; IWi; : Jamaica Folk Music: Mento
!Redefining Jamaica Art
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Vol. 26 No.3. Copyright 1998 by Institute of
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not be reproduced in whole or in part without
Cover Picture: Jos6 Marti by Milton George
Acrylic on canvas, 9'x6'
Photograph: Hans Visser
Courtesy of Herman Van Asbroeck
Vol 26 No 3 Decembe
History a fe 2g 98
2 The P lypls of Potoo Ho
by Alan an Adam M. Fincham
25 The Fifti OAS
7 Claude McKay's Date of Birth:
A Controversy, its Resolution and a Document
by Winston James
13 Fossil Wood in Jamaica
by Anthony R. D. Porter
20 Climbing Waterfalls:
A Tourist Activity
by Brian Hudson
37 Redefining Jamaican Art
by Veerle Poupeye
49 Traditional Jamaican Music: Mento
by Olive Lewin
60 Cecile Baugh: 90th birthday
Books and Writers
by Eddie Baugh and Honor Ford Smith
57 Review: A Bibliography
Jamaica by Kenneth Ingram, reviewed
by Samuel K. Bandara
48 Musgrave Medals
12 For the Record
Figure 1. Potoo Hole, Clarendon, Jamaica. General view of the pictograph gallery
The Potoo Hole Pictographs
A Preliminary Report on a New Amerindian Cave Site in Clarendon, Jamaica, and
Some Notes on Paleoclimate
by Alan G Fincham and Adam M Fincham
The use of caves in Jamaica as burial sites by Taino
Amerindian peoples has been extensively documented (see
for example: Duerdenl897; Lee 1982; Sherlock 1939; Watson
1988). Quite often these cave sites are also the loci for rock-
carvings (petroglyphs) and rock paintings (pictographs),
although the latter, perhaps due to their inherent fragility, are
apparently much less frequent. Often, as elsewhere in the
Caribbean (Dubelaar 1986, 1995), these pre-Columbian inscrip-
tions and paintings appear as anthropomorphic representations
of human faces or figures or alternatively of animals (birds,
crocodiles, turtles, etc.) But beyond these, there are frequently
other images which defy such simplistic interpretations and
may be thought of as having a cultural, magical or religious
content at whose significance we can only guess. These images
are of importance in that they provide one of the few remaining
links between contemporary society and the now extinct Taino
peoples of Jamaica.
Over the past few years (1993-1996), a series of palaeon-
tological expeditions, organized through the American Museum
of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, have spent several
weeks in exploration of the caves of the Jackson's Bay area of
south Clarendon; the authors acting as the principal 'cave
guides' to the palaeontologists.1 In 1993 it was with much sur-
prise that we discovered a previously unrecorded cave entrance
(The Potoo Hole)2 in the arid xerophytic bush which covers the
southern aspects of the Portland Ridge hills. Subsequent closer
examination, exploration and mapping of this site have revealed
it to contain a remarkable 'gallery' of Amerindian pictographs.
In this preliminary report, we present a brief description of the
site, together with some representative images. Also, we discuss
the significance of these and other observations to the interpre-
tation of climatic changes in this area of the island. We suggest
that the location is an important site in the record of the pre-
Columbian culture and history of the island and should be care-
fully preserved for posterity.
The caves of Jackson's Bay lie in Clarendon on the south-
ern side of Portland Ridge and east of the village of that name.
Here, at the back of a shallow coastal salt pond, the limestone
hills rise to some 70 metres above sea level and contain one of
the most extensive and complex cave systems recorded in the
2 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
island. (see: Wadge et al. 1978; Fincham 1987). Cave-associated
petroglyphs in this area were noted by Duerden (1897) and in
1953 by Lewis (quoted in Lee 1990). The caves themselves
appear to have been visited fairly early; indeed, an inscription
(TMostyn 1791) exists in the main Jackson's Bay Water Cave.
The caves received more attention in 1964 when, as a result of
a letter retained in the library of the Institute of Jamaica,3 the
Jamaica Caving Club began to take an interest in the area.
Since that date, over 9 kilometres of cave passages have been
explored and mapped.
The most recent discovery (Fincham et al. 1994) was
made by the.AMNI palaeontological expedition in the summer
of 1993 when a deep cave pit entrance to the Potoo Hole was
discovered. Subsequent explorations by members of the
Jamaica Caving Club and, in 1996, by a visiting party of
Belgian cavers, have now established this system to contain
some 2,700 metres of passages with three known entrances. In
the initial exploration of this new cave, the remarkable 'gallery'
of pictographs was discovered on the walls below one of the
entrances. Most strikingly, this location lies in the cave twilight
zone at the foot of a 20 metre deep vertical pit which required
the use of vertical caving equipment by the modem explorers.
The Potoo Hole pictographs cover the surfaces of two adjacent
rock-faces of a westerly facing wall at the base of the pit
entrance. At this time, some 40 to 50 images have been identi-
fied, although in many cases it appears that some superimposi-
tions have occurred making individual distinctions between
images difficult. Generally, the pictographs are executed in a
red ochre and/or blackish pigment (possibly charcoal-based,
Figs. 1, 2). Most are fairly small in extent, each covering some
100 to 150 cm2 of rock surface. A general view of the site and
of the 'centre panel' is provided in Figures 1 and 2. In this
paper no attempt is made to 'interpret' the cultural or mystical
significance of these images and, indeed, this may well be
largely impossible. However, scrutiny of the numerous images
has, in some cases, led to a reasonable interpretation of the sub-
ject depicted. Based on this analysis, a summary speculative
listing of 45 of the clearer of the images is shown in the Table
Distribution of pictographic types
Image type Number (%)
Zoomorphic 18 (40)
Anthropomorphic 7 (15)
Geometric 8 (18)
Undefined 13 (27)
In addition to the general views shown in Figures 1 and 2,
a gallery of more detailed images is presented in Figures 3 to
16. (Note: scale bar presentations are approximate). These fig-
ures are derived from computer-enhanced digital scans of
details of the original photographs, seeking to better emphasize
the features of the pictograph.
Among the Potoo Hole images apparently depicting ani-
mals, there are perhaps at least eight representing turtles, prob-
ably sea turtles (Figures 6, 9, 11). Currently, it appears that sea
turtles are not particularly common on the Jackson's Bay
Figure 2. Central 'staff' motif surrounded by zoomorphic and
beaches, but certainly the local sandy public beach might have
supported nesting populations of these creatures in the past,
perhaps leading to the emphasis on them seen in the pic-
tographs. Another animal reasonably well presented appears to
be the crocodile, or possibly the iguana (Figures 11, 15, 17),
and certainly crocodiles are present in the local coastal
swamps. Probable anthropomorphic repesentations are perhaps
four to five images, among which the small bow-legged figure
(Figure. 3) is perhaps the most obvious. One of the most strik-
ing general features of the pictograph gallery is the centrally
placed structure (Figure 5) consisting of a stem or 'staff' sur-
mounted by a pair of contralaterally placed spiral structures.
Adjacent to this feature is another possible anthropomorphic
image. Beyond these zoomorphic and anthropomorphic images
there are also several purely geometric forms (Figures 15, 16
17) and others which seem to defy classification.
As has been noted above, in this preliminary report on the
Potoo Hole pictographs no attempt has been made to derive
any sociocultural interpretation as to their meaning, but the
authors are struck by the apparently 'hidden' location of these
images; below a deep vertical pit in the dark of the cave.4
Explorations of the Jackson's Bay caves over many years have
generally shown that most of the sites have indeed received
some attention from indigenous Amerindian peoples. Shards of
'Arawak' pottery and human bones are ubiquitous in the
entrance areas of these caves. The Jackson's Bay Water Cave
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 3
entrance is quite well known for the sev- *, -
eral 'Smiley Face' petroglyphs inscribed
into the stalagmite formations around its S.
entrance, although these have almost .
certainly been 'embellished' in more
modem times. In all of our cave explo-
rations we have always been aware of
this 'presence from the past' and have
kept a diligent eye open for Amerindian
artifacts or images. Despite this vigi- .
lance, no pictographs have been found in ,
the now over nine kilometres of caverns ,
explored to date, leaving the Potoo Hole -
gallery as a unique site, awaiting a more 4
detailed analysis and description than "
can be presented here.
Caves and paleoclimate ,,
In 1978 one of us (AGF), while Figures 3 and 4. Two anthr
searching for undiscovered cave sites in
the arid Jackson's Bay bush, located a
new cave which was found to contain
both Amerindian bones and pottery
shards. It was the latter that attracted
attention, since in one location (Water
Jar Cave) a dried-up cave pool had been
found which contained some calcited
pottery shards, including part of a typical
Arawak 'spouted' water container. This
observation led to the suggestion that the
site was at one time used for water col-
lection by local people. Today, the
Jackson's Bay area is quite arid, receiv-
ing some 40-60 cm of rainfall per year
and, apart from near sea-level locations ,
(like the Water Cave entrance, noted
above), the caves are almost completely -
arid. When, we may ask, were people
able to gather water from such elevated i '
cave pools? Firm dates for many archae- f |
logical sites in Jamaica are few, but in
the case of Jackson's Bay we do have a Figure 5. Central pictograph displays a 'staff'
radiometric (14C) date for a human bone structure surmounted by two spiral motifs. Left,
fragment from the caves, of 710 +/- 60 an anthropomorphic figure; right, some appar-
years before the present (McFarlane, ently zoomorphic images.
1989; personal communication). This
shows that people were active in this -
area around the turn of the thirteenth -
century A.D. Such data have suggested
that the Portland Ridge region (and
indeed the rest of the island) might have
undergone significant climatic change in '
the past 700-800 years, the climate 4-2
apparently then having been substantial-
ly wetter than it is today. This view has
since been further supported by radio-
metric dating studies made of the fossil
deposits of bat guano. present in some of
Our current observations have
shown that the bat populations in these
caves are small compared to the concen-
trations of bats seen in the wetter inland
caves such as Windsor Great Cave in Figure 7. Unidentified zoomorphic image F
figuree 8. Unidentified zoomorphic image. Note
he 'three-toed' appendages.
4 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
' Figure 9. A 'frieze' of three turtles
Figure 10. Unidentified images
Figure 11. Zoomorphic image. Turtle or croco-
Figure 12. Unidentified 'abstract' forms
I l -7 _-*
Figure 14. Anthropomorphic form
Figure 13. Zoomorphic forms.
Crocodile and fish?
Trelawny or the St Clair Cave near
Ewarton. Cave-dwelling bat popula-
tions, as would reasonably be expected,
are influenced by the local food supply.
Whether insect-eating or fruit-eating, the
bat food supply depends on rainfall.
Thus, the hypothesis of a previously
wetter environment during Amerindian
use of the caves would also suppose a
larger bat population than that seen
today. Again, 14C radiometric dates of
guano deposits obtained by AMNH
expeditions (McFarlane, unpublished
observations) serve to support this con-
tention and have now shown that the
principal bat guano deposits of the
Jackson's Bay caves originate from
some 800 to over 1,600 years ago, pre-
sumably at a time of greater rainfall.
Collectively, these observations
suggest that some 700 to 1,000 years
ago, Amerindian peoples populated the
southern Portland Ridge area, using the
caves for water supply, burial and possi-
bly other socio-ritual purposes. Among
these peoples was apparently the Potoo
Hole painter who, presumably, under-
took the hazardous scramble down
hanging lianas to reach the hidden sub-
terranean pictograph gallery deep
1. Fincham AG (1977) Jamaica
Underground (Jamaica Geological Society,
2. 'Potoo' (or 'Patoo') being a collo-
quial term for owl. Indeed, the common
barn owl (Tyto alba) appears to frequent
3. The manuscript scrapbook; 'Caves
in Jamaica' by Astley Clerk (1929) includes
a letter (p 161) from T. S. Tyndale-Biscoe,
dated 23.9.29, which provides a brief
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 5
description of the Water Cave and, in closing, notes; 'I have never seen
any cave in this island nor indeed in England which compares with this
in interest and beauty.'
4. A comparable situation is reported for some of the caves of the
Dominican Republic, in which Amerindian pictographs occur deep
within caves which have vertical entrance pits (Gilbert 1993).
5. Although the Potoo Hole is now known to have two other
entrances, these are remote from the pit entrance and almost certainly
would not have been used to gain access to the pictograph gallery.
Clerk, A. The Caves of Jamaica. Institute of Jamaica, Kingston, MS
Dubelaar, C. N. South American and Caribbean Petroglyphs.
Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Caribbean
Series 3, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 1986.
The petroglyphs of the Lesser Antilles, The Virgin Islands, and
Trinidad. Secretariat, Foundation for Scientific Research,
Amsterdam, Netherlands. 1995.
Duerden, J. E. 'Discovery of aboriginal Indian remains in Jamaica'.
Nature (London), 52: 173-174. 1895.
Fincham, A. G. Jamaica Underground A register of caves, sinkholes
and underground rivers of the island. (1st Edition). Geological
Society of Jamaica, Special publication. 247p. 159 cave plans.
Jamaica Underground-Caves, sinkholes and underground
rivers. (2nd Edition). The Press, University of the West Indies.
Fincham, A. G., A. M. Fincham, D. A. McFarlane, and R. D. E.
MacPhee. 'Potoo Hole A new cave of the Jackson's Bay com-
plex provides a pointer to climatic change in southern Jamaica'.
Bulletin of the British Cave Research Association. Spring Issue,
Gilbert, A. 'I1 faut sauver les grottes de Borbon et d'autres encore...
Spelunca, 50. 1993.
Lee, J.W. 'The Mountain River Cave'. Archaeology Jamaica, 82.
.'Petroglyphs of Jamaica'. Proceedings of the Eleventh Congress
of the International Association of Caribbean Archaeology. San
Juan, Puerto Rico. p. 153-158. 1990.
Rouse, I. The Tainos. Yale University Press. New Haven. 1992.
Sherlock, P.M. The Aborigines of Jamaica. Institute of Jamaica,
Kingston. 20p. 1939.
Wadge G., A.G. Fincham, and G. Draper. 'The caves of Jackson's Bay
and the Cainzoic geology of southern Jamaica'. Transactions of
the British Cave Research Association, 6: 70-84. 1979.
Watson, K. 'Amerindian cave art in Jamaica: Mountain River Cave'.
Jamaica Journal, Kingston. 21: 13-20. 1988.
The authors are grateful to Drs I. Rouse (Harvard University), J. Oliver
(University College, London), J. W. Lee (Canada) and C. N. Dubelaar
(The Netherlands) for their advice and guidance on the difficulties of
the interpretation of Amerindian pictographs. We thank our colleagues
at the American Museum of Natural History, (NY) and the Claremont
Colleges (CA); Drs R. D. E. MacPhee and D. A. McFarlane for their
support of this study, both in the field and after the event. Finally, we
thank the members and executive of the Jackson's Bay Gun Club for
their hospitality and for the use of their facilities at Jackson's Bay.
All Photographs: A. M Fincham
Figure 15. Unidentified 'abstract' image
Figure 16. Unidentified 'abstract'images; a hand?
Figure 17. Zoomorphic image (crocodile?) and unidentified
6 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
One Sunday martin' 'fo' de hour
Fe service-time come on
Ma say dat I be'n born to her
Her little las'y son.
confusion reigned among his admirers on at least three con-
tinents. They wanted to pay homage to his memory. But
when, they asked, should the centenary of Claude McKay's
birth be celebrated, 1989 or 1990? There was no dispute about
his having been born on September 15; the problem revolved
around the year. In Britain and the United States, no one was
sure. In India, where there has been a curiously sustained
scholarly interest in McKay over the years, organizers of an
international centennial conference at the University of Mysore
came up with an interesting solution. In a gesture somewhat
akin to Solomonic Judgement, they decided to hold their con-
ference in January 1990, explicitly noting that 'neither year
was officially endorsed.'
In McKay's birthplace, Jamaica, there was less reticence
and equivocation: 1990 was the date accepted and officially
promulgated as the centenary of his birth. Between September
and December 1990, organizers, under the auspices of the
Ministry of Information and Culture, put on a grand series of
events centred on McKay's life and work. Chaired by Wycliffe
Bennett, an esteemed cultural figure on the island, the celebra-
tions began on September 15, with an exhibition, 'Celebrating
Claude McKay', officially opened by the Parliamentary
Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Culture, Senator
Donna Scott-Bhoorasingh, who spoke of 'McKay's great con-
tribution to fostering black pride world-wide.' McKay's last
novel Harlem Glory, published in 1990, was launched by the
Minister of Information and Culture, Senator the Honourable
Dr Paul Robertson, in the presence of McKay's only child,
Hope McKay-Virtue, who, like McKay's literary agent, the
ninety-year-old Carl Cowl, had flown in from the United States
specially for the celebrations.2 A television documentary, pro-
duced by the Creative Production and Training Centre was
shown, outlining the poet's early years in Jamaica and his life
in the United States, Europe and Africa. Banana Bottom,
McKay's novel of Jamaican peasant life, set at the turn of the
century was serialized on radio. 'Flame Heart', a docudrama,
based on McKay's life and work, premiered at the island's
most prestigious venue, the Ward Theatre in Kingston, and
toured May Pen, Clarendon (McKay's parish of birth), and
Montego Bay. The island's press also reported that 'booklets
aimed at school children and the inauguration of a special
Claude McKay Award in the Festival Literary Competition for
poetry to start in Festival 91', would be launched. There was
even talk of 'Poetry in Force', a special poetry writing scheme,
in 'recognition of McKay's involvement with the Jamaican
Police Force as a young man.'3 And Caribbean Quarterly, a
scholarly journal produced at the University of the West Indies
in Jamaica, ran a 'Special Issue on Claude McKay', recogniz-
ing 1990 as the centenary of the poet's birth.4
Up to 1920, McKay had accepted, and all the biographical
notices about him had suggested, that he was born on
Date of Birth:
and a Document
Claude Mckay as a young police constable
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 7
September 15. 1889. But beginning with the publication of
McKay's Harlem Shadows in 1922, and without explanation,
his date of birth was given as 1890. Between 1924 and 1927,
McKay wrote a series of angry letters to Alain Locke,
Professor of Philosophy at Howard University and one of the
protagonists in the Harlem Renaissance, accusing Locke of
cowardly and arrogant editorial policies. It was in one of these
letters that McKay chided Locke for getting his date of birth
[Y]ou ignored the date of my birth that was given in
Harlem Shadows (my latest and most authentic bio-
graphical note is printed there) and you went and dug up
and anterior date. It was after the publication of Spring
in New Hampshire  that my sister verified the
date (it had been set back at Grade School so that I could
be allowed to act as assistant to the school master) and
wrote me about it in London. But I suppose that you
have such a passion for discovering things and acting
upon your own initiative that you never considered it
polite or expedient to ask for the facts.5
It was on the basis of this evidence that McKay scholars,
such as Wayne Cooper and, indeed, myself, accepted 1890 as
McKay's year of birth.6 I was somewhat troubled, however,
since I knew that McKay's daughter, Hope McKay-Virtue, had
been equally vehement in asserting that she vividly recalled
seeing 1889 as the year of her father's birth written in the fam-
ily Bible. For her, this was authoritative and definitive. She had
informed the French scholar, Jean Wagner, of this in a letter
dated November 8, 1957, and she maintained this position up
to her death in 1992.7 But no one could locate the Bible and so,
in its absence, McKay's letter to Locke carried the day. No one
had a copy of McKay's birth certificate and the possibility of
acquiring a copy from the Island Record Office in Spanish
Town, Jamaica, had not even been raised by Wagner, Cooper or
any other scholar who wrote on McKay. I assumed, largely on
the thoroughness of Cooper's own biographical research on
McKay, that such a record, for one reason or another, did not
exist. Had it existed, I thought, Cooper, a keen researcher,
would more than likely than not have found it. Significantly, in
an essay explicitly addressing the question as to why he
thought 1890 rather than 1889 was the year of McKay's birth,
the question of the possible existence of birth records did not
even arise. For him, the contradiction between Hope McKay-
Virtue's assertion and that of McKay himself could only be
resolved by precisely dating when the entry was made in the
family Bible. He wrote:
To resolve the contradiction, one would have to ascer-
tain, if possible, when the birthdate was written in the
[B]ible. Was it written shortly after his birth or was the
[B]ible purchased at a later date and the birthdates writ-
ten in it sometime near the time Claude McKay began
his job as assistant to his brother U. Theo, the school
master referred to in his letter to Locke? Unless scholars
can with certainty date the writing in the family [B]ible
to the time of McKay's birth, I believe McKay's state-
ments, [that he was born in 1890] should be accepted as
the truth concerning his correct birthdate. I myself
accepted 1890 as the correct date in my recent biogra-
phy of him.8
The logic is impeccable, if only within its own, largely
self-imposed, parameters. Cooper wisely left open the possi-
bility that he might have got the date wrong, but he clearly
never believed that he had. 'I certainly may be wrong,' he
wrote. 'But scholarship, after all, is a collective as well as an
individual enterprise and if the problem of Claude McKay's
'true' birthday is ever fully resolved I will welcome either cor-
rection or confirmation of my own opinion.'9 Like him, I
thought 1890 was the 'true' date. But he, as well as I, was
blinkered by the very way in which we set about solving the
problem. And it so happens that there is another, even easier,
way to deal with the question. One had to, however, escape the
existing parameters and pursue an entirely different avenue of
inquiry. Like Cooper, I too, was thoroughly persuaded by
McKay's seductive argument and evidence: his older sister,
Rachel McKay, had written to him, unsolicited, telling him that
the date of birth attributed to him in a publication was incor-
rect. She gave a credible explanation of how the apparent error
occurred and, since there was no reason for her to lie about
these matters, he accepted her argument, understandably defers
to her authority, and acts accordingly.'o
How could one resist this logic, especially since there was
no motive or reason for falsification of this kind? How Rachel
Birth in the District of
Name (if any). Sex. Name and Surname and Name and f
Dwelling-place of Father. Maiden Surna
At7^> tcr A7
Signed by the said
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
in presence of
-~-111 -- _1-)-~11~--
McKay made the error in the first place, I do not know. Given
the detail of McKay's explanation in his letter to Locke, it is
possible and plausible that the family, or members of the fami-
ly, falsely claimed that McKay was a year older than he really
was in order that he might teach in his brother's school at the
time. But if this was the case, they would have moved his date
of birth to 1888, not 1889. Rachel, apparently thinking that
McKay had been going under the earlier and false date, mistak-
enly suggested that he moved it to 1890. Whatever the case
might have been, I am now convinced that both she and McKay
were wrong in their conclusions about the year of his birth.
