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VOL. 25 NOS. 1 & 2 MARCH-JUNE, 1979
Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.
1 Evangelical Missionaries, Apprentices, and Freedmen: The Psycho-
sociological Shifts of Racial Attitudes in the British West Indies
Patricia T. Rooke
15 Transplanting Prejudices: The Failure of the Baptist Experiment
Using Jamaican 'Native Agents' in Fernando Po and Cameroons,
Bela Vassady, Jr.
40 Race, Class and Development in Barbados
52 Stereotypes of Negroes and East Indians in Trinidad: A Re-
Ishmael J. Baksh
72 The Black Man and the Caribbean as seen by Nicolas Guillen and
Luis Pales Matos
Paul A. Davis
80 Oroonoko's Heir: The West Indies in Late Eighteenth Century Novels
85 Four Slave Songs from St. Bartholomew
91 Ballad for Soweto
94 The Blackman by Marcus Garvey
reviewed by Aggrey Brown
97 Notes on Contributors
98 Books Received
99 Publications of the Department
100 Information for Contributors
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
Hon. R.M. Nettleford, O.M., Professor of Extra-Mural Studies (Editor)
Uoyd Braithwaite, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, St. Augustine, Trinidad
Sir Sidney Martin. Pro-Vice- Chancellor, Cave Hill, Barbados
Roy Augier, Pro-Vice- Chancellor, Mona, Jamaica
G.A.O. Alleyne, Professor, Department of Medicine
Lloyd Coke, Department of Botany, Mona
Neville McMorris, Department of Physics, Mona
Janet Liu Terry, Associate Editor
All correspondence and contributions should be addressed to:
Department of Extra-Mural Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
We invite readers to submit manuscripts or recommend subjects which they would
like to see discussed in Caribbean Quarterly. Articles of Caribbean relevancy will be
gratefully received. Authors should refer to the section on Information for Contributors
at the end of this issue for guidelines.
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Subscription orders may be forwarded to the Editor or the Resident Tutor at the
University Centre in any West Indian Territory served by this University.
That Race and racism continue to be a central variable in the social, and cultural
dynamics of Caribbean existence is reason enough to devote an issue of CARIBBEAN
QUARTERLY to discussion of the topic. That it has as well far-reaching economic
political implications for strategies of development in a post-colonial Caribbean era
intensifies the sense of urgency in coming to grips with the phenomenon. The articles
that follow can be said to be contributions to the continuing dialogue and debate
about the matter.
Patricia Rooke documents and demonstrates the long historical pedigree of the
problem in her examination of the ambivalent racism that revealed itself even among
missionaries who were pledged to bring the millions (of slaves) who were struck "out
of the family of God" back to a position where they could lay a claim to humanity.
Her article Evangelical Missionaries, Apprentices and Freedmen: The Psycho-sociologi-
cal Shifts of Racial Attitudes in the British West Indies encompasses the period of
Apprenticeship into Emancipation (1834-38) and demonstrates "a hardening of racial
attitudes towards these ex-slaves who were demonstrating leadership potential"
especially since such ex-slaves would be seen as potential usurpers of leadership
positions coveted by the missionaries themselves. Under the circumstances it is not
surprising that a conflict arose out of the relationship of missionaries as a group of
men committed to other worldly ideals yet practically involved in economic realities
of a precarious future. It was around the issue of the "native agency" as a replacement
of the missionary agency that a hardening of attitudes toward ex-slaves can be
observed. The next article Transplanting Prejudices: The Failure of the Baptist
Experiment Using Jamaican 'Native Agents' in Fernando Po and Cameroons, 1841-
1850 by Bela Vassady Jr. (which aptly complements the first contribution),
demonstrates the influence of the racial and socio-psychological factors on the effort
on the part of missionaries to Christianize Africa with the use of 'native agents' from
Jamaica. It is in the description of the recruits and the expressed criteria for this
recruitment that reveals the entrenched racial perceptions of those who were enthused
in 1839 by the bright idea of that prominent humanitarian publicist Thomas F. Buxton
who saw the final solution to slavery and slave trade inhering in a programme of
Christianization of the Africans using Blacks from the Diaspora. The well-intentioned
but misguided and mismanaged venture foundered on the insensitivity of planners to
the basic needs of all human beings of whatever racial origin as well as to the aspirations
to privilege and status by Coloureds who considered themselves no less than the
Europeans for carrying the stain of Africa in their veins.
Such difficulties of perception have persisted up to contemporary times and
Anthony Layne examines Race, Class and Development in Barbados in recent times.
He gives early clues to his concerns by asserting that 'Development' is not confined
to the promotion of economic growth. It also entails a struggle for social justice
through the realization of the individual and social aspirations and expectations of
historically under-privileged segments of given populations." White oligarchies on the
one hand and on the other black and indentured Indian labour force among the
economically and socially marginal, have bred a situation of conflict which will find
resolution seemingly only in "a profound metamorphosis of social structure and social
attitudes. . if the development process in the region is accelerated." This can be done
by the more equitable distribution of occupational opportunities among the three
major racial class groups in Barbados. The author concludes that while the Barbadian
racial-class structure has undergone some modification over the years, the historical
roots of this brake on development have not been tackled in any fundamental way.
This has a universal echo all over the English-speaking Caribbean.
