THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES ST. AUGUSTINE CAMPUS
SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER, 2009
The mortarboard is a global symbol of
academia and graduations, and as we prepare
for our annual Presentation of Graduates
on October 30 and 31, we have devoted
much of this edition to the people, traditions
and symbols associated with graduation
We were as struckby our cover photograph's
startling likeness to a mortarboard as its
photographer, Ian Parker, was. A professor of
neuroscience at the University of California,
Prof Parker was hiking into a canyon at the
side of the Escalante River in Utah when he
saw the intriguing rock formation that he aptly
titled: "The Mortarboard."
The mortarboard as a symbol of higher
learning and the solidity represented by
this rock, combined to reinforce an idea
we feel is central to the development of any
civilisation. It is the concept that education
is the sturdiest rock upon which to build
anything of substance.
We pay tribute to those who have
accumulated wisdom through the shaping
hands of life experience and who use their
knowledge to guide those who come behind.
We pay tribute to those who submit themselves
to the task of learning and now stand ready to
contribute to their communities. And we pay
tribute to the long traditions of excellence that
we strive to emulate each day.
SPORT- 05 _GRADUATION CEREMONIES- 08
UWI SPEC Half-Marathon m e Graduate
* Put on your running shoes (
*- l lb ( anii l; "1-.\g ( n.I n i.'1 y
* Prof. Arnold
Inside a biographer
* Yesu Persaud
In the service
of his brother
SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009 UWI TODAY 3
Professor Zulaika Ali became a Consultant
Neonatologist at the Mt Hope Women's
Hospital in 1981 and soon got involved in
arranging for corrective cardiac and other
surgeries for affected newborn babies at
overseas centres. She saw the need for a cost-
effective programme to diagnose, treat and
manage complex problems in patients whose
parents could not afford such medical care
which was not available locally. Thus, the UWI
Telehealth Programme was born.
The UWI Telehealth Programme is a
partnership between the Child Health Unit,
Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, the
Ministry of Health, Hospital for SickKids
(SKH), Toronto Canada and Atlantic LNG
of Trinidad & Tobago, Atlantic for Children
It was meant to enable patients to access
medical treatment not available locally, to
strengthen undergraduate, postgraduate and
continuing medical education programmes and
to support relevant collaborative research.
Patients are referred to the Telehealth
Programme from government clinics, hospitals
private practitioners, media, friends and family
who have benefited from this service. The
Programme's paediatrician assesses the need
for foreign consultation and if needed, the
referral is then forwarded to SKH for a clinical
Since its launch, the Programme has
completed 125 consultations on a wide range
of clinical conditions in children aged 3
months to 19 years from Trinidad & Tobago
and other Caribbean islands. The benefits of
this programme include cost saving on foreign
travel and accommodation expenses (average
total cost TT$26,300 per consultation), short
waiting time for appointments with overseas
consultants, increased local access to one-on-
one high quality specialist consultations and
the opportunity for needy patients to receive
treatment abroad. Cost saving in consultations
is approximately TT$3.28 million with an
additional savings of approximately TT$4.4
million for surgical procedures, not available
in Trinidad, conducted at SKH.
OUR FINE CADRE
5TH ANNIVERSARY OF TELEHEALTH PROGRAMME
UWI Telehealth Programme, Child Health Unit, Building 69, 3rd Floor, Children's Hospital, Eric William Medical
Sciences Programme. E-mail: email@example.com, Tel/Fax: 868-663-1610, Website: http://sta.uwi.edu/telehealth/
Professor Clement Sankat
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
Mrs. Dawn Marie De Four-Gill
Ms. Vaneisa Baksh
The UWI Marketing and Communications Office
Tel: (868) 662-2002, exts. 2013. 2014
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As the St Augustine Campus approaches its
Sfiftieth year, it has figuratively entered its middle
,. age, a period traditionally associated with
q R wisdom, vigour and self awareness. For those of
S us who have been here for a large portion of those
50 years, it has been a chance to see the university
grow and cultivate its own traditions, to watch it
come into its own identity as a solid Caribbean
iK institution, and to feel the confidence of its
maturity as it negotiates its way as an academic
leader and a leader of academics.
I believe that the most important function of any institute of learning is
to nurture the minds in its midst, not as a one-way function between teachers
and students but in a broader sense, with all minds being open to learning
from each other and contributing to the creation of new knowledge, discourse
and innovative solutions, in response to the needs of the environment. In this
light, the university serves as a facilitator of teaching, learning and relevant
research and provides opportunities for contributing to national and regional
development. This is what sets our university apart.
Graduation exercises are a symbolic celebration of all that goes into
the process of nurturing the student-from fresher to grad-and all the
expectations that follow. As academics and educators, we imbibe the true
significance of the ceremonies each time they occur and they rejuvenate our
spirits as we usher our graduates into the world and begin anew the process
of mentoring and stimulating the intellectual development of incoming
We feel a deep sense of pride when we see our graduates stepping
confidently into society with knowledge, sensitivity and dexterity so that they
can easily accept the roles of leaders in whatever spheres they enter. Indeed,
a close look at the leadership cohort throughout the region will reveal a
remarkable number of UWI graduates among them.
In a few days, the St Augustine Campus will host its 2009 Presentation
of Graduates to honour the more than 3,000 students who are graduating.
We are proud of them and know that when you receive them in your midst,
you will be too.
For the St Augustine Campus, graduation ceremonies are more than a
solemn, formal procession of graduates-they are a poignant reminder of our
shared goals and responsibilities and underscore the dignity of our purpose
CLEMENT K. SANKAT
Pro Vice Chancellor & Principal
F7 7 FROM THE PRINCIPAL
4 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009
FROM THE REGIONAL ENDOWMENT FUND
(L-R) Prof Clement Sankat, Principal, UWI St Augustine Campus, with three of the visiting scholarship recipients, Lauralee Samaroo,
Melissa Ann De Freitas and Candice Myers, and Prof. E. Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor, UWI.
UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor E. Nigel Harris and St.
Augustine Campus Principal, Professor Clement Sankat
recently welcomed four scholarship winners to the St.
Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies.
The students, Amelia Rouse, Candice Myers, Lauralee
Samaroo and Melissa Ann De Freitas were awarded
scholarships and bursaries amounting to US$ 25,000 by The
University of the West Indies Regional Endowment Fund
(UWIREF). Amelia is enrolled in the Faculty of Engineering,
while Melissa is in the Faculty of Science & Agriculture and
Candice and Lauralee are both in the Faculty of Medicine.