It was effectively by accident that I discovered the error.
Within a year of submitting my dissertation I became deeply
immersed in its revision and expansion for publication. And it
was then that I became absolutely convinced that Hope
McKay-Virtue had been right all along. This was not because I
had found the McKay family Bible, had carried out forensic
tests along the lines suggested by Cooper and discovered that
she was right-I have not. I became convinced that she was
right because Claude McKay himself, in effect, revealed his
date of birth in one of his autobiographical poems. Published
in 1912 in his first book of poems, Songs of Jamaica, 'My
Mountain Home' has the following stanza:
One Sunday main' 'fo' de hour
Fe service-time come on,
Ma say dat I be'n born to her
Her little las'y son."
McKay, the poem tells us, was born on a Sunday. I assumed
that Hannah Edwards McKay remembered correctly the day on
which her last and, indeed, favourite son, Claude was bor; that
he was bor on a Sunday morning before 'service-time' at her
church in the hills of Clarendon; and that, given the detail in this
and other parts of the poem, that there was no reason to believe
that McKay had inaccurately recorded what his mother had told
him. As there was no dispute about his having been born on
September 15, all that I needed to do was to determine whether
September 15, 1889 or September 15, 1890 fell on a Sunday. I
found that September 15, 1889 was indeed a Sunday;
September 15, the following year, fell on a Monday. I was
therefore satisfied that the stanza was autobiographically accu-
rate and that McKay was, indeed born on September 15, 1889.
But were there additional documents available that could
corroborate and support what I believe was good, but circum-
stantial, evidence? It was then that I recalled that Robert Hill
and his colleagues on The Marcus Garvey and the Universal
Negro Improvement Association Papers had found the birth
certificate of Marcus Garvey, who had been born in the neigh-
bouring parish of St Ann several years before McKay him-
self.12 Now, if the Island Record Office in Spanish Town, the
source given for Garvey's birth certificate, had such a docu-
ment for Garvey, I surmised that there was no good reason why
it should not have McKay's. Apparently no one had thought
that such documentary evidence existed and no one had
attempted to find it. So when I visited Jamaica in the summer
of 1995, one of my primary research objectives was to find
McKay's birth certificate. I found it and it confirmed what I
had already been convinced was true.
The document itself has some interesting details. We can
now pinpoint precisely where McKay was born. He was born
in the village of Naime Castle, which is in the James Hill dis-
trict of Clarendon, and was registered eight days later on
September 23, 1889. He was therefore, not born in 'the small
community of Sunny Ville,'13 nor in 'the tiny village of Sunny
Ville,'14 for there are no such places. Sunny Ville was the name
of the house in which the McKay's lived.15 The common mis-
perception of Sunny Ville as a village is partly due to McKay.
For in My Green Hills of Jamaica he largely wrote of it as if it
were a village. But in an autobiographical sketch written twenty
years earlier, he had noted: 'I was bor in a very little village
high up in the hills of the parish of Clarendon in the island of
Jamaica. The village is so small it hadn't a name like the larger
surrounding villages. But our place was called Sunny Ville.'16
How or why he deprived Nairne Castle of its name is open
to speculation; it is hard to believe that he forgot the name of
the village in which he was born, especially since his Jamaican
childhood and youth powerfully inhabited, if not possessed, his
memory right up to his death. Clearly, though, he did not make
the mistake of calling the village Sunny Ville, and he straight-
forwardly and accurately identified Sunny Ville as the McKay
family home. I saw Sunny Ville when I visited McKay's vil-
lage in 1995. It is still there and lived in by McKay's relatives.
No one in Nairne Castle makes the mistake of calling the
village Sunny Ville. Many members of the McKay family still
Parish ofd- e.
nd Rank or Profession of Signature, Qualification and Residence WhenRegiatered.' Baptismal Name if added after
other. Father. of Informant. Registration of Birth and Data
births and Deathe
District, Pariah of
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
j\qo was (j /) a /0a 4 d- kLnarn
P ; Ao _s i dA-6 k/p -wo FowDT W OF :
JN JJ v-eAt 4/f. way C/ oWoe
,t_ Lt t T ,nArt to a ,
S HAll SA uM-Ck^ Cwizv -: -
&41^r^.^- C f-FSZ.L wkkZ -
,/ Lak j z (a -L -
seip IA j i- 6, s&4 satL c24- %fJ
All ar) h e s of hr fa ce n
J I M-... c. ri f-,' i- .^ /, -% t
E from Hp ca-Vi lt at the 6I c t/r F .As) ce nt
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F am)aL2 e (wa ca S^<,?/ C.*, a^ss),
f9% e was ff ai) a vuy Spsi^d y a< .
Av^l A-a I ryk 7w^ i^ d A i^Yt'taa A
Extract from Hope McKay-Virtue's letter after the Jamaican celebrations oher father's centenayn
If C ^^ fk.L r^^~~' ^~~~~ ^V^ 7L ^ glU ml^C ^np2
10 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
live in the area. Among those who were there in 1995 when I
visited were the twins, Claude and Claudette McKay, McKay's
grandnephew and grandniece, named in his honour by their
father Hartley McKay, McKay's nephew.
Thomas McKay, had been a labourer before his in-laws
gave him some land soon after he got married to McKay's
mother. McKay never disclosed, however, that his father was
unable to read and write. But the certificate reveals, that, up to
at least 1889, Thomas could not sign his name. Instead of a sig-
nature, there is an 'X' followed by the words, 'The mark of
Thomas Francis McKay [,] Father'. Somewhat incongruously
sitting beside this statement is the word 'Planter,' under the
heading 'Rank or Profession of Father'. McKay revealed in his
autobiography that his father was a hardworking and shrewd
businessman, always taking every available opportunity to
accumulate more land. By the time McKay left the island in
1912, Thomas, he revealed, had acquired 'at least one hundred
fertile acres'-an exceptionally large holding for a black
Jamaican at the time. Many years earlier, Thomas McKay had
acquired his own dray and mules to transport his produce and,
for a fee, that of his peasant neighbours, to far off markets. In
addition, he had his own boiler and sugar house in which he
manufactured sugar using his own and highly-prized
Chattanooga mill imported from Tennessee.17 Thus, Thomas
McKay's description of himself as a planter as early as 1889
might not have been an exaggeration. The fact that Thomas
McKay started out his adult life as an illiterate black labourer
(a road mender) made his achievements and those of his seven
sons and one daughter-all but one entering the professions
and white-collar work-even more remarkable.
Surprising too, is the fact that McKay's name is given sim-
ply as 'Festus'. His middle name, Claudius, from which comes
the name by which he is commonly known, is conspicuously
absent from his birth certificate. It is not at all clear how or why
this occurred, for McKay was apparently baptized 'Festus
Claudius', and this was the name that he carried in his passport.
But errors and omissions of this kind were not uncommon in
Claude McKay's birth certificate, then, provides new reve-
lations about the author. But more than anything else, it estab-
lishes that McKay was born in 1889. The greatest irony is that
McKay himself died in the firm belief that he was one year
younger than he really was. Not knowing that documentary evi-
dence existed indicating the contrary, I too, would have gone
on, secure in the belief that McKay was born in 1890. Had it not
been the jolt of that stanza in 'My Mountain Home', it is unlike-
ly that I would have become sceptical of the orthodoxy.
Hope McKay-Virtue, seventy-five years old, quietly stead-
fast in the belief that the organizers in India and Jamaica were
mistaken in their timing of the centenary of her father's birth,
nevertheless participated in the events honouring him. She was
delighted by the commemoration. 'This is, indeed, one of the
high moments along my circuitous way,' she told the Mysore
conference. 'And if I should live to be a hundred years old (and
I just might!), I shall never learn to forget this delightful, delec-
table, delicious happening of fulfillment.'19 In a letter sent at
the end of the year to her close friends, she spoke of 1990 as 'a
year of dreams realized, hopes fulfilled'. The conference in
Mysore and the celebrations in Jamaica were the high points of
In January I went half-way around the world to that vast
sub-continent to attend an international conference
which recognized the birth centenary of Claude McKay.
On September 28, I winged across the U.S.A. en route
to Jamaica to participate in a 'Celebrating Claude
McKay' programme sponsored by the Ministry of
Information and Culture.
My nine days . in Jamaica were physically and
emotionally very demanding, but oh, so satisfying and
rewarding . 1990 was (for me) a very special year.
And now, I look forward to a New Year of continued
fruiting experiences in my ongoing responsibility to my
heritage; embracing along the way, fragments of the best
of many worlds.20
Born in Jamaica in 1915, Hope McKay-Virtue was trained
at Teachers' College, Columbia University, and taught in the
California public school system. She corresponded with, but
never met, her father; he died just weeks before their planned
meeting in 1948.21 Protective of her father's legacy, Hope
McKay-Virtue died in 1992 in Long Beach, California, less
than two years after her annus mirabilis. She never lived to a
hundred and she never saw the birth certificate of her father,
lodged in Spanish Town for all that time, confirming her
repeated claim that her father, contrary to his own mistaken
assertions, was born on September 15, 1889.
'Little things are big,' declared Jesis Col6n, the distin-
guished Afro-Puerto Rican writer.22 He was right, but he was
also wrong: some little things are big, and some little things are
indeed little. Accurately dating the birth of Festus Claudius
McKay, one of the most distinguished children of the Africah
diaspora, is one of those little things that also happen to be big.
Little things can be very big.
1. A.L. McLeod. 'Preface' in McLeod, ed. Claude McKay:
Centennial Studies. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers PL, 1992. p. vi.
2. Written by McKay in the early 1940s, Harlem Glory: A Fragment
of Aframerican Life, remained unpublished for almost half a centu-
ry. Cowl, who died in 1990, like the Jamaican organizers of the com-
memoration, accepted 1990 as the centenary of McKay's birth. In
his preface to the book, Cowl saluted the publishers, Charles H. Kerr
Co., 'for seizing this moment to honor Claude McKay on the hun-
dredth anniversary of his birth.' In the end, then, the timing of the
publication of the book was made to coincide with the 'centenary'
and its celebration. See Carl Cowl, Preface to Claude Mckay,
Harlem Glory: A Fragment of Aframerican Life. Chicago: Charles
H. Kerr Co. 1990. pp. 5-7.
3. Sunday Gleaner Sept 9,23, 1990; Daily Gleaner, Sept 19, Oct. 5, 1990.
4. Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 1, March 1992.
5. McKay to Alain Locke, June 4, 1927. Alain Locke Papers, Moorland-
Springar Research Center, Howard University.
6. Wayne Cooper, Claude McKay: Rebel Soujourner in the Harlem
Renaissance (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987):
Winston James, 'Claude McKay: A Political Portrait in his Jamaican
and American Contexts, 1890-1920'. PhD Diss., London School of
Economics and Political Science, University of London. 1993.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 11
7. Jean Wagner, Black Poets of the United States: from Paul Laurence
Dunbar to Langston Hughes, trans. Kenneth Douglas (Urbana: University
of Illinois Press, 1973), p. 198, no. 2. Wagner's book was originally pub-
lished in French as Les Pontes Negres des Etats-Unis: Les Sentiments
Racial et Religieux dans la Pogsie de P.L.Dunbar et L Hughes, 1890-
1940 (Paris: Librairie Istra, 1963). McLeod 'Preface', p. vi.
8. Wayne Cooper, 'Claude McKay's Birthday and the Unfinished
Business of African-American Scholarship'. Caribbean Quarterly,
vol. 38, no. 1. March 1992. p.2.
9. Ibid., p. 3,
10. Rachel, McKay's only sister among his seven siblings, was about
ten years older than him. McKay's eldest brother, Uriah Theodor,
affectionately known as 'U. Theo'), who was almost eighteen years
his senior' raised him from the age of seven and was a second father
to McKay. Rachel, in contrast, was his big sister and of all his siblings
he felt closest to her. Married, but childless, she raised Hope, McKay's
only child, when Hope's mother migrated to the United States. In
exile, McKay regularly wrote to her, while she in turn wrote warm and
loving letters to him. Some of these letters are to be found in the
Claude McKay Papers, James Weldon Johnson Collection of Negro
LIterature and Art, American Literature Collection, Beinecke Rare
Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven. Although
Rachel McKay's letter to which McKay referred is not among those
deposited in his papers at the Beinecke, there is no reason to believe
that the letter did not exist and that McKay fabricated the story. There
is apparent motive for him to have done so and clearly no evidence of
his having done so. I discuss the relationship in my forthcoming study,
Claude McKay: The Making of a Black Bolshevik, 1889-1923.
11. Claude McKay, 'My Mountain Home', Songs of Jamaica
(Kingston: Gardner, 1912), p.124; 'las'y' in the poem means last, the
diminutive of 'last'. McKay was his mother's last child. 'I was the
baby of the family and the favourite of my mother,' he wrote. Claude
McKay, My Green Hills of Jamaica. (Kingston: Heinemann
Educational Books [Caribbean] Ltd. 1979) p. 58.
12. Robert Hill, ed., The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro
Improvement Association Papers, vol. 1 (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1983). p. 14.
13. Cooper, Claude McKay, pp. 6-7.
14. Tyrone Tillery, Claude McKay: A Black Poet's Struggle for
Identity (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992), p. 3.
This is perhaps the most innocuous of the many errors that inhabit
Tillery's small and astonishingly unreliable-book.
15. Mervyn Morris is the only McKay commentator to accurately
grasp this basic fact. Mervyn Morris, 'Introduction,' to Claude
McKay, My Green Hills of Jamaica, p. xiii.
16. See McKay's biographical note, written by himself, in Countee
Cullen, ed., Caroling Dusk (New York: Harper & Bro., 1927), pp. 81-82.
17. Claude McKay, My Green Hills of Jamaica (Kingston: Heinemann,
1979), pp. 60, 25-26.
18. As late as the 1950s and 1960s many Jamaicans who migrated to
Britain did not know or discover their 'official' name until they
applied for a passport and had to produce their birth certificates. Two
sisters were mistakenly registered with the same first name on their
birth certificates, even though they had always been known by differ-
ent names. This discovery did not occur until one had applied to go
to England and encountered difficulty when nit came to light that she
had been confused with the other by the authorities.
19. Hope McKay-Virtue quoted in McLeod, 'Preface,' p. vii.
20. Copy in the author's possession.
21. Ellen Tarry, The Third Door: The Autobiography of an
American Negro Woman (New York: David McKay Company, Inc.,
1955), p. 268-70.
22. Jesus Colon, A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches
(New York: International Publishers, 1982), pp. 115-17.
For the Record
The editors are pleased to inform our
readers that Mr Evan Williams is the
designer of the inlaid floor of the foyer of
the Grand Lido Hotel. Mr Williams is the
Principal Architect of Design Collabora-
tive, designers of the hotel and holders of
the copyright for reproductions of the
designs. The accompanying photograph
was used in the article on agates by Mr
Anthony Porter to illustrate a spectacular
example of one of the many decorative
ways in which this stone can be used.
JAMAICA JOURNAL has been given to
understand that since the photograph was
taken, the floor has been covered with
ceramic tiles. However, the marble
cladding of the pillars remains.
Subsequent to the publication of his
article, Mr Porter has discovered another
occurrence of agate in northern Jamaica.
He writes: About thirty million years ago,
fine grained marly limestones and
deposits of chalk began to accumulate in
the deep water basins north of Jamaica
for some twelve millions until then the
region was uplifted. Today, these
deepwater limestone deposits are best
exposed to view as a continuous band-
known as the Montpelier Formation,
stretching from Montego Bay eastwards
to Boscobel, The formation contains
countless, very hard, often fossiliferous,
round, oval or elongated nodules of
irregularly shaped swirls of agate. Also
present are narrow seams and lenses of
chert (another form of silicon dioxide,
(Si02) sandwiched between or cutting
across the planes of separation of the
different layers of chalky limestone. The
agate which formed during this period of
Jamaica's geological past is of no com-
mercial value. However, the process of
silicification, which produced the flint
and chert, was widespread and is of great
commercial significance to quarry opera-
tors and construction engineers as the
material is extremely hard
Also in Mr Porter's article, page 2,
the dating of the lower Eocene period
should have been fifty million years ago,
not fifteen million years. We apologise
for the error.
12 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
by Anthony R D Porter
Many of the springs in this, as well as in St. Anne's and
some other parishes, are remarkable for their incrusting
and petrifactive qualities; forming in some places a layer or
thin crust; in others, penetrating into wood, and other sub-
stances, without altering their shape. I have seen pieces of
hard wood metamorphosed, by this process, into stone so as
to answer the purpose of hones for sharpening knives.
History of Jamaica 1774
During the Devonian Period of the Palaeozoic Era, some
400 to 375 million years ago, plants first appeared on land
where they grew in swamps and marshlands. After an
immensely lengthy development they came to include tree-size
ferns, giant club mosses and horse-tail trees, which reproduced
not by seeds, but rather by small structures known as spores.
Then, between 280 to 225 million years ago, during the
Permian Period, the first true seed plants appeared. They were
gymnosperms, so called because they produced seeds which
were not enclosed in a fruit or seed case. Among them were
seed ferns, primitive conifers, and the present-day needle-leaf
coniferous trees, such as pines, firs and spruce.
The beginning of the following era, the Mesozoic, was
marked by severe changes in climatic conditions. Much of the
Earth's surface was changed and most of the first land plants
were wiped out. In the new, drier environment, gymnosperm
trees flourished and became dominant during the Triassic
Period (225-190 million years ago) and the Jurassic (190-136
million years ago), forming forests that covered much of the
world. Then, at the beginning of the following Cretaceous
Period when dinosaurs roamed the planet, flowering plants, or
angiosperms, made their first appearance. By the end of the
Cretaceous Period (65 million years ago), the angiosperms had
become prominent and remain the dominant group to this day.
Figure 1. Unidentified angiosperm fossil wood from the bed of Rio Minho,
southwest of Hayes, Clarendon. Note the presence of a thin vein of pale grey
agate, which was deposited after the wood had been petrified. Width of
specimen is 9.0 cm (3.5 inches); cut height measures 10.2 cm (4.0 inches)
Unlike animals which possess bones and other hard struc-
tures, plants are made up of soft tissue that quickly decays
when they die. However, under certain conditions the tougher
woody material may be preserved. This usually occurs when
trees are suddenly buried by mud slides or volcanic ash or when
they die of natural causes and are washed away and rapidly
covered with sand, silt and mud which prevent any further
decay. Sediments, such as volcanic ash, are rich in silica (SiO,)
and other inorganic matter which are slowly dissolved by
groundwater and deposited in the cell tissue of the wood. In
time the plant may be completely replaced and 'turned into
stone', preserving its original form and structure. Wood that
has been replaced in this manner is referred to as petrified, sili-
cified or fossilized wood. Sometimes the replacement is so
complete that both the internal and external structures can be
clearly seen and what remains is a perfect stone replica of the
Although most of the silica in fossilized wood tends to
occur in the form of chalcedony, wood tissue may also be
replaced by other varieties such as agate, jasper and opal, giv-
ing rise to descriptive terms such as 'agatized', 'jasperized',
and 'opalized' wood.There may also be variously coloured
streaks and spots caused by the presence of iron and man-
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 13
Silica is very hard, durable and resistant to physical abra-
sion and chemical weathering. Petrified wood, therefore, can
survive for millions of years without being completely
destroyed. As a consequence, well-preserved specimens are of
great scientific interest and value, since they provide us with an
opportunity to learn more about life and climatic conditions in
our geologic past. It is therefore critical for collectors and fossil-
hunters to record as much information as possible about any
specimens they may find, especially when, where and how they
were found and a description of the site. Scientists, in particular
palaeobotanists, then undertake the difficult task of examining
the arrangement, distribution and relationship of the preserved
internal structures, such as vascular bundles and growth rings,
with a view to making an identification.
The greatest and most spectacular concentration of petri-
fied wood in the USA, and probably in the world, occurs in
Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, near the town
of Adamana. Here thousands of colourful petrified logs, three to
four feet in diameter and over fifty feet in length, can be seen
lying on the surface. Originally, they were coniferous trees that
grew during Triassic times. Today, the preserved trunks are
mostly broken into several pieces, while a few are still whole,
but all are composed of chalcedony and agate with streaks and
spots of yellow, red, purple and black, due to the presence of
iron and manganese oxides. During my freshman year at the
University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, I was introduced to the
ages-old remains of a conifer tree from the Petrified Forest. I
was truly captivated and began to wonder if the preserved
remains of fossil wood also existed in Jamaica. Years later, in
the summer of 1969, I found my first piece in the bed of the Rio
Minho, in Clarendon, and I knew for sure that the island did
indeed contain fossil wood.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
Discovery and occurrence in Jamaica
One of the first historians to visit Jamaica was Edward
Long. From the available records, it appears that he was the
first person to mention the existence of petrified wood in the
island. The process he describes in the passage quoted above,
continues to this day, but the substance deposited by these
springs is calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which is soft and easily
scratched. It could not have given rise to petrified wood capa-
ble of sharpening knives. So if Long did, in fact, see such mate-
rial in Jamaica, where did it come from?
The answer can, perhaps, be found in Reports on the
Geology of Jamaica, published in 1869, which recorded the
results of the first official Geological Survey undertaken in
Jamaica. Young Lucas Barrett and his assistant, James
Sawkins, had arrived from London in the spring of 1859.to
carry out the Survey.Unfortunately, Barrett was drowned off
the Port Royal Cays in December 1862, but Sawkins and his
team carried on the work and prepared the reports.
The following passage, taken from the section on
Clarendon (p 25), is relevant to the question:
Sometimes on the surface this formation disintegrates
extensively giving origin to local mottled clays, brilliant
ochres, and kaolin also exposing various siliceous peb-
bles, such as agate, amethyst quartz and siliceous wood.
Some sixty years later, this finding was confirmed by Dr
Charles Matley, the then Government Geologist. He reported
finding 'rolled pieces of silicified wood' in the conglomerate
horizon around Hayes in Clarendon. He also stated: 'A some-
what similar assemblage of pebbles, including agates, chal-
cedonies, jaspers and pieces of silicified wood, is found in the
anticline near Hector's River some 30 miles away to the north-
west and at Hollis Savannah about 20 miles to the north'
(Matley 1929, p 462, 463).