No less universal are the racial stereotypes that are to be found in the region.
Stereotypes of Negroes and East Indians in Trinidad: A Re-examination by Ishmael
J. Baksh attempts to put the myths straight if not to explode them altogether. Testing
empirical observation against hypotheses which (a) deny to Negroes and East Indian
students any significant relationships between social class and perception of opportu-
nity and (b) deny that among both Negro and East Indian students there are any signi-
ficant relationships between social class and ambition or success seeking, Mr Baksh
concludes that it appears that the customary stereotypes of Negroes and East Indians
contained in many studies of Trinidad society are not at least at the present time -
entirely justified. He cites the common view held by Negroes and East Indians that if
they are appropriately qualified they are likely to obtain desirable jobs and attributes
it to the changes in the social structure of Trinidad since 1945.
Some of the stereotypes find survival vehicles in the way that Caribbean personae
of black or other origin are treated in literary works. The article The Black Man and
the Caribbean as seen by Nicolas Guillen and Luis Pales Matos is by the late Paul A.
Davis who attributes to Pales Matos a romanticised story-book vision of the Negro as
compared to Guillen who speaks, according to Mr Davis of the Negro "from within."
Guilldn's "Motivos De Son", for example, allows the Negro to speak for himself, "to
reveal the relationships between the Negro man and his woman, to express his psyche,
to show up his economic situation..."
Elaine Campbell the author of Oroonoko's Heir: The West Indies in Late Eighteen
Century Novels by Woman based the article on research done at Harvard University's
Houghton Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts. She writes: "English literature
played a significant role in influencing anti-slavery sentiment during the late eighteenth
century but little attention has been awarded that period's women novelists who
served as influencers through the numerous popular novels which they wrote. The
views which these novels expressed relative to slavery and to the slave trade both
reflected and influenced the views of their readers." Roderick Cave has unearthed for
the folklorist Four Slave Songs from St. Bartholomew. St. Bartholomew was once a
Swedish possession from 1784 until 1878. The role of the Swedes and their colony in
the making of the modern West Indies has been little considered. It is indeed a great
pity that the musical scores did not accompany the newspaper publication of these
songs but it is up to the enterprising researcher/musicologist to either compose or to
find the music for these songs.
EVANGELICAL MISSIONARIES, APPRENTICES, AND FREEDMEN:
THE PSYCHO-SOCIOLOGICAL SHIFTS OF RACIAL ATTITUDES
IN THE BRITISH WEST INDIES
Over a decade ago Race published a provocative article called "Protestant Missiona-
ries in the West Indies: Pioneers of a New Racial Society" by O.W. Furley.1 The
article was provocative because of the sympathetic and objective approach it directed
at evangelical missionary racial attitudes in an intellectual climate overwhelmingly
critical of missionary impact as part and parcel of imperialistic political and cultural
imposition. To date his basic argument that evangelical missionaries appeared to hold
to racial attitudes that were, for want of a more historical term, ahead of their time,
can be validated as has been subsequently documented by this author elsewhere.2
This article will not belabour Furley's point of view except by way of introduction
because the main thrust of the following argument will be that although evangelical
missionary attitudes during slavery were at variance with those racial assumptions
abroad in the European and Colonial society there can be detected a subtle, but
nevertheless discernible shift in such attitudes during the period of apprenticeship,
1834-38, and into freedom. During the years immediately following the implementa-
tion of the Act of Emancipation on August 1, 1834, a hardening of racial attitudes
towards those ex-slaves who were demonstrating leadership potential can be evidenced.
During the first three decades of the nineteenth century evangelical missionaries
from four London-based missionary societies co-existed on less than harmonious
terms with Caribbean slave society in the colonies of Antigua, Jamaica, and the then
British Guiana. The suspicion, hostility, and harassment directed at Methodists,
Baptists, Independents, and evangelical Anglicans, by members of the dominant white
class generally, and also by the Established Church of England, can be understood in
two ways.3 The first way is in light of those assumptions and beliefs that missionaries
brought with them, not only on matters of slavery, but more fundamentally, on
matters of race. Missionaries generally agreed with Richard Watson, the Secretary of
the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (WMMS), that slavery rendered "instruc-
tion necessary" and that assumptions behind the popular beliefs that some
men were "born slaves" merely struck "millions out of the family of God" by denying
that slaves "had any claim to humanity."4 Slaves were therefore kept "in ignorance as
a matter of course." 5 Missionaries were determined to change that inequitable situa-
tion. Thus the second way in which hostility towards missionaries can be understood
is in light of such beliefs leading to actual practice which was, in the final analysis,
antithetical to slave society. Indeed the very presence of a group of men who advocated
educating, or even merely christianizing, the "property" of another group of men
proved to be antagonistic to planter interests.