They celebrate with 15 other counterparts spread across
the Caribbean, who have all taken up offers to study at the
University's Cave Hill, Mona or St. Augustine campus.
In keeping with tradition, on Thursday 17th September,
2009 at 5pm) at the JFK Quadrangle all new students of the
UWI St. Augustine campus were ceremonially welcomed
into the academic community. The ceremony where students
sign the matriculation book and take the Academic Vow led
by the President of the Guild of Students was witnessed by
top University personnel including UWI Vice Chancellor
Professor E. Nigel Harris, St Augustine Campus Principal
Professor Clement Sankat, Registrar Jeremy Callaghan,
deans and members of academic staff.
Eight students from The UWI participated in Methanex
Trinidad Limited's Vacation Internship Programme for
three months. The programme introduces students to the
world of work, helps develop their relationship skills and
encourages volunteerism for community giving.
Now in its fifth year, the programme aims for a balance
between professional and personal development and is
based on a mentoring concept (interns are assigned to
employee mentors who are responsible for supporting their
The interns chose to support the Hope Centre on
Pointe-a-Pierre Road, San Fernando-a home for children.
The interns had strong support from employees in raising
funds through onsite breakfast, cake and chow sales.
Methanex matched the funds raised, allowing them to
purchase school uniforms, shoes, books, school accessories
and items that the Home needed to make the children
Ryan Cudjoe, an Environmental and Natural Resources
Management and Geography major, was full of praise.
"This wonderful experience offered at Methanex allowed
me to apply the theoretical lessons of the classroom to the
workplace. The knowledge of health, safety and environment
was useful in giving me a heightened perception of
The UWI Regional Endowment Fund (UWIREF) was
officially launched in July 2008 as part of the University's
60th Anniversary celebrations. The UWIREF provides
the opportunity for international and regional donors to
collaborate with the University to give meaningful support
to its undergraduate and graduate students, research and
other developmental projects.
The recipients of the 2009-2010 UWIREF scholarships
are: Jennifer Mofford and Amelia Rouse of Barbados;
Corazon Durand of Dominica; Anne Teresa Birthwright,
Mele-a Campbell, Amoako St. Patrick Evans, Felisha
Henry, Shanique Sterling, Samantha Christie, Shaneek
Findlay, Adrian Stephens and, Pettia Gay Williams of
Jamaica; Androy Emery and Keiran Prescott-Joseph of St.
Lucia; Malissa Cornwall, Melissa De Freitas and Valdene
Jack of St. Vincent and Candice Myers and Lauralee
Samaroo of Trinidad & Tobago.
They were recommended for the awards based on merit
and financial need. The 2009/2010 UWIREF Scholarships,
valued at a total of US$ 150,000 were funded through the
collaborative efforts of UWI and its partners including:
RBTT, Sir George and Lady Sylvan Alleyne, Dame Bernice
Lake, Maud Fuller, the late Roydell Lawrence and the late
Professor Pamela Rodgers-Johnson.
responsible care which I will share with my classmates. It's
good learning for life, not just the workplace."
Juantelle Charles, a Mechanical Engineering major,
thanked Methanex for "an excellent experience, particularly
as I was placed in the department which relates to my area of
study. This exposure will help with my school work and give
me the upper hand on courses for the new school term."
Vacation interns spent a day with children of Hope Centre, San Fern-
ando in community giving, which is a key component of Methanex'
Vacation Internship Program.
The 6th Caribbean Creative Writers' Residential
Workshop, sponsored by The Cropper Foundation
in partnership with The UWI, will take place from
July 5' to July 23rd 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago.
Fifteen writers who haven't as yet published a
novel or collection of short stories, poems or plays
will be chosen from across the Caribbean to join
this year's residential workshops.
The 2010 Workshop will focus on fiction,
playwriting and poetry and will be facilitated by
Professor Funso Aiyejina and Dr. Merle Hodge
at a secluded writing-inducing setting location
somewhere in Trinidad.
Support for Caribbean Writing is an ongoing
programme of The Cropper Foundation that
seeks to contribute to the development of the
Caribbean on many levels and in different areas
of interest. The Foundation has been helped by the
Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA),
and the Department of Liberal Arts, at The UWI.
The writers' workshop is part of the Foundation's
effort to encourage new Caribbean literary voices
by providing practical advice on the craft of
writing. The workshops this year will culminate
with the Launch of the first Anthology of Cropper
Foundation participants' writings: "Moving
Right Along...," as well as a celebration of the 10'
Anniversary of The Cropper Foundation.
Applicants, twenty years and above, who are
Caribbean nationals residing in the Caribbean,
are invited to submit application forms and
samples of their writing (five pages only) no
later than November 15t 2009 to the following
address: Writers Workshop, Department of
Creative & Festival Arts, The University of the
West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. Works
of prose fiction, playwriting or poetry, either
published or unpublished, will be considered for
For ippliLt itl '11forms and further information,
S.1, A ..i ill Dr. Dani Lyndersay (868) 663-0442, Ms.
Rhoda Bharath (868) 779-7457, or Ms. Marissa
Brooks 662-2002 ext. 3040 at The University of the
West Indies, or email: Marissa UWI@(gmail.com.
STUDENTS INTRODUCED TO
WORK LIFE AT METHANEX
0 CAMPS NEW
SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009 UWI TODAY 5
UWI SPEC INTERNATIONAL HALF-MARATHON
ONE THOUSAND STRONG
that marathoners in climates like ours can never make
the record times set in temperate zones. Raffique Shah,
organizer of many marathons, said optimal temperatures
are around 60oF... and everyone knows it is way past 96
degrees in the shade these days. Shah says it doesn't alter the
fact that this UWI SPEC International Half-Marathon is
the premier event of its kind in the Caribbean. The course
will be complete with markers and water stops at every
mile for the running convenience of the athletes vying for
TT$135,000 in prizes.
The half-marathon will be electronically timed and
any records broken in this AIMS-certified (Association
of International Marathons and Distance Races), and
International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF)-
accredited race will be recognized worldwide.
Although it's a half-marathon, it's still a taxing session,
so if you haven't been putting in your daily training of at
least an hour for a few weeks, chances are when you pause
for breath, you might not be able to keep going to the finish
line. And you can't just turn around anywhere and run back
to SPEC; from the time you take off from the starting line,
you're a marked bird.
