabulary
Band, the Jamaica Regiment Band, and
the West India Regiment Band ibidd.; cf.
Baxter 1970] .3
The existence of these regimental
and civic bands has made available a pool
of trained and experienced instrumental-
ists for a variety of musical activities
beyond the ostensible functions of the
bands themselves. The wind bands can be
seen as a backbone of 'homeland' secular
urban music culture in colonial urban
centres. Although the quotation that fol-
lows refers to late eighteenth and early
nineteenth century Canada, it seems quite
apropos of early twentieth century
They [regimental bands] might assist at
theatrical performances or provide the
nucleus of an orchestra ... They would be
called upon to entertain ... at social affairs.
. .Their participation in religious and
national festivals ... and their concerts on
public squares gained the bands an even
wider, and warmly appreciative, audience.
[Kallmann 1960]
The significance of the wind band
tradition for specifically 'popular' music
culture is that it provides the instrumental
resources prerequisite to the rise of a local
performance tradition of Euro-American
popular social dance music. Current
members and alumni of the several
Jamaican brass bands have always been
well represented among the personnel of
the island's popular bands and dance
orchestras. Baxter writes that the mem-
bers of the Jamaica Military Band
'formed (and still form) the nucleus of
any musical ensemble' [1970]. In addi-

tion, several members of the brass
have been active in teaching music
further entrenching the Europear
band tradition and its offshoots ii
musical culture of Jamaica.

Early Musical Entertainment
According to a column i
Gleaner written by 'The Nati
March 1963, until the 1930s the
Lantern, on Barry Street, was Kin,
only night club, 'if you can call a
gloomy, ill-lit, and grammaphoned
o'rooms by such a name'.4 The
columnist could recall the existe
only five night entertainment est
ments operating in the Kingston an
ing the 1930s: the Glass Bucket,
was at Half Way Tree ('packing
every night'); the Green Light on I
Street ('offered refreshment ALL i
the Bournemouth Bath ('you could
and swim most evenings'); the
Bank Hotel (dancing 'every evening
ing the winter season'); and an un
night club on Harbour Street ('I
three FRENCH girls derobed clevi
soft music').
This account, of course,
merely highlights the more
important, permanent, and
'respectable' establishments.
Lower-class and demimonde
venues of urban popular music
culture would not receive sys-
tematic coverage in a public press
addressed to the more literate and
genteel stratum of the society.
That Kingston did, in fact, have
two traditions of live urban popu-
lar nightclub and social dance
music by the 1930s is intimated
in the following account:
[The popular bands] in the early
1930's and 1940's ... could have
been divided into two classes, the
gentlemen's and ladies' orches-
tras, and Hot-music bands whose
members played but did not read
music, who improvised both in
their music and the manner of
existence as performing groups.
[Baxter 1970].
The amount of 'respectable'
popular musical entertainment
available to the urban mass audi-
ence in Kingston in the early
decades of the twentieth century
was evidently not commensurate
with the city's self-image as a
modern national capital. In
response to the realization that

'we are very much lacking in Variety
Entertainments and Amusements which
are necessary to every civilized communi-
ty' [Whyte 1931], the Edelweiss Amuse-
ment Company was organized by Marcus
Garvey in 1931 for 'the purpose of sup-
plying high class and healthy amusements
... for the people of Jamaica and the resi-
dents and citizens of the Corporate Area
of Kingston and St. Andrew in particular
... the best of musical shows and variety
entertainments' [ibid.]. Edelweiss Park
boasted an 'Open-air Theatre well laid out
with a capacity to accommodate 8,000
people seated' ibidd.] and was also used
for public dances. The company's first
musical review perhaps the first indige-
nous Jamaican musical review to be
mounted was 'Snapshots of 1931'. The
formation of the Edelweiss Amusement
Company was possibly the first large-
scale organized response in Jamaica to the
cultural and recreational needs of a grow-
ing urban population.
Musical reviews and variety shows
have been a normal, if infrequent, aspect
of Kingston popular music culture. 'The
Native' remembered that in the 1930s the

Opportunity Hour now

in 25th year
T HIS YEAR marks nounced:
the 25th anniver- "And so we swing wide the
doors of golden opportun
sary of Opportunity ity to let the singers ot
Hour, a talent-hunt tomorrow pass through...
programme which to London, Paris, New
York, Hollywood ... who
started on the stage of knows..."
the Palace theatre in M-. John, w e Of the
columnist Vere Johns,at the
May 1939 when Mar- i:',d to d nonaete
garet Lillian Johns an. work for hoe i

TOP: 'Caledonia' Robinson, Mrs Vere Johns and Bar-
rington Sadler celebrated in style onstage at the Palladi-
ur Theatre, Montego Bay, the 25th anniversary of the
popular show 'Vere Johns's Opportunity Hour'


i ,I
i 9-

Ward Theatre was the venue for 'big,
colourful reviews . .well staged and
most expensively dressed'. For the past
three decades the highlight of Jamaican
musical theatre has been Pantomime,
which has been staged annually and
achieved lengthy runs ever since its
inception in 1942 [Baxter 1970].

Itinerant Street Singers and 'Local
A common musical phenomenon of
many towns and cities worldwide has
been the itinerant street singers. They
have also been a part of the urban popu-
lar music culture of Jamaica. The best-
remembered of these singers is the duo of
Slim and Sam, 'the last of the itinerant
songster-troubadours of Jamaica' who
were active in the 1920s and 1930s
The musical career of this duo
should have a familiar ring to anyone
acquainted with the history of nineteenth
and early twentieth century U.S. urban
music culture particularly that of the
Negro South. Slim and Sam composed
their own songs, the texts frequently
dealing with topical events, with titles
such as 'Balm Yard Blues', 'Nine Night
Blues' and 'Depression Blues'. Broad-
sides of the songs were available for sale
to the audiences, and the team made a
living of sorts from the sale of these
sheets. Eventually they began to appear
in stage shows such as the vaudeville
shows produced by the Edelweiss
Amusement Company [White 1972].
It would seem, then, that many of
the hallmarks of early twentieth century
southern U.S. Negro urban musical life
(itinerant street singers/bluesmen/song-
sters/vaudevillians) had contemporane-
ous analogues in Jamaica,with a class of
professional or at least quasi-profes-
sional musical entertainers of which
Slim and Sam are representative.
The mention of the sale of broad-
sides is noteworthy. That some sort of a
living was perhaps realized from such
sales, suggests a number of conclusions:
(1) the clientele for such musical fare was
larger in size than the restricted familial
or village audience normally associated
with 'folk' expressions and could, in fact,
be considered more akin to a 'mass audi-
ence'; (2) the clientele had at least a mod-
icum of literacy again, a characteristic
more commonly associated with an
urban mass 'popular culture' audience
than with a rural 'folk culture' audience;

(3) the repertory, consisting of newly
composed topical songs rather than of
songs of uncertain age still current in oral
tradition, aligns this tradition more close-
ly to the world of popular music than to
the world of folk music. In other words,
with Slim and Sam and the early twent-
ieth century itinerant songmen we are
dealing with a genuinely indigenous
Jamaican urban popular musical expres-
sion, albeit one that has analogues in the
United States in the same period.
The inclusion of 'blues' in the reper-
tory is revealing. The usage of the term
adds to the evidence that Jamaica was
firmly under the influence of U.S. popu-
lar music culture in the early twentieth
century. To find the term 'blues' in use
by Jamaican musical entertainers active
in the 1920s and early 1930s, indicates
quite rapid diffusion to Jamaica of U.S.
race records, or at least the knowledge of
their existence.5
The 'blues' of Slim and Sam provide
strong evidence from which we can infer
that Jamaican popular musical entertain-
ers (and their audiences) were in contact
with a specifically Afro-American sub-
stratum of American vernacular music,
not merely mainstream urban popular
fare, almost from the moment of its com-
mercial availability.6

The Emergence of Local Radio and
Local Jamaican radio broadcasting
dates from 17 November 1939. The new
station, ZQI (shortwave) Jamaica, was on
the air a scant one hour per week in 1940,
and by 1947 had increased its program-
ming to only four hours daily. The impact
of station ZQI on local musical culture -
particularly as regards dissemination of
local music can be assumed to have
been minimal: the programming was
mostly BBC relays, and the estimated lis-
tening audience was under one hundred
thousand [Central Rediffusion Services
Ltd. 1956]. Even as late as 1950, the
total listenership cannot have much
exceeded that figure, as the estimated
number of radio sets in Jamaica was put
at 22,920 [Radio Jamaica and Rediffu-
sion 1956].
The truly auspicious event in the his-
tory of mass communications in Jamaica
was the commencement of operations, in
July 1950, of Radio Jamaica and Rediffu-
sion (RJR), a commercial broadcasting
company transmitting both direct (AM)

and wired (rediffusion) broadcasts. By
1955, RJR was transmitting 118 hours
per week of AM programming and 130
hours per week through its rediffusion
network. As of November 1956, Radio
Jamaica and Rediffusion had a 'total
average listenership ... in the vicinity of
600,000' that is, approximately 50 per
cent of the total population over nine
years of age.
Market survey research done in the
mid-fifties reveals a wide range of pro-
gramming on RJR. A questionnaire
assessing favourite types of programmes
employed the following typology (listed
in order of decreasing popularity); popu-
lar dance music; calypsos; serials; classi-
cal music; plays; comedy [ibid.]. Musical
programming evidently relied almost
exclusively on British and American
record and transcription services, judging
from the following list of RJR's most
popular music programmes for 1956
(listed in order of decreasing popularity):
Calypso Corner; Treasure Isle Time;
Geddes Grant Hour of Music; Reynolds
Hour of Music; Les Paul and Mary Ford;
Bing [Crosby] Sings; Sweet and Swing;
[Nat] King Cole's Count; Hit of the Day;
Music by Mantovani.).7

Institutionalized Encouragement of
Popular Music
Although the musical orientation of
Radio Jamaica and Rediffusion during
the 1950s appears to have been primarily
non-indigenous, it was evidently a matter
of company policy for local musicians to
receive at least some air time on the sta-
tion: 'Every possible opportunity is ...
given to any available local talent of a
sufficiently high standard to broadcast,
and others are thereby encouraged to
improve their performance to the neces-
sary standards' [Central Rediffusion Ser-
vices Ltd. 1956]. This implies that a sub-
stantial amount of local musical talent
with broadcasting ambitions was known
to exist, but also that the nature of the
materials or the performance 'quality' of
much of this talent was suspected of not
conforming to company criteria of what
constituted broadcast-quality material.
A telling indication of the vigour and
zeal of amateur musicians with broad-
casting aspirations in Kingston during the
1950s is the report that 'as many as 300
people in a weekend' auditioned for 'Tal-
ent Parade', a locally produced radio pro-
gramme in existence from about 1951 to


1954 [ibid.]. Musical competitions and
'talent hunts' have, in fact, been a part of
the urban music culture of Kingston
since at least 1927, at which time the
Music Competitions Festivals of the
Musical Society were inaugurated [Bax-
ter 1970]. Although primarily oriented to
concert music, these festivals had.numer-
ous classes as many as 130 in certain
years, including 'folk' singing classes
[ibid.]. The inclusion of what seem to be
'indigenous' music categories in these
early twentieth century festivals marks
the beginning of the 'official' association
of traditional and rural genres and styles
with mainstream popular and genteel
urban musical institutions in Jamaica.
Independent entrepreneurs also
became involved in the mounting of
amateur shows. One of the major on-
going institutions in the urban popular
music life of Kingston for several
decades was Vere Johns's Opportunity
Hour, described by a Gleaner writer on
6 December 1964 as 'a talent-hunt pro-
gramme which started on the stage of the
Palace Theatre in May 1930'. Nor were
John's shows unique: 'Late in the 1930's
and early 1940's, amateur shows based
on Major Bowes show on the (U.S.)
radio became popular. Those held in
Jamaica were held in the Ward Theatre or
in the moving picture theatres' [Baxter
1970]. That many of the participants
were practitioners of popular music is
amply demonstrated by the appearance
of a number of Jamaican popular music
entertainers of the 1960s and 1970s in
such shows.

American Echoes
Big Band Social Music
Urban popular music in Kingston as
an activity of professional or quasi-pro-
fessional specialists is scarcely better
documented for the 1940s and 1950s
than for earlier decades of the century.
Baxter asserts that the 1940s wit-
nessed an increase in the number of
venues available for popular music enter-
tainment and this is substantiated in local
press accounts. For example, the number
of reported venues for popular music had
increased from the five of the 1930s to
twelve by the mid-1950s (F.S.C. 1957).
As to the nature of the music performed
at such venues, the title of a magazine
piece recalling the island's popular music
and musicians of the 1940s and 1950s is
highly suggestive: 'The Early Days of
Swing' [Jingles 1972]. It is apparent

Duke Ellington at the National Stadium, one of the international greats of jazz who visited Jamaica.

from the article that what the author
means by 'Swing' music is precisely the
common Euro-American understanding
of the term. This interpretation is rein-
forced by another local chronicler, who
writes: 'During the nineteen forties ...
the men who made music here ... played
in the mould set by the swing bands of
the United States' [Neita 1962]. Jingles
goes on to list some two dozen such 'big
bands' which were 'well known . on
the local circuit during the 1940's and
1950's.' Subspecialties within the idiom
were evidently developed and recognized
by patrons: 'The three most popular
bands to have appeared in those days
were Rcdver Cook, who was known for
the bounce music, Milton McPherson for
swing, and George Moxie for the Latin
sound' [Jingles 1972].
The reminiscences of Babe O'Bricn
[taped interview, 23 May 1972,
Kingston), a sometime freelance profes-
sional musician (saxes and clarinet) who
has been in Jamaica since 1931, add to
our knowledge of the popular music cul-
ture of Kingston in the 1930s, 1940s, and
1950s. According to O'Brien, the ladies'
and gentlemen's orchestras of the thirties
and forties [citing Baxter 1970] were
modelled on the popular American dance
bands of the period in all significant
respects: instrumentation, repertory, play-
ing style. Jamaican musicians absorbed
the American style and repertory in a
number of ways: (1) individual players
learned idioms, tunes, and at times even
their particular parts in specific arrange-
ments from American records; (2) since
many of the Jamaican freelance profes-

sional musicians were musically literate
(frequently as a result of having been
involved in the music programme of the
Alpha School), they were able to utilize
published stock arrangements, sheet
music, and arrangements 'lifted', that is
transcribed from or, at the very least,
modelled after, American records; (3)
Jamaican freelance musicians were by no
means isolated from their counterparts in
North America and elsewhere in the
Western world: a number had travelled
and worked in North America, Europe,
and the Caribbean. Conversely, non-
Jamaican groups and individual musi-
cians occasionally joined the Jamaican
musical community for varying lengths
of time. By all of these means, the
Jamaican freelance professional musician
became at least moderately well versed in
North American popular music of the
time. During this period, live urban popu-
lar music in middle-class night clubs and
hotels in Kingston and elsewhere in the
island consisted of what Babe O'Brien
refers to as 'the regular dance music . .
Body & Soul, oom-pah . blues' in
other words, popular North American
social dance music.
Given these circumstances, it is not
surprising that local popular singers also
came under the influence of American
models associated with the swing tradi-
tion. During the 1940s and 1950s, band
singers 'were usually compared with and
given the names of well known intema-
tional stars. Julian Iffla was the local Per-
ry Como and Buddy Ilgner was the local
Frank Sinatra' [Jingles 1972]. The prac-
tice dates back to at least the late-1930s,


when Denzil Laing 'was billed as the
local Bobby Breen .. then an interna-
tionally famous singer' [ibid.].

Small Group Jazz
Press coverage of local music from
the late 1950s and into the early 1960s
gives the impression that the period wit-
nessed the rise of a small but vigorous
Jamaican jazz community, primarily in
Kingston, and the emergence however
tenuous of a public musical event
referred to by the press as the 'jazz con-
cert' or 'jazz session'.8 Jazz was not a
stranger to the island prior to this time.
What seems to have been unusual was a
public performance tradition of jazz or
jazz-oriented music divorced from the
context of social dancing. 9 The immed-
iate apparent precusor of jazz as an
autonomous live performance/listening
tradition was the transformation of social
dance situations into 'quasi-concerts' by
the musicians themselves. A local chroni-
cler supplies this example, from the late
1940s. At a Kingston dance being played
by the Jamaica All-Stars, a band made up
of jazzmenn from various groups.... The
fact that a tune like "Body & Soul" lasted
for one hour .. gave a concert atmo-
sphere as most of the dancers stopped
dancing to listen to the exciting improvi-
sations of these musicians' [Neita 1962].
Neita gives 1954 as the year of the 'first
great Jazz Concert in Jamaica', and an
examination of music news in post-1954
Jamaican newspapers reveals that locally
mounted jazz concerts/jazz sessions have
been a regular, if infrequent, component
of the music culture of Kingston since the

Travelling Musical Entertainers
Along with the tradition of local
replication of urban musical styles origi-
nating primarily in the United States,
there has been a lengthy tradition of regu-
lar, if somewhat infrequent, appearances
in Kingston by touring American popular
entertainers. The 1950s, for example, saw
a number of the foremost exponents of
then-current popular American musical
styles, including rhythm and blues and
rock and roll, give performances in
The American jazz singer Carmen
McCrae played Kingston on 7 and 8
September 1956; the press release in the
Daily Gleaner of 31 August did not
overlook the fact that, although U.S.
bom,McCrae was of Jamaican parentage.

In November, the Gleaner reported
that an American rhythm and blues pack-
age show was playing Kingston. Among
the principal artists were singer-guitarist
David Hill, singer Laverne Baker, the
Spence Twins dance team, saxophonist-
vocalist Sil 'Mr Ping Pang' Austin, and
drummer Freddie [Frankie?] Bonitto.
The list of American musical lumi-
naries performing in Kingston in 1957
includes Bill Haley and his Comets,
Louis Armstrong, and the 'Rock-a-rama'
rhythm and blues package show. Haley
and his group played the State Theatre in
June 1957. The visit of Louis Armstrong
to Kingston in May 1957 was well cov-
ered by the press. As well as substantial
advertising by the promoters of the event,
no fewer than four press releases and arti-
cles appeared in the Daily Gleaner. A
'government-sponsored Public (free) jazz
Concert' heard by some fifty thousand
people in George VI Park, was also
broadcast by Radio Jamaica Rediffusion.
In late August, the 'Rock-a-rama' pack-
age show arrived in Kingston for two
days of shows at the Carib Theatre. The
troupe comprised Bull Moose Jackson
and his Buffalo Bearcats, the Teenchords
(vocal group), and Clarence 'Frogman'
Henry [Gleaner 27 Aug. 1957].
Visiting American artists during
1958 included the Four Coins [Jamaica
Times 1 Feb. 1958], the then-popular
'easy listening' pianist Carmen Caval-
laro, who made four appearances at the
Carib Theatre [Gleaner 19 Feb. 1958],
and Woody Herman for a three-night
engagement at the State Theatre [Glean-
er 24 Oct. 1958]. The high proportion of
'Afro-American' popular music enter-
tainment (rhythm and blues, rock and
roll, jazz) in the roster of travelling musi-
cians playing Kingston reinforces the
evidence of strong Afro-American input.

Class Distinctions and Musical Con-
sumption Patterns
It is important to note that some
aspects of the popular music culture dis-
cussed so far cannot have affected a very
broad population base. With the excep-
tion of the free, open-air Louis Arm-
strong concert in 1957, jazz in Jamaica
has been, in quantitative terms, at least,
a minor substream; the small size of
the Jamaican community of jazz musi-
cians and the dearth of bona fide jazz
events indicates rather restricted dis-

The reported pre-eminence of the
large swing dance bands over the island's
popular music culture in the 1940s and
1950s is likewise suspected of not having
been as broadly based and pervasive as
some of the local chroniclers have sug-
gested. Informants reveal that most
engagements played by such bands were
in hotels and dance halls, where prices
effectively eliminated extensive patron-
age by the urban proletariat. Likewise,
popular music, variety stage shows, and
nightclubs do not seem to have been suf-
ficient to constitute a significant compo-
nent of the music culture of the populace
at large. In short, although there existed a
somewhat 'Americanized' popular music
culture in Kingston in the decades pre-
ceding Independence, this culture must
be seen as a primarily middle class phe-
nomenon; participation by the mass of
proletariat Kingstonians in this music
culture was restricted, both by limited
local capacity and more important by
their own limited financial resources with
which to consume it regularly.
However, I do not claim that the
urban popular music culture discussed
thus far was an exclusively middle-class
phenomenon or that what the lower class-
es had in the way of musical culture is
another musical world -'urban folk
music,' or whatever. In point of fact, the
kinds of restrictive conditions mentioned
here do not point to the conclusion that
the lower classes were effectively isolat-
ed from the orbit of influence of North
American-based urban popular music:
the ready availability of recorded popular
music (via southeastern American radio
transmissions receivable in Jamaica for
example, WINZ Miami via Radio
Jamaica Rediffusion since 1950, and,
considerably before that time via record
players and jukeboxes) must not be over-
Two points about mass media dis-
semination and public consumption of
prerecorded popular music in Jamaica in
the 1950s and early 1960s are germane to
this discussion: (1) market research from
the mid-1950s claims that a substantial
portion of the total adult population was
in RJR's total average listenership, and
contemporaneous published programme
schedules reveal a high proportion of air
time devoted to a variety of recorded
popular music [Radio Jamaica Rediffu-
sion 1956]; (2) popular music on
phonodisc broadcast over Jamaican air-
waves in the early 1950s would have
been ipso facto entirely foreign (there


was no local recording industry) and,
before the early 1960s, largely foreign.
It would appear, then, that although
entry to live performances featuring
Euro-American popular music may have
been restricted for the more eocnomical-
ly deprived sector of society, this sector
has been continuously within earshot of
large doses of such musical fare via
records (AM radio, the rediffusion net-
work, jukeboxes, personal record play-
back equipment) since at least the mid-

The Sound System Syndrome
The ready availability and impact of
Euro-American popular recorded music
to the Kingston adult population in the
1950s is further attested to by the concur-
rent ubiquity of a sociomusical institution
known as the Sound System Dance,
Sound System Night, or just Sound Sys-
A Sound System Dance is a social
occasion characterized by the presence of
recorded social dance music (on records)
as opposed to a live band.12 The venue
possibilities are flexible: characteristi-
cally, however, it is an outdoor event,
occurring in neighborhood yards or other
outdoor compounds,13 both urban and
rural. Sound System events may occur
any night of the week, though most of the
activity occurs on weekend nights, partic-
ularly Saturdays.
There are certain resemblances
between what is known in Jamaica as
'sound system' and what was known in
North America in the 1950s and 1960s as
'dance party' or 'record hop.' Sound Sys-
tem in Jamaica appears to be, however, a
somewhat more elaborate and institution-
alized phenomenon than the North Amer-
ican analogues that it superficially resem-
In lower-class Kingston an informal
or neighborhood dance party cannot nor-
mally be initiated by gathering a group of
acquaintances in one's home or backyard
and turning on the stereo system. A mod-
est home high fidelity record playback
system, which has been available in
North America for the past three decades
or so for a financial outlay of less than
five per cent of an annual average wage,
represents in Jamaica close to a full year's
average wage. Thus, in the context of
lower-class Kingston life in the 1950s,
the possessor of a record playback sys-
tem of sufficient quality and wattage to
reproduce from recordings something

approximating the volume and fidelity of
live performances of current popular
dance music styles was a rare individual.
The Sound System is the manifestation
of such individuals utilizing their records
and playback equipment in an
entrepreneurial way, providing, on a pro-
fessional freelance basis, music and
entertainment for public dances for the
rural and lower-class urban populace of
the island, and establishing themselves as
owner-operators of 'perambulating dis-
Informants and published reports
are unanimous in stating that the music
heard at Sound System events during the
1950s was almost exclusively American
rhythm and blues. During the late 1950s
and early 1960s, American rhythm and
blues records were increasingly supple-
mented by the products of the fledgling
local recording industry. This did not
appreciably change the overall complex-
ion of the musical fare of Sound System
events: the majority of early (late 1950s
and early 1960s) Jamaican recordings
were strongly derivative of American
R&B. Indeed, it may not be too far-
fetched to suggest that one of the under-
lying incentives for the rise of a local
recording industry in the late 1950s was
to cater to the Jamaican music and dance
fans' tastes for an earlier style of rhythm
and blues that was by that date no longer
being adequately met by the American
recording industry.