In March 1984, I wrote a short article on petrified wood
for the Sunday Magazine of the Gleaner At that time, I had not
seen Matley's reference nor had I seen any specimens from the
Hectors River area. I had assumed that all fossil wood found in
river beds, streams and gullies had been removed by erosion
from a sedimentary sequence of rocks known as the Chapelton
Formation, within the Yellow Limestone Group, and washed
by floodwaters to their later locations. The Chapleton
Formation geological sequence, deposited about 45 million
years ago, is composed essentially of sandstones, siltstones,
impure fossiliferous limestones, and lignitic clay. Today it is
best exposed to view around the outer edge of the older, pre-
dominantly Cretaceous rock formations in central Jamaica..
However, back in the mid- to late-1970s (and probably
earlier), farmers in the district of Allsides, in the parish of
Trelawny, had encountered hard, brownish-coloured stones
reminiscent of tree trunks while clearing and preparing the land
to plant crops. The stones emitted sparks when struck by metal,
such as forks and cutlasses or machetes, so the farmers called
them firestones or woodstones. This piece of local history was
unknown to me until 1985, a year after Locksley Allen, a geol-
ogist then working with the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica,
had stumbled across a large chunk of silicified wood weighing
about 12 kg (25 lbs) a few hundred feet above the river course
thus dispelling my earlier assumption. Later that year, another
colleague, Tony Goffe, unearthed an ancient log which mea-
sured 1.5 m (5 ft) in total length and about 0.3 m (1 ft) in diam-
eter on a hillside near a gully known to locals as Arthur's
Spring. Although.broken across in a few places, it showed no
sign of having been subjected to abrasion such as rounding
which occurs during movement.
The ridge on which these specimens were found is shown
on present-day geological maps as consisting of a sequence of
essentially non-fossiliferous volcaniclastic rocks, called the
Summerfield Formation. On the basis of its field relationship
with an underlying fossiliferous limestone (called the Guinea
Corn Formation, of Upper Cretaceous age), the Summerfield
Formation was believed to have formed towards the end of the
Cretaceous period (Chubb in Zans et al. 1963). Subsequent
investigations by other workers (Ahmad et al. 1985, and Allen,
1985) suggest that the Summerfield Formation originated in
Late Tertiary times (that is, during the Paleocene to Eocene
epochs, some 65 to 50 million years ago).
During the course of mapping the area, Allen subdivided
the Summerfield Formation into four lithological units, the
highest (or youngest) of which he called Facies A (Allen 1985).
This assemblage he described as consisting of a 'quartz-rich
conglomerate interbedded with pebbly sandstones . graded
fine purple sandstones, siltstones and mudstones'. The single
silicified tree trunk recovered by Allen was found in this facies.
Then, in 1987, the name Freeman's Hall beds was used by
Professor Ted Robinson of the UWI Geology Department to
describe a sequence of quartz-bearing conglomerates, sand-
stones and siltstones that form a basal unit of the Chapelton
Formation and which overlie the Summerfield Formation.
Although the Freeman's Hall beds appear to be equivalent to
Allen's Facies A of the Summerfield, no mention was made by
Robinson of the presence of petrified wood.
In February 1998, I revisited the district accompanied by
Dr Errol Miller of Knox Community College, Jocelyn 'Bugs'
Campbell and Basil Campbell of Craig Head, Manchester. In
addition to finding numerous rounded boulders of milky quartz
on the hillside, we also extracted several pebbles of agate and
pieces of woodstone in a yam field. But our greatest find was
in a gully half way up the northern flank of the Hectors River
valley, opposite Craig Head, where an almost circular piece of
silicified wood, measuring 46 cm (18.2 ins) by 34.2 cm (13.5
ins) occurs in an unsorted and unstratified mixture containing
small pebbles of white quartz, rounded dark-coloured siliceous
cobbles and other rock types in a sandy matrix. According to
Robinson, the Freeman's Hall beds 'may be distinguished from
the Summerfield by the occurrence, at or near the base of the
beds, of a conglomerate composed largely of pebbles of
quartz'. Although the rock strata in this area are highly weath-
ered and poorly exposed, it was my impression that the fossil
wood horizon occurs at the top of the Summerfield Formation.
Furthermore, this locality represents, to the best of my knowl-
edge, the only known place in Jamaica where in situ fossil
wood can been seen and collected. As a consequence, further
investigations of the host material should be carried out by
palaeontologists to see if there are any micro-fossils present,
which might be useful in helping us to unravel more of
Jamaica's complex geological past.
Fossil wood also occurs on the southern side of the island,
particularly on the coastal plains in the parish of Clarendon.
These relatively flat lands extend from the foot of the lime-
stone hills to the coastline and are composed largely of poorly
consolidated river-borne gravel, sand, silt and clay derived
from the older geological rock formations in the central section
of the island. Deposition commenced at the beginning of the
Pleistocene epoch some two million years ago and continues
up to the present time. Most of the petrified wood that has so
JAMAICAJOURNAL 26/3 15
Figure 3. Partial cross section of moderately well-preserved angiosperm fossil wood fron
Jamaica. Tentatively identified as either a member of the Burseraceae family, or tho
Anacardiaceae family. Specimen above measures 8cm (3.1 inches) at widest points.
Figure 4. Close-up of a cut section of Paraphyllanthoxylon sp. from Allsides, Trelawny
Jamaica. This is a fossil species typical of many late Cretaceous/Early Tertiary woods
and shows the prominent remains of poorly-preserved, friable, long linear vessels
cross-cut by a narrow vein of grey quartz (at left). The section illustrated is part of a log
that was over 152 cm. (5 ft). in length.
Figure 5. Palmoxylon (fossil palm) from Gravel Ground Clarendon, Jamaica. Cross
section shows the silicified remains of numerous small, circular to oval-shaped bodies,
called vascular bundles, within a matrix of silicified parenchyma tissue, Replacement
of the tissue in the central portion of the stem, by goethite (hydrated iron oxide) has
resulted in a brown colouration.
16 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
far been found was collected on the banks or in the
bed of the Rio Minho and its tributaries as well as in
other drainage channels, for example, Palmetto Gully.
These specimens are often rounded at the edges and
have clearly been transported some distance before
coming to their present resting place. To have sur-
vived such a journey, the original organic matter must
have been replaced by silica millions of years before.
At present we are uncertain where these re-worked
specimens fit in the geological succession, but in all
probability they were liberated from the same rock
formations already mentioned that seemingly straddle
the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Today, pieces of
wood of more recent origin has been found in inland
peat deposits and in swamps and marshlands at sev-
eral points along the coastline. Perhaps these too will
become fossilized over time.
The identification of petrified wood requires a
detailed investigation of all its physical features both
9 coarse and fine. This is usually carried out by cutting
very thin slices with a diamond saw. The wood, how-
ever, must be cut across the grain (transversely) and
along the grain (longitudinally), but not obliquely.
The slices are then glued onto glass slides with a
transparent mounting medium and ground down by
rubbing with fine abrasive powders until they are thin
enough (about 0.03 mm) for light to pass through.
They can then be examined under a microscope. If the
material is well preserved, it can usually be placed in
one of two structural categories referred to as the
homoxylous and heteroxylous groups.
Wood that is composed of a single cell type,
called the tracheid, is said to possess a homoxylous
structure. It has a characteristically even texture and
is predominant in gymnosperms. Heteroxylous wood,
on the other hand, is composed of may different types
of cells, the most important of which is a long water-
conducting tube, called a vessel. This type of struc-
ture is found in angiosperms, such as Palmoxylon,
which is the name applied to fossil palm wood.
In December 1992 a renewed interest in
Jamaican fossil wood prompted me to visit the
Natural History Museum in London. That was the
beginning of a collaboration between myself and the
Museum's palaeobotanists. Unfortunately, owing to
other commitments and constraints, progress has
been slow and of the five specimens prepared only
three have been examined so far.
The first piece of fossil wood sent for investiga-
tion was found in the early 1970s on the banks of Rio
Minho near Gravel Ground). It measures 7.6 cm (3
ins) in diameter and 12.7 cm (5 ins) in length, and has
rounded edges. Preservation is sufficient to permit
recognition of the tracheids and vessels in transverse
and longitudinal sections. It has been identified as
being a member of either the Burseraceae family or
the Anacardiaceae family. The age is unknown.
The second specimen is a part of the large petri-
fied log collected by Tony Goffe in a cultivated field
north of Craig Head, not far from Allen's locality. The
material is dark brown, heavy and partly friable. It
has been identified as Paraphyllanthoxylon sp.
Paraphyllanthoxylon is a genus name given to fossil wood
resembling the modem genus Phyllanthus, a member of the
subfamily Phyllanthoidae, which is a division of the family
Euphorbiaceae. This fossil species is typical of many late
Cretaceous/Early Tertiary woods. The specimen collected by
Allen has not yet been examined.
The third piece of fossil wood was found at Gravel Ground
in 1982, shortly after the lands had been ploughed in readiness
for planting tobacco. The specimen is oval in cross section
measuring 9.5 cm (3.75 in) by 15.2 cm (6 in), and 51.2 cm
long. It was featured in the Sunday Gleaner article referred
to previously. In cross section the well-preserved silicified
remains of numerous, small, oval to circular-shaped vascular
bundles are clearly visible scattered about in the ground mass
(composed of silicified parenchyma tissue). This feature is
characteristic of palm wood. The specimen has been identified
as Palmoxylon, since fossil plants are not usually given the
same name as plants living today. In addition to silica, a small
amount of goethite (hydrated iron oxide) is present near the
centre of the stem. The age of this specimen is unknown.
Perhaps future investigations may uncover similar material in
situ in northern Clarendon or elsewhere in the island. It is also
quite possible that someone will find pieces of fossilized palm
roots. These are generally tube-like in appearance and closely
In some countries, fossil wood containing worm-like holes
has been found in marine clay. It has been postulated that
before fossilization the tree trunks, branches and twigs drifted
out into the ancient sea in a waterlogged state, and were some-
times penetrated by boring animals, such as the bivalve mol-
lusc called Teredo (the Ship-Worm). No such holes have yet
been seen in any Jamaican fossil wood.
In some countries, well-preserved specimens of petrified
wood, capable of taking an attractive long-lasting polish, are
important and eagerly sought after for making jewellery and
ornaments. Here in Jamaica, the best preserved material has so
far been found as loose 'stones' in rivers and streams, and in
the alluvial gravel beds on the Clarendon Plains. By compari-
son, those in the Hectors River valley tend to be more friable.
Since there are no known localities where specimens can be
readily extracted in large quantities, would-be collectors will
have to devote a lot of time and patience when searching for
gem quality material in Jamaica. Specimens can also be donat-
ed to the Geology Department Museum at the University of the
West Indies, Mona Campus, for posterity and further research
The author wishes to express his sincere appreciation to present and
past members of staff of the Department of Palaeontology at the
Natural History Museum in London, England, in particular Cedric
Shute (recently retired), Mark Crawley (ex-member, who identified
specimens one and two) and Tiffany Foster. Special thanks are also
extended to A. (Tony) Goffe, Locksley Allen, Dr Errol Miller, and
Messrs. Jocelyn and Basil Campbell for their invaluable contributions.
Ahmad, R., N. Lal, and P.K. Sharma, 1985. 'Fission-Track age of
Ignimbrite from Summerfield Formation, Jamaica'. Abstracts,
Workshop on Recent Advances in Jamaican Geology. Geological
Society of Jamaica, Kingston. p. 4, 5.
Allen, L.B., 1984. 'Summerfield Surprises'. Geological Society of
Jamaica Newsletter. vol. v, no. 1. Kingston, Jamaica: p. 24, 25.
Allen, L.B., 1985. 'Lithofacies of the Summerfield Formation, north-
western Central Inlier, Jamaica. Abstracts'. Workshop on Recent
Advances in Jamaican Geology, Geological Society of Jamaica,
Kingston. p. 2
Long, E., 1774. The History of Jamaica. London: T. Lowndes. Book II,
Chap. VII, p. 65.
Matley, C. A., 1929. 'The Basal Complex of Jamaica, with special ref-
erence to the Kingston District'. With petrographical notes by F.
Higham. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society,. London:
vol. 85, p. 462, 463.
Porter, A. R. D., 1984. 'Petrified Wood A fascinating fossil'. The
Sunday Gleaner Magazine. 18 March.
Robinson, E. 1987. 'Field Guide: Late Cretaceous and Early Tertiary
sedimentary rocks of the Central Inlier, Jamaica'. Journal of the
Geological Society of Jamaica, vol. 24, p. 49-67.
Robinson, E. 1996. 'Freemans Hall Beds and Stettin Member,
Chapelton Formation, Jamaica: a revision of Geological Sheets 8,
9, and 12'. Journal of the Geological Society of Jamaica. vol. 31,
Sawkins, J.G., 1869. Reports on the Geology of Jamaica. Memoir,
Geological Survey. London: Longmans, Green and Co. p. 25.
Zans, V.A., Chubb, et al. 1963. 'Synopsis of the geology of Jamaica'.
Geological Survey Department Bulletin, No.4 (for 1962).
Kingston: Government Printers. 72 p.
All photographs by the author
Olive Lewin, the leading authority on Jamaican music and culture,
studied at the Royal College of Music and London Univer-sity. She
gained her Ph.D. from Queen's University of Belfast in Social
Anthropology, Ethnomusicology. Her work with the Memory
Bank has guaranteed the survival of much of Jamaica's oral histo-
ry. She is also the founder of the Jamaica Folk Singers.
Adam M.Fincham has been exploring caves from boyhood. He
studied at Munro College and the University of South California,
gaining his doctorate in Aerospace Engineering in 1995. He is now
working in France at the University of Grenoble.
Alan G.Fincham came to Jamaica as Lecturer in Biochemistry
at UWI in 1969. He also explored and catalogued the caves of
Jamaica and his book, Jamaica Underground was first pub-
lished in 1977. The second edition appeared in 1997. Since
1985 he has worked at the Center for Craniofacial Molecular
Biology, University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Brian Hutton is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Planning,
Landscape Architecture and Surveying at the Queensland University of
Technology, Brisbane, Australia. He was formerly a Lecturer in
Geography at UWI Mona. He has held various posts in planning, teach-
ing, and research in the Caribbean, Hong Kong, Ghana and the UK.
Winston James, grew up in Jamaica and the UK. He studied at the
University of Leeds and the London School of Economics where he
earned his doctorate. He is currently teaching History at Columbia
University. He has written widely on Black history and politics. His
most recent book, Holding aloft the Banner of Ethiopia, examines
Veerle Poupeye was born in Belgium where she studied art his-
tory at the Rijksuniversiteit Gent. Active in Jamaica since 1984 as
a curator, educator and writer, she has published widely on Jamai-
can and Caribbean art. Recent publications include Modern
Jamaican Art, co-authored with David Boxer, and Caribbean Art.
one of the volumes in Thames and Hudson's noted World of Art
A. R. D. Porter first contributed to JAMAICA JOURNAL in 1976. He
studied at UWI and the University of Manitoba, joined Alcan Jamaica
in the mid-seventies and is now their Senior Geologist. His book,
Jamaica: A Geological Portrait, was published by IOJ Publications.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 17
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Few tourist destinations
depend on waterfalls to
attract visitors, but there
are many places where
these landforms play
valuable roles as tourist
attractions. Tourists who
enjoy natural scenic
beauty often go to areas
where waterfalls are
among the notable
while those who seek
sun, sand and sea are
commonly tempted to
visit local beauty spots
which frequently include
(Hudson, in press).
W while it is mainly the aesthetic appeal
of waterfalls that attracts the visitor,
they also offer opportunities for a variety
of recreational activities, such as bathing,
and, in many places, are popular picnic
spots. For centuries, residents of Jamaica
and visitors to the island have enjoyed the
waterfalls there, admiring the spectacular
natural beauty, frolicking in the cascading
streams, and relaxing, often with food and
drink, beside them. In this respect,
Jamaica resembles other places blessed
with beautiful river scenery, and water-
falls are widely featured as part of the
popular image of the 'tropical island parad
tourist industry. Jamaica is possibly unique,
that its visitors are encouraged not only to s
tiful falls, bathe in pools beneath them and
but also to climb up them. Until recently, th
ciated particularly with Dunn's River Falls
today promoters of several Jamaican tour
include notable waterfalls invite visitors to
This tourist activity is examined here
and historical perspective. The paper seeks t
of waterfall climbing in Jamaica and to consi
popular among locals and foreign tourists.
mental impacts of this practice are consider
suggested as a possible means of reduci
tourism on Dunn's River Falls.
Origins of waterfall climbing
In the hot Caribbean climate, Jamaic
streams, with their idyllic tropical setting
tempting bathing places. It is probable that
from the early sixteenth century settled in
bathed in the inviting rivers which tumble
Possibly some of them climbed the waterfa
R h Fs in St
Reach Falls in St Thomas
A Jamaican Tourist Activity
by Brian J Hudson
ise' marketed by the brochures claim, and it is easy to imagine the original Arawak or
however, in the way Taino (Reid, 1994) inhabitants of the island doing so. The eigh-
ee the island's beau- teenth century planter and writer, William Beckford (1790),
picnic beside them, noted that some of the island's black population enjoyed diving
is activity was asso- from waterfalls and plunging into the deep river pools, and his
near Ocho Rios, but contemporary, Edward Long (1774), referred to visitors at
st attractions which Roaring River Falls who ventured across the rocky terraces over
climb them. which the stream cascaded.
from a geographical The Roaring River, like other short, rapid streams which
o explain the origins tumble into the sea near Ocho Rios, emerges from beneath the
der why it became so limestone plateau of St Ann. It is largely in consequence of this
Finally, the environ- geological feature that the waterfalls of the area are formed in a
ed, and a proposal is way which makes them particularly suitable for bathing and
ng the pressures of climbing. Long (1774 92) remarked on the deposits of'stalactite
matter' which occurred where the rivers cascaded over falls, and
he described in some detail these curious and beautiful forma-
tions at Roaring River Falls.
:a's cool, cascading The water . deposits its grosser contents, which in
s, offer particularly length of time have formed various incrustations,
the Spaniards who, around as many cisterns, spread in beautiful ranks,
the Ocho Rios area, gradually rising one above the other, and bearing no ill
e into the sea there. resemblance to a magnificent flight of steps in rustic
ills, as recent tourist
20 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
work, leading up to the enchanted palace of some
puissant giant. A sheet of water, transparent as
crystal, conforming to the bend of the steps, over-
spreads their surface .... The incrustation in many
parts is solid enough to bear the weight of a man;
in others it is so thin, that some persons, whose
curiosity led them to venture too far, have sudden-
ly found themselves plunged up to the middle in a
cold reservoir ... The cisterns, or reservoirs, have
their sides formed by broken boughs and limbs,
incrusted over, and sustained by the trunk of trees,
promiscuously growing between them. The cis-
terns themselves are always brim-full of water,
which trickles from one to the other ...
Long 1774, 92-93
Porter (1990, 108-109) provides a more recent
account of the phenomenon as exemplified by Dunn's
Here the waters cascading for countless years have
left a fairly thick, soft, yellowish-brown banded
deposit of travertine, made up mostly of calcite.
This deposit, over sixty feet thick in one place,
encrusts the underlying rock and has given rise to
the spectacular terraces which form Dunn's River
Falls and have made them one of the most pho-
tographed natural attractions in the world. These
step-like falls are a constant source of challenge
and pleasure to numberless climbers, locals and
Dunn's River Falls have been a popular tourist attrac-
tion since before the Second World War. In the 1930s,
Olley (1937 237, 240) described 'Dunn's River Falls and
Bathing Beach' as 'a favourite bathing place for tourists
... One can bathe in the stimulating water of the falls or
swim in the warmer sea water, the combination being
enjoyed under the conditions which might be claimed to
represent the most idyllic, natural spot in the world!' Olley
made no mention of waterfall climbing, however, and he
noted other waterfalls, including Llandovery Falls. White
River Falls and, especially, Roaring River Falls as major
scenic attractions in St Ann parish.
Many of Jamaica's waterfalls, including those on the White
and Roaring Rivers near Ocho Rios, were celebrated by writers
Long (1774) and Beckford (1790), artists Hakewill (1825) and
Kidd (1838), and photographers Duperly (1844), Johnston
(1903) and Leader (1907). It is interest-
ing, however, that none of these people
portrayed or even mentioned Dunn's
River Falls in their well-known works.
This is all the more surprising in view of
the fact that the main north coast high-
way crosses Dunn's River where it cas-
cades into the sea west of Ocho Rios.
Only after the formerly magnificent falls
on the White and Roaring Rivers had
been harnessed for hydro-electric power
generation in the 1940s and 1950s did
Dunn's River Falls gain importance and
a become the island's chief scenic attrac-
In the late sixties, Dunn's River
Falls had become 'a popular stopping
.. place, where one can take a natural
shower-bath under the falls as well as
S swim from the beach, with or without
the prelude of a clamber up the 600-foot
Dunn's River Falls.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 21
Roaring River Falls, 1903. Jamaic,
From James Johnston's collection of scenic photographs, Jamaica: The New F
ascent to the river's upper reaches.' (Wright and White, 1969
79). By this time, climbing up the falls was a 'favourite sport'
(Novelty Trading Co. 1969), and most guide books for Jamaica
mentioned this Dunn's River activity. Sangster (1973 74) wrote,
'The falls are spectacular, and are easily climbed, even against
the cascading cold water', but by the eighties, popularity and
commercial development were beginning to detract from the
natural beauty and appeal of the place.
Dunn's River Falls is the famous waterfall you see in
all the PR photos with people holding hands forming a
human chain to walk up the natural limestone steps
from the sea to the top of a tiered waterfall. It is a very
beautiful and heavily commercialized spot. Chock-a-
block craft shops sell wooden carvings, foods, t-shirts
and all the rest. There are many other waterfalls in
Jamaica, at least equally scenic, definitely less tampered
with, and with fewer people around (Cohen, 1988 49)
Encouraged, no doubt, by the commercial success of Dunn's
River falls which now receive about a million paying visitors
annually (Watson, 1996), owners of properties where there are
waterfalls have developed these as tourist attractions in various
parts of Jamaica. Some, such as those in The Enchanted Garden
(formerly Carinosa) near Ocho Rios, at Belvedere south of
Montego Bay, and Somerset Falls close to Port Antonio are in
the vicinity of established resort centres but others, notably
Reach Falls near the extreme east of the island and YS Falls in
St Elizabeth, have been developed in areas previously bypassed
by the tourist industry.
The YS and Reach Falls are undoubtedly beautiful and, even
before the improvement of access to them, were worth the effort
to see, particularly if one happened to be a keen lover of river
scenery and waterfalls. Some of the other falls which have been
exploited over the past twenty years or so, however, are very
modest affairs. Their development potential owes much to their
proximity to major tourist centres or to main roads linking them.
