Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00068
 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: December 1994
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: VID00068
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
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    Back Cover
        Page 73
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Full Text



I, .i
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I .'

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-, 'I

Putting the


In sports, in the arts, in business . .
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As the years roll on, we grow stronger
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Merchandise Division
61 Newport Boulevard
Newport West, Kingston 13
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Pharmaceutical Division
I \ 53 Newport Boulevard
i [Newport West, Kingston 13
STel.: 923-5441-7
Hardware Division
S78 Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston 11
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Dairy Division
6 Savannah Avenue, Kingston 20
Tel.: 925-3559 / 925-2669
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=L Member

Together we Achieve


So --? a-. -

Printers -Hyde d .d.nd Blad un Ltd.
All correspodence should be addressed to

Fax No (809) 926-8817

Back Issues: Some back issues are available.

Subscriptions: 240 for 3 issues (in Jamaica
only); UK: Individalis: 15, Insti-tions:.20.
All other couries: Individuals: US$25.
Institutions: US$30.
-" A o ,ant- ag i hCocat

Single copies: I S00 (in Jamaica only)

Advertising- Rates sent on requeC
2..a SuthenneeRodK-ng8m 10Jamaica

c dexs: Published ie ssx availabeArticles

appearing in JAMACA OURst AL Eir also ablstraed
roand indexed in HIfOInmAL A:rRACTS,

VoL 25 No.2. Copyrght 0 1994-by Institute of
Jamaica Publtions L o240 over or contents mayica
All other countries: Individdals: US$25.

not be oduced in wholeerin pa without
ISSN 0021-4124

Cover photograph: Kent Reid.
Courtesy of Hon. Maurice Facey and Mrs Facey.
Head and shoulders of the largest of the Aboukir
finds. Tony Aarons' article on the Tainos, page 11,
identifies this zemi and its two companion pieces.

History and Life


11 Tainos of Jamaica: The Aboukir Zemis
by George A. Aarons
3 The Rastafari Movement in the 1950s
by George Simpson
49 Motoring in Jamaica:The Early Years
by W.J. Hanna

Science and Technology
24 Asiatic Cholera in Jamaica Part 1
by C. H. Senior
En vironment
55 Avian Refuges
by Ivan Goodbody

The Arts
19 Carvings from New Seville
by Marguerite Cunin

37 Voices or Echoes? A Look at the 1993
Annual National Exhibition and Art
in Jamaica
by Annie Paul
46 Remembering Eric Cadien
David Boxer and Chalyn Girlin

Regular Features
61 Books and Writers
Reviews: Andrew Salkey's A Quality of
Violence by Mervyn Morris; Obika Gray's
Radicalism and Social Change in Jamaica
1960-1972 by Rupert Lewis

67 Three Poems by Heather Royes

70 Youth Journal
Coral Reefs by Judith Mendes
69 Musgrave Medallists 1989-1993
10 Contributors



December 1994

Vol 25 No 2

I ..
% **;

i:' I





A Jamaican family saga

Stone Haven, a house, a home, embodying the passions, the fire of
contrasting cultures. Life at Stone Haven revolves around Grace,
Stanley's American wife, who came to Jamaica as a Quaker
missionary in 1920 and married him in spite of opposition based on
colour and religion.

A Jamaican novel that explodes with the diversity of Jamaican life in
the 1920s, carried forward into post-Independence Jamaica, with its
new political pressures, social attitudes, pulsating musical expression
and the ever present language of physical love.

The Jamaican setting is vividly described and the colours of the lush
landscape linger in the mind.

A truly Jamaican novel that reaches the soul of our Jamaican

'An outstanding novel of
Sunday Gleaner

'No other novel in recent
times has presented
Jamaica in such detail.'

'...a panoramic view of the
country's social history
from 1920-1970.'

'It will be a book of great
interest to Jamaicans and
non-Jamaicans alike.'

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(Jones) treasure house of

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understanding, passion,
intrigue and mystery of
Stone Haven'

Available in leading bookstores and
other outlets islandwide
Distribution and other rights:
Jamaica and the Caribbean
SInstitute of Jamaica Publications Ltd
2a Suthermere Rd., Kingston 10
Tel 929-4785/6 Fx 926-8817
Licht & Licht, Maglemosevej 46,
DK 2920 Charlottenlund,
Tel 31 61 0908, Fax 3161 1105
All other countries:
Blake Friedman
37-41 Gower St, London
WCIE 6HH. Tel 071631 4331.
Fax 071 323 1274



Not only has it penetrated nearly
every level of society, it has also gone
from a movement, based around a few
loosely-knit groups principally in
West Kingston to an island-wide
network of yards and communes whose
members celebrate a number of annual
events. The Movement has had an
enormous impact in addition on
Jamaican popular culture and music.
Prior to my research in 1953, no
scholarly attention had been paid to the
Rastafari. Why there was a hiatus
between the beginning of the movement
in the early 1930s and the first scholarly
investigation of it, I can only speculate.
The University of the West Indies was
not founded until 1947. As far as I
know, no one from the University of
Puerto Rico, the British universities or
the United States had taken an interest
in the Rastas. Perhaps conditions during
the Great Depression and World War II
did not encourage social scientific
research in the Caribbean. Television
was not yet providing instant reportage
on events in regions of the world that
were less well-known.
My interest in the Caribbean region
and in West Africa goes back to 1930.
While a graduate student at the
University of Pennsylvania, I heard
Professor Melville Herskovits of
Northwestern University speak about
the field work that he and Mrs
Herskovis had done in remote sections
of Dutch Guyana (now Suriname) in
1929. 1 found this account of the
persistence of important parts of West
African cultures in northern South
America impressive and fascinating. I
remember that Frank Speck, a professor
of anthropology at Pennsyllania, said
HerskoviLs's report was 'like finding an
American Indian settlement in the heart
of Central Africa'. I began then to think
about doing field work in Subsaharan
Africa or the Caribbean. Because of the
differential costs of such trips, and the
fact that we had two small children, then
four and two years old, my wife and I
decided on the Caribbean. We went
initially to Haiti in 1937 where I did
field work on peasant life near the
villagee of Plaisance in the northem part
of the island. Herskoits, in fact, had
suggested this region, pointing out that
no researcher had yet worked in the
northern part of Haiti. For professional
and other reasons, we did not get to
West Africa until 1964 when we worked
in the Ibadan region of Nigeria. We
made a number of trips to Jamaica

&o9'APIAC dJagr3n bb J. N. H0o.i

(1946. 1953, 1957, 1967, 1971),
Trinidad (1960), St Lucia (1972), and
other islands of the West Indies.
From the experience in Haiti, my
interest grew in studying acculturative
processes in the region: that is,
understanding the processes of cultural
change which occur when the repre-
sentatives of two or more cultures meet.
I found the ideas which Herskovits
formulated, including the concepts of
retentions, reinterpretations, and syncre-
tism. to be useful in trying to understand
\\ha has happened culturally in the
meeting of Europeans, Africans,
American Indian.. East indians, and
Asians in the New World, especially on
the islands of the Caribbean Sea. These
ideas were on my mind during my first
visit to Jamaica in 1946 w here I became
aware of a range of Afro-Jamaican
religious cults as well as of the existence
of the Rastafari. It was with these same
interests that I traelled to Jamaica in
1953 to conduct field work on Revival
Unlike the Lonteinporar Rasta
Movement, Rastas in 1953 were ex-
clusi, ely a Jamaican phenomenon.
They belonged to autonomous groups,
augmented by persons who attended
meetings or sympathized with the
sentiments and aims of the NMo\ement.
At that time, the re\i\alist movement
(Reviv:l, Revival Zion, and Pocomania)

had a large following, particularly
among low-income workers and the
unemployed in severely depressed areas
such as Trench Town in West Kingston.
In this same social milieu, I first en-
countered the Rastas.
Despite similarities in types of
organization, holiday celebrations and
excursions, and even in ritual proced-
ures, there were important differences
between the two movements. Although I
encountered forceful leaders among
both Rasta and Revival groups, the latter
were clearly more leader-dominated.
Drumming, 'rejoicing'. 'spiritual'
dancing, and possession trance,
invariably features of Revitalism, were
regarded by Rastas as 'backward,' and
ne\cr occurred in their gatherings. Even
though Rasta music and Revival music
shared a common focus on Sankey and
other Christian hymns (the latter
adapted to suit Rasta ideology), drum-
ming was completely absent from Rasta
gatherings at that time.
Similarly, ganja (marijuana) was not
smoked during Rastafari meetings. Nor
did I hear Rastas expound upon the
Biblical aspects or spiritual virtues of
ganja, referring to it as "the herb' or 'the
healing of the nations', as is common
today. If this was a feature of the Rasta
worldview, it apparently was not yet as
fully developed or as widespread
throughout the Movement as KiLzinger
(1969) reported, based on field work
done twelve years later in West King-
ston.' Perhaps the Rastas with whom I
became familiar were reluctant to use
ganja publicly or to use it in my
presence. Even so, this practice repre-
sents a significant difference from what
later students of the Movement reported.
that is, that members openly invited
attention to their use of ganja, extolling
its virtues, claiming a Biblical warrant,
and citing spiritual purposes for its use
to distinguish themselves from members
of the wider society.
Beards and dreadlocks were a much
less prominent feature of the Rastafari
earlier than they became later. I can
recollect seeing only one or two dread-
lock in a meeting of young Rastas and
only infrequently glimpsed them on the
street. I did not encounter the disuncti\e
form of 'Rasta Talk', based on the use
of the self-reflexive 'I' or 'I-and-I'
which is now a widely noted aspect of
Rasta culture. The term 'Babylon' was
used to refer to the colonial power
structure, and there was use of an
associated Biblical discourse. However.

4 1\NiMiC 1 ljN.l. 2512

there was nothing of the vocabulary
which is now common among the
Rastafari, and never a reference to the
term 'reasoning' which is now used to
cover their distinctive discourse (See
Pollard, 1980; Homick, 1992).
What stands out in my memory is
that members of the Movement were
bitter about injustices based on race and
social class. At every meeting they
denounced 'the white man' and 'the
black traitors' the politicians, police,
clergymen, teachers, landholders,
business and professional people who
were said to have misled and mistreated
the people. In response to this treatment,
Rastas (like Garveyites before them)
preached race consciousness, based on
the programme of 'Africa for the
Africans at home and abroad'.
Revivalists were engrossed mainly in
the quest for personal salvation and the
satisfaction to be gained from ritual
observances. Rastafarians, by contrast,
were concerned and very vocal about
economic hardships and racial discri-
mination. Although many Rastas in the
1950s had been involved earlier in some
type of Revivalism, subsequently most
became hostile to these religious groups.
Among Rasta groups I encountered,
repatriation to Africa was preached as
the solution to the hopeless hell of
On my visit to Jamaica in 1946, I
saw men and women, who were identi-
fied to me as Rastas, wearing red, gold,
and green caps and scarves. Friends
told me that I should not expect to go to
a closed Rastafari meeting. In fact, at
that time, no scholar, black or white, had
attempted to gain entrance to such
gatherings. Philip Sherlock, now Sir
Philip, then Director of Extramural
Studies for Jamaica Welfare, Ltd., and
later Principal and Vice-Chancellor of
the University of the West Indies,
introduced me to Arthur Bethune, a
Boys' Club worker in West Kingston.
Then and later, Mr Bethune was
extremely helpful in introducing me to
residents of Trench Town and other
areas of West Kingston and in advising
me on what he thought I could and
could not do and should and should not
do in the Kingston and St Andrew
Metropolitan Area.
The study of Rastafari was not my
main reason for going to Jamaica in
1953. My purpose then was to do
research on syncretistic religious cults,
mainly Revival Zion. In the course of
doing this field work, I came in contact

with the Rastafari, who shared the same
West Kingston environs with members
of these Revivalist groups, and decided
to learn more about this Movement.
The principal Revival group, which I
studied, was that of Mallica (Kapo)
Reynolds, a well-known Revival Zion
leader, whose meeting place was
directly across the lane from a Rasta
Bethune said that going to a Rasta
meeting would be impossible. He had
seen Rastafari street meetings but had
never been present at other gatherings.
Bethune parked his car inside a shed-
like building near his office. One day,
while accompanying him, I noticed a
photograph, torn from a magazine,
hanging on a nail which protruded from
an inside wall of that building. Outside,
I asked him if he recognized that
picture. It was, he said, a photograph of
Haile Selassie. Half a dozen men
worked in the empty space inside this
garage, making seat covers for auto-
mobiles on small sewing machines
operated by hand. I asked him to go
back and find out if one of the workers
belonged to a Rastafari group, and if so,
whether Bethune and I could attend one
of their meetings. No one could give us
such permission, but one man promised
to speak to the leader of his group.
Bethune and I were soon invited to Mr
Joseph Myers's home in Trench Town.
I explained to Mr Myers what I had
already told Mr Mallica Reynolds, that
is, that I taught in an American
university and that my teaching and
writing included studies of Caribbean
society and race relations in the United
States. Both were men of limited formal
education, but they knew about the
existence of the University of the West
Indies (founded in Jamaica in 1947 as
the University College of the West
Like a number of other early
Rastafari leaders, Mr Myers2 (or
'Brother' Myers as he was called by
other Rastas) had travelled outside
Jamaica and, therefore, had a somewhat
wider view of the world than most of his
contemporaries. Having travelled to
Panama in search of wage labour, he
had talked to workers there as well as to
Jamaicans about the plight of black
people everywhere. For this reason, my
earlier field experiences in Haiti were
understandably of interest to him during
our initial meeting. We got along well
on that occasion, and he agreed that
Bethune and I could come to a Sunday

night meeting of his group. After that, I
went alone to meetings at least once a
week, to frequent interviews usually
group sessions, and on marches to the
edge of the downtown business district
in Kingston where meetings were held
to publicize the movement and attract
new members.
A Rasta yard was distinguished,
especially at meeting time, by the
presence of such insignia as flags, a
banner bearing the name of the group,
and a figure of a lion representing Haile
Selassie. Another important symbol was
a photograph (or photographs) of Haile
Selassie, mounted on a stand. Almost
always a Bible was prominently
displayed, often on a table set out for the
meeting. Red, gold, and green caps and
scarves were worn by some members at
Sunday night and street meetings. Paper
streamers, made with Rastafarian
colours, were strung across poles on
special occasions such as the celebration
of Haile Selassie's coronation.
There was little protocol for entering
a Rasta yard. I simply parked my rented
car on the street and walked in. I soon
become well-known to those who stayed
in or near the yard, and there were few
formalities. There was even less pro-
tocol in entering a Revivalist centre. Mr
Reynolds always greeted me cordially,
saying that he was glad to see me
whether it was by appointment, a walk-
in visit, or during a service he was
The first Rastafari meeting that Mr
Bethune and I attended was held in an
open space between the housing units
where Mr Myers and others had
quarters. A tall 'living fence' of cactus,
as was common throughout much of
West Kingston, surrounded this com-
pound, and a single bulb, hanging by an
electric light cord, produced rather dim
illumination. Some of those who
attended the meeting sat on benches or
chairs; some stood in the background.
Two men met us at the gate and escorted
us to chairs at the front of this outdoor
space. Mr Myers opened the session by
shouting, 'Death to the white man!'
The gathering of some seventy-five
or eighty persons, mainly men, shouted
in reply, 'And to the black traitors!' (I
later learned that the phrase, 'Death to
black and white oppressors,' was the
call of the Nyabinghi,3 but do not
recollect ever hearing the term,
Nyabinghi, at that time.) I soon learned
that they meant the white man in general
and the black betrayers. Despite these


violent-sounding phrases, I never felt
physically threatened among the Rastas.
Some members of Mr Myers's group
never smiled or spoke to me. They may
have been far from congenial, but they
were never threatening.4 Nor did those
who were congenial to me attempt to
proselytize me or ask me to intervene
with authorities on their behalf. A few
individuals asked if I could help find
them a job or get schooling for a child in
Jamaica or the United States.
I had told Mr Myers that I came from
.Ohio, but when he introduced me he
said, 'Mr Simpson is not a real
American. Only the American Indians
are real American. He says that he is
from Ohio, but he is an Englishman. I
was born in Jamaica, but I am an
Ethiopian.' At one of the first meetings I
attended, Mr Myers asked me to speak,
and I chose to make an observation
about how Rastas characterized the
while man. I said, 'You say that white
people are evil, and there are some
white people that are evil, but there are
white people who are good just as there
are black people who are good and also
some who are evil. Isn't that so?' A
number of those present immediately
replied, 'Yes, yes,' much to the
dissatisfaction of others who grumbled
and glared. In his reply, Mr Myers said,
'Are all white people bad? No. There
are a few good white people. A good
white person is the reincarnation of a
good slave owner, the kind of man who
bought a slave who was being beaten

and took good care of him.' On at least
one other occasion, Mr Myers announ-
ced that I must be such a reincarnation.
Further thought on what I and others
have sometimes called an anti-white
attitude on the part of Rastafarians is
more accurately described in this way:
'... "black" and "white" are categorical
identities within the historical Rasta
worldview, (but) these racial ascriptions
do not necessarily reflect attitudes
toward specific individuals in their face-
to-face relationships where Rastas tend
to evaluate persons on the basis of their
"heart-sincerity-actions". '[Homiak,
1992; cf. Yawney, 1976].
At virtually every meeting I attended,
Mr Myers called upon me to speak and
enjoyed challenging or rebutting what I
said. I suspect that he did so as a way of
displaying his own oratorical abilities
and enhancing his authority among
members of the group. After all, this
exchange was probably the first
opportunity which Rastas had had to
debate with a white person. Some of his
followers clearly enjoyed our verbal
exchanges. My impression of Mr Myers
was that of a forceful leader, one who
had great control over his followers.
They respected him, and he often
seemed to dominate them. Amidst the
poverty of Trench Town, he occa-
sionally added a touch of humor to his
dealings with me and his followers.
During our stay in Jamaica I rented
an automobile from faculty members
who were on leave or vacation.

Street meeting oa the United Afro West Indian Federaton. Trench Town, West Kingston, 1953

Occasionally I gave Mr Myers a lift
when I left Trench Town and he was
about to leave on an errand. One day he
said that he didn't see why I could travel
about in a car while he had to walk long
distances to transact his business. That
was the only time I recall that he
complained about his personal situation
compared with mine.
Soon after I began going to Sunday
night meetings, one member announced
that he was opposed to any picture-
taking and recording of speeches or
music. He said that he had taken an oath
never to help a white person, and he did
not intend to violate that pledge. Others
agreed with him, and Mr Myers sus-
tained their objections. (I did not
encounter these restrictions among the
Rastafari youth group that I knew best.)
Note-taking was permitted, and consid-
erable time was spent in follow-up
sessions with members, checking notes
and getting additional information. I
often sought to record the texts of their
songs and presented these back to them
for correction and verification. A
number of those in Myers's group were
impressed that I took the time to do this.
Like some of my Revivalist informants,
they may have been pleased that a
university professor had chosen to study
the Movement. Some may have hoped
that my work might set straight
Jamaican stereotypes about Rastafari.
Others may have felt that I would carry
my knowledge of Rastafarians back to
the United States where it would be
disseminated. (If so, such expectations
would have been in contrast to the way
in which some later researchers were
initially received by the brethren.) At
the conclusion of my research, I gave
both Mr Myers and Mr Reynolds a copy
of the book on race relations in the
United States which I coauthored. Later
I sent a copy of my 1955 article in
Social and Economic Studies to Mr
There was no objection to my
marching with members of the group
from Trench Town to downtown
Kingston for a street meeting. I stood at
one end of a semicircle the Rastas made
as they faced passers-by on a busy street
corner. With uniformed police in the
background, Mr Myers would say, 'You
may wonder who this white man is and
why he is here. Don't be afraid of him.
He is not an Englishman. He is an
In general, the proceedings at street
meetings were similar to the meetings in

Trench Town. The main Rastafari
doctrines were expounded and validated
through the reading and interpretation of
passages from the Bible. A member
appointed to read a chapter of Scripture
was stopped by the leader from time to
time for his explanation of a verse.
Oratorical abilities varied widely within
the group, and this type of public
speech-making was limited to a few.
Speeches by members were then
interspersed with the singing of original
songs and of modified Sankey and
Methodist hymns.
At these meetings, women were
outnumbered and very much in the
background. They said little during the
Rasta meetings that I attended. I did not
witness or hear of any controversies
because of the greater participation by
males in the conduct of business. In
contrast, women played important roles
in Revivalist groups. In two groups, led
by strong and respected Mothers,
women held such titles as Armour
Bearer, Water Mother, Healing Mother,
Deaconess, and Nurse. Where men led
as Captains, Shepherds, or Leaders,
women officers assisted with baptizing,
read passages from the Bible, helped
those who were beginning or coming
out of possession trance, or related a
marvellous 'spiritual journey' (dream or
vision) at a 'Vowing' service, held the
night before a baptismal ceremony.
Unlike later years, drums were totally
absent from Rasta meetings in West
Kingston in 1953. Instead of drums, a
'rhumba box,' a medium-sized wooden
box, which had five or six metal strips
fastened at the bottom of an opening on
one side of the box, was used. This
instrument is the same as the marimba
of Haiti, and both may be descended
from the 'Sansa' (thumb piano) of West
Africa.s Rattles, scrapers, tambourines,
and, occasionally, a saxophone made up
the Rastafari ensemble.6
In the yard near his housing unit, Mr
Myers supervised a woodworking shop
where a number of craftsmen made
small articles and pieces of furniture for
sale to tourists and residents of
Kingston. In this respect, Mr Myers
appears to have been like other early
Rasta leaders who incorporated pro-
grammes for economic opportunity into
the social organization of their groups.
Diagonally across the street, Kapo
Reynolds lived and presided over a
Revival Zion church. He was a good
friend, one of my best informants on
Revivalism, and his followers were the

Revivalists that I knew best.
Occasionally arguments and scuffles
occurred in the street between the two
meeting places. One night several
Rastas tried to break up Kapo's service
by coming in and shouting about
Revivalists worshipping 'a dead god'
instead of following 'the Living God,'
Ras Tafari. As far as I know, these
rivalries had no effect on my accepta-
bility to the people of this neighbour-
hood, at least not to these two strong
leaders. Interestingly, neither Mr Myers
nor Kapo ever questioned me about my
interest in the other's group although
they were undoubtedly aware of my
movements between the two yards.
Later in my research, a colleague of
Mr Myers introduced me to Mr Joseph
Hibbert, one of the founders of Rasta-
fari. We met only twice. As I recall the
first meeting, we talked about the
hardships of life in Trench Town, our
respective families, Rastafari beliefs,
and a little about the United States and
the circumstances of black people there.
After some time, I asked him if I could
take his picture. A family member then
suggested that he put on this ritual robe.
I photographed him in his red robe as he
held a sabre, vertically touching the
ground. He also wore a white 'crown'
with red, gold, and green stripes. Behind
him was a homemade painting of Haile
Selassie and his queen and to one side, a
small table on which was placed a
Bible.7 I also took several photographs
of Hibbert with his family.
Although I intended to return and
work with him further, I did not have an
opportunity to talk at length again with
Mr Hibbert. I have been told that he was
regarded as a 'scientist', that is, as one
of the early leaders who was thought to

have formidable powers of an occult
nature that enabled him to withstand the
forces of the colonial period. I did not
find anything striking or idiosyncratic
about Mr Hibbert. He seemed to me to
be a man of great dignity, and his
demeanor toward me in our brief
meetings was one of reserve.
In 1953, there were twelve or fifteen
Rastafari groups in West Kingston with
additional bands in other parts of the
island. Group names included: United
Ethiopian Body (Mr Myers's group),
Ethiopian Coptic League (Mr Hibbert's
group), United Afro-West Indian
Federation, African Cultural League,
and Ethiopian Youth Cosmic Faith.
While Revivalist churches were
predominantly female, males predom-
inated in Rasta groups. Among the
Rastafarians, the age distribution tended
to be wider then among the Revivalists
although a few Rasta organizations were
made up entirely of persons under
A Sunday evening meeting might
open with the singing of a song of this


Oh! Africa awaken, the morning is at
No more art Thou forsaken.
Our bounteous Mothertand.
From far Thy sons and daughters
Are hastening back to Thee.
Our cry rings o'er the waters:
Ethiopia now is free.

On one occasion, a speaker followed the
opening song with a series of remarks
that outlined the Rasta understanding of
slavery and repatriation:

Drums photographed by the author n Trench Town, 1953


Speaker: How did we get here?
Chorus: Slavery.
Speaker: Who brought us from
Chorus: The white man.
Speaker: The white man tells us we
are inferior, but we are not inferior.
We are superior, and he is inferior.
The time has come for us to go back
home. In the near future we will go
back to Ethiopia and the white man
will be our servant. The white man
says we are no good, but David,
Solomon, and the Queen of Sheba
were black. The English are
criminals and the black traitors are
just as bad. Ministers are thieves and
vagabonds. The black man who
doesn't want to go back to Ethiopia
doesn't want freedom. There is no
freedom in Jamaica. Ras Tafari is the
Living God. Ras Tafari started Mau
Mau. Ras Tafari says, 'Death to the
white man!'
Chorus: And to the black traitors!
Speaker: We believe in'One God,
One Aim, One Destiny!' We believe
in Ethiopia for the Ethiopians.
Chorus: At home and abroad.

Similar speeches followed, alternating
with songs, such as the Sankey Rejoice,
Rejoice the Lord is King; Let the Song
Go Round the Earth; Jesus (with Negus
substituted for Jesus) Shall Reign
Where'er the Sun, or Hail to the Lord's
Anointed or a Baptist hymn such as
Jesus (Negus) the King.
At one evening street meeting, a
speaker used as his text an article
entitled 'Modern Ethiopia' which had
appeared in the June, 1931, issue of the
National Geographic magazine.
Holding a well-thumbed copy of the
magazine bereft of its cover, the speaker
read at length from the article, quoting
more or less verbatim its description of
the elaborate Biblical coronation of
Haile Selassie as Emperor of Abyssinia.
The splendour of the coronation was
dwelt upon, and emphasis was placed on
'the bowing down of kings and presi-
dents of the earth before Haile Selassie.'
Haile Selassie's power, the speaker
contended, was acknowledged by the
mightiest rulers of the world. This
speech was followed by several repeti-
tions of a brief song called 'The Lion of
Judah Shall Break Every Chain!'

The Lion of Judah shall break every
And give us a victory
Again and again ...

In closing the meeting, the brethren
stood, faced the East, sang the Ethiopian
National Anthem, and recited the
Ethiopian Prayer, both composed in
West Kingston [Simpson, 1955a].
Frequently I saw members of the
youth group, called the United Afro-
West Indian Federation. The Report
(1960) identified Raphael Downer as the
leader of this group, but the member I
remember best was Clement Edie (8
Potter's View, Browns Town-off
Windward Road near Elletson Road).
Unlike Mr Myers's group, no restric-
tions were placed on me by this group in
taking pictures or recording music. My
recording of this group's singing was
done in a meeting room in Trench Town
and is included in my album, Jamaican
Cult Music, released through Folkways
Records. The instruments included a
rhumba box, shakers, and tambourines.
One woman played with the group. I
talked with members of this group
before and after their street meetings
and in the yards of the housing
settlements where I found them. Mr
Edie migrated to London about 1955,
and he and I continued to correspond
about Jamaica, Britain, and the United
States for a year or so after he left
On a festive day, November 15,
1953, Mr Myers presided over a
celebration commemorating Haile
Selassie's Coronation Day.8 The
orchestra for this occasion consisted of
two rhumba boxes, three guitars, two
saxophones, one violin, one banjo,
tambourines, and rattles. In addition to
group singing, there were special
recitations and singing by individuals
and a quartet. Ten babies were dedicated
to Haile Selassie by an official who said,
'The King (Ras Tafari) bless thee, keep
thee, and make his face to shine upon
thee, and give thee peace and life
everlasting.' Ten speeches were deliver-
ed during the programme, and many
guests from other Rasta groups attended
the celebration [Simpson, 1955a].
In those days Rastafarians expected
to leave for the Homeland 'in the near
future', but there was no agreement on
the date of departure. Some expected to
leave Jamaica 'any day now'; others set
the time for repatriation within the next
four or five years. One man said that the
exodus would be compulsory for all
persons of African descent, but most
believed that only those who wished to
leave would go.
According to the myth that had

developed, Queen Victoria had allocated
23,000,000 for the repatriation of West
Indian black people. Although her plan
had not been carried out, it was believed
that the money was still available and
that it was only a question of time until
Queen Elizabeth II and the Emperor of
Ethiopia would agree on the implemen-
tation of the promise. Some Rastafar-
ians planned to fly to the United States
and then take ships like the Queen Mary
and the Bremen to Abyssinia. This
fantasy held that planes would leave
Jamaica every five minutes to take the
black man out of the country.