Summary and Conclusions
This article has tried to document
the existence of an essentially 'colonial'
urban popular music culturein Kingston
in the pre-independence period. Docu-
mentary evidence and the testimony of
informants both assert that most of the
urban popular music institutions of
Kingston throughout the first two-thirds
of the twentieth century had obvious
analogues in North American urban
popular music culture.
The popular music scene at mid-
century could be summarized as fol-
lows. Rhythm and blues was the stan-
dard musical fare at Sound System
dances for rural dwellers and the urban
proletariat and underclass. Large Amer-
ican-style 'swing' bands played at pub-
lic dances catering to people of suffi-
cient means to attend; small-group jazz
was available to a coterie of enthusiasts
with sufficient leisure time or the elitist


mentality to cultivate that tradition;
local wind bands (and wind band edu-
cation), travelling American popular
entertainers, and most important -
mass media, kept a number of popular
Euro-American musical styles and tra-
ditions within earshot of a broad cross-
section of Jamaican society.
The American tenor of the popular
music culture of Kingston was not lost
on local commentators. It is seen in
two opposing attitudes. On the one
hand, there is ample evidence of a lin-
gering 'colonial mentality' (contempt
for, or embarrassment about, local cul-
tural fare and reverence for the foreign)
with regard to the relative merits of
local and foreign music and musicians.
However, certain contra-acculturative
and even nationalistic sentiments begin
making their appearance in the popular
press of the late 1950s. The peculiar
combination of the two attitudes is
revealed in the short shrift given by the
Kingston press to reportage of local
music and music entertainers, with the
exception of one specific category of
news: Jamaican musicians leaving for
or returning from foreign engagements.
Success abroad, even the mere securing
of foreign engagements by local musi-
cians, appears to be more 'newsworthy'
and 'prestigious' than any amount of
local activity. Although such reports
reveal a certain sense of national self-
esteem and pride ('our musicians and
entertainers are good' ), the frame of
reference is that of the colonial mentali-
ty ('some of our musicians must be
good because they arc acceptable, that
is, marketable, to a non-Jamaican audi-
The return in 1957 of Ossie DaCos-
ta, a pianist who had taken a band to
North America seven years earlier, was
duly noted in a local gossip column
[Senior 1957], as were the festivities
surrounding his return.
Even the return of Jamaican expa-
triates for brief visits after extended
periods of absence did not go unnoticed
in the Kingston press: the fact that
trombonist Frank Baker, who had left
the island in 1945, was back in Jamaica
for Christmas 1953 was considered suf-
ficiently newsworthy to warrant its own
headline in the Daily Gleaner. The1953
participation of the Frats Quintet in the
Miami Music Festival 'Salute to the
Americas,' and the departure of the Sil-

ver Seas Calypso Band for an engage-
ment in New York were both approv-
ingly noted in the same paper.
Foreign (primarily North Ameri-
can) musical standards were never far
below the surface in evaluations of
local musicians. For example, a report
on the success in England of a Jamaican
group, the Southlanders, closes with the
following: 'They have got everything
that the American entertainers have -
and more'. The billing of local big band
singers as Jamaican counterparts of
international stars (the 'local Frank
Sinatra') may be seen as another mani-
festation of this attitude. It appears that
the spectre of an 'accomplished' local
musician sometimes aroused a certain
amount of disbelief:'(W)ith the Trott's
Band (Montego Bay), the bassman
(Lloyd Brevitt) thrilled tourists and
North Coasters who were always
inquiring if Brevitt was a foreigner'
[O'Brien 1963; emphasis added].
The constantly available supply of
American music in Kingston tended to
eclipse the prominence of local musi-
cians and entertainers. A well-attended
'local talent' popular music stage show
was apparently something of a rarity:
One such event was interpreted by a
reviewer as 'a most encouraging demon-
stration that Jamaicans are at long last
ready to support local artists'[C.W.
1958]. But then the reviewer reaffirms
the essentially 'colonial' mind set of the
Jamaican popular music audience: 'Of
course Mr. Matalon (the singer under
review) has the added glamour of a suc-
cessful career abroad' [ibid.].
By the late 1950s, however, mur-
murs of musical nationalism of a more
'activist' persuasion make their appear-
ance; that is, some critical swipes are tak-
en at the ascendancy of American music
and musical values in local musical life.
We find, for example, a prominent com-
mentator growing impatient with
Kingston's Americanized vocal stylists.
In a 1958 review of a stage show, he
complains: 'Heaven knows, we have had
our fill of [Frank Sinatra imitators] on
this island, just as in the old days we
were overcrowded with spurious
Ekstines and King Coles' [Milner 1958].
Another commentator, in voicing a simi-
lar complaint, aptly sums up the central
reality of the urban popular music culture
of Kingston in the first six decades of the
twentieth century: 'The demand for
music of other nationalities is so popular
in Jamaica that our musicians give little

or no thought to the excellent ideas of
creating and maintaining styles of their
own' [O'Brien 1959].
The growing musical nationalism of
the late 1950s coexisted with a more gen-
eralized nationalistic fervor, which culmi-
nated in Independence in 1962. It is
probably no coincidence, given this
sociocultural milieu, that by the mid-
1960s there is documentary evidence
that Kingston's musicians were, in fact,
'creating and maintaining styles of their
own.' A survey of the popular music
emanating from Kingston's recording
studios in the brief period 1962-1970
reveals an incredible creative outburst,
and the establishment in quick succession
of three distinct popular music styles
(ska, rock steady, and reggae), the fea-
tures of which have helped shape and
inform Jamaican popular music to the
present. Although these styles have ana-
logues and parallels in contemporaneous
U.S. (primarily black) popular music,
each succeeding style seems to be less
derivative than its precursor, until, with
reggae, the gulf is wide indeed.
Although ska, rock steady and reg-
gae surely grew out of the ideological
currents of the time, those currents are
not explanation enough; it is doubtful
that new musical styles are fabricated
solely out of will and desire. The musical
life of Kingston in the pre-Independence
period must have had other dimensions
besides those discussed here. Unless we
hypothesize the existence in Jamaica of a
rich and vibrant but almost entirely
undocumented Afro-Jamaican folk or
traditional music culture running parallel
to the mainstream urban popular music,
the rise of distinctive indigenous
Jamaican forms in the 1960s remains
The musicians who created
Jamaica's indigenous popular styles must
have been, at least to some extent, bi-
musical if not in actual practice, then at
least in knowledge and insight. As well
as functioning in the American-based
popular music culture of their capital city,
they must have had some familiarity with
various vernacular musical styles, for
example, Jamaican mento, Afro-Chris-
tian cult music, and Trinidadian calypso,
as well as styles and genres of Latin
American and Caribbean music.
As I have written elsewhere: 'The
Jamaican (popular) musician of the
1960s found himself in a climate of
social change committed to goals of
modernization and Westernization, but

also to an inward-turning celebration of
indigenous culture and "blackness"....
In musical terms this translates as the
problem of creating a "modern" sound on
traditional roots' [Witmer 1981: 113].
It is beyond the scope of the present
article to attempt to explicate the inter-
play of social and musical forces that
underlay the emergence of new styles of
recorded Jamaican popular music in the
1960s. Suffice it to say that, as in any
attempt to explicate the emergence of any
'new' style of music, the topic is also fas-
cinating and complex, and central to one
of the important questions (as I see it) of
ethnomusicology: 'Why do people have
the music that they have?'

This is an edited version of an article
titled '"Local" and "Foreign": The Popular
Music Culture of Kingston, Jamaica,
before Ska, rock steady and Reggae'
which was published in Latin American
Music Review 8:1 (Spring/Summer 1987).
The article is based on a chapter of my
dissertation, 'The Popular Music Culture
of Kingston, Jamaica: Background and
Recent Change' (University of Illinois).
Most of the sources cited were found in
the National Library of Jamaica.
1. The New Grove Dictionary of Music
and Musicians, and The New Grove Dic-
tionary of American Music each contain
brief entries for 'ska' and 'rock steady'
and a somewhat more elaborate entry for
'reggae'. Fuller treatment of all three
styles may be found in Davis and Simon
2. See Baxter [1970], chap. 21 and com-
pare chapters on the growth of urban
musical life in the United States in Chase
[1966], and in Canada in Kallmann
3. The Jamaica Military Band was
formed in 1927 as the successor to the
West India Regiment Band, whose history
dates back to the nineteenth century, and
perhaps even the eighteenth century
[Miranda 1979].
4. That the music was 'grammaphoned'
and not live indicates that it was ipso facto
non-Jamaican; there is no historical evi-
dence of local recording activity before
5. The first 'blues' record was not
released in the United States until 1920,
and the form did not achieve quantitative
importance until about the mid-1920s
[Dixon and Godrich 1970: 9 passim].
International diffusion of blues records
was evidently in effect very soon after the
recordings started to be made, and some
could well have reached Jamaica as early
as 1921. Black Swan, a race record com-


pany, announced in October 1921 that it
was shipping records 'as far afield as the
Philippines and the West Indies' [quoted
in ibid.: 13].
6. I am aware of the speculative nature
of this interpretation. The interactions
between black and white folk music tradi-
tions of the southern United States, as
embodied in race and hillbilly records of
the 1920s and 1930s, have been docu-
mented [see, for example, Russell 1970];
that is, the phenomenon of 'white blues'
was not unknown during this period.
Thus, the source of the blues of Slim and
Sam is not indisputably Afro-American. I
am also aware that the designation 'blues'
applied to a popular American dance of
the twenties whose musical accompani-
ments may not always have been bona
fide blues ibidd.: 27], and that the 'blues'
of Slim and Sam may reflect the dance
meaning of the term rather than the musi-
cal meaning although I find this highly
unlikely, due to the social context of their
performances. Roberts's [1925: 150]
observations on local knowledge of Amer-
ican ragtime tunes, cited earlier, add cre-
dence to the notion that commercially dis-
seminated North American popular styles
rather quickly found acceptance in
7. At least one title, Calypso Comer indi-
cated the presence of Caribbean -
although not specifically Jamaican con-
tent in Jamaican radio music programming
of the 1950s. Titles alone are deceiving,
though: Calypso Comer was on the air a
mere five minutes daily [Radio Jamaica
and Rediffusion 1956: 15]. The non-
Jamaican content of most of the other pro-
grammes is patently obvious from the pro-
gramme titles.
8. I am satisfied, after listening to record-
ing performances made in the early and
mid-1960s by a number of the musicians
named in these accounts, that the term
'jazz' is not misapplied. Indeed, a number
of these musicians subsequently achieved
recognition in international jazz circles in
the 1960s, for example, Joe Harriott, Cecil
Lloyd, Ernest Ranglin, Dizzy Reece, and
Don Shirley.
9. Local bands obviously put in appear-
ances at the variety stage shows that
occurred periodically in Kingston, and no
doubt some of the music heard at such
shows was, in fact, jazz. For purposes of
this account, such incidental occurrences
do not of themselves constitute an
autonomous jazz performance tradition.
10. Newspaper accounts disclose, nor-
mally, the occurrence of one or two jazz
concerts per year. The concerts were fre-
quently quite ambitious productions per-
haps more akin to what a mainland North
American would refer to as a jazz 'festi-
val' some involving as many as eight
separate groups [compare Hussey 1960].

11. On the other hand, the amount and
kind of jazz activity in Kingston and envi-
rons during the 1940s and 1950s would
probably not prove to be minuscule vis-a-
vis activity in a number of North Ameri-
can centres of similar size during the same
time period. Such comparative material
was not available to me at the time I pre-
pared this study, however.
12. The practice still continues.
13. Thus the 'yard dance'.


BAXTER, IVY, The Arts of an Island. Metuchen,
N.J. Scarecrow Press. 1970.
mercial Broadcasting in the British West
Indies. London, Butterworth's Scientific
CHASE, GILBERT. Americd s Music 2nd. ed. rev.
New York: McGraw Hill. 1966.
CURIIN, PHILIP D. Two Jamaicas: The Role of
Ideas in a Tropical Colony 1830-1865.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
c.w. 1958, 'Matalon Concert a real Success',
Jamaica Times, 22 November 1958.
gae International. London: Thames and
Hudson, 1982.
DEMOYA, RAMOS. 'Radio the most popular
medium'. Radio Times and Television
News 10. 10-11 October, 1963.
ing the Blues. New York. Stein and Day:
F.S.C. 'New Year's Eve in the City: A Memo-
rable Night'. Daily Gleaner, 2 January
HUSSEY, DERMOT. 'Tripping Musicians, Daily
Gleaner', 4 August 1960.
JINGLES, JULIAN. 'The Early Days of Swing',
Sunday Gleaner Magazine, 2 January
KAILMANN, HIELMUT. A History of Music in
Canada, 1534-1914. Toronto: University
of Toronto Press, 1960.

LAADE, WOLFGANG. Die Situation von Musik-
leben and Musikforschung in den Laen-
dern Afrikas und Asiens und die neuen
Aufgaben der Musikethnologie. Tutzing:
Hans Schneider, 1969.
MARSON, ETHEL. George David Goode: The
Man and His Work. Kingston [?]: Ethel
Marson 1964.
MILNER, HARRY. 'The Zack Matalon Concert'.
Public Opinion 22 November 1958.
MIRANDA, JEAN. 'The Jamaica Military Band'.
Skywritings 22. November 1979.
NErrA, IARTLEY, 'Jamaican Jazz Grows Up',
The Star, 17 December 1962.


O'BRIEN, BABE. Taped Interview. Kingston. 23
May 1972.
O'BRIEN, MICKEY. 'Wee Willie Williams: A
Unique Jamaican Artist'. Sunday Gleaner,
2 August 1959.
'Kingston's Swinging Bassman: Lloyd
"Wowed" 'Em, in Nassau'. The Star. 19
October 1963.
Mass Information in Jamaica. A Report
on a Survey of Listening Habits conduct-
ed by Radio Jamaica and Rediffusion.
Kingston: RJR 1956.
ROBERTS, HELEN H. 'A Study of Folk Song
Variants Based on Field Work in Jamaica'.
Journal of American Folklore. 38. 149-
RUSSELL, TONY. Blacks, Whites and Blues.
New York: Stein and Day, 1970.
SENIOR, CARMEN. 'People and Things'. Public
Opinion. 7 December 1957.
wH=TE, NOEL. 'Forty-one Years on the Lighter
Side of Jamaican Life'. Daily Gleaner, 19
February 1972.
WHYTE, DAISY L. Correspondence, on sta-
tionery of The Edelweiss Amusement
Company and its first entertainment pro-
duction, December 1931.
WITMER, ROBERT. 'African Roots: The Case
of Recent Jamaican Popular Music'. In
Daniel Heartz and Bonnie C. Wade,
eds., International Musicological Soci-
ety: Report of the Twelfth Congress,
Berkeley, 1977. Kassel: Barenreiter,

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Archie Lindo


Archie Lindo has been part of the public life of Jamaica since
the heyday of Marcus Garvey. Journalist, poet, dramatist, actor,
impresario and photographer, he has been pre-eminently a critic and a
broadcaster from the earliest days of radio in Jamaica. Among the
many accolades he has received are the Order of Distinction, the silver
Musgrave Medal, the Centenary Medal and, in 1986, a special award
from RJR for his 'outstanding contribution to the radio broadcasting
industry in Jamaica'.
Martin Mordecai

Archie Lindo (top) and
one of his studies of
children (right), this
one asking: What does*-
the future hold?
childen (ight) thi
one aking Wha doe
the fuur hld : &-


M. M. : Archie, what is your earliest
memory? You moved around as a
child a lot and this must have made
an impression somewhere.
A.L.: The earliest recollection was not
Jamaican, it was New York City. My
mother took me out on the sidewalk, it
was snowing I believe and the shoes
didn't have on rubbers and I kept slip-
ping and sliding. And I remember
going into a theatre with her to see a
play. My earliest recollection of
Jamaica was that I had come on the
boat from New York and luckily for me
two days after I came off the boat, I
broke out into measles. At Logan Cas-
tle where my grandparents were living
with my sister, she wasn't allowed to
come to the room because she would
get the measles and I remember her
peeping through the door and looking at
me and saying 'can't come, can't
come.' That's the earliest recollection
of Jamaica.
Let's start with where you remember
first. Why were you in New York?
My mother left my sister with her
mother, took me to New York and then
had to send me back because the doctor
said I had throat troubles, so at five I
came out here to my grandmother and
grandfather. My grandmother brought
me up, and my sister too. My grandfa-
ther was the market clerk at Linstead.
What did that entail? He was in
charge of Linstead Market?
He collected fees at the gate. Well,
Linstead Market, the song, was not as
famous as it is now, but it had been-
writen before that.

One of Archie Lindo's early photographs.

That must have been a very interest-
ing milieu for a youngster, Linstead
Market, and Linstead generally.
Linstead in those days was a compact
little country town so everybody knew
everybody else's business. My grand-
mother was a stickler. I would say not
colour prejudiced, because she was
coloured herself, and I was saying to
her 'I want to be set down there as
white,' and she said, 'Don't be stupid,
boy, look at me I am coloured and I am
set down there as black. How could you
ever be set down there as white!' I
learned my lesson, it was a very good
lesson. But as I was saying Linstead
was a compact little place. We had the
druggist, we had the market clerk, we
had the merchant, we had the stores,
and we had the old maids and so on.
We had fun and we had the church.
This would have been Anglican?
No. We had all the churches. I was
Roman Catholic. I became altar boy as
soon as I got to about seven years old.
The disadvantage about Linstead even-
tually was it was too near to Kingston,
twenty-five miles from Kingston. But
Linstead was a rather thriving little
place, it had the market which was cen-
tral, it had the stores where people came
to buy their cloth and so on. Remember
calico was the thing at the time, brown
calico. You may be surprised to know
this but what I am telling you is quite
true. Lady Allan is my cousin's cousin
and Lady Allan and I later on when I
was getting in my teens used to sing
and we used to sing at concerts. She
was Edris Trottman and she said she
had great ideas of becoming a famous
singer but that didn't materialize, nor
did I materialize as a famous singer.
Now when did you first come to
Kingston in terms of living there?
Well, I had lived three years in
Kingston when I was going to college.
You came to St George's at around
what time?
When I was 11 years old. I lived at one
or two houses in Duke Street with my
So you lived with family?
Lived with family. St George's was not
a boarding school at the time.
Would you go home for weekends?
That's it. I would go on the train ...
On Friday and come back on Sun-
day evening?
No, no trains ran on Sunday, on Mon-

day morning and straight to school. In
those days Kingston didn't have any
paved streets. Dust. The sea breeze
coming from the south would blow
clouds of dust up all the streets which
were dirt streets. Duke Street as you
know was not very far from North
Street, so I would walk to St George's
College. The old burial ground just
where the Telephone Company [Jam-
intel] is, well it was the cathedral
before the earthquake, the earthquake
smashed the cathedral down. They
found lots of people who looked exactly
as if they were alive when they were
digging up to build the Telephone Com-
pany building.
Were there several boys like yourself
from the rural areas?
Yes, though most were from Kingston.
Delapenha from Mandeville, and very
few black students, you know. My first
play that I saw was at St George's Col-
lege,The Merchant of Venice.
This was a school production?
School production on the steps. Douglas
Judah was Portia, Dennis Cructhley was
Bassanio, of all people, because he
stammered but he beat the stammer,
Delapenha was Gratiano, and my
cousin Andrew Petgrave was Shylock.
So that was my first play that I saw.
What were the subjects that you liked
most at school?
Strangely enough, Latin.
Has that helped you as a writer?
It helped me in terms of my religion
mainly because when I became an
acolyte at Linstead I was quite familiar
with the Latin language, the Mass. I
have always worried about the Mass
now, the dialogue Mass. The Mass is a
rite by itself which makes the Catholic
religion different to any other religion
that I know, also it unites the whole
world. If you go anywhere in the world
and you go to the Mass, it is the same
Mass, you can follow it. Now this dia-
logue Mass is not so. By the way,
Gladstone Wilson was at school with
me. You know he was black and in
those days everybody was saying, 'This
little boy, where did he come from,
every year he comes up and takes all
the prizes.' It was amazing, he was fan-
tastic for prizes.
I believe your school career was cut
short because of an opportunity that
had to be shared with your sister?
Yes. As soon as I reached fourteen, my
sister then was eleven and she went to


Alpha Academy and I was very upset at
being taken from school. And then I
met a fellow who was in the Collec-
torate at Linstead, named Jimmy Camp-
bell, I have never forgotten the name,
he was a black young man, and we were
friends, and he said, 'You are talking
nonsense about not being educated. Join
the Institute of Jamaica.' In those days
the Institute would send out two books
with a label for you to return the books.
So he said, 'Look, join the Institute of
Jamaica, I will recommend you,' and I
used to get two books by post, read
them, put the label on and send them
back to the Institute.
At no cost except for postage?
No, the label made it free. And that's
how I began to educate myself. I used
to read a lot of popular novels, like The
Rosary and books like that, and then I
gradually built up my reading.
A lot of people educated themselves
at the Institute.
When I came to Kingston there was
another library at the time a paying
library . Doris Duperly formed that
library. In those days Sexton Blake was
the detective, very popular stuff, and
the first comic I saw was 'Bringing Up
Father' which is still going on.
So what did you do when you left
school? You went back to Linstead?
I went to Linstead, and I went straight
into a Mahfood store as a clerk behind
the counter, and there I got five
shillings a week, first pay. My grand-
mother said, 'Boy, keep it as pocket
money.' I got five shillings and I went
to ten shillings, going right up through
the teen ages to nineteen or twenty, and
at that point I was getting a pound.
Then I bought a little box camera, they
were cheap, they were just coming out
at the time and that was my first photo-
graphic thing. There was a big fire one
night at Linstead, a whole block or two
destroyed, and I took, I think twelve
pictures, sent the film to Times Store,
got it developed, and when they came
back to me I sent them to the Gleaner,
and to my agreeable surprise a full page
of pictures came out in the Gleaner
with 'Photos by Archie Lindo'. That
was my first contact with the press.
First by-line? Did they pay you?
No. I also wrote for Catholic Opinion.
I was about maybe fifteen, sixteen.
From Linstead?
From Linstead. Now Catholic Opinion
in those days was a magazine, not a

tabloid. My name was not attached to
it, you know. Then there was a newspa-
per that came along then, it was not
the Standard, it was long before the
Standard. It was a daily ... I got paid
for that. I remember reporting a speech
by Marcus Garvey who came and lec-
tured at Linstead Market.
You were still in your teens ?
Still in my teens and I met Marcus for
the first time then. I reported the usual
things. I began to play the organ,
Anthony McNeill's grandmother taught
me, and I started singing. My sister
couldn't turn a note but we still sang
duets. And people preferred to see her
singing, she was so pretty. Anyway, we
used to have concerts at the church and
I took the money from the first concert
and built a concrete step so that people
could come from the main street into
the church.
So these concerts were like fund-rais-
ers for the church?
For the church. Mentioning concerts,
the first time I saw Cupidon and Able-
ton, they used to have concerts at the
court house in Linstead. Cupidon and
Ableton were in a play called Box and
Cox. That's the first time I saw Cupidon
on the stage.
How active a theatre were you aware
of at that time?
When I was at college, I should have
told you this, the Glossop Harris Com-
pany used to come from England and I
would split my lunch money and take
sixpence and sit in the gallery at the
Ward seeing their plays. Later on, the
Empire Players came. By then I was out
in the country. First of all we had what I
would call an aristocratic theatre, led by
Lindsay Downer. They used to dance
the Fireflies at the Ward. Afterwards,
Father Pfister came along, a Roman
Catholic priest, who did a lot of Gilbert
and Sullivan plays, who did also Poco-
hontas with Harold Brownlow, who
was quite a star, a very good star, and
then we saw local people on stage.
So there weren't that many plays
being written?
No, no. No Jamaican plays as such.
Since we are on the theatre, later on
when I came up to Kingston in the thir-
ties, Una Marson bore me into print
when I wrote my short stories, and my
first poem was in the Jamaica Times.
Una Marson wrote a play called Lon-
don Calling which I was in. It was not a
Jamaican play but Jamaicans were in it.

