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Jamaica journal


Material Information

Jamaica journal
Abbreviated Title:
Jam. j.
Physical Description:
v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Institute of Jamaica
Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
serial   ( sobekcm )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:


Dates or Sequential Designation:
Began with Dec. 1967 issue.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Florida State University
Holding Location:
Florida State University
Rights Management:
Permissions for online access and preservation granted by and all rights reserved by the Institute of Jamaica: http://instituteofjamaica.org.jm/
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124
lcc - F1861 .J33
ddc - 917.2/92/05
System ID:

Full Text

- ,Z3 1990

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Treasures of Jamaican Heritage

Saddlebag and Hassock Cover

These fine examples of the leather
worker's craft are probably Fulani in origin.
A pastoral nomadic people the Fulani live
chiefly in the sub-Sahara region from
Senegal to North Cameroun.
The Saddlebag and Hassock Cover
are ideally suited to the Fulani nomadic
way of life. The fringe of the saddlebag is
more than decoration. It also keeps away
flies, so protecting the contents of the bag.
The easily transported hassock cover can
be stuffed with whatever suitable material
S is available, providing comfortable
temporary seating.
The intricate designs on these pieces
are made by using leather of different
colours. In some sections, narrow leather
strips in contrasting colours are interwoven
to produce a chequerboard effect. The
work is meticulously exact.
The two pieces exemplify, at a very
high level, the widespread impulse among
African peoples to enhance common
.objects of everyday life with finely detailed
The saddlebag and hassock cover
were first displayed in Dr Aston Taylor's
Inafca Museum. The bag may be the one
which, in an early interview with Reg
Murray, Dr Taylor said he bought in the

Diameter: 36
Length (including fringe): 25'
Maximum width: 15"

Mico College African Collection

JAMAICA JOURNAL is published on behalf of the
Institute of Jamaica by Institute of Jamaica
Publications Limited.
Managing Director
Patricia V. Stevens
All correspondence should be addressed to:
IOJ Publications Limited
2a Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone (809) 929-4785/6
Leeta Heame
Assistant Editor
Dahlia Fraser
Support Services
Faith Myers - Secretarial
Ricardo Henderson - Sales
Design and Production
Dennis Ranston
Back issues: Some back issues are available. List
sent on request. Entire series available on
microfilm from:
University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, USA.
Subscriptions:J$60 for 4 issues (in Jamaica only);
UK: Individuals: �10, Institutions: �15.
All other countries: Individuals: US$20.
Institutions: US$25.
Single copies: J$17 (in Jamaica only); UK.�3;
Other countries: US$7.
All sent second class airmail.
We accept UNESCO coupons. Contact your local
UNESCO office for details.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in JAMAICA JOURNAL are
abstracted and indexed in HISTORICAL ABSTRACTS,
Vol. 22 No.4. Copyright � 1989 by Institute of
Jamaica Publications Ltd. Cover or contents may
not be reproduced in whole or in part without
written permission.
ISSN 0021-4124



Vol 22 No 4

November 1989 - January 1990

History and Life

12 Slackness Hiding from Culture:
Erotic Play in the Dancehall
by Carolyn Cooper

32 Port Royal: An Archaeological
by GA Aarons


2 Water Resource Conflict on the
North Coast
by L Alan Eyre

60 Land Snails
by TH Farr

The Arts
52 One bubby Susan: a short story
by Erna Brodber

Regular Features

23 Art: Architect ics ofANdAtibnal
Psyche in Crisi 1, p;? ""
by Gloria Escoffe DO 1 ~.
41 Music: Jonah: nig ht'
Century Jamaican Oratorio
by Pamela O'Gorman

47 Books and Writers
Claude McKay by Cliff Lashley
Review: Rex Nettleford's Jamaica in
Independence by Rupert Lewis

46 Contributors

Cover: Andreas Oberli
Dunn's River Falls. Alan Eyre's article beginning on p.2
tells of the threat to this most famous of Jamaica's
natural beauties.

1. The Ocho Rios sub-basin and its rivers




ON THE NORTH COAST... who gets what?

L Alan Eyre

Sixteen years ago, the Jamaican government of the day stated:
The coastal fringe [of St Ann Parish] has been designated by the
Government as a priority zone for tourist development, an impor-
tant sector of the economy which is expected to expand significantly
in the next five years . . . Special emphasis will be given to the
development of irrigated agriculture with a view to the production
of fresh vegetables for the touristic installations on the north coast.


The Food andAgriculture Organi-
zation of the United Nations
[FAO] at the time published a
Technical Report [FAO 1974] on the
water resources of what it called the
Dry Harbour Mountains - North Coast
Basin, and in a preamble commented:
The principal interest of the Government
in this area [is] in the stabilization of a
water supply source for the tourist and
resort development along the coast [of St
This report is the only serious,
detailed scientific study of water
resources in north-central Jamaica to
have been published so far or at least
made available to the public. This
report did not cover the area east of the
St Ann's Great River at Windsor, the
sub-basin designated in the present
study the'Ocho Rios sub-basin', al-
though a preliminary unpublished sur-
vey has been carried out by the
Underground Water Division of the
Ministry of Utilities and Transport.
The apprehension which was evi-
dent in 1974 concerning the adequacy
of available water resources in this part
of Jamaica appears to have eased some-
what in the financially leaner years that
followed. However, conflicts regarding
water use and utilization of watersheds,
along with a growing environmental
awareness, have again brought the issue
into prominence, particularly in the
Ocho Rios area. A critical re-evaluation
of the situation is now necessary.

The North Coast Basin

he North Coast water catchment
T basin is a 1444 km2 (677 sq. miles)
trapezium of land extending from Rio
Bueno to Ocho Rios along the sea
coast, and from Sedbergh in Man-
chester to Middlesex in St Ann along its
southern mountain boundary. It is divid-
ed into two fairly distinct sub-basins by
a series of low north-south limestone
ridges extending from Higgin Town to
Mason River [1, Table 1]. In this paper
these sub-basins have been designated
the Rio Bueno sub-basin and the Ocho
Rios sub-basin.
The rivers along the southern
perimeter of the North Coast basin are
the Quashies, Lowe, Cave, Blue, Pedro
and Hoe, all of which sink into the
limestone of the St Ann plateau. They
reappear as the Rio Bueno, Pear Tree,
Laughlands, Little, Roaring, Dunn's,
Cave, Turtle and a few others along the
northern coastal section of the basin [2].
Because of the nature of the lime-
stone terrain - cavernous like a thick,
flat block of Swiss cheese - it is proba-
ble that all these coastal rivers draw on
one large or several interconnected sub-
terranean aquifers, at least during peri-
ods of abundant rainfall. The surface
expression of the boundaries of these
aquifers is, in consequence, known only
very approximately.

Dunn's River Falls

The Mountain Watersheds
B because of the 30 km (18.6 miles)
north-south extent of the limestone
plateau, superficial observation would
reveal little connection between the
condition of the central mountain water-
sheds and the availability and quality of
water resources on the north coast. But
the Quashies, Cave, Pedro and other
rivers of the central mountains are all a
part of the same climatological-hydro-
logical system as the coastal rivers that
emerge from their caves and blue holes

N 1000
S- 750
IT Roaring - 500
II,, /// ..River
o2n._es .1uf' --- 250


2. Profdes across the North Coast Basin

at or near the base of the limestone
This relationship can easily be seen
at the Jamaica Public Service Comp-
any hydroelectric station on the Roaring
River. Heavy rains affecting the coast
of St Ann and the hills immediately to
the south manifest themselves in a tur-
bid flow which lasts a matter of hours.
But when an intense precipitation
episode occurs in the Bullhead ranges,
Mason River, the Pedro watershed and
even the Christiana area, then turbidity
- after a lag of a day or more - persists
in the Roaring River for a period lasting
from days to more than a week.
The watersheds of these central
rivers are degraded. Since the 1950s,
little effort has been made to protect
them from the ravages of the erosion
towhich they are highly susceptible.
The 90 km2 (59 sq. miles) catchment of
the Cave River and its tributaries which
extends beyond St Ann into Clarendon,
Manchester and Trelawny is particular-
ly severely affected. It has been almost
totally deforested and subjected to inap-
propriate agriculture such as excessive
dependence upon seasonal and annual
ground crops on steep slopes and disre-
gard for the value of perennial tree
As a consequence, the Cave River
now has a highly erratic regime of low
flow and high flood, and carries not
only an increasingly heavy sediment
load, but also tree limbs, masses of
bamboo and other debris which have
blocked the river sink south-east of
Cave Valley. The result is that flood
waters spread out over the valley and
evaporate, reducing the flow through
the limestone to the coast. It is likely
that the 56 million m3/year now esti-
mated by the Underground Water Div-
ision to flow from the central water-
sheds through sinkholes into the lime-
stone is less than was formerly the case.
Certainly the flow used to be more reg-
ular. A situation similar to that at Cave
Valley obtains with most of the other
mountain watersheds: the Pedro Valley
has been totally inundated twice within
the past decade and even the small
Mason River catchment was flooded in
It is of interest that the only attempt
made to remedy this problem of choked
sinkholes and obstructed river flow has
been to build a trash rack on the Cave
River to catch debris [Office of Disaster
Preparedness 1988]. But this is merely
cosmetic. No serious effort whatsoever

has been made to deal with the cause:
the degradation of the watersheds.
Another cause of reduced flow
from the central mountain rivers into
the limestone aquifer, and through it to
the coast, is diminishing precipitation
[Table 2].

Reduced Precipitation

K elly [1988], in researching the veg-
etation of the St Ann limestone
plateau, observed that its architecture
and phytogeography indicated adapta-
tion to periodic moisture stress and con-
siderable secular seasonal annual vari-
ability. Botanists have suggested that
despite appearances, the plateau forest
is not a 'true' rainforest but tropical sea-
sonal forest.
Data from the Jamaican Meteo-
rological Service confirm the variabili-
ty. The figures for the years 1921 to
1989 show that 15 per cent of months
have 50mm (1.9 in) of rainfall or below,
and 7 per cent of months have 300mm
(11.8 in) or more. Over this sixty-nine
year period (1921-1989), the mean pre-
cipitation for all months or record was
132mm (5.19 in) with a standard devia-
tion of 196mm (7.71 in) and a range
from zero (two monthly values during
the period) to a high of 667mm (26.25
in) [3].

275 -






- 300

- 250

- 200

I 150

. 100

- 50



3. Precipitation on the limestone plateau of St Ann

More significant, however, is the
evidence of decreasing precipitation in
recent years - from mid-century, in fact.
Table 2, combining data from a number
of rainfall gauging stations on the lime-
stone plateau and central mountains,
clearly demonstrates a decline in rain-
fall in the second half of the present
century. The negative deviations are too
great and too consistent to be due to
observational error or any other factor.
Random variation is statistically incred-
ible. The decline does appear to be real.
The cause of the decline is a matter
of speculation. It may be simply a part
of a Caribbean regional decline ack-
nowledged for some years by most cli-
matologists [NOAA, 1979; Eyre, 1988].
In this case, the unexpected magnitude
of the decline may conceivably be relat-
ed, at least in part, to changes in surface
vegetation cover, and specifically to
deforestation. This syndrome-is well
known and documented from many
parts of the tropics: both evapotranspi-
ration rates and albedo are profoundly
affected by changes in surface vegeta-
tion cover. These in turn initiate modifi-
cations in the moisture budget, leading
to reduced precipitation and greater
variability [Prance and Lovejoy 1985].
All of these four trends are now clearly
manifested in the North Coast catch-
ment basin, and do not augur well for

water resource utilization on the coastal
tourist belt.

Recent Trends

0 f the coastal rivers within the Ocho
Rios sub-basin, where pressure of
demand is greatest, reasonably accu-
rate, continuous records of discharge
are available for only three: the Roar-
ing, Cave and Turtle rivers. The mea-
surement of the Roaring River is made
in the tailrace of the Jamaica Public
Service Company hydroelectric plant.
Unfortunately, during periods of very
heavy flow, some of the water is divert-
ed around the plant and so is never
There are two gauges on the Cave
River, one on the main stream and one
on what is termed the 'canal', a distrib-
utory. At times, of peak flow, the canal
takes more than 60 per cent of the total
flow; in 1984-85, when the river was
exceptionally low, the canal carried
very little water. The two stations have
been combined in Figure 4 below.
Strangely enough, Dunn's River is
not regularly measured. It is said to be a
difficult river to gauge accurately, be-
causeof the cascades, strong laminar
flow above the falls, and heavy vegeta-
Be that as it may, this is a serious
lacuna in the important data, and means
that repeated assertions of lessened
flow during the past two decades can-
not be verified. But pre-1970 photogra-
phy together with Table 2 would sug-
gest that there may be some substance
in these claims. Turtle River is also said

5. Rio Chico/Cave River. This section near the
chemical pollution.

to have been stronger before 1970.
In respect of water quality, the
Natural Resources Conservation Depart-
ment has tested the Dunn's River and
identified both chemical and organic
pollution at levels incompatible with its
use as a tourist attraction. The author
has examined the Rio Chico, one of the
distributories of the coastal Cave River,
and there is no question that conspicu-
ous algal growth indicates incipient
organic pollution eutrophicationn). The
occupiers of the Rio Chico property
have repeatedly and unsuccessfully
protested its increasing pollution load,
complained about its odour, and noted
its reduced flow [5].
One cause of the increased pollution



1989 1990

coast is showing evidence of eutrophication through

of both rivers is the growth of a squatter
settlement within their coastal surface
watersheds on UDC land. Another
cause appears to be the organic and
chemical products such as fertilizers
used in the pastures and fields which
drain into both rivers. Yet a third is the
existence of a large solid waste dump
in close proximity to both rivers
[Morris, 1989]. The UDC claims that
this dump is illegal [Lawrence 1989]
and no doubt it is, but no one locally
seems to consider it so. The identity of
those dumpers who were observed dur-
ing the author's survey would hardly
suggest that the land owners (UDC)
were overly worried. In view of the
intensive human contact which charac-
terizes the present use of both the
Dunn's and Cave rivers, it is hard to
understand why all three threats to the
quality of such a valuable water
resource have been allowed to persist
for so long.
Government's professed commit-
ment to tourism as the prime water use
rings rather hollow. The Turtle River,
also a major tourist attraction since it
flows through both Shaw Park and
Carifiosa Gardens, is threatened by
dense, uncontrolled urban growth, in-
cluding small settlers and some squat-
ters, in that part of its narrow basin
which lies directly upstream of both
these popular resorts. The river, about
two km (1.2 miles) above the gardens,
was formerly used for public water sup-
ply. A pump and pipeline diverted much
of the flow to a hilltop reservoir. The


1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988
4. Measured discharge of the Cave River, St Ann

pump was removed some years ago and
has never been replaced. As a result
insanitary activities in the river as well
as unauthorized diversions have occur-
red. No convincing reasons have been
given for this pump not being replaced.

C rucial to the attractive character,
streamflow regime and water quality
of all the coastal rivers is the proper
maintenance of tree cover, especially on
the limestone escarpment and along the
river banks. This is not the place to
explain in detail the vital relationship
between forests and water which is well
established and can be studied in any
modem biogeography or ecology text
[World Resources Institute 1985;
Kupchella and Hyland 1989]. Suffice it
to say that in 1990 it is difficult to con-
ceive of any tropical country on earth
which, possessing a money-spinner of
the magnitude and potential of the
Dunn's, Cave and Turtle Rivers, would
tolerate the abuse of the environment
that is at present taking place in these
fragile watersheds. Evidently the myth
is accepted that because these rivers
issue as perennial springs from the
limestone, they will continue to do so
Despite protestations to the con-
trary, it is evident that substantial
removal of forest cover is taking place
[6 and 7]. In some areas close to Dunn's
River there is deliberate conversion to
open African star-grass pasture. Most of
these changes are occurring on UDC
land, by that organization or with its
approval. It is hard to believe that any
international Environmental Impact
Assessment would justify for one
moment such land cover changes in
immediate proximity to three of
Jamaica's most valuable watercourses.
Such an intensively utilized water
resource of necessity requires total
protection not just to the boundary
fence of the small tourist enclaves
formed by the gardens but over a con-
siderable area around. Tree cover is
essential along the river courses them-
selves, and also over an area extensive
enough to maintain floral diversity and
provide adequate habitat for birds,
butterflies and other wildlife. Research
has shown that such wildlife cannot
survive in small scraps of relict forest
[Sutton 1983; Prance and Lovejoy

Conflicting Demands
C onfining our attention to the coastal
rivers of the Ocho Rios sub-basin
[Table 1], the various conflicting
demands upon the 927 million litres/day
(103 million gallons) of usable water
can now be assessed.
The Little River is utilized by a few
farmers for irrigation, but not otherwise.
The entire flow of the Roaring River,
except when discharge is very heavy, is
piped from the headworks down the
escarpment to the Jamaica Public Ser-
vice Company generating plant. The
wooden pipe - with metal hoops - is in
poor condition and leakage is substan-
tial. After passing through the plant,
some of the tailrace flow is pumped to
a hotel and other tourist facilities at
Mammee Bay.

Intensive use by tourists, including
parties of cruise ship passengers and
also many Jamaican nationals, makes
Dunn's River perhaps the most valuable
water in the country. Tourist activity at
the Cave River is less intensive, but
nevertheless significant, and its course
has long been attractively landscaped.
Also for many years a pipeline has car-
ried water from the riverhead to a hill-
top reservoir serving Pimento Hill and
surrounding districts. Nevertheless, the
National Water Commission (NWC)
intends to treat and pipe a minimum of
25 million litres/day (5.4 million gal-
lons) as urban water supply for the
entire coastal belt from Ocho Rios to
Port Maria. As this is greater than the
total flow in some years (1985 for
example), it has been considered neces-
sary to invest in a two kilometre
pipeline to bring water from the
Roaring River, crossing the Dunn's
River on the way. At one stage, serious
consideration was being given to taking
water from the Dunn's River, drawing it
off at night!
Drawing off water from the Roa-
ring River before it enters the Jamaica
Public Service Company pipeline could
affect the ability of the generating plant
to maintain the ten or eleven megawatts
of power to which it is committed. To
draw it from the tailrace would not
affect generating capacity but would
require more power to pump the water
up the escarpment than would be saved,
as well as involving another 2 kilome-
tres of pipeline. The NWC insists that
the whole project is properly tailored to
the supply available, but both observed
data [4] and on site scrutiny seem to
raise doubts. In any case, the scheme
is now in an advanced stage, and the

7. Logs of all sizes from Roaring River property


Age earns

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hCie is Ho 0111cl N� �IN to fllll�
............... c\j)ClicIICC it', lich, distinchvc Lisle
MId LHISMIMS1,Cd sill ool 1111C."s Him)
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ide 'Illd I I �Idit [oH.


InJamaica Its AbsolulelyAppl e'lon

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4. .

Bogue treatment plant is nearing com-
plenon [8].
The National Water Commission
has no control over the watershed of the
Cave River (or the others for that mat-
ter). At any time the UDC could divert
the water for other purposes. Even if it
is said that safeguards exist to prevent
this - which is certainly not clear legal-
ly - various activities of the UDC with-
in the watershed could affect both the
quantity and more importantly the qual-
ity of the water supply going into the
NWC treatment plant. At present the
land utilization patterns throughout the
UDC properties on the St Ann coast do
not encourage confidence that proper
management of a series of vital water-
sheds is being put in place, or even con-
Demands on the Turtle River are
very evident: they include intense
tourist use (Cariflosa and Shaw Park
Gardens); rural and suburban water
supply; and small scale agriculture.
Conflict is inevitable. Presumably, the
population now dependent upon the
Turtle River for domestic and agricul-
tural water will eventually obtain it
from the Cave River supply, which may
ease the situation somewhat. However,
new pipes will be required to bring this
to reality.
Finally, in addition to the direct
demands on these water sources for
power generation, domestic supply, the
heavy demands of tourism both for con-
sumptive (including cruise ships) and
amenity uses, and small scale agricul-
ture and horticulture, the land of the
watersheds is under intense pressure
The UDC controlled land alone is
expected to support lumber for saw-
milling, cattle raising, waste disposal,
tourist parks, hotel and villa accommo-
dation, pimento production for export,
squatter settlement, horticulture, port
facilities: all of this without a master
plan or, it would appear, any detailed
plan at all to decide on priorities or
resolve the conflicting uses.

Untapped Water Resources

The three coastal rivers of the Rio
Bueno sub-basin [Table 1] are not as
yet fully utilized, and pressure is less
than in the Ocho Rios sub-basin. In the
latter, nearly all the surface flow is now
utilized in some way or, in the case of
the Cave River, soon to be utilized. But

8. National Water Commission treatment plant, Bogue (Cave River)

though quantities in the Rio Bueno sub-
basin are still adequate, quality is
already very adversely affected - as any
motorist crossing the historic Rio
Bueno bridge can testify by scent
There is one untapped underground
supply: the 126 million litres/day (27.7
million gallons) which seep out under
the coast and emerge as submarine fresh
water springs offshore. It would seem
feasible to utilize this by drilling wells
on land, far enough inland to avoid
saline intrusion. The 1974 FAO report,
perhaps rather too enthusiastically, con-
sidered that there is great potential for
well drilling within both sub-basins.

The Danger of Complacency

T he numerous threats to our valuable
North Coast water resources arise
from increasingly compelling demands
upon the same natural supply.
Sadly, there has been a great deal
of complacency. The North Coast sup-
ply does not derive solely from the
limestone aquifer as is often assumed.
Though resilient, the environment of
the area is increasingly under stress. It
is not 'crying wolf' or the alarmism of
'greenies' to suggest that a very serious
and detailed environmental impact
assessment of the entire basin is called
for. Development is envisaged which
the resources are unlikely to be able to
support without negative consequences.
It is imperative for the problems to
be recognized and addressed now
before they reach the stage of jeopardiz-
ing development and producing devas-

station in an area world-renowned for its
verdant beauty, the very epitome of our
land of wood and water.


EYRE, L. A.'Evidence of Man-Induced Clim-
atic Change in the Fall and Hope River
Basins of Jamaica, West Indies' in L. C.
Nkemdirim, ed. The Tropical Environ-
ment. Calgary: IGU Working Group on
Tropical Climatology and Human
Settlements, 1988.
Development and Management of Water
Resources, Jamaica: Dry Harbour
Mountains - North Coast Basin. Rome:
UNDP/FAO, 1974.
BAIRN, P. 'Jamaican limestone forests:
floristics, structure and environment'.
Journal of Tropical Ecology, vol. 4,
Environmental Science. Boston: Allyn
and Bacon, 1989.
LAWRENCE, V. 'Dumping garbage and
removing trees'. Sunday Gleaner, 17
December 1989.
MORRIS, M. 'Environmental crimes threaten
Dunn's River'. Sunday Gleaner, 10
December 1989. [See also Editorial,
same issue].
A Study of the Caribbean Basin
Drought/Food Production Problem.
Washington: National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, 1979.



Total Basin area: 1444
a. Rio Bueno Sub-basin 894
b. Ocho Rios sub-basin 550
Impermeable classic rocks: surface drainage 153
Limestone: sub-surface drainage 1291

Million Million
m3/year litres/day

Precipitated water received in basin: 2300 6297
a. Central mountain watersheds 350 958
b. Limestone plateau 1680 4600
c. Surface watersheds of coastal escarpment 270 739
Surface evapotranspiration (AE-0.627) 1400 3833
Available for utilization in rivers and aquifers 900 2464
Rivers flowing from central inlier into limestone 56 153
Recharge of limestone aquifers 731 2001
Surface watersheds of coastal escarpment 90 246
Coastal rivers: 977 2411
a. Rio Bueno 250 685
Rio Bueno b. Pear Tree 84 230
Sub-basin c. Laughlands 160 438
Ld. St Ann's Great' 5 14

Fe. Little2 10 27
f. Roaring3 248 679
Ocho Rios g. Dunn's2 28 77
Sub-basin h. Cave - Rio Chico4 20 55
i. Turtle5 8 22
Lj. Others2 18 49
Offshore springs and unmeasured runoff 46 126

SI. Despite its name, the SL Ann's Great River is now no longer perennial and only flows following flood rams.
2. Discharge of Little, Dunn's and 'Other' Rivers is a crude but reasonable estimate, as no permanent gauging stations are in place.
'3. The gauge on the Roaring River is at the JPS Co. tailrace; minor adjustment has been made for unmeasured peaks.
14. Values for the Cave River have been obtained by combining two gauges, one on the 'river' and the other on the'canal'.
5. Official gauging on the Turtle ceased in 1986.
XEquivalents: I litre = 0.22 gallons imperial. I m3 = 220 gallons imperial.
Data sources: Underground Water Department; Geological Survey- Survey Department. Author's computations.

TABLE 2: North Coast Basin - Plateau and Mountain Section
Percentage Deviation of 1950-1969 and 1970-1989 Precipitation from
1921-1950 Precipitation and from '91-Year' Average

(a) from 1921-1950 -25 -51 -25 -31 -32 -19 -1 -32 -26 -33 -27 -28 -28
(b) from '91 -Year' average 1970-1989 -23 -50 -25 -27 -27 -28 +1 -37 -25 -33 -38 -26 -28
(a) from 1921-1950 -17 -13 -9 -36 -33 -13 -19 -13 -2 -9 -11 -21 -18
(b) from '91-Year' average -12 -12 -9 -33 -27 -24 -17 -19 0 -9 -24 -19 -17

Data source: Jamaica Meteorological Service, Climatological Branch. Author's computations.


Cave River'. Floodplain News, vol. 1, no. 5, 1988.
PRANCE, G. T. AND LOVEJOY, T. E. eds. Key Environments: Amazonia.
Oxford: Pergamon, 1985.
SUTrON, S. L. ed. Tropical Rain Forest: Ecology and Management.
Oxford: Blackwell, 1983.
WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE Tropical Forests: A Call for Action.
Washington: 1985.


The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance and encour-
agement of the Director, scientists and staff of the Underground
Water Department of the Ministry of Public Utilities and Transport;
Michael White of Hydrology Consultants Ltd; Calvin Gray of the
Climatological Branch, Jamaica Meteorological Service; Margaret
Morris of the Gleaner; and several environment-conscious residents
of Jamaica's north coast who begged him to carry out this study and
seek to bring the issues to public attention.



from Jamaica-
by Loma Goodison

Winner of the 1986 British Airway)s Commonwealth
Poetry Prize for the A mericas, Lorna reads a
selection representing the wide range of her poetic
interests against a backdrop of colourful scenes
from Jamaica.

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Memories Revisited
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one of the gracious hotels of Old Jamaica is being restored
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The Mclntyres look forward to welcoming you.