When the first half-marathon was being planned five years
ago, it was really intended to serve a dual purpose. Dr Iva
Gloudon, UWI's Director of Sport & Physical Education was
looking for something healthy that would attract students
and she wanted it to be linked to the Sport and Physical
Education Centre (SPEC).
Last year, two of the finishers-Roy Riley and Aldwin
Moonsammy-were over 70, five were in their sixties, and
about ten were in their fifties. The overall winners were
young though, 18, 19, 20, 23, and it is interesting that the
top two women were the younger ones, though the men
beat them by a good 20 minutes.
The race has grown a lot since it started with 300
participants, and of the 750 in last year's race, a fair
proportion were the students Dr Gloudon had been trying
to attract. The categories have grown. In addition to UWI
staff and student groups, the wheelchair and physically
challenged categories, there is now a team category for a
minimum of 15 athletes.
To keep the scope manageable, registration was closed
as soon as the first thousand had signed up. Next Sunday,
runners will have the pleasure of cantering through an
entirely traffic-free course as they leave the UWI SPEC at
6am and make their way along the Priority Bus Route to
La Resource Junction in D'Abadie and then back to their
It should take no more than two hours, even for the
slower finishers, who will walk and run the 13.1 miles in
the first and only cool hours of the blistering days we've
been having. The heat, unfortunately, is one of the reasons
6 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER. 2009
Tennille Auguste entered the Faculty of Veterinary
Medicine in September 2004 to read for the Doctor
of Veterinary Medicine Degree. She chose to
study Veterinary Medicine because of her love for
animals and her desire to help people through their
"My parents and my grandparents strongly
influenced my decision to become a veterinarian, as
well as Dr James Herriot author of the book entitled
'It shouldn't Happen to a Vet," she said. (Veterinary
surgeon James Alfred Wright wrote under the name
Dr James Heriott and must have influenced many
with his humorous accounts of life as a vet. His son
became a vet and his daughter, a doctor.)
She is very excited to have attained her doctorate,
especially in the field she loves. "My dreams will
finally be fulfilled in October 2009 when I graduate
with a distinction degree," she said.
While a student, Tennille has kept herself
busy fulfilling her spiritual needs and actively
participating in administrative issues. She was a
member of Campus Crusade for Christ, and teaches
at her parish Sunday school, and was secretary
of the executive board of the Veterinary Students
Association of Trinidad and Tobago.
So what does the future want to look like for
"I would like to pursue post-graduate work
in the areas of surgery and diagnostic imaging.
Ultimately, I would like to be a board-certified
surgeon, who occasionally participates in research
while spending at least two months out of the year
doing volunteer work as a locum."
JONI LEE POW
Joni Lee Pow attended Mucurapo Girls' R.C.
Primary School and St. Joseph's Convent, in Port of
Spain. With a National Scholarship, she entered The
UWI two years later as a Visual Arts student because
she had always wanted to be an artist.
"I realized however in my first year that art
brought me no sense of fulfilment but instead
highlighted my inadequacies. I recognize the
personal and emotional struggle of artists and I
truly admire those who chose to live out this career
in its truest sense," she said, but she felt she had to
She's now completed her BSc in Psychology
with First Class Honours, and hopes to pursue a
doctorate in Clinical Neuropsychology. It's a choice
she's happy about.
"Psychology, like art deals with human nature
and its complexities but unlike art it satisfied my
need for rationale and love of science. I am fascinated
by the biological intricacies of the mind as it related
to psychology and I look forward to furthering this
Joni has a fascination with the concept of
endurance, believing it to be a challenge to the human
mind's capacity. She's completed one marathon and
a half-marathon and says her approach to distance
running is like her attitude towards education: "I
place much greater emphasis on the journey and
not the endpoint"
"I acknowledge the importance ofhaving balance
within the many facets of one's identity. Although I
value the importance of education I uphold the
greater importance of human relationships. As a wife
and mother I believe life is about loving as much as
it is about learning.'
"I do not have a personal
mission. But among all the
purposes for which one might
work, I feel that sustaining our
planetary home and in ways that
contribute to human dignity and
equity among groups and peoples
transcend everything else. It is
for me a most noble mission. I
do like to leave a place somewhat
better off by virtue of my having
been there...Every employment
option I have chosen over my life
since university has been seen as
an opportunity to continue to
change the world. In that work
I do draw heavily on the work
of academics, but I try to put
it to use for the larger public
(UWI TODAY, SEPTEMBER2009)
8 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER. 2009
GRADUATION IS AN ANNUAL COMING OF AGE CEREMONY, traditionally the end of "the apprenticeship,"
and its elaborate rituals are riveting for all their attention to reproducing every detail of centuries of academic
celebrations. While many admire the processions and solemnity of the occasions, the meanings of the rituals
and symbols remain a little obscure. Serah Acham explains some of them and their origins.
Each year, students around the world don the "... .
ceremonial "cap and gown" and prepare to cross the
proverbial stage to receive their diplomas, a ritual
that signifies the end of one phase of their lives and
the beginning of another. However, its significance
stretches to a much broader scale since, for the
university the ceremony also symbolises its role in the
progress of a nation-both good reasons for the pomp .,
and circumstance that surround the occasion.
Yet, many of us take part, whether as performer
or member of the audience, without knowing where
these rituals began or why they are still such important
components of contemporary proceedings.
The graduation ceremony is one that is
steeped in tradition. Every element, from the term
"commencement" used to describe the event, to the
regalia that the major players wear, finds its roots deeply J
embedded in history.
Although the word "commencement" implies beginning,
it is also the word used to describe the celebration of
the end of a student's academic career, or at least
one stage of it. Why such contradiction? The reason
can be found in the 11th and 12th century medieval
universities of Paris and Bologna. These universities
were guilds where students (called apprentices) learned
skills from masters of certain crafts. At the end of the
period of study, the apprentice earned a "testimonial
of skill," today known as the "degree'" gaining him .
admission into the guild as a new master of his craft. P ...8
Immediately after receiving his testimonial, he was
expected to begin teaching. Hence, the commencement
ceremony celebrated the apprentice's induction into HRH Princes Alice at the end of the first Graduation Ceremony at the Harbour Site in Barbados in 1967. The mace bearer at front is still a fun-
the profession-the beginning of his life as a member damental part of the ceremony. (Photo reproduced from "The University of the West Indies: A Caribbean response to ,I I,.,11. .. ..Fchange" (Phillip
of the guild. Sherlock & Rex ,l, r..,.,I
Every commencement ceremony begins and ends with
a procession. This ritual was derived from the clerical
processions of the Roman Catholic Church and many
of its symbolic elements are still incorporated into
graduations today. The stately music that provides
the background for the entrance of the marchers,
for instance, is one such element. It lends a dignified
tone to the occasion and its rhythm sets the pace for
the marchers, allowing the audience time to savour
the grandeur of the occasion and contemplate its
Traditional formations have also been preserved.