Cupidon dramatized deLisser's Susan
Proudleigh and Jane's Career and for
the first time there was an all black cast
I would say, on the stage at the Ward.
Cupidon was fun, you know. He was a
female impersonator, but he was not
feminine, very masculine. People used
to scream with laughter at Cupidon,
Cupidon was something else. Cupidon
and I and Una used to enter elocution
contests at Edelweiss Park. I came from
Bath to enter an elocution contest at
Edelweiss Park. There I met Marcus
Garvey again. I came third or fourth.
Now, Una Marson's play Pocoma-
nia, I was the parson in it. There was a
scene in it in which Frank Hill's wife
was at the piano playing and I just came
out and kissed her. The gallery went
You didn't get adverse comments
within the church circles?
No, the only comment it met was that at
last Una had written a Jamaican play
and it was breaking new ground. So
there it was. It was very successful. So
that's now the theatre began.
To go back now to your own story. At
what stage did you leave Linstead?
When I was twenty, time for me to
improve myself. My uncle was an over-
seer at Hopewell Estate which is
between Richmond and Highgate. It
runs right up to Highgate, about 2000
acres, it had cattle on it, banana,
coconuts. He got me a job there as a
Book-keeper? You kept books?
You kept the books but a book-keeper
didn't only keep books. You ride out on
a mule every morning of your life, you
ride and ride till twelve. You come
home, you eat, you go back out, you
ride and ride ... I did not enjoy it, I did
not enjoy it. I was even reporting for
this newspaper as I told you, and I had
to drop it because I couldn't do it from
there. I did a few, I used to report races
in rhyme, and the Gleaner used to put it
in the pink section, the social section,
for which I got no pay.
Later on I was to do a Poet's Cor-
ner, and get all the poets, do a Quiet
Corer and poets from overseas as well
as local poets for the Poet's Corer no
pay. And I did a theatre chatter. And
nowadays when they honour their peo-
ple with long services, they never
remember that. I am going to remind
them about it though ...
From Hopewell, it was time to


break away from my uncle, I went to
Sheerness. Sheerness-Green Castle was
one job, still riding out in the sun and I
had an overseer they used to call him
'Storm' and me 'Calm'. The foulest
language was what he would start with.
At Sheerness I had the pleasure of
getting the first magazine Annotto
Bay, seven miles away, and you had to
send down there for your mail and
one afternoon I got Una Marson's mag-
azine The Cosmopolitan. I had written a
story which was split in two, made it a
mystery story: Who is the Ghost? After
that I went back to work at a store at
Port Antonio, Miss Segree's store, she
was a Jewish lady and there was some
relationship between us, Aunt Katie. I
left that, and I went back to Linstead to
the Greggs, a merchant family. And I
got a job as a clerk with the Hookworm
The Rockefeller Foundation had
put the Hookworm Commission here
because we had an immense population
with hookworm. Well, the Hookworm
Commission worked like this. You went
into an area, you censused the people
and gave them a little tin in which they
put their faeces and you brought that tin
into the main office, to the lab. I went
into the lab the first day, I nearly
swooned. Now when you got the num-
ber of people who were infected, you
treated those people, and then you
examine again. By then you have got
just a few left, you give those a third
and fourth treatment, stubborn ones you
give them a fifth treatment. So you fin-
ish a district and you go to another, you
have men in the field doing that and
bringing in their reports to you and as a
clerk you wrote it up.
So it was a sort of office that moved
throughout the Island.
You took a parish first. I went first to
Claremont in St Ann, a cold place,
lovely place, and then we went all over
the parish. I remember Montego Bay in
particular, and Morant Bay. I learnt a lot
about the island. I went from parish to
parish and that is where I started now to
sing in public. I did about thirty con-
certs, and I used to recite. I had a good
voice, a very good tenor voice. I
remember at Chapelton one evening
when I was singing 'The Holy City'
and I took those high notes; Miss
Brown was sitting at the organ when I
took the high note I heard her say, 'Oh,
bwoy!' When I was finished, great
applause. I really had a nice voice. And

the fellows from the Commission
joined me and we would put on these
In aid of what?
The churches, always the churches.
And the piece I used to recite was about
a little London waif, 'the tired little
London Arab/The waif of a London
slum .. .' I could never beat Joe Pinchin
in an elocution, you know. I could never
beat him in an elocution contest in
Elocution contests were popular
Very popular. Always Jamaican, mixed
up with American pop songs of the day.
At Bath, we formed what we called a
Social Club. We had debates. The
debates were very popular in those
days, both in Kingston and out in the
country, and we would have debates at
the Club, and we would have folk
things, and we left the money for a
piano at Bath. In the middle of all this I
get appendicitis. They rushed me down
to the Kingston Public Hospital and Dr
Baxter it was a major operation at the
time he was very, very good at it. The
same thing that killed my father nearly
killed me. But my father, some doctor
hadn't diagnosed appendicitis at all and
he died. He died from peritonitis.
You haven't mentioned your father
Because I disliked my father. And why
did I dislike my father? I told you about
my grandparents having to send me to
Kingston and keep me there. Well they
asked my father to stand the cost, he
could have done it and he did not and I
got a dislike for my father. My sister
loved him and they loved each other.
But he was always coming asking
where is my mother and he wants to get
in touch with her and my grandmother
would not tell him.
Were you in touch with your mother?
Yes, she wrote us.
You were travelling quite a lot
around the country in the 30s. The
upheavals of 1938 and 1939, could
you sense tension, restlessness, any
factors that made 1938 explainable?
Yes, there was a strike on the water-
front. At the time I was quarantining
the waterfront so I used to go down
there. I saw that first strike on the
waterfront which was an amazing thing.
I saw it spreading from one wharf to the
other. It was the first strike against
small pay and against conditions. That

I think was an indication, I took that as
the prelude to discontent.
Una Marson had the Readers and
Writers Club, with people like Frank
Hill, and then there was Huie with his
art, and then Edna Manley coming in.
It was at Kingston Gardens, just oppo-
site where the first Art School was.
There was a night when she invited
H.G. de Lisser to come and lecture us
and she warned Frank Hill and Fair-
clough, 'Please do not bait the man'.
They ignored her and really did bait
him. I was there, saw the whole thing.
de Lisser left in a huff, in a temper.
The archetypal clash of generations.
And of ideas. It was fun. She scolded
them but she didn't mean it really.
Was the literature offered at that
time in, say, the Readers and Writers
Club, and by other people, overtly
Now when Una Marson was going
away to London, she said to us we must
now take over and we must write plays,
and that's how I wrote my plays. The
first one was Forbidden Fruit which
was a rather immature thing.
Was that just before the war?
Yes, just before the war. But during the
war, Under the Skin, de Lisser's White
Witch of Rose Hall, which I dramatized,
and Mayne Reid's The Maroons, which
was also dramatized. And then I went
into radio. These were the years of my
plays at the Ward, all of them at the
Ward, all four.
The Maroons and The White Witch of
Rose Hall must have had political
overtones in the context of 1938,
1939. But your original plays, were
they reflective of the actual time?
Yes. Forbidden Fruit was about a coun-
try girl coming to the city and what she
had to put up with. Inez Hibbert and
Eric Coverley were in that. Then
Under the Skin the colour question at
the time was very, very bad, they were
treating blacks very badly. So I wrote
this play and Dorothy Blondell Francis
was a marvellous actress. The girl origi-
nally cast in Under the Skin was not
Dorothy. She had a bicycle accident
and so Dorothy came in at the last
minute and swept all before her. There
was a very lovely black girl, Phyllis
Melbourne, who was playing the other
role and there was Caswell Harry who
was playing the main character. The
play also dealt with wages, the very
small wages that were being paid.


Louise Bennett was in it and Inez Hib-
bert. I claim that it was the first play
that Louise Bennett took part in. They
have been talking about the Christmas
Morning Concerts with Eric Coverley,
but those were not plays, those were
concerts. That play was taking the local
scene in its context.
What was the response to it?
Very good response.
Now who mounted these productions,
and who paid the costs?
George Bowen took over and there was
this lady from England who helped with
the direction Elinor Lithgow.
There was no question of paying the
actors, anyone?
Let me tell you something. White
Witch of Rose Hall grossed, maybe
In those days? An enormous amount
of money. That's $100,000 now.
You see that desk over there. I got 20
of the 10,000. I bought that desk
which was made by the Stony Hill
I am not prying, but where did the
9,080 go?
George must have had a lot of expen-
ses. Elinor Lithgow, she was directing,
she was a wonderful person and she
really directed the plays well. She came
to our rescue so to speak where direc-
tion was concerned.

Archie Lindo is best known as a radio
person reporter, programme produc-
er, critic and, from his earliest begin-
nings in radio up to his retirement, as
an outstanding news reader. His
career has been virtually coterminous
with Jamaican radio, starting with ZQI
in the Second World War.
What was ZQI doing at the time that
you became involved... ?
ZQI started shortly after the war started.
Let me explain how it came about at all.
John Grinan, who was a very rich man,
owned all that equipment up at ZQI at
Seaview Avenue. It was very expensive
equipment, and when war breaks out
Grinan gives it all to the government.
Bertie Easter, who was the man in
charge of Education, used it to give out
prices and things at first. Denis Gick
was there, he had had some experience
in broadcasting. A marvellous voice, a
perfect voice, he really did have a
pefect voice. He was a friend of Easter

and he came out here as a photographer,
a very good photographer, but he had
had this experience, so he took over at
ZQI. And Denis said, well we have a
station let us put some entertainment in
there, so he put in recordings. He was
for the classics, never bought a pop
record. So that was how it started.
How many hours roughly?
It started with half an hour a day in the
afternoons. And the Carib Theatre used
to take the first news headlines from
there. You got the news headlines
before the movie. So Denis was a news-
man in a way and he would copy news
from the BBC, and give the news. Then
the entertainment started.
I was a member of the Poetry
League and I got into ZQI through that.
I wrote Denis Gick as a member of the
Poetry League, could I come and read
some poetry? He said yes and I went.
The poetry readings went over quite
well. I was not a member of ZQI staff.
The war continued and the poetry read-
ings continued during the war.
After the war Denis Gick got a fel-
lowship in Washington and he wanted
to leave somebody in charge of the sta-
tion. Well, also, I had been MC'ing pop
orchestras like Milton McPherson and
Redver Cooke and his Royal Jamaicans.
So Gick got some old ex-colonel and put
the man on the air to try him out. Denis
Gick and Mary Lucie-Smith were seat-
ed at the Glass Bucket at Half Way Tree
having a little drinkie, and a gentleman
from the elite came in and said, 'Denis,
good lord, I heard a voice on the radio,
you're not leaving that for us are you?'
The colonel was seated there with
Denis and Mary Lucie-Smith and mut-
tered under his breath, 'You can keep
your damn station.' Next morning he
resigned, he told Denis he wouldn't be
able to do it. And Denis was at a loss
now, the time is coming up for him to
leave Jamaica, so he thought of me. So
I got a phone call. 'Please come up here
and see me right away,' this sort of
thing. 'We would like you to act while I
am away, but you can't do it alone, you
will have Mary Lucie-Smith, Mary will
look after you, she will provide the
news and you will read it.'
So I was seconded from my job in
the Medical Office to the radio to be in
charge, and Mary would send the copy
up to me, because you see I had nothing
to record, news or anything like that,
everything was live. I took the job.

Where did radio penetrate to in that
time? Were people listening to it?
People were listening to it. A funny
thing, Ainsley Gauntlett who was the
engineer at the time, said that the fre-
quency that ZQI was on couldn't be
heard after dark, all over the country. So
we never broadcast after dark. People
wanted to know what did ZQI, the let-
ters, mean. You couldn't read it like
RJR or JBC. ZQI were code letters for
the West Indies, ZQI Jamaica. So there
it was. When I acted for the year, I
wanted to Jamaicanize the thing. The
war was over, I got the schools broad-
cast to do. I got Aimee Webster to do
gardening, yes, from then. I popularized
a thing, it was a Hit Parade and the
schools would vote for their particular
star, Perry Como and people like that. I
had the local orchestras come up.
Into the studio?
Into the studio. Now, it was a little
house and the studio was a room not as
big as this, and I wanted to use the Mili-
tary Band, it was very cheap at the time.
I said to Gauntlett, 'Why don't we put
them on the lawn?' He said, 'All right,
I'll put one mike at the window and we
will get it.' And so we did, so that was
Jamaican again. And I wanted news,
local news, and I got Esther Chapman
to do it. Cricket. I said I wanted some-
thing for the ordinary man. I wanted
something to draw the people. There
were radios, in the little shops and the
rum bars all over the place.
So there was a larger listenership
than the number of radios?
Well, people always beat licence fees.
So I decided all right, I wanted to get
cricket now. That time Barbados had
their Worrell and Walcott and Weekes -
the Three Ws and they were coming
over here to play us. In charge of the
Kingston Cricket Club was Frankie
Lyons who claims that he was broad-
casting in Jamaica before ZQI. A ship
came to Kingston Harbour and whenev-
er the ship came in, Frankie would
arrange broadcasts from that ship. That
was before ZQI.
It was not an on-going service?
No, it was just for the little time that the
ship was in, one or two nights. So he
wanted certain conditions for the cricket
to be broadcast, and we had a little row,
and then we made up. Eventually
though, I really wanted it and I got it.
At last I had reached the common man
because they would go into the bar and


Children and Irish Moss Gatherers
- prizewinning examples of Lin-
do's skill in black and white pho-


listen and in their homes they would
tune into ZQI.
So this of necessity required an exten-
sion of your broadcast day ...
It didn't you know, we didn't broadcast
all the cricket. We broadcast certain
hours. When Denis came back he
praised the cricket broadcast, and then
he increased the time.
So did you stay on?
Yes, he wanted me to stay on. So he got
the government to allow me to stay on.
Permanent job, yes.
How many members of staff were
there at ZQI?
Very few members of staff. Couple
hours broadcasting, Denis, myself,
Phyllis March and Ainsley Gauntlett
who was the chief engineer ... We had
all this local talent, we had several peo-
ple singing. Well Margaret Lauder was
here at the time, she had quite a beauti-
ful voice, something similar to Pat
Gooden, that type of voice, but even
better than Pat's perhaps. Our local peo-
ple, we had Blanche Savage, we had
George Moxey's band, and Hazel Law-
son Street and several pianists, people
who had talent at the time, also Archie
Lewis and Carmen Allen.

In 1950 the government gave afran-
chise to the Rediffusion Group from
Britain and ZQI became a commercial
radio station.
The first commercial radio broadcast
which was done from Seaview Avenue,
it was sort of confused because you
didn't know what programme you were
in, and kept giving station calls and it
was very irritating o the listener.
What did a commercial sound like in
those days?
The announcer read the commercial, the
announcer also wrote the commercial,
some of them. I wrote some of them,
other members of staff wrote some.
Also, the Gleaner now was giving us
news. We would send down for it in the
morning. Along comes Hurricane Char-
lie and blows us out of Seaview
Avenue, everything smashed, smashed
to pieces.We were off the air for about
72 hours before we could get the trans-
mitter back up. People on the north
coast knew nothing about the hurricane,
except for the hams, again the radio
hams came in.
Who were the people involved in

radio who would be familiar to per-
sons now? Who was in charge?
I got the job as Programme Manager.
There was Richard Harty, there was
Dorothy HoSang, there was Alma Hyl-
ton. Alma Hylton accused me of never
allowing her to hear herself and said
that I was holding her back so we
allowed her to hear herself on the
recorder. You see the recorders were
just coming in at that time, we didn't
have much recording because it was not
available. We didn't have any tape
recorders as far as I remember when we
started commercials.
This was the time when the colour
question came up. They said there were
no coloured announcers, no Jamaican
announcers. So I said to them 'What
you tek me mek?' They say, 'You know
what we mean, we want, you know ... '
Roy Reid tried to get in and did not at
first. I said to him one day, 'Look, go to
Mickey Hendriks', and so he got in. He
had a very good voice, nice bass voice
and he was also very popular at the
time. Then Fred Wilmot eventually got
in because he got a sponsor, I think, a
programme, but he had difficulty get-
ting in too. Then there was the Cool
Fool, Charlie Babcock.
RJR had an immense strike when I
was there. In the fifties. Bustamante
came there and raised Cain and said to
Depass who was in charge of the money
part of it, 'I will kick you, you realize
that, I will kick you.' Busta took up the
cause of the strikers and the strike end-
ed. Now that was quite a strike. I was
an executive at the time and the strikers
were at my house nearly every night, so
somebody on the managerial staff asked
me, 'Which side are you on, are you on
the strikers' side or are you on our
side?' I said, 'Beg your pardon, I am on
no side.' I said, 'We are all members of
the thing, the strike is going to end and
I am on no side. The guys come to my
house and we sit and chat.' Heck of a
strike, big strike.
So you went to JBC fairly soon after
it started?
A year after it started. I had left RJR in
news and so Hector Bernard gave me a
job as an editor. Well I worked myself
up, I wanted to get out of news, I went
into radio to be a programmes man, so I
decided that I would try again. I said, I
want to get out of this thing, I want to
create . so eventually I got out of
news, to Hector's disgust. On weekends
I would go out to the country and do

recordings, news magazine type things,
I would do Jamaica East. And then I
took over the western end of Jamaica
and Ken Maxwell took the middle.
You didn't have an interest in televi-
No, strangely enough. I had one experi-
ence with television which really put
me off. I went in there at 9 o'clock and
you know when I got home? 3 o'clock
the morning. I couldn't stand this, so I
went on with radio. Then I did a Photo-
graphers Programme on Sunday morn-
ings. That was part of it. Then I went
into the critical part of it. I did Lively
Arts, but it wasn't Lively Arts at first, it
was Exhibition, whatever the year was,
and it won an award, a Seprod award.
Then it was Kaleidoscope for a short
while, and then it became Lively Arts
which it is now. Lively Arts has I think
got one award, a Press Association

This is a good time to talk about your
photography after the early days you
When I was at ZQI, Gick was a photog-
rapher, an excellent photographer. I
began to take photography seriously. He
would do the processing and so he was
giving me tips. I had one show at Hills
Galleries, in those days it was trees. I
was taking a lot of trees and Maria
LaYacona who was just out here at the
time, said in her review, 'When will
Archie Lindo get in touch with the
human race?' Well, I did get in touch
with the human race. I began to take
children, I have a fondness for children.
And went from there right on, entered
the Club of which I am now an Hon-
orary Member, entered their competi-
tions, won prizes and went on really to
be a good photographer. But I have nev-
er taken a flash picture. I have used
available light all the time. Black and
white is my favourite, and trees are still
there, I love the trees. But the children,
and the people, lots of people.
Do you still take pictures?
Well, since I got sick about three, four
years now I haven't taken a picture, but
I feel the yen coming on to start taking
pictures again. I don't have my equip-
ment ready, maybe that is one reason.
As a critic and former playwright
and actor, what thoughts do you have
about Jamaican theatre today?
You want to know my ideas on how


theatre is now as compared with earlier
days? Well, the simple answer to that,
we have always prayed, at least those of
us who take theatre seriously, of seeing
the theatre turn to our own selves, a
mirror to life. Some years ago the Sec-
ondary Schools Drama Festival started
to do this, by writing their own plays
and writing them very weak, very bad-
ly, but then you must have a start so
they had the start. And then along came
Bim and Bam with their local theatre,
which was looked down on by a certain
set of people. And I remember one
night at the Little Theatre, Dennis Scott
saying something about we are equal to
Shakespeare, you know, and from the
audience Harry Milner said 'Ha, Ha!' It
was very funny you know. But it was
true, we needed our own plays.
The question is: Are we going to
continue with two branches of theatre
here in Jamaica? Are we going to con-
tinue with the vulgarity of certain plays
which have taken over, ahd which have
made a lot of money for a certain play-
wright? The other playwrights copy
him, copy his type of theatre in a way,
with less vulgarity. Balfour Anderson
for instance says he doesn't put bad
words in his plays and he is sort of
bridging the gap, trying to anyway, of
having plays about Jamaica. Let's say
it, let's admit it, it suits the lower class-
es. I don't see other people acting that
way, at least I don't know of it. The
question is how do you bridge the gap?
How do you present a play, or a class-
less play, say, with the human emotions
being uppermost and so on?
But no one seems to be writing, or
very few, what used to be called 'seri-
ous' plays. Dramas, tragedies.
The Pantomime has broken into it occa-
sionally, but I would like to see the his-
torical Jamaican. The School of Dra-
ma, I must admit that whenever they
put on plays in the last year or two, they
were very good plays, all kinds of
plays, which were not very definitely
Jamaican. The question is, what are we
going to do? What trend is the Jamaican
theatre going to follow? Surely radio
should be playing a part.
The only local drama now on radio
are the so-called soap operas.
I don't consider those.
They are very popular and some of
them are well written.
I feel that that play that Elaine Perkins
is writing, Naseberry Street, is quite

good. There was one when Charles
Hyatt was there. They are all right, they
are popular, they are more for women,
because the men are at work and they
are not listening to them.
Some of them have universal appeal,
and children listen to them.
Well, let me tell you something. There
are no children. The people that we are
calling children the yout' man they
are the youths and it is a sad thing that
is happening to them. Take our music,
for instance, I am all for reggae, but
they are all copying Bob Marley which
they cannot do.
Well, very few of them are trying to
branch out into anything different.
Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh was being
a sort of successor to Bob Marley. Let's
encourage the playwrights when they
write. Balfour Anderson needs encour-
agement but he is producing too much,
three a year and all that sort of thing.
You cannot do proper plays, more than
one a year. Well, that's how I feel about
it. Let's encourage. The critics also
have a job in this.;Now as a critic, you
have got to be very careful what you
condemn and what you do not con-
demn. Because two years afterwards
you may have to eat your damn words.
I have never wanted to have to do that.
Archie, you have lived a long and
obviously very full life. Is there any-
thing that you wanted to do that you
didn't for any good reason? And as a
subsidiary question, is there anything
in your life that you would have
changed drastically, if you had it to
live over again?
Yes. My first love is theatre, my first
love is not radio, it is my second love;
forty-six years in radio you know, you
must get to like it or you leave it. But
my first love is theatre. I would have
liked to have become a theatre person in
this island, as a director, as a creator in
theatre. I think I missed that. Also my
reading of poetry is exceptionally good.
I would have liked to have
have had two or three readings which
have been very successful. Mr Wycliffe
Bennett who I put into the Poetry
League, I must say almost, because he
used to come worrying me about it
because I was in the Poetry League and
he was not, and he wanted to break in.
He had a series on radio, Voices from
the Caribbean. I was there on the staff,
he never once asked me to read a poem.
I felt that very deeply. I did act in plays

but he wasn't the Manager at the time.
What about your life, overall, what
would you have changed?
If there was a change, I would have got
married. Now I feel very lonely. The
loneliness of age has caught up with
me, I couldn't believe that I was old and
it was hard getting accustomed to the
fact that I was old, because I was so
busy all the time and then all of a sud-
den, you couldn't do this and then I
suddenly realized, well you are old. I
should have got married. When I was
very young, I nearly got married about
two or three times. But I was in the
Hookworm Commission and I was
travelling around, and I never spent
more than a year at any one place. Let's
be very specific about this. There was a
girl in Savanna-la-mar who perhaps I
would have married more than all the
rest, because I did love her and she
loved me and she was very sweet. I did
not marry her. There was another girl
when I was in St Ann, that was also a
love affair that nearly took me to the
altar. There was a third affair but it was
a love affair in a way, she was a bit sil-
ly, and she had a laugh that I couldn't
stand, and I said to her: 'Do ... change
your laugh!' and I didn't marry her.
There was another one, a very gentle
one when I was in Kingston for a long
time. That nearly became a marriage. I
think those four. The fifth one was
when I was in Montego Bay and I met a
lady the other day and she said, 'You
know, you nearly were my father.' I
said, 'Yes, I know, your mother was
sweet.' But nothing came of it. There
were other platonic ones. Those were
lovely ones.
Do you write still?
I have a play that has not been used. I
am scared of using it because it has no
bad words, it has no sex. It has sex in
there, the girl was raped. She goes out
with her boyfriend and a gang raped
her, but afterwards she married the boy.
But I think the end... you must never
end your play with a funeral. The char-
acter that is there is partly me, a man
living to himself, a little bit of me, but
not all.
Do you write poetry still?
I am feeling to write poetry again; my
last poem was written about three years
ago, it came out in the Gleaner. I never
imagined that I would have had my life
story ... you know, I'm just wondering
if I could get a ghost writer.



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By Gloria Escoffery

least wild Gilbert did
not have the satisfac-
tion of wrecking our
National Gallery, or even of
interrupting its schedule.
The building suffered some dam-
age but fortunately all the permanent
collections and works in storage
emerged intact. Individual artists were
not so lucky. Those who were putting
the finishing touches to paintings and
sculptures intended for the annual show
barely managed to meet the deadline,
some with one instead of their usual
two works. The wonder is that the show
did go on; and turned out to be one for
which no excuses were needed.
In terms of numbers the count is
only two down on 1987's total of 125
works.l Natural calamities affect both
young and old but perhaps the old are
less resilient; they have more to lose.
Whether because of post-Gilbert blues,
illness, or perennial pressure to com-
plete commissioned works, Carl Abra-

hams, Allan Zion, Kapo, Cecil Baugh,
Gaston Tabois and Osmond Watson
were all absent from the 1988 Annual
National Exhibition. With Marriott no
longer active and Huie apparently opt-
ing out of the melde, the temporary
absence of these stalwarts created a
noticeable gap.
Earlier in the present decade, we
mourned the deaths of Philip Hart,
Ralph Campbell and Edna Manley.
1988 brought a double loss. As if to
prove that the young are as vulnerable
as their elders, death without warning
snatched from our artistic fraternity one
of our most talented and well-trained
artists, Stanley Barnes. At thirty-six he
was just entering his prime. Then news
filtered through that Whitney Miller had
succumbed after a long illness. Born in
1930, the ever serene Whitney Miller,
known for his calm, monumental com-
positions, was one of the faithful band
who had supported the annual shows
from way back in the days when they
were mounted at the Institute of

Jamaica Art Gallery. He is fondly
remembered by fellow-members of the
first Jamaican Artists' Cooperative
founded in the late fifties. We can only
be philosophical about such losses. 'Is
so life go.'
Fluctuation in personnel around a
hard core of regular exhibitors con-
tributes to the element of surprise in
these shows. Every year different
artists at the height of their powers leap
into the limelight. The growing band of
collectors who scan the scene for
promising art school diploma pieces
and new intuitives are never disap-
pointed. In this respect the 1988 show
lived up to expectations.
One consistent feature of the annu-
al exhibitions is the open-hearted wel-
come accorded to new faces and new
styles, whether indigenous or foreign.
Many exhibitors, including Jamaicans,
have received at least part of their train-
ing and some exposure in larger
metropolitan centres. The resulting
cross fertilization produces a mix that is



David Pottinger. What a Night. Oil on canvas.
32 12 x 36".

Wilfred Francis. Family Reunion. Felt marker
on paper. 23 x 29".

Albert Garel. After Gilbert Still
Standing. Gouache on paper. 20 x 26".


never static. The blend of indigenous
and exotic, mainstream and intuitive,
creates a state of continual flux in
which even useful critical terms such as
expressionist and impressionist must be
used with caution. It is more useful to
approach these shows with a receptive
mind, sensitive to the unexpected affini-
ties that curator David Boxer highlights
with an intuitive recognition of what
goes well with what, regardless of
stylistic labels. In the 1988 show, even
if not every single artist practising in
Jamaica at the moment was represent-
ed, it was possible to seize upon signifi-
cant trends as they occurred, so to
speak, at the moving tip of the paint-
brush or sculptor's chisel.
Traditionalist viewers who lament
the passing of the urgent nationalism of
our art movement in its early years may,
in fact, be surprised at the depth-charge
of tradition in what seems at a first
glance to be a chaotic display of eclecti-
cism. Some newcomers from abroad do
stand out as being subtly different in
their approaches. Even as this strange-
ness is being registered on our minds,
the process of aesthetic evolution is
quietly under way, and the newcomers'
contribution is part of it.

Recurrent Themes
Perhaps it would be useful at this
point to identify some recurrent themes
based on post-colonial experience
which were to be found in various per-
mutations and combinations in the
show. First there was the tribute paid to
Jamaican womanhood as the mainstay

Morais Wright. Sermon on the Mount. Oil on hardboard. 191/2 x23".

of survival.2 Closely tied in with this is
the celebration of popular culture, rural
and urban, with religious beliefs and rit-
uals well in the forefront of interest.
Then comes in, with increasing sophis-
tication, an undercurrent of irreverent
subversion directed at all forms of
One manifestation of this is delight
in the quirkiness of individual personal-
ity, a thumbing of the nose at every
attempt to impose a standardized face-
lessness, whether on an underclass or
on those who defy the conventions of
an insecure and stuffy middle class.
Underpinning all these preoccupations
is the perennial search for identity, per-

Sharon Chacko. Habitat. Batik and irosashi on muslin. 19 x 281/2".

sonal and corporate; this often takes the
form of a fusion of African and
Jamaican experience. Such a neat socio-
logical resume must not, however, be
taken as a substitute for a one-to-one
encounter. Each work of art deserves to
be heard speaking with its own voice.
No amount of theorizing, however
valid, can take the place of the actuality
of formal, material presence.