Attitudes Toward Rastafarians

In the early days of the movement, the
1930s, opposition came from both rank
and file Jamaicans and the police.
Jamaicans of lower social classes stoned
speakers, slashed banners, and smashed
lamps at street meetings. A leader of
the cult was arrested, jailed, and tried
seven times but was never convicted of
disorderly conduct, ganja smoking, or
lunacy. By the early 1950s, open
hostility had declined to some extent,
due in part to the well-disciplined
control of members during street
meetings. Some middle-class Jarnai-
cans, as well as some foreigners, still
feared the Rastas, but the evidence that
was available then did not support the
widespread belief that they were
bearded hoodlums.
The general attitude of middle-class
Jamaicans, English citizens, and
Americans living in Jamaica in the early
1950s toward Rastafarians was one of
contempt and disgust. There seemed to
be no fear of a rebellion, but many
believed that the Rastas were hooligans,
psychopaths, or dangerous criminals. In
1953, there was much talk among
middle-class Jamaicans and white
foreigners about the conjunction
between Rastas and criminal elements.
When serious crimes were reported in
the press, especially murders, they were
often attributed to the brethren.
Frequently they were referred to as
'those dreadful people,' and that view
was shared by some police officers. (It
is noteworthy that the police did not
patrol West Kingston in those days but
were likely to come into the area solely
for the purpose of making arrests. Both
Revivalists and Rastas with whom I was
familiar remarked about and were
resentful of this procedure.)
Actually, the Movement attracted


-z ~ n"'~ -- '9'r~~

many types with
and lower midd
some students an
In 1953, I found
bers, especially I
be extremely ic
forbade the use
in meetings and
who failed to o
chairman. Some
smoke tobacco, a
considerable tin
always with a vi
which validated
Although most
poor people, the:
or semiliterate ti
from confused t
bitter to hopeful
Perhaps the m
sociologically a
this period was
social types wit
who and what
membership was
Some middle
well as Americar
and-visitors, wer
interest in the R
Movements. In.
at the Universit
Indies and a nu
persons in -King
. the-esearch;,atd

0ta itj

in the Jamaican lower dignity which society has denied' has
lie classes as well as been furthered by the Movement
d professional persons. [Nettleford, 1970].9
many Rastafari mem- Attitudes have changed markedly
the younger people, to toward the Rastafarians over the past
dealistic. One group twenty years. Whereas in the 1950s and
of 'indecent language' later, the Movement was regarded as
imposed fines on those subversive and as a force to be
bey the orders of the eliminated, Nettleford (1982) says that
youthful Rastas did not the wider society had come to have
nd a few of them spent greater understanding of the Rastafarian
ne reading the Bible, vision, resulting in a 'tactical accom-
ew to finding passages modation if not widespread acceptance'.
1 Rastafari doctrines. While this change was occurring, there
of the members were was some evidence that Rastas them-
y ranged from illiterate selves were engaged in a process of
o literate and talented, reluctant accommodation to Jamaican
o articulate, and from society.
in their outlooks on life. To conclude, I could not have
ost important thing imagined in 1953 that the Rastafari
bout the Rastas during Movement would give birth to Reggae,
not the actual range of a popular musical style, embraced by
hin the Movement, but people throughout the world, and would
t others thought its develop a culture that would spread to
North America, Europe, and even
e-class Jamaicans, as Africa, nor could I have envisioned that
ns and English residents Rastas would.travel abroad to represent
e rather surprised at my their culture at places such as the Smith-
evivalist and Rastafari sonian Institution, Howard University,
general, staff members Johns Hopkins University, and inter-
y College of the West national conferences of social scientists
imber of professional. aEd other -scholars. Indeed, it is not
ston were infested in beyon the realm of possibility that one
werev-yery supportive, -or-moreof the contemporary Elders,
ipjnhefirst Dikettoruo- whomi J W Hor-iak- has assisted in
:Sqo~ .dfiBOw i........ ^ yanG'ytp cipating in cultural
siItyh. pliteid me ra sn -ar the nSitblsonian, -were
leiried -later fron ,him. ,.:est. yeatg Rastas at the meetings
a Bioer of-criticisms ateidedi--t Myers's yard or with
my -jl en.ia 1o stila-b Wes l dian -ederation
!.- i9 jsuds ofScid 1i95 tise Soic reent- tours.. by
tfeMle .w ctiitcs N 'MD M t pO ime. past of

;biaide(a-_m-i_. ter --ni-an-a -ft*iW to
improve Theirife- conditions and-alize
their dreams;-Their aspiration to return
to the Homeland seemed to me from the
first to be a kind of 'collective fantasy',
and indeed that has proved to be the
case. However, their part in the struggle
of blacks for status in Jamaica and
throughout the modem world and 'the
struggle within individual blacks to
regain the sense of personal worth and

cby-Jolt.-.. Hml'ak
a.d saiod (Jeurlander, and the
edit~ i alassistaMce provided by Nancy
S. -Alonzo.

1. That the ideological orientation
towards ganja was changing within the
Movement is suggested by juxtaposing
my research (done in 1953) and
Kitzinger's (done in 1965) with the
1960 Report of Smith, Augier and
Nettleford on the Movement. This

report indicates that brethien-he- ld-_
widely divergent opinions about ganja
use and its effects..
2. The group led by Mr Joseph Myers-
is identified in the Smith, Augier, and
Netdeford Report (1960) as the United
Ethiopian Body. It is said to have been
under the direction of both Joseph-
Myers and Claudius Stewart. The work
by Homiak on the oral history of Rasta
uncovered a close connection between
the group directed by Brother Myers
and another group led by Rafael
Downer. Downer's group is identified
as the United Afro-West Indian
Federation, the other group with which .. -
I had close contact. Both of them. ---:
shared a common terrain with-the-.
group led by Joseph Hibbeit, oneof -
the first individuals to preach- Rastafart_ -
doctrine. All three of these-grioUt,-' ;-
plus others, apparently came into_ a_ ---
much closer working relations-ipqp 7 --
following the advent of the Ethiopia- -
World Federation (EWF) in Jamainarl ,-.
1955. According to Smith. Augirj and : -
Nettleford, these groups.- _-
'locals' within the EWF -ti_...u; .Z-
tioned for a time under its u 1mb.a
3. House of Nyabinghi: 75-
of different-generations[.-hdI
mainstay for the ritual 4i
House islandwIide' (Hmiak,ri9fl '
4. I did not hear the Rastas- i
1953- ex ioitly renounce fi
physicald violence, iuaco.
.'rearch:in later years, 0v
-' ur eori eis violent _o-U -
S.ject-physic al action
hey indicare.thteith r
:_ e-wgjrd'. or the divirj ag
Q4i1dsibof~abylon dWon'
5 Iis als..p:ossible thatr
we-r scarei:back to
$S.ik h3a&ant

sooK, snowmig Lnree:men w-n -: r -
reveils that the drums '-aidhe'mi -. ~- :
in which they are played is the same as- .
the akete, or buru drums, which would
later be adopted by Rastas under the
name of Nyabingiu.
7. It is interesting to note that Mr
Hibbert presented himself in dress of
an ornamental character, showing his
ritual authority b\ closely following
the attire in which Haile Selassie was
photographed at his coronation, that is,

the robe, triple crown, and sword, held
vertically between his feet.
8. Haile Selassie's Coronation Day
was November 2. I believe the
Coronation was being celebrated on
the 15th because in 1953 that day. a
Sunday, was preferred to November 2,
a Monday.
9. 1 did not hear Rastas at this time
talking about their 'African or Ethio-
pian culture.' The Jamaican establish-
ment has historically denigrated the
predominantly African roots of that
society. Most present observers of the
Movement acknowledge the role
which the Rastas have played in
legitimating the idea of an African
culture and identity in Jamaica.

Barred, Leonard. The Rastafarians: Sounds
ofDissonance. Boston: Beacon. 1977.
Bilby, Kenneth M. 'Black Thoughts from the
Caribbean Ideology at Home and
Abroad'. New West Indian Guide
(Utrecht), 57: 3 & 4, (201-214) 1983.
Bilby, Kenneth M. and Elliot Leib. 'Kumina,
the Howellile Church and the Emergence
of Rastafarian Traditional Music in
Jamaica'. Jamaica Journal, 19:3 (22-28)
Homiak, John P. 'The Mystic Revelation of
Rasta Far-Eye'. In B. Tedlock, ed.
Dreaming: Anthropological and Psycho.
logical Approaches. Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, pp 220-245.

-.'From Yard to Nation: Rastafari and the
Politics of Eldership at Home and
Abroad. In Manfred Kremser, ed., Ay
Bobo: Afro-Caribbean Cults, Resistance
and Identity. Proceedings of the Second
Inter-disciplinary Congress of the Society
for Caribbean Research (Vienna), p. 3.
-. The Half Thai's Never Been Told: Pa
Ashanti and the Development of
Nyabinghi Music. Kingston, Jamaica:
The Emperor Haile Selassie I Theocracy
Government. Serial No. 1. 1991.
-.Personal communication. 1992 (May
Kitzinger, Sheila. 'Protest and Mysticism:
The Ras Tafari Cult of Jamaica.' In
Journal for the Scientific Study of
Religon, 8 (240-262) 1969.
Nettleford, Rex. Mirror. Mirror: Identity,
Race and Protest in Jamaica. Kingston,
Jamaica; Collins & Sangster. 1970.
--.'Introducion' In Joseph Owens, Dread.
The Ras Tafarians of Jamaica. London:
Heinemann Educational Books, p. xi.
Pollard, Velma. 'Dread Talk: The Speech of
the Rastafarian in Jamaica.' Caribbean
Quarterly. 26:4 (32-41) 1980.
Simpson, George Eaton. 1954. Jamaican
Cult Music. Ethnic Folkways Library,
Album No. P 461. New York: Folkways
Records. Washington: Smithsonian/
Folkways Records, No. 4461. 199 1.
-.'Political Cultism in West Kingston,
Jamaica.' Social and Economic Studies
(Kingston), Vol. 4:2 (133-149) 1955.
-. 'The Ras Tafari Movement in Jamaica:

A Study of Race and Class Conflict'
Social Forces. 34:2 (167-170) 1955.
-. 'Jamaican Revivalist Cults.' Social and
Economic Studies, 5:4 (321-442) 1956.
-. Black Religions in the New World. New
York: Columbia University Press. 1978.
-. Religious Cults of the Caribbean:
Trinidad, Jamaica, and Haiti, 3rd ed. Rio
Piedras: Institute of Caribbean Studies,
University of Puerto Rico. 1980.
-.'Religion and Justice: Some Reflections
on the Rastafari Movement.' Phylon, 46:
4 (286-291) 1965.
-.'Afro-Caribbean Religions.' Encyclo-
pedia of Religion. New York: Macmillan.
3 (90-98) 1967.
Simpson, George Eaton and J. Milton
Yinger. 1953; 1985. Racial and Cultural
Minorities: An Analysis of Prejudice and
Discrimination. New York: Harper &
Brothers; Plenum.
Smith, M. G., Roy Augier and Rex M.
Nettleford. The Ras Tafari Movement m
Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston: Institute of
Social and Economic Research,
University of the West Indies. 1960.
Yawney, Carole D. 'Remnants of All
Nations: Rastafarian Attitudes Toward
Ethnicity and Nationality.' In Frances
Henry, ed., Ethnicity in the Americas.
Le Hague: Mouton. 1976.

Photographs by George E. Simpson, National
Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Inatituron

George A. Aarons, consultant Archaeologist/Anthropolo-
gist has returned to Jamaica after spending eleven years in
the Bahamas where he was consultant to the Government.

Marguerite Curtin has pursued a life-long interest in
Jamaica's history and culture. She worked for nine years
with the National Heritage Trust and is now Director of
Culture in the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Ivan Goodbody is Professor Emeritus in the Department of
Zoology, University of the West Indies

W. J. Hanna, Head of the Department of Anaesthetics and
Intensive Care at the University Hospital writes
occasionally for JAMAICA JOURNAL on matters of historical

Judith Mendes teaches in the Zoology Department of the
University of the West Indies

Annie Paul is the Publications Editor at the Institute of
Social and Economic Research, University of the West
Indies, Mona and Managing Editor of the Caribbean
Review of Books.

Heather Royes, a communications planner and project
development specialist, has been writing poetry for 25
years. In 1993 her unpublished collection of poems won the
Poetry Prize in the Book Development Council's first
Literary Competition.

C. H. Senior gained his Ph.D. in History from the
University of the West Indies. He now teaches in England.

George E. Simpson is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and
Anthropology at Oberlin College, Ohio. His pioneer studies
of Rastafarianism began in 1953 when he came to Jamaica
to conduct field work on Revival groups, particularly in
West Kingston.





9eorge 714 J'7arons

n the McKenzie District above Top Aboukir in St Ann, almost at the geographical
Centre of Jamaica, there is a small rock shelter, roughly eight feet high (2.5 m) with
a floor of some 140 sq ft (13 sq m) filled in places to a depth of well over four feet
(1.25 m) with bat guano, limestone dust and organic detritus.

At some time in the 1940s, an Aboukir resident, whose
name is withheld here, removed from a flat rock in the
southern section of this limestone pocket cave three carved
wooden objects. Believing them capable of bestowing
superior powers upon him, he took them to his home.
However, it is said that the same night unseen hands
threatened to strangle him. As a result, he returned the objects
to the cave.
Some two decades later, another resident, Mr Leonard
Clayton, heard the story and went to view the objects, which
were still in the cave. In June 1972, with a friend, he returned
to the cave and took the carved wooden pieces to his house.
There he hid them under his bed for almost twenty years,
awaiting a time when he believed the world would be ready to
receive them. He fully realized their connections with the
prehistoric Amerindian inhabitants of Jamaica and that they
were of supreme magico-religious importance.
On June 12, 1992, at Mr Clayton's request, a Mr Neville
Young of Aboukir contacted the Jamaica National Heritage
Trust (JNHT) about this find. A team led by Mr Dorrick Grey,
then Acting Technical Director of Archaeology, was
dispatched to Aboukir where between August 22 and 29 they
examined the three objects and their provenance. After some
discussion, Mr Clayton released the finds and led the JNHT
team to the findspot. Two small test pits were dug in the
middle of the cave and in front of the flat rock, producing
rodent and lizard bones and quartz crystals. The flat rock was

found to be a small platform like a seat facing the cave
entrance. The team arranged for the finds to be transported to
the Port Royal Project Centre for Archaeological Research.
There they received some superficial conservation treatment
and in October 1992 were transferred to the National Gallery.
Since then the carvings have been almost continuously on
public display, most recently as the centrepiece of Arawak
Vibrations: Homage to the Jamaican Taino, an exhibition
marking the quincentennial of the first encounter between the
Jamaican Tainos and Christopher Columbus. Mr Clayton
later received an honorarium from the government on behalf
of the nation for caring for the objects and for his generosity
in bringing them to the attention of the Jamaica National
Heritage Trust.
The three wooden carvings from Aboukir were given
wide coverage outside Jamaica. They were featured on US
television (CNN) in October 1992 and, in September 1993, an
item in the 'Geographica' section of National Geographic
quoted this writer and showed the largest of the carvings. My
first knowledge of the find was from Professor Barry Higman
of the History Department, University of the West Indies,
while I was on a visit to Jamaica in December 1992. I first
viewed the pieces in early January 1993. Discussions with Mr
Ainsley Henriques, Chairman, JNHT, Dr Boxer and Mr Grey
led to my subsequent study of them with the purpose of
documenting and classifying the finds and preparing a soon-
to-be-published monograph.


Object A. Staff with carved male figure
Height: 150 cm

The lower section of the staff, slightly less than half
the length, is a tapered shaft with a rounded end. The
upper section consists of a carved male figure. A small
projection rises from the top of the head and possibly
served as a mount for some finishing feature, e.g. a
small cup or bowl. Below the curving hairline, what
appears to be a helmet-like feature covers the brow,
the cheeks and the jaw on each side as far as the
protruding chin. It also protects the nose which has
flared nostrils. The round, staring eye sockets
(diameter 3.5 cm), the hollows at the ears (diam. 2 cm)
and the elliptical mouth (max. diam. 7 cm), would all
have held ornamental inlays. The neck is elongated
and the shoulders hunched, the upper arms are held
close to the torso and the forearms and hands laid at an
angle across the upper body, the stylized 'spatula-
shaped' hands without fingers in 'supplicant pose'.
Below the lower abdomen, a stylized projection and
vertical, incised circles represent the genitalia. The
legs are held apart with emphasized calves and
suggested knee and ankle joints and thighs. The feet
are joined at the toes. Traces of white pigmentation
viz. calcium carbonate (chalk ) or soil paste on certain
areas of carved figure and shaft.

Wood: possibly mahogany (Swietenia mahogani)
Conservation condition; Vertical hairline exterior
cracks and splits at 'hairline and helmet-like features',
face, neck, chest, abdomen and stomach to genitalia
and along staff.
State of preservation: Fair to good

The Findspot
The exact original findspot and the orientation of the three
pieces to one another and also to the cardinal points can never
again be absolutely determined. That this is so is due to the
events outlined above and the circumstances of their retrieval,
replacement and second retrieval as recorded between the
1940s and 1972. It is conceivable that, even if the reconstruc-
tion made possible by the information provided by Mr
Clayton and the first 'remover' were substantially correct, the
cave described above might not be the original or primary
depository of the objects. This uncertainty, therefore, limits
the conclusions that can safely be drawn about the actual cave
'findspot' identified by Mr Clayton.
The three wooden carvings are undoubtedly attributable
to the pre-Columbian Amerindian inhabitants of Jamaica, the
Taino. There are many other precedents in Jamaica and
elsewhere for the Taino placing important objects in caves
and other hiding places for socio-cultural reasons as well as to

keep them safe from Columbus and his successors who
deemed them idolatrous and their destruction an imperative.
As has happened often before, these objects were not found as
part of a professional stratigraphic archaeological field para-
digm, thus severely depreciating the value of any locational
data. It is hoped, however, that future planned stratigraphic
excavations will be undertaken and will unearth undisturbed
strata which may contain data related to the objects so as to
address adequately the primary location issue.

Absolute dating tests and detailed ethnobotanical analysis
of the Aboukir finds have not yet been conducted although
minute wood samples accidentally split off the carvings
during their removals have been collected for the purpose. A
relative dating can be assigned by association with similar
dated objects, the assumption being, as seems likely, that they
are coeval. They are undoubtedly neither modern creations

Object C. Spoon or scoop
Height: 14 cm

Object B. Avian figure
Height: 63 cm

The standing avian figure is surmounted by a
platform, semi-oval in shape, supported by a
vertical, 'limb-like' shape which rises from
the back of the figure between the folded
wings. This support curves into the convex
base of the surmounting platform. The slightly
peaked head has 'staring eye' orbits and a
'beak ring'; the closed beak rests lightly
against the bird's breast. The bird stands erect,
supported by two sturdy 'legs', on a curved
base which repeats the curve of the underside
of the surmounting platform. Carved detail is
on the two halves of the beak, the recessed eye
orbits, the wings and on the under-belly below
the breast. There is no trace of pigmentation
on this object.
Wood: possibly Lignum Vitae (Guatacum
Conservation condition: No significant cracks
or splits noted
State of preservation: Good

The slightly elongated head which forms the
'handle' of the scoop or spoon has recessed eye
sockets possibly intended to hold inlays, which
are missing, a pronounced, slightly tapered
nose under a 'pointed' brow, a 'grinning'
elliptical mouth cavity, also recessed for
possible inlays. On either side and just above
the level of the mouth, where the ear lobes
would be, are sockets for possible inlays. Slight
indentations under both eyes emphasize the
high cheekbones. Below the head, the 'neck'
curves out into a petal-shaped spoon-like form
slightly recessed near the base. There is no
trace of pigmentation on this object but there is
evidence of external polishing/burnishing,
especially on the upper obverse of the 'spoon'.
Wood: possibly ebony viz Brya ebenus;
Leguminosae (Faboidae) or Ebenaceae
possibly Lonchocarpus patens
Urb., Sophora Saxicola Proctor
Conservation condition: There has been some
loss of mass from the upper head region as well
as on the lower part of the 'spoon' and the
lower part of the left ear socket; there are a few
hairline cracks and splits on the lower front
obverse of the 'spoon
State of preservation: Fair to good


nor modem fakes. Based on their condition, the condition of
the carving and the condition of the wood itself together with
the absolute authenticity of the figures depicted, these pieces
can be identified as genuine Taino products.
Jamaica's past can be divided into four basic periods:
prehistoric, proto-historic, early historic and later historic.
The craftsmanship displayed in the objects and its non-
European and non-African attributes suggests a time prior to
the 'early-historic' period. Jamaican artifacts which can be
dated as belonging to the 'early historic' period of a non-
Hispanic nature represent either a 'debased' Taino tradition or
an acculturatedd' Taino tradition with clear Hispanic and
African influences. This can be seen most obviously in the
ceramic assemblages and in examples from New Seville
(Sevilla la Nueva), White Marl and elsewhere. The three
carvings therefore are attributable to the pre-Columbian Taino
prehistoric period and Taino origins, specifically to the
premier tradition of Taino craftsmanship associated with the
Redware and 'earlier' White Marl style ceramic complexes,
dateable to c.600 AD -1000 AD, rather than to ceramic
complexes of the 'later' White Marl and Fairfield styles,
dateable to c.1000 AD-1600 AD. The Redware and earlier
White Marl styles are characterized by a higher technical,
technological and artistic achievement, particularly in the
ceramic assemblages. A preliminary date of c.1000 AD is
offered for the probable chronological context of the Aboukir

Caves and cultural remains
The use of caves by the Jamaican and Caribbean Taino as
multi-purpose depositories has been recorded from the
sixteenth century to the present time for burials, for
petroglyph sculptures and pictograph murals, all with
corollary mystical and religious connotations. Caves were
also used by the Taino as sacrosanct shrines and sanctuaries
wherein were placed 'images' of supreme magico-religious,
iconographic, socio-cultural and socio-political significance
accessed only by the nitaino,'the noble ones', specifically the
caCiques (chiefs) and the boyezlbohuti (the shamen).
Within Caribbean Taino material culture assemblages of
art and craft objects of various dimensions in bone, clay,
stone, ivory, wood, shell, guannin and dor6 gold (mined gold
and river gold) and other materials, can be found sculptures
and carvings of heads, figures and shapes in anthropo-
morphic, zoomorphic or zoological form depicting the
principal and minor deities of the Taino pantheon. Such
images are termed generally zemis. These simple or complex
objects are often combined with a more secular use, can be
free-standing or pendant for use and display, individually or
as part of an object arrangement. They include 'stone collars',
ceramic containers such as 'boat-shaped' vessels decorated
with adornos, (clay sculptured images), greenstone petaloid
celts, wooden duhos (ceremonial seats) and stone metates
(elaborate grain-kneading platforms). There are also spears
and spearheads of wood, stone, shell and bone; darts,
throwing-sticks and stone axes; wooden canoes and oars;
wooden bowls, wooden fire drills; bone, stone, shell, wooden,
coral and other beads; gold jewellery; organic fibre
containers, baskets of various types, calabash gourds; three-
pointed stones, anthropomorphic/zoomorphic/zoological
statues in multimedia; ceramic cloth-marking stamps and
seals, shell masks and stone, bone, and wooden vomiting
spatulae and other objects.

Ipl I p I I
.2 3 9!'''' '' 'i"'''~I''''I''

A polished greenstone petaloid cet a common Taino tool

The earliest published probable depiction of a carved
Jamaican Taino wooden image is shown in a cartouche on the
1752 AD West Indian map of Captain John Henry Schroeter.
Around the border of the plan are illustrations of zemis, at
least two of which are wooden, described as 'characteristic of
the aboriginal inhabitants of the Antilles'. One of these two
has a 'helmeted head' on a tapered wooden cylinder, all
carved out of one piece, resembling Object A. The exact
provenance of this cartouche remains obscure but Schroeter
served as a captain of the garrison at Fort Balcarres,
Trelawny, and could have observed such objects there. The
cartouche also bears similarities to the earliest, unequivocably
Jamaican Taino cave-provenanced wooden zemis, described
below, found about the time of the publication of the plan.
Still not fully provenanced, two wooden zemis were
found some time before May 25, 1757 AD, on 'a large
Jamaican estate, near the entrance of a deep cave'. One was
presented on that date to the British Museum by James
Theobald who described it as having been found by a friend
'some years ago'. This zemi may be the same as a small
wooden carving (39.5 cm high) now at the British Museum
depicting a pelican and snake entwined at the mouth under a
cohoba bowl. Cohoba is the Arawak word for tobacco,
particularly in its powdered form as snuff. In the cohoba
ceremony, the powdered tobacco in the cohoba bowl was lit
and the participants drew the smoke up through a forked nose
pipe called a tabaco. This was the word the early Spanish
colonizers mistakenly applied to what we now know as
tobacco. The second zemi may be that housed at the Museum
of Primitive Art in New York and later at the Rockefeller
Foundation, Washington DC. It has been given a Jamaican
provenance, and has a grotesque, staring visage and male
torso. This figure holds a cohoba bowl. Irving Rouse and Jose
Arrom have described this zemi as depicting the Taino deity
Baidrama. Both objects are believed to be of mahogany.
Three more wooden carvings were found by a land
surveyor in June, 1792, in a natural dry cave near the peak of
high hill called 'Spots' in the Carpenter's Mountains of the

The Taino Bird Man (height 88.8 cm) lound in the Carpenter's Mountains in 1792
and now in the British Museum.

old Vere parish, southern Manchester. They were facing the
east, towards the rising sun and Hispaniola. On April 11,
1799, they were presented to the British Museum, where they
remain today. The three wooden carvings in this find consist-
ed of a male figure with a weeping face and outstretched legs,
a human torso and the arms bent at the sides across the lower
body; an anthropomorphic figure with an avian head and the
arms and legs outstretched from a human body (88.8 cm),
the so-called 'Bird Man'; and a 'grotesque-faced weeping
figure' with a flattened canopy above the head, joined hands
and stylized feet (37.5 cm).
In July 1939, the government of Jamaica submitted a
request for the repatriation of these pieces, discovered in 1792.
In response, the Trustees of the British Museum presented
Jamaica with plaster casts of the male figure and the Bird
Man and, in error, a cast of 'the 1757 pelican and snake
carving'. All three have been on display at the White Marl
Arawak Museum since it opened in 1966.
Since the 1960s an attempt has been made to rediscover
the 'high hill' once known as Spots. In 1965 a cavern in the
Carpenter's Mountains known locally as the 'Image Cave'
yielded to Dr James W. Lee, then President of the Archaeo-
logical Society of Jamaica, no wooden carvings, pictographs
or petroglyphs but a wooden spindle or loom weight, the sole
example in Caribbean Taino collections. This discovery
proved that the Taino at least made use of the Image Cave.
The cave is located within a twenty-mile radius of the
Redware Ceramic Site Complex at Alligator Pond and the
Aboukir Cave findspot itself. The Spots finds, like the
Aboukir pieces, were very exceptionally found all in one
place and, in the context of the Caribbean Taino, represent a

The Weeping figure' with canopy (height 37.5 cm) also part of the
Carpenter's Mountain find.

unique combination of images, among the finest achieve-
ments known of Taino Art.
A ninth Jamaican Taino wooden carving was reportedly
located within the same decade as the Aboukir find in a
shallow cave immediately in front of the present New Seville
Great House gate, St Ann. I was told in March, 1991, that in
the 1940s a child at play fell into this cave and came out
holding a small wooden figure about twelve inches high,
apparently made of lignum vitae and with a 'hideous doll-
face'. It was eventually mislaid in the overseer's house at
Seville. I had heard this story earlier from Captain Charles
Cotter in 1975 and I do not doubt its veracity. The object has
not been seen for some fifty years but it appears to have been
similar to the known pieces. It too was found in a cave, also
within a twenty-mile radius of Aboukir, near to the large
Taino site of Maima which featured prominently in Jamaica's
proto-historic period.
Thus, prior to the Aboukir find, six Taino carved wooden
objects had been discovered in Jamaica in three separate
caves with heights varying from one to three feet. They
contain anthropomorphic, zoomorphic or zoological images
similar enough and with sufficient parallels to each other to
be deemed to relate to one culture, the Taino Nation. The
'Aboukir' objects are similarly linked to these six and extend
the height range from six inches to five feet six inches.

The Pantheon
The Jamaican (Caribbean) Taino were pantheists whose
mythology and religion included vibrant magico-religious
forces founded upon four principal deities and a number of
minor spirits, all of which were represented and incarnated in

human or semi-human form materially as zemis made of or
depicted on wood or stone. Animistic in manifestation, the
foundation was based on ancestral and creation stories to
explain human and elemental origins. The stories provided a
conduit to the deities for appeals and blessings, enabling the
individual to achieve a utopian afterlife.
The primary male deity was god of the heavens, the
elements, the skies, volcanoes, thunder, lightning, storms and
hurricanes, which word is itself derived from the Arawak
'Huracan', an alternative named for this deity. His counterpart
was the female earth goddess, his mother and sometimes
consort who controlled fertility, agriculture, flora and fauna,
valleys and bodies of water. The third deity was the guardian
who led the dead Taino to their heaven, Coyoba, in the islands
to the south. His counterpart, also male, was a kind of
benevolent uncle and father benefactor, uncle and brother-in-
law of the first deity and brother of the second who myste-
riously watched over the living Taino and could dispense
intercessions and blessings. Other important deities evolved
from the ancestral and creation stories with specific names
and powers. The pantheon was completed by the one to ten
zemis manifested in all living things and who could be
contacted by depiction. These depictions themselves were
transformed into zemis and could provide replacements for
the flora and fauna consumed as food.
Associated with religious duties and their observance
were ceremonies and rituals, incorporating areitos (songs and
dances in established forms), customs and traditions relative
to various illnesses, famine, drought, prosperity, death,
interment, the seasons, lunar and solar cycles etc. and
intended to express supplication or gratification. These
included the various forms of the cohoba ceremony. The
content of the rituals was related to the purpose and all were
conducted at carefully prescribed venues such as the zemi
bohio, the abode of the bohutilboyez, the cacique's bohio, the
dwelling of the'god-king/queen' who also functioned as
principal shaman. Other venues were particular natural places
such as blue or ocean holes on land and under water and
marked boulders or caves, wet or dry, specially associated
with the principal female deity. Within these natural sites, and
oriented usually towards the rising sun, the principal male
deity and the ancestral home, could be placed any of an
assemblage of sacred objects including duhos, the bodies of
the nitaino, pictographs, petroglyphs, canoes and oars, and
carved anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and zoological zemis
representing the principal and minor deities.
The paramount ritual, the cohoba ceremony, would take
place in a venue with preparations, accoutrements and
participants appropriate to the significance of the occasion.
The cacique and bohutilboyez, the principals, would abstain
from food and other bodily pleasures for days beforehand.
Adorning themselves in full regalia, including feathered
headdresses, capes and jewellery, with bodies intricately
painted primarily in red, black and white patterns, they would
use vomiting spatulae to void their stomachs. Entering the
ceremonial area, they would place the cohoba in the form of
snuff in a receptacle raised above a zemi, and having lit it,
amidst appropriate areitos, would draw the smoke up their
nostrils directly to the brain using a tabaco, the forked nose
pipe. Hallucinogenic trances were thus induced during the
ceremony which could take hours. Communication with the
deities could ensue, often resulting in prophecy.