The ranks of two seen at UWI graduations are part
of that solemn, time-honoured walk. The academic
procession enters first, headed by the university
marshals and then the graduands. A fanfare follows,
* THE LINING COLOURS WHICH RES
Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Avocado G
Bachelor of Arts Plumbago Blue
Bachelor of Education White
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Aluminiui
Bachelor of Laws Black
Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Doc
and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Purple
Bachelor of Science (The Natural Sciences) Al
Bachelor of Science (Nursing) Purple, and top
Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy, BB Medical Sci
B Medical Science, Physical Therapy) Purple,
with the bottom curve of the purple enhanced I
Bachelor of Science (Social Sciences) Orange
Bachelors: Interdisciplinary Programmes Ecrt
SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009 UWI TODAY 9
heralding the entrance of the chancellor's procession.
The mace is carried by the mace bearer at the end,
entering directly before the chancellor, who comes
The mace is an integral part of the commencement
ceremony. It is a heavily ornamented metal or wooden
staff which symbolises the university's authority-the
internal authority of the university's governing body
over its members and the university's sovereignty
from external authority. Whenever this authority is
exercised, such as in the conferring of degrees to its
students, the mace must be present.
It, too, was adapted into the ceremony from old
French and English traditions where the ceremonial
mace was carried by the King's bodyguard, used as a
weapon to protect him.
By the 14th century, however, its practical use
began to be phased out as it became more ornate.
Encased in jewels and precious metals, the mace
grew to be a more decorative piece, gaining symbolic
The traditional dress for graduands consists of three
elements: the gown, hood and mortarboard.
The custom of the graduation gown began in the 12th
century, when the everyday attire at institutions of
learning consisted of a long gown or robe, covered by
a full-length cloak with a cowl (the hood of today's
graduation garb). This remained the fashion until the
15th century when tight breeches, capes and plumed
hats became the style.
By the year 1600, the gown as a part of regular
academic garb was almost completely phased out,
being worn only by religious, legal and academic staff.
However, because during medieval times most scholars
belonged to a religious order, graduates of these
institutions continued to wear the gown. The tradition
has since been retained, as graduands continue to wear
the gown during the commencement ceremony.
The colour of The UWI's gown is blue, with
doctoral students wearing scarlet, and while most
universities today allow much flexibility in what their
graduands wear under their gowns, UWI's protocol
mandates that graduating women wear white dresses
or suits and men wear dark coloured lounge suits. At
The UWI, as with most other universities, gowns for
the various degree levels differ slightly in length and
shape, with the more advanced degrees having slightly
longer sleeves and more elaborate gowns.
The hood, a part of the original academic costume of
the 12th century, was initially meant as a head cover
for the monks who wore them. Today, however, it
has evolved into the most descriptive piece of the
graduation attire. Its length and colours of the lining
and binding indicate the wearer's school, degree and
field of study.
The UWI's hood is blue (with the exception of
Doctor of Medicine and PhD candidates) and most are
bound with red, while the colour of the lining depends
on the faculty and type of degree conferred.
Though most universities have the graduands
wear their hoods with their gowns throughout the
graduation ceremony, traditionally the hoods were
presented after they received their degrees. A special
Hooding Ceremony was held for the presentation
of hoods to Master's and PhD degree holders. This
custom is still preserved by some universities, while
others have abandoned it due to the large volume of
students that they may have to accommodate. At The
UWI, there is no special ceremony. All graduands don
their hoods before the commencement and must wear
The mortarboard completes the ensemble. Casually
referred to as the "cap," it has long been a part of
graduation regalia. Though no one knows where
POND TO EACH DEGREE TYPE ARE AS FOLLOWS (the binding is red unless indicated otherwise):
tor of Dental Surgery
edge bound with Blue and White
Master of Science in Agriculture and Master of Philosophy Avocado Green
Master of Science and Master of Philosophy (The Social Sciences) Orange
Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy (in Humanities) Plumbago Blue
Master of Education and Master of Philosophy (In Education) White
Master of Science and Master of Philosophy (In Engineering) Aluminium Grey
Master of Laws Black
Master of Science and Master of Philosophy (The Natural Sciences) Alamanda Yellow
Doctor of Medicine (Dm) Hood: Red and lined with Purple (No Mortar Board).
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Hood: Black Panama fully lined with Red and Black
Velvet Mortarboard with Black Tassel.
>y a panel of gold.
or when the tradition originated, there are many
Employing the term "mortarboard" to describe this
headgear is a relatively recent development, dating only
as far as the mid- 19th century. It is thought to have come
about due to its resemblance to the literal mortarboard:
a wooden plate with a handle underneath, used by
bricklayers to carry small amounts of mortar.
The use of the mortarboard can be traced back
as early as 16th century Europe, when members of
academic institutions wore distinctive hats to show
their rank in the world of academia. Members of the
clergy and scholars wore birettas, which were similar
in appearance to the square cap of graduates today.
Their students wore a round pileus rotundus, akin to
a beret fashioned with a "stalk" or "tab" in the centre.
It is believed that the modern mortarboard design
began in the early 1500s, at the University of Paris,
when graduates merged the two hats, creating a square
Its design continued to be altered and in the 1600s
it became a skull cap, topped with a soft, flat, square
cap. By the 1700s, the mortarboard began to take shape
as the soft cap was replaced with a flat, stiff square that
sat atop the skull cap. The tassel was added a century
Traditionally, the mortarboard was reserved
for those receiving a Master's degree, since during
medieval times this was the highest degree awarded.
While today, most academic institutions have adopted
it in the dress for graduands of all degrees, The UWI
remains true to its roots, only awarding the privilege
of wearing the mortarboard to recipients of its highest
degree: the PhD.
Additionally, universities typically stress that it is
imperative for the mortarboard to be worn correctly-
fitting snugly on the head, with the flat top parallel to
The honorary degree is the most prestigious form of
recognition to be given by higher education institutions.