It is, however, less the rhetoric of missionaries that compels us to see theirs as a
distinctive racial bridge between two opposing classes of men, the dominant white
class and the bondsmen, and it is more the evidence of missionary activity which
translated pious platitudes into convincing social manifestations of such rhetoric, that
compels us to agree with Furley's fundamental claims. Nowhere is this manifestation
more visible than in the evangelical insistence upon literacy for their church member-
ship in the West Indies, and even more significantly, the schooling they provided
despite the duress and constraint against doing so.6 Moreover there are examples of
missionaries taking up the Negro cause during slavery, a cause numerous of them
continued to advocate in the four-year period of identured labour known as the
Apprenticeship. The task of building schoolhouses and staffing them was largely the
responsibility of all missionaries including the four major Protestant societies, the
Church Missionary Society (CMS), the London Missionary Society (LMS), the Baptist
Missionary Society (BMS), and the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (WMMS).7
All of these missionary agents acted as mediators between planters and labourers
regarding matters of wages, housing, working conditions, the price of manumissions,
treatment, legal rights, and access to schooling. As trusted members of the white
population missionaries explained the new laws and conditions of apprenticeship to
ex-slaves who would listen to them when they might not listen to other whites. The
Baptists of Jamaica were particularly involved in developing free villages and conciliat-
ing labour disputes, to the extent that Sir Lionel Smith, as Governor, addressed
himself to the Baptist Committee a year after apprenticeship had ended to publicly
assert that the calumnies so "industriously circulated" against them during apprentice-
ship had been unjust. He praised them for "the good they had done in exposing
oppression and guiding the Negroes in their moral and religious improvements.
It would seem then that once again, as throughout slavery, evangelical missionaries
demonstrated progressive views by nineteenth century standards through the visibility
of social action. It is at this point, however, that a more careful examination is neces-
sary before the case that this was always so can be as firmly established for the
The years following Emancipation brought such social, economic, and socio-
psychological changes that there arose a heightened and compelling urgency on the
part of missionaries to consolidate their existing mission stations and secure their
particular positions of denominational influence. The rivalry which resulted was to
have unfortunate repercussions for the apprentices which shall be subsequently argued.
However, a shift in economic factors made missionary consolidation an imperative
as well as giving a feeling of euphoric and misplaced well-being because of the
unexpected influx of Government funds to build and staff mission schools under the
auspices of the Negro Education Grant, a fund set aside under the Act of Emancipation
for Negro education in the emancipated colonies. 10 On the other hand the economic
situation proved to be a false one for them because the British public, which had
generously supported various missionary societies by means of voluntary subscription,
began to turn its fickle gaze upon more exotic areas to evangelise such as the South
Seas, and more profitable ones such as India, China, and Africa. Believing that freedom
had indeed been "won" for the slaves and there was little more to be done in the West
Indies, the London based societies warned their missionaries to expect further cuts in
funding and for them to expect eventual withdrawal from the Caribbean. The mission-
aries were clearly and frequently directed to train up a "native agency" for the take-
over period which was close at hand.
Correspondence from the parent societies urged their missionaries in Jamaica,
Antigua, and British Guiana to make the churches self-supporting, a demand the WMMS
best met with comparative good will. However the methodisticall" system had always
depended on indigenous talent to be at its most effective and its organizational
structure of connexions, bands, and societies, easily absorbed the leadership of ex-
slaves, apprentices, and the free-coloured population. The other societies demonstrate
a more ambiguous record on the matter. Curiously the WMMS altered their views on
the appointment of native catechists as local preachers although they had exercised
"great prudence and caution" regarding this matter during slavery, while some Baptists,
formerly committed to native preaching during slavery modified their views during
The situation of declining funds brought with it a dilemma which was to bring to
the surface any ambivalent feelings some missionaries may have harboured on matters
of race and also of class during slavery. On the one hand the directive to raise up
effective native teachers and preachers brought with it the dilemma that the ill-used
apprentices needed protection, mediation, guidance, training, and leadership under the
exploitive conditions of Apprenticeship; 12 on the other hand these same apprentices,
if trained, were potential usurpers of leadership positions coveted by the missionaries
themselves. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that a conflict arose out of the
relationship of missionaries as a group of men committed to other-worldly ideals yet
practically involved in economic realities of a precarious future. The solicitude required
by the main goal, that is, to train a native agency, obviously must come into conflict
with the expedience required by the desire to retain their own positions. It was around
the issue of the "native agency" as a replacement of the missionary agency that a
hardening of attitudes toward ex-slaves can be observed.
For example, in 1835, James Mursell Phillippo of the BMS advised Governor Sligo
of Jamaica that the "blacks" were "lacking in the moral and intellectual talent"
necessary for a native agency. He added that the "browns" that is, the mixed race, had
more potential." This is an interesting comment for it must be seen as a reference to
the matter of race as much as a reference to any objective conditions. Although the
more "Africanized" (black) slaves were normally the praedials or field hands, never-
theless the culturally "creolised" or the racially mixed slaves (brown) had never been
guaranteed manumission or free status simply on account of being a "brown." It seems
that Phillippo must have been implying that those ex-slaves with some European genes
had more potential and sharper faculties than those ex-slaves lacking such genes! This is
clearly a strange shift for a man who was nothing, if not a champion of Negro rights.
Indeed in his later book Jamaica Its Past and Present State (1843) there is no such
racist sentiment. Perhaps this was because it was a published document. It includes
some observations as the following:
There are now to be found among the black population .. comprehending indivi-
duals of every tribe; operatives, mechanics, and masons, carpenters, coopers, black-
smiths, sailors, pilots, veterinary surgeons, and medical men, shoemakers, cabinet
makers, carvers, and gilders, watch-makers, jewellers, who manifest as much skill
and perform their work with as much accuracy and taste as workmen of the same
description in England.