Each of the principal deities had a number of names and
name combinations, as well as associated sub-deities, relative
to aspects of their powers. These names have been preserved
for us largely through writings in European languages, and
especially English and Spanish, so the orthograhies used here
are derived from those early works. The principal male deity
was Yocahuna, usually shown with (at least stylized) male
genitalia, with (at least partially) outstretched legs, with arms
akimbo or laid to the sides or flat across the mid-torso, often
with some kind of headdress, often adorned with some
clothing and jewellery, with exaggerated eye sockets and
mouths designed for insets to seal these body openings, and
sometimes also with pigmentation. The figure of Yocahuna
could be used to dignify a composite utilitarian piece, such as
Object A, a staff of office, or a vomiting spatula, a stone
collar or a belt. The image could also consist of a head alone,
head and torso or full body, forming more than one image on
the sides of the'prayer-stones' or 'three-pointed stones'.
Alternate names include Marcoti, Yobanua-Borna, Huracan
and Baidrama.
Sometimes Yocahuna lived in Giovovava, the cave of
human creation, in which he at times imprisoned himself.
Yocahuna's main helpers were Guabanex, manipulator of
wind and water, a seducer, represented by a cotton zemi;
Boiniael, a rain and wind god, representing the sun, a son of
the master of water, kept in a cave at Tomboyna from which
the sun and moon had emerged, and Maroio also a rain and
wind god, representing the moon and also a son of the master
of water.
The paramount female deity was Atabeyra, usually shown
with (at least stylized) female genitalia, sometimes with
suggested breasts and a distended stomach, with head, arms
and legs treated like those of Yocahuna and, like him, with
decorated eyes and mouth. She too could dignify a composite
utilitarian piece such as a prayer stone or three pointed stone,
with dual or more images, affixing her to the earth, but
directing her to heaven via the mound of her fertile, pregnant
stomach. Alternate names include lermaoguacer, Mamona,
Apito, Siella, Suimaco, Cotyabara and Baidrama.
The third deity, usually in the form of a 'grotesque-faced'
male, was called Opiyel Guaobiran. He had bulging eyes and
nose, a grinning mouth and a generally convulsed face. When
shown with a torso, he had outstretched hands or hands
holding a receptacle for the cohoba. Garbed as the two above
deities, he could also be part of a composite object for
utilitarian use or could be shown on a 'prayer-stone. His
hostility was intended to ward off the Kalina, the evil spirits,
thereby safeguarding the deceased Tainos on their journey to
Coyabo. Alternate names included Marquetarie Guyaba: the
'Lord of Coyaba'.
The mysticism surrounding the fourth primary deity,
Guaca, the 'guardian spirit of the living', meant that he was
less frequently depicted than the other three. In appearance
and dress like the others, he was shown in an attitude convey-
ing wisdom and sometimes melancholy. Guaca also served as
the guardian of the cacique dynasty and succession, through
the cacique's maternal uncle. Alternate names included
Faraguuaol, represented by a tree trunk, incarnated as a wan-
dering spirit, given to magical tricks. These principal deities
could also be manifested in animal form, emphasizing their
specific powers or origins as seen in certain species of fauna.


Columbus, his cohorts and successors actively tried to
destroy the Taino religion and all its material manifestations
although some objects were presented to the 'Catholic Kings',
the Pope and the nobility. Few survive. What material culture
remains in the Caribbean consists of what the Taino them-
selves saved, what the Europeans did not find, what Hispanic
researchers such as Fray Ramon Pan6 and Dr Diego Chanca
collected and saved and, finally, from what later became
archaeological middens, buried in the rubble of Taino
settlements and holy places, destroyed or deserted, through
Columbus and the other chroniclers of the siglo de oro,
Spain's golden age, as well as later writers have left us
descriptions of the superb artistic achievement of the Taino
and their iconography, including the objects handled only by
the nitaino such as the royal staff of office of the paramount
caciques, surmounted by a zemi, usually carved from one of
the precious woods such as ebony, mahogany, lignum vitae,
silk cotton or cedar. Such objects would have been displayed
and used on special occasions, but only by a very few. No
staff of office was thought to have survived.
From the chroniclers' descriptions, it is clear that Object
A from Aboukir must be the ceremonial staff of office of a
Taino cacique, the only known example extant and an object
not seen for perhaps four and a half centuries. At prescribed
times, each cacique sat on a duho on the porch of his bohios
holding a ceremonial staff resembling Object A and waiting
for his subjects to perform their civil, military and religious
duties to him. The size, weight and height of this piece and
the imagery of the carved figure of Yocahuna, suggests that
this carving can be identified as the royal and ceremonial staff
of office of a paramount cacique, perhaps the paramount
cacique of eleventh century Jamaica. The missing projection
above the head may have been a demitasse-sized receptacle
for a special ointment, pigment or ornament. The eye sockets
and mouth might have originally held insets of gold, shell,
pearl, etc. and the white pigmentation might relate to the
cohoba or some other ceremony.
Object B must be a support for a cohoba ceremony
receptacle. The image of the pelican relates both to Yocahuna
and Atabeyra with linkages to the heavens (flight) and the
earth and the sea. Its importance is attested by its size and its
artistic achievement. The wood used attests to intended
permanence. The stance of the pelican suggests the sagacity
of Guaca, guarding the living. This carving might also have
had insets, now absent. The life-size scale adds to the
importance of the piece and the 'hooded quality' of the
slightly peaked head suggests further iconographic links to
Guaca (and possibly also Opiyel Guaobiran).
Object C is a spoon or scoop for placing the cohoba into
the receptacle to be placed on the platform above the pelican
carving during the cohoba ceremony. The surmounting figure
is clearly Opiyel Guaobiran, in his Lord of Coyoba
manifestation: Maquetari Guyaba. Originally, this piece
might also have had inlays for the eyes and other features.
The fact that all three objects are carved from the precious
woods, mahogany, lignum vitae and ebony, increases their
Placing all three of the Aboukir carvings in the context of
their findspot, one can perhaps visualize the paramount
cacique seated on the flat platform holding the Yocahuna staff

while cohoba was placed with the scoop into a receptacle
resting on the platform atop the pelican figure. Above ground
level, as with the 1992 Spots findspot, the cacique would be
closer to the deities with which he communed. The suggestion
is also that the Aboukir findspot is a Taino sanctum
sanctorum. Like Spots, the original orientation of these
carvings might have been to the east. Also significant is the
fact that the findspot itself lies almost at the geographical
centre of Jamaica, nearly equidistant from Spots, the south
coast Redware sites, Maima at Seville and the north coast
Redware sites. If this is indeed the original findspot of the
carvings, it may actually represent the Taino bohio of
Jamaica; the primordial home and contact point with the
principal deities; the ancestral home, the original Bohio and
Coyaba and indeed, the seat of Taino power and sovereignty
in Jamaica.

The above represents a summary of a) 'The Aboukir zemis: A
remarkable relic of the paramount Jamaican Taino caqiquedom and
its religious iconography', a monograph by this author, Nassau/
Kingston:1993/4, prepared for the Jamaica National Heritage Trust
and the National Gallery of Jamaica, a forthcoming publication of
the Rio Nuevo Heritage Foundation monograph series and, with their
kind permission, offered to Jamaica Journal and b) A lecture
delivered at the National Gallery of Jamaica on May 17, 1994 within
the Institute of Jamaica's 'Downtown Forum Series' as part of
Arawak Vibrations: Homage to the Jamaican Taino,'an exhibition to
mark the quincentennial of the first encounter between the Jamaican
Tainos and Christopher Colombus: presented in association with the
Jamaica National Heritage Trust.


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K European
or Amerindian
Inspiration? Ki

Marguerite Curtin

Sevilla la Nueva, sometimes
referred to as Sevilla de Oro, is
'., i" situated in the parish of St Ann,
Jamaica. The Amerindian village
4 jof Maima, a Taino Arawak settle-
ment, was once on this site. It was
here that Christopher Columbus on
his fourth and last voyage spent
one year, June 1503 to June 1504,
stranded on the island with his
Stwo worm-eaten ships; beached on
the north coast of Jamaica which
he had claimed for his family and
which his son, Diego, asserted was
without dispute indeed his father's
Fig. 1. Doorjamb with shells and two winged monsters 'discovery'.
130x56.25 cm

Just four years after Columbus's death in 1505, the settle-
ment of Seville was started by Juan de Esquivel, who had
been appointed governor by the Columbus family.
Here, in 1509, a town was laid out. In an island described by
Columbus as 'the fairest island eyes have beheld', it is not
surprising that those who desired to build the town of Seville
wished it also to be the fairest town eyes had beheld.
The layout for Seville, the third Spanish town founded in
the 'New World', was similar to that of the two earlier
towns, Santo Domingo in Hispaniola and Caparra in Puerto
Rico. They were all built on the pattern of the Royal grid plan
first laid down for Santa Fe in Spain, the town built outside
Granada by 'Los Reyes Catolicos' during their siege of the
last Islamic region of Spain.
On the Seville property was the quarry which supplied the
stone for the building of this town. Edward Long writing in

Fig. 2. Doorjamb with two female Amerindian figures
emerging from foliage. 132.5x 56.25 cm

1774 said that 'close adjoining to the spot where Seville
once stood is a fine white free-stone, which is soft when first
dug up but hardens after exposure. Here was plenty of excel-
lent material for architecture.' He went on to say that he had
'seen some plaster which could scarcely be broken with an
Archaeological Discoveries 1937
Hans Sloane who was in Jamaica earlier than Long -
between 1687 and 1689 and who visited the Seville planta-
tion tells us that 'a great many wells are in this ground'.2
Even in 1774 Long wrote that he had seen portions of
masonry taken from 'an old Spanish tank or cistern'.
Riding over the Seville property in 1937, in the area
known as Castlefield, Geraint Casserly, the overseer, dis-
covered a bricked-up well when his horse stumbled upon it.

Few finds excite more than the discovery
of a well and this one was to prove no
exception for from it Casserly and Charles
Cotter, Jamaica's first archaeologist,
eventually drew up out of the water remnants
of fine masonry work: carved pilasters,
cornices, lintels and door jambs. Five years
ago I had the opportunity of speaking with
Jack Ritchie, who was a lad of sixteen in
1937.3 He recalled how he and his father, the
Administrator General of Jamaica at the
time, travelled from Kingston, eager to see
the precious find. Both father and son were
aware that an event of historic significance
had taken place. He recalls seeing the pieces
of masonry, wrapped in crocus bag (burlap)
lying in the pimento storehouse of the great
house; they were being sprinkled constantly
with water to keep them moist, since they
had for centuries been in water in the well.
Were they stored or dumped? And when did
this take place? Were they put there for safe-
keeping when the settlement was abandoned
by the Spanish in the mid-1530s? Or were
they dumped after 1655, when the English
had seized the island? Did an irate Captain
Hemming, anxious to plant sugar cane on his
new plantation (for which he had been grant-
ed a patent in 1674) throw them into the well?
These questions still remain unanswered but
archaeological work may yet give us the clues
when other wells are discovered and excavat-
ed. In late 1989 men doing road work on the
verge of the public highway which bisects
the property chanced upon one such well.

The Builders of New Seville
Who were the people who built this town?
Francisco de Garay, who assumed the office
of Governor of Jamaica on behalf of the
Spanish Crown in 1515, was an important
An excellent administrator, he established
farms and ranches in the island which, in
turn, attracted more settlers to Jamaica.
Charles I (Emperor Charles V) made him
responsible for the conversion and good
treatment of 'the Indians' in his charge.
Eventually, hopes of reaching the American
mainland lured this Basque adventurer from
the island. A rival of Cortes, he died in
Mexico in 1523. The carving of a coat of
arms shown in figure 8 is reminiscent of a
simpler one in the Basque region of Spain,
where the name de Garay is to be found. It
shows a tree, a wolf and a castle.Was this
stone piece part of the castle in which we
know Garay lived before leaving for the
mainland? Another builder, Juan de
Mendegurren, succeeded Francisco de
Garay as governor.

Fig. 3. Decorated stone column.
195x 36.25 cm

Friars and Prelates
We are aware of the presence of the
Franciscan order at Seville during the period
of early settlement but what of the
Jeronomites?4 In their blue habits, this
Order, which was much beloved by Charles
I (Emperor Charles V),5 had arrived in the
islands of the Greater Antilles in the year
1517. Originally a fourteenth century order
of hermits under the Rule of St Augustine, in
the late fifteenth and early sixteenth
centuries it was used by the Holy See to
reform other religious orders which had lost
their first zeal. In Jamaica the order would
have sought to right the wrongs inflicted
under the Encomienda system, originally
designed to protect the Amerindians.
The first four abbots of Jamaica were
all absentees: Don Sancho Matienzo, Don
Luis de Figueroa, Don Andres Lopes Frias
and Don Pedro Martyr.6 There appears to
have been a strong Jeronimite connection
with both Figueroa and Peter Martyr. Was
the Church a Jeronimite one?
Don Pedro Martyr who was born in
1457 at Arona, near Anghiera, Italy, appears
to have been the most influential of these
four men. In 1489 he went to the University
of Salamanca, Spain, by special invitation.
Later he was to go to the Spanish court
where he taught nobles and prominent
Spanish citizens. He became the official
Chronicler in 1511, having access to all
documents which passed through the
powerful Council of the Indies. It should
also be remembered that Abbot Peter Martyr
was personally acquainted with Christopher
Columbus. Writer of the book entitled The
Decades, there was no one to equal him in
humanistic studies and knowledge of the
Indies. In fact, his appointment to the
Abbacy of Jamaica in 1524 indicated that
Jamaica ranked high in the eyes of both
Spain and Rome.7
The career of Peter Martyr, Abbot of
Jamaica, coincides with the flowering of late
Gothic art in Spain, his adopted country,
and it is therefore essential for us to look
briefly at art in the Spain of Peter Martyr.

Spanish Art 1480-1530
The decorative style of the Late Gothic
(estileflorido) reached its zenith in that
kingdom in the late fifteenth century. The
splendour of decorative elements now
outweighed the architectural elements and
was expressed in a style called plateresque
(meaning silversmith-like) which was often
extravagant and florid, conveying great
animation and energy.


Fig. 6. Symmetrical flower and leaf design. 47.5x 50 cm

Fig. 5. Limestone block deco
suit of armour and shields. 11

Fig. 4. Doorjamb with bird and
leaf forms. 130x 22.5cm

During this period, innumerable foreign artists were
finding employment in Spain. The leading ones came from
the Netherlands, and among those ingenious craftsmen was
Gil de Siloe. There were artists who were sufficiently
talented to be able to solve any task in a truly creative
manner. The Spanish environment, however, with its strong
tinge of Moorish culture, had in turn an immense influence
on these foreigners whose work now reflected certain
features of Spanish art.8
Sculpture flourished under this decorative dominance.
Commissions for portals, altars, choir benches, tombstones,
and other pieces attracted stone masons and wood carvers
who introduced every conceivable variation of style into their
work. Shortly before 1520, great national artists, who have
sometimes been referred to as the Spanish Eagles, emerged:
among the foremost were Bartolome Ordonez and Diego de
Siloe (believed to be the son of Gil de Siloe).
Ordonez's early death robbed the Spanish Renaissance of
a great talent but his association with the younger sculptor
Diego de Siloe of Burgos who had done his apprenticeship in
Florence, meant that there was yet another Spanish artist who
could express space and compose with clarity and force. In
San Miguel at Onate, Guipuzcoa, is a large monument

,rated with
85x 25cm

Fig. 7. Detail from Virgin
and Child choir stall by
Diego de Siloe, 1528-30
in the church of San
Jeronomo, Granada.

commissioned by the Bishop of Granada. At the Cathedral of
Granada, Siloe's main sculptural works are four portals done
in the 1530s. The most elaborate is the Puerta del Perdon
(1537). Faith and Justice are amid the artist's usual motifs -
grotesque friezes and panels enlivened by monsters, nude
athletes, sprouting bird and flower forms. Although this
distinguished architect and sculptor travelled to many cities
in Spain where he was much in demand, it is in Granada that
Siloe did most of his work and where his influence was felt
well into the seventeenth century. Both in Burgos and in
Granada he left numerous pupils.9

The Church in New Seville
In this artistic atmosphere, it is not surprising that Abbot
Peter Martyr would wish that the most beautiful church
should be his own in Seville in Jamaica. His church would
rival any church in Europe. Construction began in 1524. By
1526 it was well on its way but in October of that year, Peter
Martyr died.
Upon the death of Martyr, a disgruntled and troublesome
official by the name of Pedro Mazuelo disrupted the building
of the church; although Charles I gave instructions that the

Fi. 8. Part of frieze showing coat of arms with grotesque supporting figure, bird and cornucopia. 51.25x 137.5 cm
Fig.9. Part of frieze with decorated shield and two simplified lion figures. 51.25x 157.5 cm

work should continue, complaints in 1533 that the stone
church was unfinished support Sloane's observation that the
church was never completed.
Judging from what both Sloane and Long have told us,
several fragments of carved work in stone such as mouldings,
festoons and cherubs that were intended for the unfinished
church 'would be thought no mean ornaments in a European
church'. Long mentioned the ruins of two buildings still
standing in 1774: a castle and a church. Both had walls
several feet thick and were cemented with a hard substance
made into lime from 'shell marble'. Sloane had described the
west gate of the church earlier: 'Over the door, in the centre,
is our Saviour's head with a crown of thorns between two
angels, on the right side a small, round figure of some saint,
the left, a madonna, her arm tied in three places, after the
Spanish fashion.'10
More than fifty years ago, in 1942, Casserly told the
Spanish historian Diego Angulo Ifiguez who visited the
church site after its destruction (it was dynamited in the
1940s) that it had six buttresses and the chapel had been five-
sided. From this description, Angulo Ififguez came to the
conclusion that it was of Gothic design and would have been
an exceptional building in the Caribbean. It would have
indeed been worthy of its outstanding absentee abbot had it
been finished before his death.

The Stone Carvers of New Seville
But who were the men who with stone and mortar
attempted to make the dream of absentee abbots such as
Martyr a reality? Still to emerge from the shadowy story of
the Spanish acquisition of the Taino Arawak site of Maima,
are two men about whom in-depth research must now be
carried out: Juan de Mendegurren, the governor mentioned
previously, and Juan de Medina, a Taino Arawak caCique
who became the carver responsible for a group of Arawak
carvers trained in the island of Jamaica itself.
Architects and craftsmen began going to the island of
Santo Domingo in the early years of settlement. One group,
contracted in 1510, sailed in that year; another sailed in 1512.
They would have come to Jamaica in a similar manner. Was
Mendegurren both governor and architect?
Whoever worked on the carvings in Seville, Jamaica,
appears to have been working in the style of Diego de Siloc.
For example, the embellishments of grotesque winged
creatures over his Virgin and Child choir stall in the church of
San Jeronimo, Granada, shown in figure 7, are startlingly
evocative of the stone fragments in Seville, Jamaica.
'Granada,' notes Professor Sylvia Wynter, 'is the city that
best provides a key to the ambiance in whose context the
aesthetic miracle of the plateresque church facades in the
"outpost" of Sevilla la Nueva was both logical and
possible.'" Granada, we recall, was where Diego de Siloc
did much of his work and where his influence was strong.


_ ._ ___.L _____~_~

But there is another aspect to 'the miracle'. It was Peter
Martyr himself who wrote that the inhabitants of Jamaica
were of more genius and skill than those of the other islands.
These Taino Arawak people, we are told, 'fashion trumpets
out of finely worked black wood'. It is not surprising, there-
fore, that the caqique, who took the baptismal name of Juan
de Medina, and his carvers would quickly adapt their work to
the Spanish craftsman's style and techniques they them-
selves worked on rock faces and carved zemis, small images
from stone, which they used in their religious ceremonies.
Professor Wynter's research findings reveal that an
Arawak group of stone carvers was eventually the only group
of stone carvers in the island of Jamaica. It is therefore a
fascinating merging of cultures that finds expression on the
Seville stones that is the miracle.
There are, perhaps, clues to be found in the stones. What is
the significance of the symbols carved on the shields in figure
4? Why are they placed beneath a Spanish suit of armour?
The squatting woman in figure 3 carries a basket piled high
with fruit on her head. Might this be a Taino representation of
fertility? Could the two Amerindian women in figure 2 be the

1. Long, Edward. The History ofJamaica, Book II. London: 1774
(Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. 1968). Chapter vii, p.81.
2. New Seville 1509-1536: Major facts, Major Questions. Jamaica:
National Heritage Trust, 1988. p. 24.
3. Interview: Ritchie/Curtin, Kingston, Jamaica. 1989.
4. Baxter, Ivy. The Arts of an Island. N.J:The Scarecrow Press, Inc.,
McLuchen, p. 31. 1970.
5. Bridges, George Wilson. The Annals of Jamaica, London: 1827
(Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. 1968). p. 532.
6. Osborne, S.J. Francis J. History of the Catholic Church in Jamaica.

origin of 'the Indians' on Jamaica's Coat-of-Arms? Who
carved the shells on the stone in figure 1?
When Angulo Iiiiguez saw the carvings at Seville, he
recognized that they were the best and earliest examples of
decorative work in the Caribbean. He acknowledged they
were unique and that they had great significance, 'not only for
the history of architecture in America but for that of the
Iberian Peninsula itself'.12
But what is truly remarkable is the suggestion put forward
for consideration by Professor Wynter that the Seville
carvings represent 'an inter-assimilation of the mimetic
aesthetic of Renaissance Spain and of the dynamic aesthetic
of the Arawak religio-symbolic system in which the carving
of zemis was intended ... to capture dynamically the spiritual
potency of the departed ancestor'. It is this amazing assimila-
tion of cultures of separate continents that makes the Seville
stones unique and significant, worthy of public viewing and
further study.

All photographs from the National Library of Jamaica

Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1988. pp 36-38
7. Ibid pp 35-36.
8. Matejech, Antonin. Art and Architecture in Europe. Batchworth
Press, London: 1960.
9. Kubler, George and Soria, Martini, Art and Architecture in Spain
and Portugal and their American Dominions 1500-1800 .London:
Penguin Books, pp. 1-42. 1959.
10. New Seville p.10.
11. Wynter, Sylvia: Unpublished abstract/summary of Report on
Research Mission (undated) Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
12. New Seville p.15.

Development: Behind the scenes

As long as there
has been an in-
dependent Jamaica,
ICD has been part of her
Development. In our Group,
several companies have a
commitment to contribute in
strengthening our country's
But ICD is more than just business; we
have a policy of helping to support and
encourage the development of education, sport

and culture in
Jamaica. ICD be-
lieves in the duty of
Businesses to help weave
the social fabric that makes
us a nation.

Together e achieve
'T Together we achieve


Map of Jamaica showing twenty-two parishes. From The Island of Jamaica by James Wyld, 1843

Asiatic Cholera in


C.H. Senior

e modern history of Asiatic cholera began in 1817. In that year the disease,
hitherto confined to parts of eastern India, spread rapidly and relentlessly across the
Subcontinent, aided by troop movements, caravans and coastal shipping. During the
five years after 1817 it burst like a tidal wave into much of Asia, into east coast Africa
and as far as the shores of the Mediterranean.

A second wave of the disease began in India in 1826, this
time extending its international career even further. In the
summer of 1831, nearly every European capital was
suffering, or had recently suffered, the ravages of cholera,
and in the following year it was transported across the
Atlantic where it afflicted North America from Quebec to
New Orleans.1 In 1833 the shores of the Mexican Gulf were
attacked by the disease with devastating virulence. In the
West Indies, however, the only island to fall victim to the
world epidemic was Cuba.
After a decade of general retreat, cholera again burst out
of India. By mid-1846 it had appeared in the Middle East,
and within a year was in the heart of Russia; by the end of
1848 it had spread across Europe and, over the following two
years, into much of the United States and Canada and into

areas along the shores of the Mexican Gulf and the
Caribbean shores of Central and South America.2 Within the
Caribbean, Cuba once again was affected and, alone among
the British possessions in the area, Jamaica was attacked.
During the world epidemic of 1853-1854, Jamaica suffered a
second attack and cholera then appeared among the islands
of the eastern Caribbean. By May 1854 it was in Barbados,
where it took some 18,000 lives; by November it had
appeared in St Christopher where within a few months an
estimated 4,000 people had died.3 And so the disease
extended its career of destruction into all the islands.
During the cholera epidemics in Jamaica, and the
epidemics of smallpox, scarlatina, measles and influenza
which appeared among the island's weakened population in
1851 and 1852, mortality statistics were usually hopelessly


inaccurate, based as they were on the work of beleaguered,
fearful and hard-pressed parochial boards of health and
private individuals whose main concern was to bury the dead
as soon as possible. The system of official registration and
certification of deaths, notoriously inefficient and inaccurate,
was even more so during the epidemic years between 1850
and 1855. Estimates of the number of deaths varied
considerably and during the first cholera epidemic alone
were put as high as 50,000 by one authority.4 In fact, the
deaths caused by all the epidemics of these years was
perhaps nearer a total of 31,000.5 Nevertheless, this was
eight per cent of the island's population.

Course of infection
The disease most responsible for sowing misery and
death in the island was a virulent form of vibrio cholera, a
micro-organism identified by Koch in 1883. The vibrio is
propagated in the human intestine and disseminated by the
oral ingestion of excreta which has contaminated water
supplies or human hands. The incubation period is often only
two or three days.
The onset of the disease is rapid and spectacular, death
sometimes occurring within a few hours. A sensation of
giddiness and weight and oppression in the stomach is
usually followed by a sudden violent purging and vomiting.
The classic diagnostic sign of the disease is the evacuation of
odourless rice-water motions. The severe, generalized
dehydration caused by the loss of body liquids is followed by
wrinkling of the skin, sinking of the eyeballs, and hollowing
of the cheeks; breathing becomes difficult and there are
strong muscular cramps. If an attack is severe, collapse is
succeeded by coma and death, death being caused by
debility, respiratory failure, acidosis, dehydration, or uremia.
An early and extreme rigor mortis follows. In untreated
cases, the fatality averages about fifty per cent, although it
may be as high as ninety per cent early in an epidemic.
Cholera patients excrete the vibrio not only during the three
or four days at the acute stage of the disease, but for up to
two, and sometimes six weeks thereafter. Healthy people can
also transmit the disease. The stress of an epidemic in a
particular area may last from three to six weeks.6

Suggested causes
During much of the nineteenth century there was vigor-
ous and often bitter disagreement about the cause, nature and
propagation of the disease. Some physicians believed cholera
acted on the heart, others that it stifled the respiratory system
or infected the stomach or poisoned the blood-stream.
Treatment was concocted to suit that part of the anatomy in
which individual physicians, and quacks, thought the seat of
the disease lay. Flies, shellfish, an unknown poison similar to
arsenic, electricity in the atmosphere which turned body fluid
acid, were variously blamed for bringing on the disease. Two
broad camps arose on the matter of its spread: contagionists,
convinced it was spread by physical contact between infected
human beings or contact with food, clothing, bed linen and
other articles touched by the infected; miasmatists, who
blamed a choleraic poison in the atmos-phere which was said
to arise from filth and rotten vegetable and waste matter
which, after lying dormant for years, was stimulated into
virulence by certain local circumstances such as a high
electric aunosphere, a marked concentration of 'miasma' and
unusually extreme temperature changes.

Sir Charles Grey, Governor of Jamaica 1850-53

In Jamaica, as elsewhere, medical and non-medical
opinion was deeply divided. This was reflected in the
attitudes to quarantine and isolation of the sick. While
contagionists stressed their importance, miasmatists (since
they believed that the disease spread independently of human
intercourse) considered shipping quarantine and isolation of
the sick not merely a waste of time, and public money, but
often positively harmful since commerce would be disrupted,
thus affecting the free importation of essential food and
medical supplies. But on at least one matter contagionists
and miasmatists were agreed: the importance of public and
private cleanliness. It did not go unnoticed that epidemics of
cholera began and usually proved most virulent in
particularly insanitary areas occupied by human beings.7

Need for sanitary reform
That there was a connection between pollution and
cholera was recognized, but in England in the 1850s the
advocacy of major, comprehensive public health and sanitary
reform by the state was put forward by only an enlightened
minority among the aristocracy and middle class. Parliament
took little interest or action, preferring to allow private
initiative and competition to have free play. And what the
British Parliament neglected, the Jamaican Assembly tended
to neglect too.8 In addition to a tradition of inaction in the
field of health and sanitation, and in services for the mass of
the population generally, the Assembly was distracted by
economic depression which, though common to all the
British West Indian colonies, was particularly acute in
Jamaica. With the British government apparently determined

to end protection for its colonial sugars in 1854, the
Assembly cried ruin. And in anticipation of this ruin the
House embarked, between 1849 and 1853, on a policy of
financial retrenchment. During this period, Supplies were
refused and expiring Revenue Acts were not renewed.9
Cholera or no cholera, even less thought than usual was
given to issues such as public health and sanitary reform.
The consequence of this neglect was 'probably the greatest
catastrophe ever visited upon the population' of the island.10

Living conditions
In Jamaica, cholera found an environment well suited to
its propagation and spread. Quarantine was neglected and
inefficient; the island's malnourished working class
population, already subject to a high degree of stomach
disorders, yaws, tuberculosis, hookworm and other
debilitating diseases, was particularly susceptible; only three
towns Spanish Town, Kingston and Falmouth were
supplied with piped water, but the price demanded by the
water companies was beyond the means of most of the
inhabitants. Most of the population obtained their water from
rainwater tanks, wells, and direct from rivers and ponds."
Filth and pollution abounded, in towns and rural areas. In
Kingston, the commercial capital with a population of
between thirty and forty thousand, sanitary measures and
local ordinances for the correction of nuisances were
generally 'neglected, unthought of, and uncared for' by its
governing body, the Corporation. A physician who visited
the town in 1851 wrote:

The usual way of getting rid of pail slops, chamber vessel
contents etc. is by tossing them into the street before the doors,
or into the lane at the side: ashes and other domestic rubbish
are generally thrown out at the same time. The accumulation
in many parts is such as to form a midden on one side of the
thoroughfare. Then, too, the surface drainings from filthy
courtyards, foul stables, fouler pigsties, housing out from
openings in the wall near the ground, flow down the side
declivities of the streets in lengthened gutters of filth, until they
stagnate in the hollows in the middle.