Itt 11111111 11 11 111# lito 41ttitIftt




9J O5 / Ah



Detail from Dance Hall by Carl Abrahams

The Creole lyrics of the DJs define the furthest
extreme of the scribal/oral literary continu-
umin Jamaica. Unmediated by a middle-class,
scribal sensibility, DJ oracy articulates a distinctly
urbanized folk ethos.1 The literariness of this mas-
sive,2 popular cultural form is marginalized by its
context of performance: the dancehall. The primary
function of the DJ's art is to ram dancehall an cork
party.3 Decontextualized, the lyrics often become
decidedly limp.
To the uninitiated much of the noise that
emanates from the DJs is absolutely unintelligible.
The insistent sing-song of fixed rhythmic structures
conspires to obscure meaning; individual words
become submerged in a wash of sound. But if you
permit your ears to become attuned to this border-
line sound and allow for the free play of the intellect,
then patterns of meaning cohere and a framework of
analysis both sociolinguistic and literary may be con-
As Creole becomes appropriated by the official
culture (for example as 'folk heritage', or for
'authenticity' in the advertising industry); and as the
use of Creole in the scribal literary tradition becomes
acceptable and conventional, then the rude impulse
of Creole, formerly manifested in 'backward' folk
culture, now reasserts itself in contemporary forms
of verbal marronage such as the lyrics of the DJs.
This down-town, purely oral art-form can be
both differentiated from and situated within the
broader context of the work of oraliterate writers
like Louise Bennett, Vic Reid and Erna Brodber, for
example, who are substantially up-town folk easily
commanding the full breadth of the scribal/oral liter-
ary continuum. With the DJs there is no presumption
of an essentially scribal literary tradition as the con-
text of performance.
The DJ's lyrics interrogate other song traditions
- for example Jamaican folk songs and African-
American Rhythm and Blues - with comic (and
often ironic) effect. For example Higgs and Twins'
Jump Up Time is a dancehall update of a 'folk' song,
Evenin' Time, written by Barbara Ferland in the late
Jump an spread out time
Come everybody better form a line!
We da wuk from morning, da wuk


from morning
Da wuk from nine til five.
Mek we rock up fi we body line
Mek we dance an sing, do we owna
Inrma dancehall style.
The tune of Red Dragon's Love
Oonu is that of a children's ring game,
There's a Brown Girl in the Ring. The
song's derogatory reference to Shaka
Zulu modulates, somewhat ironically,
into minstrelsy:
If yu no favour Shaka Zulu seh, tra-
If yu no ugly lakka patoo seh, tra-
An if yu know yu smile pretty seh,
And if yu know yu teet white seh,
Yellowman's Waan Me Virgin
employs the melody of a Revival song,
'Me alone, me alone inna di wilderness/
Forty days an forty nights inna di
wilderness', for satirical purposes: 'Me
no waan, me no waan weh di man dem
nyam an lef/ Di man dem walk a mile
an a half inna yu gungo walk'. The
repeated 'walk' encodes subtly different
meanings: 'walk' as both the act of sex-
ual intercourse and the place where it
occurs. The primary sex/food metaphor
('nyam,' Twi for 'meat,' generalized in
Jamaican Creole to mean 'eat'), is
extended in the identification of the
woman's body with both the lush fertili-
ty of a bed of gungo peas and the dis-
tastefulness of left-over food.4 Further,
'walk' as fowl-run and/or the place in
which a game-cock is kept widens the
sexual allusiveness of the song.
Undomesticated, brazen female
sexuality is both desirable (to many
men) and threatening (to some), so the
ambivalent DJ seeks a virgin. Waan
Me Virgin also echoes an earlier Mento
song, 'Me no waan, me no waan weh
Matty Walla lef/ Matty run a mile an a
half eena gungo walk', thus suggesting
that sexual innuendo is not at all pecu-
liar to the much maligned lyrics of the
DJs, but is firmly established in
Jamaican popular culture. Indeed, a
loaded line of the Mento song, '01 lady
run a mile an a half an she tumble
down', evokes the evasive/complicit
sexuality of the cunning, experienced
old woman, a theme that is brilliantly
developed in Lovindeer's Granny Two -
The sustained narrative and metri-
cal line of Lovindeer's artful composi-

tions, and especially his sensitive han-
dling of double-entendre (pun/aani)5,
are evidence of his sheer genius and
mastery of form. His penchant for
picong - that Trinidadian art of wicked
wit - suggests that he is schooled in the
calypso idiom. For example, his signa-
ture tune, Panty Man, parodies Sammy
Davis Junior's Candy Man:
Who cyan rock di party?
Who cyan mek it ram?
Mek all of di oman kick up an
raise deh han?
Di panty man cyan.

Verbal Art
The DJ's verbal art originates in an
inclusivist neo-African folk aesthetic -
a carnivalesque fusion of word, music
and movement around the centre pole,
and on the common ground of the
dance floor. The DJ's original function
of livelyin up dance session made him
a kind of praise poet for his sound sys-
tem. His status was enhanced by his
control of lyrics that cyaan done.6 Dick
Hebdige, in 'Reggae, Rastas and
Rudies', accurately traces the develop-
ment of the genre, after making the
sweepingly wrong generalization that
beforeoe "ska" (the forerunner of reg-
gae) Jamaica had little distinctive music
of its own':7

... in the 1950s, in West Kingston, R.
and B., imported from America, began to
attract attention. Men like Duke Reid
were quick to recognize the potential for
profit and launched themselves as disc-
jockeys forming the flamboyant aristoc-
racy of the shantytown slums; the era of
the sound system began. Survival in the
highly competitive world of the backyard
discos, where rival disc-jockeys vied for
the title of the 'boss-sound', demanded
alertness, ingenuity and enterprise; and,
as American R. and B. began to lose its
original impetus in the late fifties, a new
expedient was tried by the more ambi-
tious d-j's (sic), who branched out into
record production themselves. Usually,
an instrumental recording was all that
was necessary, and the D-J would impro-
vise the lyrics (usually simple and for-
mulaic: 'work-it-out, work-it-out', etc.)
during 'live' performances.8
Over time, DJing evolved from primari-
ly functional talk subject to an econom-
ic imperative - drawin crowd - to talk
as an entertaining end in itself. The DJ
himself is now the star performer, no
longer a mere functionary in the sound

system business. But in performance
the DJs, conscious of lineage, and need-
ing to sell themselves efficiently in an
increasingly competitive market, elabo-
rately declare their mastery of the field.
For example, Super Cyat:
An anyweh me go, me a di mike
Mr Cyat on a style an fashion
An me come inna di place an hol
di mike inna mi hand
Come inna di place an talk, an den
di session haffi ram

Cau me seh dis is di Cyat Jah man
im jus passing t(h)rough
An anyweh me go me nice up yu
The literariness of the DJ's art is
thus subsumed in the totalizing function
of the dance. By contrast, the origins of
the work of an oraliterate writer like
Louise Bennett, whose poetry seems
close in spirit to the pure orality of DJ
performance, can be traced to both oral
and scribal literary forms. Bennett's
creolizing of the inherited ballad form
is, initially, an act of conscious literary
modelling. Aware of conventional poet-
ic forms that provided a sense of histor-
ical context Bennett becomes a Creole
practitioner within an established liter-
ary tradition. The poem Bans a Killin
makes this clear. Jamaican Creole is one
of a number of regional dialects of
English that must be preserved;
Bennett's dialect poems are legitimate
regional verse of good pedigree:
Chaucer, Burns, Lady Grizelle and
Dah language weh yuh proud a
Weh yuh honour an respect -
Po Mas Charlie, yuh no know seh
Dat it spring from dialect!

Yuh wi haffi kill de Lancashire,
De Yorkshire, de Cockney,
De broad Scotch and de Irish brogue
Before yuh start kill me!
Yuh wi haffi get de Oxford Book
A English Verse, an tear
Out Chaucer, Burns, Lady Grizelle
An plenty a Shakespeare!9
This contextualization of Bennett's
work is not intended to detract from the
distinctiveness of her accomplishment -
inscribing Afro-Jamaican folk culture
on the literary imagination - but to
underscore its paradoxical conser-
vatism. In a paper entitled, 'The Decay
of Neo-Colonial Official Language


Policies. The case of the English-lexi-
con Creoles of the Commonwealth
Caribbean', Hubert Devonish argues
that the firm opposition to the early lit-
erary Creole experiments of Bennett in
Jamaica and Wordsworth McAndrew in
Guyana' . . . forced... [them] to take a
rather defensive position concerning the
Creole language question:'10

They ended up stressing the need for the
preservation of Creole in its existing
roles and functions. There was, at least, a
tacit acceptance on their part that, in
spite of the expressiveness and efficiency
of Creole as a medium of communica-
tion, the role of English as the sole offi-
cial language could not be challenged.
This defensive position made it easy,
after independence, for the new political
elite who had inherited political power to
co-opt the work and positions of people
like Bennett and McAndrew. In the quest
for national symbols to place alongside
those of the flag and national anthem, the
new political elite occasionally find it
necessary to refer to the special place
which the 'folk' speech plays as a mark
of national identity. But, at best, when
the existence of Creole is at all recog-
nised by those who hold political power,
this recognition is granted to a symbol
and nothing more.11

Trash an Ready
The Creole of the DJs is not pre-
served ' "folk" speech' expropriated by
the political/cultural elite. It is a lan-
guage on the make: trash an ready.12
But if the language of the DJs has not
attracted co-optation by the State, the
themes of the 1980s recordings never-
theless are characterized by their appar-
ent political conservatism and an over-
whelming preoccupation with 'slack-
ness'. In his study of the cultural poli-
tics of race and nation in Britain,
There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack,
Paul Gilroy argues that:
Jamaica's DJs steered the dance-hall side
of roots culture away from political and
historical themes and towards 'slack-
ness': crude and often insulting wordplay
pronouncing on sexuality and sexual
antagonism. I am not suggesting a simple
polarity in which all toasters were agents
of reaction and all singers troubadours of
revolution. The Jamaican DJ tradition
had been as involved in the spread of
Rastafari during the late 1960s and early
1970s as recorded song. The two aspects
of reggae culture interacted and com-
bined in complex fashion. Even as slack-
ness achieved ascendancy there re-
mained popular toasters like Peter Metro

and Brigadier Jerry who fought to main-
tain rhymes with a social content in the
dances. However, the role and content of
reggae changed markedly after 1980.
This shift related to the consolidation of
Seaga's regime and the consequent mili-
tarization of ghetto life. Both were also
expressed in roots music and in the soc-
ial relations of sound system sub-culture
where guns became an increasingly
important aspect of the rituals through
which the crowd communicated its plea-
sure to the DJs.13
Yet, paradoxically, though DJ
slackness as critiqued by Gilroy is con-
ceived as politically conservative, it can
be seen to represent in part a radical,
underground confrontation with the
pious morality and conservative gender
ideology of fundamentalist Jamaican
society. In its invariant coupling with
Culture, Slackness is potentially a poli-
tics of subversion. For Slackness is not
mere sexual looseness - though it cer-
tainly is that. Slackness is a metaphori-
cal revolt against law and order; an
undermining of consensual standards of
decency. It is the antithesis of Culture.
To quote Josey Wales: 'Slackness in di
backyard hidin, hidin from Culture'.
Slackness as an (h)ideology of escape
from the authority of omniscient Cul-
ture is negotiated in a coded language
of evasive double-entendre. Gilroy him-
self notes, but does not fully explore at
the level of politics, '. . . the subversive
potential in the ability to switch
between the languages of oppressor and
The aesthetics of sound system culture
had from its inception been built around
the pleasures of using exclusive or spe-
cialized language in cryptic coded ways
which amused and entertained as well as
informed the dancing audience. For
example, highly ritualized exchanges
between the DJs and the crowd that con-
veyed appreciation of a particular rhythm
(record) or style (sequence of rhymes)
frequently involved the systematic cor-
ruption of ordinary innocent English
words into new forms of public speech.
'Massive', 'Safe', 'Settle', and 'Worries'
are all words which were playfully en-
dowed with meanings unrelated to those
invested in them within the dominant
Particularly in reference to the opposi-
tional values Slackness/Culture, we
should add 'wicked', which signifies
massive approval of the subject thus
Eschewing respectability, the DJs
operate subversively at the low end of

the scale of accepted social propriety.
Their privileged subjects are DJing
itself, and sexuality. Heterosexuality
most often requires a precise listing of
body parts, almost exclusively female,
and an elaboration of their mechanical
function. Homosexuality is gloriously
vilified in graphic excremental imagery.
Supremacy in DJing is ritually con-
tested, as in Lecturer's 'Well, if a DJ
waan fi tes me, tell im fi come'. Verbal
and sexual skill are often indistinguish-
able. Lyrics that cyaan done and rough
riding rhythms become symbols of sus-
tained sexual potency, as in Beenie
Don's 'Look ow me slim, but me
healthyy an (s)trong/Keep pon dem rid-
dim like a dyam stallion'. It is not size
but technique that determines staying
Recurring horse racing imagery
connotes not only sexual power but also
the verbal skill of sports commentators
on horse racing, who are able to sustain
intelligibility despite an extremely fast-
paced delivery that enacts the speed and
excitement of the race itself. This kind
of skill, as much as the old-time radio
DJs' rhymes - 'the cool fool with the
live jive' - provides models for the
DJs' tongue-twisting, ear-bending lines.
The core of forty-seven songs in
the data base for this study is the Der-
rick's One Stop record shop (Kingston,
Jamaica) two volume collection of thir-
ty-five, 'Latest Reggae '88', supple-
mented by Lovindeer's 'Panty Man'
album and his hit Wil(d) Gilbert,
Yellowman's Waan Me Virgin and Titty
Jump, and Josey Wales' Culture a Lick
and Slackness Done16. The songs can be
grouped thematically into five broad
categories: (1) songs that celebrate
DJing itself; (2) dance songs that vigor-
ously invite participants to wine an
push een; (3) songs of social commen-
tary on a variety of issues, for example,
ghetto violence and hunger; (4) songs
that focus on sexual/gender relations -
by far the largest number in the sample.
Some of the songs in this group are
clearly inflammatory in intent; Lovin-
deer and Yellowman are the chief per-
petrators. But others, and not just those
sung by the female DJs, celebrate the
economic and sexual independence of
women, thus challenging the conserva-
tive gender ideology that is at the heart
of both pornographic and fundamental-
ist conceptions of woman as commodi-
ty, virgin and whore; (5) songs which
directly confront the Slackness/Culture


Of the three songs in group five,
Slackness Done by Josey Wales is the
least ambiguous. The opening frame,
with its militaristic motif, defines the
terms of the DJ's heroic and presum-
ably suicidal mission - cleaning up the
'Colonel Josey Wales!'
'Yes, Commissioner.'
7 would like you to go into di
dance-hall an clean up all dose
slack DJ who is spoilin di
kids of today.'

(Note the Creole interference in the
Commissioner's reported English.
'Order' is already breaking down as lin-
guistic Slackness disarticulates Cul-
ture.) But the Commissioner is not
being parodied. The DJ, faced with two
mutually hostile orders of responsibility
- that of the massive who require out-
of-order lyrics, and that of the
Commissioner of Police, the voice of
official morality and social order - sim-
ply bows to the censorial authority of
State Power.
But the sluggish rhythm of the song
and the dispirited tone of the reverber-
ating, inebriated first verse suggest that
not only Slackness but the DJ himself
has been done in:

An yu ever inna dance-hall

drinking stout, a stout, a stout, a stout,
Yu dip inna di crate, put di bockle a yu
mout, yu mout, yu mout, yu mout
An all of a sudden yu bredrin a shout,
a shout, a shout, a shout
Seh di Colonel Josey Wales im deh ya,
im deh bout, deh bout, deh bout, deh
After this rather half-hearted start, the
Colonel, attempting to carry out the
Commissioner's directive, launches his
Ah talking to di DJ from di street,
di street, di street
Di people in di community cyaan
sleep, Lawd.
We goin on like we live on di
rubbish heap
Life is pretty, we should tek it more
smoothly, tek it more sweet.
Believe me, Ah tell yu
Becau slackness done, an me
no waan none
Slackness haffi done, cau me no
waan none.
The 'rubbish heap' image is an
accurate representation of how nice an
decent people17 in Jamaica view DJ
slackness. The Daily Gleaner of Friday
13 January 1989 dedicated its page 9
'Letters to the Editor' column to six let-
ters with the following headlines:
'"Respect due" to reggae music';
'Unprofessionalism in local music';
'Stop, stop, now!'; 'No!, no! to slack-
ness'; 'To spurn indecency'; 'Stance
against slackness'. The letter from the
Chief Executive Director of King of
Kings Promotions, who claims to have
'suffered greatly' as a 'consciousness'
promoter 'because the public has gotten
so used to reading and hearing about the
antics of the slackness merchants'
characterizes the offending DJs as 'gut-
ter louts'. The event which precipitated
this public outcry was the Sting '88
stage show, attended by an audience of
over 25,000, some of whom, apparently
anxious to have the DJs Flourgon and
Ninja Man come on stage, pelted off
two 'singers'.
The singer/DJ tension seems rooted
in a basic contradiction between the
generally sentimental lyrics of the
singers and the more earthy particulars
of the DJs. Several of the songs in the
sample exploit the disparity between the
two sensibilities. African-American
hip-hop, which has clear affinities with
DJing, articulates a similar disengage-
ment from the rhetoric of R & B. In an
Essence magazine article, Harry Allen

characterizes hip-hop thus:

It exhibits none of the creative listless-
ness with which much of R & B is cur-
rently burdened. Nor does it have the
hands-off, gloves-on reverence with
which jazz often finds itself draped.
Rather than pretending to bourgeois stan-
dards of style, or attempting musically
to evoke a time dead and gone, as many
jazz and R&B artists are wont to do, rap-
pers instead sling the rawest, most realis-
tic insights at your ear. Deejays take your
favourite records, cut 'em up, mix 'em
around and serve 'em to you on a record
platter. Meanwhile their crowds move
and shake their bodies in ways that
Grandmother once said would definitely
get you pregnant or arrested. It all
comes together in a whole:funky,

With this frame of reference, it is
not surprising to note that Josey Wales
offers the sweet, smooth 'life is pretty'
line as the alternative to Slackness on
the rubbish heap: 'Come my man, tell
yu, leave aaf di street/ Talk about some
lovin an huggin me friendd/ Dis
Slackness business coming to a en(d)'.
Conversely, Admiral Bailey's
Winey Winey energetically denounces
'huggin up':
Me seh huggin up is against di law
Hi bwoy! We doan dance like
dat anymore
Mama! If you cyaan do di winey
winey dance
Hi bwoy! Step aside an gi di
bubbler a chance.

Winey winey is to hugging up as DJing
is to singing: the bottom versus the top
end of the market. Indeed, when Ninja
Man and Flourgon came on stage at the
infamous Sting show the bottom
dropped out of the market.
In his impassioned report of the
event in the Daily Gleaner of Friday 30
December 1988, Howard McGowan,
the entertainment columnist, after
decrying the 'stoning' of the two
singers, though conceding that one of
them was 'just not up to standard
singing so badly off key that the deaf
would have had a problem', proceeds to
savage the DJs:
But perhaps the single most distasteful
situation came during the clash of male
DJs when the worst squalor was present-
ed on stage for lyrics by Ninja Man and
Flourgon, ironically two of the leading
candidates for DJ of the Year title, some-
thing I will address at another time. So
vulgar was this section that the plug was


Slackness Personified

Aamiral Bailey

rightly pulled on them saving the ears of
the people from the assault on their
decency launched by these individuals.
Presumably not all members of the
audience were equally grateful for hav-
ing their ears saved from the 'assault';
but the fine distinction drawn between
'the people' and 'these individuals'
reinforces the alienation of the scape-
goated DJs from the common fold of
humanity. In his 'On the Record' col-
umn in the Sunday Gleaner of 1
January 1989, McGowan's promised
elaboration of the problem of indecent
lyrics, proposes a sweeping solution:
Against this background ON THE RECORD
will not be selecting a male or female DJ
of the year and I have had verbal support
from the programmes managers of both
RJR and JBC. Further, I have been given
the assurance that when the JAMI Nom-
ination Committee meets this week, this
body could also consider dropping these
categories this year. Rockers say they are
willing to go along with the moral
majority who spurn indecency, and will
therefore not support any DJ awards.
The headline of the piece, 'Time
for a stand against "dirty lyrics",' is
deliciously suggestive to the dirty-
minded deconstructionist, especially

when compounded with the following
question: 'Why, you may ask, the sud-
den decision to come down so hard on
"dirty lyrics" . .. ?' The traitorous sig-
nifier at play: vive la difference! Harry
Allen objects to the fact that:

White music critics and cultural histori-
ans are talking about hip-hop and find
themselves tossing long, funny words
into the air to describe it. Words like
deconstruction, appropriation, iconogra-
phy and recontextualization. But those
words have little to do with the way
African-American people live or make
music, and hip-hop is no more or less
than Black life on black vinyl. Whatever
one finds in the community, they'll find
in the records. This has a lot to do with
why it's so attractive to some people and
repulsive to others.19

Ethnophallogoncentricity! The problem
with Allen's negative response to white
criticism of black music is that it is dou-
bly ethnocentric: white scholars can't
really understand black music, so they
have to intellectualize it away; black
scholars who should know better use
'big' words for non-academic matters.
Another kind of racist simplification;
black music shouldn't be subjected to
scholarly analysis.

Culture a Lick, also by Josey
Wales, suggests more ironic possibili-
ties than the straightforward Slackness
Done. Iconography is appropriated,
deconstructed and recontextualized. In
the opening frame, personified Slack-
ness is addressed in terms that evoke a
judge handing down a prison sentence.
But the 'punishment' is in fact a highly
valued commodity - an exit visa: 'Now
Slackness, I am givin you a indefinite
multiple to leave Jamaica'. Many
Jamaicans routinely sweat for a visa, as
illustrated in Edward Baugh's wicked
Nigger Sweat. Edward Baugh is not a
DJ;20 but the spirit (and language) of his
poem is that of peasant revolt against
the magisterial dismissiveness of for-
eign embassies. The epigraph to
Nigger Sweat is drily ironic:

'Please have your passport and all doc-
uments out and ready for your interview.
Kindly keep them dry'. (Notice in the
waiting-room of the U.S. Embassy, Visa
Section, Kingston, Jamaica, 1982.)21

Slackness' multiple entry visa
allows easy access in and out; it means
temporary displacement, not total ban-
ishment. And in any case, since the DJs
sing of their vaunted successes in
Miami, Toronto and London (for they
too have multiple entry visas), it is only
Jamaica that will suffer the loss of
The DJ's signalled intention in the
first verse of Culture a Lick seems hon-
ourable despite the fact that it is an
implied Other, not the Colonel himself,
who now castigates the slack DJ:
Oh tell dem DJ dis
Tell dem fi stop all di Slackness
Slackness business big inna Jamaica
Spoil di youtman an granfader
All di yout dem a criticize di daughter
Mus remember we comin from
a modder

But the chorus has multiple resonances
that invert the dominant/subdominant
relationship of Culture to Slackness:
'Slackness in di backyard hidin, hidin,
hidin/Slackness in di backyard hidin,
hidin from Culture'. The repetition of
'hidin' suggests dalliance, Slackness
seductively lay waiting Culture; but con-
versely, it also suggests the cowering
posture of threatened victim, not preda-
tory villain: Culture, the Senex, the
respectable dirty old man, in pursuit of
youthful, female Slackness; or


Slackness, the Don Juan, entrapping
virginal, female Culture. Further, in
melody and parallelism of form, this
chorus is identical to a Revival song,
'Adam in di garden hidin, hidin, hidin/
Adam in di garden hidin, hide himself
from God', and also to a children's ring
game, 'Bread in di oven bakin, bakin,
bakin/ Bread in di oven bakin, bakin til
a morning'.
The ring game seems to encode ritu-
als of sexual initiation. For the bread
baking in the oven becomes in the sec-
ond verse a sleeping little sister who
must be shaken and then awakened in
the third verse. The Oxford English
Dictionary cites a 1753 slang usage of
'bread-basket' as the stomach. Rising
bread is thus an analogue of pregnancy,
as in African-American folk speech -
'she's got a bun in the oven' - and con-
temporary British slang usage.
Adam, soon to be cast into the
backyard, is hiding in the garden
because he knows that he is naked. And
although he has no bread to rise -
unlike Eve who has seduced him into
slackness and is edited out of the text -
his goose is definitely cooked. The fall
from grace is supremely tragic for
Adam, but absurdly comic to Eve. For
she's the fall guy in the routine and
doesn't even blame Adam.
Walter Redfern, in his 'Introduc-
tion' to Puns, cites Baudelaire on 'the
comic sense engendered by the Fall of
Man [that] must be exploited in the
fight-back towards wholeness. The ar-
tist, he said.. ."is an artist only so long
as he is double and faces up to all the
implications of his double nature".' 22
Similarly, Hubert Marcuse in Eros and
Civilization summarizes the existential
dilemma in Freudian terms:
The categories in which philosophy has
comprehended the human existence have
retained the connection between reason
and suppression: whatever belongs to the
sphere of sensuousness, pleasure, im-
pulse has the connotation of being antag-
onistic to reason - something that has to
be subjugated, constrained. Everyday
language has preserved this evaluation:
the words which apply to this sphere car-
ry the sound of the sermon or of obsceni-

Henry Louis Gates Jr's signifying
monkey, which is clearly related to that
other trickster Anansi, provides a West
African model of 'wholeness' that tran-
scends the polarities (en)gendered in
Western cultures: '... Esu is figured as

paired male and female statues, which
his/her devotees carry while dancing, or
as one bisexual figure. Often she holds
her breasts in the female figures. Even
Esu's sexuality is indeterminate, if
unsatiable.'24 Gates thus privileges Esu
as hermeneutic icon, the ambivalent
signifier of nonsexist critical discourse:
Metaphysically and hermeneutically, at
least, Fon and Yoruba discourse is truly
genderless, offering feminist literary crit-
ics a unique opportunity to examine a
field of texts, a discursive universe, that
escaped the trap of sexism inherent in
western discourse. This is not to attempt
to argue that African men and women
are not sexist, but to argue that the
Yoruba discursive and hermeneutical
universes are not. The Fon and the
Yoruba escape the Western version of
discursive sexism through the action of
doubling the double; the number 4 and
its multiples are sacred in Yoruba meta-
physics. Esu's two sides 'disclose a hid-
den wholeness'; rather than closing off
unity, through the opposition, they signi-
fy the passage from one to the other as
sections of a subsumed whole. Esu
stands as the sign of this wholeness.25

These far-reaching correspon-
dences make it clear that the Culture/
Slackness antinomy extends beyond the
domain of the half-heartedly suppressed
vulgarity of the DJ. Its culturally specif-
ic manifestations in Jamaica suggest not
only the continuity of West African ide-
ological traditions in the diaspora, but
also the conflict between those tradi-
tions and the official Christian morality
of the Garden of Eden in which both the
suppression of sexuality and the secon-
dariness of woman are institutionalized:
Adam (and Eve) hiding from God ver-
sus Esu as the gateway to God.
Chaka Demus's Back Out is the
most clearly subversive of the three
songs in the Culture/Slackness group-
ing. It is Slackness pure and simple
masquerading as Culture:
Now all slack it DJ, Ah waan oonu fi
run, you know, cau Culture come fi mek
oonu run like oonu hear news. Now
hear dis. Heh, heh, heh! It name
Some man a talk bout dem waan
Some man a talk bout dem waan
Some man a talk bout punaani too
Dem mussi lick it wid dem tongue,
Dem mussi bite it wid dem teet
Is ow dem get fi know seh dat
punaani too sweet.

Me seh oonu fi back out, oonu fi
back out
All Slackness DJ, me seh oonu fi back
The playful lingering over the juicy
details of punaani and punninash sug-
gests that the DJ speaks with a forked
tongue. Further, the covert reference to
homosexuality - backing out as invert-
ed withdrawal - and again:
Becau Culture come fus an Slackness
come las
Bwoy, ass is ass and class is class
Come lissen Chaka Demus inna Al
Wen me siddown pon di riddim, Rasta
know me a di boss
intimates that there are hierarchies of
slackness: heterosexuality, however
indulgent its excesses, is infinitely
superior to its homosexual variant.
Heterosexuality is culture and class;
homosexuality is slackness and ass.