Commonly, lesser waterfalls and climbing waterfalls are
promoted as parts of a tourist attraction package which may also
include rainforest, tropical gardens, working plantations, historic
buildings, craft shops, restaurants, entertainment arj other fea-
22 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
tures which appeal to visitors. Just as the pop-
ular tourist activity of rafting trips spread from
its original site on Portland's Rio Grande to
other Jamaican rivers, including the Martha
Brae and the White River, so has the practice of
waterfall climbing spread out from its main
point of origin, Dunn's River Falls. Recent
tourist promotional material advertises water-
fall climbing at Sun Valley and The Enchanted
Garden (Jones and Jones, 1995; Ulrich, 1995),
while the Touring Society of Jamaica (1994)
invites visitors to join its small group excur-
sions to Fishbone Falls near Buff Bay: 'Picnic,
hike the trail up to the river, climb the falls.'
Even Reach Falls, we are told, 'can be
climbed'. (Cohen, 1988 59).
While there are many waterfalls in
Jamaica which are in the form of cascades that
drop over a series of terraces, some of them
featuring travertine encrustations similar to
those found at Dunn's River Falls, there are
relatively few which can be climbed easily.
a National Library Indeed, probably in most of the world, even in
places where the climate encourages river
bathing, the idea of climbing a waterfall would seem strange. In
Jamaica, however, it is now regarded as a normal tourist activi-
ty, one enjoyed by many local visitors also.
As the well-known waterfalls become more popular, environ-
mental pressures on them inevitably increase, and with the
development of previously 'undiscovered' waterfalls as attrac-
tions, the effects of tourism have spread far beyond the original
tourist areas. The adverse environmental impacts of tourism all
over the world are now widely recognized, and the degradation
of landscape resources has received much attention, not least in
the Caribbean (Barker and McGregor, 1995; Edwards, 1988;
Girvan and Simmons, 1991; Glasgow, 1988; Hudson, 1986).
Concern about the despoliation of landscape resources has
grown partly in consequence of continued insensitive and
destructive development and partly in consequence of a growing
interest in eco-tourism in which unspoiled nature plays the
essential role. Overcrowding, pollution, including visual and
noise pollution, and erosion are among the problems commonly
experienced at scenic tourist attractions, many of them a direct
result of tourism itself. Waterfalls suffer in a variety of ways,
ranging from stream bank erosion, litter, graffiti on rocks and
damaged vegetation to intrusive viewing platforms, refreshment
stalls and other 'amenities' ostensibly provided to enhance the
Waterfall climbing introduces some of these problems into
the stream bed itself. Long's eighteenth century account of
Roaring River Falls indirectly mentions damage to the travertine
formations there, parts of which broke under the weight of visi-
tors who ventured onto the natural terraces (Long, 1774). At
Dunn's River Falls, the travertine encrusted terraces down which
the water cascades are subjected to erosion by millions of tram-
pling tourists and the activities of the guides employed there.
Many visitors now put on protective footwear, which they bring
or hire locally, for the ascent of the falls. This no doubt reduces
wear and tear on tourists' feet, but has the opposite effect on the
environment. The guides who conduct tourists up the falls also
contribute to the erosion by their 'improvements' to the river bed
track, including the use of wire brushes to scrub away algae
which make some rock surfaces slippery. The presence of such a
large concentration of people in the river itself may also account
for the relatively high level of coliform contamination which has
been measured at the foot of the falls (Mortley, 1996).
Conclusion and a proposal
Before the rise of mass tourism, residents of Jamaica with a taste
for landscape and visitors in search of the island's scenic won-
ders were attracted to the country's waterfalls, largely because of
their aesthetic appeal. To the attraction of scenery were also
added the pleasures of the beach and sea bathing as tourism
developed, and at Dunn's River Falls all of these delights could
be combined in an idyllic environment.
While there is no doubt that waterfall climbing helps to
diversify Jamaica's tourist product and contributes to the unique
experience offered by the island, there are associated environ-
mental problems. As usual, it is mainly a matter of carrying-
capacity and striking an appropriate balance between maximiz-
ing income from tourism while minimizing environmental dam-
age. In some instances, it may require limiting the number of
people allowed to access to the falls and restricting entry into the
water itself. Other strategies may include the prohibition of
footwear for climbers and stopping the tourist guide practice of
scrubbing away algae from rock surfaces.
Climbing is only part of the Jamaican waterfall experience,
however, and there are many other aspects of the touristic
exploitation of these natural landscape features which need to be
addressed. Waterfall climbing must be considered within the
broader context of waterfall development and management, mat-
ters which, in some parts of Jamaica, already require urgent
In the case of Dunn's River Falls, one approach might be to
limit waterfall climbing, either by permitting it only at specified
times or on certain days of the week. Alternatively, the practice
might be confined to the lower falls only, leaving the more
scenic upper falls free from clambering visitors. A more radical
solution would be to ban waterfall climbing at Dunn's River
altogether. This, however, would not only deprive visitors of a
popular exhilarating experience, but might seriously reduce
earnings from tourism.
A possible way to protect the beauty and environmental
quality of Dunn's River Falls while still retaining the practice of
waterfall climbing would be to create an artificial waterfall
designed specifically for the purpose. Artificial waterfalls are
common in many parts of the world and are frequently encoun-
tered in parks and gardens, at resort swimming pools, in hotel
foyers, shopping malls and restaurants. There are several artifi-
cial waterfalls in Jamaica, but none as large as those which
would be required as a replacement for the Dunn's River Falls
This idea is not without precedent. There are artificial ski
slopes, wave pools and climbing walls in many parts of the
world. Near the Lascaux caves in France, an artificial cavern,
complete with reproductions of the famous rock art, has been
created, accurately presenting a section of the original site which
has been closed to the public in order to preserve the prehistoric
paintings. In this case, visitors do not have access to the original
site with its authentic ancient rock art but have to content them-
selves with a clever re-creation. The proposed solution to the
Dunn's River problem, however, would still allow visitors to
appreciate the natural beauty of the famous tropical cascades
unspoiled by hordes of climbers, and to have the opportunity to
climb a waterfall designed for their enjoyment. The artificial
falls could be landscaped- to create the ambience of a natural
tropical river with luxuriant vegetation overhanging and framing
the cascading water. On the steep slopes overlooking Jamaica's
north coast there are probably several suitable sites and, just as
some of the island's popular bathing beaches are artificial cre-
ations, the waterfall attractions could be similarly augmented by
human ingenuity. With Dunn's River and other falls under threat
from the pressures of tourism, perhaps it is now time for Jamaica
to give serious attention to the possibilities of artificial waterfalls
for recreational purposes.
Baker, D., and D. F. M. McGregor (eds.) 1995. Environment and
Development in the Caribbean Geographical Perspectives.
Kingston: The Press, University of the West Indies, Mona.
Beckford, W. 1790. A Descriptive Account of the Island of Jamaica,
vol 2. London: T. and J. Egerton.
Cohen, S., 1988. The Adventure Guide to the Caribbean. Edison, NJ:
Duperly, A. . Daguerrian Excursions in Jamaica. Kingston:
Edwards, F. (ed.) 1988. Environmentally Sound Tourism in the
Caribbean. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.
Girvan, N.P., and D.A. Simmons (eds.) 1991. Caribbean Ecology and
Economics. St Michael, Barbados: Caribbean Conservation
Glasgow, J. (ed.) 1988. 'Environmental education global concern,
Caribbean focus'. Caribbean Journal of Education, vol. 16 (1
and 2), Special Double Issue, Kingston: Faculty of Education,
University of the West Indies, Mona.
Hakewill, J. 1825. A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica.
London: Hurst and Robinson, E. Lloyd.
Hudson, B. J. 1986. 'Landscape as resource for national development:
a Caribbean view'. Geography, vol.71 (2) 117-122.
(in press). 'Waterfalls: resources for recreation and tourism'.
Annals of Tourism Research.
Johnston, J. 1903. Jamaica: the New Riviera. Printed by Cassell and
Co. for Dr James Johnston, Brown's Town, Jamaica.
Jones R. J., and J. Jones (eds.). 1995. Focus on Jamaica, vol, 1
(Montego Bay, Panama and Sarasota, FL: Focus Publicati6ns
(Int.), S.A. in cooperation with the Jamaica Tourist Board.
Kidd, J.B.,1838, West Indian Scenery, London: Smith, Elder: James
Leader, A. 1907, Through Jamaica with a Kodak, London: John
Wright and Co.
Long, E. 1774, The History of Jamaica, vol. 2. London.
Mortley, E. 1996, personal communication.
Novelty Trading Co., [1969?] Romantic Jamaica, West Indies,
Kingston: The Novelty Trading Co.
Olley, P. P. 1937, Guide to Jamaica. Kingston: The Tourist Trade
Porter, A.R.D., 1990, Jamaica. A Geological Portrait. Kingston: IOJP.
Reid, B. 1994. 'Tainos not Arawaks: the indigenous people of Jamaica
and the Greater Antilles'. Caribbean Geography, vol. 5 (1) 67-71.
Sangster, I. 1973, Jamaica, A Benn Holiday Guide. London: Ernest Benn.
Touring Society of Jamaica, [1994?], Eco-Jamaica (foldout brochure
with one-page insert). Salt Gut, Boscobel, Jamaica.
Ulrich, R. (ed.) 1995. Destination Jamaica. The Official Visitor
Magazine of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, 4th edi-
tion, North Miami, FL: Ulrich Communications Corp. for the
Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association.
Watson, J. 1996. Personal communication (statistics for visitors to
Dunn's River Falls, April, 1991-December, 1995).
Wright, P., and P. E White, 1969. Exploring Jamaica. A Guide for
Motorists. London: Andre Deutsch.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 23
Celebrating three decades of Caribbean Membership
Message from the
Secretary General of
the OAS Cesar
Gaviria to Member
States on the
occasion of the
of the OAS
The fiftieth anniversary of the Organization of
American States is a significant milestone in the
Organization's mission. Over the last fifty years, our
Organization has grown in maturity of vision, pur-
pose and commitment. As a regional body, it now
possesses a full consciousness and awareness of the
challenges to development faced by member states.
This has been clearly expressed in the objectives and
programmes of its new vision.
The Organization of the American States through
a restructured administrative machinery and a more
sharply focused vision, is poised to assume and exer-
cise a more significant, direct and consequential func-
tion in collaboration with all social partners in the
implementation of our evolving hemispheric agenda.
We celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the
Organization on the eve of a new millennium, with great
hope and expectation. I therefore embrace this opportunity)
reassure all citizens of the hemisphere of my continuing
dedication, cooperation and commitment towards our
Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria
common objectives of integral and sustainable development.
to This we can achieve through economic growth, democratic
consolidation, poverty eradication, social justice and man-
Jamaica's Permanent Representatives to the OAS since 1969
Ambassador Edgerton Richardson
Ambassador Douglas Fletcher
Ambassador Alfred Rattray
Ambassador Keith Johnson
Ambassador Richard Bernal
26 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
*l I.I [' 0;Jl
From a presentation given at the Institute af
International Relations in Trinidad, October 1997
Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of the American States, Christopher R. Thomas.
Caribbean membership of the Organization of
American States dates from the latter part of the
nineteen-sixties. The first English-speaking Caribbean
country to seek membership was Trinidad and Tobago
in 1967, and Barbados followed immediately. Jamaica
applied in 1969 and other Caribbean states followed
upon achieving political independence.
The entry of the English-speaking states of the Caribbean into
the Organization, initiated a significant phase in the composition
of its membership which had previously comprised all the
Spanish-speaking member states of the hemisphere, Brazil, Haiti
and the USA. The incorporation of these new and different states
opened up possibilities for further expansion of membership and
the ultimate realization of the ideal of an all-inclusive regional
Caribbean countries, therefore, entered a regional organiza-
tion with perceptions and interest that were outgrowths of rela-
tively matured experiences. The impact of their association and
the mutual expectations of their membership must necessarily
have been conditioned by certain established traditions. It is from
the perspective of those two concepts of impact and expectations
that the significance of Caribbean membership of the Organization
must first be evaluated.
Caribbean states did not join the Organization as a group or
bloc so their impact was more gradual and progressive than imme-
diate. Given the established character of the Organization, one or
two Caribbean voices in the late nineteen-sixties could not have
been expected to influence the orientation of the Organization at
that time. Moreover, the sequential membership of Caribbean
states in the Organization over the period 1967 to 1984 while the
Caribbean Free Trade Agreement (CARIFTA) was still in the
process of development would certainly have affected a consoli-
dated Caribbean position within the Organization as would the
initial caution inherent in early membership.
Today, in the changing circumstances of the region, the
Caribbean is providing leadership within the Organization on the
important question of structured economic advancement,
entrenchment of human rights, regional trade integration and
hemispheric security, and this in circumstances which point to
review and revision of the basic instruments of the Organization.
Today, also, our established yet still evolving institutions are
better poised to develop and elaborate appropriate inter-regional
mechanisms to accomplish the Charter goal of overall economic
Caribbean membership represented much more than accre-
tion in numbers to the Organization. It was also motivated by other
compelling circumstances. National independence of those coun-
tries constituted a new political development in the ambit of Latin
America. New states were coming into being whose vulnerable
economies would leave them prey to the competing ideologies of
the time. In those circumstances, because of their geographic
location, they could neither be ignored nor neglected by the larger
region, particularly by the United States of America. Above all
else, they could not be appended to any extra-hemispheric entity.
The political reality was and continues to be that they belonged to
In the early 1960s, consideration and debate by the
Organization on the question of Caribbean membership were
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 27
protracted. It was agreed that an Inter-American conference be
convened on the membership question. At the Inter-American
Conference in December 1964, the paramount considerations
expressed were the inter-boundary territorial question, the impli-
cations of extraterritorial ties, the desirability of adherence to the
Rio Treaty as a condition of admission to membership and
mechanisms for the admission of new members.
The position of the United States, the major regional partner
in the deliberations on this question, was very clear and unam-
biguous. The delegation of the United States urged the committee
on juridical and political affairs to act speedily on the procedure
for admission of new members; expressed the view to the council
that under the existing Charter provisions any newly independent
state in the region could become a member of the Organization;
observed further that such a position was consistent with the US
concept of the Organization as a 'living, developing and dynamic
organization'; and prevailed upon the Conference that adherence
to the Rio Treaty should be a desirability rather than a condition-
ality of admission to membership.
The Conference concluded with the adoption of the Act of
Washington on December 18, 1964, which defined for the first
time the rules of admission to the OAS. The Act was signed by
twenty states and became immediately effective. The Act of
Washington was subsequently enshrined in the Charter of the
Organization in 1967 through the Charter amendment the
Protocol of Buenos Aires.
The provisions of the Act opened the membership to the
admission of Caribbean English-speaking states with the excep-
tion of Belize and Guyana because of existing territorial
controversies with Guatemala and Venezuela, respectively. The
rules of admission were clearly and simply defined and the proce-
dures of admission neither addressed nor resolved the other his-
toric and cultural concerns that earlier engaged the question. The
catharsis of the preceding debates had somewhat served its cause.
On February 23, 1967, the Government of Venezuela spon-
sored the membership of Trinidad and Tobago to the Organization
and was a member of a special committee to which consideration
of the question was entrusted. The history of that period would
therefore not be complete without special mention of the comity
and contribution of the Government of Venezuela to Trinidad and
Tobago membership and indeed that of the entire Caribbean.
There was also a Caribbean perspective to membership of the
OAS. The maturing of the political independence movement in the
Caribbean was not paralleled by-structural economic development.
In the 1960s while political expectation pulsated everywhere,
economic uncertainty and concerns pervaded the region's leader-
ship and peoples. The momentum of sovereignty would not be
contained even in the face of an uncertain economic future.
Externally, political and economic groupings were gestating with
an array of prescribed developmental options. The fledgling
Caribbean region would have to move quickly, largely on its own,
to hold its democracies in place, to develop a critical economic
mass and to outreach alternative economic partners. In such cir-
cumstances two vital ingredients were immediately requisite -
empathy in economic partnership and security through political
association. To the extent possible, traditional relationships must be
maintained but new ones must be assertively engaged.
Regular session of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Michael Arneaud of Trinidad and Tobago presiding.
28 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
It is interesting to recall here the general considerations for
membership as recorded by the Caribbean region. Perhaps the
most important aspect of those decisions was that they were
informed by a wider regional input and involved a much wider
cross-section than the political directorates of the day. Indeed the
question of Caribbean membership of the Organization of
American States was a subject of debate in June 1996 at the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference.
From an overall perspective, the decision-making process
was an informed one and not without due and substantial differ-
ences of view. Some of these differences were not unlike those
which characterized the debate within the Organization itself on
the subject of admission of Caribbean states to membership. They
included concerns for the systems of government in the Latin
America and their possible impact on the democratic system of the
Caribbean; the satellite position of the Organization of American
States vis-h-vis the United States of America and its implications
for the Caribbean states and the compatibility of the Caribbean
existing trading system and political affiliations with those of the
members of the Organization of American States.
At the end of the day, however, the prevailing majority view
was that there was substantial economic benefit to be gained from
membership through access to funding from the Inter-American
Development Bank and the Alliance for Progress, that the tenden-
cy for independent states to cooperate through regional associa-
tions was a most desirable direction for the Caribbean and that the
Organization of American States was a political entity to which it
should therefore belong.
The Caribbean views on the above question might be sum-
marized in the following observation by one of the leaders of the
region: in reacting to what was perceived as resistance by the
Organization's members to membership of Trinidad and Tobago,
Prime Minister Eric Williams had stated in December 1963:
There has been .... a certain resentment that our rights were
being tampered with, that our rights as member of the American
family are not recognized and that we have to depend upon what
ultimately appears to be something of grace instead of as we
insist, something of right.
The overall conclusion which clearly emerged from all posi-
tions was that both through geography and belonging, the right to
membership of the Organization by Caribbean independent states
was an indisputable one. Beyond the initial questioning and resis-
tance by the traditional membership, this point kept resurfacing in
different forms throughout the debate.
Through disquiet and questioning, suspicion and some resis-
tance, stridency and expectation, assertiveness and hope, the tra-
jectory of the admission of Caribbean English-speaking states into
the Organization of American States challenged the resolved of
the Organization, broadened the original configuration of regional
solidarity and effected a reform or revision of the notion of region-
The admission of Caribbean English-speaking states into the
Organization also expanded the content and concept of
Americanism. The amended Charter which recognized that right
of admission to any independent American state, explicitly so pro-
vided. It would be some time, however, if at all, before a func-
tional application of this concept would be generally accepted. In
terms of its expanding membership, this represented the first chal-
lenge for the Organization.
Through full potential membership of all states of the region,
the stage was set for the promotion and pursuit of full regional
economic integration. This was perhaps, and continues to be its
second major challenge of the Organization.
The consolidation of the democratic process might conceiv-
ably be one of the major contributions of Latin America and the
Caribbean as an organization to the wider world. The consolida-
tion of democracy and the entrenchment of human rights amongst
peoples of the hemisphere are required bases for political stability
and human fulfillment. They are necessary but not sufficient
conditions for development. They must now serve as the under-
pinnings to the larger economic cause.
This is the direction in which the Organization has begun to
chart its future course and it is in this area that Caribbean states,
through the recently expanded CARICOM Community and the
Dominican Republic can make their greatest contribution.
In the preparation for its focus and thrust into the new mil-
lennium, the Organization of American States has promulgated a
new vision. That new vision is based primarily on the concept of
partnership for development.
A review of recent agendas of the Conference of Heads of
Government of the Caribbean Community indicates that the
direction proposed by the Organization for the new millennium is
both consonant and compatible with the priority questions which
trouble and engage the sub-region. All independent CARICOM
member states are members of the Organization. How then can
CARICOM contribute in shaping this mutually shared socio-
economic interest to its benefit and enhancement and that of the
It has now been agreed by the membership of the
Organization that the fiftieth anniversary should be an occasion
for review, refocus and retooling. The dynamics of this exercise
will, of course, be determined by the perceived priorities of
member states. CARICOM is the largest and one of the most
sophisticated sub-groupings within the Organization.
Its central membership with the larger association of
Caribbean states, which was brought into being at CARICOM
initiative and whose interests can therefore only be mutually
supportive, affords strategic leverage for the mobilization of
expanded community advocacy within the Organization's mem-
bership. CARICOM has now developed sustained visibility and
profile within the Organization. Its consolidated membership
provides it, for the first time, with the opportunity to articulate its
vision of the region and the hemisphere, and the occasion of the
fiftieth anniversary offers both the circumstance and the moment
for this thematic initiative in a new vision for the Organization. It
is my view, therefore, that a CARICOM vision must certainly
inform the continuing elaboration of the vision of our region for
the next millennium.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 29
OAS Funding for the
Institute of Jamaica
Through the funding of projects and the sponsorship of work-
shops, the Organization of American States has been instru-
mental in assisting the Institute of Jamaica to upgrade its facili-
ties and train personnel. Between 1979 and 1998, staff members
from the Cultural Training Centre (now the Edna Manley School
for the Visual Arts), the National Gallery and the Port Royal
Archaeological Project benefited from training programmes in
museum management, archaeology, conservation and restoration
of ceramics, museology and craft design, conducted in countries
such as Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Italy and the
The OAS also funded a project to upgrade the Institute's
systems towards a National Science Museum. The goal of the
project was to enhance the ability of the museum to become an
educational resource for the public in all aspects of science but
with particular emphasis on local scientific heritage. The specif-
ic objectives were to improve the educational facilities of the
Natural History Division by renovating the Exhibition Gallery,
acquiring audiovisual and graphic equipment, training staff, and
acquiring materials and equipment for collection maintenance
In 1986, under the provisions of this project, the assistant
zoologist attended a three-month programme at the Smithsonian
Institute in Washington, D.C., where training was conducted in
collection management, exhibit design and modem techniques in
curating zoological specimens. The graphic artist pursued a two-
year course at the Edna Manley College to upgrade his skills and
the assistant librarian attended a national workshop on informa-
tion repackaging techniques.
More recently, in 1995, the Organization awarded a'fellow-
ship to the Research Officer in the Museums Division who
attended a six-week course entitled The Preservation of the
Cultural Heritage of the Caribbean at the University of Florida.
Earlier this year, the then Acting Executive Director attended the
meeting of Experts regarding the Establishment of the Inter-
American Bio-Diversity Information Network, held in
Washington, D.C. Participants were invited to attend that meeting
by the Director of the OAS Unit of Sustainable Development.