There were no underground drains or sewers in the town.
While the wealthier inhabitants could afford piped water,
from the Hope River, the supply was irregular and
insufficient; the majority obtained their water from wells
distributed through the town at street covers and in private
yards. This water was frequently brackish and impure, the
wells being sunk near unbricked privies whose fluid contents
permeated the soil.12
At Spanish Town, the political and administrative capital,
and at the town and naval station of Port Royal lying at the
tip of the long coral palisadess' enclosing Kingston harbour,
sanitation was just as neglected. 'Human ordure as well as
other excrementitious matters, stinking fish guts, and putrid
slops' were everywhere in Port Royal, the town where
cholera was to make its first appearance in the island. The
hovels of its one thousand established inhabitants were
crowded, dirty and damp. Pigs, dogs and goats rummaged
and scuffled in the filth of hovel yards and streets. Spanish
Town, with a population of between ten and fifteen
thousand, had three sources of water: pumped water from the
nearby Rio Cobre, which was deposited in an uncovered
reservoir (available to the better circumstanced inhabitants

three times a week);13 three wells; and a direct supply from
the Rio Cobre. There was one underground sewer, leading
from the army barracks to the river, and this was more often
than not blocked by filth which entered by open gratings
along its course. The five or more cemeteries were swampy
and choked with weeds, and sometimes emitted 'nauseous
exhalations' due to shallow burials. The negro hovels within
the town were 'squalid and miserable', as were those on the
outskirts where cholera proved to be particularly virulent.14
The island's smaller towns scattered along the coasts and the
many Negro villages in the interior presented a similar
picture in miniature.

Early warning
In 1849 the island authorities were given a warning of the
danger of allowing the pollution in their midst to remain
undisturbed. A handful of troops, mainly in Kingston, came
down with a disease having the 'symptoms of malignant
cholera'. Had not cholera been raging in several ports with
which the island was in frequent communication, these
symptoms would not have given any cause for alarm. The
Kingston Board of Health warned the Mayor and
Corporation of the danger of the spread of the disease, but
the warning was ignored. The Board lacked the executive
and financial power to take further action and the
Corporation, short of funds and racked by jobbery and
corruption,15 made no move to clean up the town. The
Governor, Sir Charles Grey, in consultation with the
Council, instructed the quarantine officers at the outports to
be 'doubly vigilant' in detaining vessels from infected or
suspected localities until they had completed five clear days
from leaving their last port without sickness on board. But to

Dr James MacFadyen
Or James MacFadyen


be doubly vigilant did not mean a great deal when the
officers were notoriously lax.16 Besides, for reasons of
diplomacy and convenience, certain vessels as, for
example, American emigrant ships and ships of the Royal
Navy were exempt from quarantine. Some ports, such as
Cuban ports, were in free communication with Port Royal
when cholera raged in Cuba.17

Cholera in Jamaica
That the island escaped a cholera epidemic in 1849 was
due more to good fortune than design. The introduction of
'malignant cholera' was only a matter of time. Although the
evidence is far from conclusive, the disease was probably
introduced in 1850 by passengers aboard an American
steamer from Chagres in Panama which called at Port Royal
and Kingston to re-coal.18 Among those in the island who
inclined to the miasmic view of the cause of cholera there
were other indications of an imminent outbreak of the
disease. Once the epidemic had started, those thinking
retrospectively and imaginatively, remembered that a dry
spring season in 1850 had not only been followed by unusual
May rains which had persisted intermittently into the late
summer but also by unusually oppressive heat and an
electrified atmosphere. Just as potato blight was said to have
been a precursor of cholera in Europe, so one of the island's
chief esculents, the coco, was said to have rotted in the
ground long before harvest time; the tides were said to have
been unusually high, and the sea breezes irregular. In the
town of Falmouth, houses were said to have become infested
with swarms of flies and mosquitoes which died in such
numbers that they were 'swept off the tables in handfulls'.
Many physicians were reported to have predicted an autumn
of severe forms of fever and dysentery. 19

Port Royal
Asiatic cholera first manifested itself on the night of
October 6, 185020 when a black washerwoman named Nanny
Johnston, an inhabitant of the filthiest section of the town of
Port Royal, collapsed, went into a coma and died, all within
the space of a few hours. A postmortem held on the
following morning confirmed the presence of the disease.
Other deaths quickly followed. During the night of the 7th
and 8th, two other Negroes, from the same yard as Nanny
Johnston, collapsed and died, both within five to seven hours
of seizure. Over the following three days, eleven others died;
within a week of the first death in the town, a total of thirty
inhabitants died. Recoveries from an attack were rare, and
the disease showed a decided preference for the black and
poor; the 'respectable' white community -cleaner and better
nourished were, with few exceptions, to escape death
during the course of the epidemic.21
Once it was known that there was cholera at Port Royal,
panic spread among the inhabitants, aided by rumours and
fear-swollen statistics of mortality published daily in the
press. Fear was the 'predominant passion' at Port Royal one
newspaper, the Despatch, reported on October 10, 'and never
was diarrhoea so abundant and instantaneous'; the 'whole
population of Port Royal seemed to be simultaneously
affected'. There was no resident physician in the town and
the Naval Hospital was already crowded with fever patients,
but a cholera hospital was hastily prepared and supplied with
beds, blankets and disinfectant by the Commodore of the
Jamaica Station. Two surgeons from HMS Imaum were

Dr Charles Morales, Speaker of the House of Assembly, 1850-1865

directed ashore and, as the epidemic gathered pace, other
naval medical personnel were directed to assist them.22 By
October 28 between ten and fifteen people were dying every
day, and the total deaths since the start of the epidemic were
estimated by the Press to be 198; another 54 (as estimated by
the Rector) had died by November 17.23 With the rapid
acceleration of deaths during October the burial of the dead
became a major problem, many having to be deposited just
below the loose, shifting sand of the palisades, soon causing
the emission of 'noxious and pestiferous gases'. By the end
of the epidemic in the town in mid-November, some 300
corpses lay in shallow graves along the palisades.24

Across the harbour in Kingston, the Corporation met in
special session on October 10. Three physicians from the
Board of Health, Doctors Campbell, Fiddes and MacFadyen
were in attendance, the former having visited Port Royal
shortly before to investigate the reported outbreak of cholera.
Dr MacFadyen, acting president of the Board of Health, and
shortly to be himself a victim of cholera, presented a list of
suggestions prepared for the Corporation on ways of meeting
a cholera invasion.
The first suggestion, and clearly the most pressing -if it
was not already too late was that steps should be im-
mediately taken to clear the filth from the town's lanes and
yards. Besides this, disinfectant should be distributed among
the poor and steps taken to purify their privies. To ensure
that this was done, the town should be divided into districts
under the charge of sanitary inspectors. Cholera hospitals
and nurses should be found, and the dead, until they could be
buried, should be immediately removed to a depot. Since
there was only one dispensary for the poor in Kingston, other
such places should be established for purposes of
consultation and coordination.

Dr MacFadyen announced that a committee of the Board
of Health would be prepared to meet a committee of the
Corporation each morning. The Corporation agreed to the
necessity of these measures but it could not, or would not,
bear the burden of financing them; instead, an appeal was
made to the Assembly's Board of Public Accounts (a
permanent board which could disburse public money without
prior approval by the Legislature) for a financial grant. Since
expense would be saved by using convict labour to clean the
town, it was resolved that Sir Charles Grey should be
petitioned to provide a hundred convicts from the
penitentiary for this work.25
Time for preventative action by the Corporation had long
since passed. On the morning of October 10, just a few hours
before the meeting of the Corporation, a poor fisherman
named Phipps who had a hovel in Oxford Street in the north
of Kingston suffered the agonies of cholera and died. He had
recently been to Port Royal. This, the first case in the town,
was followed by another death on the 11th: the victim had
lived a few hundred yards from Phipps, on the same street.
On the 12th, three more cases occurred in different sections
of town. Then the disease began in earnest, striking rapidly
and ruthlessly all over town, but mainly in the west the
poorest and filthiest section.26 As at Port Royal, newspaper
accounts and rumour fanned the flames of panic. 27

Emergency measures
On October 11, a hastily convened Board of Public
Accounts responded to the emergency. Any parish which set
up a 'competent board' and established that cholera had
appeared within its boundaries could draw on a sum of
1,000; Port Royal was immediately allotted 100 and
Kingston 400.28 On the following day a Cholera Committee
elected from among the members of the Corporation met, as
agreed at the meeting held two days previously, with
representatives of the Board of Health. With funds at its
disposal, this 'Combined Committee' proceeded to business:
subcommittees were appointed to procure two cholera
hospitals, one in the east and one in the west of the town; one
thousand handbills on suggested ways of staving off cholera
and another five hundred appealing for nurses to attend the
cholera hospitals were to be printed and distributed; all
pigsties in town were to be destroyed and the pigs removed
to a depot.
With only ten physicians in town there was a shortage, as
there was in all other parts of the island,29 of men with expe-
rience of treating disease; and few, if any, would have had
experience of Asiatic cholera. But all possible help was
needed and the medical officers of the Army and Navy in the
island were to be requested to cooperate with the Combined
Committee. So were ministers of religion, who could act not
only in a religious capacity and as suppliers of collection-box
funds, but also as searchers for cholera cases among the
At the daily meetings of the Cholera Committee (held in
private after October 15 so as to prevent the dangerous
accumulation of 'cholera animalculae' in the atmosphere
among the large crowds who had been coming to observe),
plans were made to combat the onslaught of the disease. The
decisions of the combined Committee on the 12th were to be
carried out; a subcommittee was appointed to require the
townspeople to remove the filth and rubbish on their

premises onto the lanes and streets prior to a daily visit from
rubbish carts; the police were to prevent the sale of
unwholesome food30 and the carrying about the town of
'uncured or putrid cowskins', and were to ensure that
butchers' yards were kept clean. The physicians on the
Committee were to report three times daily on new cases of
cholera and on the condition of the sick, and ministers of
religion who were members of the Corporation were to
organize a subscription to aid the poor suffering from the
disease. Soup kitchens for the poor were established,
quicklime from the penitentiary supplied, and the sick poor
sent to the cholera hospitals. Many members on the Com-
mittee and the godfearing among the population generally
- regarded the epidemic as a manifestation of divine displea-
sure or the 'exhaustion of divine forbearance',31 and so
ministers of religion, of all denominations, were requested to
offer up prayers 'suitable to the prevailing epidemic'.32

Worsening conditions
The inhabitants of Kingston certainly had need of prayers
to the Almighty. Even if the measures planned by the
Committee had been carried out they would have done little
to stay the epidemic; as it was, the proposed measures
foundered on the Committee's and the Corporation's -
physical, financial and legal powerlessness. The town's
physicians, some exhausted from visiting the sick at all hours
of the day and night, some weakened by sickness them-
selves, had little time or patience for three daily reports.33
The police and the rubbish collectors, terrified by the
prospect of infection, were even less in evidence than before.
Unwholesome food continued to be sold in the markets and
streets, and the filth and rubbish dumped by some citizens
outside their yards, as the Committee had required, remained
there or was scattered by the heavy daily rains.34 The
town's sizeable pig population continued to root and wallow
in the mud and filth of lanes and yards. Pigsties were not,
and could not, be destroyed by the Committee or the
Corporation as there was no town ordinance to authorize
such interference with private property, however much a
public 'nuisance' they were.35 And there was nothing that
could be done to force sick citizens into the isolation of
cholera hospitals institutions which quickly gained the
reputation of being places of certain death. On October 22,
when the Legislature met at Spanish Town for its usual
annual session, the Committee formally admitted its
impotence and appealed for an increase in its power. In fact,
the Legislature was shortly to bring the existence of the
Cholera Committee to an end.
By the time that the Legislature was convened, cholera
had reached epidemic proportions only in the towns of Port
Royal and Kingston, but to the assembled Members in
Spanish Town there was every indication that the disease
was progressing westward towards them. Earlier, there had
been sporadic cases of cholera in the town36 but in the
previous week it had appeared in epidemic form on Farm
Pen and several other properties on the Liguanea Plain, and
further westward at the fishing village in Passage Fort. As
soon as the cholera appeared at Passage Fort, a coroner and
physician from Spanish Town visited the village to examine
the corpses and, in an attempt to stay the disease, a physician
visited the village every day, but no physician visited Farm
Pen, and here an estimated eighty to ninety villagers, one-
third of the inhabitants, died within two weeks.37


Effects on the House of Assembly
With cholera appearing sporadically in Spanish Town and
with it well established in several villages and estates
between that town and Kingston, few country Assemblymen
ventured out of the apparent safety of their parishes. It was
with considerable difficulty that a quorum was formed in the
Assembly room for the conducting of legislature business.
Driven by fear of infection and the absence of so many
Members, the session was cut to a mere three days, further
business being postponed for nearly three weeks.38
Sir Charles Grey appealed to the scanty Assembly for the
enactment of measures which would give local authorities
more power to help abate the 'destroying pestilence' at Port
Royal and Kingston and prevent its outbreak in other parts of
the island. In particular, he called for the granting of more
power for the 'abatement of nuisances, and the removal of
obstructions to sanitary regulations, upon the principle of
compensation to the owners of property, who may suffer by
the removal'. The governor anticipated, despite a long
history of neglect of health and sanitary legislation, that in
view of the emergency the Assembly would introduce the
appropriate measures, if for no other reason than self-
interest. But the Assembly, despite an assurance that it
would 'cheerfully' consider the Governor's appeal, was not
prepared to abandon its policy of financial retrenchment,
whatever the emergency. Besides, Members were anxious to
be out of Spanish Town and the view seems to have been
taken that not only was time short and too many Members
absent for the House to consider health and sanitary reform,
but that cholera might well fail to spread out of the eastern
parishes and therefore that Members' constituents in central
and western parishes could not justifiably be charged with
the cost of reform which might not benefit them.39
Undoubtedly some Members, like many whites in the island,
also took the view that the Negroes were incorrigible and
therefore reform in the field of health and sanitation would
be wasted on them.40
During the short October session, two Members gave
notice of the presentation of motions, one motion proposing
that responsible bodies in the parishes should be given the
power to remove and destroy 'nuisances' at central
government expense, the other proposing to compensate
physicians who attended cholera hospitals free of charge.41
Neither motion was presented.

Boards of Health
The only measure passed to meet the emergency was an
Act (14 Vict. c.1) placing 5,000 at the disposal of seven
commissioners in Spanish Town. Parishes which wished to
draw from the fund were to form boards of health, one to
each parish, and composed of the Assemblymen, the Custos
or Senior Magistrate, the churchwardens, ministers of
religion of all denominations, the parish physicians, and
'such other persons as they shall associate with themselves'.
The fund was to be made available to the boards, acting with
a quorum of four, not when cholera was in the vicinity or
appeared to be approaching but when it had actually
appeared within parish boundaries. And since the fund was
to meet the possible needs of all the island's twenty-two
parishes it was clear that the Spanish Town Commissioners
could not risk generosity to particular parishes where cholera
appeared.42 The boards were given no power, and no central

board was established to advise and guide them. It was on
these powerless, financially weak, inexperienced and
unguided boards that the burden of preparing for and
combating the onslaught of cholera lay.
Within five days of the adjournment of the Legislature on
October 25, local boards of health had been formed in at
least seven parishes; by the end of the first week of
November few parishes were without one.43 Although
lacking in central direction the boards followed a similar
pattern of preparation and action, a pattern based on a
combination of common sense and the adoption of methods
used by British boards of health during 1848-1849 epidemic.
Buildings were borrowed or rented for use as cholera
hospitals; beds, stretchers, blankets and medicines were
sought from various sources, tenders were issued for the
construction of coffins for the poor and searches began for
suitably isolated burial grounds; appeals for physicians to
come and residein the parishes appeared in the press, and
work parties organized for the draining of stagnant water and
the removal of refuse. Quicklime was accumulated, as well
as quantities of zinc chloride, used as a disinfectant. In order
to catch cases of cholera at the incipient stage, to direct the
sick to the cholera hospitals, and for overall administrative
and medical efficiency, the boards of health divided their
towns and parishes into districts or wards under the direction
of subcommittees, each subcommittee including, if available,
a physician or dispenser. Subcommittees within the wards
were directed to make house-to-house visitations in search of
cholera victims.
The evidence suggests feverish activity and careful
planning by the boards, but like the Combined Committee in
Kingston they were to find that the best made plans founder
under the impact of an invasion of epidemic cholera.

Spread to the west
Neither the creation of local boards of health nor Sir
Charles Grey's belated imposition, on October 25, of
quarantine on all vessels arriving at the outports from
Kingston and Port Royal, 44 could prevent the advance of the
disease. Towards the end of October it appeared sporadically
in the St Catherine hills behind Spanish Town, and west of
the town in the parishes of St Dorothy and Clarendon.45 To
the north of the town there were sporadic cases in St John
and St Thomas-in-the-East. Areas touching the eastern road
from Kingston, in the foothills of Port Royal parish and in St
David, also saw a sporadic appearance of cholera. Before the
end of the month there had been one fatal case at Morant
Bay, the capital of St Thomas-in-the-East, and another at
Annotto Bay, the capital of the north-eastern parish of St
George. Although by month-end cholera had not yet
appeared in epidemic form outside Kingston, the town of
Port Royal and parts of the St Catherine plain, it seemed to
contemporaries that the disease had well and truly
established a firm footing in the island.
During November, cholera continued its advance into the
central and eastern section of the island, bursting into
epidemic proportions in every parish except Portland, whose
turn was to come in December. Between Yallahs on the
eastern road and the parish of St Thomas-in-the-East, it was
reported in the Press that 'the dead could not be buried, and
the corpses were left for days on the ground, a prey to dogs
and vultures'. On November 19, after a week of epidemic
cholera in the area of Yallahs Bay, a local resident described


the inhabitants as 'dying like rotten sheep'.46 The onset of
the disease here, and in other parts of the infected parishes,
was said to be usually so sudden that victims sometimes fell
into a lethargic stupor and then coma without a period of
vomiting and purging, with death following within only a
few hours of seizure. Perhaps the most severely struck
villages in the entire island during the 1850-1851 epidemic
were Brazilletto in the parish of Vere and Golden Grove in
St Thomas-in-the-East. At Brazilletto some fifty of the
inhabitants died in nearly as many hours; at Golden Grove
eighty were said to have died within a week of the onset of
Panic and demoralization in many areas resulted in the
abandonment by Negroes of their provision grounds, and
there were reports of starvation.48 With many negroes refus-
ing to work on the estates for fear of infection and with many
field hands and skilled workers having died, planters in some
areas found themselves in severe difficulty.49
Rumours flourished in the atmosphere of panic. It was
said, for example, that the whole police force of St David,
not having received their wages, had died of starvation; and
so striking was the comparative exemption from cholera of
the island's cleaner and better-nourished white population
that some Negroes suspected that they were being poisoned
by the whites.50

Disposal of the dead
The most urgent task for the boards of health was the
removal and burial of the dead as promptly as possible, but
with the rapid accumulation of corpses, the horror of
touching them, and heavy daily rains, the task could not
always be accomplished. Members of the Vere Board of
Health who visited Brazilletto discovered
seven unburied corpses lying on the ground in coffins, and
carts constantly conveying bodies for interment. Twenty other
bodies, in the hospital, had been, and were at that moment,
uninterred since Friday last.... Crows were in number about
the place, and the scene altogether was one of horror. This
morning (Tue.) in consequence of the inability to bury the
dead, those negro houses which contained dead bodies were
burned to the ground with the bodies in them; and as regards
the corpses in the hospital, which it was intended should be
completely covered with lime, .... no one could be found to
remove them as no one could enter the room in which the
bodies lay. .. on account of the horrible effluvium.51

The burning of cottages containing putrifying corpses was
not an uncommon one, 52 nor was the difficulty in burying
the dead confined to estates and villages. In Spanish Town
on November 5 at least seventy unburied corpses lay on the
ground in one churchyard. With the convicts from the
penitentiary failing to dig graves as rapidly as was wished,
the Governor called the West India Regiment to do the job.
The race course was adopted as a burial ground, the turf
being torn up and nine large pits and dozens of graves dug;
several corpses were put into each grave, and those near the
surface were soon emitting 'pestilential exhalations' into the
atmosphere.53 Meanwhile, the Board of Health sought to
assist the living by the establishment of a soup kitchen on the
Church Parade and by the liberal distribution of brandy and

Effects on daily life
In Spanish Town and other towns in the central and
eastern parishes, the familiar noise and bustle of daily life
was suspended. Lime was strewn about streets and lanes, and
abandoned houses daubed with whitewash, their doors and
windows flung open were grim evidence of the destructive
power of the epidemic. In one town, St Ann's Bay, the parish
capital of St Ann, most of the inhabitants had fled; shops
were closed and secured and mercantile and other business
suspended. By the time epidemic cholera disappeared from
the town at the end of the first week of December, an
estimated three hundred of the pre-epidemic population of
nine hundred to one thousand had died. It was reported that

such was the panic in the town that many cholera victims
were buried in the death-like coma which precedes death.55
In Port Maria, the parish capital of St Mary, the onset of
the disease brought, if possible, even more destruction. There
was reported to be scarcely a house without a dead or dying
occupant, 'and in several four or five'. With deaths (reaching
the reported, but certainly exaggerated, figure of four
hundred and fifty) and the flight of many of the inhabitants,
there was a time when there were no more than fifty souls
remaining in town. Victims were prostrated almost
immediately after the first indication of cholera, and they lay
'in a state of stupor, with their faces usually turned round
upon their beds or the ground where they had fallen down,
until they expired'. The disease broke out with such fury that
the preparation of a cholera hospital had to be abandoned.
The board of health, reduced to six hard-pressed members,
had difficulty in seeing to the welfare of the inhabitants; food
ran short as country provisions ceased to be brought to the
town and as vessels which called thought it best not to

Conditions in Kingston
The epidemic reached its height in Kingston during the
first half of November. Virtually all mercantile and judicial
business ceased 57 and, adding to the gloom caused by the
presence of sickness and death, heavy daily rains poured
down, darkening the sky and turning roads and lanes into
river courses. With monotonous regularity, the new Board of
Health met every morning at ten o'clock. In accordance with
the recent Act a large number of individuals had been invited
to 'associate with' the Board and now, swollen by the
additions, it became a mammoth debating society tor by
ceaseless wrangling and dispute. Records of the Board's
meetings clearly show that despite the common crisis in
which the town was engulfed, many members but
especially those who were also members of the Corporation
- were unprepared to abandon self-interest and personal and
political animosities. Matters such as the granting of
contracts, procedure and status, occupied an inordinate
amount of time. Allegations of corruption proliferated.
Before long, the physicians and other 'respectable members
of the community' who were members of the Board
withdrew from its meetings in disgust.58
Fortunately for the poor and sick of Kingston, aid was
provided during November by the Merchants' Benevolent
Society, a society formed on the 6th of the month for the
purpose of relieving distress and supplementing the
ineffective efforts of the Board of Health. With an initial


capital of 1,200, raised by subscription, the Society made
small loans to the Board, established its own cholera hospital
and a well coordinated system of house-to-house visitation,
set up bread and soup kitchens, distributed medicines,
blankets and clothing, had coffins made and assisted with the
burial of the dead.59 A good deal of aid for the distressed,
who included a large number of orphans, was also provided
by Kingston's religious bodies and by a few individuals
acting in a private capacity.60 Later, in early 1851, additional
aid for the distressed of Kingston and the island as a whole
was provided by the British Government (3,000), the Bishop
of Jamaica (1,080, raised by subscription in London), and
the public and Legislature of Barbados (1,420).61
During the first week of November, deaths in Kingston
were occurring at the estimated rate of one hundred a day,
rising in the second week to one hundred and fifty or more. In
one of many overcrowded houses, twenty of the thirty-nine
occupants died in two days. In the west of the town, the
Board of Health's cholera hospital was quickly filled and
remained so. On the 4th of the month, an exhausted Dr Fiddes
pleaded with the Board to supplement the work of the
subcommittees and the physicians, two of whom were sick,
by permitting the clergy to distribute opium and laudanum
among the poor. The plea was wisely refused, and besides,
these and other drugs were in desperately short supply. For a
time, food supplies were also desperately short as market
people were not coming into town and several bakers had
died.62 In the existing state of public alarm and medical
ignorance, physicians and quacks alike had an attentive
audience and few had the inclination for half measures. 63 The
newspapers teemed with 'remedies and modes of cure, and
with the nostrums of advertising charlatans'.64 There were
golden opportunities for the unscrupulous.
As in the parishes, the burial of rapidly accumulating
corpses became a major problem. Some were left for days or
unceremoniously flung into nearby gullies.65 Traditional
burial grounds continued to be used and special cholera
grounds were opened within the town's precincts,66 but by the
beginning of November a large proportion of the corpses
were being transported to a large cholera ground at May Pen
estate, about one and a half miles to the west of the town
centre. In mid-November clergymen were urged by the Board
of Health not to take their dead to the denominational grounds
but to May Pen, and a newly appointed Inspector of Graves
and Burials was instructed by the Board to ensure that corpses
remaining above ground after ten o'clock at night were
despatched to the Pen. Between November 5 and 10 alone,
some three hundred and seventy corpses had been interred in
about twenty-six trenches there.67

Desperate measures
While the godfearing of Kingston's populace appealed to
the Almighty in specially appointed days of island-wide
'Humiliation and Prayer', the more secular-minded Board of
Health attended to finding more unusual, radical methods of
ridding the town of its persistently 'pestiferous atmosphere'.
In late October, when deaths were occurring at the rate of ten
to fifteen a day and with no sign of an abatement, the
Commodore of the Jamaica Station resolved to deal with
cholera animalculae by firing broadsides of blank cartridges
from HMS Imaum. This, he informed the Admiralty, had
been 'strongly recommended by Medical Men who witnessed
its effect at Cartagena'.68 The Board of Health, like the

Commodore, was convinced of the efficacy of a dramatic,
violent attack; nothing would be lost at least by the attempt.
Accordingly, the Board requested that the Island's military
authorities fire canons to the windward of the town every day
and that three hundred pounds of powder be delivered to the
batteries for the purpose. The Board also resolved to adopt the
system of fumigation used by British boards of health during
the epidemic years in Britain. One hundred pounds of
frankincense as well as a quantity of tar were to be
obtained and the permission of the Mayor sought so that
fumigation of houses and streets could commence.
Fearing a repetition of the destructive Kingston fire in
1843 the Mayor would not agree to the fumigation of all
sections of the town but he did sanction fumigation in 'open
and obscure places and recesses'.69 He also evidently
sanctioned the firing of cannons on the Parade, on the edge of
town. On November 11 the Despatch wrote contemptuously
that for two days the town witnessed,

half-a-dozen explosions, morning and evening, from Col.
Smith's 'three pounders', stationed in the Parade, and
discharged by a couple of Artillerymen who have been
permitted solemnly to minister to the farce. On each occasion
about four pounds of powder were burned ... as a disinfectant
of some quadrillions of cubic feet of pestiferous atmosphere.

The farce of cannon firing continued for a few days, until the
Mayor began to have doubts about its utility.

At last, towards the end of November, it was evident that
cholera was on the retreat in the town. On the 23rd of the
month, deaths were occurring at the estimated rate of fifty a
day; by the end of the first week of December there were only
thirty-six patients at the cholera hospital in the west of the
town (a reduction of fourteen in four days) and at the other
cholera hospital, in the east, there was only one patient and
the nursing staff was being despatched to the parishes.
During December, cholera was sporadic and 'generally
tractable' although it was not until January 27, 1851, that
Kingston and Port Royal were officially declared free of the
disease. Spanish Town began to show signs of an abatement
at the same time as Kingston. On November 23, it was
reported that cholera had almost ceased its attacks, and nine
days later that it had 'entirely disappeared' from the town. As
to the number of deaths that had occurred in Spanish Town
and Kingston there could only be rough estimates. The press
estimated about 1,800 deaths in Spanish Town and anywhere
between 4,000 and 5,000 in Kingston.70

Part II of this article will appear in JAMAICA JOURNAL 25/3


This article was written a number of years ago and is essentially a
narrative description of the progress of the Asiatic Cholera
epidemic that struck Jamaica between 1851 and 1855, and how the
authorities in the island met or failed to meet its challenges.
Readers who are interested in recent demographic assessments of
the epidemic in Jamaica and the Caribbean generally should see
Philip Curtin's Death by Migration: Europe's Encounter with the
Tropical World in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University
Press, 1989) and the article by Brian Higgins and Kenneth Kiple in
the Jamaican Historical Review, Vol. XVII, 1991. Higgins and Kiple
provide extensive footnotes for those readers who might wish to

research the topic further, and they help to explain why it was that
in proportion to their total number in Jamaica the black population
was more likely to succumb to the Cholera vibrios than East Indians
and those of European descent. They estimate the total number of
deaths in the island as 40,000 more than the figure of 31,000
suggested by Gisela Eisner in her book Jamaica, 1830 1930, a
Study in Economic Growth, originally published in 1961, and the
figure used in my article. The higher figure is possibly nearer the
truth, although as Higgins and Kiple admit, the mortality figures for
the Cholera epidemic are inevitably impressionistic in the absence
of hard data.