In the cluster of songs that focus on
sexual/gender relations, there is a small
subgroup in which the homophobic
thrust of Jamaican style machismo is
evident in derogatory references to
homosexuality and transvestitism. For
example, Shabba Ranks's defensively
mocking line in Get Up, Stan(d) Up:
'Man inna pants an shirt, no man no
hitch up inna frock' ('hitch up' imply-
ing a posture of embarrassment); and
much more extensively in Lovindeer's
Mad Puss Tonic and Bump Up. The lat-
ter, wallowing in the messy details of
anal intercourse, protests (perhaps too
much) against the double standard of
Howard McGowan's 'moral majority',
who manifest no public outrage at a
homosexual beauty contest, but lambast
the DJ for publicly displaying his
fetishistic trademark, a spectacularly
oversize red panty almost as wide as
Lovindeer is tall: a clear parody of
transvestitism and a simultaneous glori-
fication of what the garment withholds.
Note the balancing of 'up' and 'down'
in the first two lines; the mischievous
understatement of line six, and the pun
on 'mess' in the penultimate line.
Now me did hol up a panty on TV
An half a Jamaica come down pon
Deh write letter to newspaper daily
Deh call radio an complain bout me


Seh me corruption di youts of di
An all because of a red panty.
Now dese same people seh nuhting
to di press
About dis dyam batty man contest.
Deh will fin(d) demselves in a hell
ev a mess
If dem support dis kin(d) of slackness.
Alliteration bears the full weight of
the DJ's contempt: 'Ladies and
Gentlemen! The Winner of the Mr Gay
Mobay is that bouncing batty bwoy
from backso, bumpy batty Bombo!'
Lovindeer makes no apology for any
offence that his scurrilous lyrics may
incite. In Mad Puss Tonic, which also
reports at second hand, of course, on the
contest, he simply declares that clean
ends justify dirty means: Yu know seh
my lyrics dem lick hot. Me a go step
pon nuff man corn, but me no business.
Nasty business call fi nasty lyrics. In an
ironic reversal of roles, the DJ becomes
the lone prophetic voice in a wilderness
of moral woe crying out against default-
ing homosexuals who let the side down,
and to neglected women whom the DJ
himself is chivalrously moved to ser-
Come! Some girls will have to wait
in line
Bow! Cause a real man is so hard
to fin(d)
(Like me)
Everyday I tell them doan ben(d)
But they doan listen to my sound)
I sing an preach to them a lot
They doan remember they forgot,
forgot, forgot.26

The sweetly sentimental melody
and unsyncopated rhythm of the ironi-
cally detached verses that describe, in
English, the homosexual happening are
counterpointed with the characteristic
DJ styling of those Creole verses that
deride it:

Some will say that it is their right
To do whatever they like
But if we really should let them
How do we explain it to the children
When they enquire innocently
'Why is that man wearing a
brassiere and a panty?'
Come! Me seh, no put it on, doan
put it on

Im offer yu di panty, doan put it on
Brassiere an di dress, doan put it on
Di wig an di perfume, doan put it on
High heel shoes, doan put it on

Peter Tosh, in a 1984 Pulse maga-
zine interview, criticizing the manage-
ment of local radio stations for the high
percentage of foreign music aired in
comparison to reggae, makes a reveal-
ing connection between the imported
'huggin up' lyrics of popular love songs
and male transvestitism:

I hear one, two, three, four, five already
pon the charts is foreign music. And
even if it was even fifty per cent foreign,
is still too much. If it was even twenty-
five. Me go to America and certain
places out there man, fe months you wait
fe hear all one reggae, and when them
play is like them sorry fe you. Ina my
country me haffi a bow fe hear dem fool-
ishness when we hear fe so long? Me
hear them things too much and them not
saying nothing more than 'Darling I love
you. I swim the ocean and climb the
mountains!' Madness! Ah them things
make Merican man wear pantie.27
This kind of sentiment that decries
the conventions of both heterosexual
'romance' and sexual 'deviance' as
non-indigenous, seems to illuminate not
only Lovindeer's parodic strategies in
Mad Puss Tonic, but also the ironic
framing devices used in several of the
songs in the sample that satirize the
aberrant 'madness' of romantic love.
For example, Professor Grizzy and
Little Lenny join forces in the Sing-J
style to caution men against brutalizing
women. But the ironic disparity
between the two modes - the ethereal
sentimentality of the song and the vio-
lent specifics of the DJs' lyrics - seems
to make a mockery of the entire enter-
Now you, doan brutalize your girl
dem way deh man!
Yu must treat ar good. Now step up!
I'll be your guidin star
My darlin cross my heartt
I'll never leave you in the dark
Oh, oh, and I'll be your light
On top of the hill
Love you little darlin, I will never
leave you
I'll stay.
Treat yu lover bad, treat you lover bad.
Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad
Yu no fi treat yo lover bad
Doan beat ar wid no stick
Doan brutalize ar wid no kick
She is someone to ave an to (h)old
Doan kick ar like no ball in no goal
Whisper in my ear then I ear you
tell the world
Let me tell you darlin, you just got
to be the lady of my life

Come follow me now
So doan give ar no cut
Doan give ar no gun butt

Samfie Conmen
Heartbreaker, by Lady Junie and
Tristan Palmer, employs a similar tech-
nique of inversion, but here the woman,
having once fallen for the smooth lines
of the singer con man, is now immu-
nized and offers consolation to similarly
seduced women. Lady Junie relates a
cautionary tale of distress, within which
is embedded an ironic love song. The
pattern is repeated in the parable of
Devon and Sharon:
Me a go tell yu bout dis con man
weh dem call Devon
Bout dis sexy chick an wha dem
call Miss Sharon
Tell ar ow much im ave cyar,
housee an lan
When she check im out, yes, im
doan own a dyam
Im seh:
'Honey, honey, girl I really, really,
really, really love you.
Honey, honey, I wanna take care of you
We've been kissin an touching
An bumin t(h)rough an t(h)rough
Kissin an touchin really turns you on
Let me make love to you.' (rep.)
Ear ar now, ear ar now, ear ar now:
'No bodder mek love to me, no
mek love to me
No mek love to me, an yu no mean
i. (rep.)
Cause if yu waan fi lef me, me seh
set me free
No ask me fi stay an den me live in
After all inna me face it nah grow
no tree.'

But the potential for irony is not fully
developed. Lady Junie's practical
advice on basic survival strategies - 'So
don't you go mad, no border go crazy/
Anodder ting doan cry mek im see'; and
'Go outta street an get anodder smaddy'
- also reinforces patterns of economic
dependency: 'Mek sure yu get one weh
ave a degree/ Im gi yu nuff money mek
yu feel irie'.
In Sugar Minott and Lady G's
Whole Heap a Man, Sugar's seductive
lines are trivialized by Lady G's deri-
sive interjections:
Your frien(d)s all say dat you mus(t)
dance with me
(Fi wha Sugar?)
An darlin, why won't you let it be?
(Its (sic) dat a fac(t)?)


Unmoved by Sugar's sweet talk, Lady
G declares her fixed position:
Me seh me name is Lady G, an me
no tek brivery (sic)
From me a no willing man, so let it be.
I am a different oman, I doan check
fi folly
Yu no bodder tink yu cyan come an
hypnotize (sic) me.
Her advice to other women, unlike
Lady Junie's somewhat exploitative
speculations, affirms a measure of inde-
Me a go tell yu di trut, me nah go
tell yu no lie
No bodder follow dem ya man,
dem full up a samfie.
Dem wi bruk yu heartt an mek yu cry
No bodder give dem di chance fi
get no more bligh.28
'No more bligh' alludes to a long histo-
ry of female complicity with male
samfie-ness, from which Lady G care-
fully distances herself. But there is also
an element of coy seductiveness in her
flaunted awareness of her desirability;
she asserts the woman's right to choose,
even if the confusing multiplicity of
options inhibits choice. Her teasing
indecision is underscored by the rhymes
Yes, I'm sorry Sugar Minott,
I'm not in di mood
Whole heap a man inna me
life, me haffi pick an choose.

So man, doan get me wrong,
doan tink I'm rude
Too much man inna me life
fi get me confuse.
Johnny P's Gyal Man and Shelly
Thunder's Yu Man a Rush Me approach
the problem of samfie men from clearly
opposing perspectives. Whereas Johnny
P simply blames the duplicitous woman
for abducting her friend's innocent man
- Now dis one dedicated to all di girl
dem weh a go roun an tek dem friend)
man. So young girls, if yu waan to
know yu friendd, introduce ar to yu
man, an yu wi know if a yufrien(d) -
Shelly Thunder firmly allocates blame
to the compliant and, more often,
actively seductive man. Her song opens
to a chorus of taunting male voices:
'Run, gyal, run, di owner fi di man a
come!'; which, suggestively, parallels
the sentiment and form of Chaka
Demus's line, 'Me seh run, Slackness,
run, an me seh Culture it a come!' The
fleeing 'outside' woman is Slackness;
the 'owner' is Culture; the man is com-
modified: the rigid, proprietorial
respectability of marriage versus the
looseness of more fluid sexual arrange-
But Shelly's retort puts both legal

and extra-legal affairs in perspective:
Well, no girl suppose fi mek a nex girl
haffi run. Cau if it wasn fi your man,
yu would get burn! Seeming to sub-
versively contest the otherness of the
'other woman,' she narrates a tale that
indigenizes the eternal female rivalries
replayed in the dilatory drama of the
soap opera:
Hear dis ya drama:
Inna me housee me an me son
an me daughter
Was two o'clock so me a watch
soap opera
Telephone ring an it me go answer
Pon di odder en a gyal a scream
an a oiler
'Mek me chat to di gyal
Shelly Thunder!'
I said, 'Who is this?' She seh,
'Tell ar Sandra'.
I said, 'Could you tell me in refer-
ence to what?'
She seh, 'She deh wid me baby
fader! Ow yu mean if a wha?
In im telephone book me fin(d) ar
phone number.'
I said, 'This is Shelly. Who is yu
baby fader?'
She seh, 'Yu deh wid a man weh
name Peter
Im no really want yu, a t(h)rough
yu a entertainer.

aneuy j nunaer


Im no really want yu, a t(h)rough
yu a entertainer.
Im love me bad, bad, bad, me im a
mad over
Im jus buy me a housee an a criss
Im seh a business, but im a no
Ah gwine bruk up yu - if yu no lef
me lover!'
Ah seh, 'Dibby-dibby gyal, ear ow
yu vulgar.
Come aaf a me phone, an mek me
Becau yu man a rush me, yu man a
rush me
Yu man a rush me, so yu cyaan
blame Shelly.'

This is no simple sisterly solidarity

1. The notable exception is the auspi-
ciously named Lloyd Lovindeer (not a
sobriquet) who used to teach English lan-
guage and literature at Kingston College;
a clear case of Slackness seducing
2. DJ term for people in a party, as in
Beenie Don's 'all a di massive oonu get
up an dance!', perhaps a folk etmologi-
cal amelioration of the somewhat pejo-
rative 'masses', but also see Gilroy
3. DJ's ritual claim that denotes verbal
4. For an extended analysis of the
sex/food homology in another Caribbean
popular song tradition see Gordon
Rohlehr, 'Images of Men and Women, in
the 1930s Calypsoes: The Sociology of
Food Acquisition in a Context of
Survivalism' in Patricia Mohammed and
Catherine Shepherd, eds., Gender in
Caribbean Development, Jamaica,
Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, The
University of the West Indies Women and
Development Studies Project, 1988.
5. Punaani, punninash, glibity and
glamity, all words for female genitalia in
DJ culture.
6. As in footnote 2.
7. Dick Hebdige, 'Reggae, Rastas and
Rudies', in Stuart Hall and Tony
Jefferson, eds., Resistance through
Rituals, London, Hutchinson, 1975.
8. Ibid.
9. Louise Bennett, Selected Poems, ed.
Mervyn Morris, Kingston, Jamaica,
Sangster's, 1982.


against delinquent males. There is a
smug superiority and malicious wit in
Shelley's contempt for her self-deluding
rival. (Note the distancing English ini-
tially assumed by the aggrieved Shelly
to put the 'dibby-dibby gyal' in her
place; in the open hostility of the verbal
battle the Thunder grandly descends to
Creole.) Her description of the physical
deficiencies of yet another 'unfemi-
nine', would-be competitor is full of
disdain: 'Her foot dem tough like she
did a dig yam/ Her muscle dem huge,
look big an trong/ Like she use to fling
hog pon truck a Portland'.
For the female DJ, as much as for
the male, sexual prowess is an essential
element of the kudos of the entertainer;
female sexuality is imaged in terms of

10. Hubert Devonish, 'The Decay of
Neo-Colonial Official Language Poli-
cies. The Case of the English-lexicon
Creoles of the Commonwealth
Caribbean', in Manfred Gorlach and John
A. Holm, eds., Focus on the Caribbean,
Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John Ben-
jamin's Publishing Co., 1986.
11. Ibid.
12. Jamaican Creole slang meaning,
approximately, 'fit and ready' - for con-
sumption, not disposal.
13. Paul Gilroy, There Ain't No Black in
the Union Jack, London, Hutchinson,
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Thanks to John Thomas for supply-
ing DJ tapes and commenting on my
argument at an early stage of its develop-
17. Phrase frequently used by the DJ in
reference to the audience, as in Red
Dragon's 'Love Oonu': 'Now dis one
dedicated to all nice an decent people.'
Read in opposition to the moral majori-
ty's contempt for 'indecent' lyrics, this
phrase encodes divergent decencies.
18. Harry Allen, 'Hip-hop Madness',
Essence, April 1989.
19. Ibid.
20. He is Professor of English and
University Orator, University of the West
Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
21. Edward Baugh, A Tale of the Rain
Forest, Kingston, Jamaica, Sandberry
Press, 1988.

the male gaze:29 'A bwoy stop me an
start a conversation/ Im seh me look
nice ave a sexy bottom/ Im get goose
bump when im see me eena session.'
But Shelly Thunder's female persona is
clearly a voiced subjectivity, despite
being the object of the male gaze. She
approvingly views herself in the flatter-
ing light of that gaze while simu-
lanteously declaring her independence
of male scrutiny: she reserves the right
to choose.

Photographs by Herbie Gordon

To be concluded in the next issue,

22. Walter Redfern, Puns, Oxford, Basil
Blackwell, 1984.
23. Herbert Marcuse, Eros and
Civilization, Boston, Beacon Press, 1955;
24. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The
Signifying Monkey, New York, Oxford
University Press, 1988, p.29. Compare
with reports of women at dancehalls in
Jamaica engaging in acts of self-pleasur-
ing on the dance floor.
25. Ibid.
26. 'forgot' becomes 'faggot', slang for
27. Interview with Carolyn Cooper,
Pulse, June 1984. Western 'Romance'
becomes Rastafarian 'Ras-mance' and
ultimately, DJ 'Rass-mance'.
28. Samfie means 'cunning'; bligh
29. For a revisionist, feminist reading of
the 'male gaze' see Maggie Humm, 'Is
the Gaze Feminist?', in Gary Day and
Clive Bloom, eds., Perspectives on
Pornography: Sexuality in Film and
Literature', London: Macmillan, 1988:
'But the problem with the concept of the
"gaze" hinges, paradoxically, on femi-
nists' expert attention to representation
and the male spectator. Feminist criticism
has not, as yet, explored the ways in
which the representation of sexuality
denies women a sexual voice as well as
sexual subjectivity', p. 70. Humm argues
that in some film instances '[t]he voices
of fascinating and independent women
(however problematically presented) won
out over the visual construction of specta-
tor relations'.

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Gloria Escoffery comments on
some of the highlights in the 1989
National Art Exhibition and
attempts to identify significant

What of the 1989 Grand Nation-
al? Did it turn out to be as
grandly all inclusive and cli-
mactic as I had hoped? Or as grandly
national in its reflection of the dark hin-
terland of experience from which most
of its participants had come?
In terms of head count, with a rise
of participancy from the previous year's
seventy-one up to seventy-five and an
increase of exhibits from 123 to 145,
there was no significant gain. What
might have been surprising, had it not
been so typical of the Jamaican art
scene, was the turnover of exhibitors;
within the span of a single year this
amounted to almost forty-five per cent.
The change in personnel might, in fact,
have passed unnoticed, so much was
the mix the same as usual. Where did
the fresh supply come from? Not, appa-
rently, from amateurs or little-known
professionals passing through the jury
system. The cast included one 1989
Edna Manley School for the Visual Arts
graduate and two new self-taught artists,
but in the main this was the year of the
established artists, the invited ones who
contributed major works, in many
instances backed up by pieces in other
categories.' Collectors on the lookout
for new talent will not have been entire-
ly disappointed. One outstanding self-
taught newcomer from Portland may
have sufficed to make their day.

There were, as usual, some leaden
spots where fashionable chic - of the
bourgeois or avant garde variety - stood
in for freshness of vision. But on the
whole the show conveyed an impres-
sion of experimentalism against a back-
ground of tradition; in other words it
provided a good finale to the eclectic
eighties. The man off the street, over-
whelmed by the sophistication of the
avant-garde, may have said, 'I don't see
myself here. Where are the pictures
showing transportation woes, or rise in
cost of living, or fear of gunmen?' But
these anxieties were reflected in the
exhibits, if one had eyes to see.
Ebullience was mainly concentrat-
ed in the large first floor salon dominat-
ed by the recognized power block
which had emerged towards the end of
the seventies, mainly from the Jamaica
School of Art in its second, post-aca-
demic phase. One could see how faith-
fully the example of these masters, now
in their prime, had been followed. Some
of the 'NeoGeo'2 generation which
made its appearance in the landmark
1984 explosion of youthful talent had
re-emerged after a period of personal
identity testing, possibly abroad. These
were joined by late stragglers, including
a couple of hardy souls defying the cur-
rent trend at the Edna Manley School
for the Visual Arts away from 'fine' or
expressive art and in the direction of

course options which would develop
more readily marketable skills.
One unusual feature was the
appearance as a homogeneous group of
several women artists dedicated to min-
imalism. Another was the prevalence of
watercolour as the chosen medium.
This medium, never very popular with
local artists, disclosed the separate iden-
tity of a group of artists who were either
visitors or residents of foreign origin
and training in the process of being
assimilated into our art movement. The
split between the folksy and the loosely
termed 'expressionist' intuitives was
seen to be an established fact. The for-
mer were assigned a room of their own,
the latter were interspersed among
artists in the 'salon of the avant-garde',
where they fitted in very well.
A revolutionary event this was not.
Perhaps two-thirds of the exhibits were
faithful to representationalism, or main-
tained a degree of stylization already
assimilated by, and acceptable to the
relatively conservative Jamaican art
public - which includes many persons
who would never think of walking into
one of the fashionable uptown art gal-
The year 1989 may well be remem-
bered as the year of the Christian apolo-
gists. No fewer than four artists, three
who might be termed sophisticated,
though one was self-taught and one was


in the intuitives' room, proffered works
dealing with the theme of the Passion of
Jesus Christ. We are used to seeing a
smattering of such works from the grass
roots level of the intuitives, but this was
surely an exceptional concatenation of
sombre religious feeling coming from
the more sophisticated mainstream.3 It
is not far-fetched, I think, to explain
this trend by reference to a national
sense of back-to-the-wall desperation
generated by the current tide of vio-
lence and corruption in our society, and
elsewhere, of course.
Two of these works were produced
by Dennis Minott - a self-taught wood-
carver from Portland making his debut.
One was a wall panel in high relief; the
other, titled Golgotha, a sculpture in the
round. Both were interesting, the sec-
ond perhaps more so because of the
opportunity it offered for participation
in its dynamics. The unusual tilt of the
cross set up a sense of unease, which
was compounded by the jaggedness of
protuberances from the cross beam
composed of two boxed-in mourning
angels. The body of Christ with its long
torso and short drawn-up legs evoked a
strong sympathetic response. This was
heightened by the extra dimension of
reference to events before and after the
main events, achieved by the inclusion
- at the base of the cross - of a man
with a donkey and a figure bearing a
smaller cross. The confident craftsman-
ship suggested that the artist may have
honed his skills for some time, maybe
as a supplier of items for the tourist
industry, while nurturing his personal
vision in works like these. One can only
hope that fame and fortune will not
blunt his imaginative powers.
If the curator had specially com-
missioned works to provide a harmo-
nious focus of attention he could not
have provided a more appropriate
exhibit to hang on the wall behind
Minott's Golgotha than Hylton
Plummer's starkly monochromatic wall
panel titled Christ Series, I, II, III.
Plummer, a JSA graduate of 1984,
clearly showed the influence in his for-
mative years of David Boxer and
Eugene Hyde.4 This comment does him
no discredit. One was immediately
struck by his purposeful use of mixed
media techniques. The enigmatic title
opens the way for a variety of interpre-
tations. In my reading, this is a drama
in three acts showing the apotheosis of
Christ incarnate as a corporeal being to
the point at which the flesh is cast off

Dennis Minott. Golgotha. Wood. Height: 46"

and the spirit ascends to a more ethereal
realm. The flayed-looking torso of the
Christ-man, headless and with arms
lopped off to coincide with the length of
the cross beam, is dramatized by con-
trast of the tormented thorax with the
smooth area of flesh beneath it (There
is a bare suggestion of hips and none of
lower limbs.) The illusion of volume in
the belly area is obtained by shading,
not by a process of encrustation, so that

as the viewer moves closer it seems to
change shape, broadening out to sug-
gest a panoramic, empty landscape. The
torso grows more bloated at each stage;
finally, levitating to the top edge of the
third panel, it fills the picture space
with an image which combines sugges-
tions of corruption and grandeur.
Meanwhile the drapery which started
out as a sort of prim cape neatly knotted
at the hip has taken on a life of its own
and appears in the guise of a free float-
ing winding sheet.
This work is succeeded, a few
paces away, by two essays on the
Crucifixion theme by Nelson Cooper,
an expressionist who has tended to be
underrated as a second string Milton
George, but here captured attention as
worthy of reconsideration on his own
merits. One of his two works was a
large, moving pastel 'portrait' in the tra-
dition of the Veronica image of the
'Face of Christ'. The other was a small
scale serial triptych in oils, depicting
three Stations of the Cross and titled
The Three Last Hours of Christ. Clearly
these works are intensely traditional,
not only in their place within the con-
text of Christian art, but because of
their link with this larger tradition via
David Boxer, among others, in our local
art movement I have no quarrel with
this process of cross fertilization. Think
of the results of that period of close col-
laboration between Braque and Picasso!
In the Intuitive Room an artist with
a decorative style totally outside the
stylistic conventions of the works men-
tioned above, was also to be seen bring-
ing a modem psychological approach to
bear in his interpretation of Christ's
Last Moments. Whether under his own

1 "iR

Hylton Plnumer. Christ Series , 11, ,III. Mixed media on plywood Triptych. Panels 29 J/4 X 14 -/4


Nelson Cooper
Face of Jesus
Pastel on paper
23 112' x 17"

steam, or prompted by the controversial
film The Last Temptation, Michael
Parchment had arrived at a concept
which may have shocked many viewers
- as indeed Milton George's 1985
Crucifixion had done. Here a demented
looking cross-bearing Christ was shown
in springtime pursuit of a haloed
'What is man that thou art mindful
of him?' From an abyss of humility the
Psalmist posed this agonized question
which presupposed the existence of a
God who could always be counted to
right things when events seemed to be
going wrong for His chosen people.
Modem existentialism has kicked away
the props of belief, concentrating on the
angst of the discovery that man can not
even explain himself to himself, and
does not like what he seems to be. In
Jamaica a strong foundation of religious
consciousness has mainly, in our art,
kept the Godhead in place. However, as
in Paul Smith's expressionist works of
1988, In His Hands,5 the view that man
has messed things up is often given
expression. Frequently, human propen-
sity to arrogance and exploitation of the

weak are shown in a historical context
which focuses on colonialism. What-
ever the line of thought, metaphysical,
historical or psychological, artists of the
eighties have produced a gallery of dis-
turbing portraits of man with a capital
M, and this exhibition included its fair
share of these.
Cecil Cooper, always more inter-
esting when he concentrates on human
beings rather than on landscape, con-
tributed an image of dual personality in
his mixed media Duo, which shows
man 'through a glass, darkly' and dis-
figured by unseemly splotches.
Valentine Fairclough focusing attention
on sexual depravity, portrayed a New
Age Madonna, raddled and obscene as
she leers out from behind a broken
mesh wire screen. Contemporary sexual
morality was, perhaps, more subtly
explored by Milton George, in a beguil-
ingly colouristic pastel disingenuously
titled, Before We Set to Work. Here two
youths, presumably awaiting their turn,
appear not to notice as a third makes
sexual advances to a lady in a bridal
gown. Milton has also contributed a
Goyaesque monster with its sole eye

located in its belly; rising from a low
horizon and silhouetted against an omi-
nously glowing sky, this modern
Cyclops lurches menacingly towards
the viewer.
Two of the most original metaphors
for mankind came, not surprisingly,
from the studio of Robert Cookhorne,
more commonly known as 'African'. 6
His blown up Cockroach mercifully
attached to the frame by its miserable
little legs, is a brilliant personification
of the squalor which afflicts us in every
corner of our cities, towns and villages.
There was something heroic, or false
heroic, in the helmeted gladiator effect
which characterizes his Man. A sequin
glitter of excitement on the most super-
ficial level as well as a sense of identity
barely held together by makeshift was
brilliantly suggested by the use of safety-
By contrast, the highly intellectual
works of David Boxer, though they too
deal with disturbing realities, convey an
overall impression of aesthetic harmony
which satisfies more than it disturbs.
This is true of his assemblage
Fetischrist for Colonial Smokers, in
which such items as old-fashioned ads
for prosthetic limbs, which might indi-
vidually suggest morbid associations,
lose their impact in the mel6e of inter-
esting bits and pieces. These ready-
made objects were brought together in a
hybrid gazebo or pavilion which
evoked a smile because of its ingenuity.
Boxer sometimes approaches his theme
in a completely abstract way. His two-
dimensional, small scale Scriabin Suite
(for Horowitz) is conceived serially to
suggest a musical score divided into
bars and punctuated by notes; every
controlled hairline or tiny globule of
pigment contributes to the total rhyth-
mic effect.
Feeling and wit are not incompati-
ble. They combine in different propor-
tions in the works of Rafiki Kariuki and
Andrew Jefferson. Kariuki, noted for
his expressionist unmasking of the
beast beneath the skin, seemed to be
moving towards greater abstraction in
his mixed media composition titled
Automation which features mechanical
detritus. These fail to come together in
any functional way. Peering out from a
noticeably lopsided 'circle' was -
unearthed at last - the lost persona of a
rather bestial looking human male.
Jefferson has followed up his gun-toting
robot with a milder version of man as a
chemical construct. In his mixed media


underwater adventure featuring a pre-
sent day Jonah observed by a bowler-
hatted fish and serenaded by the gor-
geous blonde bombshell of a mermaid.
How silly it is to let anxiety over
the application of these stale critical
terms, mostly vitiated by misuse out of
historical context, distract us. Let us
admit that Colin Garland, for instance,
must be seen as a front rank illustrator
of the fantastic, side by side with such
artists as Brian Froude. Nevertheless, it
is useful to find some way of establish-
ing local boundaries of style and con-
sciousness as, for instance, in the case
of intuitive Errol McKenzie. His pen-
chant for mixed media - in this case a
fusion of free-form wooden plaques
with free-form oil paintings on canvas,
may link him with the mainstream, but
the spirit behind them is quite different.
Their inspiration is to.be found in popu-
, . , -, L --A ft lar kitsch, rather than in the norms of
William Joseph (Woody). John Clappy. Cedar. Height : 17" the avant-garde.

print titled Chemical Conception, the
solar plexus of a rather inane looking
creature turns out, on closer inspection,
to contain the figure of a Mickey
Mouse - which the viewer has to bring
to life for himself, by dint of assem-
bling fragments of design into a total
After these subtle or crass and
sometimes profoundly revolting images
of Man, it was a relief to be confronted
by 'Woody' Joseph's two hearty
Jamaican country men - one might
almost say to be welcomed back into A
the human race by them. Of the two,
John Clappy represented the more
abstract a concept. The artist had intu-
itively perceived that Clappy didn't
really need the full complement of
arms, legs etc; his cheerful message
was adequately conveyed by the taut
splayed fingers set in the vestiges of
arms growing out from the region of his
ears Leonard Daley. Untitled. Oil on hardboard 21 2 x 22 1/2
It is time for someone to invent
new terms to sub-categorize the intu-
itives. Where, for instance, does one
place Ras Dizzy? Feeling of 4 p.m. is a -
good example of the bright daydream
images he uses to give an account of his
moods. Should we follow the 'post
modern' fashion and dub him a 'Neo- .
neo-surrealist'? Leonard Daley is very
much a neo-expressionist intuitive, but .
his untitled drama of piscine encounter -"
is more freighted with a sense of night-
mare than Colin Garland's fantasia of Cohlin Garland. Ouch. Oil on canvas triptych. Centre panel 36"x48". Left and right panels 36" x 24"


To understand the works in our
annual show it is useful to have a back-
ground grasp of what is going on in our
society. Take for instance the phe-
nomenon of a distinct phalanx of wom-
en moving towards minimalism; this
would have seemed very strange to an
outsider ignorant of the feminist move-
ment which has taken root in our soci-
ety in the past few years.
Ceramist Norma Harrack is per-
haps the strongest individual in this
group and her sensibility sets the tone.
Viewers who related comfortably to the
previous year's refined and classical
stoneware vessels7 may have been puz-
zled by the rectangular forms and angu-
lar patterning appearing in her two
starkly white stoneware sculptures
titled Facade and Temple. Is there some
separation in aesthetic which divides
functional pieces from purely expres-
sive ones? The new style - the result of
evolutionary process, of course, but
appearing with dramatic suddenness
here - creates a psychological distance,
suggesting withdrawal into turrets or
behind concrete blocks 'trellised' for
safety (while still admitting some light
and air) as they so often are in contem-
porary Jamaican architecture. There is
also in her Temple a suggestion of reli-
gious ritual which requires the seques-
tration of women.