The university waives its usual requirements-
matriculation, years of study and research, residence
and passing of examinations-expected of regular
students, and selects candidates via a nomination
Recipients of an honorary degree are typically
individuals of renowned reputations, either nationally
or internationally, such as leading scholars, discoverers,
inventors, authors, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs,
social activists and political leaders.
Occasionally, it may be reserved for an individual
who has greatly affected the university itself, either
through board membership, volunteerism or making
major monetary contributions.
The recipient also need not have any prior
connection to the presenting university. Rather,
purpose of the honorary degree is for the institution to
establish ties with a prominent person and to honour
the individual's contribution to a specific field.
10 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009
On Art and Imagination
Acclaimed writer, Arnold Rampersad, talks about US President Barack Obama,
his return home and being honoured by UWI in an interview with Anna Walcott-Hardy.
Having read his books, I felt I knew Arnold Rampersad
long before meeting him on that breezy afternoon at the
home of artist, Jackie Hinkson in 2006. His biographies,
"Days of Grace" and "The Life of Langston Hughes:' were
sandwiched between the poetry of Joseph Brodsky and
a novel by Coetzee in our small Petit Valley library. An
unusual placing, perhaps, but then again, perhaps not,
since his works have often been praised for rejuvenating
the genre of the literary biography. Unassuming, discerning
and somewhat reserved, with a very dry wit, he often uses
humour to make one feel at ease.
The Professor of English and the Sara Hart Kimball
Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University, he
was Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities from
January 2004-August 2006. As Senior Associate Dean,
he was responsible for the full array of departments in
the Humanities, including Art and Art History, Asian
Languages, Classics, Comparative Literature, Drama, French
and Italian, German Studies and Linguistics.
From 1991 to 1996, he held a MacArthur "genius
grant" fellowship. He is an elected member of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American
Philosophical Society. He is the brother of Roger Toussaint,
the president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, and
John Mendes of Arima, editor of"Cote ci Cote la,' a popular
dictionary of Trinidad expressions.
As a teenager, he would lime with a group of friends
including artists Donald 'Jackie' Hinkson, Peter Minshall
and writer, Kevin Arthur. The Hinkson home was a popular
meeting place for the group, where they discussed art, music
and writing. Hinkson remembers him as "very soft spoken,
gentle...he expressed himself beautifully and his English was
The friends also shared a passion for cricket and often
went to the Queen's Park Oval to watch the regional team.
Born in 1941 in Trinidad, he received a BA and MA
from Bowling Green State University and an MA and PhD
from Harvard University. He has taught at The University
of Virginia, of Virginia and at Rutgers, Columbia and
Princeton Universities. This year he will be honoured by
The University of the West Indies and some may say it's
been a long time coming. Hinkson says it well: "obviously
it is most well deserved, the man has excelled.'
In yourpresentation on the Tenth AnnualEric E. Williams
Memorial Lecture in October 2008 on "The Challenge of
Leadership in America: Race, Historyand the Emergence
of Barack Obama,"at Florida International University,
you spoke of President Barack Obama as an enigma-a
master orator with the capacity to be a great leader,
but who could also, perhaps by the very nature of his
"contemplative reserve," be at risk of being a "passive
and ineffectual president." What grade would you give
the President thus far?
I think that his opponents on the right have tried to
capitalize on what is a genuine tendency in his character,
toward contemplation and reserve. They also harp on his
lack of previous executive experience, which could indeed
have been a major handicap. Nevertheless, I think that he
has performed superbly on the whole. My fears that he
would do little have been proven completely unjustified.
He is surrounded by a team, including his Chief of Staff
Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, both also from Chicago,
that has worked aggressively with him on a daunting set of
problems. Even during the low point of August, when he
was hammered steadily by his opponents over health care
issues mainly, but also trivially and often spitefully, I thought
that he was performing very well, and I was sure then, as
I'm sure now, that he will win (a partial but major victory)
on the health care issues, and generations of Americans will
be glad that he fought and won. He has been attacked for
making compromises, but I support his pragmatism. He
definitely gets a grade A from me-although the head of
the Republican Party, Michael Steele had failed him. That's
You've been away from Trinidad for over thirty years
andyou returned home last year for an extendedperiod.
Looking back, what were some of your expectations?
I had dipped into Trinidad a few times after a long
time away, prior to my more extended return. I had been
impressed that the nation was doing so well, not only
economically, but also in terms of preserving its astonishing
vitality and creativity. I was very pleased to see people who
had been poor doing much better than when I left them
in the early 1960s. The whole country had become much
more sophisticated and skilled. Of course, I was inundated
by local voices that emphasized the problems of living in
"In the struggle of blacks and sympathetic whites for the
achievement of social justicefor all, and in the rich but
largely ignored literature of blacks that spanned two
centuries, I found my scholarly and teaching focus.
SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009 UWI TODAY 11
Trinidad. Some of these people were and are extremely
pessimistic. I returned in order to try to get closer to the
truth, as well as to benefit from the vitality and creativity of
which I spoke just now.
How did they measure up to the reality of being in
I was sad to leave Trinidad after four or five months
here; but then, to be honest, after a few days I was contented
to be back in a much blander but more organized culture.
For one thing, I could take a drive in my car without making
sure my will was in order and my next-of-kin could be
One has to be strong to be a Trinidadian. Crime is a
reality that undermines the foundations of the nation; crime
and the impunity associated with it. The failure to solve
crimes of murder, especially high-profile crimes, tends to
mock all the genuine achievement of the country.
And then there is the matter of "race" relations. Even
if one sets aside the matter of the relationship between the
peoples of African and Indian descent, there is a sometimes
disturbing lack of progress, as I experienced it, among the
non-Indian peoples. Skin colour continues to matter far
too much, I think. And yet in the final analysis Trinidad
is not a blind society. It is intensely self-critical. People are
smart and knowing, alert and alive and creative, and they
understand the need to hang together, even if it is sometimes
very hard to do so.
How were you able to move so seamlessly and
successfully from broadcast journalism in the Caribbean
to academia in the USA?
My education at Belmont Boys' Intermediate and
at CIC [St Mary's College] stood me in very good stead.
CIC and QRC [Queen's Royal College] and schools of that
quality were old-fashioned in some ways but also superb
in preparing us as students. As for attending college, I was
simply lucky. I certainly had neither the money nor the
sage advice about how to get scholarships and the like.