1. For accounts of cholera in North America see J. S. Chambers, The
Conquest of Cholera, America's Greatest Scourge (MacMillan of
New York, 1938); F. H. Top, The History of American
Epidemiology (St Louis, 1952); G. F. Pyle, 'The Diffusion of
Cholera in the United States in the 19th Century', in
Geographical Analysis, vol I, pp. 59-75.
2. Copy of a Report made by Dr Milroy to the Colonial Office on
the Cholera Epidemic in Jamaica, 1850-1851 (London, 1854) p.5.
Milroy's report hereafter cited as MR.
3. Approximate mortality statistics for Barbados given in Jill
Sheppard's The Redlegs of Barbados: their Origin and History
(KTO Press, New York, 1977), p.75. Statistics for St Christopher
given in Votes of the Assembly of Jamaica (hereafter cited as
Votes), appendix 2, pp. 1-20. A fund of information on the
cholera epidemics in the eastern Caribbean is to be found in the
records of the British Central Board of Health, Public Records
Office, reference MH 13/248.
4. MR., p.33. John Parkin, Statistical Report of the Epidemic Cholera
in Jamaica (London, 1852), p.6, estimated 40,000. The official
but unreliable statistics compiled for the Legislature and
presented in January 1852 show a total of 30,590 deaths. Votes,
Jan. 19, 1852, pp. 376-7.
5. Gisela Eisner, Jamaica, 1830-1930, a Study in Economic Growth
(1961; by Greenwood Press, 1974), p.136.
6. Norman Longmate, King Cholera: The Biography of a Disease
(London, 1966), p.235; Jacques May, The Ecology of Human
Disease (New York, 1958), pp. 36-38.
7. Votes, April 22, 1851, pp. 373-6; MH 13/248; Report by the
General Board of Health of Jamaica. (Spanish Town, 1852), pp.
4, 6-7, 79-121,215-54. The latter report hereinafter cited as BH.
8. Philip D. Curtin, Two Jamaicas: The Role of Ideas in a Tropical
Colony, 1830-1865 (Harvard U.P., 1955), pp. 160-1.
9. Eisner, p.357.
10. G.W. Roberts, The Population of Jamaica (Cambridge, 1957),
11. BH., pp. 102-3, 121-122; J.C. Phillippo, Cholera in Jamaica in
1850, 51 and 1854; and the Lessons to be learnt therefrom
(Kingston? 1892), pp. 18, 24.
12. MR., pp. 12, 39-42, 116-117. See also Votes, 1850-52 appendix
23, p.123.
13. In 1850 the arrangement and construction of the waterworks were
said to be 'faulty and in disrepair'. MR., p.51.
14. BH., map of Spanish Town, 1851; MR., pp.34-5, 57-8, 61-2, 111;
C.O. 137/307, C.E. Grey to Earl Grey, Oct. 26, 1850, no. 86;
C.O. 137/308, Admiralty to Hawes, Nov. 21, 1850 (encl.).
Quotations from MR.
15. MR., pp. 39, 107. See also, for example, Colonial Standard and
Jamaica Despatch (hereafter cited as Despatch), Nov. 6, 14, 19,
16. MR., pp. 7, 79-87, 116-17; Votes, 1850-51, pp. 123-7.
17. C. O. 137/318, Grey to Newcastle, Sept. 23, 1853, no. 93; MR.,
pp. 80, 84.
18. C. O. 137/307, C.E. Grey to Earl Grey, Oct 26, 1950, no.86;
Despatch, Oct. 10, 1850.
19. MR., pp. 7-9.
20. On September 26 there was a death in the northern parish of St
James 'under circumstances which seem to indicate that it was

from an attack of pestilential cholera', but the evidence was
'imperfect' since the patient was not examined by a medical
practitioner. MR., p. 12.
21. MR., pp. 12, 36-7; Suppl. to Falmouth Post, Oct 14, 18, 1850
(from Morning Journal). The Falmouth Post hereafter cited as F.
Post. See also Despatch, Oct. 16, 1850.
22. MR., p. 36; C. 0. 137/308, Admiralty to Hawes, Nov. 21, 1850 (encl.).
23. Ibid.; MR, p. 36; Despatch, Oct 31, 1850.
24. MR., pp. 36-7; Despatch, Nov. 7, 1850.
25. Despatch, Oct 11, 1850; Votes, March 5, 1851,pp. 210-11.
26. MR., pp. 42-3; F. Post, Oct. 18, 1850 (from Despatch).
27. Despatch, Oct. 14, 18, 22-26, 1850; F. Post, Oct. 22, 1850 (from
28. Despatch, Oct, 12, 1850. A 'competent board' was to consist of
the Assemblymen of the parish, the Custos or Senior Magistrate,
the physicians and churchwardens. The board for Kingston was to
include the Corporation.
29. One hundred and twenty eight physicians were registered with the
College of Physicians and Surgeons in Jamaica in 1850, at least
two of whom were off the island. Many parishes had only two or
three resident physicians during the cholera epidemics and this
number was sometimes reduced due to debility, sickness and
death. BH., appendix H.
30. Rotting fruit and vegetables, as well as all uncooked fresh fruit
and vegetables were supposed to be highly susceptible to cholera
'animalculae'. See, for example, the Notice to the Public in
Despatch, Oct. 12, 1850.
31. Henry Blaine Foster, Rise and Progress of Wesleyan-Methodism
in Jamaica (London, 1881), p.133.
32. Despatch, Oct. 16-18, 22, 1850; Suppl. to F. Post, Oct. 18, 24,
1850 (from Despatch).
33. Parochial physicians, like their Kingston counterparts, tended to
abandon the idea of presenting daily reports to their boards of
health once epidemic cholera broke out. Parkin, p. 34. For an
example of the kind of workload placed on parochial physicians
during the epidemic in the parishes see Votes, March 5, 1851, pp.
34. Phillippo, p. 15; MR., p. 14; Despatch, Nov. 19, 1850.
35. Motion Papers of the House of Assembly (Spanish Town, 1851);
Votes, Dec. 13, 1850, pp. 52-4; Despatch, October 22, 1850.
36. The first death occurred on October 19. The second death was
that of Dr Parmer, leaving only one physician in town. MR., p.
51; BH., p. 199.
37. MR., pp. 12-13; Despatch, Oct. 25, Nov. 4, 1850; F.Post, Oct. 25,
1850, p. 12 (from Despatch and the Morning Journal).
38. C. O. 137/307, C. E. Grey to Earl Grey, Oct. 26, 1850, no. 88;
Votes, Oct 22-5, 1850, pp. 18-25; F. Post, Oct. 25, 1850.
39. These views were not documented during the October 1850
session but were certainly discussed in subsequent sessions. See
Despatch, Oct. 30, 1850 (debate) which gives a hint of Members'
opinions; same newspaper, Jan. 17, 1851; C. O. 137/326, Barkly
to Grey, Feb 8, 1855, no. 14.40. BH., p. 2.
41. Motion Papers of the ... Assembly (Spanish Town, 1851).
42. Votes, Nov. 21, 1850, pp. 42-3.
43. The following account of the activities of the boards of health is
based on the reports and resolutions published in the following
newspapers: Despatch, Oct. 24, 25, 30, Nov. 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15,
18, 19, 21, 22, 26, 1850; F. Post, Oct 25, Nov. 5, 11, 15, 19, 22,
44. Quarantine was imposed on vessels which had been at sea for less
than five days. The outport health officers or other 'competent
authorities' (i.e. the boards of health) were left to determine the
length of quarantine after the five days had elapsed. Sir Charles
Grey, who believed in the contagious nature of cholera, feared a
major exodus of people from the infected areas by vessels bound
for the outports and thus the introduction of cholera into the
distant western and northern parishes. There were reports that a
vessel from Port Royal had attempted to land cholera corpses on a

cholera-free part of the coast but had met local resistance. C. O.
137/318, Grey to Newcastle, Sept. 23, 1853, no. 93. Why the
Governor delayed imposing quarantine on vessels going to the
outports for so long is unclear. Rumours at the time suggest that
for a time he had bowed to the views of the non-contagionist
Council. Despatch, Oct 10, 1850.
45. Unless stated otherwise the following is based onMR., pp.13, 15-
46. Despatch, Nov. 20, 1850.
47. MR., pp. 17, 21; F. Post, Nov. 19, Dec. 10, 1850 (from
Despatch). There are several accounts of the virtual depopulation
of villages. See for example Suppl. to F. Post, Dec. 6, 13, 1850;
MR., p. 18.
48. MR., p. 21; Despatch, Dec. 2, 1850; F. Post, Nov. 19, Dec. 2, 17,
(from Despatch); Suppl. to F. Post, Dec. 13, 1850.
49. See for example C. 0. 137/307, C. E. Grey to Earl Grey, Dec. 13,
1850, no. 94 (encl.); F. Post, Nov. 19, Dec. 17, 1850 (from
Despatch); Despatch, Nov. 21, 1850, April 15, 1851; MR., p. 18.
50. Despatch, Nov. 16, 20, 1850; MR., p. 76.
51. F. Post, Dec. 10, 1850, p. 4 (from Despatch).
52. Henry Blaine Foster, Rise and Progress of Wesleyan-Methodism
..., p. 130; Votes, Jan. 16, 1851, p.87; April 29, 1851, p. 408.
53. C. O. 137/307, C. E. Grey to Earl Grey, Oct. 26, Nov. 11, 1850,
nos. 86, 87; MR., p. 52; BH., map of Spanish Town; Votes, Feb.
19, 1851, p. 141; Despatch, Nov. 5, 1850.
54. W. A. Fuertado, A Forty-Five Years' Reminiscence of the
Characteristics and Characters of Spanish Town (Kingston,
1890), p. 9.
55.MR., 19-20; Despatch, Nov. 25, 28, Dec. 28, 1850; Suppl. to F.
Post, Dec. 13, 1850 (from Despatch).
56. MR., pp. 22, 56-7; Despatch, Dec. 16, 26, 1850; F. Post, Dec. 12,

24 (from Despatch) Suppl. to F. Post, Dec. 13, 1850 (from
Despatch). Quotation from MR., p. 57.
57. F. Post, Nov. 8, 1850; Despatch, Nov. 7, 1850. For the effect of
the epidemic on such business in other parts of the island, in
November and subsequent months, see Despatch, Nov. 7, 1850,
Jan. 3, 10, 18, 24, 30, Feb. 22, 1851.
58. Despatch, Nov. 23, 1850; MR., p. 14.
59. Despatch, Nov. 6-9, 12, 18.
60. Despatch, Nov. 7, 29, Dec. 4, 9, 1850; Jan. 20, Feb. 19, 1851.
61. Votes, Feb. 28, 1851, pp. 196-8; C. 0. 137/309, Earl Grey to C. E.
Grey, Jan. 1, 1853, no. 393. MR., p. 14; Phillippo, p. 16;
Despatch, Nov. 7, 14, 15.
62. Despatch, Nov. 6, 7, 9, 19, 1850; Suppl. to F. Post, Nov. 8, 1850;
MR., p. 14; Phillippo, p.16.
63. See for example the regime recommended by Dr Fiddes and A. E.
Robbins, published in F. Post, Nov. 22, 1850 (from Morning
Journal) and Despatch, Dec. 24, 1850. Venesection or bleeding
using a lancet or leeches was practised, but how widely is
uncertain. Despatch, Dec. 19, 1850, letter dated Dec. 10.
64. MR., p. 14.
65. Despatch, Nov. 16, 1850; Feb. 19, 1851.
66. For example, on unenclosed lands on Admiral's Pen Road. This
burial ground was intended mainly for those who died in the Slipe
Pen Road area.
67. Despatch, Nov. 16, 19, 1850.
68. C. O. 137/308. Admiralty to Hawes, Nov. 21, 1850 (encl.)
69. Despatch, Oct. 30, Nov. 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11; MR., p. 14. Quotation
from Despatch, Nov. 11, 1850.
70. F. Post, Nov. 29, 1850 (from Standard) and Suppl; Despatch,
Nov. 22, Dec. 2, 3, 7, 1850; MR., p. 25.

_'_ _'-.- .- Institute of Jamaica
S- publications Ltd

-"*^ *.-.

...--1 w...

_ -.__:: _-.


Teaches Us

Eleanor Wint
of the Soridlogy
apartment UWI

The first
book on
Marcus Garvey
for the
younger child

A picture book for
the 2 to 7 year-old

24 pp. 6 x6

full colour

activity pages

Illustrations by
Ireko Baker


Right Time.

Right Place.

Right Beer.



Mo ntain Peak coffee
Pe action orthe
Discover the extraordinary taste of Jamaica
Mountain Peak Coffee, renowned for its
incredible bouquet and exquisite flavour This
superb coffee is blended and roasted with
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Come enjoy the Salad
coffee with us.

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20 Bell Road. Kingston 11. Jamaica W.I. Tel: 923-7114

Unit Trust
Capital Growth
Capital Gains
are still



The Capital Growth Fund is still one
of the best medium to long-term
investments available in Jamaica today.
The true test of a Unit Fund is its performance over
a 3 to 5 year period. $10,000.00 invested 3 years ago in the
Capital Growth Fund is now worth $45,514.00. That's 355% Growth.*
$10,000.00 invested 5 years ago in the Capital Growth Fund
is now worth $72,657.00. That's 626% Growth.*
11 Trinidad Terrace, New Kgn., Tel: 92-66758, 98135/6
Trustees: Scotia Bank Jamaica Trust & Merchant Bank Ltd.

*As at July 6, 1993


Responsibility today

s a lesson for the future.

amp", -l Lr

'hd AY

Children learning about the environment at the Shell Summer Camp, Hope

very human
endeavour affects
our natural
environment. The
challenge is to conduct
our affairs responsibly
so that we improve our
way of life and protect
our environment.
This is what Shell has
set out to do in its own
operations and what it
is helping to teach our
young people.
Shell was the company
that took the bold step to
introduce unleaded gasoline
to Jamaica. Unleaded, the
best selling gasoline in
the world today, helps
significantly to reduce air
Following an environmental
audit that we commissioned
three years ago, Shell took
the fundamental decision

to bring a full time environ-
mentalist on board the
company's executive team.
An intensive improvement
programme was imple-
mented. Over the past year
and a half, this programme
has reduced by 80% the
amount of oil and grease in
the effluent from our plant.
For many years now, our
rigorous "good house-
keeping" programme has
helped minimize the
possibility of environmental
We have intensified our
monitoring system at our
service stations. To contain
any leak, we are installing
high-density polyethylene
liners to house our
underground tanks... an
extra precaution.
Shell is working to make
things better for our
environment in other ways.
Smaller, more economical

containers for LPG, for
example, help reduce the
need to cut down trees for
firewood. A major target
is to provide better
opportunities for recycling
waste oil.
In addition, through publi-
cations like our Calendars,
support for community
projects and the provision
of learning opportunities
for our children, Shell has
helped to take the
environmental message to
the wider community.
Like the environmental
movement itself, we still
have some way to go
before we achieve the high
standards we have set
ourselves. So far, the results
of this ongoing effort have
been encouraging.
Enlightened management
and heightened environ-
mental responsibility is the
Shell way.

We're not just in Jamaica.

We're for Jamaica.


Voices or


A Look at
the 1993
and the
State of Art
in Jamaica

Annie Paul

Once again the Annual
National has come and
gone, filling the halls of the
National Gallery with
samples of art as it is practised in
Jamaica today. Seventy-six artists took
part, thirty-eight being invited to show
their work and the remaining 38 having
been selected from entries submitted to
a jury consisting of Hope Brooks,
Director of the Edna Manley School for
the Visual Arts, Wallace Campbell, art
collector, Jerry Craig, artist and art
educator, Guy Macintosh, gallery owner
and art collector, and David Boxer,
Director of the National Gallery. A jury
typical of other years and one that
produced as eclectic a collection as one
would expect in a show of this nature.
Visitors literally stepped into the
show as they set foot through the
entrance to be greeted by a long gray
whale on a panel accompanied by a sign
announcing the exhibition. The main
exhibition room downstairs was used as
usual to house the largest pieces in the
The most impressive of these were

Petrona Morrison's metal assemblage
Sentinel and Margaret Chen's massive
Cross-section of a Labyrinth, a mixed
media on wood construction.
Morrison's Sentinel is said to measure
360 cms in the exhibition catalogue,
which to newly metric society might
sound petite but it towered over visitors
to the exhibition from a height of about
twelve feet. Tall, thin and imposing as a
Watusi clansman, the piece has a
totemic presence. Increasingly in the last
few years Morrison's work has tended
to assume shapes that suggest altars,
relics, totems, symbols of mystical
worship with a distinctly African feel.
Almost always she uses discarded
pieces of metal and wood to create
powerful images of ceremony, mystery
and almost ritual. Sentinel is a classic
example of Morrison's Afro-spiritual
style, an elegant tribute to our origins
which, in the late twentieth century,
science has traced to the cradle of
Africa. Her other piece, Endangered
Species II (Notes for Survival), also a
metal assemblage, has less impact
because we've seen this sort of thing

African (Robert Cockhome)
Detail from Photograph: The Dick is Killed
(from the Opera 'Samedi's AUnd Set')
Mixed media on paper. Triptych.
Left 110 x 185 cm, centre 110 x 155, right 110x 138


i _. r . .'.

1. Jean Crichton
The Grove Church
Mixed media on canvas 101 x 119.5 cm

2. Sherry Schreiber
The Path
Fbre 133 x 101.5cm

3. David Boxer
Frayed Landscape
Mixed media assemblage 59 x 145cm


4. Anna Henriques
Panel from Fragments From The Sorrowfree Sea
Mixed media on masonite
Trptych each 119x 77.5 cm

5. Gaston Tabois
Jamaica's First Spanish Building
Oil on hardboard
81 x63.5cm

6. Douglas Wallace
Mixed media on paper
96x 63.5cm




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Margaret Chen
Detail from Cross-section
of a Labyrinth.
Mixed media on wood
Diameter: approx. 640 cm
Photograph by Kent Reid

before. The rotting, rusting carcasses of
machines symbolizing perhaps the
decay of what we call modern
civilization. Still it's a point that can't
be made too often.
Chen's Cross-section of a Labyrinth
is awe-inspiring. Measuring about 640
cms, and occupying a space on the floor
rather than the wall, Labyrinth invites
one to crouch over it to examine its
intricately detailed surfaces. You could
also go upstairs and look down on it
from a height which allowed one to take
in the lily pad-like centre with the four,
what someone called, petaloid shapes
radiating outwards. The centre was a
work of art in itself with irregular
concentric circles made of what looked
like fragile shavings of wood. The
petaloid shapes were studded with bits
of shell and seaside detritus giving the
whole piece a weathered look, like a
sea-worshipper's talisman. Chen has
explored this theme before in work like
Cross-section of a Wave, her entry in the
1988 Annual National, and Cross-
section of Substrata in the 1991 Annual
Echoing the sea theme was the large
canvas by Marguerite Stanigar called
From the Conch Shell Series: LOVING
Eyes and Ears, which also resembled a
cross-section and her exquisite stone-
ware sea urchins. Only 9 cms long both
Sea Urchin Form with Pink Glow and
Sea Urchin Form with Blue-Green

Spiral had a tactual quality, that is, c
wanted to pick them up and feel them
spite of their spiny surface. T
'LOVING' in the title of the form
reflects a play on words. It also refers
Al Loving, an African-American art
who took part in the Xayama
workshop at Crystal Springs last
year. Loving was always willing
to provide a listening ear and a
critical eye to the younger artists,
including Stanigar, at the
Another artist to make an
impact in this exhibition is Anna
Henriques. She impresses both by
the excellence of her work and the
sheer number of pieces she has in
this show. Two triptychs, a
polyptych (is anything with over
three panels a polyptych?) and an
assemblage give one more than
just a taste of her work and prove
that she is a consistent artist in
both quality and the overall
feeling her work projects of an
almost gilded religiosity. The
opulent purple and gold
notwithstanding, her work is
beautiful, the layers of images
glued and painted over and
varnished into surfaces that fairly
resonate with meaning. Meaning
that eludes most viewers perhaps
but one appreciates the fact that
the artist has fused elements of her

private and personal world into objects
that thrill the eye and the mind. Many
were disturbed by the coffin-like Relic
of the Prodigal Son with the skeletal
remains of some small animal inside it.
Like all her work it arouses curiosity but
also admiration of its almost jewelled

Marguerite Stanigar
From the Conch Shell Series: LOVING Eyes and Ears.
Acrylic on canvas. 210.5 x 143 cm

surface and appearance. The crucifix-
shaped panels of The Spirit of the
Cotton Tree similarly jostle the
The long grey whale that I mentioned
at the beginning is one of a series by
African (R. Cookhorne). Titled Photo-
graph: Estranged Dick (from the Opera
'Samedi's Mind Set') it is companion
piece to Photograph: Dick caught in
Mahoke's world view and Photograph:
The Dick is killed which were located
upstairs. Done on paper the three
together tell the bloody story of a whale
hunt. The handsome whale we first meet
downstairs is found upstairs tangled in
the skeins of a fishing net and in the
triptych The Dick is Killed we see him
circling the boat, trying to escape,
unsuccessfully as the blood-drenched
panel proves. Most of the panels are like
black and white photographs mostly in
shades of grey but the fateful one is a
deep red with the faint outline of a
whale and the whole surface is traversed
with stab marks, a chilling effect. Even
as a straightforward depiction of the
carnage of animals like whales and
dolphins it is a powerful statement but a
conversation with African revealed all
sorts of encoded messages. The series is
an attempt to record the memory of
what African calls 'the New World
experience' that is the disastrous
consequences of the contact between

Judy Ann Macmillan Winston Oil on canvas

Europe and other cultures. As
photographs are effective
record-keepers, documenting
details of the past, he titles
each of the pieces 'photo-
graph'. The human face
visible in the centre of one of
the panels represents Chuka-
nene, the sole surviving in-
habitant left in Tasmania
after the British colonized it.
The two faces in the other
two panels -epresent Idi
Amin and SI ka Bengawayo
(Paul Bogle) both of whom
African sees as important
leaders who 'psychologically
faced the matador rather than
the cape' and suffered the
consequences. The whale is
an obvious reference to the SamereT
story of Moby Dick which
African finds symbolic of the way
history is recorded, the portrayal of
victim as villain. The whale as he says
is dead from the beginning; like Greek
tragedy, the hero is dead from the
beginning but what we are about to
hear is the story of how he died. Who
tells the story and how it is told is
crucial to the 'nurturing of the
memory' of what took place. African
remains an exciting and expressive
painter, one of the few who experiment
rather than stick tamely to a style that
has been found successful.
As I said before the
Annual National is always
eclectic, showcasing as it
does art in Jamaica, which
embraces many of the
different incarnations of
modern art. Art in its
traditional role is also
represented and by this I
mean the use of the two-
dimensional plane to create
the illusion of reality. Judy
Macmillan is a marvel at
this, her portraits often
Capturing the spirit of the
people she paints. In her
hands one sees not merely a
model but an individual, and
she is Rembrandt-like in her
use of light on the human
face. She is never facile and
her formidable talent is fully
evident in Winston, the head-
on portrait of a dread-locked
man in a tam. The troubled
.42x31cm face looks directly into your

ansley Moonstone Acrylic on canvas, 30.5 x 23 cm

eyes almost making want to reach
out and smooth that troubled brow.
Tropical Spring, a landscape, is a scene
one has chanced upon often in Jamaica,
poised on the hills of St Ann on the way
to the North coast, getting for an instant
what must be a commonplace view to a
John Crow hanging over the valleys that
lead to the sea.
Samere Tansley, another expert at
conjuring up reality in two dimensions,
uses this opportunity to show us her
surreal side. Her two pieces, both
masks, show what this artist of immense
talent is capable of. Rather than the
immaculate, idealized beauties we've
grown so used to getting from Tansley,
Reflections shows a female mask that
seems to be peeling and splitting at the
edges. A self-portrait? Moonstone
shows a metallic mask, again female,
with eyes closed and a dent in one
check, almost a death mask. Both
paintings foreground the face of the
mask so that the outer edges of the
canvas form the boundaries of the face.
In Moonstone almond leaves invade one
side of the face. In these paintings
Tansley tries to present images that
reflect the power and glory enjoyed by
women in ancient times. The peeling
and splitting and denting represent the
blows she has suffered in the transition
to her present attenuated condition.
Tansley continues to pursue her goal of
portraying woman as the subject not the
object of her paintings.
Barrington Watson's Dance of the
Maypole shows nine nude but
characterless, multi-coloured women,

five of whom have their backs to us.
Apparently reference is being made to
some masterpiece of European art but
one gets tired of seeing images of naked
women especially doing something as
unlikely as dancing around a maypole.
A tired and colourless painting which
baffles as to the artist's intent.
David Boxer's collage/ assemblage
Korperflussigkeit des Ikarus fur Beuys,
1993 (Body fluids of Icarus for Beuys,
1993) refers to the German performance
artist Joseph Beuys who died in 1986.
Beuys, who was also called a 'process'
artist ('process' because he used
materials such as animal fat in his work,
materials that would still be undergoing
a process of chemical change after the
completion of the work) appears in a
photograph placed diagonally to the rest
of the assemblage. The basic structure is
a large compartmentalized box, the
compartments being small somewhat
like those in a fisherman's tackle box.

The pigeon-holes are variously filled
with feathers, bones, marbles, horns and
pictures of Europeans from times gone
by. Boxer's Frayed Landscape is a
rather nice abstract landscape with a
wooden grid dividing it into small
cubical sections. The techniques used
are collage and mixed media.
The Grove Church by Jean Crichton
was another unusual landscape. Despite
the title, the church was in the bottom
right hand corner of the canvas almost
unnoticed, overshadowed by green hills,
undulating and writhing across the
canvas. The upper left hand corner of
the canvas was occupied by rolling
clouds reflecting the colour of the hills
and the church is almost swallowed up
by nature and the landscape surrounding
it. A striking piece which makes one
curious to see more of this artist's work.
Spanning a long horizontal space,
Narration by Charles Campbell needed

to be looked at from across the hall.
Almost eight feet wide, this painting
foregrounds hands caught in mid-
gesture, mid-story, perhaps, while the
background is inhabited by the mid-
sections of the white robes of the
owners of the hands. A simple, effective
painting that makes a point by focusing
on the ordinary, the taken-for-granted.
Andy Jefferson continues to
experiment, this time producing a
massive canvas of Titchfield Hotel in
Portland. The style is almost what is
scornfully referred to as Trafalgar Road
realism although Jefferson's painting
has such a strong presence that one feels
one can step into it.
Sherry Schreiber's fibre piece The
Path is a simplified but striking image
of a path leading up to an almond tree
by the sea. Three-quarters of the picture
plane is occupied by the path and
neighboring lawn which is striated by
shadows creating a strong chiaroscuro

effect. The lovely aqua of the sea creates
a vivid splash in the top quarter.
The quietly beautiful I am Flowers
Too (Erzulie's Bower) by Sharon
Chacko could easily be overlooked. It is
one of those pieces that requires you to
be standing within a few feet of it to
appreciate the rich colour and detail of
this batik painting. To achieve such
effects through the medium of batik is
remarkable and those who would belittle
such work as craftsmanship merely
because the artist eschewed Windsor
and Newton for an Eastern medium are
guilty of the worst kind of snobbery. To
quote the artist 'The dyes on cotton echo
the . nestling shapes of rural cottages
emerging from a mat of leaves:
breadfruit and mango, banana and
croton, cocoa leaf and fern.'1
Stanburry Grove by Gaston Tabois
shows elaborate detail but ends up
looking mechanical in spite of the

technical competence of the drawing.
Jamaica's First Spanish Building on the
other hand is a lively, humorous piece.
The painting has a dizzying depth and
the familiarity of the scene is jarred by
the presence in it of Europeans dressed
in eighteenth-century clothing per-
forming such mundane tasks as
shopping and going for a stroll.
Douglas Wallace's red, green and
gold Bantam has a soft, feathery look
and a large, cushiony almost female
quality about it unlike Osmond
Watson's Rent-a-Dread which also
shows what might be a bantam cock but
topped by the head of a pseudo-
Rastafarian. Rent-a-Dread looks plump
and slick, contented smoking a
spliff/cigarette with feet neatly shod in
sandals. He might be seen as the
personification of Jamaica in the 1990s
- an entire nation cynically clothing
itself in pretty packaging, prostituting
itself for the sake of a few tourist

dollars. A powerful statement from an
old master.
Watson's piece reminds us of the
absence of artists like Pottinger, Huie
and Abrahams from this Annual
National which also has very little
sculpture or ceramics. Six artists have
exhibited ceramic pieces and there are
eight pieces of sculpture. Most of it is
run of the mill except for Jag Mehta's
pots which have a monumental quality
in spite of their small size. Also lacking
is a strong representation from that
group of artists which is known as
'intuitive'. A tiredness pervades the few
that are there as if they're running out of
intuition? Only Veron Israel Williams
and Roy Reid make any impression.
Williams' Dixon Town is a painting of
an idyllic, hilltop community. It shows
colourful houses, neat fruitful gardens
full of scallion, flowers and coconuts
with blue mountains in the background.


Charles Campbell
SOil on canvas
76 x 28 cm

The people in the painting are either
working industriously or sitting on their
verandahs chatting. Roy Reid's The
Loving Sisters shows three women,
slightly askew in identical hats, earrings
and shoes caught, it seems, on their way
to church.