Petrona Morrison. Vessel VI. Mixed media on
plywood. 35 z" x 17 '1/4

A similar mood informed the
works of Petrona Morrison. It could be
seen in her Vessel VI which austerely
suggests a rigidly upright white shop-

ping basket against a dark background
or a screen with a closed door in it.
Seya Parboosingh seemed to be jetti-
soning her penchant for rich, vibrant
colour, especially in her assemblage of
white hand-crafted papers with frayed
edges against a white background.
Cheryl Phillips, ever bent on making a
significant social protest,8 contributed a
work titled How Long? (from the
Censored series) which proffered the
image of black, jagged scissors slicing
through a resistant background plane.
This work conveyed, however, a larger
sense of rejection of all that life has to
offer in the way of experience, with its
many surprises.
What I have been referring to is
merely a trend, of course. One which it
is not difficult to ascribe to a feminist
reaction to violence and, in particular,
to the aggressive macho tone of
Jamaican society. Not that minimalism
is confined to the work of women
artists. It appeared in the triptych com-
posed of three brass bars contributed by
Winston Patrick, an artist probably
more strongly motivated by the crafts-
man's necessity to desert wood for a
time and try out different media. Even
among the women artists, a contrary
direction was to be seen - in the obses-
sive decorativeness of a work by Irise.
More hopefully it appeared in the joyful

Above: Seya Parboosingh. In Whie. Paper assemblage. 29"x 40"
Left: Norma Harrack. Facade. Stoneware. Height: 15 412"


use of organic forms in the ceramics of
Marguerite Stannigar, particularly in the
piquantly spiralling vessel titled Swirl.
In order to pursue the theme of a
break in the basic philosophy underly-
ing the production of works in our local
art movement, which became manifest
in the decade of the eighties, it might be
wise to make a fresh start from the base
line of representational works that may
be confidently labelled landscape, por-
trait or genre. The intuitives did not
change in the evolutionary period.
What happened was that the change
caused their contribution to be recog-
nized and invalidated as reputable art.
As I reflected upon the works in this
show it became evident to me that there
was a psychological boundary line
which could largely, but not entirely, be
accounted for by chronological age.
There was also a boundary line of con-
sciousness in terms of ethnic origins
and early conditioning.
What aspects of the Jamaican land-
scape had commended themselves to
artists in the 1989 show? The local tra-
dition established by Huie appeared to
have almost entirely dissipated, to be
succeeded by renewal, with greater
vitality, of one which represented the
sensibility of the newcomer from
abroad revealing to us beauties which
we were bypassing, perhaps because
they were emotionally too close and too
disturbing. Not surprising in an increas-
ingly threatened global environment,
nature was called in to reassure us that
the idyll of a tropical Eden was not
entirely a thing of the past. June Bellew,
draftsperson par excellence as a por-
trayer of trees, contributed an elegant
ink pen and wash triptych almost
Chinese in its delicacy depicting
Tree Ferns in the Mist. Nostalgia for the
no-nonsense aesthetic of colonial cut-
stone was the motive behind William
Feilding's careful architectural study of
ruins at Orange Valley. Susan Shirley,
too, showed an architect's awareness of
good form, depicting neatly terraced
buildings at Newcastle beautifully fit-
ting into the descending contour, and
forming an adequate foreground for the
noble mountains behind. The most non-
aesthetic shack may be dignified if
shown suckled by the dugs of Mother
Nature - as in Natalie Butler's water-
colour of a shed in the woods, signifi-
cantly titled Concrete Jungle. Individ-
ual temperament of course must be tak-
en into account. Using his characteristi-
cally muted palette, Graham Davis

proffered the portrait of a seemingly
battened up and abandoned timbered
homestead somewhere in the hills of
Westmoreland; the only sense of the
human will to survive was a banana tree
growing beside the house.
It is easy to explain the trend away
from landscape. Most of our artists are
Kingston dwellers born and bred and
what they see in the streets can only
appal them. Glimpsed through the cor-
ner of the eye it makes its way into
expressionist works as, perhaps, frag-
ments of graffiti or broken mesh wire.
The city has become too congested, too
unsafe for the old fashioned artist with
his clumsy paraphernalia. For this rea-
son the dedicated realism of David
Pottinger in such works as his well
composed Ice Vendors is all the more
precious. There may be, however a new
trend towards face to face confrontation
with the city. A 1989 graduate of the
Edna Manley School - not represented
in this show - based her diploma thesis
on a study of buildings in Kingston,
which she had used as a basis for styl-
Out in the country, the intuitives
come into their own as celebrants of the
beauty of landscape as habitat. The late
Kapo was represented in this show by a
farewell tribute to the small settler's
milieu titled The Land We Love which
says it all. Behind the neatly schema-
tized cottages, each with its icing lick of
a path, looms a hillside tapestried with
fruit trees; this basketful of goodies is
roped in by a strange plaited band along

the skyline which suggests the handle
of a market basket.
The function of itemizing the fea-
tures of a particular district has been
handed on from Gaston Tabois to Veron
Israel. In a panoramic landscape titled
School Days No. 2 he manages to com-
bine a foreground overrun by outsized
schoolers with a background featuring
both hillside and seascape. Tabois
meanwhile has reverted to his theme of
landscape and the site of historic events,
producing Rodney's Defence, a pageant
staged by the Jamaica Tourist Board for
the edification of delighted tourists.
'Home sweet home' is a theme
deeply rooted in Jamaica consciousness
and sense of values. Self-taught
Westmoreland artist Lynval Whitelock
details the comforts of an old-fashioned
drawing room with its carpet, mahog-
any furniture and guitar awaiting the
leisure of the room's absent owner. The
artist has cunningly drawn attention to
the fullness of providence in the orange
trees glimpsed through an open sash
window. The disarray of the window
curtain on one side indicates the habitu-
al gesture of the farmer making sure
that all is well in the yard outside.
Home is where the heart finds fulfil-
ment. Sylvester Woods, with a more
naive system of perspective, portrays
himself relaxing in his own art gallery;
seated at ease he points proprietorially
at a heavily framed picture hung cross-
wise over the window opening.
Genre of the spirit world is the
precinct of pantheist Everald Brown.

Everata Brown. Busas master. usi on naravoara I /-x .10 'I2


The haloed hill and ethereal sky in
his Spirit of the Hill are peopled with
spirits which give the impression of
being scarcely visible to the human eye
because of the blinding light. Bush
Master, altogether darker in tone, con-
veys the mystery of the hour when the
sun has almost gone to bed. The viewer
finds himself studying the expression of
the two gigantic figures who crown two
identical hilltops to see if they are
benevolent or not. The symmetry in this
picture achieved by the twin hills and
the formal curve of two avenues of
trees meeting in the centre to form an
inverted V suggests a certain propitiato-
ry observance of 'best behaviour' on
the part of the landowner.
I make no apology for dwelling so
long on the works of the intuitives.
Huie and his generation came to the
fore originally without benefit of art
school training. Our society is one in a
state of transformation, with vital forces
(not always 'civilized') erupting from
the grass roots and from the city ghet-
toes. What we are seeing is, I believe, a
new wave for the future which may
well eclipse the sophistication of the
There is a sort of nature mysticism
which is more sophisticated than
'Brother' Brown's. This takes the form
of escape from the bustle of life into
vistas of space which foster contempla-
tion. Tina Matkovic-Spiro opens a
Dream Door on to a vista of clouds in
which not even a solitary john crow
troubles the spirit, and the coast line is
relegated to a narrow strip at the bottom
of the picture. This naturalistic water-
colour is emotionally the starting point
for her main exhibit titled Answer - a
minimalist composition in which indi-
vidual painted panels are located on a
blue mahoe grind, with some of the
squares left open. I preferred the water-
colour. In the more abstract work,
though the panels are individually inter-
esting, the open spaces proved distract-
ing and the grid too obtrusive. This
abstract work inevitably invited com-
parison with Hope Brook's minimalist,
similarly squared-up, mixed media
composition titled Garden. This artist,
though as a tutor at the art school she
was one of the most important libera-
tors of the media utilization revolution
of the seventies, never really identified
herself with the fashionable angst of the
eighties. Having concentrated for years
on a series of themes which stressed
slow processes of transformation - as in

Karl (Jerry) Craig
No. 11 .from the
Colours of Life series
Mixed media on paper
32"x 24"

her series based on ancient manuscripts
and books - she turned to her garden
for inspiration, taking note of the slight-
est stirring of leaves and differences of
texture. In this work she has projected
a synthesis couched in the most refined
and subtle terms and maintaining the
integrity of the plane surface in spite of
its formal division into squares.
By way of contrast, it is interesting
to watch the evolution of that other
intrepid explorer of mixed media tech-
niques, 'Jerry' Craig who, like Hope
Brooks, helped to mould the sensibility
of a generation of Jamaican artists. His
themes may derive from intellectualized
concepts of outer space, but, paradoxi-
cally, they reveal a sensuous delight in
colour and a sense of pictoral design
absent from the work of the more mys-
tically inclined Brooks. This is evident
in the almost luscious presence of his
No. III from the Colours of Life series.
The indigenous tradition of aca-
demic portraiture appears to be dying
without even a whimper. There were
several samples in this show, but I
could only find three which held my
interest - a small portrait, The Informer,
which showed Judy MacMillan at her
perceptive best, a large double portrait

of Miss Edna and Ezekiel by Samere
Tansley and a self portrait by Chris-
topher Gonzalez.
Samere Tansley, having shed her
early tendency towards overt literary
symbolism, is now at the top of form in
her personal brand of poetic portraiture
with overtones of sociological comment.
She has cleverly used the dark, polished
surface of the long mahogany table top
stretching between her two models to
link them, and at the same time stress
the psychological distance underscored
by the way their individual poses adapt
them to it. The expanse of wall behind,
which could have been so boring, is
cunningly activated by the spot-on plac-
ing of a small framed picture which,
looked at closely, proves to be a historic
print, just right within the given milieu.
Christopher Gonzalez, kingpin of
what is left of the symbolist tradition
established by Edna Manley, is a master
draftsman.9 He has taken a penetrating
look at himself and without any of the
romantic washiness of some of his sym-
bolical watercolours, has used this
medium to pay tribute to his spiritual
progenitor on the European side,
Albrecht DUrer. His suggestion of an
actual physical likeness is so convinc-

Above: Samere Tansley. Miss Edna and Ezekiel. Acrylic on linen 72" x45"
Left: Judy MacMillan. The Informer. Oil on canvas 10"x 8"

ing that I shall have to look carefully at
the artist next time I meet in order to
see if it really exists!
Symbolism is not, I hasten to add,
yet dead. It survives, for instance, in the
ceramic sculptures of Gene Pearson.
His earthenware portrayal of Two
Friends, perhaps designed for casting in
bronze, lyrically suggests emotional
trust by the way the horizontal head
reposes crosswise on the chest of the
dominant vertical one; it so closely
harmonizes with the contours of the
vertical torso that it seems to lose its
separate identity as if part of another
breathing being.
It would be wrong to suppose that

Gene Pearson. Tw
Height: 21"

the 'dog eat dog' ethos so prevalent in
our society has entirely killed the ideal-
ism and lyricism of the older generation
of artists. A gentle classicism informs
the oeuvre of George Rodney, repre-
sented here by two abstractions based
on interior still life, titled Melody in
the Prop Room and Packed Corner. It is
easy to understand why George Rod-
ney's works, like Samere Tansley's,
have found favour with such a large fol-
lowing of patrons. This is not because
conservative collectors may be reas-
sured by the titles of an impeccable
source of reference in objective reality.
The rich, but not disturbing, colour har-
monies, the powerful sense of architec-
tural structure, convey a sense of time-
less stillness which is easy to live with.
By contrast, it is interesting to observe
the animation in Stafford Schliefer's
still life abstraction, Sonatina to a
Pumpkin Seller - a quality which may
prove equally attractive to some collec-
tors. In the Schliefer painting, the view-
er is reminded that the pumpkin is an
object with its own seductive colour
and substance, with a knobbly hard skin
cut in slices which must be scraped off
and with seeds to be taken out for
replanting; it performs its balletic func-
tion in the painting, ultimately - in the
viewer's imagination - to be disposed
of for cash and disposed of to satisfy
human hunger.
This type of sensibility would, I
suppose, be defined as 'expressionist'.
It appears in the works, for instance, of
Eric Cadien, who has returned to his
preoccupation with the human nude -
as distinct from his essays in muralistic

composition. His study of Two Figures
on a Beach has a strongly haptic pres-
ence, which causes the viewer to identi-
fy with the muscular tension of the
giant limb on which attention is
Comparison may bring to light
unsuspected affinities. In this show one
might have been struck by the similarity
of temperament, and/or stylistic condi-
tioning in Carl Abrahams' Mother and
Child and Osmond Watson's Jamaican
Hybrid.10 These works reflect a similar,
almost prim, insistence on the integrity
of sculptural form, coupled with a pre-
cise vocabulary of defining lines. In the
Watson work there is surely evidence of
a respectful allusion to European tradi-
tion which survives notwithstanding the
current emphasis on African retentions.
Jamaican Hybrid is something more
than an attempt to portray a new world,
genetic type. Sunset streaks behind the
girl's head seem to bar the ground to
entry beyond the plane they establish;
the head is thrust forwards by the styl-
ized spheres of forehead and chin so
characteristic of Watson's style. These
volumes are, as it were, pinned into
place by severely drawn straight lines
and arcs. The extreme stylization of the
lines in the neck and body whether
intentionally or not, introduce an allu-
sion to the vocabulary of Picasso in his
portraits of women.
Perhaps I have given too schematic
or too positive an account of directions
which - to me - seem so very self-evi-
dent in this show. In pursuit of my
theme I have ignored many noteworthy
works, and for this neglect I apologize.



1. Perhaps the rules defining categories
need to be changed with watercolour,
gouache and ink pen and wash on paper
being placed along with drawings; col-
lage, closer to the 'mixed media' which
more often than not replaces paint, could
go along with paintings. This would
allow artists to expose, say, two oil, or
acrylic, paintings or mixed media works
with two watercolours. The present defi-
nition favours slippery exponents of
'mixed media' and discourages the use
of watercolour.
2. 'NeoGeo' - I picked up this term from
a friend who is a sophisticated habitue
of New York art circles. It signifies the
play with real and simulated fragments
of natural environment (as in Valentine
Fairclough's 1983 use of real and painted
stones in his 'From Reality to Illusion'
3. As, for instance, Milton George's
Crucifixion of 1985 and David Boxer's
Pieta in Memory of Philip Hart of 1986.
In considering this tradition, it is also
with reference to the oeuvre of Eugene
Hyde. For the review of his retrospective
show, see JAMAICA JOURNAL 17:3.
4. Hylton Plummer's 'Tree Bark' series
in the 1984 annual show.

Top left: George Rodney
Packed Corner
Acrylic on canvas 70"x 48"

Top right: Carl Abrahams
Mother and Child
Acrylic on canvas 16" x20"

Right: Osmond Watson
Jamaican Hybrid
Oil on canvas 16" x 12"

5. See review of Paul Smith's work in
the Young Talent 1989 show, JAMAICA
6. See interview featuring Cookhome
and Boxer JAMAICA JOURNAL 20:3.
7. Norma Harrack.
8. See review of Young Talent 1989
9. See article on the work of Christopher
Gonzalez, JAMAICA JOURNAL 20:2.
10. For an exploration of Osmond
Watson's work, see JAMAICA JOURNAL

Colour photograph by Andreas Oberli
others from the National Library of Jamaica

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


An Archaeological Adventure -
the last fifteen years: 1974-1989

by G A Aarons

Port Royal, Jamaica. The name has a fascination for any-
one who knows anything about Henry Morgan, piracy,
buccaneering and the seventeenth century New World.
Countless school children have been told romantic tales about
this wickedestt city on earth', which was savaged, surely for
its sins, by a devastating earthquake on 7 June 1692 and from
whose ashes, it is said, she has never risen.
With such widespread knowledge of the place and the
event, it might reasonably be assumed that the whole history
of Port Royal is an open book. Indeed, one might expect to
find at Port Royal today an older Williamsburg where every-
thing from the dust of the old High Street to the bottommost
brick on Old Fort Charles has been carefully preserved and
interpreted for posterity. The casual visitor might even expect
to gaze upon the bed where Henry Morgan slept; admire his
dining service and pay homage to the grave of this most

famous and infamous buccaneer of all times ...
But here reality must step in. The nine years I spent as
Archaeologist and then Technical Director of Archaeology at
the Port Royal Project (PRP), from August 1975 to
November 1984, made me an enthusiastic pupil of Port
Royal's rich history but they also showed me how much still
remains to be elucidated. We are not absolutely sure:
a. when and where the great Henry was born;
b. when he first came to the New World;
c. what he did for the last decade and a half of his life;
d. where his Jamaican estates were;
e. what he did with his money and its true amount;
f. who his children (illegitimate) were and their biogra-
g. where he regularly resided in Port Royal, when not at
the King's House there;


h. where his bed and dining service are;
i. if the internationally acclaimed Communion Service
at St Peter's Church, Port Royal really belongs to him
and really was seized from the Cathedral at Old Pan-
ama in 1671; and, finally,
j. where he was buried after the great funeral procession
of 1688 and where, whether under the present Old
Naval Cemetery or on the adjacent seabed, might now
lie his leaden coffin, washed from the cemetery on
the Palisades on that fateful day 497 years ago.

The reality is that the mysteries surrounding Port Royal's
most famous seventeenth century citizen envelop the whole
town in a similar cloud. Ever since I first went to this living
archive/museum/school as a voluntary assistant of the then
Jamaica National Trust Commission in the summer of 1970,
research into Port Royal's past has been for me an adventure,
as I trust it will be for the reader, as I trace the progress of
the last fifteen years of its archaeological history.
However, to achieve an understanding of that archaeo-
logical history and what it means in terms of the history of
Port Royal, Jamaica, the British West Indies and the circum-
Caribbean region as a whole, one must establish a few fixed
points of Port Royal's history and archaeological history pri-
or to 1974 as an essential point of departure: thus, first the

The Historical Background
F rom about eight hundred years ago, probably till c.1534
A.D., what is now called Port Royal was the Guayamaro
of the Jamaican Taino, the Greater Antillean branch of the
Arawak race. It appears that they engaged in seasonal fishing
from this cay, leaving behind no permanent settlement.
Shortly after 1534, when the Spaniards resisted their capital,
moving from Sevilla la Nueva, west of today's St Ann's Bay
on the north coast, to Villa (later Santiago) de la Vega, later
Spanish Town, in the south for health, commercial and polit-
ical reasons, Guayamaro became the Cayo de Carena of these
Hispanic-Jamaicans. There, it seems, they built a few ware-
houses, a dock, careening places, palenques (little more than
open cabafias) the better to careen small coastal trading ships
on the Antillian route as well as the occasional warship and
convoy route merchantmen. These vessels would enter the
great harbour of today's Kingston to load and unload goods,
passengers and mail at the Port of Caguaya (Passage Fort) for
Santiago de la Vega and the surrounding hatos, haciendas and
estancias (plantations and farms). The desultory, penuriously
idyllic and somewhat rustic Hispanic-Jamaican lifestyle was
punctuated by occasional raids by English corsairs such as
Christopher Newport, Sir Anthony Shirley and William
Jackson. The raids between 1590 and 1643 focused primarily
on Santiago de la Vega and Caguaya, but surely the Cayo de
Carena must not have escaped their unwanted attentions.
A much more serious and permanent interruption came
in May 1655 when the ill-matched, unfortunate and fateful
pair of Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables
let loose their, battered and mutinous flota of ships and men
(possibly including Henry Morgan, a Welsh-Bajan runaway
indentured servant) first on Caguaya.
This assembly of misfits had recently suffered a severe
and humiliating reversal at the hands of mulatto and mestizo

Hispanized Afro-European cow-catchers (boucaniers) and a
column of creole Spanish lancers on the outskirts of Santo
In fear of the anticipated vitriolic response from Oliver
Cromwell, the Lord Protector, once he heard about the Santo
Domingo debacle, the commanders decided that poorly
defended Spanish Jamaica would be within the capacity of
this ill-starred manifestation of Cromwell's Western Design.
Caguaya and Santiago de la Vega fell quickly and a
superficial Spanish surrender was made. The last Spanish
Governor, the Jamaican-born Don Cristobal Arnaldo de
Ysassi, and the Maroon leaders, Juan de Bolas and Juan de
Serras, launched a savage guerilla-conventional war which
almost brought the disorganized Englishmen to their knees.
Port Royal, still a cay and now misnamed Cagway, and the
Point were settled and then fortified, first mainly with wood-
en structures and later mainly with stone and brick buildings.
Soon the hapless Penn and Venables departed for London
for the purposes of mutual recrimination and a sojourn in the
Tower. The administration of the then small palisaded village
was left to a succession of generals, descending the hierarchy,
until, in 1660, the first formal military Governor, Major
General Edward D'Oyley was appointed.
Despite his faults as a military figure, D'Oyley should be
credited with the launching of Port Royal, English Jamaica
and, eventually, England's New World Empire. This Irish-
French descended and Popish-inclined managerial savant,
named the settlement Port Royal in honour of the new King
Charles II of the Stuart Restoration, which probably assured
his own confirmation as Governor. D'Oyley began the trans-
formation of the village into the major maritime port of 1692,
truly befitting its regal new name. A city was laid out, the
small fort was enlarged and propitiously named Charles, a
port was created, and the war with Ysassi, de Bolas and de
Serras was curtailed. Islandwide, plantations and towns were
laid out. The buccaneers of Tortuga and Old Providence
Island (Smith Catalina off the Nicaraguan coast) were invited
to Port Royal to raid, under the protection of royal Charles.
D'Oyley had astutely realized that with the departure of most
of the Royal Navy warships of the flota, the fragile defences
and infant city were at the mercy of the periodic threats of the
Spanish. The buccaneers would be Port Royal's protection.
The city progressed towards its peak; connecting with
the rest of the peninsula, called the Palisades (Palisadoes
Spit); expanding to hold some eight thousand people in about
two thousand brick, stone and wood structures of one to four
storeys on fifty-one acres of land; becoming the prime New
World entrepot of commerce and the slave trade, legal and
illegal, and the buccaneering centre of the New World. With
the growth of Port Royal, Henry Morgan's career also
advanced. In 1665, after serving an apprenticeship under the
two original Port Royal buccaneer Commodores, the Anglo-
Dutch Christopher Myngs and Edward Mansvelt, Henry
Morgan became the Port Royal Commodore. Simultaneously,
he became Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Naval
Forces at Port Royal. This was an unlikely designation for
such a bloodthirsty and mercenary international band of cut-
throats as the Brethren of the Coast, presided over by the
rapacious Governor, Thomas Modyford. All this was tacitly
approved by Charles II, much pauperized and beleaguered by
the affairs of Europe and strife-torn England, still not at peace
with itself. For six years Morgan would lead a war by land
and sea, undeclared only in name,with the single intent of


Hispanic-American destruction, unfettered by any ordinance,
law or convention. Morgan made himself the utter scourge of
the Spanish from Maracaibo to Pacific Panama and Havana,
enriching himself, Modyford, royal Charles and Port Royal in
Modyford and Morgan overreached themselves just as
the ink was wet on the Treaty of Madrid between Charles II
of Spain and the new James II of England. With Modyford's
approval, Morgan, launched a final orgy of madness and
mayhem against the Spanish mainland in late 1670, culminat-
ing at the Pacific and Panama City. That once proud and
impregnable metropolis lay at the main junction of the
Spanish treasure fleets carrying gold, silver, precious gems,
and exotic commodities which represented vital drops of life
blood to the tottering Charles II and Imperial Spain.
Morgan's ruthless sack of Panama was contrary to the
designs of James II and the prevailing spirit of the time. The
'West India interest', the merchants of London and Bristol;
and the merchants and planters of Port Royal, Jamaica and
the English Caribbean, had lobbied for a cessation of hostili-
ties. They wanted a 'pax caribbeana' and a general atmo-
sphere conducive to a prosperous trade, under a 'free port
regime' at Port Royal, with the once forbidden Hispanic-
American colonies who paid the best prices in bullion, legal-
ly or illegally. However as the French peg-leg, Francois le
Clerc, had done at Havana a century before, and after an his-
toric crossing of the Panamanian Isthmus, with his band of
desperadoes - a hitherto unthinkable tour deforce - Morgan
levelled Old Panama.
After putting Old Panama figuratively and literally to the
sword, extracting every last maravedi by torture, barbarism,
savagery and extortion, Henry took his leave, shared the
wealth, and landed in Port Royal. In April 1672 he soon fol-
lowed his principal accomplice, Thomas Modyford, to
London in chains on HMS Welcome.
Modyford and Morgan were received as national heroes
by the Spanish-loathing Port Royal and English public. After
a face-saving, comfortable, even sumptuous sojourn in the
Tower, while Morgan languished on, Modyford returned to
Jamaica, knighted, to complete his earthly journey in the lav-
ish environs of a Jamaican sugar plantation surrounded by the
luxury bought with his Panama share.
Morgan, the main perpetrator, detained for diplomatic
reasons in London for three years, feted by royalty and
London society, knighted and ennobled with the Lieutenant