Then I became a freshman at 24 through the graces of the
US State Department, a partial scholarship, and the local
embassy, especially in the person of the wonderful Nina
Squires of Trinidad, an artist in her own right employed
at the embassy. I was sent, fearing that I couldn't compete
after five years out of CIC, to a university that was pretty
low on the achievement scale of universities in the US-one
of the lesser state universities of Ohio-and discovered that
I loved being in the classroom, that after CIC and taking
the advanced Cambridge University overseas exams I was
more than ready to do well, especially in the humanities.
Incidentally, I had loved being a broadcaster, especially
in journalism. It extended my education about the world.
Perhaps I should have stayed in the field. Who knows?
The key matter, in some respects, was my early discovery
of the links between earlier, foundational, American literature
and some of the very issues consuming the younger artists
in the Caribbean as I was growing up. I mean the questions
surrounding colonialism and nationhood, the problems
and challenges of being dominated by a foreign literary and
cultural tradition, mainly English, that was attractive but
needed to be rivalled and even displaced. Once I discovered
American literature of the American Renaissance of the
1840s and 1850s that produced writers such as Melville and
Walt Whitman, and saw how similar it was, in key ways,
to the Caribbean Renaissance that had already produced
Walcott, Naipaul, and other transformative writers and
artists, I had found my career. The arrival of the Black
Power movement refined my goals further. In the struggle of
blacks and sympathetic whites for the achievement of social
justice for all, and in the rich but largely ignored literature
of blacks that spanned two centuries, I found my scholarly
and teaching focus. That focus sharpened further when I
became dedicated to filling the gap ofblackbiography within
Did you have many mentors along the way?
Absolutely. I received no mentoring from my father
or mother, but in my childhood Edith Callender Cole,
a school teacher who became head mistress of Sacred
Heart Girls, literally taught me to read and write after my
education had been badly neglected. In fact, the first school
I ever attended was Belmont Boys' Intermediate. I owe her
everything. Fortunately she is still alive. At CIC, Fr. Roland
Quesnel, who taught me English and French for many
years, was a powerful influence because of his intelligence
and learning and also because of his stylish self-confidence
and self-possession. He was no one's pal, but he was shrewd
and humane about our characters and shortcomings. I was,
for a while, a member of Derek Walcott's Trinidad Theatre
Workshop. Derek wasn't a mentor, but he embodied literary
genius, even if at times in a forbidding way, and it was a
privilege to be near him and learn from him.
As for the US, mentors abounded, especially in the
university. In Trinidad, there seems to have existed virtually
no culture or tradition of helping others, especially students
in need or wishing to get ahead. No one ever advised me
about applying to universities and seeking scholarship aid,
whether UWI or abroad. Perhaps they simply didn't know
enough, but I think it was mainly this lack of a culture of
helping and nurturing younger people. In the US, many
people, professors mainly, wanted to help younger people.
The idea of an almost intrinsic American generosity is no
myth, although not every American is generous, needless
It's been said by writers and literary critics that through
your books, "Days of Grace" (1993), tennis star Arthur
Ashe's autobiography, which you co-authored, and in
the biography,"Jackie Robinson"(1997),you've brought
the craft of the scholar to the popular biography. Do
you think you've rejuvenated the literary biography
I don't know what I've accomplished on a grander scale,
so I leave it to others to judge. My goal was to help paint a
new portrait of black America through biography. The old
portrait showed no face, or didn't exist. I lived long enough
to see how my two-volume biography of Langston Hughes,
for example, although criticized at times by gays (perhaps
with justification), provided the foundation for an entirely
new level of respect for Hughes and, by implication, the
black American writers.
Well-done biographies can have that effect. The main
thing about the Ashe and Robinson popular biographies,
especially the latter, which is a formal biography, is that I
insisted on breaking the mould and treating every part of
their lives as important-not simply the sports but their
entire lives, their boyhood, their parents, their religion and
politics, their race, their attitude to women, their negotiation
of life after the glory years of sports ended. If that approach
changed things, I'm happy.
The black sportsman or sportswoman is not simply
a body (this is true of all players, of course), he or she has
a mind and a past that shaped that mind; he or she has
hopes and fears, and weaknesses and strengths. I always
want to show a full human being-even if almost all sports
biographies act as though there was no life before or after
the glory years. And the problem of reliable and persistent
portraiture is far worse for blacks than for whites, as one
How do you feel about this honorary degree from The
University of the West Indies?
I try not to take honours and awards too seriously. In
fact, I try not to take them seriously. They can drag one
down into complacency and arrogance. There is not a
single diploma or certificate or award framed and hanging
anywhere in my home or office. I won't hang this one either.
Still, it's probably the greatest honour of my life.
* OUR HONOREES
"I am not alone in believing
that in this society the fate of the
truly innovative and committed
artist is vagrancy of one sort
or another, literally and/or
figuratively. Our history makes
us so brutal with those who don't
accept their station. I have seen
too many of our heroes talking
to themselves in the street to not
take it as a caution and know that
those who have escaped that fate
have done so because someone
SAW them, recognized them,
loved them, usually a nurturing
friend or family member and
they were wise enough to accept
that love as more important than
their dreams. Recognition and
appreciation too often happens
here after death."
(UWI TODAY, JULY 2009)
12 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009
Yesu Persaud, a chartered accountant, has
served as chairman of several organizations
in Guyana, such as the Institute of Private
Enterprise Development, Demerara Distillers
Ltd., Demerara Bank Ltd and the Private Sector
Commission. He has also been Chairman of the
Caribbean Council for Europe. He is a Fellow of
the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) & Companion of
the Chartered Management Institute, and is well
known for his philanthropic work. Born in October
1928 on Plantation Diamond to Maharanie and
Sukhu (who was known as "Rock," because he
was one of the strongest men on the estate where
he worked) he grew up with a strong sense of
deprivation and hardship which shaped his acute
focus on empowering others.
Mr Persaud is one of five persons receiving
honorary degrees from The UWI this month, and
UWI Today sought some of his perspectives.
How would you describe your childhood?
Growing up on a sugar estate, the influences were
different. Like me, most of the children grew up in
surroundings of logies where all the people lived together,
and whenever there was a religious ceremony or celebration
everyone took part. This brought people closer together,
despite the fact that they belonged to different religions and
were of different races.
I loved going to school. I wouldn't consider myself
extremely bright but a little above average. I was one of
the only two youngsters to have passed the school leaving
examination at the time. The other youngster resided in
Georgetown and I on the East Bank of Demerara. My
parents, although they could not afford it, tried to give me
What were its strongest influences?