Te Annual National is certainly
live and well but is the Jamaican
art scene? Unlike other spheres of
activity the art scene here does not
subject itself to critical scrutiny. For one
thing we are sadly lacking in good art
writers and analysts. The few who call
themselves critics seem hardly
competent and artists in Jamaica are left
to the mercy of gallery owners and
managers who, blithely putting on the
mantle of curator, make pronounce-
ments on what is and what isn't art.
There is rich material here for study and
analysis and no one to do it. Do we ever
refer to the outside world? We need to
look at our neighbours. What is hap-
pening in places like Cuba, Trinidad,
Haiti? What about Central and South
American countries? We are likely to
have more in common with them than
our North American neighbours and yet
it is there we turn to for inspiration.
How is it that Trinidad has such
excellent art writers as Chris Cozier and
Skye Hernandez? How do we go about
developing such talent? Surely to begin
with we ought to invite artists/critics to
give lectures. We need debate within
our community. There is no shortage of
this in the other arts. Lectures are given
on dance, literature, music; most
recently there was a very stimulating
one on Jamaican theatre given by Brian
Heap at the University of the West
Indies. His lecture, 'Creating a Public
for The Arts' was a humorous, in-
sightful analysis of the Jamaican drama
world, much of which could easily have
been applied to the art world.
Jamaica has a large proportion of
female artists compared to other
countries. Thirty-two of the the 78
artists in the Annual National this year
were women. A large proportion of
these are expatriates. The 'intuitive'
movement has no female represent-
atives. Issues such as these were
addressed in an essay entitled, 'The
Role of Women in the Development of
Jamaica Art'2 by Veerle Poupeye-
Rammelaere. On the intriguing topic of
the high number of female expatriate
artists in Jamaica, Rammelaere explains
that the reason may be found in the
'pluralism and openness of the Jamaican

Roy Reid The Loving Sisters Oil on canvasboard, 86 x 54

art movement'. She adds, 'As long as
this international presence does not
reduce opportunities for local artists, it
can only be beneficial for the develop-
ment of Jamaican art.'
Can we examine this statement a little
more closely? Yes, Jamaica has
benefited immensely from expatriate
artists starting with Edna Manley.
Artists like Samere Tansley, June
Bellew, Seya Parboosingh, live and
work here in a dynamic way, enriching
local soil, and allowing us to benefit
from their experience. But how do we
explain the 1993 'Women in Art' show
sponsored by Woman Inc. which
featured only one black artist? How are
such shows curated? Why were people
such as Norma Harrack, Judith Salmon
and Maxine Gibson not there? I find it
ironic that a show focusing on women's
art, which presumably sought to address
some perceived gender imbalance in the
Jamaican art scene, ended up perpe-
trating a different kind of imbalance and
one that our multi-racial but pre-
dominantly black society is rather
sensitive to. I am not suggesting sinister
motives here but surely this is
something which needs to be analysed.
'Art knows no boundaries. Inter-
nationalism is here to stay' is a frequent
rejoinder to such charges but isn't it
fascinating how quickly boundaries

spring up when the Jamaican
artist goes to the metropole? Look
at this commentary from a
western art critic, David Elliott in
a article called 'Waiting for
Within the art world there has
been a strong tendency to seek
for solidarity within the Western
tradition, to regard work from
other countries which relates to
this as weak and derivative. The
negative critical response to 'The
Other Story', an exhibition of
Modernist art made in Britain by
largely unrecognized artists of
non-Western origin held at the
Hayward Gallery, London in
1989, typifies this attitude.
We can safely assume that most
of the 'unrecognized artists of
non-Western origin' that Elliott
refers to are West Indian, Indian,
Pakistani and African artists. Not
for them the pluralist and open-
armed welcome that we extend to
our expatriates. No benevolent
.5 c assumption that the contribution
of foreign artists can only be
beneficial to the English art
scene. I am not trying to stir up
hostilities here; I mention this only to
point out that it is one thing to be
marginalized in centres that most of
'our' expatriates come from it is quite
another to be marginalized in our own
countries. If we allow this to happen we
will be held responsible by future
generations of Jamaican artists who will
have to struggle unnecessarily to gain a
foothold in their own art scene.

School for the Visual Arts has
come under the aegis of the
UWI, couldn't some attention
be paid to invigorating the very limited
intellectual palate of the art community?
The responsibility for stimulating such
activity quite logically belongs to the
EMSVA. We desperately need a journal
of our own, addressing art issues here
and in the Caribbean and the art school
would be the ideal home for such a
journal. It could be a valuable exercise
for the graphic design students to
produce and material could be found in
plenty both from lecturers and student
research projects and from the large art
community resident in this country. But
the fact is that this is highly unlikely to
A visit to what I call the book vault
(rather than library) of the EMSVA in

order to do research for this article
proved to be a depressing experience. A
handful of tattered books trapped in a
space, no catalogue to speak of, the
book vault appeared to be a living no,
dying example of some bizarre
installation or art exhibit entitled Literal
Dissolution perhaps or Books Menaced
by Inert Space. When I asked if any
journals on international art were
available I was first told that they used
to receive JAMAICA JOURNAL but didn't
do so any longer and when I clarified
that what I wanted were articles on
international art, I was shown a few
dog-eared copies of ArtNews and Art in
America. I protested that these were
hardly journals on international art but
was told with a shrug that that was all
they had. Overhearing a student ask for
material on batik and the Book Vault
Attendant's reply that there was none. I
volunteered that Sharon Chacko has a
very informative article on batik. Both
the student and the BVA said 'Oh' and
went back to their work. Now unless by
some miracle this really is some sort of
brilliant installation and there is a real
library elsewhere on the premises of the
EMSVA, I think we are in trouble. Far
from providing a vibrant setting for
revitalizing the art scene, this set-up is
not even going to be able to incubate
new artists.
For art has changed. It is no longer a
matter of honing one's draftsmanship
and perfecting the latest airbrushing
techniques. 'We are being engaged not
by the dexterity of the hand but by that
of the imagination and vision of the
artist,' says Chris Cozier in an article
'Ideas about form: the enamel basin', in
which he talks about an exhibition in
Trinidad in 1982 by John Stollmeyer.
One of the works exhibited consisted
simply of a white enamel basin placed
on the floor of the gallery. The work
titled Caribbean Basin had three holes

roughly in the shapes of Cuba, Grenada
and Nicaragua. 'Literally the Caribbean
Basin Initiative of the United States
government could not hold water,' says
Cozier.4 This is exciting challenging
work but are we likely to see anything
remotely like this in Jamaica?
Subscriptions to international art
journals are expensive but are as
necessary as studios and paint. What
about the Trinidad & Tobago Review
which carried the article quoted above?
Are art students at the EMSVA even
aware that it exists? It costs hardly
anything while providing a steady
supply of the most thought-provoking
material about us, weself, I and I and
you and you. A regional resource that is
spumed in favour of Art in America.
Finally, in all the other spheres I
mentioned, music, drama, dance,
literature the strongest, the best
and the most vibrant work has
come from an attempt to process our
Jamaican/Caribbean/West Indian expe-
rience using art forms which may or
may not be indigenous. Our problems
are different from the problems of the
technological superpowers. If our art
looks like a pale imitation of what is
fashionable (an often what was
fashionable there twenty or thirty years
ago) we are doing something wrong. We
don't want to be guilty of 'Western
discourse applied blindly outside its
sphere of relevance'.5 Our approach to
art is actually hopelessly old-fashioned.
We are still caught in the chains of
modernist thinking, that is, viewing
modern art as a linear continuum in
which there is a hierarchy of movements
culminating in the rarest and most
abstract and exclusive expressions from
which ninety per cent of the world is
necessarily excluded. Any kind of native
or popular art which is accessible to the
majority of the people is of necessity

low culture and to be labelled
primitive, intuitive or any one of a list
of patronizing and pejorative terms.
Post-modernism and post-
colonialism obviously have not yet
landed on these shores or we would
see the work of an Everald Brown
enjoying the same (if not greater)
status and value as a Cheryl Phillips or
a Valentine Fairclough. Instead we
have the comical situation of artists
who choose to express themselves in
the purest of American avant-garde
styles but insist on assuming long
African names, as if by this cosmetic
change they can claim some kind of
relevance and authority. The change
has to be manifested in the subject
matter of our work and in the
articulation of our environment. The
world will follow.

1. Chacko, Sharon. 'Batik: An ancient Craft
as an Expression of Contemporary Jamaica'
in Caribbean Women Writers edited by
Selwyn Cudjoe. Callaloo Publications (329-
35) 1990.
2. This is an unpublished essay distributed
by the Frame Centre Gallery which had
commissioned it to accompany a show
entitled 'Women's Work, A Multi-
dimensional Exhibition'.
3. Elliot, David. 'Waiting for Muzot' in
Kunst & Museumjournaal, 2: 5 (1-9) 1991. I
am indebted to the Contemporary Art Centre
for allowing me to use their reading room
and facilities.
4. Cozier, Christopher. 'Ideas about form:
the enamel basin' in Trinidad and Tobago
Review. March 1994.
5. McEvilley, Thomas. 'History, Quality,
Globalism' in Kunst & Museumjournaal, 3:
2 (1-10) 1992.

Colour photographs by Herbie Gordon; black & white
photographs courtesy ofthe National Gallery ofJamaica.


The Bus Stop. 1992. Acrylic on canvas. 41 51 cm

ERIC CADIEN 1954-1994

In losing Eric we have lost one of our most outstanding
young artists. We mourn his loss but are comforted by the
fact that he shone so brightly while he was here with us
and that he left us a rich oeuvre which will live on and on.
Some years ago, I penned a few lines for Eric which
summed up my feelings about his work. I would like to
repeat them here:

From his days in art school, formal analysis trying
to wrench a significant form statement, abstract in its
essentials but tied to the familiar 'given,' the human
figure has been his forte. Indeed we sense even in the
most explicitly erotic works (the female nude
'modelling' or rather 'arranging' herself for the artist's
formal scrutiny, and the extended fantasies of sexual
coupling, remain his two most persistent themes) a
certain detachment a refusal to be caught up in the
psychological potential of such subjects. Even when
colour begins to play an important part in his work, it
is deployed more as a tool of analysis rather than for
its full expressive potential. In fact, colour is often
autonomous, conducting its own formal play of
harmonies, and at times even riotous dissonances,
quite independent of the purported subject matter.
Cadien, consequently, can be viewed both as a
highly charged classicist or as a 'cool' expressionist
There is no contradiction here. He is both. His work
clearly is a controlling force in his life, mediating
between and balancing the rational and the inspira-
tional sides of his personality.
That this is admirably accomplished in drawings
and paintings of special elegance and with a life-
affirming exuberance is to our delight and benefit.
David Boxer, Director Emeritus/Chief Curator
National Gallery of Jamaica

Talking to Eric Cadien

Excerpt from an interview recorded by Chalyn Girling in
May 1993 in Berkeley, California. Eric Cadien was there to
take part in an exhibition at the Giorgio Gallery along with
Gene Pearson and Judy Macmillan.

As I walked into The Potter's Studio, he sat quietly at a table
sculpting a geometrically shaped human figure. The
rectangular and triangular slabs of clay, very similar
stylistically to those in his paintings, fit together smoothly to
form a standing figure.The depth of the piece is rooted in its
shape: the gaping mouth with tooth-like rectangles created
the feeling of prison bars; the triangular eyes were void of
any human quality. The mouth, seemed to pull this robot-like
figure into the human realm, giving it emotion. A
containment presented itself in the geometric shapes, the
lifeless qualities. The combination of this containment and
the anguish of the mouth presented a strong dichotomy
which grasped me and created a struggle which tore at me as
I tried to express the feelings aroused by the figure. There is
nothing static about Eric Cadien's work. It is inherently
vibrant, overflowing with the emotional tension so central to
his geometric style.

Was there any event or moment in which you decided that
this was what you wanted to do with your life?
As far back as I can remember. .when I was three years old,
I was working with junk material, drawing on walls, drawing
in the earth, basically, this is where it started. I remember
when I was five or six years old my sister gave me a book on
art before I could read properly (laughs heartily). I was very
inspired by looking at the pictures, and I decided that was
exactly what I wanted to do.
Which international artists have influenced your work?
I went to the art school at the Edna Manley School for the
Visual Arts and the Ontario College of Arts and for the first


iew muswICia"l, 'iy :r R yUC Ui .,,va. ~ o A -
Collection: Gaterie Makaux. Los Angeles

four years I studied sculpture. I think that Henry Moore has
influenced me as well as a lot of the African artists, or what
we call 'primitive' sculptors. And to a great extent Mexican
art also influenced me, especially the Mayan, and in general
the works of the Aztecs.
You say that you are influenced by Mexican and African art;
where do your images come from?
The images come from looking at people, trying to assess
their way of life, to create a symbol to express that kind of
feeling. When I'm in Jamaica, I do a lot of travelling into the
country, and I think that has a lot to do with the colours, the
aqua blues, brilliant reds and greens. I think it has to do with
the landscape. I've been travelling to the US and Canada. In
general the influence is coming from all these different
experiences. Most recently, you will find that I use a lot of
crowns on the figures. I was looking at myself as a king-like
image, a king-like person. It is a reflection of the past, of the
sort of background that we've come from, the African
background ... of being conscious of where civilization
In terms of technique, do you use any of the African or
Mexican models?
What I try to do is to look at the styles and develop my own
techniques. From constantly working and exploring new
ideas, new things, and new materials, the technique is
gradually developed. But it's not something that is
influenced by any particular artist's techniques. You have to
develop your own technique to get real truth into the kind of
work you're doing.

What are the images that you want the audience to pick up
on, the images that you feel are important?
Most of the images that I use are important. I don't want
people to narrow it down and say, 'This is what he is doing.'
I want people to have a broader perspective of life. This is
why it can encompass so many different ideas, so many
different things, like our ancestors. One of the things I like is
when people look at a work and ten different people looking,
at the same thing have ten different experiences. To me that's
great! An open-minded view is what I am trying to achieve.
One of the things that I remember hearing was that the art
movement in Jamaica was born out of nationalism. I was
wondering whether you feel that it is still a really important
part of Jamaican art now ?
I think Jamaican art is becoming more international. What
we find is that people from around the world come to
Jamaica on a small scale, to look at what is happening in the
arts. And because of the music and the dance, I think fine art
is falling into place now also.

In which direction do you see Jamaican art moving ?
Now in Jamaica, I think the future looks much brighter for
me than in the US. When I look at the support for the arts in
Jamaica and the United States, one per cent of the people
support the arts in the States, while in Jamaica, I would say
it's two per cent. And in relationship to the population in the
US, the percentage of the artists who can live by their work
is greater in Jamaica. We have a larger percentage of
professional artists like Gene Pearson and myself who are
considered to be young people.
Do you find that in Jamaica art and the artist are revered,
and respected professionally?
I think this is true. I am speaking from my personal
experience. People will call you and they ask you
continuously what you are doing because they are anxious to
know what's coming next. In my experience in the US, I
don't find that this is happening to the artists . maybe if
they are internationally known artists. In Jamaica people are
following the artists, people are generally supportive of the
arts and the artists.
Does art have 'a meaning' for you?
Art has so many different meanings and this is why it is hard
to say, OK, this is what it is, unless it is a realistic interpre-
tation of something. And for me, that's not good enough, it
goes further into the intuitive, the subconscious ... For me
each piece of work is always a new beginning, a new
experience ... it's a way of life really, trying to record your
experiences through different types of languages.
What role does art play in your life?
Art is my life, that's what I do, that's what I've always
wanted to do. Without it, my life would be very empty, very,
very empty.

Chalyn Girling, a Jamaican-born sculptor and photographer, is a graduate of
Sanoma State University, California.



International Purchases &
Manufacturers Representatie

2 Parish P
Tel (809)

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The Early Years

Dr WJ Hanna
A though the motorcar is today an essential mode of transport in
Jamaica, it is impossible to ascertain the exact date on which the first
one arrived in the island. According to an Editorial published in the
Daily Gleaner of January 29, 1906,

the first motor car that reached our shores was owned by Mr L
D. Baker, Junior, at Port Antonio, in 1900. Mr. E Nuttall, the
well known Kingston solicitor followed Mr. Baker and in the
Winter of 1903 imported a steam car locomobile. Of the owners
of gasolene cars, Dr. Henderson was the first in the Spring of
1904 with a Duryea soon followed by Mr. Griffiths of Black
River with a fourteen horse power Orleans car.

By 1906 there were about a dozen cars in the island and they
must really have been novelties amongst the traditional 'horse
and buggies' then in use for everyday transport.
Early motoring was regarded as a sport, not anything to
be taken seriously. Opinion was divided as to whether it
would amount to anything, or remain just a fad. Given the
trials faced by the early Jamaican motorist, it is indeed a
wonder that the motorcar became a popular and essential
means of transport.
To help foster this new phenomenon, the Jamaica Motor
Union had been formed in 1905 to encourage safe
automobilism, improve road conditions, fight against laws
which would restrict the growth of automobilism, encourage
safe driving and provide information to the motoring public.
The President was Dr G. C. Henderson and the Secretary was
Mr E. Nuttall.
Newspapers of the day served to publish both the views
of early automobilistss', (as they called themselves) as well as
of those not so inclined to this new mode of transport.
Editorials usually sought to highlight both points of view but
seemed to accept that cars had arrived to stay. The activities
of the Legislative Council were also reported in the papers, so
it is possible to get an idea of the then Government's
viewpoint on this new and evolving phenomenon. By 1908,
road guides of the island, complete with maps and motoring
tips, were being published for both tourists and locals alike.
From all these sources, it is possible to gain a sense of early
motoring in Jamaica as well as the difficulties and problems
faced by the motorists.

Early Conflicts and Anti-motoring Sentiments

There were conflicts between the new automobilists and
those who travelled by more established forms of road
transport from the beginning. An example of this is contained
in a letter, signed with a nom-de-plume of 'Caution' which
appeared in the Gleaner on February 14, 1905. It reported an
account of an encounter between a buggy and motorcar on a
country road:

The Editor,
Sir, On one of our country roads recently a serious accident
might have occurred, because of the careless driving of a motor
car, the driver of which without sound of horn or whistle, rushed
round a comer and frightened the horses attached to a buggy
which was being driven by a lady. Fortunately the only injury
was to the pole of the buggy, but there might have been loss of
life or limb. Of course, any expenditure incurred for repairs may
be recovered from the transgressor.
We are pleased to welcome cordially all visitors and tourists,
but we do expect that they will give all necessary attention to
the rights of the road.

Approximately one week later, a scathing reply to
'Caution's' letter appeared,written by Mr H.W. Griffiths of
Hodges, Black River, in which he claimed to be the driver of
the car involved in the incident. His version follows:

On my way from St. Elizabeth to Trelawny, by way of Ramble,
at the latter place there are many turnings. Before reaching each
one my horn was loudly sounded. No doubt the rattle of the
buggy must have prevented the driver from either hearing the
horn or the noise of the engines working. On rounding one of
these turnings but not fast (otherwise I should not have been
able to pull up in time) as the turning happened to be a sharp
one, I came across the buggy mentioned after I was well round
the comer, and on my proper side, as the car pulled up in the
left-hand watercourse; the buggy was still proceeding not
actually on the wrong side of the road, but a little more than in
the middle, so much so that I could not have passed and pulled
up fully thirty-five feet from where I first stopped; the driver of
the buggy moved then on to her left side and I commenced to
proceed, but when I got about twenty feet from the buggy, the
pony on the off-side became fractious. I at once stopped the car,
and also the engines entirely, and waited for the buggy to pass.
As the ponies were being driven forward again, the off-side one
suddenly backed, but only for a yard or so, as the other pony
was pulling forward; this sudden jerk bent the table of the

As a result of such confrontations, an anti-motorcar lobby
came into being in Jamaica and tried to fight the oncoming
change, sometimes going to extremes to present their point of
view. This was reflected in a letter written in 1906 by a visitor
to the island, suggesting that Jamaica be kept a motorcar-free
zone or that the tax on gasolene and cars be made so high as
to prohibit their use here:

The great majority of people from the U.S.A. who come to
Jamaica are quiet, sensible people who bring tired nerves and
while recuperating in your invigorating climate want to enjoy its
beautiful scenery without taking their lives in their hands every
mile while they are doing so. Five of every such visitors would
be driven away for every one automobilist who would come if
automobiles were common in Jamaica. Let there be one
paradise free from the evil...

Early 'Roadblocks' to Motoring

From the early motorist's point of view, everything
seemed to conspire against the success of motoring in
Jamaica.There was the price of gas, with its exorbitant 'gas
tax', a lack of spare parts and trained mechanics, and bad
roads in many areas.The tax on petroleum products was a
particularly strong issue raised by motorists. An editorial in
the Gleaner of January 29, 1906, outlined the issue:

The one great obstacle in the development of motoring in
Jamaica is the enormous import duty to which all the products
of petroleum are liable.The gasolene used in explosion motors
(author's note: internal combustion engines) costs anything
from sixpence to eightpence per gallon in addition to which
there is a duty of sevenpence halfpenny which just doubles the
cost.When it is further remembered that an owner is called upon
to pay a license of 5 shillings for driving and 10 shillings for
registration in addition to the ordinary wheel tax it will be seen
that motoring is somewhat of an expensive luxury.

At the heart of the matter was the Government's refusal
to lower the duty on gasolene as it was once thought that it
would be more popular than kerosene as fuel for lamps in the
home. Although the Government knew this not to be so and,
in fact, derived only about 200 annually from this tax, they
still refused to lower it at that time.


180 at our Garage.
5 I'Variner, Model T Touriig (Cr.
1 Cyl: 4 Cycle. 221 Horse I'owcr.
5,000 Miles on 1 sct .tyres(ovcr iloy ruiod i,Ja' ai ,,.)
20 to 25 Miles to it galloo of iasuolcnc.
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Look Out-for Next Saturday's Issy-'of-the "Gleaier--

Sol A' cSIts f, ORI) M o Ri Ly.O .

Y# i6 Ws' t & 4TP4crt 44trg8^ C ingsp 4

A lack of motorcar supplies and a regular supply of
gasoline also plagued early motorists. This was illustrated by
one of Dr Henderson's letters to the Gleaner on October 21,

As there are altogether less than a dozen motor vehicles,
including cars, tricars and motor cycles, in Jamaica, there is not
sufficient demand for regular establishments for the supply of
petrol, lubricants and parts. A small amount of gasoline is
imported by some hardware dealers and others, but car owners,
as a rule, import their own petrol in iron drums of ten to 100
American gallons (equal eight to eighty English), and they are
always ready to assist one another, or a brother motorist visiting
the island, in case of need. As passenger steamers by insurance
regulations are forbidden to carry petrol, it can only come down
once a month in cargo boats and the cost with freight, duty
etc.,works out at about 2s 6d to Is 9d per English gallon.

Development of Road Etiquette

One of the earliest references to road etiquette was found
in a letter by Mr Griffiths in the Gleaner of February 22,
1905. In it he offered advice to other motorists and drivers of
buggies, should they find themselves in a position of conflict:

Should any driver meet a motor car, who is handling a fractious
animal, all he has to do is put up his hand of warning: the
motorist is not to know an animal is fractious unless he is
warned, and then he must stop his car, and I feel sure that
certain motorists would render all possible assistance should it
be required.

In an attempt to draw attention to the problem motorists
faced in sharing the road with other users, Dr George
Henderson, as President of the Jamaica Motor Union, wrote
yet another letter to the Daily Gleaner on March 8,1906. In it
he made a plea for himself and fellow automobilistss' that the
Legislature do something about other road users more
delinquent than motorists were:

'Road Hogs' there always have been and will always be, and the
automobilist is not the only offender in that class. Pedestrians,
riders, cart and buggy drivers as well who insist upon
monopolising more than their due share of the road and
obstructing, endangering by neglecting to lead or exercise
proper control of their animals, and refusing or neglecting to
make way for traffic meeting or overtaking them, all form
species of that genius, and equally show an entire disregard of
the 'rule of the road'.
Pioneers have always to undergo an extra amount of trouble
and encounter opposition, and while I do not complain unduly
of the restrictions the Legislature has seen fit to place upon
motorists in return for granting them the privilege to use the
roads, I am in hopes that in the future a sense of equity may yet
induce it to turn the attention of its officers to the pedestrian or
donkey drivers who walk four or six abreast in the main roads,
driving their animals in front of them, instead of leading, the
small children often seen in charge(!) of carts drawn by mules
or horses which they are entirely unable to control, the deaf or
sleeping driver whose trap meanders along the centre of the
roadway who requires almost a giant cracker to rouse him to
consciousness. ..

Sharing the road with other forms of vehicular traffic
meant that the motorcar needed to have some special means
of identification to warn the pedestrian of the type of machine
which was in close proximity. To this end, the Motor Car Law


You see them everywhWei!,

L.O PH -.


jAmAic jNAL 25/2 51


Fern Gully, Ocho Rios in the early 1900s

1905, Section 10, specified that, 'The person in charge of a
motor car shall carry attached thereto a horn or other
instrument capable of giving audible and sufficient warning
of the approach or position of the motor car.' However, by
1908 every form of wheeled traffic was sporting a horn. The
potential for danger arising from this was obvious as Dr
Henderson pointed out in a letter of March 26, 1908:

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, motorists should
be proud of the way in which their signal has 'caught on' and
been appropriated by users of other vehicles.
There is another side to the question: the safety of the public.
Normal road users regulate their pace and movements relative to
vehicles overtaking them by the sound of signals heard by them,
and if the same signal is used by carriages at 6-8 miles per hour,
cycles at 8-12 and motors at 16-20, confusion is likely to occur,
and an error of judgement on their part, or on that of the
motorist, for whose use, under penalty, the horn was originally
prescribed, may easily result in serious or fatal accident.

As cars were now the fastest type of vehicle on Jamaican
roads, their speed also became an issue with other road
users.The original Motor Car Law of 1905 made no attempt to
define a speed limit for cars, stating only that reckless driving
was an offence. By 1908 letters began to appear calling for
some sort of speed limit for motor cars, citing incidents of
near accidents from speeding cars. The motorcar of the day
was capable only of speeds between 15-20 miles per hour but
this was relatively fast when compared to a sedate trot of a
horse and buggy. The following letter which appeared in the
Daily Gleaner of March 14, 1908, from Ocho Rios, signed
with the nom-de-plume of 'C' is an example of this concern:

Sir, Kindly permit me space in your valuable columns to make a
few remarks respecting the rapid way in which several motor
cars have passed through this town. On several occasions motor
cars are seen to be rushing around the curbs of this little town
without any warning. To-day two rushed through at such a rapid
rate that they nearly came in collision with a dray and some
little schoolchildren going home from school. I can assure you
that if our Government does not make some stringent law re
their rapid speed on the main road, the time is not far when
some serious accident will happen. No other vehicles are
allowed to go on the main road at such a furious rate to the
danger of the public.

The issue of speeding persisted up to 1911 as the contents
of an editorial published in the Daily Gleaner of November 4,
1911 reveal:

In Jamaica, unfortunately, there is no speed limit, though
drivers of reckless cars can be brought before the court and (if
found guilty) severely punished for reckless driving. But what
constitutes reckless driving? We do not know; and apparently it
is very much a matter of opinion. This, however, we can safely
state: we have several times seen automobiles driven on com-
paratively crowded thoroughfares not very far from Kingston,
and in broad daylight, at a speed that would not have been
tolerated on any country road in England. Only the other day we
saw an old woman nearly run over by a speed-fiend at Half-
Way-Tree. Indeed, she would have been run over and killed, had
not a man who was standing close by perceived her danger and
pulled her out of harm's way. It seems to us that the time has
come when an example should be made of some of the
automobilists who use the public highways as if they were
racing tracks.


Impact on Tourism

An Editorial in the Gleaner of January 29, 1906
suggested that the Government allow motorcar owners a
special licence to import gasolene duty free in order to
encourage the influx of motoring tourists to the island.
Motorists immediately took this matter seriously and a letter
from Mr H. W. Griffiths in the Gleaner of March 6, 1906
indicates the feeling of the group on this issue:

I was at Constant Spring Hotel quite recently and know for a
fact the day before I left, there was not a bed to be had at the
hotel, and many of the outlying houses such as Streadwick Hill
Gardens and elsewhere, which are in connection with the hotel,
were full up; the hotels in Mandeville the same; likewise
Montego Bay. Now does this not speak for itself?
Amongst those tourists have come many motorists bringing
their cars with them, and if it is one class of tourist that Jamaica
ought to try and please, it is the motor tourist; because he does
not come by one steamer via Kingston or Port Antonio, and then
clear out by the next outgoing steamer, like the majority of
globe trotters from whom Jamaica receives little benefit their
money being chiefly spent with the Steamship Cos.The motor
tourist comes here with an object, and that is to see something
of the island, and from the moment he lands, he commences
paying out, firstly heavy wharfage fees and in some cases
boatage fees also next comes hotel expenses for himself, party,
and chauffeur and housing motor car. This all means money
spent locally, and as they tour through the island it is a case of
shell out. Surely this does more good to the island as a whole
than the aforementioned class of tourist: and yet at the present
time the better paying of the two is going to be driven away to
other parts of the world, where there are greater facilities than in
I was surprised at the number of motor cars I saw when in
Kingston last, and if the duty on kerosene and gasolene, which
is to be specially used for motor car purposes only, were done
away with I feel certain that this class of tourist would be
trebled next season.

By 1908 this situation had improved slightly and in a
guidebook to Jamaica entitled Itinerary of the Main Roads in
the Island of Jamaica produced by The Officers of the Public
Works Department, the following arrangements (which seem
rather dangerous) were in place to provide the motorist with

Tourists requiring Gasolene may have the quantity desired
delivered at any Railway Station on application to the Director
of the Railway, Kingston, and on pre-payment of all charges:
the supply of Gasolene cannot, however, be guaranteed, and at
least 24 hours notice will be required. If not removed within a
week, the Gasolene will be returned to store.

In the same publication it was pointed out that supplies of
gasolene would also be available at larger towns in the
country, along with batteries and lubricating oil. The point
was made, however, that the visiting motorist should bring
tires and inner tubes for replacement whilst on the island as it
would be impossible to get anything of the kind in Jamaica.
By 1912 articles began to appear in the Gleaner and
guidebooks to the island extolling the virtues of Jamaica as a
motorist's paradise. In that same year, however, a letter
written by a British tourist told a different story and showed
deficiencies caused by the poor condition of the roads and the
hazards caused by stray animals and mule-drawn carts:

Another factor in the matter of discomfort both to the motorist
and the occupant of a buggy, is the shamefully careless way in
which carts with three mules abreast, are driven. When the
driver is not asleep as he continually is he is generally so
absorbed in conversation with the other occupants of the cart,
that he takes no notice of the perpetual hooting of the motor,
and even should he condescend to allow one to pass, he only
pays attention to the centre mule, leaving the other two to take
care of themselves...
... The strain of driving a motor in a country where proper
rules and regulations obtain, is considerable, but in Jamaica it is
made unnecessarily severe, through the bad roads, the continual
blocking of the traffic by the above-mentioned carts and also by
the numbers of stray animals which wander about at their own
sweet wills on the 'King's Highway'.

Reading this, one is reminded of the conditions still
apparent on the rural roads today.