Artist's impression of reconstructed Lime Street

Governorship of Jamaica, returned to Port Royal, ostensibly
as pirate hunter and buccaneer-terminator but in reality,
secretly as buccaneer-financier. Morgan undermined the
efforts of Modyford's successor, Thomas Lynch, religious
fanatic and buccaneer hater, and his successors while fortify-
ing Port Royal further and overseeing the prosperity of a
much more pacific Port Royal, English-Jamaica and Carib-
bean. Eventually Morgan was unmasked as a double-dealer,
libertine and degenerate. He spent his last days at the Old
King's House, Port Royal, not at his Llanrumney property in
St Mary, attended by Sir Hans Sloane, the seventeenth centu-
ry English renaissance savant, an Afro-Jamaican obeah
witch-doctor and a female slave faith-healer. Nonetheless, in
1688 he died from one or all of his various afflictions, which
ran the gamut from gonorrhea to gout. His funeral was wit-
nessed and described by the new Governor, the associate of
his London swan song heyday: Christopher Monk, Second
Duke of Albemarle, who would soon expire of similar ex-
cesses after mismanaging the affairs of Port Royal and
The last years of Morgan represented also the swan song
of Old Port Royal. The next four years were characterized by
a slow economic decline during the final war of the seven-
teenth century, a succession of minor hurricanes, an earth
tremor, a partial silting up of the harbour of the port and,
finally, one of the greatest earthquakes of any period in terms
of intensity, degree of destruction and historic significance.
The early morning of 7 June 1692 was ominously still
and hot. At about a quarter to the noon hour a terrible and
awesome roar was heard from the distance. In the midst of a
trembling firmament and a roiling sea, a massive earthquake,
felt all over eastern Jamaica, coursed along the major Port
Royal fault line. Some seventeen acres of the old city, the
port area along Thames Street, the commercial area on both
sides of Queen Street and the High Street, Lime Street and
Fisher's Row and the entire harbour front from the very Point
of Port Royal along the Palisades to an area beyond the ceme-
tery, were cut away from the rest of the city, sliding down the
slope of the Port Royal bay to come to rest on the sea bed.
Simultaneously, large tidal waves roared over what remained
of Port Royal.
Once more the city became a cay, as the sandy matrix
which held the Point to the main peninsula collapsed under
the stress of successive tremors. Pandemonium reigned as
the panicking citizenry found the streets, the buildings and

Oliver Cox Report: Upgrading and Renewing Port Royal

themselves pulled this way and that by the shifting earth and
the vortex that the once placid sea had become.
In the harbour, ships big and small were gripped by the
maelstrom. Some were flung out into the open sea, some
crashed to the bottom and the rest careened onto what was
just becoming no longer dry land. At last the tremors ceased,
the wind dropped and the sea calmed, leaving some three
thousand dead, half of the massive Stuart London-style edi-
fices destroyed, ninety per cent of the naval, merchant, trad-
ing and fishing fleets wrecked or permanently disabled, twen-
ty-one acres of the city deep in shoal water, which took
weeks to recede, and a thirteen acre cay to which the sur-
vivors clung as they watched the dead float by.
At the Point itself, Fort Charles had dropped almost ver-
tically several feet below its original level. Before the Fort,
the bay called Chocolata Hole was now a sandy beach strewn
with the wreckage of several ships. At the city's other end,
Fort Rupert had vanished into a newly created lagoon along
with Fort James and Fort Carlisle. Only Morgan's guns along
the city's main high ridge stood to provide minimal protec-
tion for the ruins.
The survivors soon had made a noteworthy effort at
rebuilding the town on a less massive, more wooden frame
but there had been some human attrition as a substantial core
of the surviving citizenry decided to seek their future on the
other side of the harbour in the newly laid-out Kingston.
But fate was not yet finished with Port Royal. Brimstone
was followed by ashes in 1703, when a devastating fire effec-
tively sealed the fate of Port Royal for the two and a half cen-
turies to follow. Port Royal would rise again, not as the thriv-
ing maritime port of heretofore, but as the premier English
naval station in the New World, from which the 'born-again
township' would derive some prosperity through direct and
indirect service to the all-conquering British Royal Navy of
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Port Royal was joined again to the peninsula, naturally
and by the expedient of dumping damaged hulks into the
watery hiatus. West and east of the town was erected a large
assemblage of functional but attractive brick, cut-stone, wood
and prefabricated buildings which complemented a core of
wooden frame, stone and brick Jamaican Georgian vernacular
edifices, maritime in context and style, small compared to the
magnificent structures of the seventeenth century, but pleas-
ing to the eye. These were built and rebuilt through the eigh-
teenth and nineteenth centuries as earthquakes, fires and hur-
ricanes continued to plague Port-Royal.
Although Kingston had become the major port and even-
tually the capital of Jamaica, Port Royal with Port Henderson
and Passage Fort still received some of Jamaica's maritime
trade and commerce and provided commercial docking,
careening, repair and, later, coaling facilities.
During the Nelson/Rodney era of the late eighteenth cen-
tury, Port Royal's forts were repaired and upgraded. Together
with the fortifications at Hellshire, Passage Fort, Kingston,
Rockfort and Harbour Head, they formed an impregnable
harbour defence system which was never breached. The
mighty French Navy stayed well clear before finally surren-
dering the rule of the world's waves to the British Royal Navy.
For almost two centuries, a fairly prosperous life was
achieved for a steadily growing populace at Port Royal.
Sadly, in 1905, with the shifting of British imperial naval/mil-
itary strategy north and east, the Naval Station was closed.
Virtually overnight, Port Royal's economic base disappeared.

Two years later, much damage was done by the great King-
ston earthquake of 1907. Decline set in. Even the coastal
artillery units stationed at Port Royal were withdrawn after
World War I and the town soon began to resemble again the
rundown ramshackle hamlet of 1655. World War II ensued,
taking a further toll.
In 1950, the beginnings of an economic turnaround
began to be evident with the establishment of the Police
Training School which remained despite the reverses suffered
as a result of the unwanted ministrations of Hurricane Charlie
in 1951. In the 1960s, the Jamaica Defence Force Coastguard
Base was established between the Point, Fort Charles and the
Police Training School.
Also in 1950, a section of the Old Naval Dockyard adja-
cent to the Old Coaling Station was leased to the Port Royal
Company of Merchants for the establishment of Morgan's
Harbour Hotel.
This latter event would have telling consequences for the
upsurge of archaeological activity which commenced at Port
Royal in 1954 and would increase incrementally till 1984,
and beyond. Today archaeology has brought Port Royal to
the attention of the world once more, this time with a new
face, that of a 'Living Museum'. Cultural Tourism, it is
hoped, will by 1992 have revitalized the town and its people:
the truly royal 'Port Royalists' who represent the quint-
essence of its rich history and epic glory.
Through all these years, the sands and deposits of time
settled on the city under the harbour. Pricked for salvage and
seafood in the years following the earthquake with diminish-
ing returns and prodded periodically between 1692-1954 by
the anchors of vessels, great and small, moored at Port Royal,
the sea-bed held an adventure awaiting the salvagers,
researchers and archaeologists of the later twentieth century
a sleeping giant, representing in its thirty-eight acres under
water (and under land) the largest and most dramatic sub-
merged city in the world.

Port Royal Archaeology and Anthropology: 1907-1975.
The great antiquarian collector and observer, Sir Hans
Sloane, certainly was in Port Royal when he attended
the ailing Sir Henry Morgan in the late 1680s. There is some
:".' a7 .J i * ." i^,


evidence that he collected antiquities there, as he did else-
where in Jamaica, eventually gathering the first Jamaican
artifactual collection which formed part of the core of what
would later become the British Museum. Thereafter, it is to
the nineteenth century that one must look to find Jefferys
(1835) and Murphey (1859), two divers attached to the Royal
Navy Station who both perceived glimpses underwater of the
buried Port Royal, noting particularly a fortified structure
(Fort James) in addition to several houses.
Murphey's dive was recounted in a sensational news sto-
ry in the Falmouth Post shortly after, but for almost a centu-
ry, despite further occasional reports of accidental sightings
in the underwater city, public interest remain unstirred.
In 1954, Alexis Dupont and his wife were vacationing at
Morgan's Harbour Hotel with Cornel Lumiere. Diving in the
sea nearby, they encountered Fort James and collected a few
artifacts which they took back with them to the USA. The
news of this filtered to Edwin Link, the famed inventor and
Hot on the trail of Caribbean buried treasure, Link visit-
ed Port Royal in 1956. He proved beyond doubt that not only
was a sunken city there but also that it should be possible to
reap, interpret and salvage it.
After much preparation, including an archival search,
Link returned to Port Royal in 1959 with a team and a spe-
cially designed salvage/research vessel. His operations
resulted in a large artifactual salvage (which included the cel-
ebrated Link watch), a map of the subaquatic and under-
ground seventeenth century city over which 1959 Port Royal
was superimposed, and a mass of data pertinent to pre-1692
land ownership. Edwin Link left most of the collection in the
hands of the newly formed Jamaica National Trust
Commission (JNTC) and the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) when
he departed to produce some documentation for his sponsors,
the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian
Institution. In 1960 the JNTC/IOJ permitted the fast-talking
treasure-hunter Norman Scott of Expeditions Unlimited
(Pompano Beach, Florida) to dive around Fort Carlisle just
off Morgan's Harbour Hotel and to conduct a salvage of arti-
factual material, not now available for study in Jamaica.
Fortunately, Scott's proposal for further work was not
countenanced which is just as well as there is no trace any-
where of the report which he claims to have submitted. (He
would resurface again in 1979 in another bid to work at Port
Royal and in the early 1980s in connection with the explo-
ration of the Pedro Bank's Genovesa.)
The then owners of Morgan's Harbour Hotel, the Port
Royal Company of Merchants (PRCM) and a rival group of
investors now became aware of the economic potential of
Port Royal. In 1964 and 1965 these groups produced propos-
als which, had they been put into effect, would have resulted
in a 'Port Royal Disney World'. However, the pressure they
put on the government of the day prompted the JNTC/IOJ to
institute a new phase of research in order to garner some
understanding of the true significance of the underwater
deposits at Port Royal. The old city's economic potential had
been laid bare by Link's work, the international publicity and
the Port Royal-focused publicity that followed it.
The well-known treasure-hunter and shipwreck salvager
Robert Marx, who came well recommended, was next
appointed by the JNTC/IOJ to direct a three year programme
of search and salvage in the underwater city. The project was
to be based at the Old Naval Hospital, immediately adjacent

to Port Royal town and the one-time commercial/maritime
hub of the underwater city. The Old Naval Hospital itself is
the oldest prefabricated cast-iron building in the western
hemisphere and remains a true architectural marvel.
Marx's project was eventually terminated because of
general dissatisfaction with his methods and style, but he had
produced numerous reports, catalogues, articles and news-
paper stories (and later books) and maps. He had also collect-
ed a huge quantity of artifactual material representing the pre-
1692, 1692 and post-1692 Port Royal, as each catastrophe
subsequent to the great earthquake overlaid, in stratigraphic
sequence, artifactual deposits washed from the town.
Unfortunately, there has been no truly interpretative report of
this work, an impossibility given the circumstances.
Meanwhile, the commercial interests upgraded their
campaign into one of litigation with the government of
Jamaica whose opposition to their plans and proposals for the
leased Old Naval Dockyard had been strengthened by Marx's
findings, the researches/recommendations of the co-creator of
Colonial Williamsburg, Ivor Noel Hume, the findings and
also by of Dr Ivor Corman of the Coming Glass Museum and
the UNESCO consultancy in 1968 of C Tunnard and J C
Pollaco. The latter made recommendations for cultural
tourism within a framework of authenticity and realism for
Port Royal and other important historic sites in Jamaica. In
1967, on behalf of both parties in the case, Hume had carried
out a brief test excavation in and made an interpretative
report on the Old Naval Dockyard, proving the level of
preservation in the seventeenth century levels there. (He
found the famous and almost unique London Quakerman
kaolin statuette.)
Also in 1967, Corman collected from a construction pit
in the Police Training School an assortment of seventeenth to
nineteenth century glassware, still in the Corning Glass
Museum in New York.
The JNTC placed a preservation order upon the Old
Naval Dockyard. They then called upon the British Council
for Overseas Development for help as it was clear that a
proper stratigraphic archaeological excavation was needed to
examine the seventeenth to nineteenth century deposits. Thus,
the English archaeologist, Phillip Mayes became the first
trained archaeologist to work at Port Royal.
Mayes arrived in late 1968. By the time he departed in
1971, he had collected a great deal of documentation on Port
Royal, especially on the Old Naval Dockyard itself, conduct-
ed a detailed stratigraphic excavation revealing the eighteenth
and nineteenth century dockyard structures (including the
1701 Fort William) and beneath them a substantial part of the
seventeenth century High Street, the lower foundation of St
Paul's Church and a unique wooden long boat or yawl, pre-
sumably deposited beside the church by the 1692 earthquake,
apparently preserved from stem to stern. Mayes also poi-
neered the use of Wellpoint equipment to overcome the prob-
lem of Port Royal's high water table which submerged signif-
icant sections of the archaeology of land sites.
In addition, Mayes also produced a fairly detailed mono-
graph on his excavation, with a full interpretation of the
structures and the large collection of seventeenth to nine-
teenth century artifacts that he had found. Perhaps as impor-
tant for the future was the establishment of the Port Royal
Project (PRP) at the Old Naval Hospital with a core of
Jamaicans and the necessary facilities to conduct archae-


Wellpoint equipment in use. This complex system of pipes and pumps draws water
enabling archaeological exploration.

logical conservation research. Under the direction of Mayes
the UWI branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club located Fort
Rupert in the lagoon on the other side of the main road from
the nineteenth century admiralty houses.
In 1970, the UK firm of Shankland and Cox, as architec-
tural consultants to the Urban Development Corporation
(UDC) and the PRCM, also produced an interpretative plan
for Port Royal. (Oliver Cox would surface on the Port Royal
scene again over a decade later.)
Unfortunately Mayes's successor, Anthony Priddy, had a
somewhat chequered career resulting in his departure from
Jamaica in late 1975 without completing a report on his exca-
vations at the New Street, Police Training School, Old Naval
Hospital, St Peter's Church, Fort Charles and University Mar-
ine Laboratory sites. These excavations provided evidence of

constructional-cultural patterns
through the seventeenth and nine-
teenth centuries, particularly on
the New Street site, which had
actually been commenced by
Mayes and where there was clear
.. evidence of archaeological ar-
- ticulation due to the reuse of
Most interesting of all was
the discovery on one of the house
plots of a tobacconist/pipe mak-
er's shop. White kaolin pipes
were found there and also local
red clay pipes with very distinc-
tive marks made of Duanvale
clay, from near Spanish Town.
These were probably made by
the shop owner, John Pope, a
Port Royal tobacconist function-
al in 1680. By 1974, then, it was
abundantly clear that Port Royal,
in fact, represents one of the
from below-sea-level sites, greatest repositories of seven-
teenth through nineteenth century
social and cultural history, pre-
served beyond one's imagination, given its catastrophic histo-
ry, awaiting only the spade of the archaeologist coupled with
the eye of the archivist. The sequence of events before and
after the 1692 earthquake was already becoming more mani-
fest and capable of prediction and interpretation. Another
archaeological adventure was about to begin.
During 1974, the first trained Jamaican Curator of
Museums, Roderick Ebanks, was installed at the PRP in suc-
cession to Priddy. Realizing that the establishment of a data
base for future work was essential, as was reorganization of
research and staff forces, Ebanks set about streamlining the
processes of archaeological and conservation research to
improve efficiency. He upgraded the small museum at the
Old Naval Hospital, reorganized the collection, began the
establishment of a library, began the process of establishing

The Old Naval Hospital erected 1818


local and foreign linkages with the PRP and commenced a
community outreach programme. He also initiated a study of
Afro-Jamaican ceramic earthenware assemblages, to provide
a framework for chronological-cultural parameters for these
artifacts, from the Port Royal and Old King's House Spanish
Town collection excavated by Duncan Mathewson and others
between 1969-1973. Very important, also, was Ebanks's
building up of staff morale.

Archaelogy and Anthropology:1975-1984 (1989)
T he adventure continued from 1975 to 1984 with the
most prolific period of research and discovery hitherto
undertaken. By now, the PRP had a broader focus and over
the period work was conducted on the offshore areas of Pedro
Bank and Morant Bay (Historical Maritime Resource sur-
veys) and on land and underwater islandwide with local and
foreign associates.
In order to accomplish all this as well as the load of Port
Royal excavations, major additions were made to the human
and physical resources of the PRP, involving also an inter-
nal/external training programme. National and international
links were forged to facilitate the work and research. Two
museums were created, one at the Old Naval Hospital
(National Museum of Historical Archaeology, 1978) and the
other at Fort Charles (Fort Charles Maritime Museum, 1977)
to facilitate the interpretation of Port Royal and Jamaica.
Towards the end of the period, the addition of further
facilities as a result of the removal of the Police Training
School to Twickenham Park, greatly assisted the planning
process. After a gestation period, and prompted again by
commercial interests centred around Morgan's Harbour
Hotel, a Port Royal Master Plan was assembled by me, taking
into account the historical realities of Port Royal and looking
towards the realization of its full economic potential. This
plan has served as a rational basis for the planning of the last
nine years.
Planning progress continued aided by the efforts of the
then Minister of Labour and local MP, Mr William Isaacs.
The process was continued by the then Prime Minister, Mr
Edward Seaga.

The eventual result of this was that the UK Overseas
Development Administration sponsored the Oliver Cox
report, which was based on the Master Plan, the extant docu-
mentation, and a number of archaeological and architectural
studies of Port Royal.
Stemming from this, as well as from an IADB/
UNESCO/UNDP feasibility study spearheaded by Silvio
Mutal, funding began to become available in 1987-88 to
implement aspects of the Master Plan. At this writing, the
restoration of the Old Gaolhouse (c. 1700), the Old Military
Laboratory (c. 1800), the 'Ile de France' housing block
(c.1952) and the Police Training School 'H' Block (c. 1965)
had been completed or was well under way, complementing
earlier efforts of the period 1978 to 1984 on the Old Naval
Hospital and ancilliary buildings, the Admiralty Houses, St
Peter's Church, Morgan's Harbour Hotel, Port Royal
Commons Housing Scheme, the Police Training School
Married Staff Quarters and the old and new playing fields
over the now underground south end of seventeenth century
Lime Street, Fisher's Row and Chocolata Hole.
The restoration of Lime Street is integral to the Cox plan
but this must be based on the archaeological research prose-
cuted by a joint PRP/University of London team led by John
Schofield. Since 1985/6 this team has studied the extant
archival/historical/archaeological documentation and pro-
duced two proposals before commencing the task of the
delimitation, study and exposure of the south end of Old
Lime Street.
My work at PRP between 1975 and 1984 owed much to
the able assistance of Mrs Claudia Marston, chief conserva-
tor, in the prosecution of a series of land archaeological exca-
vations on a variety of sites around Port Royal, always in
anticipation of construction/restoration/reconstruction. This
was actually at odds with the policy-in-force, wherein a
pause in further archaeological activity was desirable to per-
mit the PRP to complete several important studies pending
from the research of 1956 to 1974.
In general, after 1974, a conscious effort had been made
to focus Port Royal (and Jamaican) archaeology on problem-
oriented research while the archaeological and conservation
processing of pre-1974 collections proceeded apace.

Before and after. An outbuilding at the Royal Naval Hospital, restored by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

By 1984, the collections in storage at Port Royal in the
Old Naval Hospital complex included all the Jamaican histor-
ical-archaeological collections, a few prehistoric-archaeologi-
cal collections (being held for pre-storage processing at the
White Marl Archaeological complex) and historical/ethno-
graphic collections, some dating from 1879, obtained by
donations through the JNTC/IOJ and from the public.
Related to the land archaeological programme had been a
further foray into the underwater site with the Institute of
Nautical Archaeology (INA) team based at Texas A & M
University (TAMU) and led by Associate Professor Donny L
Hamilton begun in 1981 continuing into 1990, this pro-
gramme has concentrated on further elucidating submerged
Port Royal through the work of annual international summer
schools in field archaeology. The students have been excavat-
ing buildings on underwater Lime Street. The students have
prepared papers on various aspects of this programme as well
as on a wide range of topics associated with Port Royal and
the museum collections.
The INA connection and collaboration with an academi-
cally accredited institution for the conduct of underwater
research at Port Royal came about largely as the result of my
association with Professor George F Bass, the doyen of world
underwater archaeologists, Director of Research of the INA
and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography,
at TAMU resulting from my academic links with these insti-
tutions. Other factors were the insistence of Prime Minister
Edward Seaga, and the support of Mr 0 St Clair Risden, for-
mer Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mining and
Energy and Chairman of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
The nine excavations for which I was responsible
between 1975 and 1984 were archaeological examinations of
aspects of the architectural, social and cultural history of Port
Royal from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. They
were carried out around the High Street, Broad Street, (seven-
teenth century Lime Street and Fisher's Row), York Street,
Cannon Street, Jew (or New) Street, St Peter's Church,
Cholocata Hole, Gaol Alley, and between Fort Charles and
the Point. A significant quantity of new and supportive data
was unearthed. As a result, it was possible to demonstrate the
lateral shifting of the east-west Port Royal Streets in 1692
and the minimal shifting of the north-south streets. A model
was prepared to show the shift consequent to the earthquake.
The data collected also showed turtle crawles and the geol-
ogy/topography of the east side of Chocolata Hole, the infill-
ing of the area under the present St Peter's Church (1725-6)
after the earthquake and its use as a pre-1692 church site, the
peripheral usage of the Fort Charles-Point area pre-1692 and
its later use, the probable constructional date of the Old Gaol
as between 1692-1703 (c. 1700) on pre-1692 foundations, the
use of wells/cisterns for water storage, and the naval and mil-
itary uses of the dumped-up Chocolata Hole area.
There was also further evidence of archaeological articu-
lation in the reuse of seventeenth century foundations in the
eighteenth and even the nineteenth centuries and of the rela-
tive wealth of seventeenth century Port Royal compared to
the succeeding centuries. A geological/geographical soil
sequence and mode could be posited for the multiple soil
depositions relating to the 1692 earthquake and to the thirty
other main catastrophes between 1703 and 1951 as could the
quality and state of preservation underground and in water of
architectural/artifactual materials. In addition, ecological/
environmental data related to marine bench levels and water

Part of a brass thimble.
Height 58

hatchet. Length 6 la",
Carpenter's tool

Lath hammer, hatchet
combination. Length 57t/s.
Could have been used
by plasterer

Late C17 artifacts recovered by R F Marx from Port Royal under
water excavations, 1966-68. From the Jamaica National Heritage
Trust archaeological collection.


Setting out from Port Royal for work on an underwater archaeological site

tables over the same catastrophic sequence. Detailed architec-
tural data related to patterns, styles, and building methods of
Port Royal structures, with special reference to the pre-1692
city. From this could be deduced the size of the external/
internal walls of brick and cutstone buildings and of cisterns
and cooking areas as well as culinary practices in the pre-
1692 city, and other socio-cultural practices. Detailed stud-
ies and analyses were possible of the various categories of the
material culture collections e.g. pewter, silver, European,
North American, Caribbean and Jamaican ceramic assem-
blages, Dutch, English, Iberian-Caribbean, Scottish and
North American and Jamaican clay pipes, cannon and cannon
balls, weapons, glass, brass, bronze, lead, iron, furniture, jew-
ellery, coins, organic materials, and stone and brick construc-
tional materials.
Closely allied to the above has been the research of the
INA/TAMU team in collaboration with the PRP in the under-
water city. Since 1981, this has added significantly to our
understanding of the following: the layout of the pre-1692
city underwater in relation to the underland city, architec-
tural/constructional techniques of the seventeenth century and
their parallels in London, the layout of structures at pre-1692
Lime Street and their use as taverns, shops, homes, etc., the
construction, appointment, cargo and trading patterns of sev-
enteenth century merchant ships plying the England-New
England-Caribbean-Port Royal routes, the state of preserva-
tion of the range of artifactual material in the underwater city,
among other aspects of the general research programme and
entities as outlined above.
Perhaps most amazing of all is the possibility, post-exca-
vation, of walking underwater down Old Lime Street among
the foundations of the 1692 city. Port Royal is like a subma-
rine Pompeii and, with the use of the proposed coffer dams
around the underwater deposits, a visual appreciation of the
city's layout would be possible from above through clear
water. It is obvious that the thirty-eight acres sunk in 1692
still remain beneath the harbour. The PRP, INA/TAMU pro-
ject should be closely linked with that of the PRP/Museum of
London Lime Street project as the two are working on either
end of Lime Street, with obvious interrelationships.
All this research, coupled with the background of almost


Recovering a pewter candlestick

mVeavufing a cwu-swne jwor

two centuries of collection, excavation and study should
ensure, as envisaged in the 1979 plan, a cultural-touristic
development at Port Royal by 1992, the tricentennial of the
Port Royal earthquake. Such a development should draw the
world to the 'Port Royal Living Museum', realizing the hith-
erto unfulfilled aspirations of the Port Royalists, attracting an
economic benefit for Jamaica of inestimable value and dura-
tion and, finally, continuing the archaeological adventure that
began so long ago.

The Editors wish to thank Mr Roderick Ebanks of the National Heritage Trust
for his advice and assistance with this article.

T here is no excitement quite like that of making a discovery
which confounds all one's preconceived notions, or opens
up new areas of knowledge, about an aspect of history that
had hitherto been obscure or neglected...

An Eighteenth




by Pamela O'Gorman

his is the excitement I felt
on the day, last year, when
Mrs Valerie Facey handed
me a photocopy of the notes which
accompanied a recorded perfor-
mance by an American choral soci-
ety of an oratorio entitled JONAH
composed by Samuel Felsted,
Organist of St Andrew Parish
Church, Kingston, and published
in 1775.
Even more exciting - and not
a little startling - was the statement
by the conductor and writer of the
notes, Dr Thurston Dox, that 'cur-
rent researches in the area of
American Oratorio history leave
little doubt that Felsted's oratorio
JONAH is the first complete work of
its kind to have been performed - and
probably composed - in the New
This was a direct contradiction of
the popular assertion that nothing of
any artistic value, musically, came out
of this 'trading post' during the colo-
nial era.
An overwhelming curiosity to
hear the work led me to Mr Kenneth
Ingram, former librarian of the
University of the West Indies, to
whom the record actually belonged.
Mr Ingram allowed me to borrow it
for afew days, showing commendable
faith in my trustworthiness (for obvi-
ous reasons a quality not usually
found in librarians).

I was particularly struck, on my
first hearing, by the strong Handelian
influence that pervades this oratorio -
although this is not surprising, con-
sidering that Handel had died only
sixteen years earlier.
Some weeks later, during a trip to
London, I spent a day at the British
Library searching for the score of
JONAH. Not having fully registered the
fact that it had actually been printed
and published, I spent a few hours in
the Manuscript Section while puzzled
staff members looked in vain for a
score by Felsted. In desperation they
sent me to the Published Music
Section - and there, in the British

Library Music Catalogue, the work
was listed. Within minutes the score
was recovered from the mysterious
labyrinths of the storage area and
delivered to the Music Reading Room.
There is a strange awe which
accompanies the reading and han-
dling of an original score some two
hundred and ten years old. And for
me, coming from Jamaica, there was
an additional sense of familiarity in
reading the list of names of those who
had subscribed to the cost of printing
and publishing the work in 1775, sim-
ply because so many of those names
are household names in Jamaica
I immediately arranged to have
the score photocopied and sent to
Jamaica. This copy is now deposited
in the National Library.
Dr Thurston Dox, who first discov-
ered references to Felsted's Jonah in
catalogues of early music and scholarly
tomes on early concert life in America,
has done extensive research in archives
in Jamaica and the United States to try
to fill in the tantalizing questions about
this hitherto obscure composer. As a
result of his researches, he is now the
acknowledged authority on Felstcd.
Up to 1981 when Dox conducted
the Catskill Choral Society in a record-
ed performance of Jonah, he had dis-
covered a few biographical details
about the composer and reports of
American performances of the work -


A ( 2

L ' y" I




B NJ,\MIN Allen' Efq.
E L.coare A,!.I:r.h-.d, Efq.'
Mr h.,mi .\dr]ei
Mr. Francis All .ood
Mr. Philip Alloond
Mr. Ifaac Aguilar
Mr. David Alves . '
Mr. John Allen ...