My father, who was of strong character, my mother who
was always kind and gentle, and my Nana, who was a very
religious man and who inculcated in us that we must always
be good to people and to respect everyone. Every Sunday
night he would read extracts from the Ramayan or the
Mahabarrat or tell us stories from great Indian classics.
What was the philosophy surrounding the founding of
the Institute of Private Enterprise Development?
Mr Forbes Burnham, former President of Guyana,
introduced Marxism and Communism in Guyana in
the early 1970s. In 1975 the company I was working for;
Sandbach Parker was taken over by the State and the
following year Bookers, which was the largest company
in the country was also nationalised. There were some
good policies and some bad policies. By 1980, Guyana
was bankrupt. The nationalised industries started to fail,
production declined, unemployment multiplied and
professional and skilled persons started to leave in large
numbers. Mr Burnham passed away on August 6, 1985 and
was succeeded by Mr Hugh Desmond Hoyte as President.
President Hoyte came with a more enlightened overlook
and under him the economy started to free up. The banking
sectors opened up, imports previously banned were allowed
in freely; gradually things started to improve.
I had this concept of starting a private sector small
and micro business so as to recreate the private sector, but
it needed funding. I went to see President Hoyte and he
I was able to raise-though very difficult at the time-
half a million dollars. I started appealing to various agencies
overseas and I got help from CIDA [Canadian International
Development Agency] a funding institution, and PADF
(Pan American Development Foundation). The Executive
Director of PADF had a look at my concept of creating jobs
and felt it was worth backing. The rest is now history.
Today, IPED is the only not-for-profit organisation in
the Caribbean that has funded over 20,000 medium, small
and micro entrepreneurs with over 70,000 loans valued
in excess of $15 billion, creating over 30,000 jobs in the
process. IPED is totally self-financing and covers the length
and breadth of Guyana. I consider this, if I could say so
myself, quite an achievement. From day one I insisted that
the board of directors not be paid fees but that they work
free, giving back something to the community. We have
changed members of the board over the years and this
remains to date.
What has been the nature of your work at the
University of Warwick's Centre for Caribbean Studies?
(The University awarded him an honorary doctorate in
I have been a fellow of the University of Warwick for
the last 12 years or more. I have done a few lectures on the
importance of small and micro businesses in developed
countries. I have kept in close contact with the University
over the years.
From your experience as Chairman of the Caribbean
Council for Europe, what would you say is the biggest
challenge facing the Caribbean in the European
In the late '80s to late '90s, I served as Chairman of the
CCE. This group included such stalwarts of the day: Sydney
Knox, Tommy Gatcliffe, Sir John Goddard, George Arzeno
Brugal, Michael Ader, David Jessop and several others.
We had many conferences in Trinidad, the Dominican
Republic, Curacao, London and Brussels, and through our
many meetings were able to bring the Caribbean closer. We
were instrumental in lobbying the European Union directly
for a number of Caribbean products including Caribbean
spirits and rice industries, resulting in a special funding for
distilling companies in CARIFORUM.
The biggest challenge facing the Caribbean in the
European context is for us to become competitive in all the
products and services we produce in the region. It's easier
said than done, but in a global economy there is need to
produce quality products and services and deliver the same
where, when and how needed at a competitive price.
What are your major guiding principles,
your personal code?
To help those who cannot help themselves for as long
as I can, wherever and however possible.
What does the honorary doctorate from
The UWI mean to you?
I have received many honours over the years and to
be bestowed with such an honour from The University of
the West Indies in the Caribbean is a great honour for me;
more so because the Caribbean is very dear to me as I have
done an enormous amount for the region during what I
consider difficult years.
SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009 UWI TODAY 13
Kailash Jaikaransingh is graduating with a Bachelor
of Arts in Communications Studies with Literature
with First Class Honours. She had originally wanted
to do Literature and her passion for it remained full,
despite her major switch.
The tussle between the two characterized her
student days. The lecturers of Communications
Studies opened new doors for her, while the
lecturers of Literature fueled her passion as they
brought the works of authors and poets to life in the
lecture rooms. This tension also occurred outside
of the university walls as she shared her interest in
Literature with secondary students by teaching on
With her newfound love for Communications
Studies she also seized any opportunity to explore
its many sects. When her lecturer introduced a
competition that would allow a student to take
part in the 12th gathering of The Caribbean Media
Exchange in Puerto Rico she immediately entered.
She was awarded a partial fellowship which provided
her with the opportunity to visit a new country,
voice her concerns as a youth representative of
Trinidad and Tobago and to network with other
youth delegates, media personnel and professionals
of other Caribbean islands.
Kailash is pursuing her career in the field of
Communication Studies. She plans to continue her
studies abroad by doing a M.A. Communications
Studies before returning to work and completing a
Masters thesis part time.
She attributes her success to support from
family, friends and teachers, both at The UWI and at
St. Joseph's Convent in San Fernando, who inspired
and encouraged her.
Chava O'Sullivan is graduating with first class
honours in Electrical and Computer Engineering. It
was an area she entered mainly out of uncertainty.
She didn't know quite what she wanted to do
after high school, and was still unsure when she
entered UWI Mona, but her father and brothers are
engineers and she found their discussions about
communications and power intriguing.
"Communications especially seemed to be
very dynamic with much room for growth and
expansion," she said, and it seemed so attractive
that she transferred to UWI St. Augustine to pursue
electrical and computer engineering.
The first two years were the most challenging,
"contrary to what most people think'.
"In the first 2 years I was exposed to all areas
of electrical and computer engineering and I was
not so keen on all of them, while in the final year
I was able to specialize in my areas of interest;
communications and controls. Although it had its
challenges and I had to dedicate a lot of hours to
studying and practising, it wasn't a burden because
it was an aspect of engineering I enjoyed and was
She balanced it off by being an active member
of the Jamaica Students Association in Trinidad
and Tobago (JASATT) and taking a lively interest in
events on Milner Hall such as the Hall concerts.
Chava plans to work for a while to gain some
experience in the telecommunications field and then
to go after a Master's degree in Communications.
"I think the real failure of the
Caribbean is leadership in all
its spheres. So those who have
money are not doing what they're
supposed to do with it. Those
who have privilege in learning
and intellect are not using that
for others and really devoting
their lives to the better...there
are people who do it but I don't
think it is enough."