Gilbert's visit
As it was Gilbert's year, let us start
with some works directly inspired by
the hurricane visit. Family unity and
community harmony have always been
favourite themes of genre painters.
David Pottinger, in one of his most dra-
matic street scenes of recent years, in a
canvas titled What a Night, depicts the
morning-after consternation of neigh-
bours surveying the damage to a roof
bashed in by a falling tree. Even more
intense in its emotional impact is Albert
Garel's After Gilbert Still Standing.
Here the artist uses cold, almost
washed-out colours to reinforce the
effect of strain and relief on the faces of
the father, mother and child in the fore-
ground. Wilfred Francis dispenses with
setting. In his Family Reunion he says it
all by crowding six members of a pros-
perous looking family, complete with
fun-time racquet, on the front page of
the picture plane. What a richly decora-
tive and dynamic composition, and how
cleverly he has caught the individual
responses of each family member to the


historic event of survival!
The other side of relief is apprehen-
sion. I have nowhere seen a more intu-
itively right portrayal of agonized sus-
pense than Woody Joseph's untitled
carving of an head. The hair stands up
in a broken fan. One eye under a star-
tled brow does duty for two; the other,
terrified of what it might see, has sunk
to the status of a scar or tear on the
cheek, the mouth that may have uttered
a scream is covered by the wisp of
hand. This description may sound
melodramatic, but the actual carving
achieves its effect quite without hyste-
ria, fulfilling the objective of purging
through pity, which is the function of
tragic art.
By contrast there is nothing tragic
about Lester Hoilett's Bungu, a standing
figure of a man carved in mahogany. He
covers his ears as he takes one tentative
step forward. This may be in response
to the rumble of an earthquake or mere-
ly to the sound system next door. Not
tragic, but nevertheless an interesting
work, as is his balancing act figure,
A work need not be large to convey
an ocean of grief. Distinguished g
colourist Stanford Watson contributes a
Picassoesque painting titled Survivor
which measures only six and a half by
eight and a half inches, yet manages to "
convey its burden of mourning for
those who did not survive.
Urgency in matters of religion is an
inevitable phenomenon in times of
calamity. This may account for the
poster-like style of Michael Parch-
ment's The Forgotten Saviour in which
he moves away from the organic land-
scape rhythms of 1987's The Forgiver. I
intend no disparagement of this ever
developing self-taught artist when I say
that this is a move comparable to a
migration from Everald Brown country
to the crowded ghetto of the early Roy
Brother Brown came on strong
himself in the show with another of his
mystical paintings, Tree of Life, as well
as two carvings, one a ceremonial staff
titled Aaron's Rod, the other a three
dimensional Peace Drummer. The
'discovery' of 1987's exhibition, Paul
Perkins, joined the Bible narrative
painters with a small but ambitious
Crucifixion in which the viewer's
attention is torn between the three fig-
ures on their tall crosses high above the
skyline and the individually character-

Lester Hoilett. Bungu. Cedar. Height: 251/2".

ized people moving down in orderly
ranks towards the foreground. Harmony
and integration are skilfully achieved by
Morais Wright in his beautiful Sermon
on the Mount. Here the backs and heads
of the disciples provide ample decora-
tive and sculptural foreground interest,
and lead up to the climax of the Christ
figure, whose white robe sets him off
against the darker backdrop of moun-
tain scenery.

In Jamaican art, 'Nature' has tradi-
tionally appeared in two guises: docu-
mentary and symbolic. At the lowest
level these have produced the commer-
cial exotica of airport art and the inspi-
rational cliches of rising sun, etc. At
their best they have given us a heritage
of great dignity including, for instance,
the landscapes of Albert Huie and the
symbolic carvings of Edna Manley.
Today these good examples have their
followers, but there are new trends

which take us beyond a simple appreci-
ation of the astonishing beauty of our
own environment.
The conceptualization of 'Nature'
by more sophisticated artists in the
1988 show yielded an exceptionally
interesting harvest. Perhaps hurricane
and threats of serious earthquake shocks
set us all thinking about the natural
forces that rule our lives. Tina
Matkovic-Spiro in a polyptych in four
sections bravely takes on the theme of
The Four Elements. Each tall narrow
panel is interesting in its own right, but
the artist set herself the difficult task of
reconciling four separate perspectives
each with its own compositional
dynamic that disregards the dynamic of
its neighbour. To compound the prob-
lem, Earth and Fire are in strong tonal
contrast to the more limpid Water and
Air. The problem is not entirely solved
by placing the heavier elements in the
wings and providing visual 'latches' or
'hinges' in darker sections at the base of
the dividing verticals.
For Margaret Chen who contribut-
ed a large collage installation, Cross
Section of a Wave, the element of Water
is conceived as a material substance
with a charge of kinetic energy that car-
ries all with it, depositing the dregs on
the ocean floor. One admires the
patience and ingenuity which have gone
into producing the sequin glitter of the
waves, but there is something unsatis-
factory about the working out of the
concept. Perhaps it is that the area
under the coiling crest of the wave is
too palpably solid, suggesting sand
rather than space, and this diminishes
the vigour of recoil and thrust suggested
by the contour of the wave. If not
entirely successful, both these works
have a boldness and nobility lacking in
the rather tame embroidered charm of
Maxine Gibson's Flower Power.
Starting from antithetical tempera-
mental predilections, both Hope Brooks
and Milton George seem to be search-
ing for the epitome of cyclic process in
nature. Hope Brooks's garden provides
her with inspiration for meditation on
slow transformations for which she pro-
vides an equivalent in a disciplined
composition in gouache pastel on can-
vas divided into sixteen squares, each
showing subtle modulations of texture.
Milton George, on the other hand, rush-
es us into the heart of flux. His Migra-
tion hints at a strong kinship link on the
instinctual level between men and birds.


But birds may open up vistas of white-
ness suggesting silence and nothing-
ness. This is the case with Laura Facey-
Cooper's Death of a Dove. One is nev-
er sure of the intentions behind an
imaginative work of art; this mixed
media drawing on the social level may
allude to the frailty of political peace

Private Worlds
Not content with this faulty world,
our artists are now venturing in their
minds into the vast regions of outer
space. The title of Karl 'Jerry' Craig's
mixed media Ozone Hole Series, No. II
is not an adequate guide for viewers not
in the scientific know, who must judge
it purely on its aesthetic merits. Like
Cheryl Phillips's two variations on the
theme of Delusion, it is easy on the eye.
Private worlds open to disclose
fantasies of quite different genesis in
the works of intuitives Leonard Daley
and Errol McKenzie. Daley's doodles
are the sort of graffiti which children
make to work off their sense of despair
at the incomprehensibility of the adult
world. This, if the child is an artist
born, may result in the beautiful harmo-
ny of subdued colour one finds, for
instance, in Daley's Bluebird. McKen-
zie, on the other hand, has a strongly
moral urge to communicate a philoso-
phy providing the key to man's perver-
sities. His paintings and sculptures -
one of each in this show fascinate
because of their interesting convoluted
forms, quite independently of such
titles as The Three Stages of Sun -That
Appointed to the Hearts of Jamaicans.
My own Cosmos in Travail, despite
clues related to Greek mythology, has
an input of private symbolism that may
leave the viewer equally perplexed.
Rex Dixon's works, particularly
Ambush, employ yet another type of
symbolic communication, using coded
signals which may well have been
derived from the streets of say strife
ridden Belfast, or for that matter some
political enclave in inner-city Kingston.
Abstract approaches to nature are,
however, sometimes based on strong
sensuous apprehension of a particular
object or scene. One of the major
works in this show is Stafford
Schliefer's Boat Park, No. I, a large
abstraction in heavy impasto which pro-
vides an interesting foil to Eric Cadi-
en's equally commanding Two Figures

in Composition. At first glance, the
viewer responds positively to Schlie-
fer's clean, knife-edge intersections of
arcs and straight lines. When one com-
pares it with the Cadien composition,
however, an interesting illusion of depth
becomes apparent. Cadien brings his
figures right up front to the picture
plane, with a muralist's tendency to
restrict their self-containment as solid
units. Schliefer retains the landscape
artist's insistence on relative distances,
using varieties of texture in his impasto
to reinforce this effect. In spite of their
blond, cheerful colour, these are both
austere works, requiring some effort of
concentration from the viewer in order
to penetrate their essential meaning.
Nature has a softer, more relaxing
side, as Judith Salmon and Seya Par-
boosingh assure us. Salmon's decep-
tively simple monotype print titled
Sunday Morning includes just enough
sketchy reference to a garden setting to
make its point. I find that the centre of
Parboosingh's A Coming Together,
which vaguely suggests that the focal

object may be flowers, lacks adequate
definition. Another artist who responds
lyrically to nature is Richard 'Von'
White. He contributes a landscape of
the heart's desire titled Pear Tree in
Seascape which, with its sweeping
curves and tinkling colours, may be
seen as an attempt to sabotage the
cliches of tourist resort art without sac-
rificing a sense of gaiety.
Readers who prefer a more matter-
of-fact rendering of nature may be
impatient to have some comment on the
numerous more orthodox landscapes
and nature study still-lifes in the show.
There certainly is a wide range of vision
and approach: the lush and literal exoti-
cism of Lois Lake Sherwood's Ala-
manda Blooms, the well bred reserve of
Graham Davis's Frangipani and the
drab verities of Judy Ann MacMillan's
account of post-Gilbert mayhem in the
garden; the documentary realism of
Susan Shirley's Old Slave Hospital,
Worthy Park, the halfway-house
schematization in Heather Sutherland
Wade's Seascape and an Amy Laskin

Walford Campbell. The Rape of the Black Woman. Stoneware. Height: 27".


landscape fantasia which might well be
titled Apotheosis of a Palm. In the
Laskin triptych (Model Artist's Inter-
pretation of a set for Satta), an arched,
striped frame cleverly suggests a Moor-
ish landscape as the given environment.
So the theatrical effect is quite appro-
priate; this is a design for a set.
For me, landscape and still life
must convey a sense of excitement and,
if necessary, 'invent' a way to trans-
form it into art. Nature may beckon an
artist to record, for instance, the ingenu-
ity of her procreative faculty. Expert
draftsman-designer Neville Budhai in
his Life of Jamaica gives a close-up
view of a banana tree with the baby
bananas being methodically ejected
from the sac. The artist may wallow in
distant detail, ignoring conventional
landscape values, as Natalie Butler does
in her Enchanted Valley; or express
delight in the elegance of plant forms as
motifs for design, as in Ruth Frankel's
painting on silk titled Summer Night's
Dream. But if that feeling of there hav-
ing been a moment of love at first sight,
or mature second sight, is lacking, I
tend to walk on by; as in the instance of
Cecil Cooper's Country Lane which
lacks the sense of mystery he conveys
in his studies of human beings. Colin
Garland also disappoints this year. In
neither of his two Tropical Still Life
compositions except for the presence
of one stray grasshopper is there a
sign of that surrealist vision which
transforms kitsch into something beau-
tiful and unique.
The two landscapes I would per-
sonally choose as my favourites are
Sharon Chacko's batik titled Habitat
and Charlie Bird's Port Henderson. As
the title promises, Chacko's Habitat
conveys a genuine navel-string bond
between the Rasta boy in the fore-
ground and the stony, arid hillside he
attempts to cultivate. There is a com-
panion piece titled A Shelter from the
Rain which shows a girl peeping out of
her window while the heavens open
outside on an urban clutter, with laun-
dry weeping on the line and one solitary
almond tree holding out its branches to
catch the drops. It was difficult to
decide which of the two to choose.
Habitat won because I wasn't quite sat-
isfied with the way the falling rain is
depicted. If this is illustration let us not
use the term in a derogatory sense; we
cannot afford to discourage sensitivity.
Charlie Bird works his guzzoo in a dif-

Fitz Harrack. Plantation Ancestor. Blood-
wood. Height: 34".

ferent way. Disregarding the sophisti-
cated landscape artist's preoccupation
with relative scale, he extracts the
essentials from a well-known scene.
The academic landscape painter almost
goes crazy trying to capture the effects
of patches of sunlight and shadow cast
by moving clouds. The intuitive ignores
such transient effects, nevertheless he
can tell us something about particular
kinds of weather and particular phases
in an evolving culture. Charlie Bird's
bird's eye view takes in the bathers
clustered at the edge of the choppy
waves; in the background a rather
scrubby mountainside suffers the indig-
nity of encroachment by a conglomera-
tion of architects' masterworks.

A number of relevant exhibits
seemed almost to have gravitated
towards each other without any inter-

vention by the curator. One recurrent
motif was the head, which has, indeed,
been a dominant image with surrealist
undertones ever since the 1985 land-
mark exhibition of installations, 'Six
Options', when it was used to such tel-
ing effect by both Laura Facey-Cooper
and David Boxer. In this show, it
appeared as if aspiring to the purity of
an ovoid, as in Samere Tansley's por-
trayal of classical black beauty in a por-
trait head simply titled Muse. At other
times it underwent distortions suggest-
ing the anguish of metamorphosis, as in
Gene Pearson's expressive bronze titled
Cry Free.
Pearson's variations on the theme
of female beauty have greatly gained in
subtlety in recent years. This time he
jettisoned the swan-necked elegance of
the traditional Nefertiti in a raku glazed
stoneware interpretation which presents
an image of heavy featured sensuality,
with a gleam of intelligence in the eyes
to boot.
Walford Campbell's the Rape of
the Black Woman reinterprets the prim-
itive Venus of Willendorf in black
stoneware which suggests both fecundi-
ty of body and disdainful cunning of
facial expression; this chameleon effect
is achieved by manipulating the spheri-
cal forms to introduce, as it were, slid-
ing flat planes. Raymond Watson con-
tributed a Phoenix carved in mahogany.
The immolation by flames of the bird
body creates a certain indecisiveness of
form in the lower part of the sculpture;
the impact of the piece comes from the
head, which sensitively suggests the
agony of sacrifice and rebirth.
The mask may serve a satirical pur-
pose, as in Laura Facey-Cooper's cabi-
net assemblage in wood, brass and
bronze titled The Angels. Here two
nun-like angel-puppets with shapeless
bodies under their satin gowns occupy
twin niches in a deteriorating antiqpe
diptych, suggesting an altar piece which
has spent some time in the family attic.
As they make their entrance under per-
functory stage curtains, or wings, their
false comic-mask smiles and exaggerat-
ed lips tell us that they are not to be
trusted. They are differentiated by the
gestures of their clumsy, dark-gloved
hands. The forearms of one are locked
into a muff which barricades the chest.
The other's arms hang at its sides,
palms outwards as if demanding to
know what more the owner can do to
establish her credentials as a bona fide


angel. Satirical comment is not this
imaginative artist's only m6tier. In a
miniature, academic, satinwood carving
of a nude figure, she quietly expresses
the inner tensions of a struggle for self-

Female Images
Is woman really as free as Petrona
Morrison proclaims in the title of her
original installation, Always was Free?
The head of a black woman slowly
swivels on its axis, not quite entrapped
by a menacing triangular cage of iron.
Seen from above, the white cloth
swathing her head is dramatically effec-
tive, but it tantalizingly obscures the
face below which can not be conve-
niently examined as the headis so close
to ground level. Morrison's vision is
essentially sculptural and she is now
coming into her own as she discovers
ways of exploiting her feeling for three
dimensional forms. Even when she uses
colour, as in a mixed media picture
titled Metamorphosis, its function
seems to be to cooperate with white in
creating interesting convexities and
concavities. This work is best viewed g
from a distance sufficient to dispel the |
fussiness of some of the coloured doo-
dles, allowing them to do their job as
shading which contributes to the three
dimensional effect. A half ovoid of
plaster projects from the ground of the
composition; this is balanced below by
its other half, suggesting a broken egg
containing the mixed contents of a
skull. An interesting comparison may
be made with my essentially flat and
muralistic Miss Jamaica Gaia. This
work, coincidentally, sets compact
forms against linear boundaries and
deals with the theme of feminine meta-
There were other interesting
images of womanhood. Susan Alexan-
der contributes a vigorous bronze serial
suite, Sulkari, depicting stages in the
African dance. Each of the encounters
between the male and female contes-
tants for control of a spear is crisply
delineated. It is evident that the woman
is in every way the equal, perhaps even
the superior, of the male in this contest.
It is a pity that this level of seriousness
and respect was not maintained
throughout the show. Basil Watson's
bronze standing nude titled Quiet
Arousal suggests a prim old-fashioned
eroticism. Judy Ann MacMillan's study
of a young female nude is perhaps too

Norma Harrack. Amphora. Stoneware, ash glaze. Height: 14". The Hardingham Collection.

close for comfort to calendar art super-
ficiality, lapsing into the wasteland of
commonplace vision. Perhaps the Pear-
son Nefertiti set too high a standard
which dwarfs as trivial the mischievous
miss captured by Ray Jackson and the
altogether too chic Awa I and Awa II
stylishly evoked in the charcoal sketch-
es of Dorothy Wells. Neither cuteness
nor chic is an adequate substitute for
This was not, in fact, a particularly
good year for academic portraiture.
Angela Staples's Christa is a strong
character study but, like the curate's
egg, good only in parts. Samere Tans-
ley's Marva's Dream though quite a
solid piece of work, suffers from an
almost pre-Raphaelite overload of 'lit-
erary' symbolism; her pared-down
Muse proves to be more effective. Bar-
rington Watson to swerve for a
moment from my theme of images of
woman, as this is the only male portrait
- successfully captures a fleeting ges-
ture but in the process sacrifices the

qualities of permanence which charac-
terize his best work in this field. Kay
Sullivan's sculpture, Seated Figure, in
bronze resin may be a clever feat of
sculptural engineering but intentionally
or not provokes the query, 'Why ever
has that poor woman been deprived of
her chair?'

The Popular Pulse
The legacy of our past is ever with
us in the present. This may take the
form of a patterned re-telling of
episodes in the life of a National Hero,
as in Albert Artwell's pageant of Black
Star Liners. Conversely, it may pop up
as tongue-in-the-cheek expose of colo-
nialist exploitation, as in David Boxer's
installation ironically titled Queen Vi c-
toria Set We Free. Its most robust
expression through the eighties has
been in the up-to-the-minute versions of
the popular psyche by members of the
George, Cookhorne, Wallace fraternity.
This year gives us two outstanding


_ I -~- .

additions to the list of most wanted per-
sonalities in Douglas Wallace's Status
Quo and from Robert Cookhorne
'African' Democratic Dog from the 0
Tribe. 'African' follows the trend of an
expanding vision by taking a look at
current events in the Caribbean. An
outstanding imaginative tour de force of
the show was his diptych Scenes fro m
the Opera. Democracy in the Region.
Act IV. Haiti's Strangled Landscape.
The title is needed to clue the viewer in
to the meaning of this double episode,
in which a giant foreground arm
extends across almost the width of the
canvas crushing the very life out of the
infertile landscape stretching into the
distance. Here landscape becomes
itself an actor in a two-frame social sce-
Year by year there is a noticeable
sharpening of wit in the way artists
with a finger on the pulse of popular
life record their findings. Roy Reid, for
instance, has developed a cartoonist's
touch with its own economical reper-
toire of forms. In this vein is his
graduation day group photo send-up
titled The Graduates. Of course it has
to be a female graduate in the front row
who upsets the solemnity of the occa-
sion by a saucy tilt of the head which
ruins the ceremonial array of headgear.
There is a sort of wit, too, in the
attempts to epitomise certain common
experiences of popular life as in
Smoking a Spliff, Paul Smith's brashly
red and shiny mixed media construc-
tion, Sardine Triptych by V.C. Wong,
and Michael Stanley's Conga and
Drum an experimental search for
visual equivalents for specific musical
If wit is in, the serious search for
understanding of the psyche on a deeper
level still proceeds. Perhaps the most
interesting work in this category is
Rafiki Kariuki's Face Lift, a mixed
media collage from his Reconstruction
Series which probes the layers of dis-
comfiting revelations peeled off in the
process of remaking a self- image. On
the whole, it may be less painful to (fig-
uratively) contemplate the navel of
one's inner physiological processes, as
Michael Zimmerman does in his paint-
ing titled Life Circle. Fitz Harrack's
analysis of the psychic past produces a
Plantation Ancestor carved in blood-
wood. This columnar figure restores
the probity of outward demeanour, pre-
senting an image of almost aristocratic

Amerindian aloofness which in turn
invites comparison with Rachel Fear-
ing's totemic mahogany carving titled
Juxtapose. Meanwhile, Christopher
Gonzalez perseveres in the Michelange-
lesque tradition of monumental baroque
forms. In a typically organic Portrait
of an Artist carved in the round in
mahogany, he keeps the eye busy fol-
lowing the branching forms while the
mind wrestles with the intricacies of the
symbolism. His Angel of Light, graphi-
cally presented in a charcoal drawing
replete with emblems of good and evil,
seems strangely archaic when compared
with Livingston Lewin's amorphous
Winged Figure carved in guango wood
- a disquieting figure which reminds us
that, in the long view, process is all-
consuming and omnipotent.
And yet ... Here comes the good
news: Artists never give up on the job
of trying to wrest aesthetic order out of
chaos. To close my case, I shall refer to
two quite different works which are
both functional, but as an extra bonus,
reassure us with their indefinable quali-
ty of coherence. One is the Tafara Art-
work Collective's Sunshine After
Gilbert quilt; the other is Norma Har-
rack's time-defeating stoneware
I think I have substantiated my
claim that the 1988 show provided an
interesting cross section of a culture in
flux. In my memory 1983 stands out
as the year in which the Jamaica School
of Art graduating class demanded to be
taken seriously. Then followed a lively
dialogue between the generations, cul-
minating in the blockbuster of 1986. It
seems there is a three year rhythm of
creative renewal. May the National
Exhibition of 1989, which I have decid-
ed will be my last critical assignment,
be the event of the decade even if it
means that the National Gallery has to
'beg a borrows' of some of those dis-
carded emergency tents!

1. Research discloses that 217 indi-
vidual artists and the Tafara Collective
have exhibited works in the national
shows since 1980. Of these, 91 have
appeared only once, 49 at least five
times. If awards were offered for 100
per cent attendance they would go to
David Boxer, Rachel Fearing, Colin Gar-
land, Milton George, David Pottinger,
Roy Reid and Barrington Watson.


Runners up with an eight out of
nine record are Hope Brooks, Everald
Brown, Fitz and Norma Harrack, 'Zion'
Johnson, 'Woody' Joseph, Mallica
Reynolds (Kapo), Tina Matkovic-Spiro
and Judith Salmon. In third place with a
score of seven out of nine are Susan
Alexander, Alexander Cooper, Graham
Davis, Merrilee Draculich, Gloria
Escoffery, Laura Facey-Cooper, Judy
Ann MacMillan, Edna Manley and
Samere Tansley.
The composition of the total group
is an interesting mix. Only about 31 are
bona fide intuitives, 35 are of foreign
birth, including a number fully integrated
into the local scene such as Manley. Gar-
land, Matkovic-Spiro, Fitz Harrack, Dra-
culich, Tansley and Seya Parboosingh.
In the native mainstream group,
approximately 24, including most of the
older artists, have received all their art
training abroad; of the total of 90 who
have graduated from, or received some
training at, our local art school, approxi-
mately 15 have pursued post-graduate
studies or are currently receiving further
training abroad. The names of recent
graduates (viz. those of the late seventies
and early eighties) who have temporar-
ily one hopes disappeared from the
scene are too numerous to record, but
perhaps their classmates could contact
them and urge them to make an effort to
turn out for the last show of what has
been a really exciting decade.
Some of the 'straying' intuitives
are: Ruddy Allen. Tony Bag, Nelson
Cooper, Austin Campbell, Ras W Dread.
Cleveland Barnes, Clinton Brown, Win-
ston Green, Lawrence Edwards, Ras
Dizzy, Leopold James, David Miller.
Alon Miller, Zaccheus Power. William
Rhule, Orville Taylor, Phanel Toussaint,
and Sylvester Woods.
And, as I am about it, may I make
an appeal also to more sophisticated
artists absent this year to be sure to brirn
us 'news from nowhere', meaning every-
where. Among these I would name -
going for variety Winston Patrick, Kofi
Kayiga, George Fatta. Pet Archer.
Michael Layne, Keith Curwin. Alexan-
der Cooper, Eve Foster, Glenwood
Lawrence, Dawn Scott, Marguerite Stan-
nigar, Patrick Waldemar and David
2. See JAMAICA JOURNAL 16:3: 'Queen
in the House of my Shadow' and 18:2:
'Sisterhood and Individualism'.
3. See JAMAICA JOURNAL 18:3 for
review of the Six 'Options' show.
4. The Samere Tansley portrait was
reviewed in JAMAICA JOURNAL 21:2.

Gloria Escoffery, our regular art
reviewer is artist, poet, and teacher .

ho. your plaie 'i

Since 1878, we've helped to 'i
people Into homes in Janmak
than any other flnandal
institution. Contact us
for further particulars.

, 9

* *" :f. ;"iP ,

Orange Street f -i,.: "
Outside the street ran ht"' .
:.arivet,of asphat.
Its centre'imar y r s
Parallel metal-fs of ;'
some haidn was always ays
slici4k .gh it tar water.
The trawips stopped before .
i was tio buti lines .
like my blood'k4t running.
I have three aunts in Montreal : -
their names are Rose, Anne Rebecca T
and Albertha and-i have at least
twenty-one migrated cousins
in industrial cities of Great
Britain, plus assorted send something
in a letter cousins all over
those united states of America.
One day, i too was going to Palisadoes
boa ai AiW aa, wavea glove hd hand
rn4 .s ;, ,

Soi .,
C o ^.{ : .. . ..* *;,' ,. ',i ^,'.: -*.; .

Then. h ihe- s w a .let stuffed w tid l
and afa quoii f lun
of go oe in rd ho-co km)
pretty "waw spe ity.Acrement- (moaoey)aiiday
114 bad dreai s of weodgit(rfuptal), old 'i oi
missing teetlh(death) 'ir aii-(enemy).
The coir would feel it had talen enough pressure
and would seid out vengeful.needles
to bore cruelly into the skit.

Rassy our mattress man was a 'beardman' who bore
I a resemblance Lt the-monk Rasputin.
> He favoured gahncnts in the colours of dust
and iftis head was bent over and the light was sloping
towards evening, you could imagine him in a monk's cell
telling beads against ihepext phase of his life
w wic- would find him in control of a Tzarina.
H hid one eye walled offto the public
S but i could see through thaCurnain the worship hidden
there for my mother, but of what use were such feelings?