The Institute of Jamaica continues to enjoy the invaluable
support of the OAS. At present, the Museums Division and the
African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank,
in collaboration with the OAS, are actively involved in the con-
struction of a small museum of Maroon History in Accompong,
St Elizabeth. The OAS also funds the Spanish Town Museum
Project which aims to establish a Museum in the historic city of
Professor Ivan Goodbody, Dr Arnaldo Ventura, and Dr Elaine Fisher (current Director of the Institute of Jamaica), view a display in the
newly re-opened exhibition gallery of the Science Museum in 1991.
30 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
THE OAS WORKING TO REVITALIZE
The Organization of American States has always recognized
the urgent need for programmes which aim to develop the
whole human being as a prerequisite for building strong social
structures. It is further recognized that essential to this devel-
opment process is the creation of a 'cultural confidence' which
has remained an elusive goal in Caribbean societies long after
the attainment of political independence.
Participants create masks for dramatic presentations and role-play exi
training as community cultural facilitators.
eighteen representatives from the Bahamas, Barbados,
Dominica, Jamaica and Panama, and brought together national
projects in Jamaica, Panama and the Bahamas, all of which
shared the broad objective of revitalizing indigenous cultural
forms and expressions. The workshop included discussions of
the elements of cultural manifestations and the appropriate
methods of documenting them.
The second phase of the project
was conducted in Walkerswood, St
SAnn, in March of the following year.
This workshop the community
component carried out the first
phase of training of community
cultural facilitators to find new
avenues of communication through
the use of non-traditional and artistic
media. Some of the techniques and
methodologies included games, role-
play, dance and song and a visual art
The impact of the animation
programme continued to be felt in
-- 0 the Walkerswood community long
after the course ended. One of the
enduring effects was the formation of
a permanent organization for carry-
ing out social and cultural pro-
ercises as part of their grammes in the community.
It was this consciousness and this
aim which gave rise to Training
Methodologies in Community
Cultural Animation, a project orga-
nized by the Jamaica Cultural
Development Commission in collabo-
ration with the Organization of
American States. The OAS provided
funding through their Multinational
Project on Folk Culture and
Education, part of its Regional
Cultural Development Programme
which has been an important vehicle
for supporting the validation of
Caribbean cultural values.
Phase One of the project, a
Documentation Workshop, was held at
the Social Welfare Training Centre on
the Mona Campus of the University of
the West Indies. Participants included
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 31
From test-tuoe to Danana trela: cumng rne ourer layers
to find the meristem: banana plants grown from test-
tube tissue cultures: fully grown banana trees in the
The advantage of tissue culture is that large
numbers of uniform plants can be checked for var-
ious known fungal, bacterial and viral diseases,
and can be certified 'disease-indexed' allowing for
safe transfer of varieties between regions. Tissue
culture is also important for the preservation of
genetic diversity. In vitro genebanks store and
maintain plant species for many years, free from
environmental hazards, thereby reducing the
possibility of extinction of varieties.
Theoretically, it is possible to tissue culture any
plant once the correct media formulations and
growth conditions have been worked out. The
medium contains macro and micronutrients, vita-
mins, hormones and sucrose (as an energy source)
to allow for maximum growth. The hormones are
particularly important in determining the kind of
growth that takes place, such as shoot growth and
multiplication, rooting, callus formation and callus
differentiation into shoots or roots. Development or
growth occurs in stages and may require different
The OAS has assisted the tissue culture project
with a number of activities geared towards develop-
ing the technical capability for the efficient operation
of the tissue culture system. These activities include
Between 1990 and 1995, the
Organization of American States
played an integral part in the expansion of
a tissue culture project implemented by
Jamaica's Scientific Research Council.
This project aimed to increase the
productive capabilities of the Jamaican
agro and horticultural sector by improving
the quality and quantity of planting
material used by our farmers.
Tissue culture is the technique in which small
pieces, termed the explant, are isolated and grown in
a nutrient-rich artificial medium under sterile
controlled conditions. The 'explant' can be any part
of the plant. Some methods utilize the growing
points, for example the meristems, shoot tips or buds,
while other methods utilize leaves, stem and roots.
collaboration and strengthening relations between the SRC and other
regional and international institutions working in the area of plant
biotechnology. Staff members also participated in three international
hands-on tissue culture courses and a special tissue culture course
conducted at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West
The OAS also assisted in the procurement of equipment essen-
tial to the efficient operation of the laboratory. This equipment
included a laminar flow hood, centrifuge, refrigerator, shaker, green-
house, sterilizer, computer, water distillation apparatus and electro-
Since 1995, the tissue culture unit has continued to grow from
strength to strength, bolstered by the invaluable assistance given by
the Organization of the American States in developing the unit's
technical capabilities to a position where it could pursue its present
path towards commercialization and self-sufficiency.
32 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
the development of in vitro propagation protocols, the expansion of
a gene bank and ongoing human resource training.
Both ornamentals, such as anthuriums, heliconias, leather leaf
ferns, African violets, aglonemas, ruscus and orchids, and food crops
such as bananas, cocoas, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams
were identified for development. Protocols for these plants were
successfully adapted and incorporated into the general laboratory
procedures. Advanced biotechnical techniques of virus indexing have
also been incorporated into laboratory activities. In addition, a local
gene bank has been developed for Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes,
yams and anthuriums.
Significant assistance was received from the OAS in instruction
and training. Two regional conferences were funded Tissue Culture
Technology for Improved Farm Production in 1991, and Advances in
Tissue Culture Technology for Improved Planting Material in 1994.
Both conferences played an important role in facilitating regional
Ambassador Richard Bernal deposits the Instrument of Ratification for the Protocol of Managua.
by DR RICHARD L. BERNAL, Ambassador of Jamaica to the US and Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the OAS,
and VILMA MCNISH, Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the OAS
Over the last three decades Jamaica, along with its CARICOM
partners, has been instrumental in diversifying perspectives
and broadening orientation to the Organization of American
States. One of the first actions by Jamaica was the quest to expand
the membership of the Inter-American Development Bank,
(IADB). Jamaica, joined by Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados,
argued vociferously for a change in the admission criteria of the
Bank to allow non-OAS members Guyana and the Bahamas entry
to the institution and access to its loan facilities and technical
advice. After nearly five years of vigorous debate and negotia-
tions, the Bank's charter was amended in 1975 to allow these
countries to become members of the Bank without necessarily
becoming members of the OAS.
Jamaica also spearheaded the movement towards the eventu-
al admission of Guyana and Belize into the Organization. Under
Article 8 of the original Charter provisions, no political entity
whose territory was the subject of litigation or claim between an
extra-continental country and one or more member state of the
Organization could be a member until such time as the dispute was
resolved. The provision essentially excluded Guyana and Belize,
whose territories were the subject of claims by Venezuela and
The struggle began with the issue of Permanent Observer sta-
tus in the OAS. In 1971 the General Assembly established the sta-
tus of Permanent Observer to allow non-member states who par-
ticipated in the programmes of the Organization to follow the work
of its organs. Mindful of the political implications for Guyana and
Belize, the Jamaican delegation contended that the prerequisites for
membership were not applicable to Permanent Observers and
opposed the discriminatory aspects and veto provisions of the ini-
tial proposal. Guyana was eventually admitted as a Permanent
Observer by unanimous decision of the Permanent Council.
Jamaica and the other CARICOM countries continued to challenge
the exclusionary nature of Article 8, which prevented an indepen-
dent Guyana and Belize from joining the OAS. Finally, in 1985, the
Charter was amended to provide for membership of all independent
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 33
states of the hemisphere, thus allowing Guyana and Belize to
become full members in 1991.
The suspension of Cuba is another issue on which Jamaica
has sought to influence the direction of the OAS. When Jamaica
applied for membership in 1969, it was not without some contro-
versy as questions were raised about its continued relations with
Cuba whose membership has been suspended in 1962. Jamaica
made clear its position that it would not sever consular relations
with Cuba, stressing that it had nothing to do with Cuba's expul-
sion from the OAS and the imposition of sanctions. Indeed,
Jamaica's representative, Ambassador Douglas Fletcher, forth-
rightly stated that had Jamaica been a member at the time it would
have opposed the decision. Subsequently, Jamaica and the two
other Caribbean Member States, Barbados and Trinidad and
Tobago, along with Guyana, established diplomatic relations with
Cuba in 1972 and called for universality of membership in the
hemispheric organization. This launched extensive and con-
tentious debates in the Organization which, although they have not
resulted in the re-entry of Cuba into the OAS, demonstrated the
independence of Jamaica and its Caribbean partners in bringing
unpopular issues to the forefront despite pressure from govern-
ments of larger, more powerful states.
The leadership of Jamaica on human rights and democracy
was noteworthy indeed. Ambassador Alfred Rattray's advocacy
was instrumental in crafting a resolution which was critical in the
termination of the Samoya dictatorship in Nicaragua. Jamaica,
along with its CARICOM partners, also participated fully in the
process leading to the restoration of democracy in Haiti. These
countries ensured that Haiti remained a focal issue on the agenda
of the OAS. Under the auspices of the UN/OAS International
Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH), a contingent of Jamaican
troops assisted in monitoring the observance in Haiti of human
rights, maintenance of law and order, the provision of technical
assistance in the field of institution-building and support for the
development of a programme for the protection of human rights.
The contribution of Jamaica has been particularly significant
in the new thrust towards social and economic development
cooperation in the hemisphere through the OAS, evidenced in the
adoption in 1992 of the Protocol of Washington which amended
the Charter. The initial purpose of the Protocol was to address the
issue of democracy and governance in the context of the Charter
following political upheavals in certain countries (Peru,
Guatemala, and Haiti). It was recognized, however, that the polit-
ical context could not be divorced from the socio-economic
context. Thus the Protocol of Washington not only promotes the
consolidation of democracy, it also promotes, through cooperative
action, the economic, social and cultural development of the
member states and the fight to eradicate poverty. This was
followed by the Protocol of Managua in 1993 which established
the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI), the
purpose of which is to promote cooperation among the American
states in order to achieve integral development in the economic,
social, educational, cultural, scientific and technological fields.
Subsequently, in 1994 in Mexico City, the OAS adopted a
new 'Partnership for Development' which recognizes that democ-
racy, development and respect for human rights are mutually rein-
forcing, interdependent concepts. This has been concretized in the
Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development 1997-2001, which
aims to overcome the traditional aid-oriented approach to devel-
opment and encourage forms of cooperation based on partnership.
A key element of this new philosophy, which was pushed by
the CARICOM states, was the need to pay particular attention to
the needs of the small member states. The plan thus specifically
states that 'this concept of cooperation also means that the OAS
limited resources must be effectively targeted at the most pressing
needs of the member states, especially the relatively less devel-
oped countries and those with the smaller economies.'
The promotion of the interests of small states and smaller
economies has been one of the major efforts of Jamaica within the
OAS. In October 1996, a Special Meeting of the Committee on
Hemispheric Security on the Special Security Concerns of Small
Island States was held pursuant to a General Assembly resolution
sponsored by CARICOM states. Jamaica was rapporteur of the
meeting, the major conclusion of which was that, while the subject
of security within the Hemisphere presented issues of common
concern to all OAS Member States, there were particular concerns
regarding the nature and salience of security threats to the small
island states of the Caribbean.
One of the priority areas of the Organization's partnership for
development strategy is the sustainable development of tourism.
With the critical role of tourism in its economy, it was only
logical that Jamaica should assume a principal role in shaping the
Organization's policy in this area. At the Twenty-Seventh Regular
Session of the OAS, in Lima in 1997, a working group was estab-
lished to prepare an Inter-American Programme on Sustainable
Development of Tourism. The working group, chaired by Jamaica,
designed a programme which was adopted by the Inter-American
Council for Integral Development in March 1998. This pro-
gramme seeks to support and promote ministerial dialogue and
policy formulation by member states, to encourage the exchange
of information, knowledge and experience in support of the sus-
tainable development of tourism and to facilitate cooperation in
Benefits of membership
The OAS has been a source of technical assistance to Jamaica
in a number of areas over the years: education, culture, tourism,
science and technology. Jamaicans have also benefited on a con-
tinuous basis from the OAS fellowship and training programme at
the undergraduate and graduate levels. Examples of projects from
which Jamaica has recently benefited include: Spanish Town
Museum (Institute of Jamaica); Mona Orthotics (Sir John Golding
Rehabilitation Centre); the Centre for Excellence for Training of
Teachers of Science; the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica;
the Craft Design, Production and Marketing Development Project
for Falmouth and the Pre-Feasibility Project for the Restoration of
In addition to specific national projects, Jamaica also
participates in regional projects, involving other CARICOM
member states, and multilateral projects, involving the wider OAS
membership. Jamaica, for example, receives support through the
OAS Inter-university Hemispheric Network for Scientific and
Technological Information with assistance for the installation of a
ground station for satellite communication at the facilities of the
University of the West Indies.
The OAS has several specialized organizations which provide
technical assistance to member states. The Pan-American Health
Organization (PAHO) promotes and coordinates regional efforts to
combat disease and promote physical and mental health and the Inter-
American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) assists
states in promoting agricultural productivity and development. The
Inter-American Children's Institute collaborates with Jamaica's
Ministry of Health in carrying out programmes in the fields of health,
education, social legislation, social services and statistics.
34 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
In addition to tangible benefits of projects and human
resource training, the OAS also affords the opportunity for discus-
sion at the hemispheric level of issues and problems which are of
common concern. Inter-American specialized conferences on sub-
jects such as education, labour and justice are regularly convened
to deal with special technical matters or on specific aspects of
hemispheric cooperation. The development of the region's Anti-
Drug Strategy is an example of coordinated hemispheric effort to
reduce illicit drug use, production, and trafficking. Similar
cooperation has occurred with respect to combating money laun-
dering and the control of precursor -chemicals. It was through
hemispheric cooperation within the context of the OAS that an
Inter-American Convention on the Illicit Manufacturing of and
Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other
Related Materials was concluded in Mexico City in November
1997. Jamaica played a leading role in the drafting of this
Convention, given its concerns about the linkage between illicit
trafficking in narcotics and small arms and its domestic concerns
in this regard.
Major challenges facing the OAS
As the OAS celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, member states
have embarked on a process of renewal and modernization of the
organization. This, in part, has been prompted by the new hemi-
spheric agenda mandated by the Summit of Heads of State and
Government, which has given impetus to the need to create a
revitalized Inter-American system capable of responding effec-
tively to the requirements and challenges facing member states.
The Summits, in Miami in December 1994 and in Santiago in
April 1998, entrusted the OAS, to a significant extent, with some
of the principal tasks of coordinating and monitoring the
implementation of these mandates. The Charter of the OAS as
well as the goals of the Council for Integral Development as
described in its Strategic Plan are consistent with the Plans of
Action of the Summits. Canada will be the host country for the
next Summit in the year 2000.
The membership of the OAS will, therefore, have to deter-
mine how to incorporate the hemispheric agenda into the policy
framework of the Organization without sacrificing the priority
areas carefully developed over the last fifty years. This is of par-
ticular concern to all the CARICOM member states. They have
been insistent that the new mandates acquired by the Organization
should not detract from its role in development cooperation. Many
of the larger member states view the OAS as primarily, or solely,
the hemispheric forum for political dialogue and believe that the
Organization should focus less on technical cooperation. The
member states of CARICOM and other smaller member states do
not identify a distinction or dichotomy between the Organization's
policy role and its functional operations.
At the same time that demands on the OAS have increased, it
faces a severely constrained budget. Currently, the viability of the
Organization is threatened by diminished resource flows to the
regular fund. The annual budget of the Organization is approxi-
mately US$80 million. In recent years, however, failure of some
member states to pay their contribution on time and in full has
placed the Organization in a difficult financial situation, forcing it
to take extra-ordinary measures to stay afloat. Outstanding arrears
stand at over US$40 million with the United States, the largest
contributor, owing almost half that amount. These and other issues
are being addressed by a Special Working Group on the
Strengthening and Modernization of the OAS.
Jamaica became a member of the OAS on August 20, 1969 at a ceremony presided over by the then Secretary General, Galo Plazo
(centre) and attended by Jamaica's first Permanent Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Edgerton Richardson (left).
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 35
Image of the OAS in Jamaica
Although modest in comparison to the United Nations devel-
opment programme, the technical cooperation and human
resource training programme offered by the OAS represents an
important element in Jamaica's Official Development Assistance.
Yet, after thirty years of membership in the Organization, the work
of the OAS goes virtually unnoticed except in academic and rele-
vant government circles. This lack of visibility is not unique to
Jamaica and it has prompted the Organization to examine ways in
which it can enhance its image.
Within the Jamaican context, there are steps which can be
taken to improve public awareness of the Organization and its
work. First, greater recognition, at the political level, of the OAS
and its contribution to national development could be achieved
through regular profiling of projects and activities sponsored by
the OAS together with public acknowledgment of this contribu-
tion. Such increased awareness is particularly crucial at the project
implementation stage. Recognition should not be restricted to the
OAS itself but should include the contribution of its subsidiary
bodies such as PAHO and IICA.
Several Jamaican students are granted fellowships by the OAS
each year in a variety of fields. Beneficiaries of these programmes
should be involved in informing the public about the important
contribution the Organization has made and how it impacts on
national development. At the tertiary level, more study should be
devoted to the Organization and the Inter-American system in
general. The OAS offers scope for horizontal cooperation among
member states and one way of accomplishing this would be an
exchange of academia and students under the auspices of the OAS.
Jamaica's future influence
Jamaica's active participation in the OAS is an essential ele-
ment of its foreign policy. The comprehensive reform exercise in
which the Organization is engaged provides an indispensable
opportunity to shape the Organization to respond to Jamaica's
interests and those of the English-speaking Caribbean. CARICOM
comprises a significant block in the OAS and, acting in concert,
this sub-group can wield considerable influence and leverage
within the Organization.
In the context of the larger political, economic and social
objectives of the OAS, Jamaica should seek to ensure that its
priorities are not subsumed or neglected in the pursuit of the hemi-
spheric agenda. Development cooperation and its component
parts, the problems confronting smaller economies in the move-
ment towards trade liberalization, hemispheric integration and the
security of small island states in all its dimensions, are some of the
priority areas which, for Jamaica, must continue to be placed high
on the agenda of the Organization.
The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not those of the Government of Jamaica
Headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, DC.
36 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
Redefining Jamaican Art
Good art does not provide answers,
it poses questions.
IW THEN I WAS INVITED TO WRITE THIS ARTICLE,
Y controversy was raging about the National
Gallery of Jamaica's 1997 Annual National exhibi-
tion.1 Although most of the debate was about the
selection procedures, which some felt are too exclu-
sive and biased towards the local 'avant-garde', the
exhibition raised important questions about the cur-
rent direction of Jamaican art.2
n the early eighties, when David Boxer wrote the essay
Jamaican Art 1922-1982, he could convincingly argue the
existence of a Jamaican school which was inherently pluralist but
nonetheless cohesive.3 The Annual Nationals of that era, such as
the first one I saw in 1984, confirmed this notion and comfortably
blended the work of all generations of twentieth-century
Jamaican art, from Edna Manley and Mallica 'Kapo' Reynolds,
via Barrington Watson and Osmond Watson, to Eric Cadien and
Robert 'African' Cookhorne (now known as Omari Ra).
The 1997 Annual National presented a very different pic-
ture: the older, more traditionalist artists were virtually
absent-although most of those who are still active had been
invited-and the exhibition was dominated by artists such as
Milton George, Petrona Morrison, Charles Campbell, David
Boxer, Helen Elliot and Nicholas Morris, whose work departs
in various ways, formally and thematically, from the conven-
tions of Jamaican art. Because of the absences, the exhibition
was not entirely representative of current artistic production in
Jamaica but what was on view seemed to challenge the notion
of a recognizably Jamaican school.
The Annual National exhibitions help to define what is
current in Jamaican art and, as a result, always generate dis-
cussion. The intensity and acrimony of
the recent debates, however, are
unprecedented and reflect a deep
malaise within the Jamaican art world.
These are indeed challenging times for
the local art community. The once flour-
ishing art market has all but collapsed
and artists and art dealers have seen their
earnings significantly reduced. The
private sector, until recently the main
source of art patronage, is itself in a deep
crisis and public sector support for the
arts is minimal, as it has been for many
years. To compound these problems, Christopher Clare, Blac
there are no independent organizations 131.5x 56cm. Photog
in Jamaica to provide the financial and practical assistance
artists need to function in a non-commercial context:
At the same time, there are unprecedented opportunities
for the regional and international exposure of Caribbean art.
Although commercial interest has so far been limited,
Jamaican art is in frequent demand for international biennials
and more specialized exhibitions of Jamaican or Caribbean
art.4 Not all Jamaican artists have benefited equally, however,
since most of these overseas exhibitions accommodate only the
'avant-garde' of contemporary Jamaican art. The Havana bien-
nial, for instance, is at present almost entirely an exhibition of
installation art and includes very little conventional painting or
sculpture.5 International interest has therefore reinforced the
perception that the established values and hierarchies of the
Jamaican school are being threatened by external, culturally
alien forces. Such concerns have also been voiced elsewhere in
the Caribbean and Latin America, where similar developments
have taken place.
Little has been written so far on the most recent develop-
ments in Jamaican art and its context, although Petrona
Morrison, Charles Campbell and Nicholas Morris have
contributed some of their insights to the Sunday Gleaner's art
column.6 The reaction of conservative commentators has,
predictably, ranged from indifference to open hostility. The
more vocal ones have dismissed contemporary Jamaican art as
'un-Jamaican' and 'too Western-influenced'.7 One has even
suggested that the current visibility of the 'avant-garde' has
been masterminded by an autocratic 'art establishment' that
seeks to promote 'abstraction' at the expense of 'representa-
tional' art.8 These outright dismissals and improbable conspir-
acy theories say more about the sorry state of art criticism in
Jamaica than about contemporary Jamaican art.
boardd #1: Echoes of a Haunting Memory, 1998. Mixed Media
aph courtesy of the artist.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 37
The local and international power structures that affect the
production, exposure and assessment of Jamaican art certainly
need to be examined but this cannot be done convincingly if
what is happening now in art itself is so poorly understood. The
changes that are currently seen cannot merely be attributed to
'foreign' influences or the machinations of any particular inter-
est group. More fundamental and authentic forces are at work.
Instead of denouncing these new trends as deviations from
what Jamaican art should rightfully be, we should therefore
examine what the significant changes are, why they came
about and how they relate to broader cultural changes in
In turning my attention to the 'avant-garde', I am not dis-
puting the importance and validity of the more conventional
aspects of Jamaican art. However, the routinization and mass-
production that accompanied the art market 'boom' of the
eighties and early nineties have compromised the credibility of
some of Jamaica's most popular, 'culturally correct' artists and,
even more, their often equally successful imitators. Although
most of our critics have failed to acknowledge the negative
effects of excessive commercialization, there are artists who
have challenged the conventions of the local art market in their
work and this individualistic development has contributed to
the changes discussed here.