"...I really do believe that there
is no rank. I absolutely detest the
idea of the total leader. I think it
is passe and old and I think it is
destroying the Caribbean. I think
the modern leader is the one
who has a vision, has something
burning in their soul that is
about bettering their society, not
(UWI TODAY, JUNE 2009)
4%* OL -
-Aft om 0
Come, cheer the runners to victory at the
UWI SPEC INTERNATIONAL
Nov. 1 st, 2009 @ 6:00am
Bring the entire family to witness a secure,
traffic free race and enjoy sampling, giveaways
and the thrill of athletic excellence.
1 First Citizens
for more race details
'i- %t-r ii.
SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER. 2009 UWI TODAY 15
of the Crossroads
Professor Funso Aiyejina was feature speaker at the 2009 distinguished lecture series of
the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), Lagos, at the Obafemi
Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, in July. His lecture, "Esu Elegbara: A Source of an
Alternative Theory of African Literature and Criticism," is an excerpt from his inaugural
lecture, "Decolonising Myth: From Esu to Bacchanal Aesthetics," which he is currently
expanding. The lecture seeks to reposition historical and current ideas on the nature of Esu,
the Yoruba deity of the cross-roads and to examine the ways that writers from Africa and
the Caribbean have deployed the concept of Esu as an aesthetic paradigm. The lecture was
enthusiastically received by the Nigerian audience and described in The Punch (Lagos) as
"deepening the irony that it is the Diaspora that now usually speaks to Africa on the need
to uphold [its] cultural heritage" The Punch also reported Prof Aiyejina as lamenting that
"religious prejudices had done African values a lot of harm" The paper quoted him as saying,
"I am not saying you must be a traditionalist, but if you are a Christian or a Muslim, you
should understand and respect tradition. No culture is absolutely positive or negative. That
is why each culture is always reviewing itself."
Following is a short extract from Prof Aiyejina's lecture,
focusing on how West Indian writers have negotiated their
encounter with the Esu principle:
How does a society negotiate a painful past and an
uncertain present so as to move forward? Nowhere is the
negotiation of the past and the present more complex than
in the case of the New World African. While it is possible for
continental Africans to return to, and embrace, intrinsically
intact tribal cultures if they are so ideologically inclined,
the New World African, because of the realities of physical
and cultural separation, can only reconstruct, re-member,
and re-create concepts of an Africa from which he/she has
been separated. However, many West Indian writers have
resolved the crisis of separation in favour of aesthetic options
which articulate the complexity of their location in a cultural
twilight zone. These aesthetic constructs range from Kamau
Brathwaite's nation/Creole language through Wilson Harris'
cross-cultural fusion, Derek Walcott's federated/mulatto
consciousness to Earl Lovelace's bacchanal aesthetics.
Among the first generation of West Indian novelists to
contemplate the spirit of Africa in the New World, George
Lamming's effort is perhaps the most illuminating. In Season
of Adventure, which is based on the Haitian Ceremony
of the Souls, Lamming affirms the existence of a vibrant
African spirit in the New World. The Ceremony of the
Souls is regarded by the Haitian practitioners of voodoo
(the Dahomean/Haitian cousin of the Orisa tradition) as a
solemn communication between the living and the dead.
During the ceremony, the dead return to offer, through the
medium of the Houngan (Priest), a full and honest account
of their relationship with the living. The African antecedent
of this ceremony is, of course, the Egungun Festival (the
Festival of Ancestors), which manifests, in concrete and
imagistic terms, the African rendezvous with the past.
Lovelace, on the other hand, especially in Salt (1996),
reiterates the African ethos in the New World and advances
it beyond the metaphorical to an aesthetic construct defined
as bacchanal aesthetics. Bacchanal aesthetics, at a basic level,
is the artistic practice that appropriates and radicalises the
underground cultural practices fashioned by ordinary New
World Africans to deal with the realities of enslavement,
colonisation, deracination and exploitation. As process,
bacchanal aesthetics is the aesthetics of the crossroads or
the crucible of history and cultures. The greater the number
of roads intersecting at a crossroads, the more vibrant
(for those who understand the layout) or confusing (for
strangers) it becomes. Bacchanal aesthetics is, therefore,
the aesthetics of the crossroads as the meeting point of
possibilities: the old and the new; official and unofficial
interpretations; the cardinal points of meanings and/or the
world; the secular and the mundane; and so on. Lovelace's
practice of bacchanal aesthetics recognizes the fluidity and
instability inherent in all cultures as works-in-progress
and welcomes such fluidity and instability as rationales
for the artist's freedom to experiment in order to advance
the frontiers of style and vision. It is Lovelace's embrace of
elements ofbacchanal aesthetics, for example, which drives
the Carnival-inspired experiments in novels in which the
narrators sing or use calypsoes as meta-narrative threads,
so much so that I have described these novels elsewhere as
Lovelace's journey to a consciousness of New World
African culture as theme and style is both instructive and
emblematic of the influence of colonial education and ethos
on the colonial subject.
Our writers have courageously mined our cultures
for bold and unique aesthetic paradigms with which to
return us to the centre of our stories and/or our stories to
the centre of our life. The questions that follow are: Have
our critics embraced the need to match our writers with
interpretations that are equally bold and native to our
persons? If our writers write of, and for us, do our critics
practice their art of criticism in our interest? It would, of
course, require another lecture to answer these questions.
Suffice it, then, to say that the challenge for our aspiring
literary critics today is how (while mastering the plethora of
imported cosmopolitan literary theories) they can generate
their own theories that can speak to us as a people with a
unique history and experience.
The full text ofProfAiyejinas lecture is riiiil'ie online, under Distinguished Open Lectures at www.sta.uwi.edu
Funso Aiyejina is Professor of Literatures in English and Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Education,
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Trinidad and Tobago.
16 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2009
UWI CALENDAR ofEVENTS
Presentation of Graduates 2009
Friday 30 and Saturday 31 October 2009
Sport and Physical Education Centre,
St Augustine Circular Road, St Augustine
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CD launch: Livin De Music
Friday 6 and Saturday 7 November, 2009
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14th Annual Prizes Award Ceremony
Wednesday Octobel 28,2009
Daaga Auditorium, UWI, St Augustine
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Caribbean Community Law
Monday 9-Wednesclay 11 November, 2009
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain
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UWI SPEC International
Sunday 1st Novembei, 2009
6am, UWI SPEC, St Augustine
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JFK Lecture Theatre
Wednesday 28 October, 2009
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Humanities Prize Award Ceremony
Learning Resource Centre, UWI, St Augustine
Monday 26 October, 2009
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