Igston Characters

Flowers Are Roses')

He was content to receive a meal at noon from he ti :.
and tremble gratefully at the thought of her pgj fine- gers
peeling moon-white Lucea yams and sea im a .al
so that you smelled her hand, that is, a ita idic6ti .on .;
of spices would rise up tol.fsihyou wl i-ou enterat
i..i,._*.--her gates. -
R ;, ; .. . .-.
S- : i-s entioveq i" slow, dark molasses fitbia ffunw .
speech He c liriixh es na fidgeti child "
i: :e999htoirS b .ii tidsr s slow self.. t
.m spa -ua cown y whips the
S First 0he0i M handkerOhi hibalfifthree poim
atriangle, ataa, Hp ties it round the lowiver half ds'tce
ll d6wn liscap th Juist above his eyes. "
orhe. "ha:h& s his thuib aind forefinger al ig te thiclc're
of i' wbip--
S.,Theariole too is of:wire lt padded widr toth over ad

Sitrippl. lifen taking case r .i-"
SiS1emontain, munerinig
;.I AtLPaP him "U fievceft.
: eflictsd he ivers tt

The womI who threw the ackidtat coagulated his eye
fist mrin of blows.
Then the c lonial Government, the Governor and Qtuen
for sending that heartless facety letter commending
ex-slaves to hard work and obedience and industry when he
o a just rightly asking for justice wd and u food.
The firt man who had the idea tloagave a hisego
Sto:Africa andinterfere with.the pe who.l. nindi
their own business, a hard rain oblws. -
For Mussqiniari d h i alian -
on behalf of Haile Selassie,.ifie stalhjnimt.sitws.
To Babylon inin general for genetic evitr comedy
bad minded people, Rassy raise blowL
He fwhips them all for a good part of ti morning
to:Africa and interfere wiah goo parpt e Whofsmorningi:.
*:. their own business, a hard rairFews. '-.: ;
-... FoT M u._in r ;. -:-.^, :: ..^ .,.-- ..


red clouds about his head flying frightened vapour
from his whip.
And when the coir had been beaten into submission
he walks away triumphant, sweating, removes the mask
and wipes his eyes, it comes away red but his blood
is running free. He asks of my mother, a cool drink
of water which he sips with the air of a victorious warrior
before he settles at the machine to stitch
the big square of new striped ticking
into whichhe will imprison the chastened coir.

Bun Down Cross Roads
Bun Down Cross Roads, ex esquire, former gentleman
i of substance and shopkeeper
i. now convicted arsonist and fruit seller.
,-lpecial purveyor of heavy-jowled governor mango
-uN: lsi-c wling coarse skinned ugli fruit.
jp:r. eri4N.- could concoct in ripe and fruity tones
umni i av~~ .'eavagant combinations
S rof .firtyslling words and never repeat
'a particular fonnption once in the distance -
Sbeeeen King Street and Cross Roads. '- .
Legend of Bun Down, bad word mercbkg "er --.:;;
he is arcsted, brought before hemajesty' .9i;,
for usifg decent language, indecentlyi~: ,.- .,.
Bun Down is fined for one forty.shilling word.
And in a gesture. befitting his betterdaft.
thri is his hard deep dogq.iniuJ.e pocket
~eusi :blac &serge suilandi*ti .,
,i3 crisp and freijy inked ten poi.ld.ote.,-.

Elephant :i
Memory claims that in a jungle once
a great mother elephant crazed
with grief for her lostson
i wrapped her trunk:aroutida baobab tree
and wrenche it fret its upside down
hold in the .afiie ihpeted down;:
.the hole Aitb bi er vanished one.

.. lephA"hO St^ Er$s d one lumbers
v'r upfi i tinieewVictoria's paml
.3 than manskin draped l6os
gw'-, : infsarpiuul over swople ldelephantiasis
.imb 6ts. Hmoves bent pver weighed by tft bag
-of crodses over his ish b erhis lips droop'tubular.
S Small children appa ti~j cant, elephantt, elephant...'

-.'.l-c i r: e ..'g a .n :
--." :. ,-." "";: F.:"^i- ^ ", "

till he rears back on his huge hind legs trumpeting
threats of illegal surgery by glass botte,
death to small children who scatter before him, like antelopes
and elands, skittering across the asphalt heading home.
Elephant, loneliest one in all creation, your friends
the night grazing mules tethered by dark hills of coal
in Mullings grass yard. Poor elephant always walking
hoping one day he would turn a corer and come upon a
clearing familiar to long memory, wide green space
and baobab tree. For there his mother and the great herds
would be, free.

Sweet Boy Sonny
did not work for 10 years
Everyday he just got up
to sit down and pose
endless multiple-eyed dominoes
with Papacita.

Papacita with the gold shielded
Papachiijyo always favoured

ot' collar- .. .; m, 4 ?:
San down hectse e in

broelwn ueite thigh top

"stored ungserhiikk 4-:"-.. '--H.
.When Pa-g iam.m'orwa-s pie.e0; ";;..'.i,^ -

byyiedaggerttjagg; three da t s ::;:. :
Papof ila r worksoft mulatto mn ag i"i .r
bcaause h; nhd--Pe hfetime '
.sing doswn ek' Htarana, efe in Cuba. 1 ':
'--sid, d d arunk.-f ll of o .-
stored unher hit to tn.
When Pall wonorPwas piet g e. ..
yw ideniid gger -onaggj thredae dagg i
ram, he would haf tloacously .:::
ofliai work, soft mulatto *MenR!
sin-and-m.-ip lavana, before Fidel .
and Che r to town.

Madda Musebet', :-_ T
Weep all women for kida 4d,,,ette -
who identified her-one true love
and went to me mas arranged .
under the arch lfhe parish churct r-h'!4:.. i-
Her dress was 1plAed with lover's knot lace :5U
her bodice was 4*ash with seeda-jp s. 'i P
A laugh was ca-ft inside hetIhrat .
at the memory oftwhiuspere,.i-if5 ,
her handkerchief as scented from U :.
of midnigh*.fc oI ah evening in Pans!

: "2. *..
.:,% 2." -;J ,.



.Y... \
L -

her handkerchief to wipe away the sweat
the manifestations of his promises.
But he never appeared. Now she screams
at every man who has to pass her shadow
'Nasty dirty dog of a man' she screams.
And small boys dance around her
in a mocking ring chanting 'Madda Muschette,
Madda Muschette, where is your husband
Madda Muschette?' One day she saw past
the little girl to the heart of a big woman
beating in me and said 'They tease me so
they always tease its the young men
who always tease me'.

Bag A Wire
Sir, if you see Bag a Wire walking
into the furnace of the sun at evening
can you please direct him down to Race Course.

For there he will find Marcus Garvey
the only man possessing appropriate pardon
to free him from his long and living death.
Mam, if you are the one to direct him
make sure you tell him loudly, for all his senses
have been turned in, focused into his laser-like
stare he trains up and down the frame
of every passing man, short, black, heavy set
inclining to be pompous but majestic, giant .
of a far sighted man and prophet who could be
Marcus Garvey. Prophets speak light and this one
has the luminous oratory which dissolving dark
could finally set Bag a Wire free.
For when he sees him finally (a scene he has played
in his mind often) he will kneel so contrite;
on the government sidewalk a fallen knight kneels
and puts his forehead to the shoe of the visionary
whom he sold for food, saying, 'Sir I beg you pardon,
I am related by destiny to one Judas and every Iscariot
just seem to come in like that.'

The Institute of Jamaica

JAMAICA'S NATIONAL CULTURAL INSTITUTION was founded in 1879. Its main functions are
to foster and encourage the development of culture, science and history, in the national
It operates as a statutory body under the Institute of Jamaica Act 1978 and falls under
the portfolio of the Minister of Culture. The Institute's central decision-making body
is the Council which is appointed by the Minister.
The Institute of Jamaica consists of a central administration and a number of
divisions and associate bodies operating with varying degrees of autonomy.

Jamaica's leading poets. Her third
collection of poems, Heartease,
was recently published.

Emeritus of History, University of
the West Indies, Mona, is the
author of such notable works as
Free Jamaica. He is a regular
contributor to JAMAICA JOURNAL.

Director of the Broadcasting
Commission has published in
Bim, Caribbean Quarterly, and
Savacou. He is a regular
contributor to JAMAICA JOURNAL.

CHERYL RYMAN is a specialist in
Jamaican traditional dance forms.
Previous contributions to JAMAICA
JOURNAL include, 'Jonkonnu: A
Neo-African Form' [17:3] and
'Astley Clerk 1868-1944 Patriot
and Cultural Pioneer' [18:4].

VERENE SHEPHERD is a lecturer in
History at the University of the
West Indies, Mona. Her previous
contribution to JAMAICA JOURNAL
was a study of East Indian settlers
in Jamaica [18:3].

ROBERT WITMER, Canadian music
ethnologist and bassist, is Director
of the Graduate Programme in
Music at York University,
Ontario. He carried out research
into Jamaica's popular music in

Head Office:
12-16 East St., Kingston Tel: 922-0620
National Museum of Historical
Archaeology, Port Royal.Tel: 924-8871
Fort Charles Maritime Museum,
Port Royal
Arawak Museum, White Marl
Military Museum, Up Park Camp, 3rd GR
Jamaica People's Museum of Craft and
Technology, Spanish Town Square
Tel: 984-2452
Old King's House Archaeological
Museum, Spanish Town Square
Tel: 984-2452

National Gallery of Jamaica
Roy West Building, Ocean Boulevard,
Kingston Mall. Tel: 922-1561/4

National Library of Jamaica
12-16 East St., Kingston. Tel: 922-0620

Natural History Library and Museum
12-16 East St., Kgn. Tel; 922-0620


Executive Director: Beverley Hall-Alleyne
Deputy Director: Dexter Manning

Central Administration
12-16 East St., Kingston. Tel: 922-20620

African Caribbean Institute (ACIJ)
Roy West Building, 12 Ocean Boulevard
Kingston Mall. Tel: 922-4793.

Cultural Training Centre (CTC)
1 Arthur Wint Drive, Kgn. 5
Tel: 9292350/3
Edna Manley School for the Visual Arts
(formerly Jamaica School of Art)
Jamaica School of Dance
Jamaica School of Drama
Jamaica School of Music

Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
2a Suthermere Rd., Kingston 10
Tel: 929-4785/6 926-8817

Junior Centre
19 East St, Kingston. Tel: 922-0620

The Editor welcomes letters which relate directly to
articles published in JAMAICA JOURNAL or to cultural
J FeedIB a? c(y k matters in general.


.Sc P6R10o- FR
r. ANiW -S
Cl,-, I - Ann m^^t Cr I / -

jentc. map Uo eI nn jl casd
between St Ann's Bay and Rio Bueno

New Light on The First Landing of Columbus in Jamaica

the site of the first landfall of the Spanish
fleet in the new world in 1492. In Jamaica,
a similar problem remains unresolved for no
one has been able to prove exactly where
Columbus stepped ashore in May, 1494.
Archival records tell us that the
Admiral sailed across from Cuba and
anchored for the night at a place he named
Santa Gloria and they also say that the city
of Sevilla la Nueva arose near Santa Gloria.
There can be little doubt that Santa Gloria
was either St Ann's Bay or the bay at
Priory, one mile west, for the ruins of
Sevilla la Nueva have been identified on
ground at the western edge of St Ann's Bay.
Columbus decided not to land at Santa
Gloria but to search along the coast west-
ward for a sheltered port in which to repair
his ships. In the Journal of the Institute of
Jamaica (1894, vol.1 no.4, Chap. cxxv
p.28) the writer attributed to Beraldez the
passage which states,
they passed there the night and at day-
break they started to find a closed port in
order to caulk up and careen the vessels,
and after navigating to the west about
four leagues the admiral found a very
singular port; he sent a boat to inspect
the entrance.
He called this port Puerto Bueno and it
would seem simple to measure the four
leagues west from where we are positive
Seville Nueva once stood and presto, we
should pin-point the first landing place.
There was one major drawback no one
was sure what sort of league Columbus
used. Some historians thought he reckoned
in Italian leagues of 33/4 English miles and
others argued for a league of 4 1/5 miles.
These would put Puerto Bueno either 15 or
17 miles from Santa Gloria closer to Rio
Bueno than to Discovery Bay.
Another source, the Historie by
Fernando Colombo, says the first landing
came after Columbus had reconnoitred
along the coast to the west and returned to
the port he named Puerto Bueno. This
account also mentioned that Columbus sent
boats to sound the entrances to the various

Prior to the dredging by Kaiser Bauxite
Company of their deep channel into
Discovery Bay in the early 1960s, the
entrance was through a relatively narrow
and shallow passage barely two fathoms
deep which broke the otherwise continuous
reef across the mouth of the bay. In normal
May weather, the line of the reef would be
clearly marked by the waves breaking over
it. Good sense must have required a check
on the water depth before risking the three
ships past such a barrier, hence the sending
of 'men in boats to check the entrance'. Rio
Bueno has no protective reef across its
mouth and its far greater depth allows the
swells to roll clear through to the beach
before breaking. No need here to 'sound the
The evidence so far in favour of Rio
Bueno and Discovery Bay is pretty well
equally divided. If only we could clarify the
length in modem English miles of the
league Columbus used, we would be more
confident of our final choice between these
two contenders for the honour.
Here is where the National
Geographic Magazine comes into our pic-
ture. Readers of the November, 1986 issue
may not have realized the impact of Luis
Marden's article on our understanding of the
history of Jamaica. His research has estab-
lished with a greater degree of certainty than
ever before available that Columbus used a
Spanish league. Referring to old books on
navigation published in 1594 by Thomas
Blundeville and in 1574 by William Bourne,
he concludes that the league used by
Columbus contained 2,857 fathoms and,
therefore would have been 2.82 nautical
miles long or 3.25 English miles. And this
gives us 13 miles for the four leagues from
Santa Gloria to Puerto Bueno the distance
from St. Ann's Bay to Fort Point, Discovery

James W Lee
Coquitlam, B.C., Canada

Note: Dr Lee is a former President of the
Jamaica Archaeological Society.

Leslie Clerk
Escoffery's fine article on Koren
[JAMAICA JOURNAL 21:2]. But I am writ-
ing particularly about her references to
Leslie Clerk.
It is true that Leslie knew Koren, but
he was never a 'pupil' or a 'disciple of
Koren'. Koren, as you know, did not
return to Jamaica after 1944 (until of
course, the later 1980s after Leslie had
died) and Leslie did not begin doing art
until 1947, when he made his first oil
painting. It might be remembered that he
was originally a painter. Leslie attended
sculpture classes (modelling in clay from
life) at Jamaica School of Art and Crafts
to help his painting. His human form and
structure were hard-won. His first attempt
at stone carving was in 1954 a work he
discarded but after that sculpture in
stone became his medium.
Leslie's family was closely connected
to mine through marriage and I was the
only person he ever taught (weekly
lessons for about eight years). I worked
with him in his studio and attended the
same Sculpture classes at the JSAC. I
watched his painting develop and I
watched each statue evolve from his
painting; and then I watched each statue
take form from the design stage to the fin-
ish each week for 25 years from January
His style was profoundly personal, his
imagination was highly developed; his
work was unique and entirely original. I
think that if you closely examine his pai-
ntings and sculpture you would realize
One other thing I'd like to point out:
the kneeling figure of a man carved in
stone by Leslie on loan to the National
Gallery has been wrongly titled by the
Gallery as The Thinker. Leslie's sister,
Gloria Millard, who is responsible for the
loan, wrote the Gallery to this effect some
time ago. Leslie named this statue The
Witness and he selected the names of
his statues most carefully. I don't know
from where the date of 1950 came, but it
was made in 1959 ('Notes' to the article).

Anna Maria Hendricks


ScAL Mo coo



Guyanese Poets

by Velma Pollard


that Caribbean women writers were taking over
Caribbean writing when three books of poetry writ-
ten by Caribbean men appeared almost simultane-
ously in 1988. Two of these were collections from poets who
represent Guyana, one because he was born there, the other
because he has lived most of his adult life there. The subject
matter of the poems in both collections includes aspects of
that South American Caribbean territory, its landscape and its
Interiors, a first collection for McWatt, is divided into
four sections which reflect, the author writes in the preface,
an attempt to suggest the three aspects of the process that pro-
duces them: 'thought, feelings or desire, and the phenomena
of landscape themselves'. The corresponding sections might
be 'Interiors of the Mind' (parts 1 and 2), 'Interiors of the
Heart' (parts 1 and 2), and 'The Interior'.
The thoughts in 'Interiors of the Mind, Part 1' are con-
cerned with nature and man and their interaction in the habi-
tat that is the Guyana hinterland. Familiar icons and ances-
tors appear: river, forest, boat-builder, introduced by the ever-
lasting symbol of that earth, the pork-knocker. McWatt
makes of him homo cogitans, contradicting the popular myth
of the mindless gold-hunter, gives him a brain that works, and
the ability and need to record
the longevity and attitude of stone.
The archetypal boat-builder hardly sleeps, spends his time
planning for perfection. But there is a kind of pointlessness
about the thinking these ancestors indulge in. Ignatio, the sad
and thoughtful boat-builder, is counterpoised to Marcellino,
the wealthy, uncontemplative boatbuilder who lives happily
with his family. Ignatio's daughter is turned to stone. And
stone is fated to be his end too:
Ignatio still lives on the river
on a granite outcrop all alone... [p.12]
The pork-knocker, having found 'ruined among river
rocks/an archaeologist's dream', can make nothing of it. It is
for him like the
...yellowed map of history
he could never read
or like the intimations of eldorado that perished...
The landscape is enigmatic to the individual. 'Hunting
Light' is a harsh light that bruises. There is a mirage-like
content to stars and moon. Reality is 'seedless skyless night'
and what hope there is of light exists in the belly of a crea-

Mark McWatt
Dangaroo Press,
Denmark. 1988.

Mercy Ward
Ian McDonald
Peterloo Poets,
Comwall,UK. 1988.

ture. You must cut him open to have access to it. 'Hallowed
Ground' holds light that is painful 'like the recurrent throb /of
an ancient wound'. The images here are of darkness and
threatening light and all that hallowed ground can do is make
pain bearable; it cannot check it.
In distinct contrast to the threatening/frightening psycho-
logical environment of 'Interiors of the Mind, Part 1', is
'Interiors of the Heart, Part 1' which comes after it. Here
nature and natural beings do not terrify but enchant. It is not
that the poet abandons the terrible landscape and the
ineluctable fate connected with it, but rather that he is recon-
ciled to it. A kind of satisfaction results almost as if the heart
is its own recompense in contrast with the head whose
thoughts can shatter. Of the River Girl for example, McWatt
She left me then
with mere memory
and yet how strong its stare
into the heart of that moment [p.12]
or put another way:
Life and love we learn to fashion
like all fabric
into gifts and constellations of memories [p.21]
Heart is the pure, spontaneous emotion that describes the
poet's romantic relationship to the Anna Regina of his
childhood which comes back to him more as sensation than
Now you are with me again
whenever dusty roads
are suddenly perfumed with rain ...
... I place you another careful pearl
on my necklace of the world. [p.25]
And heart is what the description of Lady Northcote is about
- a ship made woman he saw for the first time 'at the selling
at Kumaka'. He describes her survival of a storm and his
admiration of her behaviour and makes a passing comment
on his philosophy with regard to women. For the ship's
breast flat and hard by then, was comforting to him who was
at that time a traveller,
still young enough to think
that strong women are the best [p. 28]
Separating parts one and two of the Mind and Heart
poems, is 'The Interior'. Eleven poems in this section
address the hinterland neither in terms of the interaction of
man and nature nor in terms of man's emotional response to
nature. Here man is on the outside of mountain, river, forest,


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g iii


beast. There is a note of awe and reverence, almost of fear.
The landscape is massive and beautiful with a kind of fright-
ening beauty. The poet's hand is very sure here. The exquisite
landscape is carefully drawn but there is disquiet and mistrust
built into its exquisiteness. Negative vibrations from the
thought poems of 'Interiors of the Mind' are carried over into
this section. There is 'dim peace', 'lost whistles', 'muffled
laughter' in 'Marawhanna', a place that brings back memo-
ries of the poet's late father. We may compare the treatment
of this poem with that of Anna Regina mentioned earlier.
With the latter the poet is passionately involved; for the for-
mer he maintains a kind of fearsome awe which almost
negates the beauty of the place, an attitude which pervades
the whole section 'The Interior'.
In 'The Native of Secrets', a prospective companion in
grief is rejected because he does not share the speaker's terri-
ble history. The phrase 'you do not know' is repeated over
and over and each time introduces an image that is negative:
'dead children', 'failed universe', 'withered men'. At 'Mount
Everard', in the poem for that place, there is 'rusty metal',
'rotten wood', 'dead Amerindian family'. In 'Golden Flow-
er', the Christmas orchid's golden cup is filled with 'fatal
pollen'. McWatt captures in these poems the terrible beauty
of the interior of Guyana. It is only in 'Orifice' that the spirit
of the poet rises completely above the fear. Perhaps it is
because here folk myth and nature are interwoven, the one
tempering the other:
No one here -
so the song must come from the river,
passing through taut strings
or the fluted bones of the folk
There was a singer once...
The story is told here with the rhythm of a song. Flute music
of the river is the music from folk bones,
and the music floats downstream
on the breath of the buried one
and carries off the forest and the folds
into the heartland of dream. [p. 38]
'Interiors of the Heart, Part 2', like its companion, Part 1,
is about passion. But these are more personal poems, more
obviously for Amparo to whom both parts are dedicated. The
images are carefully selected to hint at more than they
express. Away from home in the poem 'Missing', for exam-
ple, the poet is sustained by an illusion of homelight and 'the
warmth of your hand/across my chest'.
McWatt is obviously conversant with literature written in
English. 'Ah my Dear' takes off from Hopkins without apol-
ogy for replacing that poet's God with his beloved and ends:
.'ah my dear'
might either save me from
or fling me to your flame [p. 59]
'Between the Lines' compares the meeting of his body with
his beloved's, with Donne's 'twin compasses'. Extensive
punning on lines accompanies the comparison. There is the
line of space between the bodies in bed; bodies together
forming a single line; parted line of lips and, of course, the
lines people read between.
Perhaps the most significant of these poems though, in
terms of the poet's self analysis, is 'Love and the Mind'. In
this poem, in a sense, he vindicates his involvement with the
'Heart' poems. He begins by self-consciously repeating an
earlier comment of his to 'her': 'I'd rather that love

falter/than my mind'; works through it to finalyeeonfess his
new position:
... I'd rather the mind falter
than my heart [p. 58]
The closing section 'Interiors of the Mind, Part 2', is the
shortest; four poems. 'Aunty Panty' which opens this second
'thought' section, describes a boyish prank and gives insights
into male attitudes of the poet's father's generation. 'Femi-
nist' which closes it, comments on male attitudes of the
poet's own generation. Of the half-crazy Aunty, the father
says: 'What she damn well need is a man'. And 'Feminist'
You have seen her
you have suffered her
she for whom 'woman'
is a chain of anger. [p. 68]
Within this section is a sobering comment on the new
self-confidence of the Caribbean society. 'Application and
Reply' traces, rather elaborately, the process of the rejection
of a foreign applicant for a local university lectureship. The
auction block is reversed:
you're on the block now, and its our turn to buy
The preferred applicants 'grew up in the cane/have suffered
our history, our sun and our rain'. But there is no unreason-
able nepotism implied because 'they too have written on
Marvell, Blake and Naipaul. .' The applicant might try
another Commonwealth country. New Zealand is suggested.
cDonald's collection is very different from
McWatt's. It is highly focused, all the poems
being centred around one location: Mercy Ward,
the ward for poor people, in a public hospital.
The poet treats with care and understanding a variety of char-
acters who spend some time there, largely near the end of
life. He also treats the people who attend them. The near-
death condition of the patients becomes an opportunity to
philosophize about life and death and to point, sometimes
obliquely, at the ironies which attend them. The opening
poem 'Life/Death' indicates in brief, dramatic lines, what the
reader is about to encounter:
Quick as light:
Skin shine
Bone white [p. 9]
But the poems are not about 'sudden death' in the way we
usually understand it. The suddenness is the imperceptibility
of the time passing between life's prime and its end. The
sick-bed figures conjure up in the poet's mind, pasts which he
juxtaposes with their presents. It is in this juxtaposition that
he most exercises his craft. The 'Belle of the Ball' is allowed
to put on her silk dress because
she wanted to wear it;
she is dying, why not let her?
But the dress is silk rags examined with the full force of poet-
ic sound and sight:
Flowered, faded, aged and filthy...
and with the consciousness of another time which might seem
immediate to the wearer:
It was made for bigger breasts
And plumper hips and sweeter thighs:
Eighty pounds at least are missing ...