The present debates are not unique to Jamaica-many
post-colonial societies wrestle with similar issues. This can be
seen in the writings of Christopher Cozier who has himself
been in the front-line of contemporary art in Trinidad, as an
artist and commentator. He wrote:
In Trinidad, the orthodoxy is to view culture only as a
manifestation of race and diaspora.... The crisis that
our artists face resides in the difference between rep-
resenting culture and creating culture; seeing culture
as a static model or as a flexible and expanding phe-
nomenon. So far the act of painting has remained as
no more than a form of production which perpetuates
the existing conventions about who and what we are.
It is therefore the end-product of a cultural discourse
rather than a potential starting point.... This is the
challenge that our contemporary artists face and to
some degree are engaging.9
Neither are these debates entirely new to Jamaica. Already
in the sixties, artists such as Eugene Hyde challenged the
constraints of the indigenist canon and embraced 'Western'
avant-garde concepts such as abstraction and neo-figuration, in
the name of universality. Contemporary Jamaican artists, on
the other hand, have shown remarkably little interest in the
hotly debated subject of the 'Jamaican-ness' of their work,
although their conceptual and formal innovations are much
more fundamental than those of their predecessors. Their work
inevitably raises the broader question of what 'Jamaican-ness'
or 'Caribbean-ness' has come to mean, at the end of the twen-
tieth century, to the individual and the society.
The Cuban critic and curator Gerardo Mosquera has intro-
duced the term 'post-utopia' to describe the cultural climate of
late twentieth-century Cuba. Contemporary Jamaican culture,
also, has been crucially shaped by the disillusionment and
turmoil that followed the utopian social and political experi-
ments of the seventies. The 'liberalization' of the eighties and
nineties has failed to bring the socio-political stability and
economic progress many had hoped for and anyone living in
Jamaica today experiences a high level of insecurity.
Meanwhile, the material culture has changed significantly and
modern technology, particularly cable and satellite television,
has dramatically affected social and cultural values. Such
developments amount, in part, to Westernization but they have
also generated a new awareness of the political significance of
cultural identity. The new communication media have also
created new opportunities: the largely uncensored Internet, for
instance, is a source of cultural empowerment for those within
the 'periphery' of the metropolitan West.
One important agent of cultural change is often over-
looked: migration to England and North America, which has
been an integral part of the Jamaican experience since the late
forties. The Jamaican diaspora now almost equals the local
population. Despite the racism and cultural marginalization
they have often encountered, Jamaican migrants and their
descendants are active participants in contemporary metropol-
itan life and it is simplistic to suggest that Jamaica is merely a
passive recipient of Western influences. The local impact of
migration is wide-ranging. It has provided a new avenue for
social and economic mobility for the urban and rural working
class, across the rigid class boundaries that still exist in
Jamaican society. Remittances from family members abroad
play an important stabilizing role in the Jamaican economy.
Although migration has also resulted in a 'brain drain', many
younger persons of Jamaican descent who have been educated
abroad are now returning to the island and are contributing to
the current cultural changes, even though their stay might be
only temporary. Among them are several artists, for example,
Charles Campbell who grew up in Canada.
The quest for the definition of an indigenous cultural
identity, which has guided much of the development of modern
Jamaican art, implies that artists can speak on behalf of a
broader constituency or, even, for the nation. This presupposes
a social, cultural and ideological unity which does not appear to
exist in Jamaica today (and which has, arguably, never existed).
Although identity, nationality and race are still important
subjects, Jamaican artists of the nineties clearly prefer to speak
for themselves, showing instead a new disregard for entrenched
cultural and artistic dogma. Many of them gravitate towards the
autobiographical. Unlike the affirmative stance of the
nationalist school, contemporary Jamaican art questions rather
than reassures. It provides only the most tentative and ambiva-
lent answers, if any at all. More than any formal characteristic,
this open-ended, individualist perspective defines contempo-
rary Jamaican art.
Most of the artists associated with these developments
emerged in the eighties and nineties but it is hard to determine
when exactly this redefinition process started. The personal
and social anxieties of the late seventies and the 1980 general
election period was graphically expressed in the work of
Eugene Hyde, David Boxer, Milton George and even Edna
Manley-particularly in her Ghetto Mother (1981). Their work
at this time was perhaps the first sign of a change of direction
in Jamaican art. Shortly thereafter, in the early eighties, a new
generation of painters emerged from the Jamaica School of Art.
38 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
Among them were Omari Ra, Khalfani Ra (then known as
Douglas Wallace) and Stanford Watson, a fairly cohesive group
that shares a militant African-nationalist orientation and a
highly recognizable expressionist style rooted in the tensions
of Kingston life and the aftermath of 1980. There was a strong
affinity between the work of these young artists and those who
in the seventies were already departing from the mainstream,
particularly Boxer and Milton George. This interaction set the
tone for contemporary Jamaican art of the eighties.
David Boxer has had a particularly wide-ranging impact
on the younger generation: he has pioneered new media such
as installation and video art in Jamaica and his work exempli-
fies the interplay between the political and the personal that is
so typical of contemporary Jamaican art. In his paintings and
mixed media works, Boxer examines the existential issues
facing the individual in a post-colonial, multi-cultural society
by means of a surreal iconography based on images and
objects appropriated from a variety of historical and present-
day sources; they range from Taino art, ancient Greek sculp-
ture and African antiquities to cable television images of the
Gulf War. Omari Ra's political intentions are more specific and
radical, but he samples an equally eclectic array of sources,
including literary themes such as Melville's Moby Dick and
traditional and modern popular culture such as Haitian Vaudou
and comic strips.
The influence Milton George has had on the younger
generation is more diffuse although his instinctive, highly
individualist expressionism has helped to define contemporary
Jamaican art. His work is almost entirely autobiographical-a
sometimes humorous, sometimes anguished diary of his turbu-
lent personal life-although political subjects occasionally
appear, usually as satirical portraits of politicians and other
public figures. His most recent works are inspired by his
regular visits to Cuba and illustrate that his understanding of the
emotive and sensuous power of paint and colour is still
unsurpassed in Jamaican art.
Lawrence Graham Brown, A Light in the Alley, Only Light up this Heart
of Mine, (detail)1995. Assemblage, Height 24.5 cm.
Photograph Donnette Zacca, courtesy of the National Gallery.
Charles Campbell, Before Tomorrow, 1995.
Oil and encaustic on canvas, 153 x 122cm.
Photograph Donnette Zacca, courtesy of the National Gallery.
In contrast to Milton's work, social and political consider-
ations are entirely absent from the minimalist abstractions by
Hope Brooks, another artist who has been in the vanguard of
Jamaican art since the seventies. She finds her primary
inspiration in nature and the landscape and her formalist
emphasis on texture, pattern and structure is balanced by a
highly personal, subjective interpretation of her subjects. The
autobiographical overtones of her work recently became more
pronounced when she started inscribing diary-like texts onto
the layered surfaces of her paintings. Hope Brooks is an early
exponent of the more cerebral, often minimalist trend which
has recently overtaken the dramatic neo-expressionism that
dominated the eighties. This contrasting trend is represented in
its most radical form by Laura Hamilton whose colourful 'trop-
ical' semi-abstracts of a few years ago gradually gave way to
elemental, near-monochromatic, abstract compositions.
The formalist abstractions of Laura Hamilton are, howev-
er, rare in Jamaican art of the nineties. Instead, there is a
characteristic focus on the human body, be it often in a frag-
mented, schematic or symbolic form. This is evident in the
work of Nicholas Morris who uses fragmentation, obliteration
and repetition to en-code text and image in ironic explorations
of issues of identity, sexuality and relationships. His recent
paintings are increasingly minimalist, with a strong tension
between abstracted images, carefully drawn figurative frag-
ments and, occasionally, text. Although communication is a
central theme, Nicholas Morris's work does not surrender itself
easily and the lack of a clear, site-specific image or message
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 39
has challenged a public accustomed to
being spoon-fed when it comes to mean-
ing in art. Not surprisingly, Morris is
frequently accused of not being authenti- -
cally Jamaican in his work.
The shift towards the conceptual can
also be seen in the work of Charles
Campbell who frequently juxtaposes
fragments of academically painted
images with text and open areas of can-
vas. Unlike Morris and Hamilton,
Charles Campbell brings a more distinct
sense of time and place to his work and
frequently refers to social and historical
issues, including the Middle Passage, a
recurrent theme in contemporary
Jamaican art. In his work, the schematic
representation of the body in the famous
slave ship diagrams is transformed into a l
provocative self-image, a disquieting Lorraine Morgan. Untitled, 1998 Collage print, 21 x 32cm.
exploration of physical intimacy pro- Photograph courtesy of the artist.
duced in a society which is traditionally
uncomfortable with images of the male
body. Similar developments can be seen .1
in the work of Omari Ra whose recent I .
explorations of the politics of race, sexu-
ality and violence are disturbingly
The subject of sexual orientation is
still a taboo issue in Jamaica although a
few younger artists have addressed it
more openly. Lawrence Graham-Brown, I
for instance, has challenged the local pub-
lic with the homoerotic 'leather and
chains' imagery in his paintings and
assemblages although they also shock
because of their deliberate squalor (a
recent assemblage included a dead cock-
roach). As can be expected, the response
to his work has often been hostile.
Otherwise, the subject is still very much
'in the closet' and merely alluded to in the Nari Ward, Amazing Grace, 1993. Installation at the Harlem Fireh
Photograph courtesy of the artist.
Helen Elliot, Recall and Response, 1997. Installation, 5 panels, each 54 x 18cm. Photograph courtesy of the artist.
40 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
Carol 'Annie' Hamilton, Quilt Story 1993? Mixed media.
Photograph courtesy of the artist
Andrew Dixon, The Art School? (detail), 1996. Poster.
Photograph courtesy of the artist.
:tjj .. ,
Nicholas Morris, The Back Tally, 1997.
Mixed media on paper on canvas.
Photograph courtesy of the artist.
David Pinto, Untitled ceramic pieces, 1997.
Anagama fired clay and wood, Height 170 cm. (approx)
Photograph courtesy of the artist.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
David Boxer, The Slave Ship Cabinet (detail) 1987.
Mixed media installation.
Photograph courtesy of the artist.
work of a few other artists. In a society where individuals are still
at risk of being convicted, or worse, because of their sexual
preferences, this reserve is certainly understandable but it does
prevent meaningful discussion on an important subject in
contemporary Jamaican art.
We have been spared the sensationalist excesses of Young
British Art, such as Damian Hirst's 'dead
cow' installations, but contemporary .
Jamaican art has generated its own share
of controversy. One of the most discussed
examples was David Boxer's Slave Ship
Cabinet (1997), an installation shown
locally at the 1997Annual Exhibition. The
work included live 'black molly' fish
displayed in wine glasses and caused an
uproar among local animal rights activists
because most of the fish died. Few have
questioned why the controversy about the
fish, although in itself justifiable, super-
seded any debate about the historical and
present-day social questions raised by the
work, particularly the dehumanizing
effect of the Middle Passage and dis-
turbingly comparable recent events such
as the 1992 Constant Spring lock-up inci-
dent, when three people died of asphyxia-
n in an Roberta Stoddart, Ro
tion in an overcrowded police cell. Photograph Donnette
Although her explorations of race, class and gender issues
are often as disturbing as those of Lawrence Graham-Brown,
David Boxer or Charles Campbell, Roberta Stoddart's paint-
ings are very popular with the local buying public. They are
meticulously and traditionally crafted, in a fanciful, allegorical
manner often reminiscent of Colin Garland. Her popularity
suggests that the Jamaican art public is to some extent tolerant
of controversial subject matter as long as the formal and narra-
tive conventions of Jamaican art are riot challenged. This helps
to explain why painting remains the dominant medium in
contemporary Jamaican art. Assemblage and installation art are
increasingly common, however, which is significant in this
post-market era because these process-oriented art forms
challenge the cherished notion of the carefully crafted and,
therefore, saleable art object.
Boxer was the first Jamaican artist to venture systematical-
ly in this direction. In the late eighties, however, there was a
change when Petrona Morrison and Margaret Chen returned to
the island after studies in North America. The monumental
works of these two artists have helped to introduce a new sense
of scale into Jamaican sculpture, beyond the 'living room'
format favoured by local galleries and patrons. Petrona
Morrison creates towering totem structures, reliefs and sanctu-
ary-like installations from discarded materials such as scrap
wood and corroded metal. The choice of materials reinforces
the social and personal symbolism of her work, which revolves
around the themes of 'transformation, renewal and healing'.10
Like many other Jamaican artists, she has consciously but not
literally turned to African art as a source and her work is often
reminiscent of Dogon sculpture and Kongo power objects.
These references reflect her allegiance to Africa as her ances-
tral 'home' but, as tentative 're-constructions', they also
acknowledge her place in the 'New World' as a member of the
Petrona Morrison's work is highly abstracted but
frequently alludes to the body, as a powerful metaphor of the
transience of the human experience. This theme is also central
to the work of Margaret Chen, although her wood reliefs and
se Hall Revisited, 1993.0il on Canvas, 61 x 92cm.
Zacca, courtesy of the National Gallery.
42 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
installations have a material solidity that contrasts with the
fragility of Petrona Morrison's work. Margaret Chen first
articulated her current interests in her Steppe series of the early
eighties. Her series of large plywood reliefs represents a
journey into her ancestral subconscious as a Jamaican of
Chinese descent. She has continued exploring these themes in
her recent work, particularly in the installations and reliefs
from the Cross-Section series, which she started in 1988,
around the time of her return to Jamaica.
The themes of memory and the life-and-death cycle also
dominate the work of Anna Henriques who explores her
personal and ancestral history as a Jamaican of Jewish-
Portuguese and Chinese descent in eclectic, baroque mixed-
media works. Part of Anna Henriques's 'personal mythology'
is her identification with the extinct aboriginal Taino popula-
tion of Jamaica; many of her works include references to Taino
art combined with Judaic and Christian symbols. She recently
came to international attention with The Book of Mechtilde
(1997), a richly illuminated book of poetry about her mother,
who died when Anna was an adolescent."
Except for Milton George and Lawrence Graham-Brown,
who are both in essence self-taught, all the artists discussed so
far are formally trained, most of them abroad and up to
postgraduate level. This does not mean the self-taught 'intu-
itives' have been sidelined in contemporary Jamaican art. Most
'intuitives' are older than the other artists discussed here but
their interests do overlap, which raises once more the question
of whether 'intuitive' art can be separated convincingly from
the mainstream. The work of Leonard Daley and Ras Dizzy, for
instance, is also in essence autobiographical and compares
formally to the work of 'mainstream' artists such as Milton
George, Omari Ra and, in the case of Ras Dizzy, even Nicholas
Morris and Laura Hamilton. It therefore comes as no surprise
Prudence Lovell, Pathology of the Feast, 1997. Collage, 105 x 96 cm.
Photograph courtesy of the National Gallery.
Ras Dizzy (Birth Livingstone), Birds on the Jamaica Tropical, 1994.
Oil on Canvas, 30 x 42 cm.
Photograph Maria LaYacona, courtesy of the National Gallery.
that they have been included in major overseas exhibitions of
contemporary Jamaican art such as the travelling exhibition
New World Imagery (1995-96).12
Concern has been expressed about what is seen as the
disproportionate role of expatriate artists in the Jamaican art
scene.13 It is certainly ironic that expatriate artists who adopt
a recognizably 'Jamaican' idiom are more readily accepted by
conservative observers than Jamaican-born artists who,
directly or indirectly, challenge the conventions of the
'Jamaican school'. Indeed, non-Jamaicans do not play a
major part in contemporary Jamaican art, although there are a
few exceptions such as the English-born artists Prudence
Lovell and Rex Dixon. The grid-like structure and reduced
colour of Lovell's large-scale collages, in particular, reminds
one of the work of David Boxer and Nicholas Morris and her
conceptual concerns are also related. She often draws from
news stories that appear in the local and international media,
such as the 'mad cow' scare.
It is certainly true is that contemporary Jamaican art is at
present dominated by overseas-trained Jamaican artists.
However, the Edna Manley College has always played an
important role in the development of contemporary Jamaican
art.14 The school is a meeting place for practising artists and a
source of professional employment which has allowed many
artists to survive financially without having to compromise
their work. Although the fine arts departments were more
low-key in the late eighties and early nineties, the study and
work climate at the school has recently been invigorated by the
contribution made by the lecturers, including Omari Ra,
Margaret Chen, Nicholas Morris, David Boxer, Roberta
Stoddart and Petrona Morrison.
Recent changes in the curriculum, which allow for more
flexibility, are also paying off and the last couple of years have
produced some very promising young artists. Among the
painters are Zawdie Reece, Karen Chung-Williams, Kericee
Fletcher and Christopher Clare; in sculpture, Yohance Douglas,
Michael Bonnick and Christopher Irons. Time will tell whether
these young artists will make a significant impact although
their graduation work reflects not only the main trends in
contemporary Jamaican art but also an ability to go beyond
what is already becoming established. Christopher Clare
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 43
presented a particularly convincing group of imposing, semi-
abstract paintings, most of them inspired by the slave ship
diagram that reappears throughout contemporary Jamaican art.
The mixed media installations by Christopher Irons also
generated interest with their unusual combination of serious
sociopolitical commentary and outlandish, often scatological
imagery. Both graduated in 1998.
Some of the school's most interesting recent graduates
have come out of the part-time programme, which attracts
highly motivated students. One of these is Kathleen Russell-
Miller, a 1997 graduate, who presented a series of apocalyptic
photo-collages, made up primarily of disturbing pornographic
images, that address the troubled gender politics in Jamaican
society. In 1996, Andrew Dixon, a part-time graphic design
student, captured the attention of the viewing public with a
graduation project entitled The Art School?, a daring, well-
orchestrated spoof on the school itself and, indirectly, on one of
Jamaica's most 'sacred' nationalist icons, Edna Manley's
Negro Aroused (1935), which is part of the school's logo. The
surprisingly positive response to Dixon's project showed that
there is redemption in self-satire.
For many years, tuition in fine art printmaking was
limited at the school but now a well-equipped printmaking
department has been established, with local printmakers such
as Cheryl Daley-Champagnie and, more recently, the Cuban
Eugenio d'Melon making an input. Although the department
has made the discipline more popular, Jamaican printmaking
has a long way to go, especially when compared to Cuba and
Puerto Rico where printmaking has truly been the 'art of the
possible'. Too many of our young print-makers have lapsed
into the mass-production of almost identical-looking colla-
graphs made with rather predictable found items such as
motor-block seals and scraps of crocus bag, printed in graded
oil colours on handmade paper. There are exceptions, howev-
er, such as Lorraine Morgan, whose starkly monochromatic
abstract print collages are unassuming because of their small
scale but of a consistent quality and integrity, or Judith
Campbell whose semi-representational compositions have
The distinction between 'fine art' and 'craft' is a long-
standing matter of controversy in Jamaica although Jamaican
ceramists, who have been most the vocal participants in this
debate, have perhaps unwittingly perpetuated it by insisting
that ceramics be regarded as a separate and distinct discipline.
Although pottery, defined in the narrow sense, remains well-
established, some contemporary artists have blurred the
traditional distinctions between ceramics, sculpture and instal-
lation art, as can be seen in the sculptural ceramics of David
Pinto, who recently started integrating the wooden 'base' as a
sculptural element in his work. Pinto uses a Japanese anaga-
ma wood-fired kiln and the formal characteristics of his ves-
sels and free-form shapes are clearly influenced by traditional
Japanese ceramics, although there are often hints of the
Comparable developments can be seen in other disci-
plines, such as Helen Elliott's large-scale work in enamel,
which combines fine arts and industrial techniques. Her work
is based on recollections of her parental home, another
example of the importance of the subject of memory in
Joyce Harrison, I.D., 1997 Photograph, 50 x 38.5cm.
Photograph Maria La Yacona, courtesy of the National Gallery.
contemporary Jamaican art. The thematic interest is also
evident in the formally innovative fibre work Carol 'Annie'
Hamilton produced on the subjects of 'home' and 'family'
while studying at Goldsmiths College in England.
Similarly, photography has become integrated into the
mainstream of contemporary Jamaican art, as has happened
globally. Contemporary Jamaican photography has moved far
beyond the conventions of craftsmanship and indigenous
imagery that have dominated local art photography since the
nineteenth century. Several interesting young photographers
have recently appeared who experiment freely with manipula-
tions of the negative, photographic processing and printing.
Among them are Paul Stoppi, whose composite photographs
rely on repetition and inversion to create abstract images, and
Juliet Robinson who uses chemical processes to alter her
images. Robinson's 1997 series of satirical, disguised portraits
of artists and other personalities brought new life to the well-
worn formula of the celebrity portrait. Another noteworthy
young photographer is Joyce Harrison, who was born in
England to Jamaican parents but recently moved to the island.
Her dramatic close-ups of skin textures explore the subjects of
race, identity and ageing.
Jamaica's most acclaimed and influential contemporary
photographer, Albert Chong, migrated to the USA when he was
young. He is best known for his extended series of Ancestral
Thrones in which he has explored his identity as a Jamaican
migrant of Afro-Chinese descent. For this series, Chong has
transformed common chairs into ancestral shrines by covering
them with family photographs, personal documents and
44 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
ritualistic items that evoke the syncretic religions of the
Caribbean, such as bones, cowrie shells and his own cut-off
'dreadlocks'. His 'thrones' are either exhibited as installations
in their own right or used as the basis for spectacular manipu-
Albert Chong is part of an emerging generation of
Jamaican diaspora artists whose work is often comparable to
that of their Jamaica-based contemporaries although they have
developed in near isolation from the Jamaican art world (a few,
such as the painters Keith Morrison, Kofi Kayiga and Bryan
McFarlane, however, left Jamaica as adults) Predictably, the
subjects of race, migration and 'Jamaican-ness' frequently
appear in their work. Others resist being labelled as 'Jamaican'
and it is often difficult to separate their work convincingly
from that of other artists of Caribbean descent or, more gener-
ally, from African-American or black British art. Albert
Chong's exhibitions in Jamaica have had a liberating influence
on local photography but most other diaspora artists are still
scarcely known here. Since migration is a legitimate and
crucial part of contemporary Jamaican culture, it is important
to include these artists in the narrative of Jamaican art history,
especially since their work helps to open up the sometimes
insular local art scene.