So far from being now ignorant of civil institutions, it is questionable whether any
people of the world . possesses an equally correct acquaintance with these
Moreover Phillippo's later public stance claimed that the blacks, those people who
had been "lacking in moral and intellectual talent" in 1835, had become eight years
later a calumniatedd and oppressed people" whose "intellectual faculties" were in no
respect inferior to those of the white population's. Again his 1835 private correspon-
dence to Sligo stated quite unequivocally that to employ the blacks in positions of
responsibility would be like "reaping the harvest before having sown the seed", or that
in his view they had little aptitude for communicating the little knowledge they had.
Such opinion was heartily endorsed by a CMS man when he observed that the native
agency was guilty of "busy officiousness and want of solidity and depth."15
Mr Dixon also agreed with Phillippo who had remarked that they were woefully
deficient in the science of teaching and tended to be "ostentatious, mystical,
ambiguous, indirect and verbose."16
In addition to the above pedagogical weaknesses it would seem that Negroes
apparently were burdened with grave moral ineptitude. They exhibited a lack of
public shame and as a result of their scandalous "social and domestic habits" were not
yet of the desirably "superior order" required for teachers of religion or of any other
subject for that matter. As yet, even those who were married, imperfectly understood
the institution, with the result that there was a "total lack of regulation of family life
among the lower orders."17 As for the existing classroom conducted by any native
agents, they rarely reflected obedience which was founded on "love and respect",
instead they were "the slaughter houses of human intellect and human sympathies."
Phillippo related such criticisms to the consequences of slavery and considered that
oppression, caprice, passion, and severity, were prevalent in their schools because
slavery itself had taught them nothing but "fraud and perfidy" and all the "opposites
of ordinary virtues." It is difficult to believe these statements came from Phillippo, the
man who had always asserted publicly that the coloured population was in no way
inferior and a man who had been perceptive enough to recognize the truth of a
Mungola slave's remark that "Buckra tink Mungola a nigger fool make him tan so",
a comprehension of Sambo or Quashee defence mechanism.18
C.F. Haensel of the CMS qualified his optimistic views about "the capabilities of the
coloured population" by referring to the "exception of the lowest field Negroes",
who were as it has already been observed almost always the most "Africanized" of the
slaves, both culturally and racially. 19 The least African slaves had generally been more
favourably viewed by the white population and had sometimes gained advantages in
the slave hierarchy such as working as domestics rather than praedials and having
some positions of authority. Admittedly the praedial population, having had less
contact with the education or the civilities of the white society, were in a more menial
position, but it is clear that the missionary opinions of their deficiencies also coincided
with the current views as to what constituted acceptable colour. Haensel expressed a
view not dissimilar to Phillippo's regarding those apprentices of some European back-
ground. He felt that the "mixed race", if socially advanced as catechists, or teachers,
would be less endangered morally by such mobility. Indeed "they would not be in the
same danger as the blacks of descending in inward lowliness" as they "rose in outward
station." In other words the "blacks" would become more arrogant and foolish than
the browns if given sudden mobility alongside their sudden freedom. If Haensel was
actually referring to the free coloured population in his use of "mixed race" he was
probably cognizant that these people had more accessibility to European sensibilities
than ex-slaves. However, West Indian society had never granted the free people of
colour the usual privileges of free men merely on account of their legal status. When
Haensel advanced this curious view he once again added a qualifier which said that
even in the case of the mixed race such a rise in outward station ought to be "very
gradual and should proceed through the various stages of subordinate employment."20
The London committees who directed the affairs of the missionary societies with-
out the personal involvement of the missionary were even less sympathetic when it
came to matters of class and of race. Although they had always insisted on the training
of a native agency to replace their missionary agents and relieve the parent societies
financially they were reluctant to leave the mission in the hands of an "uneducated
ministry." Reverend Ellis of the LMS reminded one native catechist about God
creating the "various orders of men" wherein each man had "his own proper
department." He added that "every man and every Christian especially should bear in
mind that it is the motive, spirit, temper, and fidelity with which any duty is under-
taken and discharged that gives value to its performance." 21 In British Guiana,
William Henery, the rather vocal native agent concerned had requested ordination so
Ellis' letter was clearly a pious attempt at keeping him in his catechetical place.
Several months previously the Reverend Ellis had written a letter to a missionary,
Samuel Haywood, concerning Henery's possible ordination and approved later of
another man of colour, Christian Headecker, being accepted into the ministry.
However he still deferred permission for Henery and it is difficult to sort out whether
the reason was in fact Henery's "defective education" or the fact that Henery was
more bold in his request and more assertive in his demeanour than was expected of a
native agent. Ellis argued that a strong case of necessity was required to justify "any
deviation from the views we entertain of the disadvantages and evils of an uneducated
ministry."22 In all fairness one must acknowledge that arguments of the same kind
had been made regarding the ordination of unsuitable candidates in England itself and
that Independents had consistently feared "the numerous disadvantages arising out of
an uneducated ministry" as was so often the case of the Wesleyans in Britain.2 In this
particular instance Ellis' reluctance to ordain Henery was based not only on the
catechist's rather badly spelled and enunciated letter to London, which in itself must
have raised the eyebrows of the Directors, but was based on the British Guiana
missionaries' strong recommendation not to entertain Henery's ordination and to treat
other requests with equal circumspection. The Berbice missionaries claimed that
Henery "only wanted more money" and that he was a "half educated" man. They
insisted rather hastily that their recommendations were not founded upon "any
prejudice regarding colour" but that the time was not yet ripe for the "despised
children of Ham" to provide Christian leadership.24 Another coloured catechist was
subsequently refused ordination but in Alex Jansen's case there was no evidence in his
correspondence that he was any less erudite than his white brethren.