What dance does she remember,
What dancing days,
When that nice dress once made her
Belle of the Ball? [p. 13]
The 'Axed Man' had to be 'cut down'. He is a diabetic who
has had double amputation:
Big-torsoed, bull-necked, muscled man
Wears faded-red, short pyjama pants
Just folding over new bandaged stumps...
Matron, who knows his story, is the link between that figure
and the timber-man who had been ten times winner of the
prize for speed in cutting down a great tree. The metaphor is
contained to the end:
Look at his stumps now!
The axe in the end
Missed horribly [p. 15]
'Amerindian' has been brought to town, to Mercy Ward, to
die. The poet notes the irony of the favour that has been done
him. The man of the outdoor is brought to settle for a 'rag of
He should have been with brothers
He should have died with Jaguars and stars
And a wind hissing in trees [p. 40]
The outside world impinges, selectively, on Mercy Ward.
Contrast, once again, is used to underline reality. In 'Test
Match', the focus is allowed to move, if briefly from self,
'How much time have I got left?', to the players 'The boys in
trouble or the boys on top?' The poet philosophizes about the
situation thus:
For a little while at least
Those broken on the wheel of life
Feel at their throats a different knife. [p. 31]
In 'The Dwarf Dogs of Montserrat' a fine lady who lives in a
mansion, enters Mercy Ward where dogs are not allowed,
pulling on twin leashes, pet dogs
Silver-tagged like gifts
Miniature and manicured
The sleek guest stands in stark contrast with the old Auntie
who nurtured her 'two different lives ago' and who lies
'crumpled in a corer bed/ulcers on her cheek'. The expected
order of events is reversed to maintain the irony. The visiting
lady weeps
Old auntie smiles and nods
She puts up a hand again
Shoo, shoo, dry the tears
She dried a thousand times
Time gone like forty years [p. 34]
In 'White Grip' a visiting husband long awaited by a wife, a
'too-too thin' young girl who believes he will come to take
her home, rejects her. The poet notes his 'well-fed frame'
and his 'golden Seiko watch' as he
quite roughly puts aside her hand
Her desperate grasping of his hand joins for the poet a num-
ber of scenes he will never forget, including moon blaze on
the Essequibo river and an old man crying in the Silver
As if to redress the balance, there is in 'Love Affair' the
description of the relationship between the visiting husband,
an old man, and his wife who prepares herself, including
what she has left of hair, to meet his every evening five
o'clock visit. He leaves at exactly six when visiting hour

ends. The interaction between them is intense:
She looks at him, he gives her half a nod
and bends stiffly down and touches her old cheek
And takes her hand in his:
No words exchanged...
And then he leaves
She turns away and yearns towards tomorrow [p. 66]
Sometimes the poet's humour overtakes him even in that drab
place. 'Benjie Disrobes' tells of an inmate who takes off his
clothes when he feels death coming, observing the Bible's
Naked into the world
Cometh man
And naked
He goeth out [p. 47]
'Big Bull Cousins' suggests a new unusual arrangement of
man and time:
. .why it couldn't be all we fate
To end up young and bright and straight
From old and scrawny and wither and grey?
and ends in Calypsoesque discourse railing against God for
the present arrangement:
Cuss I going cuss, not pray I pray:
I going cuss this God before I die
And He ent have no reason to ask me why. [p. 50]
Youth and beauty are seldom mentioned except as mem-
ory, here, but every now and then the personality of the irre-
pressible Nurse Guyadeen, 'bright, loving, strict, humorous
and clean', obtrudes. She keeps the patients in order, (the
preacher, for example) and responds to their needs, And once,
appearing as 'Fire in the Ward', a new, young nurse is
described for us:
Brushed lustrous hair, brown skin shining
She seems a banked immortal fire,
Warm beauty, such glow of life. [p. 16]
One senses a kind of resentment of the slow sadness and
sick death of this ward. Bright nature is mentioned only by
default as in the world of the Timber Man or Amerindian, or
the light of candleflies noted one night when current failed
Candle-flies in season,
Brightening and fading,
Were hundreds in the room
As if girls
Had flung them
at a wedding [p. 28]
Even when the weather outside is beautiful 'Ward Weather'
does not reflect it. The poet warns:
Draw no conclusions from the outside weather
Rain or bright shining sun
Ward weather is Ward weather...
If there is anything here that might describe an attitude to life
and its giver, it may well be the poet's closing comment in
the poem 'God's work':
God should play more.

Velma Pollard is a a senior lecturer in the Department
of Education, UWI, Mona.


These brief notes on books
received do not preclude a longer


Caribbean Festival Arts:
Each and Every Bit of Differ-
John W. Nunley and
Judith Bettelheim
Seattle. University of Washington
1989. 224 pp. 166 llust., 130
colour. Hardcover.
A wide-ranging examination of
the roots of Trinidad Carnival
and other Caribbean masquer-
ades including Jonkanoo and
Hosay. The illustrations
emphasize the ingenuity used to
create splendid costumes from
multifarious materials. Rex
Nettleford discusses the signifi-
cance of the mask. An unex-
pected sidelight is thrown on
Carnival as a cultural export to
the North.

Voices in Exile: Jamaican
Texts of the 18th and 19th
Jean D'Costa and
Barbara Lalla, (eds).
Tuscaloosa. University of Alabama
1989. 157 + xiv pp. 21 b/w illust.
This collection of extracts from
publications appearing between
the 1750s and the 1870s pre-
sents some of the earliest print-
ed examples of 'Jamaica talk'.
There are fascinating traces of
language usages still common
today. The comments on the
extracts together with the notes,
glossary and select bibliogra-
phy make this an indispensable
linguistic source book for
Jamaican Creole.


Margarett E. Groves
1989. 56 pp.
Writing out of her experience of
life, Margarett Groves looks at
her society and sees betrayal,
corruption and oppression
everywhere. Her strong Rasta-
farian faith protects her and her
constant reading of the Bible
both influences her poems and
provides her with guidance.


Loma Goodison
London. New Beacon Books
1988. 61 pp.
Lora Goodison's third book of
poems speaks of oppressions
past and present, wounds, scars
and healing. Themes are both
universal and personal. Her
characteristic Jamaican voice is
clearly heard as she develops
sharp images.


Journey Poem
Pamela Mordecai
Jamaica. Sandberry Press
1989. 56 pp.
The third in an attractive
Caribbean Poetry Series, this
collection emphasizes Morde-
cai's examination and affirma-
tion of self. Often brief, epi-
grammatic at times, the poems
are weighted with an honest

Jamaica Surveyed
B.W. Higman
Kingston. Institute of Jamaica Publ-
1988. 324 pp. illustrated through-
A most comprehensive study of
land use in Jamaica in the 18th
and 19th centuries. Dr Higman
has drawn on the extensive
resources of the National Library
and the Survey Department,
using contemporary surveyors'
plans to show changes during
the period. A handsome and
original publication of general
as well as specialized interest.

\iOR(IAN %1I
(1 II HRI 101)1I

Aboriginal Culture Today
Anna Rutherford, ed.
Australia/Denmark. Dangaroo Press
1988. 306pp. b/w/Illust.
This double issue of Kunapipi,
the magazine specialising in the
literature of the post-colonial
world, focuses on Australia, the
impact of an alien society on
the aboriginals, and their strug-
gle to retain at least a part of
their own culture.

Politics versus Economics
The 1989 Elections in
Carl Stone
Kingston. Heinemann (Caribbean)
1989. 170 + xiv pp. Graphs, b/w
Dr Stone's impressively up-to-
date analysis of Jamaica's 1989
election is solidly based on his
own well-known and accurate
polls. He closely examines the
reasons for the changes in the
country's economic and politi-
cal life between 1980 and 1989.
He foresees further reduction in
the ideological polarization of
the 1970s and continuing stabil-
ity in our political system.

Ema Brodber
London. New Beacon Books
1988. 111 pp.
A timeless novel, though firmly
set between 1913 and 1921;
equally firmly set in Grove
Town, St Thomas. But the
action is fluid, shifting among
the different selves of the char-
acters, in and out of time and
into the realm of poltergeists,
spirit thieves, myal men and
Miss Gatha, in the spirit, pro-
tecting her world. An enchant-
ing story.

Jamaica Then
Kingston. Jamrite Publications
1988. 68 pp. illustrations only.
Nostalgia. Jamaica in postcards
from the late 1800s to the
1930s; some memorable scenes
of the 1907 earthquake damage.
Pictures of country life and
work are particularly appealing,
but an introduction and better
captions would add to the value
of the collection.



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T, -- l_--E R LY

The Apprenticeship E Cxperience on

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LivestockARM Pens

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ByThe Apprenticeship Experience ond

t. skLi a --e- .u

Jamaica's rural pens, numbering about four hundred in HE AGRAAN PATTERN OF Colonial
1832, were unique to Jamaica's plantation society.... fl Jamaica was much more diversi-
12 eu "fied than that of her counterparts in the
They supplied locally close to one-third of the livestock rest of the British Caribbean, a diversi-
needs of the sugar plantations. fiction dictated by more varied topog-
raphy. Thus, the island's rural sector in
the period of slavery, and beyond, was


characterized not only by the large sug-
ar estates but also by coffee plantations,
pimento farms, plantations of 'minor
staples' (cotton, etc.) and livestock
farms. The latter were styled 'pens' in
Jamaica and that designation still sur-
vives today in former pen-lands such as
May Pen in Clarendon, and Cumber-
land and Lakes Pen in St Catherine.
These rural pens, numbering about
four hundred in 1832, were unique to
Jamaica's plantation society. Their
importance lies in the fact that they sup-
plied locally close to one-third of the
livestock needs of the sugar plantations.
This was a far larger proportion than
was supplied locally elsewhere in the
British West Indies,'pure'plantation
economies such as St Kitts and Barba-
dos having been almost totally depen-
dent on external sources for animals.
Such an active internal market for live-
stock for draught and other purposes
was generated by the low level of tech-
nology in the Jamaica sugar industry up
to 1845.
Jamaica's rural pens must not be
confused with the numerous urban pens
- particularly in Kingston and St
Andrew with which so many people
are familiar. The present Vale Royal, for
example, was formerly a pen (Prospect
Pen) owned by Simon Taylor, the
renowned planting attorney. Other well-
known pens were Cockburn Pen and
Denham Pen. These 'city pens' were,
however, used primarily for residential
purposes even though their owners also
kept some livestock.
This article focuses on the history
of rural pens particularly after 1834.
While the progress of the apprentice-
ship period on sugar estates, for exam-
ple, has already been fully examined,
the effects of this transitional system
on Jamaican livestock farms are rather
less well known.
The sources used for this analysis
are varied. The governors' despatchess'
to the secretary of state for the colonies,
often contained, as enclosures, full
reports on the working of apprentice-
ship, compiled by stipendiary magis-
trates. These magistrates had been
appointed under the provisions of the
Act of Emancipation to superintend the
conduct of apprenticeship and to adjudi-
cate all disputes between masters and
servants. Potentially rich sources are
those enclosures containing the exami-
nations of various people who gave evi-
dence before several committees set up

by the Jamaican House of Assembly to
collect information on the working of
apprenticeship. Unfortunately, those
examined were usually planters who,
though also owning pens, confined their
comments to their sugar estates. The
same was true of the few pen-keepers
(proprietors of pens) examined. They
were usually also attorneys and con-
fined their answers to the state of sugar
cultivation on the estates they managed,
rather than to their own properties.
Admittedly, replies correspond to ques-
tions posed, and examiners were usual-
ly more interested in matters relating to
the great staple.
The Accounts Produce and
Accounts Current also give some limit-
ed information on the economic state of
pens in the period 1834-8, while Joseph
Sturge and Thomas Harvey's investiga-
tive work on the Apprenticeship System
in Jamaica supplements the stipendiary
magistrates' reports on the condition of
the apprentices.

On the first of August 1834, slavery
was legally ended in the British
Caribbean with the implementation of
'An Act for the Abolition of Slavery
throughout the British Colonies; for
promoting the industry of the manumit-
ted slaves; and for compensating the
persons hitherto entitled to the services
of such slaves'.
Before the complete abolition of
slavery, however, slaves had first to
serve a period of apprenticeship of
between four and six years, depending
on their occupational status. All freed
people above the age of six were to be
classified as either agricultural or
domestic servants on the basis of the
type of labour which they had per-
formed for the twelve months preceding
the passage of the Abolition Act.
For praedials (agricultural labour-
ers), apprenticeship was to be for six
years ending in 1840; but non-praedials
(domestics) would be fully free in 1838
after a four-year apprenticeship.
Apprentices, if they so desired and
could afford it, could purchase their
freedom before the legal termination of
their apprenticeship. The amount of that
payment was to be determined by an
impartial appraisal of the labour value
of the apprentices concerned.

The planters were to continue to
provide food, clothing and other cus-
tomary indulgences and, in exchange,
apprentices were compelled to give
401/2 hours of unpaid labour per week.
Children under six years old, were,
however, exempted from this transition-
al period, being entrusted to the care of
their mothers. In the event that the
mothers were unable to provide such
care, the children would have to serve
indentureship until the age of twenty-
The ex-slaves in Jamaica, in sever-
al parishes, initially resisted the imple-
mentation of the Apprenticeship
System.1 From all reports, it would
seem that despite these early protests,
the first two years of the operation of
the system did not significantly affect
the production on pens. Work was regu-
lar from late 1834, apprentices 'disci-
plined' and the demand for plantation
stock was still high. One of the earliest
reports on the conduct of the appren-
tices was sent in by J.H. James, the
attorney for John Tharp's estates and
pens in Jamaica.
In a letter to Tharp written just
three days after the beginning of the
new transitional system, James wrote:
... it affords me great pleasure . to
inform you that the negroes are behaving
themselves remarkably well and per-
forming their labour with great cheerful-
ness on your properties. Rumours were
prevalent throughout the island that a
strike of workers would take place
among the Apprentices on the 1st
August. I apprehended nothing of the
kind whatever, and, as I anticipated, the
time has just passed over quite satisfac-
torily. 2
The reports from the pen districts
in 1835 were also generally good.
Stipendiary Magistrate Alley of the
Mile Gully district of St Elizabeth in his
report of 30 December 1835, observed:
'... in this district there are large coffee
estates and extensive pens in good
cultivation . . the negro population
behave well, and are generally disposed
to industry'. 3 He added that the Christ-
mas holidays had passed peacefully and
that all the apprentices had turned out to
work after the holidays.
With regard to the economic state
of pens, Stipendiary Magistrate Davies'
reports for St Elizabeth are particularly
insightful. This parish was second only
to St Ann in the number of pens it con-
tained. In his quarterly report of
December 1835, he wrote:


The pens ... have suffered very little by
the diminution of the hours of labour
under the present system; most of them
at least are in a very creditable condition,
fences well kept up and pastures tolera-
bly clean. It is an encouraging circum-
stance for this kind of property that
some description of stock, particularly
mules and horses, are realising an
improved price and are much in request.
With respect to steers, if the price is low
the demand is brisk ... One of the prin-
cipal pen-keepers in this neighbourhood
has assured me that he had not for many
years known a larger demand. 4
Towards the middle of 1836, both
the demand and the price of steers had
improved. One stipendiary magistrate
attributed this to the failure of the pre-
diction that sugar estates must of neces-
sity 'go down' under the new system of
labour. The adoption of this attitude had
caused some estates to neglect to
replenish their supply of stock. Stipen-
diary Magistrate Daughtrey added that
now that '. . these delusions (the off-
spring of prejudice) have been general-
ly dissipated, efforts are being made
which must, of necessity, lead to a
large demand for working stock and
thereby improve the value and
prospects of pen properties.' 5
The wet weather in June in some
pen areas and the drought affecting
some sugar parishes had a dual effect
on the pens. For some pens, according
to Stipendiary Magistrate Thompson,
the wet weather had been peculiarly
favourable in producing a great abun-
dance of grass. Abundant grass meant a
good quality of livestock. These were in
great demand on sugar estates suffering
from dry weather and which thus had to
rely principally on their cattle mills.
The price of this good quality stock
increased. Some pen areas were not so
lucky in mid-June. Those in the Pedro
area of St Elizabeth were drought rid-
den at this time.
In addition to the favourable
weather and high demand for stock
experienced by most pens at this time,
these units fared better than estates on
account of the way their labour force
was deployed during apprenticeship.
Sugar estates demanded continuous
labour, particularly during crop season.
As a result, the 40 /2 hours of compul-
sory labour instituted by the Act of
Emancipation were inadequate for the
cultivation and manufacture of sugar.
This time was, however, adequate for
livestock husbandry; so that, unlike
sugar estates, most pens did not need to


employ apprentices to do extra labour
and thus incur high wage bills.
This was emphasized by Stipendi-
ary Magistrate Laidlaw of St Ann who
pointed out that there had been very lit-
tle need in the pen areas for extra
labour, the time allowed by law being in
general amply sufficient for the type of
cultivation required. Reports by other
magistrates on other pen areas generally
supported this. Daughtrey, reporting
earlier on the pens of the Mile Gully
and Santa Cruz districts of St Elizabeth,
had indicated that on these pens the
nine-hour work day was general. This
was at a time when sugar estates were
increasingly resorting to task work.
For all these reasons, up to 1836,
judging by the qualitative data, the
majority of pens still seem to have been
recording a profit in their internal trans-
actions. However, because of insuffi-
cient pen accounts, it is difficult to test
such claims quantitatively.
The best method of ascertaining the
economic state of pens would be to
examine in detail the plantation
accounts called 'Accounts Current' in
the Jamaica Archives. Unfortunately,
very few of these accounts have sur-
vived and the majority of them which
have, relate to pens which were the
'satellite holdings' of sugar planters.
Nevertheless, as these units kept com-
pletely separate accounts, it is possible
to isolate their income, expenditure and
credit or debit balances from those of
their related estates.
For the period of apprenticeship,
forty-eight annual accounts exist, relat-
ing to the affairs of twenty-one pens.
This is a small sample given the fact
that at the time of Emancipation there
were about four hundred pens in the
island. As a result, no firm conclusions
can be drawn about the economic state
of pens in Jamaica based on quantita-
tive analysis. Furthermore, for the first
two years of apprenticeship, only six of
the twenty-eight pens have continuous
accounts. These were Great Salt Pond,
Smallwood, Half-Way-Tree, Cumber-
land, Cacoon Castle and Mahogany
Hall Pens. Great Salt Pond Pen had a
credit balance of 1,093. 2s.10d. in
December 1833. By December 1834,
its profit was smaller, being 674. 14s.
2d. By 1836, however, it was in trouble,
showing a debit balance and by 1837, it
had to be sold. The other five had an
average profit of approximately 1,542.
Other pens showing a profit in 1834-6

were Lorn, Markham Hall, Montpelier,
Carton, Lowerworks, Kings and Up

Towards the end of 1836 and increas-
ingly thereafter, this somewhat rosy pic-
ture of the pens began to change. The
first indication of the change was by
way of the half-yearly reports of the
stipendiary magistrates. Several aggra-
vating circumstances were reported
involving pen apprentices whose atti-
tude towards both the transitional sys-
tem and their masters was deteriorating.
Ex-slaves opposed the continuation of
this form of servitude and, predictably,
their opposition was deemed intransi-
gence. The stipendiary magistrate's
reports, therefore, increasingly indicat-
ed indolence, disaffection and a 'lack of
respect' to masters on the part of the
apprentices attitudes which had, in
fact, been noted on some pens from
about March 1836. In a report from
Robert Thompson to the governor in
which he pointed out that his district of
Black River comprised only pens with
the exception of one property, he wrote:
'I am sorry to say that the apprentices
of this district are not so respectful to
their masters as those of my last district

were; they are much more indolent in
their habits and if they can get the
slightest opportunity to evade labour,
they embrace it. ... '6
One comparison which was repeat-
edly made by the magistrates was that
such 'disrespectful' behaviour on the
part of the apprentices was worse on
pens and small settlements than on
large estates. The stated rationale was
that on sugar estates discipline was
greater and the labour force more con-
trolled, whereas on smaller properties
with few whites and a smaller slave
population, there was less control.
According to Thompson: 'I am sor-
ry to say that they are very much dis-
posed to use unbecoming and saucy
language to their masters and more
especially to those among the small set-
tlers.' 7
This was supported by Daniel Kel-
ly, another stipendiary magistrate, oper-
ating out of Westmoreland and in
whose area of jurisdiction there were
only four sugar estates, the majority of
properties being pens and smaller set-
tlements. He said that with the excep-
tion of the small settlements, 'there
appears to be a good feeling existing
between the master and the
apprentice.'8 Gurley, who had formerly
had jurisdiction over this pen district,
had made a similar observation in a
report to Governor Sligo in 1835. He
had stressed that on large estates good
understanding existed between appren-
tices and employers, '. . but I have to
observe that my district comprises pens
and settlements on which I do not think
the discipline is so rigid as on sugar
The situation was said to be worse
on smaller properties managed or
owned by women and free coloureds.
Furthermore, where overseers were not
strict and where master-servant disputes
were adjudicated by coloured stipendi-
ary magistrates, similar problems were
observed, as was clearly brought out in
John Cooper's somewhat racist report
on the late Simon Taylor's property of
Haughton Grove in Hanover in 1835.
According to Cooper, ... the negroes
are in a rather unsettled state which can
be easily accounted for; they have an
easy, stupid overseer who overlooks
their faults.'10 He went on to state that
matters were compounded because the
pen was at a great distance from a
stipendiary magistrate. However, even
the nearest one, Mr Norcutt from Mon-

tego Bay ... the Stipe who officiates
in this district', 11 was accused of being
too lenient with the apprentices. Coop-
er's explanation for this was that Nor-
cutt was a coloured man, .. held in
repute by the Blacks but disliked by the
whites.'12 Once when an apprentice
from an adjoining property was caught
by the Haughton Grove Pen apprentices
stealing their provisions, they took him
to a stipendiary magistrate in Lucea,
rather than to Norcutt. Their explana-
tion: 'Mr Norcutt no good man to go to
when nagar tief from nagar, only when
nagar tief from Buckra.' 13
This changing attitude of the
apprentices is said to have manifested
itself in other ways. Two obvious ways
were the increase in their abuse and ill-
treatment of cattle, and their increasing
neglect of pastures. On the other hand,
from all reports, apprentices' provision
grounds did not suffer any similar
neglect. Writing from Leinster Pen in St
Mary, the magistrate, Lambert, report-
ed, '. .. the negro grounds are equally
well-cultivated as previous to 1st
August 1834'.'14

Economically, the fortunes of pens
began to change by 1836. First of all,
those pens which had traditionally
relied on hired labour for certain tasks,
suffered from a shortage of such labour.
This was emphasized by Stipendiary
Magistrate Bell from around the end of
1835. He remarked that, '.. pimento
and coffee properties and ginger are
doing well, as also are pens wherever

they worked with their own strength,
and did not pay jobbing, which has
become scarce.'15
For the traditional work of the pen,
the regular labour force was still ade-
quate because of the guarantee offered
by the Apprenticeship System. Howev-
er, the shortage of jobbers now made it
necessary for the pen-keepers to require
their labourers to perform task work in
their 'free time'. On many pens, howev-
er, apprentices refused to perform such
extra labour. Such refusal was observed
on Mount Pleasant Pen in St Elizabeth.
Other cases were reported in various
replies from the stipendiary magistrates
to the governor's request for such infor-
mation. Apprentices on Agualta Vale,
Boscobel, Richard's and Pinpert in St
Mary and on Devon and Fort George
pens in St George, seemed to have per-
formed extra tasks in their spare time.
Where apprentices did agree to
work for wages in their own time, they
insisted on task work and received pay-
ments ranging from ls.8d. to 2s.6d. per
task. Task work was still not widespread
on pens in the hours of compulsory
labour. Laidlaw had explained in 1837
that '. . the various sorts of labour
required on pens renders it difficult to
resort to task work, and it is not there-
fore generally practised in this dis-
The deteriorating labour relations
observed on pens from the middle of
1835 became worse towards the time
when apprenticeship was slated to end
for non-praedials. One of the earliest
cases of labour unrest had been noted

'~ -


on St Helen's Pen in St Mary in 1835.
An apprentice named James Ellis mur-
dered the overseer of the pen, Augustus
Jones, and was later executed on the
same spot at which he had murdered
Jones with his hoe. He was one of a
conspiracy and the others involved
were later named by him at his trial.
They too were later tried but their sen-
tences have not been found in later
despatches. Among them was another
apprentice, George, who had allegedly
voiced the opinion that it was Jones
who was the symbol of their bondage
and oppression.
According to Ellis's evidence, all
the apprentices on the pen knew of the
plot to murder Jones and they had all
agreed that 'the country gave free' but
they were still being kept' in bondage.
In his reply to Governor Sligo's
despatch reporting the murder and trial,
the colonial secretary, Lord Glenelg,
expressed his alarm at the news of
Jones's murder and wrote anxiously of
.... the natural horror and indignation
excited by such a crime, especially
when perpetrated with the consent or
knowledge of a large body of per-
sons .... '17 He feared that this would
engender alarm in the public mind as
'... a panic of that nature might extend
its influence, and its dangerous conse-
quences, beyond the limits of Jamaica'. 8
He therefore urged that' . the exact
truth should be ascertained without
exaggerations for the satisfaction of all
those who have an interest . in the
good conduct of the apprentices'.19
Further reports of unrest among
pen apprentices came from stipendiary
magistrates who were increasingly
called in by owners or overseers to set-

tle disputes on various pens. On
Worcester Park in St Catherine, for
example, a complaint was lodged by
John Grey, the overseer against the
great and second gangs. The substance
of his complaint was that the appren-
tices in both gangs had been guilty of
disobeying orders and absenting them-
selves for two days without leave. Grey
also accused them of turning up late
when they eventually returned to work.
The chief witness in the case was
John McGlashan, the plantation consta-
ble, who said that he had ordered the
apprentices to turn out for work the day
after New Year's day. They did not
obey this order; instead, they reported
for work the following day. The very
next week, the two gangs took a half
day off on Friday. Furthermore, when
they worked, the gangs were habitually
late and the relationships on the pen
between constable, overseer and
apprentices were generally poor. The
magistrate ordered the gangs involved
to work extra hours to compensate for
the day lost.
On Epping Pen, St Mary, Will
Parker, the pen-keeper, brought a case
against a praedial apprentice, William
Wilson, for 'general neglect of duty and
loss of labour'. Four cases of neglect
involving four days' work were cited by
the pen-keeper. On the first day, Wilson
had been sent to cut wooden stakes. He
cut three for the entire day. On the sec-
ond day, he took the cut stakes from the
woods to the house which was just two
hundred yards away. On the third day
he cut six stakes, and the following day,
he brought those home. In addition,
when sent to cut grass, he was said to
cut very few bundles compared to the

Y~ ~ ~ rv~~ ~; 'Tl-

two old women with whom he worked.
In his defence, Wilson said that the
place where Parker sent him to cut
wood was not Parker's property. That
property had a fairly vigilant watchman
and he was able to cut stakes only when
the watchman was not on the alert.
After hearing Wilson's evidence, the
stipendiary magistrate dismissed the
case against him.
Three other cases of poor relation-
ships between apprentices and masters
by 1837 were related by Sturge and
Harvey after their visits to Jamaican
properties in that year. Joseph Sturge
and Thomas Harvey were members of
the anti-slavery body referred to as
Saints who assiduously studied
accounts of the working of apprentice-
ship in the colonies and publicly
attacked this despised system. In Octo-
ber 1836, Sturge and Harvey together
with two other leaders of the anti-slav-
ery movement, John Scoble and
William Lloyd, sailed for the Caribbean
to secure first-hand evidence on the
operation of apprenticeship. Scoble and
Lloyd visited British Guiana while
Sturge and Harvey travelled among the
Lesser Antilles and Jamaica. Their
densely detailed book, condemning the
Apprenticeship System, was published
on their return to Britain.
Pens visited by Sturge and Harvey
in Jamaica included Prosper, Pitfore and
Green Island. On Prosper Pen in St
James, they first investigated the case of
Richard Sheppie. His complaint was
that he and his sister had two working
steers, two young steers, two cows, and
one bull calf in the pen. This was not
unusual; the 'head negroes' on many of
these properties had usually been
allowed to raise cattle, mules and horses
for themselves and instances of the pos-
session of livestock by apprentices were
frequently met with by the two investi-
gators. In 1837, however, the attorney, a
Mr Grant, who was also a judge of the
assize court, ordered Sheppie to sell the
stock as he would no longer be able to
keep them on the pen. Furthermore,
Sheppie was ordered to sell the stock to
Prosper Pen and was forced to brand
them with the pen's own mark. Grant
offered the apprentices 16 for the two
working steers, and 16 for the rest
combined. They refused on the basis
that the market value of the steers was
18 each, and the cows, 16 each.
However, they were overruled. The edi-
tor of the Falmouth Post stated his


belief that after buying Sheppie's stock
for such a low price, Grant might have
made his own profit by reselling them
to the pen or to his 'butcher brother in
Lucea', at an inflated price. Sturge and
Harvey saw this case as '. . an exam-
ple of the insecurity of such property,
which depends at all times upon the
caprice of the overseers or the owner.'20
On some pens, apprentices clam-
oured for task work, but on Pitfore Pen
in St James, the apprentices' complaint
was that task work had been set for
them without prior consultation. They
further complained that this was extra
work which caused them to labour from
6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., often missing
breakfast and dinner time in order to
complete the tasks, and that, unlike the
situation under slavery, even a woman
with a child only four months old was

required to do the same amount of work
as other apprentices.
On Green Island Pen in Westmore-
land, the pen-keeper, Benjamin Capon,
was accused of physically abusing the
apprentices regardless of age and sex.
The apprentices told Sturge and Harvey
that they never complained to the spe-
cial justices as they never got justice in
these matters. Further complaints were
that their extra days were often taken
away, their grounds were destroyed by
cattle and that hospital care was sadly
lacking. They mentioned an incident
relating to a young girl whom the pro-
prietor had ordered to be beaten and
locked up for the night. When her
mother, Oriana Webster, protested by
saying, 'Hi! This picaninny work so
hard, no dinner time, and you go lock
her up,' 21 Capon reportedly collared


Name of RETURN
Estate or Of the Number of Slaves and
Domicile of Estimated Value thereof, in each Class
Slaves: in possession of Hamilton Brown, Owner
Grier Park Pen on the 1st day of August, 1834

Total Number of Slaves: 141

Divisions No.