It is unfortunate, for instance, that the Jamaican public is
still unaware of the work of Nari Ward. He lives in Harlem,
New York, a neighbourhood with a historical West Indian
presence, and this environment is important to his work. Most
of Ward's large installations and assemblages are made from
discarded objects such as broken household appliances, old
baby strollers or car tyres, which are tied into large package
forms with old fire hoses or covered with layers of caramelized
sugar. Like Petrona Morrison, he transforms urban squalor into
spiritually moving objects and environments reminiscent of the
African-American yard exhibition tradition and the odd assort-
ments of possessions many urban street people carry with them
in shopping carts. His use of materials such as sugar and dried
codfish-a motif he shares with Chong-alludes to the planta-
tion experience and several installations more specifically
relate to his Jamaican background.
While they suffer from the marginalization and iokenism
that is often meted out to 'minority' artists in the metropolitan
art world, Jamaican diaspora artists usually have better access
to postgraduate schooling, non-commercial funding, academic
employment and other opportunities than their Jamaica-based
counterparts. Equally important, they work in a stimulating
critical and theoretical context which is lacking in Jamaica.
The writings on the subjects of migration and multi-culturalism
by the England-based cultural critic Stuart Hall, for instance,
have been acclaimed worldwide although he is still insuf-
ficiently known in his native Jamaica.
Albert Chong, Internal Dialogue, 1997 Installation, 275 x 550cm.
Photograph courtesy of the artist.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 45
Locally, there have been virtually no attempts to articulate
a theoretical framework for the most recent developments in
Jamaican art and culture. This stands in sharp contrast with the
work that is being done here on Caribbean literature by
J. Michael Dash, among others. The current debates .on
indigenism, negritude and criolite in literature could easily be
applied to the visual arts but little cross-fertilization has
occurred although Petrine Archer-Straw introduced the notion
of 'New World' culture in her catalogue essay for the New
World Imagery exhibition. Otherwise, theoretical considera-
tions seem to go no further than a few dogmatic notions about
'cultural relevance' that date from the seventies, without regard
for the recent cultural changes. This lack of interest in theory
has, perhaps, prevented the intellectualism that has sometimes
burdened contemporary developments elsewhere but it has
definitely contributed to the critical vacuum in which contem-
porary Jamaican art finds itself.
Jamaica does not have a particularly distinguished history
in the field of art criticism. With few exceptions, such as Gloria
Escoffery's idiosyncratic but thoughtful contributions to
Jamaica Journal in the eighties and the recent writings of some
of our younger artists, Jamaican art criticism has always lacked
intellectual rigour and there is no sign of change. Instead, there
is a sense that anything goes when it comes to writing about
art. Consequently, most of what is published is characterized
by inadequate research and narrow, simplistic thinking.
Jamaican art criticism has also long been marred by a tenden-
cy to resort to personal attacks in response to professional
differences, a deplorable by-product of the small size of our
These problems are compounded by a lack of specialized
publications. Arts Jamaica (1982-85), the only local art journal
to date, was short-lived; Jamaica Journal does not appear
regularly enough to contribute significantly to the establish-
ment of a critical context; and our newspapers and general-
interest periodicals lack the intellectual substance to do so.
Expectations were therefore high when the interdisciplinary
critical journal Small Axe started publication last year. While
the journal has published insightful and provocative articles
and interviews on philosophy, literature, politics and gender
issues, the contributions on art have disappointed.
The underlying problem is that the Jamaican academic
world does not seem to take the visual arts seriously. What
Jamaica really needs is a larger, more varied and better
qualified corps of critics and art historians and it is essential
that these be educated locally and on local issues. While the
Edna Manley College already contributes to this through its
word-based courses, the need will not be satisfied until
students can do postgraduate work in these fields in Jamaica.
The onus is, therefore, on the University of the West Indies to
give the study of the visual arts a more significant place in its
curriculum and to establish strong links with other disciplines
such as literature and social history.
Meanwhile, local art criticism has failed contemporary
Jamaican art (and Jamaican art, generally). There are other
contextual problems, such as the non-existence of a national
arts council to address the need for non-commercial patronage,
the lack of an active artists' association, the unresolved contro-
versies around the National Gallery of Jamaica, the local elec-
tronic media's recent lack of interest in cultural matters and the
general public's growing alienation from Jamaican art. A
complete, in-depth overview of recent developments in
Jamaican art and its context cannot be offered here, however,
but it is hoped that this article has demonstrated that the main
obstacle affecting contemporary Jamaican art is one of
Contemporary Jamaican art does pose aesthetic, intellec-
tual and emotional challenges that may be uncomfortable to
some but it is intimately linked to contemporary Jamaica life
and is undeniably 'Jamaican'. It is pointless to dispute its
legitimacy. What is needed is a broader, less essentialist
definition of Jamaican art. Contemporary Jamaican art
deserves to be approached with an open mind and .must be
studied more carefully, not only because of its artistic merits
but also because of the insights it provides as to what moves
Perhaps the most damaging preconception of all is that
contemporary Jamaican art presents a threat to the more
conventional aspects of Jamaican art. It is a misrepresentation,
for instance, that the National Gallery is over-promoting the
'avant-garde'. Any objective look at the quota of conventional
and 'avant-garde' Jamaican art in the gallery's permanent
installation and temporary exhibitions will show that this is not
a problem. In fact, the permanent installation is almost
entirely devoted to conventional Jamaican art and does not
include the artists who have emerged since the mid-eighties.
There is no reason why the 'avant-garde' cannot coexist in
a productive critical and aesthetic relationship with the more
conventional aspects of Jamaican art. We may well find that the
two trends, if they are separate and distinct trends at all, are
more closely related than recent controversies suggest. What
we certainly do not need is the contentious, adversarial and
ultimately destructive climate that exists in the Jamaican art
world today and which benefits nobody. This malaise has much
more to do with the context in which art operates locally than
with what is happening in the art itself. It is the responsibility
of our art community to address these problems constructively.
1. The Annual National exhibition currently has three components:
i) Work selected from submissions by Jamaican artists or artists living
in Jamaica by a panel of five judges appointed annually by the
National Gallery; ii) Work by a group of specially invited artists
selected by the National Gallery's curators on the basis of local and
international recognition; and iii) A special tribute exhibition to that
year's Musgrave medallist(s) in the visual arts. Under the current sys-
tem, new names are added annually to the list of invited artists but
none are removed. This selection system is now being reviewed by the
National Gallery's newly appointed Exhibitions Committee and may
change for the 1998 exhibition. My involvement in the 1997 Annual
National was as follows: I was a judge for the juried section, along
with the artists Cecil Cooper, Prudence Lovell, Nicholas Morris and
the National Gallery representative, Irina Leyva Gonzalez. Later on,
effective December 1, 1997 and after an absence of four years, I was
invited to join the National Gallery staff for three months as acting
curator, to mount the Annual National exhibition and to organize an
accompanying educational programme. At that point, the catalogue
had already gone to press and no works could be added to or removed
46 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
from the exhibition. The main component of the education
programme was a public lecture and discussion forum on the exhibi-
tion, entitled Perspectives, which was held on February 5, 1998.
2. In preparation for this article, I held a round-table discussion on
March 21 with the artists Charles Campbell, Margaret Chen,. Ritula
Frankel, Nicholas Morris, Petrona Morrison, Jhalfani Ra and Omari Ra,
and the art students Khary Darby, Nakazzie Hutchinson, Christopher
Irons and Leslie Kelly. I also corresponded with David Pinto.
3. First published in the exhibition catalogue Jamaican Art 1922-82,
Kingston and Washington, 1982, which accompanied a major exhibi-
tion of twentieth-century Jamaican art and was circulated by the
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in the USA,
Canada and Haiti. This publication is now out of print. A revised ver-
sion of the essay was published in the book Modem Jamaican Art,
Kingston: Ian Randle and the UWI Development and Endownment
4. For the 1997 Havana Biennial, Jose Manuel Noceda, the Wifredo
Lam Centre curator with specific responsibility for the Caribbean, vis-
ited Jamaica for the first time and selected Laura Facey, Petrona
Morrison and David Boxer, each to be represented with a site-specific
installation. The National Gallery of Jamaica facilitated the participa-
tion with administrative and logistic support for crating and shipping and
sent its artisan to supervise the installation and dismantling. All other
expenses were borne by the three artists.
5. See, for instance, Nicholas Morris, 'Artist Lawrence Graham Brown
goes beyond Conventional Art', Sunday Gleaner, April 19, 1998, 5 D;
Petrona Morrison, 'New Approaches to Art Materials', Sunday Gleaner,
May 10. IF; or Charles Campbell, 'What Future for Jamaica's Young
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Fully illustrated throughout. Over 300
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Sturdy protective case
For further information visit or telephone: Institute of Jamaica Publications
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Painters?' Sunday Gleaner Gleaner, June 7, 1998, ID.
6. The 'Jamaican-ness' of the work on view at the National Gallery was,
for instance, questioned by the painter Joshua Higgins in an interview
with Michael Edwards, 'Joshua Higgins Brushes Up on Jamaican Art',
Sparkle, Sunday Observer, February 22, 1998, p. 6. The question of
Western influences on Jamaican art was the principal subject of Annie
Paul's article 'Pirates or Parrots? A Critical Perspective on the Visual
Arts in Jamaica' Small Axe # 1, March 1997, p.49-64.
7. See Annie Paul's unpublished paper The Curator's Palette:
Legislating Taste, which was presented at the Caribbean Studies
Association conference, Antigua, as a part of the paper panel Identity
in Art, Prose, and Music, May 29, 1998.
8. From Christopher Cozier, 'Outside the Boundaries of Relevance'
(1991) reprinted in Four Contemporary Artists from Trinidad, Port of
Spain: Dr Ulrich Fiedler and the Artists, 1996, no page numbering.
9. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, in 1997.
10. New World Imagery was curated by Petrine Archer-Straw for
National Touring Exhibitions of the South Bank Centre, London. The
exhibition consisted of work by David Boxer, Margaret Chen, Albert
Chong, Leonard Daley, Ras Dizzy, Milton George, Anna Henriques and
11. See Annie Paul, 'Pirates or Parrots?', op. cit.
12. He was given the 1996 Advertising Agencies Association Award
for Top Students.
13. See Petrine Archer-Straw, 'Many Rivers Crossed' in New World
Imagery, London: 1995, pp.15-41.
14. Round-table discussion, March 21; see footnote # 1.
For the Finest in Art,
Framing & Prints.
Spanish Court, New Kingston
Jamaica Library. Service
University of the West Indies
Professor Edward Baugh
Dr Hazel Bennett
Mr Eric Coverley
Mr Mike Henry, M.P.
Mr Ian Randle
Professor Ajai Mansingh
Mlr Vlora Alberga
Mrs Vivien Morns-Brow\ n
Lititz NMeno Band
Blue Glaze Mento Band )
Mr GeoffreN Pinto
Fr Richard Holung
Miss Elaine Melbourne
Dr Claude Packer
Mr Bert Rose
Mr Paul Stockhausen
Mr Bunny Goodl on
Mr Harold 'Vin' James
Professor Sir Roy Augier
Professor Stuart Hall
Mr Reynold Gonsalves
Ms Marcia Griffiths
Mrs Rita Marley
Ms Judy Mowatt
Mr Norman Rae
Mr Gilbert Nicely
Mrs Joan Swaby
Literature, Science and Art
Literature: Library Development
and Historical Documentation
Popular Arts: Theatre
Music: Preservation of
Hentage Preser nation
Caribbean Education and History
Literature and the Arts
Professor John Golding
Mr Graham Sergeant
Dr David Boxer
Mrs Sheila Barnett
Miss Hope Brooks
Ms Fay Lindo
Miss Pamela O'Gorman
Mrs Barbara Requa
Professor Edward Robinson
Mr Douglas Bennett
Mrs Evangeline Clare}
Mrs Lucille Miller
Mr Ted Dwyer
Mrs Marguerite Gauron
Ms Margaret Anne Mills
Mr Peter Abrahams
Professor Manley West
Dr Albert Lockhart
Mrs Jean D' Costa
Professor Kenneth Magnus
Mrs Ada Barrett
Mr Ancile Gloudon
Mrs Belva Johnson
Mr Donald Johnson
Mr James Walker
Mr Fitz Weir
Mr Garth White
Art/Institution Building and
Institution Building /Dance
Institution Building /Painting
and Art Education
Preservation of Heritage/
Hanover Historical Society
En ironmental Education
Fiction and Journalism
Children's Fiction and
Education and Culture in
Arts and Culture in Com-
Research and Document-
ation: Popular Music
48 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
Traditional Jamaican Music
Colonial policies caused Jamaicans not only to be ignorant of their African past but also to despise sounds,
sights and ideas that did not synchronize with those of the ruling powers. Children were taught songs and
stories from European countries thousands of miles away and cultures as far remote. They were beautiful
and interesting, but presented as though nothing else worthy of notice existed. No mention of hibiscus,
orchid or orange blossom, doctor bird or firefly.
Even after an educational system was
introduced in the nineteenth
century, Jamaican children were taught
far more about the 'mother country' than
about their own island-a situation
which lasted well into the middle of the
The 'lower classes' might have
heard their parents or grandparents
sing: 'Docta bud a cunning bud, hard
bud fe dead', but never would the
strains have been allowed to reach
beyond the middle-class back veran-
dah, let alone into the classroom. It
was as though there had never been
any African, Caribbean or even
Jamaican cultural heritage or creativi-
ty. Whatever was hinted at was certain-
ly beyond the limits of polite society. It
was absolutely taboo to use Jamaican
vernacular, the main language of most The award-winning Blui
Jamaicans. Scottish and Yorkshire Photo:Daily News. Co.
speech styles in which 'gin a body meet a body' and 'Ilkla
moor baht 'at' were permitted, but certainly not 'Dis long
time gal me never see you, come mek me hol' you hand'.
This alone effectively separated those aspiring to 'higher
things', or a 'good education' from most of Jamaica's
Jamaica's Traditional Music Recognized
In spite of neglect and outright rejection by certain lev-
els of society, the traditional music of Jamaica survived. It
was interwoven with all aspects of everyday life, it made
communication with the Gods and spirits possible and gen-
erated and maintained feelings of belonging and self-worth.
However, the middle and upper 'echelons of society,
exposed as they were to the Eurocentric influences of their
education and the effects of colonial rule, were unaware of
e Glaze Mento Band playing at the National Dance Finals, July 1979.
,rtesy of the National Library of Jamaica.
the cultural wealth of the music of the people. It is ironic but
not surprising that visiting English and American scholars
such as Walter Jekyll, Martha Beckwith and Helen Roberts
first took the trouble to research and document aspects of
Jamaica's cultural heritage.
Gradually, though, came Jamaican educators such as
J.J. Mills, Philip Sherlock and Robert Verity, who were
aware of the richness and importance of the Jamaican her-
itage. They recognized and stressed the significance of the
stories with which old folk and paid helpers regaled their
young relatives and wards. They realized that the words of
the songs heard in the countryside and the fields as people
walked the three, four, five or more miles to and from work
daily had in them vital information about our history and
our unrecorded past and that their ancestors' attitudes and
techniques for survival were of importance to Jamaica's
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 49
development. They helped people to
see that, contrary to the impressions ,
(and more), that had been given, there I I
was much beauty in Jamaican music ", "
and other arts. The choirboy sound and
bel canto were expressive and beauti-
ful in their context, but the sound of
voices at a nine-night ceremony j.y
spreading over the countryside, of
drums of Revival throbbing in the
hills, of the soft singing of a mother "j
like a trickle of cool, clear water in a
cramped city slum were not just
expressive in their own ways but were
part of the Jamaican people. These and sk a J
many nameless leaders of thought
began to light the way and dispel the Muma me wan wuk (I
night of ignorance and self-doubt.
(from Chapter 3. Conflicting Concepts of Wealth)
Mento is the music of Jamaica. It is Jamaica's indige-
nous dance style, whether for song, instrument or dance. Its
most characteristic feature is the accent in or on the last beat
of each bar.
From childhood, I have observed gangs of men swing-
ing pickaxes during field labour. I can confirm the link
between their movements and the accented fourth beat in
Mento. In order to effect a strong downward movement on
the first beat of each bar in songs used to accompany this
most common type of agricultural labour, there is an almost
equally strong upward movement on the previous beat.
Muma me wan wuk ( I want to work)
Muma me wan' wuk (x3)
Look how me muscle a jump (x2)
Me wan fi dig yam hill (x3)
Look how mi muscle a jump (x2)
This similarity is evident through
Mento and digging songs. Speeds may
vary, but accents always coincide.
The music is relatively slow and in
quadruple time, with a strong accent in or on
the last beat of the bar. The tunes are in
major keys with regular, neatly balanced AP 7 z ,
phrases which lend themselves to harmo-
nization by the primary chords. Other
chords and modulations are rarely heard.
However, international pop beats and the
modem popularity of Reggae with its
steady beats have been influencing the per-
formance of both mento music and mento
dancing. The 12 3 4 accent has become
less pronounced, though the move- Mento Tune John Tom
Mento Tune John Tom
want to work)
ments of older persons, those over fifty, to even diluted
mento music maintain the accentuation. Young people are
now trying to recapture the old mento style. It was interest-
ing to note in Costa Rica (1986 and 1987) how nineteenth
and twentieth century Jamaican migrants and their first and
second generation offspring play and perform to mento
music with a very marked accent on or in the fourth beat of
the four in a measure bar, retaining performing styles that
are weakening in Jamaica.
Mento Tune John Tom
In performance, a lot of florid ornamentation is impro-
vised, especially when the fife or piccolo is used, though
guitar and banjo soloists also sometimes embellish the
basic tunes to great effect. Soloists are encouraged to
exhibit their skill at improvising in sections of the music
called 'breaks'. The characteristic 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 accentu-
ation provides the underlying rhythm, but skilful instru-
mentals produce an overlay of interesting cross rhythms.
r ,i! I| i i3i
50 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
The playing of Mento requires quick imagination and
the ability to improvise, qualities which are not necessary
for most other types of pop music performance, and so it
attracts very few young musicians. The skill needed to cre-
ate suitable lyrics and the work involved in learning several
verses of a song have made it almost impossible to keep
young lyricists in this genre of writing.
Mento was widespread and popular in Jamaica up to the
1940s, but gave way to more easily accessible foreign pop-
ular music oh radio programmes and gramaphone records.
Trinidadian and Eastern Caribbean Calypso also superseded
Mento in club and hotel entertainment. It became necessary
for village and other bands to add Calypso to their reper-
toires at the expense of the local Mento music, a situation
which continued until the Jamaica Independence Festival,
which was introduced in 1963, began to feature and empha-
size Mento in its annual competitions and presentations.
Nowadays, Mento bands are used most frequently for
Maypole and Quadrille dancing, or on special invitation at
national, community or privately arranged events. Mento
has special appeal, but is not likely ever to compete
strongly with either Calypso or media-projected interna-
tional pop styles. In spite of its faithful fans, Mento musi-
cians and lyricists are not in demand. The number of bands
has therefore been steadily decreasing, leaving not more
than five that enjoy great popularity and high reputations.
These hold the attention and motivate spontaneous move-
ment, even from mixed audiences in North America,
Europe and the Caribbean.
A Mento band is made up of three types of instruments:
1. Melody: e.g. fife, piccolo, harmonica, saxophone,
clarinet, electronic keyboard;
2. Harmony: e.g. guitar and banjo which also play melodically,
rhumba box or double bass of the bass line;
3. Rhythm: e.g. drums, maracas, grater and nail, sticks,
a variety of improvised instruments and body sounds.
The piano is also sometimes used
to span all three areas. Typical Mento
bands use five to nine instruments, but
some very satisfying Mento sounds
have been produced by big bands.
In traditional Mento dancing, cou-
ples 'rent a tile'. There is little move-
ment of the feet, but a lot of activity-
circular and parallel to the ground-in
the hips. Body contact is not necessary,
but is often a feature of this dancing.
Up to the 1940s when there were many
Mento bands which included brilliant
pianists, guitarists, flautists, players of
other wind instruments and percussion-
ists, the length of a dance-hall Mento
was quite unpredictable. It depended
on interplay between dancers and
musicians and could be from five to twenty minutes long.
Dancers as well as musicians often expected that they
would need a change of clothing, and either came prepared
or went home to freshen up and return to continue. Some
had to be satisfied with sitting it out until dry enough to
resume dancing. Drinks sold well, and there was a lot of
lively improvisation as couples joined each other or
exchanged partners for new formations. Such dances pro-
duced real intermingling and socialization.
The voice is important in Mento music-and is often
used with the instruments. Even when not sung, Mento
music is always associated with words. In many cases, a
tune may have two or more sets of words for different
narrative. One example is 'Mango Walk' and 'Gimme
Back me Shillin', well known in Arthur Benjamin's
Me muma nevva tell me say fe go mango walk,
say fe go mango walk (x 2)
Me muma nevva tell me say fe go mango walk
Fe tief aff de numba 'leven
[to steal number eleven mangoes]
Come now darlin', tell me fe true
O tell me fe true
O tell me fe true
Me nevva go a no mango walk an tief aff no
One tree can bear hundreds of mangoes each season. In
days gone by the trees often grew in profusion on Crown
lands and therefore were seen as common property. No one
was bothered if people helped themselves generously. The
attitude became one of seeing mangoes as 'unstealable', and
this, at times, caused problems when private property was
treated as Crown lands. Even today it suits many to see
fL VV& Is )%. WJt 0." b tT It Ve4,
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 51
everyone's mangoes as common property, though the justi-
fication has changed. If challenged, 'pickers' (they are very
hurt at the slightest suggestion of stealing) are quick to
defend themselves with quotations from the Bible: 'The
earth is the Lord's and all that therein is'. They never recall
anything about eating 'by the sweat of thy brow'.
Another set of lyrics using the same tune is about
money. Since the song came from colonial times, the coin in
question is the British shilling, with the lion rampant on one
side. There has been a lovers' tiff and the man is demanding
his money back.
Gi(ve) me back me shilling wit' the lion pon i', (on it)
With the lion pon i'
With the lion pon i
Gi me back me shilling wit' the lion pon i'
Gal, you mussi (must) take me for a fool.
Verses were improvised to suit different occasions, but
everyone could confidently join in the chorus.