The Right Hon. the Earl of BeEive
Henry Browne, Efq.
Mrs. Browne
John P. Baker, Efq.
Mrs 'Faker
Edward owes, Efq.
Mrs. owics
Mils C. Boone
Mrs. Ann Bryant
the Rev. Mr. Charles Bulkley
Mr. John, .Bates
Mr. Bomer.
Mr. Francis Bartolozzi
Mr. Edward Bowman
Matthew Byndlofs, Efq,
Mr. Lionel Beal
G. R. Bennett, Efq.
Robest Benton, Efq.
Mr. J. I. Bernal, two Copies
Mr. es Brewfter
Door Fs. Rigby Brodbelt


Mr. Thomas Bergi
Richard Bowler
Robert Bennett, Efq.
Capt. Barry Burke ..
Mr. Augufitn Wmn. Burke

Thomas Cuffans, F'n
Richard Cargill, f.q
Samuel Baldwin CrolTe, Efq.
Mrs. Elizabeth Carpenter
Thomas Cockburn, Efq.
Mrs. Mary Cockbumn
Dotlor James Cockburn
Mr. George Campbell
Stephen Cooke
Beellon Coyre
James Clayponol
Mrs Helena Chtypoole
Mr. Thomas Carpenter
Mrs. Carpenter
Mr. John Clement
George Cuthbert
James Collard, twenty Copies
William Chamberlaine
Hugh Clarke

His Honor John Dalling, Efiq.
Lieutenant Governior of Jamaica
Mrs. Louife D.rli..
Capt. John 2j.'i /,

Edward Dilrsore, Efq.
Mr. John Dunlals
iRobert I.ri ,-:.,
William DOn-,ai' n
Mrs. De Silva
Mr. Alexander Duffus
Door John Dryfdiale
Mr. John Daniel D Lulki
Thomas Dennis
James Davis
The Rev. Mr. His. de Cordova
Mr. George Da!houfe
Henry Dorre

Bryan Edwards, Efq.
William. Elphinflon, Efq.
James Egan, Efq.
\Mr. J. Evans, Organifl of Spanifh.
town, lio Copies
Joreph Elle, Efq. Surgeon to St.
Thomas's Holofpital
Mr. Ferdinando Ewbank

'i tie Hon. Thomas French, Efq.
Caleb Foyller, Efq.
H. A. Fraucken, Efq. two Copies
Mrs. Mary Furnell
Sigr. t arlo Falco
Mr. Thomas Felfled
Mrs. Mary Feliled
Mr, John Fellied
Ralph Fifher
George French
Hary Fergufon
Door Henry Flowar
Mr. Ifaac Feurtad , ;,,-,
Dilor Richard Fil'.r
Samuel Foyfler, Efq.
Mr. Benjamin Dias Fernandes
Daniel Dias Fernandes
David Dias Fernandes

Richard Frith
Matthew Fenwick

William Gray, Efq.
Mrs. Doro:hy Gray
John Grant, Efq.
avid Grant, M, D.
Mr. A. Galbraith
Walter Gibbes, tao Cofpie
Mi6s Gordon, of Banff
George Gordon, -Efq.
Door William Gordon

Mrs. Sarah Harrifon
Thomas Hibbert, jun. Erq.
Mils Johanna Harper
G. R. Hamilton, Efq.
Mrs. Hamilton
Mifi Hamilton
Mary Hamilton
William Harvie, Efq.
Samuel Howell, Efq.
Mr. Robert Hibbert
Thomas Stoakes Harris, Efq.
Door John Harris, two Copies
Ruffel Harris, Efq.
Mr. William Harris
Mrs. '.1e - HIwllead, fiur Copies
M is br,:,,-,r.., Hill
Mr. Ge. -.s* Henderfon,
\I'm Hunter
William Hill, jun.
Robert Halebuiton
John Horn
1-, Humfrays
i'.ijr Hare

John Jarrett, Efq. two Copies
Mr. Robert Jackfon, two Copies

Mifs Mary G. Jowett
Thomas Gregory Johnflon, Efq.
Mrs. Mary Jaclfon
Mr. Thomas Coleman .: ,,r,:
Edmund Jackfon, .-. C,
Alexander Inglis
Abraham Jofephs
Richard Jones
John Jones

His Excellency Sir Bafil Keith,
Knight, Governor of Jamaica
Lady Keith
Mr. Kearton
Mifs fenney Keariled
Mr. Teffer Samuel Kuckahn,
F. R. S.
Mifs Kay

Richard Lewing, Efq.
Mrs. Lara
Exelbee Lawford, Efq.
Alexander Litteljohn, Efq.
The Rev. Mr. J. Lindfey, D. D.
Mr. Charles Lovemore
ohn Lunan
ichard Lawrence
George Lawrence
Benjamin Leuton Levefque
Longmran, Lukey and Broderip,
Mufical Inllrament-makers, No.
26, Cheapfide, London, jw Baooks

Duncan Charles Macglalhen, Efq.
John Mead, ERq. two Copies
Capt. Thomas Moore
Mrs. Moore
Door David Morton

( 3 )

Mrs. Henrietta Mortoio
Mr. Nathaniel Milward .
Mrs. Olive Macdonald
. 4.: .-,il,..- Th ilard

-. . -, ltl. Eiq.
Mrs. Maitland
Mils Maitlarid
C. Mackenzie, M. D.
Mr. GCi ,: Munro
Mrs. *' L Mathlias
Mr. Aaron Manby
Mrs. Manby
Mr. Wi!liAm Morris, jun.
Mr. Archibald M' Even
Mi& Catherine M' Euen
Mils Ann M' Euen
Mr. Henry Marlhall
William M' Mullen


Mr. Richard Nugent


The Hon. Sir Charles Price, Bart.
Mrs. Pepper
The Rev. Mr. John Pool
The Rev. Mr. Thomas Pool
The Rev. Mr. Henry .
Mr. Samuel Patch, (I
Kingflon, tri Co'Jites
Mr. Richard Poore
Daniel Penningron
Thomnas P.inoil
Mrs. Paston
Mifs Frances Paxton
Mr. ifaac Mendes Pereira, ju i.
Mifs Meiidcs Pereira
Mils Eftlicr Mendes Pcrcira
Mr, Philip Pahner
Andrew Paton
George Patoo:n

( 4 )

Lady Rodney
John Reid, Efq.
Mrs. Frances Reid
Mr. Thomas Reid
Richard Reid
Walter Pi.;'mr,,,
Mrs. Ann Rickards
- Ann Redwar
Mr. James Roper
J ohn Raynard, Organift of
Port Royal, te Copies
Cuthbert Ridley
Richard Reviere

The Bon. Archibald Sinclair, Efq;
Charles Seymour, Efq. two Copies
Andrew Smith, Efq.
Capt. Frederick Spicfiiacher
William Smith, Efq.
Mr. John Stephens, two Copie
William Shepard
Mifs Shepard
William Saunders, M. D. Phyfi-
cian to Guy's Holpital
Mils Diana Sheldon
.Ifr. Daniel Sequira
Aaron Silvera, two Copies

Mr. T. B. G. Shreyer
Samuel Shreyer
Anthony Shreyer
Wickes Skurray
Mi& Ann Scott
Mr. William Simplon

John Hanbury Taylor, Efq.
r. Jofeph Thompfon
Benjamin Tavares

Mr. William Vick
William, Vincent

The Rev. Mr. William Williams
John B. Waite, Efq.
Samuel Walter, Efq.
Mrs. Dorothy Warren
Mr, Leonard Wray
Leonard Wray jun.
Mifs WV.7y
Mr. Benjamin Weft
William Wyllys
Richard Wells
Jofeph. Weatherby

List of Subscribers to the cost of printing and publishing the C18 Jamaican Oratorio - The British Library


and I am grateful to him for having
given me permission to make avail
to a wider readership information c
trained in his sleeve notes and, whei
appropriate, to include direct quota;
from primary research material thai
Samuel Felsted's parents, Joyc
and William, both migrated from
England to America and were marr
in Philadelphia in 1741. They later
came to Jamaica. The date of Samu
birth was established through his bi
tismal certificate, which exists in th
Spanish Town Archives and which
issued in 1763 when Samuel was tN
ty years of age. The year of his birth
was therefore 1743. At the time he
wrote his notes, Dr Dox had been
unable to discover whether Samuel
in fact, been born in Jamaica. Thenr
was little doubt that he was domicil
here: his death in Kingston on 29
March 1802 is recorded. There are
records which refer to his tenure as
organist at St Andrew Parish Churc
the eight years prior to his resignati
in 1783.
The family was obviously a mi
cal one. The father, although in the
trade, was an organist and held vari
posts in the Kingston area, as did hi
son and his daughter Christina. Feb
Snr's will makes reference to sever
musical instruments.
However, Samuel Felsted's int
ests were not confined to music. A
ter of introduction dated 28 Septem
1771 from a Dr James Smith of Jan
to the American Philosophical Soc
in Philadelphia (then newly formed
gives a clear indication of the tal-
ents of the twenty-eight year-old

Mr Samuel Felsted, an ingenious
young Gentleman of good reputa-
tion in this Town applied to me for .
an introduction to the members of
your newly established Society, Z
expressing a great desire to
become a correspondent; being J
long convinced of his merit in the Z
three Sister Sciences, Poetry,
Painting and Music for which he ]
has natural genius and has given j
many Specimens of his Abilities. I i
thought his request might be with -
great propriety complyd (sic) with, i
imagining that the acquisition of
such a correspondent member .
might not be unfavourable to the
promotion of your general Scheme.

This letter was accompanied by a
box of butterfly specimens collected
and prepared by Felsted 'the botanist'.
Dox also mentions a later drawing and
description of a 'horizontal windmill'
by Felsted 'the inventor'. References in
the above letter to his poetic and artistic
abilities have been borne out by later
evidence. According to Dox, there is a
'a possible connection with the painter
Benjamin West at the Royal Academy
of Art', and Mr Ingram has unearthed
further information to prove that Felsted
was, indeed, an artist.
In going through some old records,
Ingram discovered a letter referring to
'a very fine' oil painting by Felsted
which was offered to the Institute of
Jamaica in the mid-1940s by the
Museum Bookshop in London for the
sum of thirty pounds. Entitled 'The
Town House' and signed S. Felsted,
1779, it carries the coat of arms of a
Spanish family named Lusada, whose
motto was 'Honour is my guide'. It is
therefore believed that the house in the
picture actually belonged to the Lusada
family. No one knows whether or not
the Institute purchased the painting
although a member of staff inspected it
in London and afterwards wrote a
report on his findings.
None of his poetry has been found;
but in the absence of a librettist's name
on the score of Jonah, Dr Dox thinks it
probable that Felsted himself composed
the libretto.
He seems to have been something
of a 'Renaissance Man' - and his
obvious connexions with the United
States and England and the reputation

Sir Basi Keith, Governor of aica 1774 -1777
Sir Basil Keith, Governor of Jamaica 1774 -1777

he gained outside Jamaica give tantaliz-
ing pointers as to the kind of man he
must have been and the kind of life he
must have led.
About three months qfter my visit
to the British library, I received an
urgent message from Valerie Facey to
say that Thurston Dox was in
Jamaica and f I wanted to meet him
to phone him at the Oceana Hotel. I
contacted him immediately and that
evening he, Mr and Mrs Ingram and I
had dinner together.
Dox was in a state of high excite-
ment;for that very day, after just
four hours of searching through cer-
tain records in the Spanish Town
Archives, he had discovered that
Felsted's parents were actually living
in Jamaica at the time of his birth in
1743 - thus establishing what had
hitherto been in doubt, that Samuel
Felsted was Jamaican born.
Henceforth he will be identified
as a Jamaican composer.
Dr Dox has also discovered materi-
al to suggest that, contrary to the prac-
tice of the time of sending gifted young
men to England to study, Felsted actual-
ly received his musical training in
Jamaica, probably at the hands of the
organist at Kingston Parish Church.
If this is so, the quality of Jonah
proves that he did, indeed, possess the
'natural genius' mentioned by Dr James
Smith in his letter of introduction to the
American Philosophical Society. Fel-
sted was not a genius of the towering
monumentality of a Bach or Handel;
but he could hold his own with many a
composer of lesser stature. Jonah was

Bryan Edwards 1743 - 1800


his first work, published when he was
thirty-two years old. In Europe at that
time, the High Baroque had long been
superseded by 'Galant' style which
itself had undergone those German
influences that led to the greater depth
of the Early Classical period.
Haydn had already written over
fifty symphonies; Mozart was nineteen
and had almost two hundred works to
his credit. But in England, particularly
in the field of church music, the 'ele-
phantine shadow'1 of Handel ensured
that from the 1730s onwards those who
came after were unable to express
themselves in musical accents other
than his. For the next hundred years,
Handel was to dominate English music.
Nevertheless, from this distance,
Felsted had assimilated, to a remarkable
extent, eighteenth century aesthetic phi-
losophy and the musical techniques of
the Galant period which dominated the
third quarter of the century. And, as we
shall see later, he was not entirely
devoid of showing a few idiosyncrasies
of his own.
Another discovery that Dox had
made by February this year was that
Felsted's resignation from St Andrew
Parish church in 1783 had been in order
to take over the more senior post at
Kingston Parish Church. This had
become vacant on the death of the for-
mer incumbent, who had been his
The printing of music was an
expensive undertaking in the eighteenth
century, even though the earlier pro-
cess of hand engraving had been
'mechanized' by the use of punches -
long tools having a note or other char-
acter at one end - which were struck by
a hammer.2
The publication of Felsted's score
was financed through the efforts of a
large number of people - 243 to be
exact - who paid subscriptions by
ordering copies in advance: eloquent
testimony to the esteem in which he
must have been held in the island at that
time. The names of the subscribers,
which are listed after the title page, are
of absorbing interest and have been
reproduced on page 42.
Not only does the list record the
names of some of the highest digni-
taries and public officials in the land, it
also includes those of a wide cross-
section of the society including
landowners, members of the medical .
profession, the military and naval ser-
vices, the Jewish community and so on. 9

Many were still alive when Lady
Nugent wrote her Journal twenty-six to
thirty years later. They include Edward
Bowes Esq.,3 Mr John Clement,4 David
Grant, M.D., Thomas Hibbert Jun.,
Esq.. William Mitchell Esq.,6 The Hon.
Sir Charles Price, Bart., and James
Unusually fascinating is the num-
ber of Jews who subscribed - notwith-
standing the fact that Oratorio was a
Christian Protestant art form and
Felsted was organist at one of the lead-
ing Anglican churches in Kingston.
Perhaps the fact that the subject was
drawn from the Old Testament was a
mitigating factor. That, coupled with
the fact that from the beginning the
Sephardic community is said to have
shown a deep interest in cultural pur-
suits, [MMAICA JOURNAL 43]. Names ap-
pear such as Aguilar, Bernal, DeSilva,
de Cordova,7 Feurtado, Femandes,8,9
Josephs, Pereira, Tavares and many oth-
ers which will be familiar to members
of the Jewish community in Jamaica.

_ __ ('

_ ( i /^ /.]IJ '--

Of interest is the extent to which
the other organists of the leading
churches supported one another: the
organists of Kingston Parish Church,
Spanish Town and Port Royal each
ordered two copies.
Lady Rodney subscribed, thus
reminding us that Lord Rodney was
actually stationed in Jamaica some sev-
en years before the Battle of The
Saints;10 so did Bryan Edwards, the his-
torian, who would have been thirty-two
at the time.11
In the eighteenth century it was
customary for composers to dedicate
their compositions to members of the
aristocracy or to high dignitaries.
Felsted dedicated Jonah to Mrs John
Dalling, wife of the Lieutenant
Governor, to whom he was obviously
obligated for past favours but whom he
seemed to respect for her own musical
abilities. The dedication is written in
the sycophantic and self-deprecatory
manner in which the artists of the time
were expected to address their patrons:

- -~...-.---.o

&~~%A~yvaa/ cAa eJ%~4vr~, eiZ'rrto

&iYPt44,'rJefllA;/ x vi

i/o ey~

*/~4'a,~i/~ i~,iat-i X .j I .

Thurston Dox states that the first
performance of Jonah took place in
Kingston 1779. Four years after publica-
tion is a curiously long period before the
first performance, considering that the
score called for only two tenors, a choir
and a harpsichord. After this perfor-
mance, according to Dr Dox, its reputa-
tion spread to the soon-to-become inde-
pendent American colonies where it
must have been performed frequently,
mainly because of its brevity and the
fact that it demanded so few performers.
According to Dox, it was performed
in New York in 1788, 1789 and 1802. A
performance scheduled to take place in
October 1789 in Boston (which was a
centre of artistic life in America at that
time)12 was postponed until later in the
month to accommodate the presence of
George Washington, who had just been
elected President of the United States.
Unfortunately, because of an epidemic
of influenza which according to a con-
temporary report, resulted in the 'indis-
position of several singers', the perfor-
mance was unable to take place

(although the scheduled concert did).
The Oratorio was not performed until 2
December - unfortunately, without the
presence of the president.
It should be mentioned here that the
performance of a full-length oratorio
was an unusual occurrence in the New
World in the eighteenth century. If ora-
torios were performed in concerts,
excerpts from those of Handel were the
order of the day. (In fact, the first half of
the Boston concert mentioned above
contained 'the favorite Air' in The
Messiah and Samson, respectively). The
Messiah was not performed in its entire-
ty in Boston until 1801.13 Thus, to hear a
full-length oratorio - and especially one
composed in the New World - was an
event of considerable significance that
truly befitted the importance of the
occasion on which the country's first
president would be in attendance.
Something of the excitement which
accompanied the Boston performance
and the esteem in which the work was
held is conveyed in the breathless prose
of an advertisement which appeared in

Boston's 'Massachusetts Centinel' on
14 October 1789. ( The promoters were
wrong in believing that this was to be
the first performance in America).

The above ORATORIO has been highly
applauded by the best judges, and has never
been performed in America; and as the first
performers in this country will be joined by
the excellent Band of His Majesty's
Squadron; the Publick will have every rea -
son to expect a more finished and delightful
performance than was ever exhibited in the
United States.

As I said at the beginning of this
article, the discovery of Jonah is of
great historical importance to us in
Jamaica and for this reason the music
deserves close attention. This will be
the subject of a further article which
will appear in the next issue of JAMAICA


1. Wilfred Mellers, Man and His
2. The Harvard Dictionary of Music.
3. Described as 'a very old inhabitant
and one of the Masters in Ordinary'
Lady Nugent's Journal.
4. Formerly of New York. Public
Messenger, he was later to become
Deputy Secretary to the Governor (1799-
5. Of the family of Thomas Hibbert the
Elder who built Headquarters House.
6. 'King' Mitchell. Later Member of the
House of Assembly and Custos of St
Catherine, mentioned throughout the
Journal as one of the most influential
men in the island.
7. The Rev. His. de Cordova. Could this
have been the Rabbi Joshua Hezekiah de
Cordova, grand-uncle of the founder of
the Gleaner, who arrived here from
Curacao in 1755, ministered to the
Sephardic community for 42 years and
wrote Reason and Faith, ' the first trea-
tise concerning the Jewish faith that
appeared in the New World'. (DePass
8. Benjamin Dias Fernandes. Merchant
and Warden of the Spanish and
Portuguese Synagogue in Kingston.
9. Daniel Dias Fernandes. One of the

signatories to the famous 1738 Petition
to George II protesting the iniquitous tax
which had been levied against the Jews
since 1695.
10. This was Admiral Lord Rodney's
second wife. Vice-Admiral Rodney (as
he was at that time) was commander-in-
chief of the Jamaica station from 1771 to
1774. He had hoped to be appointed
Governor as well, but to his extreme dis-
appointment, Sir Basil Keith (also men-
tioned in the list of subscribers) was
appointed instead. According to
Cundall's Biographical Annals of
Jamaica, during his sojourn here he did
much for the improvement of the naval
yard at Port Royal, especially the
arrangements for watering the fleet.
11. Bryan Edwards had been appointed
a Wolmer's Trustee by 1767; in 1769 he
had inherited a large portion of the
wealth of his uncle, Zachary Bayly, and
in 1773 had been bequeathed the proper-
ties and wealth of Benjamin Hume, one
of his uncle's friends. At the age of thir-
ty-two he was an extremely wealthy
12. From The Oxford Companion to
Music under 'Oratorio'.
13. Ibid.

APEL, Willi. ed. The Harvard Dictionary of
Music. Harvard University Press, 1972.
CUNDALL, Frank. Biographical Annals of
Jamaica. Kingston: Institute of Jamaica,
DE SOUZA, Ernest Henriques. Pictorial.
Kingston: Ernest de Souza, 1986.
MACINTYRE, Donald. Admiral Rodney.
London: Peter Davies, 1962.
MELLERS, Wilfred. Man and His Music.
London: Barrie and Rockcliff, 1962.
SCHOLES, Percy. ed. The Oxford Companion
to Music. 8th Edition, 1950.
SCOTT, Rosemarie DePass. 'Spanish and
Portuguese Jews of Jamaica - mid-16C
to mid-17C'. JAMAICA JOURNAL #43.
VENDRYES, H.E. 'Bryan Edwards'. The
Jamaica Historical Review. Vol 1. No. 1,
wRIGHT, Philip. ed., Lady Nugent's Journal.
Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, 1966.

Samuel Felsted - Jonah, an Oratorio. The
Catskill Choral Society, Thurston Dox,
Conductor. Musical Heritage Society Inc.

Pamela O'Gorman, our regular music
columnist, is a former Director of the
Jamaica School of Music.



The Institute of Jamaica

was founded in 1879. Its main functions are
to foster and encourage the development of
culture, science and history, in the national

It operates as a statutory body under ihe
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 cen-
tral administration and a number of divi-
sions and associate bodies operating with
varying degrees of autonomy.

Chairman: Sonia Jones
Executive Director: Beverley Hall-Alleyne
Deputy Director: Dexter Manning

Central Administration
12-16 East St., Kingston. Tel: 922-20620
African Caribbean Institute (ACIJ)
Roy West Building, 12 Ocean Boulevard
Kingston Mall. Tel: 922-4793

Cultural Training Centre (CTC)
1 Arthur Wint Drive, Kgn. 5 Tel: 929-
Edna Manley School for the Visual Arts
(formerly Jamaica School of Art)
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Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
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Tel: 929-4785 / 6 926-8817

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

Head Office: 12-16 East St, Kingston
Tel: 922-0620
National Museum of Historical
Archaeology, Port Royal. Tel: 924-8871
Fort Charles Maritime Museum, Port
Arawak Museum, White Marl
Military Museum,
Up Park Camp, 3rd GR Compound.
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Spanish Town Square Tel: 984-2452
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Museum, Spanish Town Square Tel:

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

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

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



G A Aarons worked with the Port Royal Project from 1975 to 1984. He is now Consultant
Archaeologist/Anthropologist to the Government of the Bahamas.

Carolyn Cooper is a lecturer in the Department of English, University of the West Indies,
Mona. Her previous contribution to JAMAICA JOURNAL was That Cunny Jamma Oman', The
Female Sensibility in the Poetry of Louise Bennett (18:4, 1986).

Allan Eyre is Reader in Physical Geography, University of the West Indies, Mona and has
been involved in environmental issues in Jamaica for many years.

T H Farr is the entomologist attached to the Natural History Division of the Institute of
Jamaica and a frequent contributor to JAMAICA JOURNAL.

Rupert Lewis is head of the Department of Government, University of the West Indies.
A Garvey scholar of long standing, he has published several works on the life of Marcus


Like a strong tree

Claude McKay, 1889-1944
Jamaican Writer

A Native Reading

By Cliff Lashley

Like a strong tree that in the virgin earth
Send far its roots ...
So would I live in rich imperial growth,
Touching the surface and the depth of things,
Instinctively responsive unto both...

It is a hundred years since Claude McKay was born in a
valley village in the Clarendon hills of Jamaica. His
international fame as a writer of poems, short stories, novels,
autobiography and essays is secure; his books are still print
and studied in universities and schools. He is famous even in
Jamaica. Mckay's village celebrated his centenary with week-
long activities. He might have liked that since he delighted in
the pleasures of village life and his youth in the village
remained his abiding Edenic memory.
What McKay is famous for in Jamaica seems to be that
the rest of the world celebrates him as a pioneer black writer
and that he was born in Jamaica. In fact, except for his much
anthologized poem 'Flame Heart',
So much have I forgotten in ten years ...
We were so happy, happy, I remember,
Beneath the poinsettia's red in warm December.

his work is not well known in his native land and, in any
case, his merit is still considered to be his early, lasting
uncompromising protest against racism as in the famous
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, 0 let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honour us though dead!
0 kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!

Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall dying but fighting back!

which brought him to prominence in America. But McKay's
achievement is more than his necessary stand against racism.
His greater achievement is his pioneer, enduring articulation
of the peculiarly Jamaican problem of identity. Starting with
the rich heritage of the peasant culture1 and a wide
miscellaenous knowledge of English literature and Western
ideas - plus abundant talent - McKay delineated most aspects
of the problem. All subsequent Jamaican imaginative
literature has rehearsed McKay's central theme of identity.
(Of course, much of the writing since McKay has also added
some variations. Vic Reid, his immediate successor in scope
and achievement, added the explicitly literary/political
problem of writing the epic of the making of a nation, which
is another aspect of the problem of identity.)
McKay also recognized and solved the basic technical
problems of form and style, of how to use European forms of
narration such as the novel and which language - whether
standard English or Jamaican Creole - to write in. These
problems still confront the Jamaican writer. None of Mc-
Kay's successors has offered radically different formulations
or solutions of the problem. Indeed none of them, not even
Vic Reid, has had as comprehensive a grasp of the problem as
McKay. When we consider that he had no predecessors, when
we compare his achievement with that of his Jamaican
contemporary H D Delisser who published much less
convincing or enabling fiction about the peasantry using
Creole dialogue, we can begin to get a measure of his genius
as the first Jamaican writer.2
McKay's first Jamaican achievement is his Creole
language poems, in Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads -
both published to acclaim in 1912 when he was in his early
twenties and still living in Jamaica. These were the first


poems written3 in the creole about native life by a black
Jamaican with a loving, socially aware insider's vision. I say
vision because the tone of the poems, and the values McKay
articulates imply and/or declare thoughtful ideals for a better
Jamaican way of life. The very first poem in Songs of
Jamaica is evidence of this. The title is 'Quashie to Buccra'
and the first verse says:
You tas'e petater an you say it sweet
But you no know how hard we wuk fe it:
You want a basketful fe quattiewut,
'Cause you no know how 'tiff de bush fe cut.