Praedial 2
attached 3


Non- 2
praedials 3





M. F. No. Value ()

Head People
Inferior Tradesmen
Field Labourers
Inferior Field Labourers

Head People
Inferior Tradesmen
Field Labourers
Inferior Field Labourers

4 4
3 3

30 54 84
5 5 10



Head Tradesmen -
Inferior Tradesmnen -
Head people employed on
wharfs, shipping or other
avocations -
Inferior people of the
same description -
Head Domestic
Servants 1 1 2
Inferior Domestics 2 4 6

Children under six years of age on
1st August 1834

Aged, diseased or otherwise

14 14 29 435

3 3 30

141 7,725
Source: London, PRO CO 71/693, Valuers' Return, St Ann

her and ordered that she be fastened in
the dungeon.
Such poor labour relations and
harsh treatment of apprentices were not
the norm on all Jamaican pens. Indeed,
Sturge and Harvey themselves pointed
out the exemplary state of labour rela-
tions on Sweet River and Spur Tree
Pens in St Elizabeth, Paradise Pen in
Westmoreland, Farm Pen in St Cather-
ine and Retreat Pen in St Ann. Howev-
er, the cases cited are indicators of the
general deterioration in master-servant
relationships which typified the situa-
tion on Jamaican properties by 1837.
Labour relations were further
affected by two other aggravating ele-
ments of the Apprenticeship System.
The first related to the valuation of
apprentices who wished to purchase the
remaining term of their apprenticeship.
The Abolition Act had entitled appren-
tices to buy their freedom at a 'fair val-
uation'. By 1837, requests for
valuation, particularly on the part of
female pen apprentices, were on the
increase. Planters and pen-keepers,
however, commonly obstructed this
procedure by fixing exorbitant
appraisals upon apprentices. Since
appraisement tribunals normally com-
prised the nearest stipendiary magis-
trate, a planter justice nominated by the
master and a third planter justice agree-
able to the stipendiary magistrate and
the master's nominee, biased decisions
were regularly made.
The case of Sally Carter, a praedial
attached apprentice on a St Elizabeth
pen under the jurisdiction of Stipendi-
ary Magistrate Gurley, serves to illus-
trate this point. In 1836, Sally, who was
thirty-five years old and said to be in
good health, applied to be valued and
was appraised at 41.10s. This valua-
tion was protested by Gurley who
believed that it was highly inflated. Sal-
ly had five children and at the time of
valuation was expecting a sixth. She
was in the second gang and was valued
at 10.
Value was determined by a labour-
er's age, strength, skill and 'general
worth'. Some magistrates complained
that strong, accomplished, reliable
apprentices, the people most likely to
seek appraisement, were valued more
highly than those regarded as their
'idle, unproductive counterparts', and
the inflated valuations which planters
placed upon them bore no relation to
the wages they were paid for extra work


done. Consequently, on pens, as on sug-
ar estates, the number of apprentices
appealing for valuation was relatively
low; those actually paying for their
freedom, once valued, was even lower.
Nevertheless, between 31 May and 31
December 1836, for example, 581
apprentices in the whole island had
managed to purchase their freedom.
One overriding problem with valu-
ation was the sometimes great disparity
in the value of praedials and non-prae-
dials. On sugar estates during slavery,
non-praedials were often the most
'valuable', particularly as they then
included skilled tradesmen. There were
few tradesmen on pens, such men being
generally hired when the need arose.
During apprenticeship, the classifica-
tion changed so that the only non-prae-
dials on pens were domestics, less
'valuable' to the operations on the pen
than were praedial apprentices who
now included tradesmen and skilled
labourers. As a result, praedials were
highly valued, and few of those with
extremely high valuations were able to
purchase their freedom.

The second, and perhaps- the most
aggravating problem facing the labour-
ers on pens during the apprenticeship
period, was that surrounding their clas-
sification by the pen-keepers. An 'Act
for the Classification of Apprentices' had
been passed in the Jamaican House of
Assembly in March 1837. The stated
objective of this legislation was '..
to obviate the discrepancies over classi-
fication which arose after emancipa-
tion'. The Act ordered that all
apprentices be classified and that their
classification be made known to them.
Further, a list of all non-praedials was
to be made out for every property and
delivered to the special magistrates in
each district before June 1838.
This Act, however, caused as
much confusion and generated as much
opposition as the Act of Emancipation
of 1833 which had initially set out the
basis of classification into praedials and
non-praedials. According to Clause IV
of the original Act, the basic criterion
for classifying apprentices into praedi-
als and non-praedials was to be occupa-
tion. Thus all slaves who before 1834
were domestics and tradesmen were to
be categorized as non-praedials and
those accustomed to being employed as
agricultural labourers as praedials. This

directive immediately caused a furore in
Jamaica, especially on pens because on
these properties, with a generally small-
er labour force, occupations often over-
lapped; thus a tradesman also did
agricultural labour. So did the domes-
tics. This is clearly illustrated in
Thomas Thistlewood's Journals in
which he noted the daily allocation of
work to the slaves on Vineyard Pen.
The female slaves Hago, Silvia, Dianah _
and Jubbah were constantly shifted
around from being domestics to work-
ing on the pen.
The tendency in Jamaica therefore,
was to classify only domestics rural or
urban as non-praedials. All trades-
men on estates and pens were classified
as praedials. The only tradesmen clas-
sified as non-praedials were those oper-
ating in rural jobbing gangs or who
resided in urban centres. This practice
was contrary to the Act of Emancipa-
tion, but was reflected in the valuers'
returns of claims for compensation in
the late 1830s. On close examination,
all the 929 returns for St Ann, the fore-
most pen parish, show that on none of
those pens were tradesmen listed in the
section on the standard form marked
'non-praedials'. Only domestic servants
were classified as non-praedials. All
others, except children under six and
the aged, diseased or otherwise non-
effective were classified as 'praedial
attached'. This was also generally true
of the majority of estates and planta-
tions in the parish.
Governor Sligo, however, disputed
the classification of tradesmen on pens.
He acknowledged that they commonly
engaged in field labour but wondered

whether, in consequence of being
tradesmen, they ought not to be consid-
ered as non-praedials. If they continued
to be classified or employed as praedi-
als, the whole point of the two-tiered
system of abolition would be rendered
Governor Sligo's view was that,
during apprenticeship, the employer
was entitled to the entire labour of
tradesmen. Limiting their labour to
401/2 hours per week would, in many
cases, render their services valueless.
This was particularly applicable to
domestic servants and race boys who
worked longer hours than those laid
down. Non-praedials would have less
time to cultivate provision grounds or
work for extra money, therefore their
period of compulsory labour was short-
ened to four years. However, to classi-
fy tradesmen as praedials would be to
deny extra labour to the employer dur-
ing the stipulated work week.
On the other hand, and uppermost
in the minds of employers, was the fact
that to classify such workers as non-
praedials would mean that they would
gain full freedom in 1838 instead of
1840. Pen-keepers, however, had no
problem with classifying tradesmen as
praedials as the nature of labour on pens
was such that most work could be com-
pleted within the 401a hours. The sta-
tus of race boys was not so
straightforward. If they were classified
as praedials, then the pen-keepers
would find it virtually impossible to
employ them only within the stipulated
hours. As a result of the confusion
over classification, Sligo suggested that
the hours of work and allowances given
should be the criteria upon which clas-
sification was based, rather than occu-
pation. He stressed:
These I conceive to be the criteria (to)
judge under what class to enumerate the
persons employed on the pen .... Sta-
ble-boys or boys sent with racers, who
have the weekly indulgences of appren-
tices literally employed in cultivating the
soil, are, I think, to all intents, praedial or
persons attached to the pen. 22
The idea was not supported by
Attorney General D. O'Reilley, who
believed that as 'race boys continually
and at all hours are obliged to attend to
their horses; they should be classified as
non-praedials'.23 The governor was
thus urged to change the classification
by law as otherwise employment of per-
sons such as race boys on pens would
be merely by civil contract.


Though Sligo did not address the
peculiar position of domestics on pens,
O'Reilley did; for if the classification of
tradesmen were to be changed to prae-
dial instead of non-praedial as stipulat-
ed by the Emancipation Act, what of
pen domestics? The latter also per-
formed dual functions on pens at
times employed in the house, at times in
the pastures. Despite the fact that
domestics on pens also at times worked
in the fields or pastures, they were clas-
sified as non-praedials, while tradesmen
who did likewise were classified as
praedials. 24
The new Act passed in 1837 thus
sought to change the criterion for divid-
ing apprentices into agricultural and
non-agricultural from that of occupa-
tion to the new criteria of hours of
labour required and indulgences given.
For this reason, it was opposed by those
who opposed the Apprenticeship Sys-
tem. The new Act was said to be not
only different from, but repugnant to
the Imperial Act and agitation for its
disallowance began. The Jamaican
Classification Act of 1837 was thus dis-
allowed by the colonial office.
By the time that the matter of clas-
sification was settled, however, the
Apprenticeship System had come under
so much criticism that a select commit-
tee to enquire into the working of the
system had already been formed. The
evidence collected, combined with the
revelations of Sturge and Harvey, led to
the ending of the system in August
Because of the poor master-servant
relations on pens observed since late
1836, the economic state of some pen
properties had worsened by 1838. The
state of optimism which had existed
between 1834 and 1836 had thus disap-
peared. Again, there is very little quan-
titative data to support this claim
largely based on stipendiary
magistrates'reports. However, the
Accounts Current available already
indicated that pens such as Great Salt
Pond which had been profitable up to
1835, had to be sold by 1837 because of
poor economic performance. Similarly,
Lapland, Mickleton, Spring Garden,
Smallwood, Mahogany Hall, Whitehall,
New Shafston and Up Park Pens were
all showing debit balances by 1838.
When apprenticeship finally ended,
however, neither stipendiary magis-
trates, planters nor pen-keepers held out
much hope for the economic survival of

their properties after 1838. They all
anticipated a fall off in labour on all
properties. Indeed, as early as 1834,
some apprentices on Colonel Grignon's
pen in Westmoreland had issued a clear
warning to him that they would not
continue as praedial workers after
apprenticeship came to an end although
they might reconsider if he could put
them to some domestic occupation. In
1839, Stipendiary Magistrate Ricketts,
reporting on the state of St Elizabeth,
also gave a warning: 'The labourers on
pens having been formerly unattached
praedials, cannot be expected to return
for some time to come to labour on sug-
ar properties, their lot having been one
of peculiar hardship during the Appren-
ticeship'.25 Sugar estates could thus not
look to ex-pen slaves to boost their
labour force at least not in the imme-
diate post-slavery years.
The production and profitability of
pens were, therefore, affected not only
by slave revolts and internal economic
factors, but also by the Emancipation
Act; for though the Apprenticeship Sys-
tem worked well for a time, it gradually
deteriorated. Labour relations on pens
were poor by 1838 as pen-keepers and
apprentices increasingly came into con-
flict over indulgences and methods of
labour deployment. The economic
crises on pens were to worsen in the
immediate post-1838 period as ex-
slaves took the upper hand in labour-
bargaining, as proprietors continued to
frustrate such attempts to establish full
freedom and as the decline of estates
reduced the market for pen products.

1. For a more detailed analysis of
such resistance, particularly on estates,
see Wilmot [1984].
2. Tharp Family Papers, James to
John Tharp, 4 August 1835,
3. C.O. 137/214, Sligo to Glenelg, 1
January 1836.
4. ibid.
5. C.O. 137/212, Sligo to Glenelg,
28 July 1836.
6. C.O. 137/210 (II) Sligo to
Glenelg, 2 April 1836.
7. ibid.
8. ibid.
9. C.O. 137/200 (IV), Sligo to
Glenelg, 7 July 1835.
10. Gifts and Deposits (Phillips), 18
April 1835.
11. ibid.
12. ibid.

13. ibid.
14. C.O. 137/210, Sligo to Glenelg,
17 April 1836.
15. C.O. 137/214, Sligo to Glenelg, 1
January 1836.
16. C.O. 137/219 (I), Smith to
Glenelg, 4 April 1837. He referred to
the Crescent Park area of St Ann.
17. C.O. 137/199 (III), Smith to
Glenelg, 26 August 1835.
18. ibid.
19. ibid.
20. Sturge and Harvey [1837] p.317.
21. ibid.
22. C.O. 137/205, Sligo to Glenelg, 5
December 1835.
23. ibid.
24. ibid.
25. Parliamentary Papers (British)
1839 (523) XXXVI, 113.

BELL, K.N. AND MORRELL W.P. Select Docu-
ments on British Colonial Policy 1830-
1860. Oxford: 1968.
BURN, W.I. Emancipation and Apprentice-
ship in the British West Indies, London:
Public Record Office T.71/915.
CRATON, M. Sinews of Empire: A Short His-
tory of British Slavery. London: 1974.
GIFTS AND DEPOSITS (Phillips) 7/177/7,
Jamaica Archives.
Jamaica) London, Public Record Office.
GREEN W.L. British Slave Emancipation:
The Sugar Colonies and the Great
Experiment. Oxford: 1976.
(Parliamentary Papers) 1839 (523),
SHEPHERD, V.A. 'Pens and Pen-Keepers in a
Plantation Society: Aspects of Jamaican
Social and Economic History, 1740-
1845', Ph.D. Diss. Cambridge, 1988.
STURGE, J. AND HARVEY T. The West Indies
in 1837. London: 1838.
Lincoln Archives Office, U.K.
lic Record Office T. 71/685-733.
JAMAICA, 1835-36.
NAL 7:3, 1984.


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The Diary of a Westmoreland

Above all others: Phibbah

Edited by Douglas Hall

Thomas Thistlewood 1720-1786 was
the second son of a Lincolnshire
farmer. lie came to Jamaica in 1750
and remained here until his death in
December 1786. lHe was buried in
Savanna-la-mar in the Anglican
churchyard. lis first year in Jamaica
was spent as an overseer on the Vine-
yard Pen between Lacovia and Black
River in St Elizabeth. (Ilis sojourn on
Vineyard Pen was described in Part 1
[JAMAICA JOURNAL 21.3]and the Vine-
yard slaves in Part 2 [JAMAICA JOURNAL
21:4]. In 1751 he became overseer on
Egypt estate in Westmoreland.
Throughout his adult life, Thistle-
wood kept a diary. The original note-

books are in the keeping of the County
Archivist in Lincolnshire, England.
These original diaries are now the
property of Lord Monson who has
kindly allowed me to use them for pub-
lication. A fuller account of Thistle-
wood's sojourn in Jamaica (In Miser-
able Slavery Thomas Thistlewood in
Jamaica) is listed to appear early in
1989, published by Macmillan
Caribbean for the University of War-
wick Caribbean Studies series. More
details on Thistlewood appeared in the
introduction to Part 1.

William Dorrill and, after his death, by
his daughter Mary and her husband
John Cope of Strathbogie. Except for a
brief move to Kendal, on the Westmore-
land-Hanover border, he remained with
them as overseer on Egypt sugar estate
until 1767.
At Egypt he soon became involved
with the slave women and within weeks
had succumbed to 'a rank infection' of
gonorrhoea. His initiation into Jamaican
eighteenth century society was now
complete. The eighteenth century
might very appropriately be entitled
'The Age of Putrescence'. Venereal
complaints, yaws, boils, sores of all


i 8.....

descriptions marred the well-being of
the majority, both slaves and free. Nor
was gonorrhoeal infection then viewed,
either here or in Britain, with the loath-
some abhorrence of today. It was,
indeed, like the common cold, a hazard
to be faced by all who exposed them-
selves where they should not. Thistle-
wood had in fact brought with him from
England a couple of 'recipes' for the
cure of 'the Clap' as it was familiarly
called by the gentry. But in the eigh-
teenth century there was no real cure,
and infections seemingly disappeared
only to recur.
Notwithstanding a common dispo-
sition to sexual promiscuity, Thistle-
wood's fullest engagements at Egypt
were with two slave women in particu-
lar Jenny and Phibbah. The latter was
to become his 'wife', and after 1767
when he moved on to his own property
he persuaded her owners, the Copes, to
hire her to him for 18 a year so that
she might continue to live with him.
Both Jenny and Phibbah bore him a
son, but neither survived. Phibbah her-
self survived Thistlewood who, in his
will, left her two slaves and provided
money for her to purchase her freedom
and a house and land.


Tuesday 3rd December, 1751. Last night
cum Jenny III in me lect.
Wednesday 4th. Jenny continue with me
ad noctibus.
THREE TIMES on his bed
the Monday night, Jen-
ny subsequently spent
the nights with him.
Before Jenny there had
been Ellin and Dido, and there would
be Dido and others later, but with an
obviously increasing infatuation, he
turned to Jenny and there developed a
torrid affair which, with many quarrel-
some interruptions, lasted until Decem-
ber, 1753. He began to shower her with
gifts. On 15 December 'some beads,
&c', and on the 17th,
For two yards of Brown Oznabrig, 4
bitts; 4 yards of striped Holland, 8 bias;
and an handkerchief, 3 bitts. Gave them
all to Jenny.
But the early exclusive honeymoon was
to be brief. A few days before Christ-
mas he took Susanah, a girl-child, 'a

Congaw negro'; just after Christmas he
took Hannah, who like Jenny was 'a
Nago Negro'; and in early January,
Beneba, a Creole, who with Mirtilla
was gathering cotton in Mulatto
Ground. In January, he turned to oth-
ers: Susanah, Hanah and Beneba.
Meanwhile, he abandoned a senti-
mental reminder of an English attach-
Sunday 19th January, 1752. Threw away
ivory fish given me by E[lizabeth]
Jenny is again explicitly mentioned
on 14 February. He gave her a new
handkerchief. On 11 March, he gave her
five strands of coloured glass beads
which he had bought for her for five
bitts. And, on Saturday 14 March:
'Jenny pretends to be young with



child.' Thistlewood seems not to have
taken Jenny's claim with any serious-
By now, the 1751/1752 crop was
nearly taken, and Thistlewood, we may
reasonably assume, looked toward a
period of comparative ease. Unfortu-
nately, anticipation was soured, for on
Saturday 11 April 1752, the symptoms
of gonorrheal recurrence or reinfection
appeared and continued to grow worse.
After a brief period of abstention
from sexual activity, Thistlewood
resumed the relationship with Jenny.
Friday 8th May. Have within these few
days given Jenny a blue bordered coat, a
plain blue ditto, and a bordered zacca.
Next day, John Filton, Thistlewood's
predecessor at Egypt, and his servant
visited Egypt.
Sunday 10th. Differ with Jenny for
being concerned with John Filton's
Negro man at the Negro houses, &c.
Also took away from her, her necklace,
bordered coat &c. At night she in
cook-room with London.
But on that night, 'Jenny come
again to me' and on the 16th he gave
her back her beads and coat, &c. And
so it continued, Jenny with him at
nights; and, in the days, frequent side-
steppings in different directions:
Susanah, Big Mimber, Dido, and Belin-
da. But none of these was ever repri-
manded for being concerned with any
other man, and none of them got gifts
as Jenny did.
In June Jenny was one of those cho-
sen to go from Egypt to help bring
Bowen's, or Paradise, into sugar pro-
duction. Thistlewood gave her cassava
and a cassava bag and sieve to take
when she moved. Other gifts followed.
Sunday 21st June. Gave Jenny a piece of
brown Ozanbrig to make her a zacca,
and a piece of speckled linen to face it
with. Also a blue and white spotted-
Monday 22nd. Gave Jenny 20 mackerel
over and above for herself.
Tuesday 23rd. Cum Jenny, sup. Book
chest in my room, about 11 a.m.
On the next day the move to Par-
adise took place and on the following
Monday new hoes, bills, and axes were
distributed among most of the new
arrivals at Paradise; but Jenny was not
one of the recipients. Perhaps that was
why Quashe, the driver who had also
come from Egypt, was 'very impudent
about Jenny, this morning in the field.'

In the meantime, Thistlewood's
infection had persisted, and although
from time to time he thought he saw
improvement of his condition it was in
fact becoming worse. It became obvi-
ous that he must seek treatment, and on
Monday the 10th of August:
In the morning rode to Dr. Drummond's
between 8 and 9 o'clock. He laid caustic
upon my buboes, and laid me upon a bed
upon my back, not to stir till noon (most
of the time in exquisite pain) then he
lanced the places where the caustic had
been applied, and cut them with probe
scissors, letting out an abundance of
sanies and corrupt matter, for both were
ripe. Was extreme faint and bad but
soon better. A dressing and plaster to
keep it on put upon them. Dined with
him, sat long after dinner, then went
home. This evening Dr. McIntosh came
to see me and stayed a good while at my

With the usual suddenness with
which such matters were attended,
Thistlewood's employment at Paradise
was terminated on Tuesday 11th, and he
returned to Egypt.
On Friday 14 August he again rode
to Dr Drummond for treatment and the
next day stayed at home 'all day in
pain'. But beginning on that very week-
end he received the first of a series of
visits by Jenny who would usually
arrive at Egypt on a Saturday and stay
until Sunday night or Monday morning.
The visits to Dr Drummond and the
treatments continued.
Sunday 1st September. In the morning
rode to Dr. Drummond's. He gave me 5
pills for a purge, 6 more mercurial pills
to take as before, also some plaster, tow,
and red precipitate to eat the proud flesh
out of the buboes.

On 16 October he felt he was cured.
On that day he took the 18th and last of
the mercurial pills, received some plas-
ter and 5 purging pills from Dr
Drummond, '. . paid him a doubloon
for my cure. I gave his negro man ... 6
bitts. Dined there and stayed good part
of the afternoon with him, then rode
In mid-December Mr Dorrill decid-
ed to bring Egypt back into sugar pro-
duction. Jenny, with forty others, was
chosen by Thistlewood to go back there
from Paradise. After an uncertain start,
the steady relationship began again on
28 December.
In early January Thistlewood began
to feel easier, though he was by no

means cured, and having put Jenny to a
comparatively soft and easy job spin-
ning cotton, he further rewarded her
compassion with three weeks of faithful
and frequent attention, and more gifts.
Monday 22nd January, 1753. For 4 yds
of check for Jenny a coat 12 bitts, 2 yds
of brown oznabrig for a smock, 4 bitts,
gave her facing and a handkerchief, 3
bitts. All = 19 bitts.
But life with Jenny was full of turbu-
Saturday 27th. At dinner time drove
Jenny out of the house, for her damned
obstinate humour, &c. But at night cum
Friday 2nd February. At night cum
Nago Jenny, Sup. Lect. Bis.
Monday 5th. Jenny and me quarrelled at
Tuesday 13th. Last night turned Nago
Jenny out of doors for her ugly tricks and
Thursday 15th. In the evening whipped
Jenny in the cook-room for coming
home after the rest of the Negroes.
Monday 19th. Mr Mordiner called in the
evening, very drunk. Stayed all night.
At night Jenny and self laid in Mrs.
Anderson's bed. Cum Illa, bis. (Mrs
Anderson was William Dorrill's mistress
and mother of his children)
Monday 26th. Tonight Jenny having hid
a two edged bill under the bed, the same
as she fetched last night when she
thought I was asleep (to fright away the
night mare as she says), but am afraid
with other intent. Had her put in the bil-
boes in the cook-room all night, and took
the clothes I last bought from her.
Tuesday 27th. This morning had Jenny
given about 40 lashes. At night Jenny
Thursday 1st March. Gave Jenny her
clothes again.
Friday 2nd. Last night Jenny come
On 30 March she was off again and all
through April she apparently remained
Monday 9th April, 1753. In the morning
rode to Dr. Drummond. Paid him off a
bill which came to 4.10. He took but 2
pistoles of me, and says he would not
have took any but that Dr. Hepbum is in
partnership with him.
By Monday 21 May, Jenny had been
absent from Thistlewood's bed for near-
ly two months and there is no mention
of her having attempted to come back to
him. On that day he seems to have had
instructions to send her to Salt River,
and to have taken advantage of an
excuse to summon her.