A song based on one such adaptation was popularized
by Harry Belafonte, himself of Jamaican ancestry, as
'Jamaica Farewell'. This song had originally referred to a
race horse called Barkwood which had been having a very
successful at Knutsford Park race course in Kingston, now
a bustling business centre. His strength and stamina became
so legendary that he earned a song. One line in it ran,
"Barkwood belly like a' iron bar". The song was later
changed to titillate night club and tourist audiences and
became 'Iron Bar' one of the songs that, as children, we
were not allowed even to play on the piano. 'Jamaica
Farewell' is gentle and nostalgic, and a far cry from both
Barkwood and 'Iron Bar'.
It is almost impossible to ascertain whether or not some
Mento songs are true folk, or written by itinerant singers of
yester year. 'Dip an' Fall Back' and 'Win the Sweepstake',
which also share the same music, are two examples that are
probably the work of street singers but, like all the others of
uncertain ancestry, they have been
accepted as part of our folk repertoire.
The words of 'Dip and Fall Back'
relate to a popular and inexpensive
savoury dish eaten as our Nago and
Ettu people eat fu-fu or tum-tum or as
dips are used at elegant affairs. The
words of the song are self-explanatory.
The war was, of course, the Second
World War. J 't-l/
Dip an'Fall Back
Chorus: Dip an' fall back (x2)
My advice there is nothing nice
Like the dip an' fall back.
1. Now when the war was over
An' everything was scarce
An' man was experimenting
With things to fill them space
We had a lot of food,
But the meat was out of stock
So to get a blend we recommend
The dip an' fall back.
Verse two gives alternative names dasheenn' and 'full
me up', 'rock an' fall back' and so on. Verses three to five
give the recipe and manner of eating.
3 Now you get a shad or herring
An' put it down fe (to) soak
Get a bone dry cocanat
You don't need no pork
You grater dung the cocanat
An' put it on fe bwile (boil)
Till the custard start fe sekkle dung pon
de cocanat ile.
4. Now you take the shad or herring
An' put it on fe (to) steam)
With the pepper, tumattis (tomatoes), skellion
Until it form a cream
No stew beef or mackerel
Herrin', pork or sprat
Can be so sweet when you start fe eat
de dip an' fall back
5. Then you crush the boil banana
An' eat it wit' the dip
Get a mug a bebrige (beverage)
An' so you dip you sip
An' if de war should come yah (here)
An' boom (bomb) begin to drop
I would face a tank or a long range gun
fe me dip an' fall back
,_ -I- i -* -N' -- ,-
.D L_ L_ J *' ,..U
WAL 0-1"itt Hn
Dip an' Fall Back
52 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
22 3- 311~ -
t:3 L ---t F b -
M A- .14 j. f44 QJL 114
NCrIC~Fl~k6 g~ bcurj t p IE6dbr
6. Mass John say, take me lan'
Take me mule an' take me dray
Take me married wife an' me t'ree
Take away me house an' take 'way me
But doan skylark, or I bus' you' head
Fe me dip an' fall back.
'Win the Sweepstake' shares the same tune and is also
about the horse races held at Knutsford Park but this song is
about the betting.
Chorus: Win the sweepstake
Win the sweepstake
Every murmur was
Do me Lord, make a (me)
Win the sweepstake.
1. Me go a Knutsford Park
On the las' big sweepstake day
Me never really know that
Some people could pray
But when the horse them line up
An' the drum begin to roll,
Every murmur was
'Do me Lord, make a
Win the sweepstake'.
One woman took her ticket to an obeah man to ensure
success. He kept it, instructing her to 'eat a farthing fine salt
every morning as she wake, drink no water, eat nothing at
all: An you will win the sweepstake'.
The song stops short of announcing the winner, but no
one seems to care. It become a perennial favourite.
Calypsos by their very nature have more direct appeal
than Mento. Most calypsos, designed for general use, have
clever and amusing words set to catchy tunes. There is often
some sort of chorus in which everyone can join, and the
rhythm is bouncy in a way that almost compels participa-
tion. Mento rhythm impels most Jamaican bodies to respond
but seems to present problems to most non-Jamaicans. As
far at the lyrics are concerned, even younger Jamaicans find
them amusing but not suitable for participation. In today's
world of amplified sound and resounding steel bands, the
usual Mento band, which is listened to without amplifiers,
needs more attention than most people are willing to give in
a pop or light entertainment setting. As a consequence, the
Mento repertoire has virtually stopped growing. Topicalities
are now commented on in Reggae or dub-style songs.
In colonial days, subjects and situations that elicited
approval or censure, or needed to be rinsed out of people's
minds in order to avoid self-destroying emotions such as
hatred and bitterness, often found their way into non-cult
traditional songs: songs for work, death ceremonies, recre-
ation. Mento songs had the most extended lyrics. They told
of or commented on aspects of life and attitudes to it with
subtle and ironic wit.
As people have become more confident about express-
ing themselves openly, and as increased and instant com-
munication media have put us in touch with events and
every shade of opinion from abroad, the style of topical
songs has changed.
Modern Jamaica, especially the youth, see life in quite
a different perspective. What older Jamaicans call 'tact'
they call 'hypocrisy': avoiding confrontation by getting
round problems is condemned by them as cowardly and, at
times, dishonest. Mento songs were not expected to change
anything except, perhaps, the morale of those who created
and used them. They poked fun, rather than attacked. In the
1950s Mento laughed at a widespread strike with lyrics
Everything is strike, strike, strike,
The very matches refuse to strike. (Slim and Sam)
Reggae in the 1980s crossed swords with the local
establishment on the legality of ganja (marijuana) with a
clear statement to 'legalize it!' (Peter Tosh), and with
international attitudes in Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song':
'Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. .. have no fear
for atomic energy' for no one can 'stop the plan', and in his
'War'. In the latter he denounces the 'philosophy which
holds one race superior and another inferior', and wishes to
see it 'finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
The satire and gentle humour of Mento are definitely
pass. Many older Jamaicans regret this, but have no alter-
native but to accept or even only tolerate change as another
sign of 'progress'.
(from Chapter 5. Non-Cult Traditional Jamaican Music)
Institute of Jamaica Publications is grateful to The Press, UWI,
the publishers of Dr Olive Lewin's forthcoming book, for their
permission to include these two extracts in JAMAICA JOURNAL
26/3. The work is a study of Jamaican folk music and also
includes chapters on the Maroons, Reggae and Rastafarians,
Cult Music, including Kumina, and on Mrs Imogene 'Queenie'
Kennedy, the Kumina queen.
JAMAICAJOURNAL 26/3 53
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Two Poems by Edward Baugh
Two Poems by Edward Baugh
If we had known, that wet October night
when we moved in; if we had known
that twenty-three years later we'd still be here,
no doubt we would have made more shift
to shape the place to our convenience,
contrived more cupboard space, knocked a wall
or two out, extended the patio, shaded
it with an awning, had a powder-room
put in downstairs, to make it more congenial
to a more expansive life. We settled for less.
It was mostly we who made accommodation,
adjusting ourselves to its rigidities,
saying it was not our place, and in any case
we'd soon be gone. Still, it served us
well enough. It held against the hurricane.
You watched as the big glass door bellied in
and held, then straightened itself out again.
It was a good place to come home to, to come
into the always surprising cool
of the living room, from out of a hot noon.
It was good for the children to have grown up here.
I learned to tell pea-dove from white-wing, and the
elegant deadly geometry of the sparrow-hawk.
That wet October night, we brought
the baby last, bundled against the damp,
wide-eyed and blinking at the empty, echoing
walls. Tomorrow she will marry. There'll
be a marquee in the garden, and musicians.
Something, perhaps, will have been fulfilled.
IN TIMES LIKE THESE
October, but no rains have come
the lignum vitae's green
makes a smart contrast
against the yellowing grass
it's good to see
there's one straightforward omen.
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 55
Honor Ford Smith
The orange sun is hovering
over the Old Hope Road
I am chasing a child in the twilight
He has stolen my day's work
my tape recorded histories
my informants' lives, my critical questions
and the harvest of their answers.
I am chasing the child in a car fast fast
and the child is outrunning the car.
A crowdapeople is coming behind.
Quietly. There is only the song
of the car engine and the drumming
of their angry feet.
He knows he will be killed.
He is running for his life.
My heart is beating to see an ending
I have read before in the Star
'Thief beaten to death by citizens.'
Behind the nuns' lodgings
the empty chapel, the open school room
he is racing, devil's horsewhip
whipping his legs. And I
want him to escape, but
I can't leave the chase.
There is blood in my throat
and salt on my tongue.
Ahead the gully spins its keloid cells,
its rough scar tissue between mansion and shack,
it opens like an old sore sprouting blooms
of callaloo, pumpkin, ganja and peas.
Spreading his thin arms, the boy jumps
into the darkening gully leaving the recorder,
its tape intact, enfolded in the dry bush at the edge.
We stop. The boundary marked by cactus:
the earth falling away to the zinc maze,
the cardboard castles, car carcasses
and the food growing in the rich mountain run off,
city of the murdered, bones and body parts,
bagged and tagged and forgotten.
I stand looking into the living gully
a killer dog at the land's edge
end of a chrome chain, panting,
my neck craned for the blood of children,
a tape recording of their short life histories
playing in the background
as the sun plops down
into the sea and and
56 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
by K. E. Ingram
Oxford, Santa Barbara and Denver: CLIO Press, 1997.
(World Bibliographical Series, volume 45
xxviii, 365pp. 1-85109-267-6)
Reviewed by Samuel J Bandara
(Head of the Acquisitions Section of the University Library at Mona)
M ore than ten years ago I reviewed
this book in its first edition, and at
the time I examined it for its achieve-
ment in three areas: (1) the selection
from the available literature (2) organi-
zation of the selected material, and, (3)
interpretation of the material so selected
and organized. Having assessed the book
for the way in which it fulfilled these
three main responsibilities of a bibliog-
rapher, it was possible to conclude the
book scored high in all three areas and
that 'it was undoubtedly the most valu-
able single contribution made to general
documentation of Jamaican studies that
has appeared in recent years' (see
Caribbean Quarterly. vol.30, 1984: 75-
77). Now I am happy to examine the new
edition using the same criteria.
At that time, when its first edition
appeared, the World Bibliographical
Series, in which this is the 45th volume,
consisted of 49 volumes among which
there were three devoted to Caribbean
countries. Now the series has grown over
fourfold to a total of 198 volumes, with 23
countries from the Caribbean covered by
individual volumes, some already in their
second editions. These figures show both
the popularity and the success of the
concept and execution of the series, and as
such it can well be anticipated that more
stringent levels of achievement are
stipulated by its editors from the authors
of the individual volumes.
As Ingram indicates in his preface,
the editorial policy of the series required
that 70 per cent of the original text be
replaced with new material in the form
of new works, new editions or enhanced
annotations, and this means that quite a
number of classic items that were in the
original text are not in this edition. This
means that the second edition does not
render the earlier one 'superseded', but
anyone who has a copy of the 1984 text,
should continue to hold it with the newer
edition as a complementary work rather
than the new edition replacing the old
one. As Ingram very correctly observed
'the emphasis in the new edition is now
almost entirely on contemporary or near
contemporary material published for the
most part since 1980.' My copy of the
first edition with my own annotations on
its pages, I find, is enhanced rather than
overtaken by the appearance of the new
edition and I will continue to keep old
volumes side by side with the new one.
The total count of numbered entries
in the new volume remains almost the
same as in the original edition at 1183
(1180 in the 1984 ed.), but in addition to
the numbered entries, the author has
included over 10 per cent of the num-
bered total ('some 160 references', as he
notes) within the annotations. This is an
admirable strategy used in both editions
to make the content richer and more use-
ful to the user while staying within the
limitations of size imposed by editorial
policy. It enables the author to give a
more complete entry for a chosen sub-
ject, and, the user to get a fuller biblio-
graphic picture of the subject covered by
the entry. For example, in the annotation
to entry number 401 in the present edi-
tion which cites a study by Hyacinth
Ellis (on the relationship between
socioeconomic and demographic factors
and the rising level of crime in Jamaica)
he includes three more references to
related contributions by the same author,
and three additional references to work
by other authors. Here in the space of
one entry and its annotation the user is
provided with comprehensive coverage
of the subject.
There are many similar examples
that illustrate this pattern, but before we
leave the subject of crime there is one
bit of information missing from the
annotation for item 404 that should be
noted. This citation is for the book The
Jamaican Crime Scene: A Perspective
by Bernard D. Headley published by the
Eureka Press in Mandeville in 1994.
This book was also reprinted in an
American edition in 1996 (Howard
University Press, ISBN 0-88258-190-2)
and, perhaps, when Ingram closed add-
ing entries to the text of this edition (he
signed the Preface in December 1996)
this new edition was unknown in Ja-
maica. I would like to note this not so
much as a criticism of its absence in the
annotation, but to draw attention to its
existence since, especially for overseas
users, the American (and later) edition is
likely to be more easily accessible.
Although the uninformed reader
may complain that there are many areas
of the Jamaican (and Caribbean) scene
of interest to the general reader as well
as to students investigating specific and
narrower subject fields left uncovered by
writers and researchers, it is indeed
amazing to discover and observe how
much serious literature is available on
Jamaica and the Caribbean, and it is to
this immense wealth of scholarship and
reporting on Jamaica that Ingram pro-
vides a valuable key in his two volumes.
This is a task of search, selection and
interpretation that can only be accom-
plished satisfactorily by one who has
devoted a lifetime of continued and sus-
tained interest to the world of literature
covering the area. As seen in the present
work, its compiler has not only the
knowledge of the literature to select but
also the skill to interpret his selection
with rich, appropriate annotations that
neither waste words nor leave a user con-
fused and disappointed.
The chapter entitled 'Biographies,
Autobiographies and Memoirs', is also
JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3 57
interesting for the illustration it offers to Ingram's approach to
the selection and interpretation of available literature. This
chapter is new to the second edition, and is presented in two
sections, Collective and Individual. In the first edition, there is
a chapter entitled 'History and Collective Biography' (which,
with 83 entries, is the second largest chapter in that edition,
next in length to the chapter on 'The Arts' with 107 entries). In
the new edition, Collective Biography is separated from
History and included in the new chapter which has a total of 51
entries of which all but seven were published after the first edi-
tion of this bibliography was issued in 1984. (There is an
eighth item, entry number 267 dated 1983, but although the
first edition was issued in 1984, Ingram signed his Preface to it
on 17 July, 1983 and, as such, this publication issued in
London in 1983 would not have been available for examination
before the text was finalized). All seven items bearing pre-1983
dates were included in the first edition and point to Ingram's
strict selection criteria, indicating that these are classics, which
had to be included in the first edition which did not have a
chapter on biography, and had to be retained in the relevant
chapter when it became available in the second edition. In the
period between the publication of the original edition and this
new one, many publications that could well be included in a
chapter devoted to Biography had appeared. By selecting 44 of
these and adding the seven retained from the earlier edition, he
was able to present us with a new chapter.
Several developments and events within and outside Jamai-
ca that took place in between the two editions of the book and
had an impact on the life and history of the island provide us
with another useful index with which to evaluate the success of
this bibliography. One is Hurricane Gilbert (1988) with five ref-
erences in Ingram's new volume. Two are contemporary gener-
al accounts, one of them a journalistic photographic record (by
Hill, Ogley and Hooley , item 78), and the other a report
of a more scientific nature issued by PAHO's Emergency
Preparedness and Disaster Relief Coordination Program (item
74, 1990?). The other three are specialist reports: item 73 assess-
ing the economic impact of the hurricane on the island's coastal
and marine resources (Nairobi, UNEP, 1991); item 779, 'an
insurance claim adjuster's view on lessons to be learnt' (Clem-
ent, 1990); and item 552, Economics of Disasters with Special
Reference to the Jamaican Experience (Headley, 1994).
Another such development was the North American Free
Trade Association (NAFTA) with two references in the index,
one to a journal providing information on the subject from time
to time (item 619), and the other, a special report on NAFTA's
impact on the Jamaican agricultural sector (item 625, 1993).
The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) of the US Govern-
ment was another such development on which, as the index
indicates, this bibliography provides three citations.
The special focus on environmental conservation is anoth-
er development seen during this period, and a comparison
between the sections on Environment and Conservation includ-
ed in both editions as a part of a chapter reflects this increasing
'interest and attention. The nine citations given in this section in
1984 now increases to 13, of which only four are retentions
from the earlier edition. The chapter entitled 'Women and
Gender Studies' with 20 citations is a new addition to this edi-
tion, and 19 of these citations are post-1984 publications thus
reflecting the special focus on this subject manifested during
recent years. The single retention (the doctoral thesis by
Victoria Durant-Gonzalez, 1976) from the previous edition is
also interesting in that it is subjected to an improvement
through the addition of information on two new papers by the
author (published in August 1983 and 1985) in the annotation.
Here I may add a comment from my personal experience
as an acquisitions librarian working in the late 1970s at the
Mona Campus Library of the University of the West Indies
under the guidance and direction of Ingram who was then the
Campus and University Librarian. I was a newcomer to
Jamaica and the Caribbean. At that time, the British Govern-
ment provided funding assistance to Libraries in developing
countries for special collection-building programmes. Ingram
directed me then to prepare two such annual programmes to
strengthen the Campus Library's collections in these two
fields, 'Conservation in all its aspects' and 'Women's Studies'.
Later when these subjects became areas receiving special focus
in the University's teaching and research programmes, the
acquisitions resulting from his vision and planning were the
nucleus around which library resources for the new courses
were further developed, now with the active participation of
academics and researchers in the new fields.
The above is adequate to say with confidence that this new
edition is without doubt a worthy successor and a rich supple-
ment to the original work. It is indeed a tool that every library
and serious reader interested in Jamaica should possess and
use. The weaknesses in the index provided for the first edition
were unfortunate, but the new edition has an excellent index.
However, I must comment on the price of the book which, in
present-day Jamaica, makes it beyond the means of many who
could benefit from it. Perhaps there is a way, if an enterprising
local publisher is willing to try, to produce a cheaper Jamaican
or Caribbean edition which will enable many school libraries
and readers who cannot afford the present list price to purchase
and use a copy of this most useful book.
* Eight houses, each set in its own
garden, adjoining the Governor
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* Moderate rates
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Wednesdays and Saturdays
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Fax: (809) 926-7741
58 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
The Institute of Jamaica
JAMAICA'S NATIONAL CULTURAL INSTITUTION
was founded in 1879. Its main functions are
to foster and encourage the development of
culture, science and history, in the national
It operates as a statutory body under the
Institute of Jamaica Act 1978 and falls
under the portfolio of the Minister of
Culture. The institute's central decision-
making body is the Council, which is
appointed by the Minister.
The Institute of Jamaica consists of a
central administration and a number of divi-
sions and associate bodies operating with
varying degrees of autonomy.
Chairman: Barry Chevannes
Executive Director: Elaine Fisher
Administrator: Coleen Beecher
12-16 East St., Kingston. Tel: (876) 922-0620
African Caribbean Institute/Memory
Roy West Building, 12 Ocean Boulevard,
Kingston Mall. Tel: (876) 922-4793
Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
Corporate Development Centre
Suite 1 West, 41/4-41/2 Camp Road,
Kingston 4, Jamaica.
Tel/Fax: (876) 928-4048
19 East St., Kingston. Tel: (876) 922-0620
Head Office: 12-16 East Street, Kingston
Tel: (876) 922-0620
National Museum of Historical
Archaeology, Port Royal.
Tel: (876) 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
Technology, Spanish Town Square
Tel: (876) 984-2452
Old King's House Archaeological
Museum, Spanish Town Square
Tel: (876) 984-2452
National Gallery of Jamaica
Roy West Building, Ocean Boulevard,
Tel: (876) 922-1561/4
National Library of Jamaica
12-16 East Street., Kingston
Tai: (876) 967-2494
Natural History Library and Museum
12-16 East Street, Kingston
Tel: (876) 922-0620
A Selection of Pieces by Jamaica's
Master Potter, Cecil Baugh
To mark the artist's
Third World. 1970.
Earthenware. Height 26 inches.
Cat and his Prey, 1971
Ceramic Displayed in Art and Craft Exhibition, Jamaica School of Art.
Stoneware Vase, 1971.
Exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum
National Exhibition of Ceramics.
Institute of Jamaica Collection
Baugh demonstrates the walk-around technique for BBC TV 1949.
Photograph from the collection of the artist
Vase with Two Dancers. c. 1978.
Stoneware with iron slip. Height: 12.5 inches
From the collection of Sir Roy and Lady Augier
60 JAMAICA JOURNAL 26/3
contttigutj to- A&Aayl, econimi d a&cialoae/ome,
acwwm wuc sm9 6kS?. ^?ba^ tA& J'a/xJL&cm Acora w
27ar^5woa'^?y&%.!'^^e~ at t~e ^Sof jrana^ anct\M(>nteaa- 'Sau^
6 ew trent, l anit/e' atalwe Y olt-Iael tawd J slaaanca
oeivarfmtl a Crt&l.
Artist's impression of the Montego Bay Civic Centre
Design consultant Michael Carter/Harold Simpson Joint Venture
,r, . -1 .- .
Artist's impression of the proposed Port Maria Civic Centre
Design consultant Patricia Green
12 Ocean Boulevard, Kingston Mall, Kingston, Jamaica W. I.
Telephone: (876) 922-8310-4, 922-7034, 922-6834, 922-6845.
Telefax: (876) 922-9326
Glimpses of Jamaica's Natural History
John Crow Blow Nose/ John Crow Nose Hole
Beautiful but extremely fragile, members of the genus Clathrus, commonly known as the Stink Horn Fungi,
are characterized by a strong offensive odour. A member of this genus, found throughout Jamaica, is the John
Crow Blow Nose. Though pleasing to the eye, this fungus is not readily admired when seen in its natural habi-
tat as it emits a strong odour which can be likened to that of rotting flesh.
During its life cycle, the John Crow Blow Nose makes a remarkable transformation from a white egg-stage
to a bright reddish-orange, latticework structure. The young fruiting body is 4-7 cm broad, is soft and is often
found growing just below the soil surface or under leaf litter or wood chips. Rhizomorphs (root-like structures)
are attached to the base of the body and can usually be traced to buried wood.
When mature, the outer covering of the young fruiting body splits and the reddish-orange receptacle (seen
magnified in the large picture) emerges and grows upwards. It is a hollow, fragile, latticework structure.
Spreading over its inner surface is a greenish mucilage (the spore slime), and it is this substance which gives the
John Crow Blow Nose its characteristic foul odour.
The fungus is usually seen following rain showers, preceded by a long dry period.
Prepared by the Natural History Division
Institute of Jamaica
Photographed by Roy Thomas and Hew Lumley (inset)