It is a bold stroke to speak out of the consciousness of a
peasant farmer who was, at least in the colonial world of
literacy and writing, regarded as hardly human and the very
antithesis of the white European - who portrayed himself as
the epitome of what man should become. (This was a racist
justification for his economic and political domination.) By
the time the native culture was formed under the pressures of
slavery and colonialism about the mid-eighteenth century,
Quashie was no longer an Ashan/Ashanti/Twi day name for a
boy born on the first day of the week but had been devalued
to 'a name typifying any male negro; a peasant; a country
bumpkin; a stupid person; a fool; a backward person who
refuses improvement' according to the Dictionary of
Jamaican English. But McKay didn't accept the prevailing
(self) devaluation of the native black community. He
expressed a positive native point of view, self-consciously
aware of the native skill, hard work to wrest a living from the
relatively poor land he was allowed to farm, the ruling
classes' economic devaluation of this effort, the farmers'
satisfaction with a job well done, and above all the peasants'
consciousness of the difference of the two cultures. McKay's
awareness of this point of view plus his effort to express it in
the devalued Creole - which is only now beginning to be
thought of as the native language - was extraordinary for the
time, just over two generations after the abolition of slavery.
In a single stroke McKay expresses native critical consciou-
sness in the native's language, an economic/political point of
view, and attempts to adapt literary writing to his purpose.
McKay's insight and courage can be accounted for not
only in terms of talent but also by the specifics of his family
background and his intellectual formation. He was from a
prosperous, literate and upwardly mobile small farming
family which gave its sons the best education available
locally at Mico Teachers' Training College. McKay didn't go
to Mico, but his distinguished elder brother, U Theo, did.
McKay grew up with U Theo who allowed his younger
brother to read widely in the sceptical British literature which
was debating evolution and its impact on religious belief.
McKay was socially secure - which cannot be overrated in a
shame culture like Jamaica - and his mind was stretched
further than fundamentalist missionary pieties.
As a youth McKay made the acquaintance of a scholarly
freethinking, upperclass, resident Englishman, Walter Jekyll,
who was a student of Jamaican 'folklore'. Jekyll encouraged
McKay, who was trying his hand at poetry, to write in the
Creole. Jekyll also introduced McKay to a wide range of
English and European literature and ideas and actively
encouraged him to become a writer, to go to the United States
to study agriculture and to return home to farm and write.
Jekyll also introduced McKay to other intellectually,

politically and socially prominent residents and visiting
Englishmen such as Lord Olivier, the Fabian socialist
governor and author. McKay recounts in his autobiography
how the upper class, eccentric Jekyll influenced not only his
literary development but also the development of his
appreciation of peasant life and a poised, egalitarian social
attitude. All these factors and experiences certainly
determined McKay's subsequent political attitudes including
his attitude to racism. He was implacably opposed to racism
and later to political and other oppression but his opposition
did not alienate him from what might be valuable in Euro-
American culture of friendship with empathetic whites.
However McKay was not comfortable using Creole. He
felt that the local literary elite patronized him as only a folk
writer and he nursed the ambition to write in English and
amaze them. In spite of his early revolutionary achievement
as a Creole writer, expressing for the first time in writing the
view point of the native majority, McKay could not resist the
normative force of institutionalized English language and
Anglo-European4 culture. He personally had the persistent
literate Jamaican problem of identity: which heritage to
McKay put his Jamaican achievement - but obviously
not his peculiar Jamaican consciousness - behind him when
he went to America to study agriculture. Not long after, he
went to live in New York plunging deeply into the newly-
forming urban life of his fellow black migrants from the
American South and from the West Indies during the
Twenties - now remembered as The Jazz Age and the Harlem
Renaissance, the decade before the stock market crash of
But even McKay's racial protest poems, which were
more militant than most contemporary Afro-American verse,
are Jamaican. McKay is a participant observer of the
American racial situation. This does not mean, that he is not
profoundly embroiled as only a black person is, however
involuntarily, in the routine horrors of racism. The ability to
be an observer is the result of McKay's foreign migrant's
outsider position. This is clearly expressed, for example, in
the sonnet 'In Bondage':
I would be wandering in distant fields
Where man, and bird, and beast, lives leisurely,
And the old earth is kind, and ever yields
Her goodly gifts to all her children free;
Where life is fairer, lighter, less demanding,
And boys and girls have time and space for play
Before they come to years of understanding --
Somewhere I would be singing, far away.
For life is greater than the thousand wars
Men wage for it in their insatiate lust,
And will remain like the eternal stars,
When all that shines to-day is drift and dust.
But I am bound with you in your mean graves,
O black men, simple slaves of ruthless slaves.

Here McKay expresses both his idealized version of life
at home in his village and his awareness of the racial trap.
But he distances himself simultaneously from both the trap
and the trapped. It might only be a psychological space he
has created. But it is real; it is sufficient psychological space
for the survival manoeuvre that the West Indian migrants

used in America to save themselves from racism and to
succeed as consistently and well as they used to. The
mechanism is obvious; hold on to the positive if idealized
dream of home; define yourself in terms of home and try to
consistently live that self-definition. This mechanism might
only be open to the voluntary migrant whose memories are
predominantly positive. McKay, as a literary aspirant, was
such a migrant. Most of his racial protest verse uses this
distance - the basic cause of West Indian/Afro-American
misunderstanding even now - to both observe from an
objective position nearer to freedom and equality and to
simultaneously speak bravely and forcefully as a participant.
This position is a variant on the double consciousness
DuBois defined; but it escapes through a steady vision of the
Edenic home a good deal of the ineluctable poignancy.
McKay's many poems of remembering - sometimes
dangerously close to pure nostalgia - spring from the
continuing effort to hold onto the saving memory. What
eventually happened in some of the verse is that the memory
crystallized into a static ideal or so the increasingly distant
poetic diction now seems. But the power of the poems of
memory mustn't be underrated. Philip Sherlock,5 the
Jamaican poet and man of letters, recounted how McKay's
'Flame Heart' read in New York asserted 'a whole way of
life'. I too can attest to the epiphanic quality of McKay read
by a Jamaican, a long way from home, who shares McKay's
culture and experience.
Even in his 1928 best selling novel celebrating Harlem
black mass life McKay implicitly maintains the West Indian
version of double consciousness. That is why Jake, the Afro-
American hard-working, hard-loving focus of the story might
be called a strong tree - unalienated, integrated, growing in
spite of nearly everything. Even Ray, the literate, relatively
alienated narrator's alter ego, in his capacity to appreciate
Jake is in touch with a good deal of the surface and depths of
things. It is likely that DuBois's condemnation of the novel as
'dirty' was a result of the reasonable inability of an Afro-
American to be a participant observer of race-burdened Afro-
American life McKay. DuBois had no Eden to remember.
In this narrative Mckay also wrote a prose which could
carry something of the peculiar quality of orality both in its
structure and language. The tale telling structure achieves an
epic quality and the epic hero is black urban life, black
survival rather than the ostensible characters. This was a
considerable achievement given the relatively old-fashioned
literary quality of many of even McKay's strongest sonnets.
However a recording of McKay reading some of his poetry
reveals that his Jamaican intonation - which his biographer
Wayne Cooper says he refused to lose - his sonnets
sometimes have a Jamaican music which the English words
on the page don't suggest. In verse he did not solve the
problem of writing down orality and maybe he wasn't trying
to do that; only to amaze a distant audience. His Creole verse
isn't much more successful at conveying orality; in fact his
Creole is often English superficially Creolized by elision.
However a native reader can hear a more realistic Jamaican
Creole music than McKay managed to put on the page.
McKay's short fiction and his essays have the same oral
style as his long fiction and even the ones about Afro-
Americans and racism or blacks in Europe are about identity.
McKay's masterpiece is his Jamaican novel Banana Bottom
(1933) which is a full scale exploration and positive solution
of the problem of identity. So comprehensive is McKay's


grasp of the problem that no short essay can point to all its
excellencies or still vital insights.
The book's first achievement is to record many aspects
of everyday life of a peasant village like the one McKay grew
up in. All the elements in the society are woven into the
adventures of the native black girl, from a prosperous
background like McKay's, attempting to reintegrate into a
small, colonial society after successful education in England.
Bita was sent to England, on the initiative of the local
missionary English woman, after she had been 'raped' by a
musically talented local crazy. McKay begins his exploration
of the conflict between the two cosmologies and cultures of
Jamaican colonial society with this initial incident. The lady
missionary - maybe even the whole community - regards the
girl's early sexual experience as a violation but McKay
clearly reveals the innocent sexual initiative of the girl and
Crazy Bow's initial resistance to her advances. The girl
doesn't suffer any trauma. Feminists might cry male
chauvinism. McKay was very aware of British feminism
through his active participation in the movement and the
growth of the girl Bita Plant, into a deep-rooted happy
woman is the whole burden of the narrative. On that journey
Bita confronts all the colonial and active obstacles to deep-
rootedness and in the process raises and solves the central
problems of identity. What is especially remarkable is
McKay's comfortable, adequate attention to the fundamental,
but usually avoided, relation of the African heritage to the
problem of identity.
Even Rastafari, whose reclamation and partial
revaluation of the African heritage is beyond question, have
not confronted the persistent African experience and
knowledge that underlie traditional Jamaican peasant life.
Regrettably, Rasta has explicitly endorsed Western
cosmology and mythology. They have also envisioned an
Africa in Christian Ethiopia, with its relatively 'good' racial
types, which neatly avoids the challenge to Western beliefs -
including racism - which all the Afro-based religions of
Jamaica, in spite of any syncretism with Christianity,
continue to be. Rastafari's creation of a popular musical
culture based on those religions is an unconscious
acknowledgement of their umbilical connection. Rasta
remains only a partial solution to the Jamaica problem of
identity; its disabilities are those it set out to correct.
When Western-educated Bita becomes possessed at a
native religious ceremony and comes out refreshed, she fully
demonstrates her ability as a deep-rooted person to touch the
surface and depth of things. The perverted sexuality of a
young deacon of the missionary church is similar to the
vulgar prurience of a local buck who attempts to molest Bita
swimming naked, as she used to do in childhood, in a
secluded deep hole in the river. These are contrasted with
Bita's persistent, innocent sexual openness from her girlhood
with Crazy Bow through her eventual lovemaking with the
equally rooted though not western-educated poor farmer and
the kind of man who will not only keep the large farm she
inherits successful but provide her with the positive support
she needs. Their mutual ability to see the value in each other
in spite of superficial differences of formal education and
social position and style is emphasized in the close of the
narrative when Bita, musing on her happiness, quotes Pascal
in the French but understands his meaning in terms of her
own, different, locally grounded reality.
McKay's conviction of the possibility of solving the


problem of Jamaican identity without throwing away
anything valuable in any part of our heritage, and while
basing his heroine's vision - and presumably something of
his own - on the Afro-based6 peasant culture, is his finest
Jamaican achievement. What he achieved in Afro-American
and international terms - if there is anything but fame to be
achieved artistically, internationally, outside the bounds of a
specific culture - are the result of his own deep-rootedness.
For Jamaican readers he is a strong tree of rich imperial
growth - our island imperium.

1. Jamaican peasant culture, which is the native great tradition,
has been mistakenly called 'folk' culture ignoring the fact that
there really isn't any other vital native culture but that created by
the slaves and their direct descendants. Jamaican peasant culture
is the great tradition because at no time was literate imperial
culture as fully elaborated in the island as the peasant culture has
become. The imperial culture was always the little tradition, as
defined by Redford. The use of the term 'folk' to describe the
Jamaican great tradition has successfully institutionalized the
imperial class and race bias against natives and the tropics.
2. Jamaican is not a racial or class category - and maybe not yet
a group reality. The present society doesn't seem to share and
live any civil consensus. But the necessity for such a consensus
is widespread in the island and is the wish, hope, self deception
behind the national motto 'Out of Many One People'. In
literature what is Jamaican is what is inward with the still
positive aspects of the largely implicit cosmology of the peasant
culture, and the literary realization has to be in some essential

form of the Creole.
3. The literate nature of McKay's achievement began the
reinstitutionalization of Jamaican culture. The oral peasant
culture lacked the power of writing, and the institutionalization it
facilitated, conferred. The technical problem was/is how to
preserve the positive, virtually cosmological consequences of the
orality in writing.
4. I have no clear evidence that this problem is acute for
Jamaicans who have not internalized English literacy and the
accompanying semantic suprasegmentals (exaggerated in kris
behaviour or some forms of contemporary magglin) plus the
explicit imperial content of the texts internalized with the
5. In his preface to John Figueroa's 1971 anthology,
Caribbean Verse, Washington D.C.
6. There has been an ongoing, often unacknowledged debate
about the extent and priority of African elements in Jamaican
culture. The debate is really a power struggle since the control of
resources, and the privileges of class and colour - the latter as
part of the racist ideology of domination - are at stake. For
example, in Creole Linguistics there has been an ingenious effort
to avoid the African role in the creation of Jamaican Creole by
positing a continuum between standard English and the deepest
Creole. But what really exists is a power struggle between the
languages and any point in the 'continuum' is a marker of who
has the upper hand in that encounter.

CliffLashley is a Jamaican man of letters who lives regularly and
unhappily abroad and regularly and sorrowfully at home in our
oral society.

always a good

at the Wynd

/ o begin with, it's Kingston's night spc
premier address. A veritable nocturnal
Sspa in the heart of a bustling dancing a
metropolis, with facilities like the Happy
the Presidential Club. An inn within a For those
hotel dedicated to the needs of the and convy
business traveller who requires that banquettii
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77 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5. Jamaica, W.I. Tel: 1809) 92 65430


Behind the scenes

As long as there has been an
independent Jamaica, ICD has Li
been a part of her industrial life.
Several companies in our Group are
involved in a number of areas of manu-
facture, employing hundreds of Jamaican.
But ICD is not just business, for we believe in
responsibility of businesses in helping our nation,

not only in times of need, but
in helping to prepare and protect
itself against the unexpected. To this
end, ICD is committed to providing
quality products for the building industry,
products designed to withstand the effects
of natural disasters which may occur from
time to time.

4 THE I.C.D.
Providing Quality Products
for the Building Industry
Together we achieve

One bubby Susan

by Erna Brodber

his man here Cundall. Frank. Don't know if
you know him. Used to work down at
Institute way back when. Now this man
now, write a book and say in there say Miss
Susan is something some Arawak person
carn e into a cave. Man even have a photo in
this book of a lady standing in the mouth of
this cave and looking for truth like as if is somebody really
carve her. But I am here to tell you that nothing don't go so.
Them long long time w hen Cundall writing, where them get
camera to go take picture of Miss Susan? You no see some-
thing not too quite right? Is just these white people like come
to people country, look round two time, take photo, measure
this and measure that, no ask nobody no question, no sit
do% n and meditate, and baps - them have answer. Same way.
So this man now write it into book that Miss Susan is a
Arawak carving and people believe. What in book is gospel
so everybody go believe. Well is not so. I am sitting down
quiel to myself when my ears start to tingle and I get a strong
smell of that flowers that we used to string as bead. The smell
so strong. I nearly faint and then the lad) start to talk and she
tell me.
Well, Cundall right bout one thing. The place. Miss
Susan really belongs to that place. To be exact, she feel she
belong there. I already tell you she don't carve there. Now I
telling you, she feel she belongs there. So the place is right.
Dr. land. Near to Woodside. In the parish of St Mary. Now,
> ou know Westmoreland? That is another parish. Now, look
at the map of Jamaica. Right. Well you see how
Westmoreland chack over the other side of the w world from St
Mary. Well, forget that. Just them white people and them
scribes again. Listen to this now. The world is not flat.
Columbus done tell them that long time, so w hy them must
draw the map flat out like a dry up goat skin with no goat, is
something I can't see. Pay them no mind. Now, if you take
that map and roll it a certain way, you w ill see that Westmore-
land nearly to fit into St Mary. Now listen again. If you go
outside and take a long pole and push it do n into theground,
you see that there is a whole world down there. Sea, earth,
river. You can swim the sea and you can swim the river but
you can't swim the earth. But the earth have many holes and
you can walk upright. No need to swim, for those who never
born with fin. You can walk under the earth from one side to
the other. Anybody who know how the caves situate that is.
Now why I telling you this? For you to know that for those
who really know the land, it is nothing to get from West-
moreland to St Mary. Look again in your book and see if the
people who really know the land was not doing the same
thing in St Mary that the Westmoreland people was doing.

Communication knowledge. That's what I call it.
Is a simple matter when you look at it. But simple as it
seems to me now and to you now, I didn't find it out for
myself. Is Miss Sue tell me. Say it was nothing to swips from
Westmoreland to St Mary. She used to do it all the time. Is
Westmoreland she rightly come from, but she land up in a
cave in St Mary. Not as a carving. And I coming to tell you
how now. Miss Sue say, time for her to get married and she
never want to married. She did like fly through cae and talk
to rat-bat and climb tree and talk to bird and so on. She never
want plant no maize and beat up nothing into mortar. Matter
of fact all this bammy that her people so proud 'bout never
mean one thing to her. Too dry. She could find fat grass to eat
raw any day so why plant cassava and grater it and dry out
the milk and cook it? Never make no sense to her and she
couldn't bother w ith it. And that is what a w ife suppose to do
with all her time. Excuse me. Not true. Not all her time for
them used to play bato. I don't know what that is. Favour like
soft ball to me when she describe it. She say big man and
woman used to play it too. And regular. So it really t wasn't
mortar pestle all day long. But w hat sense thump ball when
she could sw ing from tree to tree and w whistle to the birds
and be by herself. But them insist say every body must mar-
ried. So Miss Sue say, she say, run way for her rather than
this wife thing. And she do it sudden. Just get a vaps and
leave. Tell no one. Now you know that Miss Sue wouldn't
really have nothing to pack. The picture on the money is real.
Ain't nothing but a little grass around the hips and grass was
easy to come by. So she split. In one second.
I don't say she disappear into nothing. That would make
it easy and as she tell me, it was not easy the way she reach to
Dr) land, though it was really close in a way, to her place.
What happen now is this. Everybody know everybody. The
whole place divide up among chiefs. You leave from one spot
to the other, is a new chief. And no fussing or fighting. If they
see you at one place long, the\ say you want to join them and
they start same time to find out if you married and if you not
married to marry you off and get you into this bammy-mak-
ing, bato-playing thing all over again for married is all them
know bout. No sense in that. So Susan decide she ain't go
touch earth except at night when nobody not around to see
her. So is pure cave she into all da'. Now when she staying in
this Dryland cave, a strange thing happen. Hard as she listen
she couldn't hear a thing. No mortar pestle, no 'yeow',
'yeow' and bato playing. She say to herself "Must be just a
breed of barkless dogs living in this place". So little by little
she start to come out to the cave front. She don't see nobody
so she start to make it a habit. Both the staying in that cave
and the sitting out at the front from time to time in the day.


Now Susan tell me how she used to sit down still and do
this deep breathing, for with all the time she bound herself to
spend in the cave, when she get air she did want to take in as
much as she could take. Now I don't know if these Arawak
Indians is any relative to the Indians in India but I swear to
you what Miss Susan show me that she was doing, was one
of those yoga pose that make a person look like Buddha.
Now what you would think if you come up to a cave and see
a person who you never see yet in the small-small community
that you live in sitting down like a Buddha? Talk the truth.
You'd think it was a duppy or a God. Exactly. Well somebody
did come and somebody did think so. And this is the begin-
ning of poor Miss Susan's sorrows.
Miss Sue did have it in her head that the quietness of the
place was because those who did live there run way leave it
and she say to herself "This is mine. A gwine relax". But it
was not quite so. Man, woman and child - except for that
lazy one, playing sick, gone off yes, but only for part day and
on shift. Everybody wasn't there one time and when them
come home, them so tired, them just drop asleep. Gone make
clay pot and make them in abundance. Mr Christopher
Columbus come with him red rags and all a-body and them
breed of barkless dog now bartering pot for red rag. That's
how come the place was so quiet and Miss Sue so alone. But
the little boy come and see her and start coming back and
seeing her in her Buddha pose and start to have nightmare
and to blurt out that him see a god and to have people saying
is sick him really sick.
Now you know them always say anybody who say them
see God sick, and usually them leave you and your imagina-
tion to fight it out. Until they come to need a God. Like how
you see AIDS now, it was syphilis that time that come with
the tourist rags. People start dropping dead like flies. And the
bad treatment was something else. Man used as target prac-
tice! It was bad enough that everybody was running off to
Agualta Vale to mess around in clay and march down too close
to Port Maria where the whitemen be and were in the bargain
neglecting them ground and putting life out of kilter. Now
married life was mashing up for the whitemen was putting
their hands and all where they should not be put and on top of
that beating up the Arawak men and running their swords
through them. It was time enough to need a God so when that
lazy chap keep on saying that is a god him see, man and man
start to make a trek, a few at first, to Miss Susan cave.
Now I have to stop to tell you that the lady's born name
was not Susan. Many a time she tell me, but that Arawak
name cannot stick in my head and since she don't really
object and everybody know who I am talking about, let it
remain 'Miss Susan'. Right. So as I was telling you, people
now start to come and peep at Miss Susan in her Buddha pose
and to nod - "Is God". A funny thing was happening too, and
to Miss Sue. When she take the pose, is like vibrations would
come through her fingers from the air and she would know all
sorts of things. When the first man come up and put a prob-
lem, Miss Sue find she just give him a answer straight out of
her head and that she was right. She turn God now!
Miss Sue say she didn't mind the questions, for is not
really she was answering, is just something or someone using
her mouth, but what she did mind was the whole heap of
thanksgiving. Up to now, she can't get rid of the smell of

duppy chain out of her mind. So much garlands come make
out of this thing and put round her neck. No more peace any
more. Can't even breathe. People cooking raccoon and agote
as sacrifice to her. People is something else though! It hap-
pens that she could really get into a deep meditation and she
find the meditations getting longer and that those times she
don't even feel like passing her business-there, but it would
come by itself all the same. You know the people rush her,
push her down, take up this thing, say is gold from the gods,
must be that the white man want Push her away and scrape it
up, say they going pay tribute with it! The thing get so ridicu-
lous with no little bit of space for herself, that Sue start to
consider that it was just as cheap she did married and put up
with the bammy-making and the bato. One thought lead to
the other and the other to her usual rebellion and Miss Sue
say to herself "Not a blast" and decide that she not going to
be no God with no privacy. She decide she gwine form dead
and let them leave her.
How she going do this now? She stand up straight now,
press herself against the cave wall and hold her breath yoga
style. And people did believe that she was dead. And it vexed
them. At the very time when the tourists eating out them life
and they have no help but from this God, the God decide to
strike! Is stones now. And they start to pelt her. You could say
that they want to get her back to life, if is kind you kind. But I
know that is plain straightforward disappointment and vexa-
tion that make those stones come. Even when she drop, them
still flinging. Even when she so weak, she drop off of the
rock face altogether and long time drop into the sink hole,
them still seeing her there and still stoning. Day after day. Is
now them practice to try to see if, like the whiteman was
doing with them, they could use her for target practice. Now
them try to throw stones round what them think is the outline
of her body. Go look at it yourself and see if you can't see
how the flying stones lick the rock face and make the sink
that form the image?
So is so the carving come. No man don't sit down and
carve it. And is no real likeness of Miss Sue. Anyway, it is
not the habit of that breed of Indians to carve. They mostly
draw. So is just anger make that image. I don't know why
Miss Sue want me to tell this story but I tell it. Perhaps want
to set the record straight. Perhaps want to say something
about freedom but if is that, I can't see the point for I can't
see that running from hole to hole and being a people's God
is any kind of freedom. Perhaps she want to say you must be
careful how you give or how you stop giving. I don't know.
People still flinging stone at that cave. They even lick off one
of the breast that those before them make in anger and them
now call the image One Bubby Susan. I don't know if is
something she want to say about this woman's lib business
like how she is a woman. Perhaps she want to say to women
"Make them call you angel but don't make them make you
into no heavenly being, for that is so-so burden-bearing and
the day name day you say you tired, them get vex and lick
you down, kill you." I don't know but here is the story and I
know that the man Cundall shoulda-eh study him head well
before him go call Miss Sue this flesh-and-blood woman a
Erna Brodber was awarded the 1989 Commonwealth Writers Prize
(Americas Region) for her novel Myal.


Jamaica in Independence
Essays on the Early Years
Rex Nettleford (ed.)
Kingston: Heinemann (Caribbean)
1989. 364 pp.

ex Nettleford has brought togeth-

er an excellent collection of ten
essays on Jamaica since 1962 and
has added to the growing body of litera-
ture on the Caribbean. The essays are
well-researched and documented and
are written by the finest scholars in
their respective areas. Although they
come from a variety of disciplines and
have different views and writing styles,
the writers share a very strong commit-
ment to Jamaica's further development.
The overall impression created by read-
ing the book is of a certain dynamism
in Jamaican life and a strong sense of
nationalism and achievement trying to
come to grips with a host of problems.
In other times we could have been
complacent and argued that Jamaican
nationalism was sufficient to take us
through the next period. But this is not
so for much rougher times lie ahead
than we have experienced so far given
the changes now taking place in the
world, the continued marginalization of
ex-colonial countries in the global
economy which threatens to take us
back into the nineteenth century, the
growth of racism and Eurocentrism as a
central part of the global picture and
our own domestic political and eco-
nomic failures since Independence.
Jamaican nationalism is an inadequate
though necessary base for coming to
grips with the problems that are now
overwhelming us.
This volume can best be treated
clinically as a diagnosis of Jamaica's
condition as we enter the twenty-first
century. Our economics and politics are
in a bad way but in the area of culture,
quite independent of the state and of the
private sector, Jamaican culture through
reggae music and particularly the work
of Bob Marley has made a vital contri-
bution to the world and to Jamaica. The
other area which has scored a plus is
In his introduction Rex Nettleford
poses the question: to what extent did

The Limits




by Rupert Lewis

the event of 1962 depict a will to build
a new world from the ruins of the
Crown Colony system that preceded it?
He answers it by arguing that the
Crown Colony system was in disinte-
gration and the British Colonial Office
'through a skillfully crafted policy of
phased transfer of power to Britain's
Caribbean colonials who were put into
apprenticeship in preparation for the
time when they were deemed fit to rule
and govern. . . very little of the leg-
endary heroism and enthusiasm of the
1938-1944 period seemed to have been
present in 1962'. Nineteen sixty-two,
was the culmination of a change in po-
litical representation that had started in
1944 with universal adult suffrage but
with continuity in the fundamentals of
power in the economic and social sys-
tem. Since that time power has shifted

from London to Washington not only
for Jamaica but for the Caribbean
region. Latecomers to independence,
we have now joined those countries in
the region which gained their indepen-
dence in the nineteenth century.
In the economic diagnosis made by
Omar Davies and Michael Witter in
their essay 'The Development of the
Jamaican Economy since Indepen-
dence' we find the following, 'The
basic class structure has not changed.
There has been some upward movement
of black people into the middle class,
and even less into the upper classes. On
the other hand, there has been no down-
ward movement of the ethnic minorities
into the lower classes' [pp. 98-99]. On
social conditions they conclude that the
problems of unemployment and idle
land are greater. Our economists tell us
that, 'land ownership, according to the
census of 1978/79 is more skewed now
than in 1962, and there is every reason
to believe that the same is true for
financial and other material forms of
wealth' [p.98]. On our debt problem the
authors say, 'In terms of ratio of external
debt to GNP, Jamaica ranks first among
debtor countries with a ratio of almost
200 per cent' [p.97]. At the end of
1986, our debt totalled US$3.5 billion,
71 per cent higher than it was in 1980
and continues to grow. Our present for-
eign debt is $4.5 billion for a population
of 2.3 million, thanks to government
economic policies and sections of our
private sector. One implication of this is
that 'whereas on the eve of Indepen-
dence, the colonial authorities were
responsible for formulating the national
budget, that task is now substantially
carried out by international organiza-
tions such as the IMF and the IBRD...'
[p.97]. They also point out that US
dominance of Jamaica's trade relations
strengthened in the twenty-five years
after Independence, and was reinforced
by the fact that most of the external
loans were borrowed from US banks,