In 1840, two years after apprenticeship was ended, the London Committee of the
CMS wrote to the Reverend Panton of Jamaica that the rising local expectations of
European catechists must be quelled because "their want of education and talent"
would be more conspicuous if they became ministers. But a more dangerous consequ-
ence might occur for "even the normal youth [the Negroes in teacher training] think
their turn must come."25 Reverend Haywood of the LMS in British Guiana expressed
sentiments of the inferiority of native agents in that they generally had "an extreme
ignorance of themselves" because their previous occupations had given them little
preparation. He admitted that the catechists had more knowledge than the apprentices
to whom they were sent but the unfortunate consequences of this fact was that the
native agents concerned assumed "all the airs of dignified individuals" and "considered
themselves superior beings" in their preaching and lecturing.2
Thomas Burchell, a Baptist, had views which were a little more moderate. The
native agents, he believed, had "piety enough" but their other achievements were
"very meagre indeed"; an opinion that another Baptist, Joshua Tinson, verified in the
observation that it was "not to the men, but their present want of fitness that I feel
compelled to object." 27 However Tinson also confessed that these same unfit men
could, and quite frequently did, "exhort and conduct a prayer meeting acceptably."
Often the native agents took over worship and services entirely and effectively where
there was no minister. It must have taken little imagination for apprentices to realize
that the acts of the apostles were those of simple and sometimes unlearned men and
that in those far-off times "piety" was enough. Even the most militant champion of
the Negro cause during slavery and a Baptist whose involvement in Free Villages and
organizing labour combinations in Jamaica agreed that the native leaders were generally
deficient but suggested that further education was the remedy.28 During slavery
however even William Knibb revealed some ambiguity over race. His speech before an
enthusiastic Abolitionist public at Exeter Hall in 1832 declared that his view on race
was one of "religion and morality" and that all he asked was "that [his] African
brother may stand in the family of man."29 Five years previously he had written
to a friend about his irritation with missionaries who were "fine and pure ethereals"
(probably directed at the official church's missionaries of the SPG) and would
not "condescend to teach the meanest slave" but another letter written in 1825
revealed that Knibb had experienced grave misgivings when he was forced to hire a
black wet-nurse for his infant twins.30
These examples which are representative of missionary views suggest a hardening
towards matters of race. What appeared to have emerged during apprenticeship was,
that alongside an emerging new class of freedmen with rising expectations which posed
a threat to existing patterns of leadership, there developed a new class-consciousness
on the part of both missionaries and certain apprentices. The anxiety and ambiguity
of the missionaries is to some extent grounded upon this, an economic factor.
However there remains a suspicion that the common racial views of the society as a
whole were becoming more acceptable to the missionaries now that the guilt and
burden of slavery was lifted. During slavery it behoved the missionaries to be non-
racist, benevolent, and on the side of the oppressed. But in times when financial
support was declining, when parent societies were urging for self-sufficiency and
the training of a native agency to take over Christian leadership and staff schoolhouses,
the missionaries could no longer afford the socio-psychological satisfactions they had
previously. Their personal aspirations interfered with their religious convictions and
they saw the native agency as a threat to themselves. When the missionaries observed
that the total population remained virtually uninstructed and that this constituted a
potential "uneducated ministry" they were after all telling the truth. Thomas Burchell's
observation that in the four years of apprenticeship there had not been enough time to
train an adequate native agency and that "this [was] not the age of miracles" can be
understood. He observed that it was "scarcely reasonable to expect that the Negro
church can grow from infancy to manhood in a day."31 Nevertheless the prevention
of native agents from effecting any crucial leadership of their own was no way of
encouraging the necessary growth.
As a further comment we must briefly discuss the implications of a bitter rivalry
that developed during the apprenticeship period and continued into freedom but
whose roots had been founded during slavery. The BMS in Jamaica came under attack
from other denominations and particularly from the LMS who criticised, as
scandalous, the Baptist "ticket and leader system."32 Their criticisms could have been
equally directed at the WMMS who had initiated and improved this system in their
original organizational structures in Britain and whose methods were subsequently
emulated by the Baptists, but the WMMS never had the same success rates in their
evangelisation procedures in Jamaica as did the Baptists. And in the long run it was
more a matter of success rates that bothered the LMS rather than the system itself.
The ticket and leader system was a practical method of keeping a count of member-
ships and conversions as well as for the collection of dues. Tickets were usually sold
quarterly to communicants. Rival societies accused Baptist leaders (often native
agents) of selling the tickets indiscriminately, of bribing church members with the
tickets, or of taking bribes from church members. The moral outrage was not dis-
similar to that of the Reformation case of selling indulgences although the passion
and penmanship that went into the furore was petty by comparison! A comment made
in 1842 reflected the rising tide of opinion over the matter of the preceding years. The
comment was that there was no more reason to believe that the increase in Baptists
during and after apprenticeship had "risen from an extraordinary outpouring of the
influence of the Holy Spirit."