Impact on Jamaican Society

As early as 1906, the motorcar began to influence change
in Jamaican society. Advertisements appeared in the Gleaner,
informing the public of the availability of 'chauffeured
excursions' to the Rockfort on weekends. Excursions were
also available to take passengers as far afield as Moneague,
Castleton and other scenic Jamaican spots. Hotels cashed in
on this new phenomenon and some advertised that they
offered facilities on premises catering specifically to
motorists. They also had their own cars available for hire to
take guests on drives to the surrounding areas. By the 1920s,
the motorcar was well on its way to becoming an integral part
of Jamaican society. Initially, it divided the population into
various strata. An article published in Planter's Punch
1925/26, entitled 'The Motor Car: Vehicular Psychology',
aptly illustrated this.

The world of Jamaica then became divided into four main
classes: motor car people, buggy people, tram and cab people
and walking people. The walking people were for the most part
disregarded. They being only the majority who grew food and
performed for a trifling remuneration the most necessary
operations of a country's life, did not need to be considered.
They would always walk anyhow, and walking, was no doubt
good for them, whereas it was highly detrimental to persons of a
finer and more exquisite physical and mental organisation. The
folk of this finer and more delicate organisation needed
exercise, it is true, but they could get it from cricket, tennis,
golf; and as golf courses were few in Jamaica, and would
always be so the motor car folk took to golfing as their chief
form of exercise. This further served to mark them off from
other classes of the population. And if they were compelled to
walk, they did it under protest, or rather, with an excuse, and
never for more than a hundred yards at once.

As early as 1911, the phenomenon of the second-hand car
appeared, becoming established fact by the mid-1920s.The
very thing which had been unattainable for some in the early
years, was now well within the grasp of the average person.
This meant that anyone could learn to drive . perhaps the
beginning of the end. An exerpt from the same article in
Planter's Punch describes what the impact of the second-
hand car would mean for Jamaica's future:

Thus the motor car shattered, or bids fair to shatter, the structure
of a well-organised society. The outward and visible signs of


social distinction are disappearing. The very thing that twenty
years ago was thought to make the most striking difference
between the classes is now helping to obliterate that difference.
Go anywhere, stand anywhere, and you will see that this is so.
Comes a splendid seven-seater automobile and its occupants loll
back in their seats like gods and goddesses of ancient religions.
Comes immediately after a Dodge or a Buick that has seen
better days or is still serviceable. It is crowded to its utmost
capacity, which is to say it is overcrowded; it carries eight
persons instead of the five it was built to accommodate. It was
bought second-hand, it has been tinkered again and again, it is
rackety, it is noisy, but it moves and makes a dust, and those
who are in it enjoy themselves quite as much as those in the
preceding new motor.
The motor car has evoked more will power than any other
factor in Jamaica. The motor car, which was at first the
exclusive appanage of the better-off classes, and the symbol of
social superiority, has now become the token and manifestation
of a triumphing democracy. The horse is going. The donkey
will follow suit. In time everyone will ride in motor car, taxi or
motor truck.
Instability in the island's economy has prevented this
view from becoming a reality. Motorcars still continue to
exert their influence on Jamaican lifestyle, not because they
are readily affordable by all but because the prohibitive cost
of a motorcar today puts one well out of reach of the average
Jamaican. Current import policies and tariffs have led to an
excessive rise in motorcar prices. We must still look to the
future for a change in island's fortunes and a subsequent
decrease in import duty which will bring car ownership
within the grasp of almost every Jamaican.

Photographs: National Library ofJamaica

Daily Gleaner 1898-1912.
Handbook ofJamaica 1912
Jamaica Departmental Reports 1905-6
Planter's Punch 1922-1926
Itinerary of the Main Roads in the Island of Jamaica. Produced by
the officers of the Public Works Department, 1908.


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Hopping Dick


l.L FU LS 5^OdL

Ivan Goodfbody

Glasseye t Rio de Janeiro in 1992, an
S/\ international treaty on Biodiver-
Ssity was signed by most member
countries of the United Nations. That
treaty grants certain rights over genetic
i stock in the territory of member states
but also imposes responsibilities. One of
I the most important of these is the
Responsibility to protect and preserve
biotic diversity within the borders of the
SState, the diverse forms of animals,
plants, fungi, bacteria etc., and particu-
larly to preserve and maintain those
forms which are unique to that particular
country or region.
Old Man Bird
L-* (Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo) Endemic Species
Species of plants and animals, or any
w other form of life, which are unique to
an area are referred to as 'Endemic
Species'. We must be careful not to
confuse the word endemic with the term
indigenous; an indigenous species is a
native inhabitant of the area (i.e. occur-
ring naturally and not introduced) but
may occur elsewhere, while endemic
species are found nowhere else and have
a unique genetic composition.
S Arrowheaded Warbler Jamaica has a very high level of
(Arrowhead) endemism among both its plants and
animals as shown in Table I. The
present essay is concerned with the
endemic species and sub-species of bird
in Jamaica and its aim is to stress two
Jama W',- things. Firstly that the endemic flora and
Jamaicanir te-eyed o fauna are as much a part of the nation's
wViremo fdests heritage as are cultural artefacts such as
Arawak pottery from White Marl,
Blue Mountain artefacts from Port Royal, art treasures
v~ Vroasuim, in the National Gallery, manuscripts in
'" the National Library or buildings of
historic interest. In the same way that
S" cultural artefacts cannot be replaced if
Destroyed so also endemic species of
plants and animals cannot be replaced if
they are reduced to extinction.The


0.25 miles
I l,

Fig. 1. Map of Guava Ridge/Mount Rosanna area showing where natural forest remains as follows: A. Nomdmi Bowl; B, Lady Swettenham Valley; C. Bellevue Valley;
D, Mount Rosanna Bowl and Hillside; E. Mount Dispute Valley

particular genetic make-up of the species
(the gene pool) has been fashioned by
evolution over thousands of years and, if
lost, cannot be replaced from elsewhere.
These endemic species are a part, an
important part, of the nation's natural
heritage and we have the same
responsibility for ensuring their survival
as we have for caring for the nation's
cultural treasures.
The second point addressed here is
that the survival of endemic animals is
dependent on the maintenance of their
habitat. We cannot protect a species by
putting it in a zoo and caring for it in the
manner that we put cultural artefacts in
museums and care for them there. Each
and every species of plant and animal
has been fashioned by evolution to fit a
particular place (a niche in ecological
terminology) in the natural environment.
For animals this 'place' involves space
for living and breeding and food for
survival, and for each species the kind
of space (the habitat) and the kind of
food to which it is adapted is unique.
In blunt terms a species of bird
which is adapted for survival in the

natural montane forest will not re-adapt
and easily survive if it is given no alter-
native than a man-induced habitat such
as pine forest, Eucalyptus forest or
coffee plantation. Because Jamaica was
originally covered primarily by forest, it
is inevitable that most of its endemic
species of bird are inhabitants of the
natural forest and we have therefore a
responsibility to retain and maintain
sufficient natural forest to ensure that
these endemic species survive.

The Sample Area
The critical nature of such an
activity is illustrated below in relation to
the area between Guava Ridge and
Mount Rosanna in St Andrew; this area
is used as an example simply because it
is an area with which I am familiar and
not because the issues are any different
from those found elsewhere in the hills.
The montane area considered here is
the ridge which lies between Guava
Ridge in the north and Mount Rosanna
in the south in the parish of St Andrew
(fig.l). Thirty years ago, most of the

ridge was covered by forest, either
natural secondary forest or planted
Eucalyptus, most of the latter being on
north-east slopes of the ridge and on the
western slopes of Mount Rosanna.
Small pockets of Pine and Mahoe also
existed. Originally, access to the area
was solely by means of parochial roads
or mule trails, the principal one of which
commenced at Guava Ridge and
extended along the top of the ridge to
Governor's Bench and onward to Lime
Tree Village further east. Lateral trails
went east and west to connect with
surrounding districts. Between 1963 and
1965 the Forests Department opened up
a driving road along the eastern slope
crossing to the west at Bellevue so as to
serve Flamstead and other districts. An
attempt to build a road from Bellevue to
Governor's Bench and Lime Tree
Village along the top of the ridge ended
in failure after many years of inter-
mittent work causing disastrous land-
slides which carried away valuable acres
of forest. This network of roads has
opened up the ridge for agricultural
development and today the landscape is

dramatically changed with large
acreages of coffee, flowers, scallion and
other crops. A large acreage was also
devoted to pine plantations on the
western side but much of this was
destroyed by hurricane Allen in 1980
and hurricane Gilbert in 1988. The areas
destroyed in 1980 are now being planted
in coffee but the area destroyed in 1988
remains open, with a little scallion
farming and some natural re-seeding of
pine. Hurricane Gilbert also destroyed
much of the Eucalyptus forest on the
north-east but since Eucalyptus regen-
erates easily from the cut stem, most of
the forest is now growing back. In
between the agricultural development
and the Eucalyptus and pine forests,
there are pockets of natural forest
remaining, some of them relatively large
(fig.1). These are the avian refuges from
which the title of this essay is derived; it
is here that many of the endemic species
of bird survive and live along the slopes
of the ridge. For the most part they
reject the alien Eucalyptus and pine and
remain in the natural forest to which
they are properly adapted.
In Jamaica there are twenty-five
endemic species and twenty endemic
sub-species of bird, as shown in Table
II. (A sub-species is a distinct genetic
race of a species which has a wider
distribution; most of the sub-species in
Jamaica belong to species which are

rIK. L.dlr udd, "t U lV u.I Phail ui
cutting through the forest which originally ,
Bowl across the hill to the west.

otherwise found only in the Greater
Antilles). Of the twenty-five endemic
species of bird, sixteen species have
resident populations on the ridge; of the
twenty endemic sub-species, nine have
resident populations on the ridge (Table
II) and perhaps others have gone
unnoticed. Some of these are rigidly
confined to the natural forest, for
instance, the White-eyed Thrush, the
Arrow-headed Warbler, the Rufous-
tailed Flycatcher, the Becard, the
Rufous-throated Solitaire, the Chestnut-
bellied Cuckoo (Old Man Bird) and the
Crested Quail Dove. Others, while
showing an obvious preference for the
natural forest, are slightly more
cosmopolitan and occur from time to
time for feeding purposes in some of the
cultivated areas such as the gardens of
Bellevue and Nyambani or in coffee
plantations. Examples of these latter are
the White-chinned Thrush (Hopping
Dick), the Stripe-headed Tanager, the
Oriole, the Tody and the White-eyed
Vireo. Some species such as the
Streamertail Hummingbird and the
Vervain Hummingbird seem highly
adaptable and may be found in any
habitat providing a suitable source of
nectar. The Jamaican Woodpecker may
be a special case in that it shows a
marked preference for natural forest but
also thrives in mature pine forest where
dead trees provide excellent nesting
sites. This species seems to have been a
beneficiary of the two hurricanes and
(subjectively considered) seems more
common than it has ever been as a result
of an abundance of dead timber for
nesting sites.

To the trained observer walking the
trails and roads of the ridge, several
things will stand out. Firstly is the
relative paucity of bird life in the
Eucalyptus forest. If one walks down
the driving road from Bellevue, one
passes through the largest stand of
Eucalyptus on the ridge; there the only
significant sound of bird life in summer
is the persistent call of the Black-
whiskered Vireo or John Chewit, a
migrant visitor from South America.
Lower down, where the Eucalyptus
merges with a large stand of Blue
Mahoe mixed with natural forest vege-
tation in Lady Swettenham's Valley,
there is an immediate change as one
hears the strident song of the White-
eyed Thrush, the more melodious and

softer song of the White-chinned
Thrush, the liquid song of the Solitaire,
the hammering of Woodpeckers, the
trilling of the Rufous-tailed Flycatcher,
the see-saw call of the Oriole and the
sounds of many other bird species.The
change from Eucalyptus to natural forest
cover is dramatic.
Similarly if one walks from Bellevue
to Governor's Bench one passes the
Bellevue valley on the right which is
full of the song of Thrushes and
Solitaires but as soon as the trail enters
Eucalyptus these sounds, and most bird
sounds, cease only to return in fuller and
stronger form as one passes the Mount
Rosanna bowl and the large tract of
natural forest on the northern slopes of
Mount Rosanna. These two contiguous
tracts of natural forest are probably the
largest area of such forest left on the
ridge and contain the widest assemblage
of endemic species including the Becard
(not seen since hurricane Gilbert but
probably still present) and the Crested
Quail Dove. A similar dramatic change
occurs as one walks along the ridge
from Bellevue following the old
parochial road (mule trail) north-west to
Hermitage. At first one passes through
the agricultural lands of Nyambani
where there is a relative paucity of birds,
particularly endemic species. There is a
dramatic change beyond the farm as one
stands and looks down into the bowl of

.~ 3
E~z~r -

Fig. 3. Looking into the Mahoe forest in Lady
Swettemham Valley.


Fig. 4. Natural forest cover on the north slope of Mount Rosanna. This is almost contiguous with the forest in the Mount
Rosanna Bowl to the south. The road shown here is an unsuccessful attempt to make a driving road to Lime Tree Village;
during construction it seriously damaged the forest cover.

natural forest below Nomdmi. The
lower portion of the bowl is still clothed
with natural forest, heavily populated by
some of the endemic species. Even at
noon in early July, standing on the ridge
above it we could hear the songs of both
species of Thrush, the Oriole, Solitaire
and the call of the Woodpecker.
It is not necessary to expand further
to develop the point that land clearance
and agricultural practice have pushed
back the populations of many bird
species, notably the endemics, into
refuges formed by the remaining stands
of natural forest. But there is a further
point which must be made. There is
some critical minimum size below
which the refuge must not fall if the bird
populations are to survive. There has to
be more than a single pair of each
species. There have to be many pairs if
the genetic stock is to be maintained in
its pristine condition. Within the overall
gene pool there has to be opportunity
for continuous mixing to maintain a
healthy population. In human society we
discourage marriage between close
relatives for obvious genetic reasons and
the same principles apply to other
animal populations except that it is left
to chance and not to the dictates of
social custom. The mix will only occur
through chance if the population as a
whole is large enough.

Land Management
We return, then, to the Biodiversity
Treaty and our responsibility to protect
the biota, particularly endemic species.
In order to fulfil this responsibility, we
have to protect the habitat and in the
illustration I have given for endemic
bird species this means that in the
course of the nation's justifiable need
for land development we must ensure
that sufficient natural forest is retained
to maintain viable populations and a
large enough gene pool of each of the

endemic species and sub-species of
bird.We probably do not know how
large this area is and it almost certainly
differs for each species.
In the case of Guava Ridge and
Mount Rosanna there is still sufficient
natural forest left to maintain viable
populations of most species but any
further shrinkage may cause some
species to disappear. The species most
in danger in this area are the Old Man
Bird (Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo), which
seems to need large individual territory,
the Quail Dove which holds out in only
two places and the Becard and Rufous-
tailed Flycatcher of which probably only
a few remain. Of course these species
occur elsewhere in the island and the
population as a whole is not yet in
danger but that does not mean that we
can be complacent and ignore their
survival in an isolated area such as
Guava Ridge and Mount Rosanna; the
more we preserve, the safer is the
heritage we protect. In a previous article
on endemic birds, Roger Smith (1968)
wrote, 'Nearly all species in the list [the
endemics] can and do live in the inland
mountain regions, and many are
confined to this habitat. There are vast
areas of this habitat, barely explored and
hardly disturbed by man; and as long as
this remains the case the birds will
continue to survive.' In the quarter
century since those words were written
the picture has changed dramatically
and much of the natural forest is indeed
now in danger and with it the birds that
depend on it.

Fig 5. The natural forest in Mount Rosanna Bowl which is almost contiguous with that on the north-west of the mountain
(see fig .4.).


Table IIA
Jamaica's Endemic Species of Bird

Scientific Name
Colwnba caribaea
Geotrygon versicolor
Amazona collaria
Amazona agilis
Hyetornis pluvialis
Saurothera vetula
Pseudoscops grammicus
Anthracothorax mango
Todus todus
Melanerpes radiolatus
Pachyramphus niger
Myiarchus validus
Myiarchus barbirostris
Myiopagis cotta
Corvus jamaicensis
Turdus aurantius
Turdus jamaicensis
Vireo modestus
Vireo osburni
Dendroica pharetra
Euneornis campestris
Euphonia jamaica
Nesopsar nigerrimus
Loxipasser anoxanthus

Common Name
Ring-tailed Pigeon
Crested Quail Dove
Yellow-billed Parrot
Black-billed Parrot
Chestnus-bellied Cuckoo
Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo
Jamaican Owl
Jamaican Mango Hummingbird
Jamaican Tody
Jamaican Woodpecker
Jamaican Becard
Rufous-tailed Flycatcher
Sad Flycatcher
Jamaican Elaenia
Jamaican Crow
White-chinned Thrush
White-eyed Thrush
Jamaican Vireo
Blue Mountain Vireo
Arrow-headed Warbler
Jamaican Euphonia
Jamaican Blackbird
Yellow-shouldered Grassquit

Status on Guava Ridge & Mt Rosanna

KEY R: Resident on the Ridge
N: Not recorded
OV: Occasional visitor
*: Reported to occur prior to 1965; no recent record.


Table I
The Number of endemic species in Jamaica of various plants and animals

Group Total No. Endemic Species Per Cent

# Ferns 579 82 13
*Flowering Plants 3156 798 25
Butterflies 120 20 17
* Lizards 17 12 71
* Frogs 20 18 90
Birds 113 25 22

Source: Conservation Data Centre, University of the West Indies
# GR.Proctor, 'Ferns of Jamaica', British Museum, London.
Personal communication, Eric Garraway, Zoology Department, UWI
Audrey Downer & Robbert Sutton, Birds of Jamaica, Cambridge

Table IIB
Jamaica's Endemic Subspecies of Bird

Scientific Name
Columba inornata
Columba passerina
Leptotila jamaicensis
Aratinga nana
Coccyzus minor
Nytibius griseus
Mellisuga minima
Myiarchus stolidus
Tyrannus caudifasciatus
Contopus caribaeus
Tachycineta euchrysea
Mimus gundlachii
Myadestes genibarbis
Coereba flaveola
Spindalis zena
Ammodramus savannarum
Loxigilla violacea
Quiscalus niger
Icterus leucopteryx

Common Name
Plain Pigeon
Ground Dove
Caribbean Dove
Olive-throated Parakeet
Mangrove Cuckoo
Common Potoo
Vervain Hummingbird
Stolid Flycatcher
Loggerhead Kingbird
Greater Antillean Pewee
Greater Antillean Elaenia
Golden Swallow
Bahama Mockingbird
Rufous-throated Solitaire
Stripe-headed Tanager
Grasshopper Sparrow
Greater Antillean Bullfinch
Greater Antillean Grackle
Jamaican Oriole

Status on Guava Ridge/Mt Rosanna


KEY R: Resident on the Ridge

N: Not recorded : Single records; present status unknown

In considering the issues raised in this
essay it is important to bear in mind that
we are talking not of protecting or
conserving all of the natural forest
environment. We are talking about land
management issues in which various
aspects of the nation's interests have to
be taken into account. Commercial
forestry and montane agriculture (coffee
farming, horticulture, vegetable farming
etc.) are essential to the economy, but
preservation of biodiversity and
particularly preservation of the heritage
of endemic species are equally essential.
The problem is not one of conflict but of

management and it is a problem which
is appropriately addressed through
intelligent dialogue between interested
parties (land managers, agriculturalists,
foresters, biologists) rather than through
a strident war of words in the media.
This essay has dealt solely with
endemic birds but let us not forget that
similar arguments can be used to
preserve endemic plants and other
endemic animals. Our responsibility is
to protect and preserve all of the native
flora and fauna as part of the national


Downer, A. and R. Sutton. Birds ofJamaica.
Cambridge University Press. 1990.
Proctor, G. R. Ferns ofJamaica. British
Museum, London. 1985.
Smith, R. 'Jamaican Birds'. Jamaica Journal
2: 4. 1986.
United Nations Environment Programme.
Convention on Biological Diversity.

Photographsfrom the author's collection.

In the last issue of JAMARCA JOURNAL, 25:1, a chafige needs Also on page 16, the credit for Morris Cargill's 1955
to be made at the end of Richard Hart's article on Tribute omitted the information that Mr Deryck Roberts
Federation (p. 16). The sentence In a poll in which was responsible for the selection and editing of the material
256,261 persons voted, 60.8 per cent voted against the contained in Morris Cargill: A Selection of His Writings in
proposal.' should have read 'In a poll in which 60.8 per the Gleaner 1952-1985. The Editors regret the oversight.
cent of the electorate voted, 256,261 or 54.5 per cent voted
against Jamaica's participation.


Book Reviews

Re-Reading A Quali

o Vi
Mervyn Morris of

A Quality of Violence, by Andrew Salkey, first appeared
in 1959, published by Hutchinson in their New Authors
series. It was published in paperback by Four Square Books
in 1962. The New Beacon Books edition of 1978 is still
The novel takes place in St Thomas, Jamaica, in 1900, in
a time of drought. (Drought is one of the metaphors others
include land and salvation repeated in various contexts.)
Small planters and peasants try to bring rain by prayer and
religious ceremony. Dada Johnson, leader of a Pocomania
group, is challenged by his deputy in a ritual of self-
flagellation intended to break the drought. Both men die. A
group of children, also anxious to bring rain, enact a ritual of
their own in the hollow of a banyan tree, to which they bring
various objects including a rosary. When they are interrupted
by an adult Brother Parkin one of the girls, afraid that
their secrets might be revealed to Brother Parkin, calls one of
the other girls a Judas. Doris, the girl called Judas, falls ill.
Mother Johnson, Dada Johnson's widow, promotes the
suspicion that obeah is involved, and points towards a group
of the comparatively privileged, including Brother Parkin.
Brother Parkin is captured, brutalized and threatened with
death. But there is a turnabout, and the Pocomania group -
dominated by three ganja-smoking men replaces Brother
Parkin with Mother Johnson as the person to be done to
death. Brother Parkin, free, conspires with others to save
Mother Johnson. But Mother Johnson will not be saved. She
is facing what seems to her a fate far worse than death,
humiliation by Christian forgiveness. 'Wholesale mercy!'
says Mother Johnson. 'Imagine that now. It can change Dada
power but not my kind-a-power' [202-3].' She goads the
Pocomania group at the critical moment, contriving thus her
martyrdom. In an early review of the book, Kamau
Brathwaite put it well: 'So that, by paradox, the pagan
achieves in death the dignity and power associated with the
Christian symbol' [L.E. Brathwaite 1960, 220].
Wilson Harris has remarked: 'The religious one who is
stoned to death and it is upon this the novel closes suffers
the lack of all meaning, the triumph of all meaninglessness'
[Harris 25]. But I am not sure it is adequate simply to call
Mother Johnson religious. She wants to succeed her con-man
husband, and the novel puts less emphasis on her religious
belief than on her pursuit of power. 'She wanted to live. To
be in command, again. Yet, she knew that death was
somehow better' [195-6]. Nor does she suffer the lack of all
meaning. She looks beyond her death. 'Is a sort-a-salvation
that I making for you, now. But, later on you going to pay,
and you going to pay with more than you have to offer'
[180]. And later: 'Kill me! Kill me, now! I begging you to


save yourself! Kill me and
prove the little power you
have! Prove it with my blood!'
A Quality of Violence is full
of Bible imagery, but its use is
most often parodic. Words
with Christian connotations
are repeatedly employed, in
varying contexts save, salvation, Jesus, Lord, Judas, for
example each usage in ironic interplay with the Bible and
with other usages in Salkey's novel. Mother Johnson says of
the bruised and bloody Brother Parkin: 'But, what a way he
look like Jesus Christ' [122]. Ultimately, Mother Johnson is
stoned to death, like Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
When, after the self-flagellation, Dada Johnson and his
deputy seem to Marshall to be dead, Brother Parkin (who has
witnessed previous enactments of the ceremony) expects a
'resurrection' [61] that is, he expects Dada Johnson to get
up, leave the giant X and walk across to the meeting table.
That does not happen this time. But the novel suggests that
another sort of resurrection does occur. After his death, Dada
Johnson appears to Linda Marshall [67]. He also appears to
Mother Johnson. 'The gathering started to swim in front of
her. She saw Dada Johnson approaching. He held his deputy
in his arms. They were both covered in ash clothing like the
sacks that the slaves used to wear when they mourned their
dead' [107]. Mother Johnson claims that Dada speaks
through her: 'You know that the will of a dead man is in me
and that he talking to you through me for the last time' [142].
And: 'Dada dead but him live in me' [203]. Dada is also
imaged as the Holy Ghost, a Pentecostal force 'like a
hurricane wind' [148]. Marshall, who is to try to help to save
her, is 'Mother Johnson's advocate' [162]. But he does not
succeed, and the procession climbs the hill to Calvary. As
the Prologue advises: 'The drought brings a touch of
madness to the land, a kind of rebellion, and a quality of
compelling suicide which Calvary once witnessed' [7].
Things are not simple. People and the world are shape-
shifters. With a premonition of his death, Dada Johnson
says: 'You know that prayers and violence live back to back.
Is a kind of coin that can turn round sudden' [35].
The novel steers us away from rigid opposition, simple
certainties. As Peter Nazareth has noted, Salkey undermines
cliched perceptions, 'so that the readers are forced to think'
[Nazareth, 49]. Early in the novel, Marshall tells his
daughter: 'I want you to understand that Anancy and the
Lord who is God son is two different people, entirely' [14].
Which warns us to think about the matter. Christ or con-


man? Anancy or a saviour? Any one person may at various
times be either or both. Dada Johnson is 'a confidence
trickster' [36]. But there is more to him than that. 'Those
people,' he says, 'depend on me and what I can give them...
All I do, that is bad, is collect a little "dues" off them, and
that is my living. And for that collection, I give them hope
and faith' [37]. That the group depends on its leader is
corroborated by others and by events. One of the ganja
addicts makes it clear: 'Me and my two frien' them beside
me, here, used to follow Dada and when him dead we decide
to flock to Mother Johnson. And what happen? She let we
down. She mash up we faith in the meeting yard' [150].
Brother Parkin, who suffers for others and who forgives, is a
Christ-figure; but Linda sees him as Anancy, 'a destroyer-
spider with a thousand cunning eyes' [83]. We should surely
agree with Bill Carr that 'Salkey does not intend that his
readers ... shall make a simple moral identification with ...
Parkin' [Carr, 103]. Parkin, a usurer, is compromised by his
business association with Dada Johnson, details of which he
conceals from his wife. His wife, Biddy, is childless (imaged
as drought), uncharitable, mean she will not forgive her
debtors. Even Marshall, simple Christian, is tainted by
association. His daughter is involved in a childish ritual
which runs parallel to the Pocomania and is similarly at odds
with the Christian precepts of the Marshall household. And
the Marshalls who disapprove of Pocomania ultimately leave
for Haiti, where Voodoo dominates. Ironies proliferate.
Among other things, the novel explores the interaction
between African and European influences in Jamaican
culture. Christianity (which was introduced into Jamaica by
European missionaries) contends with Pocomania (which is
Africa-derived). There is black ambivalence about Africa as
well as black celebration of the link. Miss Mellie declares:
'We is people who live on the land in St Thomas, not Africa.
You hear? We is no slave people, and there is no Africa in
we blood the way you would-a like we to believe. You
would like to make out that we is one long link-up with all
that in we blood, but we beginning to know different' [146].
One of the ganja addicts says of Mother Johnson: 'We going
learn her what it mean to lead people into darkness. Must be
back to Africa she must be want to lead we!' [154] But
Mother Johnson, who dominates the end of the book, says:
'Africa is me. I black true' [204].
In 1959 when A Quality of Violence was first published, it
seemed remarkable, daring, that an author of urban middle
class background should have created a world of small
planters, peasants and Pocomania. By the 1970s, however,
some of our most powerful Caribbean intellectuals were
reading the novel less generously. In a review article

1. Page references are to the New Beacon Books edition

Brathwaite, Edward Kamau. 'The African Presence in Caribbean
Literature', in Sidney W. Mintz ed., Slavery, Colonialism and
Racism. New York: W.W. Norton. 1974.
Brathwaite, E. Kamau. 'Review of A Quality of Violence'. Bim 31.
Carr, Bill. 'A Complex Fate: The Novels of Andrew Salkey', in
Louis James ed., The Islands in Between. London: Oxford
University Press. 1968.
Harris, Wilson. Tradition, the Writer and Society. London: New
Beacon Books. 1967.


published in 1972 Sylvia Wynter says that it presents '[a]
kind of Cecil B. De Mille cult, complete with flagellation
and a Hollywood Voodoo dance' and that its language is
'inauthentic'. 'This literary "blackism",' she says, 'involves a
middle-class exploitation of cult religions, folklore, which
has become widespread in the cultural life of the neocolonial
Caribbean' [Wynter 70].
In an article included in a 1974 collection, Kamau
Brathwaite, who had warmly praised the novel when it first
appeared, re-examined it in the specific context of 'The
African Presence in Caribbean Literature'. After quoting
from page 101 of the novel, he writes: 'The descriptive/
dramatic power of this passage is typical of the excellence of
A Quality of Violence, but as Salkey approaches the central
and most sacred experiences of the tonelle, his knowledge
and involvement falter.... Salkey, in the heart of the tonelle
. fails to celebrate with the worshippers' [Kamau
Brathwaite 1974, 85-86]. In his 1974 analysis, Brathwaite
measures the description of the ceremony led by Dada
Johnson, the confidence trickster, against scholarly
knowledge of authentic Pocomania ritual. Also and I think
this matters more Brathwaite ignores the fact that the
information he examines is, in the novel, filtered through the
eyes of Marshall and Brother Parkin, two spectators who
have not come to celebrate with the worshippers and who are
sceptical of the ritual described. 'For a long time, now,
Marshall bad wanted to visit the meeting-yard, but his wife
discouraged his flight of fancy.. In a way, he was glad that
his wife had not remained to see Dada Johnson's carrying
on...' [49]. 'Marshall and Brother Parkin were staring at the
chanting sisters. Marshall was wondering just what would
happen next. "Surely," he thought, "the sacrifice is the
climax of all this nastiness!" [56].
In spite of the available defence, it is true, I think, that, in
relation to Pocomania, the narrative eye of A Quality of
Violence is an outsider's. The ritual is seen as a sensational
spectacle. The narrative tone is often distant and critical. At
the end of the novel, for example, the addicts 'were leaping
up and down and uttering Pocomanical doxologies' [205].
(In his 1960 review, Brathwaite repeats that adjective
pocomaniacal, which suggests that what we have now been
taught to call Pukkumina has something to do with maniac
We write, and read, from where we are. It was only in
1969 that Jamaica Journal published the now famous article
by Edward Seaga which helped increase general under-
standing of Pukkumina. It can be useful to bear in mind the
historical contexts in which a work was created and the
changing contexts in which it is being read.