54 JAmmcA jouRNAL

the US government, and the internation-
al institutions over which the USA
exercises significant control' [p.87].
This then is the picture. Our eco-
nomics is conditioned by debt-servicing
and repayment and our politics is
Washington-centred. What are the
answers? The answers provided are on
the level of generalizations about re-
organizing production, tapping the tech-
nical creativity of the Jamaican work-
ers, diversification, changing consumer
preferences and managing the external
debt, etc. The positions are not new.
Jamaica's political leadership, of both
parties, have addressed these issues at
budget time. But things have gotten
worse. A central part of the political
agenda must be the involvement of the
public in discussions of the basic eco-
nomic issues and openness in govern-
ment on its economic decision-making.
It is obvious that the answers do not lie
either with our best intellectuals or
political leadership, neither do they lie
with the private sector. As high-profile
as the latter are, they are only a part of
the equation.
Carl Stone in his essay 'Power,
Policy and Politics in Independent
Jamaica' reviews the similarities and
differences between the PNP and the
JLP, the political behaviour of the
Jamaican electorate, compares policy-
making, past economic performance
and public management, discusses the
competition between capital and labour
and class interests and policy outcome,
and contemporary public opinion. The
political picture is more promising than
the economic one. Stone points out that
'for the majority classes, the political
party has provided the only channel for
influence on the power structure on
matters that fall within the domain of
the state. Limited though that channel
might be, it is highly valued and many
among the most socially down-trodden
will put life at risk to protect it to a
degree that has no parallel in western
capitalist democracies' [p.52]. This is a
vital conclusion for democracy in
Jamaica. The question is how can the
channel be widened, how to bring the
predominantly black Jamaicans belong-
ing to one tribal party camp or the other
to the peace table to deal with the war
of economic survival and how to stem
the alienation from politics that has
clearly grown within the middle class
and other social sectors.
Erna Brodber, sociologist-novelist-
historian, in her essay 'Socio-cultural

Change in Jamaica' looks at the role of
race in the development of Jamaica,
taking a longer historical scope than
the twenty-five years since Indepen-
dence. She takes us from Columbus to
the present. Jamaica's racial formation,
inter-ethnic and colour relations are
indeed part of the material base of the
society and ought to be placed along-
side production relations. Brodber pre-
sents a racial physiognomy of Jamaica.
Her essay enables us to understand why,
despite the fact that over 90 per cent of
Jamaica's 2.3 million population is
made up of descendants of African
slaves, many steer clear of any ethnic
identification, although their fellow
Jamaicans who belong to other ethnic
groups are proud of their ancestry. It is
also not by accident, as Nettleford
points out, that the 'Founding Fathers'
of Jamaican Independence abandoned
Emancipation Day and telescoped
Independence Day set for the first
Monday in August of each year. As
Nettleford points out 'Emancipation
Day (1st August),... for over a century
celebrated the emancipation of blacks
as well as the liberation of an entire
society from slavery and its vilest con-
sequences' [p. 4]. Jamaican multi-
racialism has always been hostile to the
assertion of the black majority at the
same time that the latter have been most
accommodating and colour-blind. How
else do we explain that most Jamaican
prime ministers have not been black
men or women, that hundreds of black
Jamaicans have died in the process of
putting them into power and that thou-
sands more have been injured in hotly
contested elections since Independence?
The essays by Omar Davies and
Michael Witter on economics, Carl
Stone on politics and Erna Brodber
complete Part 1 which the editor entitled
Parameters of Action in Independence.
Part II is entitled Institutional
Frameworks and includes a collabora-
tive essay by Edwin Jones and
Gladstone Mills, 'The Institutional
Framework of Government' and
'Jamaica's International Relations in
Independence' by Don Mills. The
Jones/Mills essay traces the develop-
ment of the machinery of government,
the expansion of the public service,
public sector management, local gov-
ernment, electoral administration, etc. I
was struck by the fact that Jamaica had
one of the highest ratios of civil ser-
vants to the general population, estimat-
ed at 1:53. Such a large public service

cannot be justified. The authors outline
measures and programmes for improve-
ment and rationalization of the civil ser-
vice and speak of the values that ought
to guide public administration. Noble as
the values of 'greater corporate self-
confidence, a stronger work ethic, effi-
ciency, probity, professionalism and
accountability' are, they really cannot
be realized in the present circumstances
of economic, social and political crisis.
The body politic is too diseased for
those values to thrive.
Nowhere else in the administrative
system is this more apparent than in the
area of the administration of justice.
Jamaicans have turned on one another
with guns, machetes, knives and other
weapons in ways that have no precedent
in colonial times. Sections of the police
who have the legal right to use guns
have joined the carnage and witnesses
are afraid to appear in court. Conse-
quently there are several hundred peo-
ple on death row. The portrait of
Jamaica is incomplete without an analy-
sis of violence, the administration of
justice and human rights in the post-
independence years. An essay on this
topic would have fitted well into this
The essay by Don Mills surveys
Jamaica's foreign policy from the 1960s
to the 1990s. Here, as in domestic
administration, we have developed
many highly trained professionals. In a
wide-ranging essay Don Mills touches
on our membership in a number of
international and regional organiza-
tions, the issues of relations with Cuba,
Jamaica's involvement with the
Grenada invasion, our differences with
the US, our compliance with Washing-
ton and the anti-apartheid stand of suc-
cessive governments. Foreign policy is
not of serious public concern in
Jamaica, except the cost of ministerial
travel and the perks going with it. The
dramatic developments in the late
1980s and 1990s indicate that we can
no longer be indifferent to this sphere of
politics as it impinges on us directly.
Part III entitled Questions of Policy
presents essays by Henry Lowe,
'Science and Technology in National
Development'; Errol Miller 'Educa-
tional Development in Independent
Jamaica'; and Maxine Henry-Wilson,
'The Status of the Jamaican Woman,
1962 to the Present'.
Henry Lowe was instrumental in
drafting Jamaica's national policy for
Science and Technology and brings to



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this topic a wealth of information. His
review traces developments in science
and technology from the eighteenth
century. Lowe warns that, 'in a country
where trade and commerce have tradi-
tionally enjoyed a super socio-econom-
ic prominence, as against manufactur-
ing and innovation, the time frame for
the integration of S&T into the macro-
economic planning and developmental
activities will be much longer than can
be realistically hoped for. Nevertheless
it is my view that, as a result of our rel-
atively good S&T foundation and the
current indicators of positive support
for S&T, if this trend continues we will,
by the next generation, be well on the
way to depend on S&T to contribute
significantly to our future development'
[p.176]. This foundation is seen in the
current levels of science and technology
now being undertaken in agriculture,
medicine, minerals and mining devel-
opment, energy, environment and, to a
lesser extent, information processing
and communications.
Given the fact that 80 per cent of
the population could not afford the
cheapest houses in 1987 due to soaring
prices, I was struck by Lowe's discus-
sion of the Building Research Institute
which was set up in 1983. He reports
that the Institute in an effort to bridge
the time lag between research and
application has built four demonstration
buildings: a low cost timber house, sta-
bilized soil block building, a sandstone
building and a building utilizing stone
masonry blocks and funicular shell
roofing. These ideas have not however
attracted the banks, building societies,
insurance companies or other funding
agencies but deserve to be pushed by
the National Housing Trust which is
contributed to by Jamaican tax-payers.
Lowe argues that the most impor-
tant hindrance to the development of
science and technology is the low level
of public awareness. Given the crisis in
our schools, particularly the primary
schools, and bearing in mind the mysti-
cal and magical associations of the
word 'science', nothing short of a
restructuring of our educational system
will equip us to take advantage of the
opportunities that are closed to the
ignorant or the ill-educated. Certainly
Errol Miller's diagnosis of our educa-
tional system which has expanded
quantitatively but with the continuation
of the colonial legacy is cause for grave
concern and action. In addition to the
development of science and technology

in our school system the issue of the
emancipation of the mind in the sense
in which Garvey spoke about it remains
a major barrier to development.
Maxine Henry-Wilson's 'The
Status of the Jamaican Woman, 1972 to
the Present' is an excellent survey.
Women make up 51 per cent of the pop-
ulation and head 39 per cent of Jam-
aican households. About 15.9 per cent
of the female household heads are un-
employed. Women form 67.4 per cent
of the employed labour force and a sig-
nificant 38 per cent of the informal sec-
tor. A minority are in business, politics,
professional and managerial areas. They
have borne the brunt of the structural
adjustment policies since the 1970s and
have helped many families to survive.
Jamaican society, like many others is
male-dominated, particularly with
respect to the values of patriarchy and
the structures of power and decision-
making. The author concludes that there
has been some marginal increase in
women's access to social and economic
resources but hastens to add that 'female
access to resources is disproportionate
compared to the percentage of females
in the total population' [p.22].
The section in which real progress
has been registered on the graph table is
in the area of sport and culture. Jimmy
Carnegie's 'Sport in National Devel-
opment in Jamaica' is the most enthusi-
astic piece in the volume as he recounts
the achievements of George Headley,
Jackie Hendricks, Allan Rae, Alfred
Valentine, Maurice Foster, Lawrence
Rowe and many others in cricket; Herb
McKenley, Arthur Wint, Don Quarrie,
Bert Cameron, Merlene Ottey and sev-
eral other women in athletics; Michael
McCallum, Trevor Berbick and Lloyd
Honeygan in boxing; and Leila
Robinson, Kay Wilson and Kitty Sharp
in netball. In his conclusion Carnegie
notes, 'one of the perceived weaknesses
that has been noted in our national per-
sonality, is that we are very creative and
good builders, but that we are not
strong on maintenance' [p. 290]. That
comment which goes over into the men-
tality and psychology of our people is
food for thought.
Nettleford's concluding essay
'Cultural Action in Independence' is a
fitting piece with which to end this vol-
ume. It is in the area of creative vision
that we have to look for answers as the
old methods of thinking, analysis and
solutions have run their course, because
we are changing and so has the world

around us. His essay surveys cultural
policy, cultural institutions and the
progress made in the arts. There has
been considerable achievement in art,
theatre, dance, literature, music, sculp-
ture, etc. In the post-Independence peri-
od Jamaica has been best known for its
reggae music and the artistry of Bob
Marley which grew out of the vibrant
Rastafarian culture in the 1960s and
1970s. Where the people have emerged
on their own, significant strides have
been made. In the areas of economics
and politics where they have been led or
misled essentially by other social class-
es the record has frankly been bad.
These areas of power over the material
circumstances of life are still alienated
and the decolonization agenda will re-
main well into the twenty-first century.
That agenda cannot be resolved,
however, solely on the basis of Ja-
maican nationalism and certainly not of
the type that marked Independence in
1962. Small island states such as
Jamaica have absolutely no impact on
the modem world although creative
Jamaican minds certainly do. Jamaican
nationalism is by itself not adequate
since the problems outlined are not
peculiar to us. We have to encourage
regional approaches not only in the
Commonwealth Caribbean sense but in
the wider sense. Since Europe is now
doing this, I suppose more Caribbean
opinion-leaders will begin to see the
futility of purely island-based nation-
alisms. Jamaica is probably more guilty
of narrow-minded chauvinism than
most English-speaking Caribbean coun-
tries. Unfortunately our opinion-leaders
frequently reinforce this chauvinism.
What is required now is a combina-
tion of Jamaican popular nationalism,
which is quite pragmatic, with regional-
ism and linkages with those in the glob-
al system who genuinely share our con-
cerns and goals. This approach does not
have many short term benefits because
we will be engaged in continuing the
process of forging something new.
What this volume enables us to do is to
set our minds on strategic goals. It
therefore deserves a wide Jamaican
readership and ought to be required
reading in all our tertiary institutions.


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LAND NAIL5 Slow but Sensuous

amaica is home to about five hun-
.dred species of land snails, one of
-the largest totals in the world for any
area of comparable size. Some
. species occur in large numbers, others are
-- uncommon or rare, some are beautifully
-, sculptured but only relatively few are bright-
ly coloured. For variety of species, the best
place to look is in limestone country and,
since limestone covers over two-thirds of
the surface of Jamaica, there should be no
trouble finding such areas.
Some land snails exhibit considerable
variation in form within a single species and
This can cause confusion in identification. As
L with insects, many mistakes have been made
in assigning scientific names to the host of
- ._ __species being dealt with. Dr Gary Rosenberg
AMegalobuhmulus oblongus of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural
Sciences has compiled a list of over a thou-
sand names that have been applied to
Jamaican land snails. However, some
. species have been described and mistakenly
redescribed again and again, each descrip-
tion adding a new name to the literature. In
spite of these superfluous names, or syn-
onyms, it is still believed that when this
plethora has been winnowed out the total
number of species in the island will be
roughly five hundred. Furthermore, there
probably are species here waiting to be dis-
'Moving at a snail's pace' is a cliche
applied to anything from actual movement
to bureaucratic procedures. Timing of vari-
ous land snails has shown that they move
from about half an inch to three inches per
Orthahcus undaius (young spectnen) minute; one sprinter was clocked at about
seven inches per minute. A Jamaican
Pleurodonte with a shell two and a half
inches in diameter was timed and made
about three and a half inches in a minute in
an air-conditioned room.
Land snails crawl in a layer of mucus
and cannot move without continually secret-
ing it. The foot, that is, the bulk of the ani-
mal that protrudes from the shell, undergoes
a rapid series of muscular contractions on its
ventral surface moving from the posterior to
the anterior end. In most species, the under-
surface of the foot, or sole, is applied flat to
the surface across which the snail moves.
However, there are some exceptions includ-
ing certain species that exist in Jamaica.
Adamsiella irrorata is an example. In this
species, there is a longitudinal fold in the
Eurycraterajamaicensis sole and, when the animal moves, one edge
or the other of the sole, not its entire under-


surface, is in contact with the substrate.
The muscular contractions alternate, first
on one side and then on the other. The
contractions cause each edge of the sole
to lift, alternately also, giving the
impression that the animal is walking on
stumpy legs. As the snail moves along,
the shell sways from side to side.
Land snails are true hermaph-
rodites; a single individual possesses
both male and female reproductive
organs which are functional. Two ques-
tions come to mind concerning such an
arrangement. One is, does a single indi-
vidual mate with itself? The answer, for
land snails is apparently not The other
is, when mating, do both individuals act
as male and female during a single
encounter? This seems to be the general
procedure in land snails. The preliminar-
ies to mating in certain species have
been observed to be a prolonged series
of touching and caressing. In reading
about it, one gets the impression that
these snails have difficulty in recogniz-
ing each other as members of the same
species or that they very much enjoy
what certain manuals call 'foreplay'.
Perhaps it's a combination of both.
There is another peculiarity of sexu-
al behaviour found in some land snails.
This involves a structure known as the
dart sac, a thick, muscular protrusion of
the reproductive system which opens
into the vagina. Associated with the dart
sac are glands which secrete a substance
into the sac that hardens to form a
sharply pointed, calcareous dart. At
some stage during the courtship, one of
the pair ejects the dart with such force
that it penetrates deeply into the flesh of
the paramour. Observers have reported
that the 'victim' reacts as if the experi-
ence were painful but 'he/she' also finds
it stimulating and fires a dart into its
After this rather violent stimulation,
copulation ensues. The most detailed
account of dart exchanging concerns the
European Edible Snail, Helix pomatia.
However, dissection of a Jamaican
species, Dialeuca nemoraloides, has
shown it to have a dart sac so we might
expect that it has the same function as in
H. pomatia.
For ingesting food, snails are pro-
vided with a tongue-like organ called a
radula and some (most land snails
included) have a tooth-like process
called a 'jaw'. The 'jaw' is located in the
mouth behind the 'upper lip' (the thick-
ening of tissue surrounding the mouth is
referred to as the 'lip') and it is the jaw
that bites off particles of food. The radu-
la, which is rather like a tongue with
many small teeth on its upper surface, is

imbedded in the floor of the mouth and
has muscular attachments. These mus-
cles can apparently raise and lower the
teeth and perhaps move the radula for-
ward and backward. As food passes over
the radula it is rasped or triturated into
fine particles before moving into the
oesophagus and stomach.
Many land snails are scavengers
feeding on dead vegetation, fungi and
dead animals. Some species are preda-
tors on other snails. However, in some
parts of the world, snails are pests in
vegetable and flower gardens. The Giant
African Snail which commonly reaches
a length of four to six inches (an eight
inch specimen has been collected)
received quite a lot of publicity a few
years ago as a pest species. European
Edible Snails of the genus Helix were
imported into California in the hope of
establishing an edible snail industry
there. Unfortunately they escaped in
sufficient numbers to become, in a short
time, pests of economic significance.
Slugs, which are actually snails with a
remnant of a shell imbedded in the flesh
(sometimes even the remnant is absent),
are certainly pests on this island.
One does not hear many complaints
about snails in Jamaica, but we have at
least two species which are known to
damage crops and ornamental plants.
One of these is rather large, about two
inches in diameter, with a white shell
which, in fresh specimens, has a green-
ish tinge because of a thin layer of algae
covering it This snail's scientific name
is Dendrococholis aspera but for years
it has been know as Thelidomus aspera.
It feeds on the fruits and leaves of
banana and breadfruit and is most likely
to be found in hilly areas at altitudes of
two thousand feet or more. The other is a
little plain greyish-brown snail about one
inch long. It is Bulimulus guadeloupen-
sis and I have been told that it damages
leaves of sweet potato and the garden
flower, zinnia.
Certain species of land snails are
used as food by humans and it is quite
possible that the Arawaks included them
in their diet. Certainly, a lot of broken
land snail shells have been found in their
middens. In Europe, the French have
been especially noted for their predilec-
tion for snails as a delicacy and now in
England there is a definite gourmet
demand for them. I have heard that in a
certain parish of Jamaica land snails are
eaten though I hesitate to name the
parish for fear of offending its non-snail-
eating residents.
Years ago, two of my colleagues
brought in live snails collected in the
Blue Mountains, popped them into boil-

ing water, ate them and said that they
'eat good'. Though offered a chance to
sample them, I declined; I am not an
adventurous eater. In any case, preparing
snails for the table is a long and rather
complicated process requiring a certain
amount of fastidiousness. The snails
should be kept alive and without food
long enough for their intestines to be
empty at the time they are consumed.
Snails serve as food for other crea-
tures besides humans. The larvae of
some species of 'blinkies' or 'fireflies'
(Lampyridae) are known to be snail
eaters. There are nearly fifty species of
that beetle family in Jamaica but I have
yet to hear of any of them being snail
predators, although some must be. There
are flies that in their larval stage feed on
snails, both land and fresh water species.
There is a fly in Jamaica that attacks
fresh water snails. Toads, frogs and some
birds have been reported to be snail
eaters, and ducks are said to be especial-
ly fond of slugs.
In reading about how animals con-
tribute to the enrichment of soil by feed-
ing on and helping reduce organic matter
(rotting leaves, logs, branches etc.) to a
form that can be used by plants for
growth and reproduction, one is usually
told about the work of insects, earth-
worms and mites. What about land
snails? Surely with so many scavenger
species, some occurring in large num-
bers, snails too must have an important
role in soil enrichment.
'... if eyes were made for seeing,
then beauty is its own excuse for being.'
This is quoted from Ralph Waldo
Emerson's poem The Rhodora and we
have used it in one of our conservation
exhibits at the Natural History Division.
Land snails have a quiet beauty but per-
haps because of their relatively small
size they have not attracted the attention
of aesthetes (and lesser mortals) that sea
shells have. Jamaican land snails are not
brightly coloured, certainly not as bright-
ly coloured as the tree snails (Polymita)
of eastern Cuba. In our species, shades
of brown, grey, white and cream pre-
dominate but some may wear, almost
coyly, brighter colours. Quite often the
lip and aperture of the shell are a glossy
pink and the under surface of the
Pleurodonte photographed for this article
has a lovely, purple sheen.

Jamaican Land Snails

The largest land snail in Jamaica is
Megalobulimus oblongus (formerly
Strophocheilus) with a shell which may
be as much as three and a half inches in
length. When the animal is seen extend-


ed and crawling about it is indeed a most
impressive mollusc. It is not believed to
be a native of Jamaica or other islands of
the West Indies; its homeland is South
America. The species was doubtfully
reported from Jamaica as early as 1786
but was definitely known to be here in
1928. It is apparently confined to the
Kingston suburbs as far as Constant
Spring and Red Hills. The shell is off-
white or greyish in colour, sometimes
with a pinkish cast, but the interior is a
lustrous pale pink. The eggs are relative-
ly large, about an inch in length, and
might be mistaken for the egg of a small
bird. This snail spends the day hiding in
shady places beneath leaves or other
vegetable debris and sometimes nearly
buries itself in loose soil. It feeds on veg-
etable matter, foraging at night, but we
have had no reports of it attacking crops
or ornamental plants. It is probably a
scavenger. This species and other species
of its family have been used by humans
as food and there is a rather curious
report that the mucus of M. oblongus
was used in Barbados to mend broken
china and glassware.
Another large snail, also an intro-
duced species, is Orthalicus undatus.
This snail lives in trees and shrubs and it
is the one that crawls up walls of build-
ings, sometimes remaining there for
weeks or even months. It secretes a liq-
uid which hardens, sealing off the open-
ing of its shell and retarding dehydration
of the animal inside. How long it can
survive in such a situation we do not
know but there are records of land snails
living for months, even years, sealed
within their shells. Adult specimens are
marked with a zig-zag pattern of grey,
white and reddish-brown but this pattern
is likely to be very pale. Young individu-
als have much darker brown markings
and the zig-zag pattern is much more
pronounced. Large specimens may be as
much as three inches long and the
species is widely spread in the island's
lowlands. 0. undata has the reputation
of being a beneficial species because of
the popular belief that it cleans off fun-
gus growing on trunks and branches of
the trees where it is found. This may be
so, but perhaps it is only a result of the
snail browsing on the lichens and moss
which grow there.
One of Jamaica's more spectacular
land snails and a species known only
from here (endemic) is Eurycratera
jamaicensis. It is about two inches long
(or high) and with an equal diameter.
The colour is caramel or dark brown
with a band of white or yellowish white
spiraling around the shell. E. jamaicen-
sis occurs in the western half of the

island, mostly in hilly wooded country,
but nowhere is it very common.
The genus Pleurodonte is particular-
ly well developed in Jamaica, with many
species having been recorded. Numbers
of them are denizens of forested moun-
tain areas and some are fairly common.
In shape they are somewhat flattened
and usually dull brown or greyish brown
although the aperture of the shell may be
a glossy purple. If not for the size of
some of the species, they would not be
great 'attention getters'. Pleurodonte
ingens with a shell diameter of as much
as three inches (including the lip) is
known from the John Crow Mountains
and in hilly areas westward as far as
Brown's Town. Rivalling ingens in size,
and some specimens are even slightly
larger, is orytenes which has been col-
lected only in Hanover and Westmore-
land at the western end of the island.
There is a very small snail that is
often found in mulch, beneath leaves,
boards and under loose stones, some-
times in considerable numbers, and it
must have been seen by most gardeners.
Subulina octona, of worldwide distribu-
tion, is only about half an inch in length
and has a narrowly tapering, spiral shell
so translucent that the snail can be seen
within it. Apparently it is a scavenger
because if it were a plant pest reports of
the damage it does would certainly have
been documented by now.
The genus Sagda is said to be con-
fined to Jamaica and at least thirteen
species of it have been reported.
Whether or not these are all 'good
species', i.e., actually separate species, is
something specialists will have to
decide - if they ever do decide. The
species are moderate in size, the greatest
shell height being about three-quarters of
an inch and the shell is quite smooth and
chalky white in colour. However, when
the snail is still in the shell, it has a pink-
ish or greyish cast. The shape of the
Sagda shell is usually compared to an
old-fashioned beehive but since most of
us have never seen such a hive a better
descriptive term nowadays might be
turban-shaped. The shape is very distinc-
tive and renders them easily identifiable.
These shells may occur in considerable
numbers on rock ledges and hollows in
cliffs in wooded regions but this should
not be taken as an indication of a high
population of a species in the area. Snail
shells of several species tend to accumu-
late in such situations, and the accumula-
tion could remain practically undisturbed
for years.
Twenty-five species of the genus
Varicella have been recorded from
Jamaica and they are all said to be 'fierce

predators' on snails larger than them-
selves. In size, they vary from somewhat
less than a half inch to one inch in length
and are slenderly spiral in form. Some
species have smooth, glossy shells but
others are finely ribbed. In colour they
are mostly light brown with longitudinal
bands of darker brown, reddish-brown
and, in some, traces of yellow. Varicellas
are widely distributed over the island but
apparently not in the higher mountain
areas. They are usually collected at
ground level in leaf mould but are
known to crawl over rocks and into trees
when searching for prey. These snails are
not common.
Species of land snails which were
formerly in a family known as Cyclo-
phoridae are now included in the family
Helicinidae as a subfamily. Whatever
their rank, cyclophorids are well repre-
sented in the American tropics and there
are numerous species here. They are, in
fact, one of the more prominent features
of the Jamaican land snail fauna. These
are operculate snails so called because
they can withdraw into the shell and
close it with a hard, platelike little door
attached to the snail's body. All the
snails previously mentioned in this arti-
cle are inoperculates because they lack
such a door. Cyclophorids are mostly
dark brown with some showing traces of
banding. They are rather flat and spiral
in form and the surface of the shell may
have a wrinkled appearance. Ranging
from about half an inch to one inch in
diameter, these snails prefer damp forest
litter but have been found beneath veg-
etable debris in banana plantations. One
collector has said that they seldom move
into open areas even in wet weather and
that they are more restricted than other
snails in areas inhabited by a single spe-
cies [A L Mehring, unpublished ms.].
This very brief account of some of
the highlights of the Jamaican land snail
fauna closes with a species that is some-
thing of a collector's prize. Annularia
pulchrum is not a prettily coloured
species, being a sort of buff brown,
sometimes with a pinkish cast. Older,
weathered specimens are usually greyish
white. What catches the snail connois-
seur's eye is the sculpturing of the shell.
A series of evenly spaced ridges follows
the shell's spiral, terminating in a frilled
lip bordering its opening. Crossing the
ridges nearly at a right angle to them are
many fine striations. Larger specimens
are about an inch in height and of an
equal diameter. Annularia pulchrum is
one of the largest species of its family
and is (or was) most likely to be found in
the Lluidas Vale region of St Ann.



Pleurodonte Pleurodonte (live snail)



/ 4



Simms Hall Jamaica College

. I

h~Pw 7)

S imms Hall was completed in 1885, two years
after Drax School moved from St Ann to St
Andrew. The building at Hope was designed
to accommodate boarders as well as day boys and
was large enough to hold the whole school without
Unlike Manning's School and Wolmer's, Simms
Hall was designed with few concessions to a tropical
climate. The heavily impressive facade, narrow
windows and somewhat Gothic effect of the three-
storeyed central section and arched main doorway
suggest that the architect intended the school to be a
small scale version of a solid seat of learning in the
tradition of English public schools such as Eton. The

covered verandah with its slender pillars is the only
visible indication that some shelter from the sun
might be needed. The upper windows are
After the move to Hope, Drax School changed
its name to the Jamaica High School. Later, in 1902,
the school amalgamated with the dwindling
University College and the name was changed for the
last time to Jamaica College.
For over a hundred years Simms Hall has been the
core of the Jamaica College buildings, its strength and
durability repeatedly demonstrated by its resistance
to hurricanes and earthquakes, including the
disastrous earthquake of 1907.

Glimpses of Jamaica's Natural History


" 4TR

The Sally Lightfoot or Rock Crab
(Grapsus grapsus)
This crab frequents rocky shores where it can scamper
over flat or nearly vertical surfaces with considerable
speed. It feeds by scraping algae from the rocks to which it
clings 'with limpet-like tenacity' when inundated by surging
waves. It may attain a length of about three inches and a
width of about four inches.
The Sally Lightfoot is fairly common in Jamaica and is
recorded throughout the Caribbean. These crabs are known
to attach themselves to floating seaweed and turtles and thus
have become widely distributed from the tropical Eastern
Atlantic and, in the Pacific, from Southern California to Chile.

Natural History Division
Institute of Jamaica

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