Therefore the Baptists were seen as being "too easy and indiscriminate" in admit-
ting members into their churches and only laxity could explain their remarkable
popularity and the comparative lack of success on the part of other denominations.
That the Baptists held understandable attractions for ex-slaves as they had for slaves
cannot be discussed here; it must suffice to observe that it was said that the tickets
were being bought by "bow down Baptists" who confused them as "passports to
heaven" or that they held similar powers to those of "gregrees" or African charms.
Those Baptists who were seduced into buying tickets were seen to be in as much need
for religious instruction "as zooloos because they were perishing in their sins and
superstitions." 34 Apprentices were selling their souls for two and sixpence!
What were the racial implications in what might appear on the surface to be only
an unfortunate wrangling match between contending parties? It cannot be supposed
that the apprentices could not see what was, in the long run, being said about them in
this dispute. Although the accusations were being directed at missionaries the
apprentices were quite clearly viewed as being ignorant and superstitious as well as
dissembling and apparently religious charlatans. William Knibb had anticipated the
offensiveness of such accusations in relation to the "hapless Negro" when he lamented
as early as 1831 when the first criticisms began to appear that the "very men sent out
to instruct him take part with his persecutors and attribute all his piety to robbery
As missionaries busily established themselves and secured their positions they
engaged in a demeaning and sullen sectarian warfare. While the Evangelical Magazine
and Missionary Chronicle for March, 1835, could enthuse with confidence that "there
remains yet very much land to be possessed, and I see nothing except the natural
depravity of our own hearts, to prevent cordial union and co-operation between us"
the apprentices probably realized that they and their free children were pawns in a
numbers game as missionaries vied to attract them into their schools and chapels so
that they might report attendance rates to receive government funds from the Negro
Education Grant. Because each missionary saw the schools and chapels as "the nurseries
of the churches"36 education became a means to an end. Phillippo, a Baptist, typified
the new sense of territorial imperative when he commented that "the whole land is
before us and when once we take possession of it, which we as a denomination are
doing in a most unexampled manner, the warfare to a great degree will be over."37
There is evidence that some apprentices, especially those who saw themselves as
potential leaders, did not merely intuit the insult to themselves implicit in the leader
and ticket controversy but that they actually understood the reality of radial discrimi-
nation against them. William Henery clearly recognized this fact. Henery wrote a
letter to London inquiring about his request for ordination, a letter which bore all the
marks of a "defective education" as had been observed. Henery however was able to
speak both Dutch and English, an advantage in Berbice and Demerara which few
missionaries could claim. He also had the support of the apprenticed labourers of
Rossfield Plantation, Berbice, who signed a petition requesting that he serve them as
a minister so that they might more easily become baptised and married, services which
a catechist could not perform.38 Henery approached his "defective" education rather
pragmatically when he pointed out, with very little attempt at sophistication but much
common sense, that the estates upon which he worked rarely had distinguished
visitors of "high standard or education" and it seemed preferable that the remote and
empty stations he served be filled by ordained native ministers rather than remain
vacant as they now were.39 However by 1839 he and four other native agents were
writing humbled and deferential replies to the LMS committee in London, thanking
them for their "instructive and admonitioning" letters. 40 It was apparent that for the
time being they deemed it better to remain underpaid, underprivileged, and unordained
native agents rather than lose the little status delegated to them by their better paid,
privileged, and ordained white brethren.
The platitudes which had been written by Reverend Ellis from London to William
Henery about "the various orders of men" did not entirely silence him. He boldly
pointed out that native teachers received a quarter of a missionary's salary yet
missionaries complained that their salary was inadequate to meet their expenses. The
crux of his argument was that he saw through theories about the various orders of men
as being rationalizations for racist sentiment. He and other coloured catechists claimed
that their salaries were so much lower "because they [were] brown men and not
white, for if they were white men, their worth and need would have been seen long
ago." 41 This statement clearly rejects the cant and humbug given to him and others in
his situation that a faithful servant "derives a present reward and shall stand in his lot
at the end of the day." 42 As native catechists were paid by poor apprenticed
congregations and not by the LMS their lot was "very precarious and uncomfortable"
The preceding analysis has attempted to give some perspective to the shifting racial
attitudes of evangelical missionaries during apprenticeship. It seems that the new
perceptions were in part a reflection of the insecurity, anxiety, and suspicion, that
missionaries created among themselves during this transition from slavery to freedom.
As the uncertainties of their situations in the West Indies grew so too did their anxiety
about the success and failure rates of other denominations and of individual missiona-
ries even within the same denomination. The fear of redundancy shaped their percep-
tions toward the more able and ambitious of the Christian apprentices whom they
knew would replace them if they were to be recalled. By arguing that apprentices were
not "ready" to take upon themselves positions of leadership they were in fact stalling
for time. Altruism or religious commitment notwithstanding it was still difficult to
work oneself out of a job.
It is within such terms of reference that we may come to best understand the shift
in racial attitudes. This shift occurred just as there was an accompanying shift in
economic arrangements from slavery to freedom, with the leadership of white
missionaries becoming more dispensable, it also occurred with accompanying shift
in socio-psychological arrangements when church members who had previously been
bondsmen were promised freedom and naturally wanted some of the perceived
advantages of leadership associated with what was to amount to a bogus free status.