Nazareth, Peter. 'The Fiction of Andrew Salkey', Jamaica Journal
vol. 19 no. 4. 1987.
Salkey, Andrew. A Quality of Violence London: New Beacon
Books. 1978.
Seaga, Edward. 'Revival Cults in Jamaica: Notes towards a
Sociology of Religion', Jamaica Journal vol. 3 no. 2. 1969.
[The article is also available as a Jamaica Journal reprint.]
Wynter, Sylvia. 'One Love Rhetoric or Reality? Aspects of
Afro-Jamaicanism', Caribbean Studies vol. 12 no. 3. 1972.

Mervyn Morris is a Reader in English at the University of the West Indies.

Re-thinking On Our Own Terms

Review of Obika Gray's

by Rupert Lewis

Radicalism and Social

Change in Jamaica


Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press
1991 pp 289

Dr Obika Gray, Associate Professor of
Political Science and Africana Studies
at Vassar College, has written the first
book-length study to analyse the evolu-
tion and development of modern
Jamaican radicalism in both its
indigenous Rastafarian and Garveyite
forms and its Eurocentric and class-
oriented Marxist forms located within
and outside of the People's National
Party. The relations and tensions be-
tween these two tendencies in Jamaican
radicalism are fascinating and their
implications far-reaching for under-
standing some radical social move-
ments in the Third World. From this
study the submerged and marginalized
protest traditions of Jamaica clearly
emerge. These traditions helped nourish
the Garvey movement, the Rastafarian
movement and, later on, reggae music
in the 1970s all of which have had
implications far wider than Jamaican
politics. The theoretical focus of the
book is the relationship between
political radicalism and culture.
Gray's book is a well-researched and
documented study of the alternative
traditions in Jamaican politics in the
decade after Independence in 1962. He
discusses Rastafarianism and a number
of left-wing and Marxist-oriented
organizations. These include Abeng,
Unemployed Workers Council, the
Young Socialist League, New World,
ITAC (Independent Trade Union
Advisory Council) and other organiza-
tions which were dominated in the main
by middle-class radicals connected to or
disconnected from the Peoples National
Party but whose political concerns went
beyond electoral politics.
Gray theorizes on the nature of the
post-colonial state on the basis of the
experience of the relationship between
the state and social movements, thus
avoiding the problems of interpreting

the insti-tutionalist Westminster model
and abstract sociological theorizing.
Indeed, a feature of Gray's work is his
effort to theorize on the basis of
historically specific analysis. He sees
the Jamaican state as combining
features of pluralism and authoritarian-
ism. There is tension in his character-
ization between authoritarian elements
and liberal democracy but this tension
is worked out concretely in relation to
social struggles locally and hemi-
spherically with reference to the United
States. He develops the notion of
authoritarian democracy and employs a
scheme of positive and negative factors
thus fully recognizing the contra-
dictions of the post-colonial state in
Jamaica at an early stage of its
development. During the period 1960-
1972, the JLP was in power from 1962-
1972. This was a time when the state
was authoritarian in its approach
towards Rastafarians, the urban poor,
particularly in West Kingston, radical
intellectuals, radical ideas and
publications and travel to socialist
countries. However, he does not
commit the error of ignoring the fact
that the JLP was a central part of the
nationalist movement in Jamaica and
was as much an expression of Jamaican
political culture as was the PNP.
Much emphasis is placed on the
position of the middle-classes, their
ideological outlook and their role in the
nationalist movement. Gray argues,
'The explicitly racial focus of popular
urban protest triggered a defensive state
ideological response ... termed Jamaic-
an Exceptionalism. This ideology
sought to purge the antagonistic
elements from the ideology of the urban
unemployed by hailing the subordinate
classes as exemplary racial neuters in a
world torn by ethnic disorder and strife.
The appeal to the overwhelmingly

black population was that they were a
special people in the world, who lived
harmoniously with other domestic
ethnic groups. Consequently, talk of
racial discrimination in the post-
colonial period was regarded by those
in power as nonsense sowed by provoc-
ateurs' [82]. Nettleford's Mirror Mirror
[1970] deals very well with this issue in
discussing the 1960s tension between
Jamaican Exceptionalism and Black
With regard to social movements
Gray argues, 'despite grave internal
weaknesses and an inability to win
power through either revolt or the
ballot, such movements can shape the
contours of national political processes'
[12]. Critical to his analysis is the role
of the dissident Rastafarian movement
in the 1960s and its impact on the urban
poor. Rastafarian ideology, as Barry
Chevannes's Social and Ideological
Origins of the Rastafari Movement in
Jamaica [1989] shows, has played a
central role in forming a counter-
consciousness to the middle-class
nationalism and has challenged the
neutering of Jamaican nationality.
Moreover, it encouraged the lower
classes towards positions of less
dependence on the middle-class.
Rastafarianism's contribution to Ja-
maican political culture is recognized
by Gray. He writes in one of the best
passages of a well-written book.

The Rastafarians had assumed a moral
leadership among the urban poor. Their
militant black nationalism, with its
Garveyite remembrances, struck a
responsive chord among the un-
employed. . Indeed, under the
prevailing conditions of censorship, it
could be argued that the Rastafarians
broke through the official strictures on
social discourse and breached the state
ideological quarantine. This they did by


constructing an alternative site for free
political communication, which many
among the unemployed quickly occu-
pied. By exploiting the vehicle of talk,
based on the interpretation of the Bible
a medium readily at hand in the
homes of the poor the Rastafarians
allowed many among the unemployed
to attain dissidence. In this way the
Rastafarians strengthened their moral
dominance among sections of the urban
poor, widening and deepening their
separation from the normalized classes
in the society. The significance of the
Rastafarians in the early sixties was
that, under conditions of cultural
ridicule and police suppression of the
urban unemployed, they held open a
political space for dissidence among
the poor. [73-74]

The other dissident groups he is
concerned with are the workerist and
socialist groupings that marked the
revival of Marxism after the Cold War
defeat of the 1950s. He is concerned
here with the Young Socialist League
which was connected to the PNP, and
the Unemployed Workers Council, led
by Ben Monroe, which was critical of
the PNP. The Unemployed Workers
Council claimed its own independent
terrain and was critical of Richard Hart
and the old left for not adequately
assessing the 1952 split and drawing
conclusions in the direction of greater
independence of the working class
movement from the PNP. This was a
debate which was to resurface in the
Young Socialist League in the 1960s
and in the 1970s in the transition from
the Workers Liberation League to the
Workers Party of Jamaica. Ben Mon-
roe, who is now blind but remains
active on social issues among the urban
poor, is described by Gray as:
a willful, self-assured cabinetmaker
from the depressed working-class
community of Southwest Saint
Andrew. Schooled as a militant inside
the PEO (People's Educational
Organisation) and active in the 1954
JFTU (Jamaica Federation of Trade
Unions) strike movement, Monroe led
the opposition to the PFM's leadership
... Monroe criticized Hart's leadership.
His charges included a lack of internal
democracy within the PFM (People's
Freedom Movement), political opport-
unism, absence of reflection on the
1952 split, and exhaustion of the
material and human resources of the
JFTU in the abortive election and
strikes' [67].

In Ben Monroe's view, Hart was too
hasty in creating the PFM as more
preparatory work needed to be done. In
1962 Monroe formed the UWC which
had a record of activism among the
unemployed and a critique of political
unionism, that is the involvement of the
unions in political activities and the
subordination of the union movement to
the political interests of the parties. This
trend later developed in the early 1970s
in ITAC (Independent Trade Union
Action Council). The Unemployed
Workers Council under Ben Monroe
and the Independent Trade Union
Action Council under Chris Lawrence
were two of the organizations that had
leaders of working class origin but
these were overshadowed in the late
1970s by radical organizations led by
the middle class.
Gray gives a useful analysis of the
urban unemployed, artisans and own-
account people who constituted the
urban poor. In the 1960s this was the
most politically volatile force; it fed the
lumpen-proletariat, the rude-boy culture
of rebellion, the Rodney riots, Abeng,
as well as the PNP and JLP enforcers or
gunmen. The cultural dimension, as
expressed in Ska, Rock-steady and
early reggae, is not adequately dealt
with. One does need a study of Ska
comparable to Gordon Rohlehr's
Calypso and Society in Pre-
Independence Trinidad. Some attention
could have been placed on the rural
poor as the Rastafarian movement was
strong in the rural areas outside
Kingston as the response to Haile
Selassie's 1966 visit and Barry
Chevannes's work show.
Gray examines the attitude of the
Jamaican Left towards Black Cultural
Nationalism and argues that there was
the co-existence of a resolute commit-
ment to militant laborism, with an
unyielding exclusion of popular anti-
status quo ideologies from socialist
discourse.' [77]
This comment is of theoretical and
practical significance for the old PNP
Marxists through the UWC of the
1960s, the PNP Marxists of the 1970s
and the Workers Party of Jamaica.
There was a 'chasm . between
socialist politics and nativist
movements and ideologies' [78]. There
was a failure to 'link the economic class
struggle with other non-class conflicts,
such as racial tensions'[85]. These
sources of opposition and alternative
vision to the neocolonial status quo

never met, except briefly during the
Rodney months of 1968.
There is a very good analysis of the
role of the nationalist intelligentsia in
the 1960s. A minority of UWI
academics located mainly in the Faculty
of Social Sciences challenged the
dominant ideology and were targeted
by the regime. Gray speaks about the
'decreasing reliability of the university
intelligentsia in reproducing the
dominant ideology' [123] and thereby
some 'members of the native post-
colonial university intelligentsia made
their appearance as strategic actors on
the political scene.' [124] 'There was a
pan-Caribbean anti-imperial tendency'
at Mona.
It was this grouping that Busta-mante
had in mind when he threatened, 'An
alien who has the audacity and
impertinence not just to criticize but to
write offensively against the Govern-
ment or any of the ministers will be
considered persona non grata and will
be ordered out.' [130] It was this
thinking which led Shearer and Seaga
to rid Jamaica of Rodney in 1968.
There is a very good discussion of
Lloyd Best and the contradiction
between his radical critique of Marxism
and call for independent Caribbean
thought and his opposition to the
activism that was associated with Black
Power as well as working-class forms
of struggle in the 1970s.
Walter Rodney achieved a synthe-
sizing of the strands of black cultural
nationalism with themes of class
oppression which fell outside the
politics of either the Young Socialist
League or the Unemployed Workers
Council and, later on, the Workers
Party of Jamaica. Gray points out that
Rodney's articulation of Black Power
expressed both global- and local-level
critiques of class rule and antagonistic
racial themes and this without falling
into the illusions of popular ideologies
or the orthodoxies of an automatic
Marxist outlook ... he transcended the
barriers which hitherto had prevented
the alliance of radical intellectuals and
the militant unemployed, and he
reconciled the previously estranged
ideologies of socialism and cultural
nationalism in Jamaica [157].

In summarizing the contribution of
the nationalist and Marxist movements
in the 1960s, he notes,
Whether in the Rastafarians' assertion
of an alternative conception of
nationality and their belief in the


capabilities of the unemployed or the
New World Group's defense of
intellectual activism and new ideas, the
dissident movement acted as an
incubator of neglected, often vilified,
social and economic alternatives. In
precipitating, with its repeated inter-
ventions, an intense debate on society,
politics, and the economy, the op-
position pushed back the constraints on
ideas in political discourse, broadened
the scope of conceivable political
alternatives, and expanded the
participation of excluded groups. [207]

This is a significant achievement
which needs to be continued both with
respect to the political process and our
civil life with the development of a
wider range of autonomous community,
business and cultural groupings.
More attention could have been given
to rural dissidence. While Kingston was
the base, there was a vibrant rural
response to the Abeng newspaper in
several parish towns and rural districts.
On a wider basis, however, there is the
problem of the rural population and
their relationship to radical social
movements or lack of involvement with
them which requires attention. George
Beckford's work rerpesents one of a
few intellectual-activists of the 1960s
who were focused on rural Jamaica.
There was a broad rural constituency
that was responsive to the radicalism of
the 1960s, which needs to be assessed.
The Abeng of 1969 could not have
survived in the 1970s as the social
forces it brought together had ir-
reconcilable views on what should be
done. What it did for a moment was to

bring together a variety of social forces
which went in varying class directions
but primarily into the PNP and into the
WPJ, thus bringing back the old 1950s
debate about third forces, third parties,
and whether the PNP could be trans-
formed and its right wing subordinated.
Many of these issues remain in the
1990s. Experience suggests that some
of the ideas with respect to alternate
political space are being realized but
not in the way the Left had thought. As
Carl Stone's work indicates, there is a
growing sector of people who are not
hard-core supporters of either party and,
of course, there is cynicism and apathy.
The University and Allied Workers
Union is now wearing long pants and is
the third largest union in the country
with representation among agricultural
and industrial workers. But that is
secondary to the incorporation of the
radicals of the 1960s and 1970s into the
social and political order. However,
there is a constituency of that gene-
ration who were not in the front line but
who retain some of the radical
ideological positions which have been
abandoned by former WPJ leaders.
More attention is being placed by some
on the development of civil society and
less on workerist politics. Some may
invest too much faith in working in
NGO's (non-governmental organiza-
tions) but that too has been an
important development.
Another key development in the
1980s and 1990s is the growing interest
and role of black people in business.
This brings to the forefront a central
issue of the Garvey movement which

Gray's book ignores in that the Garvey
movement is seen as a culturalist
phenomenon. It was as much about
blacks becoming propertied as it was
culturalist. This issue was posed sharply
by Mark Ricketts in the early issues of
the Jamaica Record as well as by
Hilary Beckles, the Barbadian historian
whose book Corporate Power in
Barbados, the Mutual Affair -
Economic Injustice in a Political
Democracy [1989] outlines his
involvement with the struggles of black
Barbadians to seek control of the
Barbados Mutual Life Assurance
Society. This issue of blacks and their
position in the existing capitalist
economies was seen as reactionary in
the 1960s and 1970s given the domin-
ant anticapitalist mood among the
political intelligentsia. Their pre-
occupation was with getting control of
the state and using it to clobber the
private sector in the name of the masses
but also partly in the interest of their
own largesse and for redistributive
rather than productive goals.
In a brief epilogue covering the
period 1972-1988, Gray talks about
'how to develop a strategy of transition
which secures both political freedom
and material improvements for the
laboring classes [231]. This old
question is posed even more sharply in
the 1990s especially with the demise of
the old socialist paradigms and systems.
Gray's book is a serious challenge to
re-thinking on our own terms.
Rupert Lewis is Head of the Department of
Government, UWI.

The Institute of Jamaica
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
The Institute of Jamaica consists of a central
administration and a number of divisions
and associate bodies operating with varying
degrees of autonomy.
Chairman: Sonia Jones
Acting Executive Director: Elaine Fisher
Deputy Director: Yvonne Dixon
Central Administration
12-16 East St., Kingston. Tel: 922-0620

African Caribbean Institute/Memory Bank
Roy West Building, 12 Ocean Boulevard
Kingston Mall. Tel: 922-4793
Cultural Training Centre (CTC)
1 Arthur Wint Drive, Kingston. 5
Tel: 929-2350/3
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
Head Office: 12-16 East Street, Kingston
Tel: 922-0620

National Museum of Historical
Archaeology, Port Royal. Tel: 924-8871
Fort Charles Maritime Museum, Port
Arawak Museum, White Marl
Military Museum,
Up Park Camp, 3rd GR Compound.
Jamaica People's Museum of Craft and
Spanish Town Square Tel: 984-2452
Old King's House Archaeological
Museum, Spanish Town Square Tel: 984-
National Gallery of Jamaica
Roy West Building, Ocean Boulevard
Kingston Mall. Tel: 922-1561/4
National Library of Jamaica
12-16 East Street., Kingston Tel: 922-0620
Natural History Library and Museum
12-16 East St., Kingston Tel: 922-0620




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by Heather Royes

Theophilus Jones Walks Naked Down King Street
On Monday, October 18th,
Theophilus Jones took off
his asphalt-black, rag-tag pants
and walked naked down King Street.
It was a holiday -
and only a few people saw
his triumphant march,
his muscular, bearded-brown body,
his genitals flapping In front.
Theophilus Jones had wanted
to do this for a long time.
At Tower and King, three carwash boys
shouting 'Madmani',
followed him to Harbour Street,
but seeing his indifference, turned
and dribbled back up the road.
Down on the Ferry Pier, a handful of people
waiting for the boat, stared out to sea
but did not see
Theophilus enter the water.
He walked out as far as possible,
then began to swim, strongly and calmy,
into the middle of the harbour.
Eventually, way out in the deep,
he stopped,
floated for a while, enjoying the sun,
watched a plane take off from the green-rimmed
and then, letting himself go,
allowed the water
to swallow him up.
Theophilus Jones went down
slowly his bent legs, slowly
his arms above his head,
slowly his locked hair,
Until nothing could be seen of him.
Some orange peel, and old tin-can
and a sea-saturated cigarette box
floated over his demise,
while nearby,
a kingfisher scavenging for sprats
on low current veered down
and landed,
in a spray of sunlit water.

Me and My Self-Flagellation Committee
Thinking of you,
Me and my Self-Flagellation Committee
Flail ourselves
with snaked whips.

Mirages of happiness
and hurts bend our backs,
rocking to and fro.
Silent speech bubbles
rise from black chadors.

My psyche listens
to the tearing sound
of souls separating,
and weeps large, Day-Glo tears,
ululating like Arab widows
on the evening news.

I No Longer Read Poetry
I no longer read poetry.
I read obituaries,
the classified ads, telephone directories
and notes to myself.
I no longer read poetry.
The images of Neruda,
Lao Tzu, Walcott and Senior
are curling,
yellow photographs, vaselined
sepia scenes frozen in my memory.
I no longer read poetry.
I read Carl Stone's Polls,
political speeches, Letters-to-the-Editor,
volumes of technical reports.
Even The New York Times
is a flight of fancy.
Mesmerised by the present,
forsaking the past, my mind
a jealous lover holds each moment
much longer than it lasts.
Time slips away and with it
I no longer read poetry.



Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited


D.T.M. Girvan
Comnoiled and Edited by Norman Cirvan

"A Wonderful Man, A Wonderful Book"

The Man
DTM 'Thom' Girvan is remembered for his pioneering work with
Jamaica Welfare, a programme of community development
which stressed self-help based on cooperative action.
Thom Girvan is also remembered for his community work for
the United Nations in Ecuador and Chile. His warm personality
and unselfish dedication to improving the lives of the rural poor
have been a lasting inspiration to other workers in the field.

The Book
Norman Girvan has brought together selections from his
father's papers, from Jamaica Welfare publications, including
the Welfare Reporter, and his own memories of his father.
The result is, Working Together for Development, an
illuminating insight into the scope and effectiveness of Jamaica
Welfare and the contribution of Thom Girvan to community
development in the Caribbean and South America.

'A major contribution to the social history of Jamaica during the period 1930-1962 ...'
Sir Philip Sherlock
9x6", 450pp. Hardcover ISBN 976-8017-17-1 J$750, US$30, UK18
Paperback ISBN 976-8017-18-X J$500, US$20, UK12



Professor Barry Higman
Professor Robert Hill
Professor, The Hon. Gerald Lalor
Osmond Watson, OD

Noel Gauntlett
Gwenllan Hart
Dermot Hussey
Thomas Rowe
Gaston Tabois
Terry Smith


Environmental Preservation
Music & Media
Oral Narrative
Art: Painting
Journalism & Trade Unionism

Alpha Boys Band
Cynthia Bonner, OD
Calvin Bowen, OD
Rev. Ernest DeSouza
Dr Roy Francis, OD
Sybil Iton
Lois Kelly-Miller
Ethel Leslie Campbell
Rev. Francis J. Osborne,
Annabella Proudlock
Ernest Ranglln, OD
Elsie Sayle, OD

Educaton & Community Development
Jewish History
Community Development & Medicne
Library & Social Work
Community Development & Education
OD Ecclesiastical History
Craft Development
Social Work & Community


Monty Alexander

Professor John Figueroa
Colin Garland
Norma Rodney Harrack
Dr K. E. Wellington

Performing Arts: Music Ronnie Burke
Poetry Cecil Cooper
Painting Dorothy Cunningham
Ceramics Dean Fraser
Animal Science Cedric Undo (posthumous)

Nurturing & Promotion of Jamaican
Painting & Art Education
Performing Arts: Theatre
Performing Arts: Music
Encouragement of West
Indian Literature


Zjtgi@MMRI .




Judith Mendes

Coral reefs are tropical, shallow
water, limestone structures that
support a wide variety of marine
plants and animals. Reefs are unique in
that they are formed by some of the
animals and plants that inhabit them.
The group that contributes the most to
reef formation is the stony corals.

What are Corals?
Corals are sessile (not mobile) and
because of this they were for a long
time assumed to be plants. The first
person to propose that they were not
plants was the French naturalist Jean
Andre Peyssonel in 1723. His ideas
were ridiculed and then rejected by the
French Academy of Sciences. Peys-
sonel was so discouraged by this that he
gave up all scientific work. Now, of
course, we know that he was right:
corals are animals.
Corals are invertebrates that belong
to the phylum Cnidaria, as do the
jellyfish and the closest living relatives
of corals, the sea anemones. They live
in colonies made up of a collection of
independent but connected coral polyps
which form a thin living skin over the
limestone skeleton. A coral polyp is
basically a simple tube topped with a
mouth surrounded by a ring of tentacles
[see 4]. Each polyp sits in the coral
skeleton in a small cup into which it can
contract in order to protect itself.
Polyps are small but they do vary in
size with species from a millimeter to a
few centimetres in diameter.
A remarkable feature of corals,
considering the small size of individual
coral polyps, is their ability to form
massive limestone structures. The most
famous of these is the Great Barrier
Reef which stretches over two thousand
kilometres parallel to the northeast
coast of Australia. This ability to form
permanent structures is made possible
by the symbiotic association of coral

1. Coral reef

2. oral colony
2. Coral colony

J. Laorai polyp

4. Cross-section of a coral polyp

and algae. The algae, known as zoo-
xanthellae, live and photosynthesize
within the lining of the coral polyps.
The process of photosynthesis enhances
the rate at which corals can precipitate
calcium from the water around them for
skeleton formation and also provides
carbon products for use by the coral as
food. In return, the coral provides the
algae with a safe environment in which
to live. So although it appears at first to
be a simple immobile organism, the
coral is, in fact, a complex association
of an animal and a plant that together
form a rock.
In Jamaica there are forty-three
species of reef-building coral. These
vary greatly in size and shape from the
massive Boulder Coral, Montastrea
annulayis, which commonly forms
heads two metres in diameter, to the
tiny Golfball Coral, Faviafragum, with
an average size of 2.5 centimetres.
There are also convoluted, grooved
heads of Brain Coral, Diplotia, and
dense thickets of branching Elkhorn
and Staghor Coral, Acropora. Deeper
on the reef there are the delicate flat
plates of the Lettuce Coral, Agaricia.

Functions of Coral Reefs
In addition to their great beauty,
which is enjoyed by scuba divers and
snorkellers, reefs have several im-
portant ecological functions. They
provide a home for a vast array of other
plants and animals, including economi-
cally important fish and shellfish, the
primary resources of Jamaica's fishing
industry. They are the source of sand
for our beaches and also serve to protect
those beaches from wave action, and
subsequent erosion, by breaking the
force of the waves before they reach the
shore. Damage to a reef affects the reef
itself, the fishing and recreational
activities that rely on the reef, as well as
the beaches it protects.

Corals and Pollution

Corals have a low tolerance for
changes in environmental conditions
and, as a result, coral reef communities
are extremely susceptible to pollution.
The most serious threats are deposits of
sediment and excess nutrients.
Sediment in the water comes
primarily from hillsides that have been
eroded as a result of poor farming
practices and deforestation. The eroded
soil is washed down by rivers to the
sea. Sediment has two effects on coral.
First, when suspended in the water, it
blocks sunlight from the corals,
preventing the symbiotic algae from
functioning. The second effect occurs
when sediment settles on the coral
itself, smothering and killing the
delicate polyps.
Excess nutrients in the water,
primarily nitrates and phosphates from
domestic sewage effluent, enhance the
growth of plant life. This process is
known as eutrophication. Large blooms
in the water, of microscopic plants
known as phytoplankton have the same
effect on coral as sediment suspended
in the water: they block out light. At the
same time the rapid growth of thick
mats of seaweed on the reef has the

same effect as sediment settling onto
the coral: it smothers it.

The Example of Hellshire
The damaging effects of eutrophi-
cation and increased sediment load in
the water can be seen just south of
Kingston, where there is a prevailing
westerly surface current [see 5]. The
reefs off Half Moon Bay in Hellshire,
down current from the mouth of
Kingston Harbour are shown in plate 6.
The water is murky, the coral is dead
and overgrown by the green filament-
ous algae, Bryopsis. Plate 7 shows the
contrasting reef at Windward Edge, just
south of the Palisadoes and to the east,
up-current of the mouth of Kingston
Harbour. The water is clear and there is
an abundance of live coral and little
growth of algae. With the reefs that
protect them damaged, the beaches of
Hellshire have also suffered. For
example, between 1984 and 1988, Half
Moon Bay lost between fifteen and
twenty metres of beach [Hendry 1989].
The damaging effect of pollution on
the environment in this part of Jamaica
is not a new phenomenon. In a 1972
article in JAMAICA JOURNAL on coastal
water pollution, Barry Wade described

in detail the deteriorating state of
Kingston Harbour. He wrote, 'It is of
great concern that Jamaica's coral reefs
. .. should not be subjected to such
pollution.' Twenty-one years later,
sewage effluent and industrial waste
continue to pour into, and out of,
Kingston Harbour and Dr Wade's
concern has become a reality. The
problem of pollution is not confined to
Kingston Harbour. It has spread to the
reefs of Hellshire and the south coast.
Where will it stop?
We cannot continue to turn a blind
eye to the progressive destruction of
Jamaica's marine environment

Barnes, R.D. Invertebrate Zoology.
Saunders College Publishing, Philadel-
phia. 1987.
Goreau, T.F., Goreau, N.I. and Goreau, T.J.
'Corals and coral reefs' Scientific
American 241(2) 124-136. 1979.
Hendry, M.D. 'Beaches of Hellshire' In:
Caribbean coastal management study:
The Hellshire coast, St Catherine,
Jamaica. Marine Science Unit, Univer-
sity of the West Indies, Kingston,
Jamaica. pp 96-99. 1989.
Wade, B.A. 'Coastal water pollution in
Jamaica'. Jamaica Journal vol 6:2, 14-
19. 1972.

Photographs. Coral colony, Bill Cato; coral polyp by
Jeremy Woodley. All others by the author.


SKingston Harbour

SEdge N
Water movement out of Site
Kingston Harbour

Prevailing Westerly Current

5. Map showing Kingston Harbour and location of
I o 5__ooo reef sites pictured below

0. rneisnrlIr s1 .


Finally back in print!

Dr Laura Tanna's pioneering study

No.1 Jamaica 21 Anthology Series

Jm ia ol ae
an Oa Hsore

First issued by Institute of Jamaica Publications in 1984, Laura Tanna's scholarly study of
Jamaican folk tales and their tellers has been in steady demand ever since. This new edition
includes three transcripts of Maroon narratives, in print for the first time although they can be heard
on the recently produced Maroon Storyteller audiotape. These, together with the over 50 narratives
in the book, are all written down exactly as told.
Among the storytellers are Adina Henry, Thomas Rowe, Louise Bennett, Henrietta Barnes, and
Ranny Williams. Biographical information and photographs of each performer are included.
Laura Tanna's Anthology provides not only a crucial scholarly work but an invaluable
record of what Is possibly the last classical expression of our oral tradition ...
Professor Edward Kamau Brathwaite
Paperback 81/2x 12" ISBN 976-8017-19-8 J$275, US$15, UKE10
Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories is also available on video and audio. See and hear the stories
being performed. The entire package makes an ideal gift for Jamaicans at home and abroad.

i ...r 0 -...

SNobody does er.

I -

Pe o~rtA

Glimpses of Jamaica's Natural History

Spiny lobster
Panulirus argus

Panulirus argus, the Caribbean spiny lobster, gets its name from the long whip-like antennae or spines on its
head. One of the Palinuridae family, it differs from true lobsters in that it does not have claws.
The life cycle of the spiny lobster has three discrete phases: larvae, juvenile and adult, each requiring a
different habitat. The tiny, flat, leaf-like larvae (which do not look at all like lobsters) float in the water. The
juveniles, looking like miniature lobsters, live in shallow coastal seagrass beds, mangroves and coral rubble. The
adults live in coral reefs, in particular in small caves and dens narrow openings in coral outcrops.
Lobsters grow by moulting every two to three months. They secrete a new, larger shell under the existing one,
which they then discard. In Jamaica, adult lobsters reproduce all year round with a peak in spawning activity in
April and May. When reproducing, males deposit a sperm mass which looks like a spot of tar on the underside of
the female. She uses it to fertilize her eggs, which she then carries in bunches on her abdomen until they hatch.
Females carrying eggs are known as berried lobsters. The Jamaican Fishing Industry Act prohibits the taking of
berried lobsters and also those under 23/4". There is a closed season between March and July.
An interesting mass migration pattern, known as the Zugenruhe phenomenon, has been observed in spiny
lobsters. They line up in very long queues on the ocean floor, their bodies touching head to tail, then they all walk
in the same direction. Fishermen call them 'travelling lobsters' and welcome the phenomenon since the travellers
are so easy to catch. The reason for the mass migration is not understood but could be a reaction to adverse
environmental conditions, especially cold, stormy weather.
Text and photograph Judith Mendes

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