Monday 21st May. P.M. wrote to Mr.
Dorrill, and Mrs. Anderson &c. Gave
Jenny 4.bitts and sent her with Roger to
Salt River, & 7 fine turtle, which cost 15
bitts, and an old bill. About 4 p.m. cum
Illa, sup. lect. (soon after [that] she left
for Salt River).
Thistlewood still suffered 'prodi-
gious burnings' in sexual activity. He
had been back to Dr Drummond but he
now sought assistance elsewhere,
obtaining from Old Sharper on Monday
30 July, two quart bottles of a prepara-
tion which he consumed by Thursday 2
August and which he felt helped him.
But it was to be the end of the year
before he felt that he had cleared him-
self of infection.
Following a visit on the first week-
end of August, Jenny's appearances at
Egypt began to take place fortnightly
and, usually, were for shorter periods -
sometimes only a day. On Friday 21
September, at Salt River, Mrs Anderson
informed Thistlewood that Jenny was
pregnant. On Friday 5 October he heard
of her miscarriage.
Wrote to Mr. Emetson, by Sampson, for
2 yards brown oznabrig for Jenny a
smock, 4 bitts, for buttons, 4 bitts; I also
gave facing for the smock.
Sunday 7th October. Sent Jenny her new
zacca, a dokunnu and a little sugar.
Monday 8th. Rode to Salt River, dined
there. Jenny had a girl, a mulatto, the
driver and Mrs Anderson says.
But he seems neither to have seen Jenny
nor enquired of her about the miscar-
Thistlewood, now occasionally
accepted by Phibbah, sought solace
chiefly with Susanah. But weekly gifts
of money and foodstuffs were regularly
despatched to Jenny at Salt River. On
23 November, a Friday,
About 8 p.m. cum Phibbah, sup. me. lect.
In the night Jenny come.
Apparently there was neither embar-
rassing confrontation nor argument, and
Jenny went home, again with gifts, on
the Sunday. On the following Sunday
he sent her
S. a little sugar and 16 dried drum-
mers. For 4 yards blue for a coat for Jen-
ny, 8 bitts, a yard of white oznabrig, 2
bitts, 2 1/2 brown ditto, 5 bitts, and a
handkerchief, 3 bitts = 18 bitts.
But on the same day he gave Phibbah 'a
striped cherry-derry coat of 5 yards, 5
bitts per yd = 25 bitts'. And she gave
him salt fish and a piece of pork.


On 8 December Jenny arrived. This
time to remain; and, perhaps because of
her presence, on the 19th Phibbah was
said to be 'very ill-tempered'.
For months afterwards there was
scarcely a note about Jenny; but on
Sunday 5 May she confronted Thistle-
Jenny intolerably impudent and saucy.
After a time gave her a bitt.
She was pregnant, and seems to have
told him that he was responsible.
Thereafter, every Sunday, Jenny came
to him and he gave her 2 bitts.
Thursday 26th September, 1754. Old
Daphne [the midwife from Salt River]
come about 5 p.m. but Nago Jenny
brought to bed of a boy, said to be a
mulatto, before she come.
The weekly allowance continued until
Sunday 20 October when 'Today first
saw Jenny's child. Gave Jenny the last
2 bitts.'
He never completely forsook Jenny,
and although he never in his diary
explicitly acknowledged fatherhood of
the boy, he did, from time to time make
him gifts.
It had been a long and tempestuous
affair, and clearly there had been a very
strong sexual attraction, probably on
both sides, certainly on his, but little
beyond that. He never recorded having
walked around with her as he would
with Phibbah. As much as he gave her
gifts she seems never to have given him
even the smallest present in return; and
though he expressed his jealousy of her
affairs with others, there is no clear
record that she ever objected to his.
Not so with Phibbah.


WOOD describe Phib-
bah, but his references
to her reveal that she
was a woman of
strong will and inde-
pendent spirit, and also of great tender-
ness and charm. She was very likely a
Creole for she had relatives among the
slaves on properties in the neighbour-
hood. Her only child, a daughter,
Coobah, was a slave on Paradise Estate
and was a frequent visitor at Egypt. So

too, was her sister Nancy. As woman in
charge of the Egypt great house cook-
room she carried the same sort of
responsibilities as had the other house-
hold Phibbah at Vineyard. But Egypt
Phibbah, unlike Vineyard Phibbah,
moved frequently between the Egypt
cook-room and the great house at Salt
River where her owner and his house-
hold lived. She was thus full of infor-
mation about Thistlewood's employer,
his other employees and his other
Like Vineyard Phibbah, Egypt Phib-
bah was a competent seamstress, and
most of Thistlewood's early references
to her are about sewing done for him.
Saturday 25th January, 1752. Gave
Robert 2 of my handkerchiefs; and Phib-
bah and Dido one each for making me
Wednesday 25th March. Gave Phibbah
4 bitts for new wrist-banding, and mend-
ing three check shirts for me.
Friday 8th April. To Phibbah, for mak-
ing 2 pr. mosquito boots, and a shot bag,
3 bitts.
But rather more than a month later
there were two references of another
sort which indicated that she might
have been very friendly with John Fil-
ton, Thistlewood's predecessor at
Egypt, and that she might also be
regarded by Thistlewood as a person to
be watched as a possible source of
resistance to his authority.
Friday 22nd May 1752. At about 4 p.m.
heard a gun go off behind the Negro
houses. Upon enquiry found it was fired


by John Filton. Immediately went to
look for him, but not finding him,
searched Phibbah's house, and there
found him hid upon her bed beyond the
door, in a pretended sleep. Discharged
him the plantation before Mr. Samuel
Mordiner. Note, a Mulatto, and one or
more Negro men with him. Had Phibbah
directly given about 70 lashes for har-
bouring him in her house.
A few days later, Phibbah was associ-
ated, however tenuously, with another
person whom Thistlewood might have
classed as troublesome. On Monday
1st June:
At noon searched the Negro houses, took
a gun out of Prue's house, and one out of
This might have aroused Thistlewood's
suspicions. Prue was a sickly, but
apparently spirited woman. In mid-
November she had carried complaint
about Thistlewood's whipping of anoth-
er slave, Clara, to Colonel James Bar-
clay, a neighboring proprietor and
The ordinary workaday relation-
ship with Phibbah seems not to have
been affected by the discovery of the
Saturday 6th June, 1752. To Phibbah for
making a waistband and breeches, 8
Phibbah, now about four months preg-
nant, continued her daily chores and her
sewing for Thistlewood and, no doubt,
for others too.
On the evening of Friday 27
November, Phibbah declared that her
time had come. The boy Joe was hur-
riedly sent to Salt River with a mule for
Old Daphne, the midwife, who quickly
came and Phibbah was delivered of a
girl. A couple of days later a girl,
Damsel, came from Salt River to give
Phibbah's child suck; but the child died
on the eighth day after birth. Phibbah
had been given the usual allowances of
sugar and rum and, beyond recording
that fact, Thistlewood made no further
comment about her condition.
From the end of December the
round of workaday comments was
resumed. They seem, however, to indi-
cate a mutually growing interest
between Phibbah and Thistlewood, and
they do point to some of Phibbah's
responsibilities as the Egypt house-
Sunday 31st December, 1752. .. .gave
Phibbah a piece of cherry-derry, the

same as my shirts, to face her smock.
Tuesday 23rd January, 1753. To Phibbah
for a 2 hour glass, 4 bitts.
Friday 26th. To Phibbah for mending
me 4 pr. stockings and making a wallet,
3 bitts.
Friday 1st June. Phibbah sent to Salt
River ... 30 eggs & 17 young fowls.
Friday 8th June. Wrote to Mrs Anderson
and sent by Susanah 50 naseberries and
3 small turtles which Phibbah bought for
4 bitts.
In mid-July, for the first time, Phib-
bah allowed Thistlewood to take her to
bed; and then again, five days later.
But she was not an easy conquest, and
as much as Thistlewood himself was
still involved with Jenny, Phibbah
seemed unwilling to commit herself.
Thistlewood continued to give her
presents ducks, old waistcoat metal
buttons (presumably useful to a seam-
stress); and she occasionally, about
once a month, permitted him to-take
her. In September he observed that
'Mrs. Anderson wants Phibbah into Salt
River cook-room', but, somehow, Mrs
Anderson was thwarted.
During the last months of 1753
Thistlewood's affair with Jenny was
coming to an end and he was much
involved with Susanah; but Phibbah
was not kept out of mind; nor, apparent-
ly, did she intend to be.
Sunday 21st October. Phibbah gave me
a pineapple. Have had every week one
or more given me for many weeks past.
Saturday 27th. Phibbah got me some
yam in exchange for dried fish.
Monday 29th. Gave Phibbah some
[punch] for a duck Sam shot yesterday.
Tuesday 30th. About 3 p.m. cum Phib-
bah, Sup. me. lect.
By March, the ascendancy of Phib-
bah was clearly established, as was a
continuing concern for Jenny.
Saturday 23rd March, 1754. Delivered
to Phibbah 12 bitts to buy Jenny a coat &
But this, as we have seen, did not, in
Thistlewood's opinion, mean exclusive-
ness. And Phibbah took offence. She
went off to Salt River and remained
there overnight. Thistlewood seized the
opportunity and took Susanah 'Sup.
floor in my room'. On her return, Phib-
bah, nonetheless, seems to have discov-
ered evidence for on the night of the
27th 'Phibbah abscond'. They were
soon reconciled. And then a compan-
ionship with Phibbah such as he had not

recorded having ever shared with Jenny
or any other woman in Jamaica:
Friday 12th April, 1754. In the morning
I and Phibbah, &c. walked to the Sand
Ground plantain walk which Daniel the
watchman let be burnt down yesterday.
The plantain trees have not received
much damage, but am afraid the great
part of the cassava has.
The exchange of gifts continued.
There were frequent occasions. In early
May, for example, she gave him 'a new
pewter spoon' and he gave her '4 deal
boards to repair her house withal; also a
keg (of about the size of a butter firkin)
clayed sugar'.
In mid-May, he went to Hill to dis-
tribute provision grounds among the
'Mountain Negroes'. William Crook-
shank, newly arrived to be employed at
Egypt, and Ambo went with him. So
did Phibbah. On Sunday 2 June he
. .shot a whistling duck flying singly
just by the cook-room and he fell by the
stone horsing-block. Phibbah run and
took him up.


On Tuesday 23rd July, in the
evening, Thistlewood took Mountain
Lucy 'Sup. terr. in Coffee Ground pass
cane-piece, not far from Tophill' and
gave her 2 bitts in reward. Then, that
night, 'cum Phibbah'. On Thursday
25th, Thistlewood recorded:
Extreme sulky Phibbah at the Negro
house . She went to the Negro house
and would not come near me, though I
sent Coffee often, till I went & with
much ado prevailed of her to come back;
upon Mountain Lucy's account, she
being informed exactly. At night cum
The complete reconciliation took a little
more time and attention.
Friday 26th July. Gave Phibbah 14 bitts
to get her garden fenced in with palisa-
does, or more properly stakes. At night
cum Phibbah.
Saturday 27th. At night cum Phibbah;
we differed much but afterwards were
And, next day, when Mr Blythe stayed
to drink, he and Thistlewood dined off
pork, mountain cabbage, and 'a fowl
Phibbah gave me'.
Thistlewood was equally jealous of
Phibbah, and she was certainly not
without admirers who were willing to
have her company. William Crookshank
was one, although they seem to have
started off on the wrong foot.
Thursday 7th July, 1754. William seem-
ingly drunk, abuse Phibbah in strange
Billingsgate language. She answered
him pretty well.
By mid-December, however, and later
on another occasion, Thistlewood 'had
words with William and Phibbah about
their familiarity'.
There is no doubt that in Thistle-
wood's view, his chief rival for the
affections of Phibbah was John Cope.
He and his wife Mary arrived at Egypt
at the end of September and, for a time,
occupied the great house.
Thursday 3rd October, 1754. At night
had great words cum Phibbah in bed,
about her behaviour &c. since Mr. Cope
Phibbah seems to have resented his
Friday 4th. At night cum Phibbah. Was
forced to go twice to her dom. (she in
bed already) before she would come.
Enough to do to get her.
Although they were reconciled, Thistle-
wood became very watchful. Phibbah,
after all, spent most of her time in the


great house where Mr Cope was and
where Thistlewood, now in the
overseer's house, was not, except at
dinner and supper times.
On 11 December, between 7 and 8
a.m., Mr William Dorrill died. On the
12th, Thistlewood attended the funeral.
So did Phibbah. And, of course, so did
John Cope.
And, on the last day of 1754: 'Phib-
bah is with child'. But whose?
In March, Thistlewood began to
observe another gonorrheal recurrence.
This time he went straight to Old
Sharper. The draught did nothing to
abate the symptoms. On Friday 18
April, still perturbed,
P.M. wrote to Doctor John James Gorse,
and received by Benjamin a note from
him, a pot of electuary, and a mercurial
bougi to cat away the coruncle.
It was an exceedingly painful treatment,
but it seemed not to prevent the usual
On 30 June the woman Hanah had
complained to Thistlewood about some
untoward behaviour of London. Thistle-
wood had whipped London who then
ran off to Paradise to complain to Mr
and Mrs Cope. They had not given him
a hearing, so he had absconded. On Sat-

urday 5 July Thistlewood seems to have
had information, probably from Phib-
bah, that London was somewhere in the
neighbourhood and wanted to come
home. That night
... had some words with Phibbah (and
she was very saucy) about showing me
London who wanted to come home.
Next morning, Thistlewood went to the
Hatfield Sunday Market. On his return,
he noted:
Phibbah has took her things out of my
house while I was away in the morning
and has not come in it since.
At night Phibbah never come near my
house, but slept in the cook-room, or the
Lord knows where.
The next day and night she also stayed
away: 'Sleep in the cook-room I
believe'. This time he made no great
fuss about who might be with her there.
The Cope's were not in residence at
Egypt, and Phibbah was now eight
months with child. Phibbah remained
away from Thistlewood's house until
Thursday 10 July, when, at night, she
returned. The relationship continued:

Monday 28th July, 1755. At night cum
Phibbah. Phibbah brought me Mountain
Lucy to keep as a sweetheart the time
she lies in. I said nothing to her.
Wednesday 30th. At night cum Phibbah.



She must have been as remarkably
understanding as he was profligate. On
Sunday 3 August in the evening, he and
Phibbah walked to Top-hill. Her time
was about come.
Tuesday 5th August, 1755. Last night
Phibbah told me she found herself nigh
her time, got up and went to Quashe's
new house, and about shell-blow this
morning was (by Old Phibbah belonging
Mrs. Mould) delivered of a child, dead, a
fine boy (a mulatto).
In the forenoon had him buried.
Suspect Mr. J. C. Junr. when over about
the beginning of November &c., and
seemingly a resemblance to ditto.
Thistlewood visited Phibbah every
day. He brought her a hundred plantains
and gave her rum and sugar, but these,
except for the quantity of plantains
were no more than the usual allowances
to a woman after childbirth.
Mountain Lucy got plantains, corn
and money; and Egypt Susanah got two
strings of glass beads. Meantime, Phib-
bah had her informants abroad.
Thursday 21st August. In the morning
before sunrise, cum Eve, in the curing
house. Stans. At night cum Mountain
Lucy, Bis. Sup. Lect. Gave her a little
sugar and 22 corns. At night went to see
Phibbah. Carried her a case bottle of
Friday 22nd August. At night went to see
Phibbah. She is much out of humour
about Eve yesterday morning. Don't
know who could have told her.
On the Sunday, again while he was at
the Negro Market,
Phibbah had her things (what she had)
took out of my house; and returned some
plantains I sent her. Seems to be affront-
Tuesday 26th she 'come into my house
and abused me very much'. On the
28th, she was ill again 'suppose has
catched cold coming out too soon'.
At night cum Beck, in the hothouse. Sup.
Terr. Many Negroes there, as Quasheba,
Johnie, Phillip, Caesar, Hector, Ireland
On the 29th Phibbah 'came out again
for a little'; but it was a mistake. Next
day she was back at the Negro house,
ill, and Thistlewood went to see her. On
Monday 1 September he gave her four
pounds of flour and two strands of
beads, and that night he managed to
persuade her to sleep in his house again.
And so it continued between them.
He, certainly not neglecting her, but at
the same time rampaging in the cane-

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field; she, from time to time finding
him out and complaining; and he, con-
stantly suspicious of her whenever Mr
Cope and his friends were about. And,
as in the past, when they did differ, rec-
onciliation followed shortly after, even
if they had quarrelled violently.
In early June, the venereal symp-
toms reappeared. Thistlewood, was for
a time anxious, but optimistic. By the
end of the month his optimism was
dashed. He was certainly reinfected.
The round of medication began once
Thistlewood's relationships with
his employers, Vassall, Dorrill, and now
John Cope, had always been trouble-
some, chiefly because he felt himself
inadequately rewarded for his services.
In mid-June 1757 he contracted to go as
overseer on Kendal Estate, across the
northern boundary of Westmoreland, in
the parish of Hanover. He and Phibbah
were both unhappy at the thought of
Sunday 19th June, 1757. Phibbah
grieves very much, and last night I could
not sleep, but vastly uneasy, &c.
Wednesday 22nd. Took up of Mr. Gar-
diner [in Savanna-la-mar] 10 yards of
brown oznabrig, 20 bitts (which oznabrig
delivered to Phibbah for a certain use).
Gave Phibbah 2 pistoles in money,
mosquito net, 3 cakes of soap, about 31/2
yards of cloth . out-door lock, &c.
Begged hard of Mrs Cope to sell or hire
Phibbah to me, but she would not; he
was willing. Gave 8 bitts for little Quaw,
4 to Damsel, 2 to Silvia, 4 to Ambo, 1 to
Mazerine, 8 to Franke, and 8 to Nancy.
Mr Cope dined and supped out. Came
home in the night and had Little Mimber.
At night cum Phibbah.
Thursday 23rd. Phibbah gave me a gold
ring, to keep for her sake.
At night cum Phib.
Friday 24th. In the morning parted with
Phibbah and set off for Kendal...

Now was the testing time. His offer
to hire or purchase Phibbah indicates
that he thought he wanted her with him.
But he was to be away from her for a
prolonged period, and there were wom-
en to be had at Kendal. It was not
beyond possibility that he would find a
new 'wife' there.
On Saturday 25 June, he sent Lin-
coln to Egypt with a letter for Mr Cope.
He was, he noted,'mighty lonesome'.
On Sunday, Lincoln came back with
Thistlewood's trunk, and among the
things, 'a fine land turtle Phibbah sent

me'. On the following weekend, Lin-
coln was despatched again, this time
with some plantains. Shortly after his
departure, Thistlewood began his
Kendal amours:
Friday 1st July, 1757. About 7 p.m. cum
Phoebe, the cook, Sup. Lect. in North
Next morning Lincoln was back
S. and little Quashe with him. Franke
sent me 2 bottles of porter. Phibbah sent
me some biscuit, cheese, bread, 6 nase-
berries, and 7 fine mudfish, &c. In the
evening Sam Matthews [now Egypt
overseer] come, rode on Mark Mule and
Phibbah with him, rode on Sam's mare, a
good while after sunset; come vastly
unexpected; was sent to persuade me
back to Egypt. At night cum Illa, Bis.
Sunday 3rd July. In the morning walked
about and showed Sam and Phibbah the
garden, all the works, &c &c. P.M.
walked with Phibbah to the Negro hous-
es, plantain walk &c &c and discussed
about various affairs, &c.
Monday 4th. Lent Phibbah my horse to
ride home on. She set out before sunrise.
Made Lincoln go with her. Sent Mrs.
Cope some roses. I wish they would sell
her to me. Tonight very lonely and
melancholy again. No person sleep in
the house but myself, and Phibbah's
being gone this morning still fresh in my
Next day Lincoln returned with Thistle-
wood's horse, Toby. He brought gifts
from Phibbah: 'a fine large pumpkin, 12
cashews, and 12 crabs, & a piece of
soap. They got to Egypt very good
time yesterday'. The next week Lin-
coln went back to Egypt. He took plan-
tains for Phibbah. She sent back a land
turtle, dried turtle eggs, biscuits, a pine-
apple, and cashews. 'God bless her'.

Sunday 17th July, 1757. In the morning
about 8 o'clock, little Quashe and Dover
come from Egypt. Had a mule with
them. Brought me a fine turtle and 18
crabs Phibbah sent me. Quashe says she
is sick, for which I am really very sorry.
Poor girl, I pity her, she is in miserable
On Saturday 23rd, Phibbah came again,
unexpectedly, and was joyfully
received. Plato and little Dover were
with her. Monday morning, about sev-
en o'clock, she set out for home with
foodstuffs and a letter to Mr Cope. In
it, Thistlewood said he would return to
Egypt if Mr Cope would pay him 100
a year, as he had at Kendal. Lincoln
provided escort. And so it went on
every weekend. If Phibbah did not vis-

it, Lincoln would be sent, and in any
case there was the exchange of gifts.
Thistlewood himself paid a visit to
Egypt on Wednesday 3 August. He set
out from Kendal at about seven o'clock
in the morning.
Rode down to Storer's barcadier, after-
wards called at Dr. Roberts in Camp
Savanna, drank some wine and water,
then rode on to Egypt. Got there just
before shell-blow, dined with Mr. Cope
& Mr. Deeble there. Supped and stayed
all night, slept in my own parlour, and, at
night, cum Phibbah, bis. Gave little
Quaw 2 bitts. Mr. and Mrs. Cope very
glad to see me.
On Saturday 13th Phibbah returned the
visit. She arrived at Kendal escorted by
Lincoln and accompanied by Little
Quashe and Egypt Susanah. Poor Egypt
Susanah, a frequent sex-partner with
Thistlewood, and at Egypt 'kept' by
Lincoln, found a lukewarm reception.
She had come to see her man but 'Lin-
coln don't seem to look good upon
Egypt Susanah, he has got Gordon's
Polly here'.
Thistlewood also had his Kendal
women. During the six months of his
stay he bedded with six of them; but he
wanted Phibbah.
Friday 26th August. Sent Lincolnwith my
horse to Egypt for Phibbah tomorrow, if
she can come. He carried her some plan-
tains, and Mrs. Cope some roses.
She came. And, in the same way, she
repeated the weekend visits in Septem-
ber, then once in October and in
November. On one occasion they had
quarrelled about Thistlewood's associa-
tion with Aurelia, who seems to have
been la femme fatale of the Kendal
slaves. But, as usually happened, by
the next day they had made it up, and
she and Thistlewood 'walked. . as far
as the cave at the head of Green Island
River, &c', and so to bed.
On Saturday 10 December Thistle-
wood agreed to go back to Egypt to
work for Mr Cope and Mr Dorwood at
the Hill barcadier. On Thursday 22nd he
visited Egypt to make the final arrange-
ments for his return. He slept there and
Phibbah came to him. On Saturday 24
December, 1757 he made the move:
... got to Phibbah's house late at night,
where I supped and slept, as Mr. and
Mrs. Cope had long been gone to sleep.
There is no doubt that now he knew he
needed her.


Historic Structures

Lucea Town Hall and Clock Tower

Jamaican-Georgian style is one of the outstanding
public buildings selected in the 1988 Berger Jamaican
Heritage in Architecture Programme.
The ground floor is of stone with a well-balanced
series of arches giving access to a verandah. The
wooden second storey still shows traces of the original
coolers above some windows.
An unusual clock tower rises above the shingle
roof. Although it appears as though an existing window
was modified to accommodate the clock face at the
front, tradition has it that the tower was specifically built
for the three-faced clock.
When the splendid clock, which still keeps time,
arrived from England, it was far more impressive than
the town council had anticipated. In fact, it had been
ordered for the island of St Lucia and sent to Lucea by
mistake. The townsfolk refused to give it up, and raised
the necessary funds by subscription. A local German
landowner offered to erect the tower if he could be
responsible for the design. As a result, Lucea clock
tower is crowned by a Germanic helmet, complete with
spike, supported by eight columns in the Corinthian

Photographs courtesy of Berger Paints Ltd.

----- I

Glimpses of Jamaica's

Natural History


THESE RELATIVELY LARGE (7/8 of an inch or about

21 mm), brightly coloured insects had no
common name, so the Natural History Division
of the Institute of Jamaica has taken the liberty
of giving them one. In Jamaica and Puerto Rico, they
have been found feeding on species of Milkweed Vines
(Family Asclepiadaceae) with the generic name
Cynanchum, formerly known as Metastelma, hence
Cynanchum Bugs.
The specimens of Cynanchum Bugs pictured here
were collected in April 1989 at Mount Diablo in St Ann
but they are also known to occur in St Thomas and St
Andrew. Only a few collections of this species, Sephina
(probably indireae), have been made in Jamaica in over
50 years. The 1989 collection at Mount Diablo was the
first, as far as is known, in 28 years.

Photos by Dr Elaine Fisher


Adult Cynanchum Bug


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