Socio-psychological relationships have of course been known to change radically
when competition for jobs and for status manifests itself in forms of racist postures.
It is probably the most common form of racist expression because it appeals very
directly to matters of economic reality and the ordinary aspirations of men. Neither
must it be forgotten that four CMS European catechists had applied for ordination
after slavery and had been refused because their parent society did not see the way
clear to increase their salaries in accordance with the status of ordained minister. If
they could not expect promotion which had been assured them before they left
England it is quite likely that they could not conceive of less qualified, and in their
minds no doubt, less worthy men, who happened to be native agents, being ordained
Perhaps W.N. Gunson's claim regarding the class consciousness of nineteenth
century evangelical missionaries in the South Seas Islands applies at this juncture to
the missionary/apprentice relationship in the British West Indies.44 Although the
desire for social mobility did not appear to assert itself during slavery the case altered
throughout apprenticeship.45 As a group of marginal men in a plantation economy
they required "a lower class" to act "alternately as recruiting ground and a place of
contrast."46 According to Gunson the evangelical missionaries of the nineteenth
century required the "poor heathen" as a substitute for the lower orders of Britain. If
this was so for the West Indies the missionaries consequently feared any autonomy,
ability, and initiative, on the part of ex-slaves once freedom was attained because
this frustrated their own socio-psychological need for a group of people to lead as part
of their "dependence on, and obligations to, the less fortunate."4
Whether this is an accurate reflection of the case which has been described is
difficult to fully ascertain. However it does remain clear that ideally speaking the
world ought to have been the missionary's parish but given the emotional, cultural,
pastoral, and spiritual investment they had spent in their appointments, as well as the
ties of friendship which developed during such appointments, the reluctance to leave
the West Indies or to relinquish their positions can be understood in human terms.
Nevertheless the subsequent hardening of racial attitudes in the face of economic
reality is but another sad commentary on the difficulties men have in reconciling
altruism and idealism to material circumstances.
PATRICIA T. ROOKE
1. Race, (January 1965): 232-242.
2. 'The World They Made': The Politics of Missionary Education to Slaves 1800-33", Carib-
bean Studies, VoL 18, 2 (July 1978).
3. For spying on chapel services see Wray to Directors, February 6, 1813, 1A Br. Guiana-
Berbice (1913-22) and January 19, 1809, Box 1 British Guiana-Demerara (1807-14) London
Missionary Society, hereafter cited as LMS. For refusal of Colonial legislatures to grant
preaching licences Wray to Directors, February 14, 1809 and March 3, 1809, British
Guiana-Demerara (1807-14) LMS; Mortier to Committee, May 2, 1817, Item 134 (1816-18)
Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, hereafter cited as WMMS. Phillippo to Dyer,
December 24, 1827 in.Edward Bean Underhill, Life of James Mursell Phillippo (London:
1881), p. 69; Dawes to Secretary, March 7, 1823, Book 1 M1-8 (1814-22), pp. 227-229,
Church Missionary Society, hereafter cited as CMS. And Royal Gazette, 5th April, 1817,
Item 134 (1816-17) WMMS. For interception of missionary mail Dawes to Secretary,
April 10, 1823, Book 1 MI-8 (1814-27), pp. 243-246, CMS, and Mortier to Committee,
June 6, 1817, Item 147 (1816-18) WMMS. For forbidding of preaching Whitehouse to
Committee, May 7, 1822, Item 51 (1822-23) and Woolley to Buckley, May 3, 1816, Item 31
(1816-18) WMMS. Destruction of chapels Dyer to Goderich, January 31, 1833, CO. 137:
190 and Stanley to Dyer, December 1833, CO. 137-90, Public Records Office, hereafter
cited as PRO, "Memorial and Statement of the BMS in Jamaica, April 19, 1832, to Earl
Belmore, Governor of Jamaica", W1/5, Baptist Missionary Society, hereafter cited as BMS.
Also see Annual Report of the BMS, 1827, p. 27, W1/5, BMS.
4. Richard Watson, A Defence of Wesleyan Methodist Missions in the West Indies (London:
1817), pp. 15-22.
5. Richard Watson, The Religious Instruction of Slaves in the West India Colonies (London:
1824), pp. 4-8, 13.
6. An examination of missionary stress on literacy is included in an analysis of missionary
pedagogy by the author in "The Pedagogy of Conversion: Missionary Education to Slaves in
the British West Indies 1800-38", Paedagogica Historica, 1978. Another approach to this
matter was presented at the Great Lakes History Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan,
April 28, 1978.
7. Other missionary societies were included in the task of implementing the British programme
of government aided schooling in the British West Indies during apprenticeship. The
administration of the Grant is discussed in the following Colonial Office documents.
CO. 318-118, 122, 130-145, 152, 156, 163; Charles Latrobe, Reports on Negro Education,
British Guiana and Trinidad, XXXIV (35), 455 (1839), Windward and Leeward Islands
XLVIII (520), 159 (1837-38) and Jamaica, XLVIII (113), 61 (1837 38) PRO. Also see
"Negro Education", House of Commons Papers 29 (April 27, 1836).
8. Smith to Committee, December 20, 1839, Book G (November 7, 1839 October 11, 1841),
p. 63 BMS.
There is abundant evidence for the statement that the missionaries were trusted by the ex-
slaves, and by Governors alike. The following serve only as illustrative. James Cox, "A
Manual of Instruction", Antigua Herald, July 2, 1838; "Replies to the Governor's Circular
for the Best Means of Encouraging the Peasantry", Item 3, January 1835 and "Copy of the
Reply to Governor Macgregor", Antigua (1835-38), WMMS; Reverend Betts, "Public
Notice", August 1837, CW/020/47 CMS; and Howe to Ellis, April 14, 1836, Box, 3, British
Guiana-Berbice (1834-36) LMS.
9. Joshua Tinson a Baptist pointedly wrote to the Reverend Panton, a member of the
Jamaican CMS auxiliary committee that he was "told the country was to be parcelled out
amongst the different denominations and no-one was to open a new station without
consulting his neighbour." He went on to lament that such fair procedures did not occur.
Tinson to Panton, March 11, 1839 quoted in Edward Steane, Statement and Extracts of
Correspondence Relating to the Baptist Mission in Jamaica Occasioned by the Misrepresenta-
tions of the Reverend Richard Panton, (London: 1840).
The following correspondence supports the claim that in a renewed "scramble for souls"
bitter factionalism occurred within specific denominational groups and between denomi-
national groups. Betts to Chairman of Jamaica WMMS, January 3, 1838, CW/020/18, CMS;
Vine to Ellis, February 19, 1839 and March 5, 1839, Box 2 Jamaica (1839) LMS;
Berneau to Jowett, August 22, 1835, CW/018/26 and May 30, 1836, CW/018/17, CMS;
Outgoing West Indies, Jamaica, Box 2 (July 1837 November 1839) and Box 3 (December
1834 June 1843), LMS; Committee Meetings 1835-1842, BMS; Evangelical Magazine and
Missionary Chronicle (July 1836), p. 32; Jacob Sessing journal entry for May 7, 1838,
CW/075/23c, CMS; and The Baptist Magazine (January 1839) p. 32.
10. Act of Emancipation, Resolution 5, Parliamentary Debates, 3rd series (1835-45), LVIII
May 14, 1833 and documents CO. 318: 118, 122, 126, 130-145, PRO; Negro Education,
House of Commons Papers 29 (27th April 1836); and Sterling's Report on Negro Education,
llth May, 1835, CO. 318: 122, pp. 381-433. PRO.
11. Gilgrass to Watson, February 10, 1825, Item 175 (1824-25) and Minutes, September 5,
1821, Outgoing Letters to 1833 (April 1798 August 1816), pp. 321-334, WMMS.
12. One LMS missionary observed that what "they (the planters] cannot get by stealth they'll
get by force." Scott to Ellis, August 22, 1834, Box 4, British Guiana Demerara (1830-34)
LMS. John Mirams observed only five days after Emancipation that apprenticeship would
prove to be "more intolerable than absolute slavery" and that the only remedy for the
immorality of slavery was "absolute freedom." Mirams to Ellis, 10th August, 1834, Box 3,
British Guiana Berbice, (1834-36) LMS.
13. Phillippo to Sligo, October 24, 1835, and Sligo to Glenelg, October 25, 1835, CO. 137:
203, pp. 284-85 and 288-93, PRO.
14. Pp. 200-203..Phillippo devoted a whole chapter in his book to the "Intellectual Character
of the Black People Under Slavery", pp. 188-215.
15. Dixon to Coates, July 4, 1842, CW/033/28, CMS.
16. Phillippo to Sligo, op. cit.
18. Ibid., and Jamaica, p. 204. For further discussion of the Sambo and Quashee defence
mechanisms as forms of slave passive resistance see Orlando Patterson, The Sociology of
Slavery (London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1967) and Stanley Elkins, Slavery: A Problem in
American Institutional and Intellectual Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968).
19. Haensel to Coates, March 27, 1835, CW/044/1, CMS.
21. Ellis to Henery, August 30, 1838, Box 2, Western Outgoing (July 1837 November 1839),
22. Ellis to Haywood, January 30, 1838.
23. John Griffin, A Retrospect of the Proceedings of the LMS (London: 1827), pp. 30-31).
24. Haywood to Ellis, April 5, 1836.
25. Committee to Panton, February 27, 1840, CW/065/42, CMS. Four European catechists,
Ashby, Faber, Cork, and Pollitt were refused ordination. In 1837 there were four CMS
missionaries, 10 European catechists, 5 coloured catechists, and 2 female coloured teachers
in Jamaica. In 1838 there were 9 catechists of colour and three female teachers of colour.
Coates to Panton, August 1, 1839, L2 (1834-39), p. 332; and Proceedings of the CMS
26. Haywood to Ellis, June 5, 1839, Box 4, British Guiana Berbice, (1836-39), LMS.
27. W.F. Burchell, Memoir of Thomas Burchell, (London: 1849), p. 325 and Missionary
Herald (March 1838), p. 133.
28. Knibb to Reverend Upton, June 13, 1839, W1/3, BMS, and John Howard Hinton, Memoir
of William Knibb (London: 1847), p. 214.
29. Religious Persecution in Jamaica... (London: 1832), p. 9.
30. Knibb to Margaret Williams, May 25, 1827 and to Sarah Griffiths, August 9, 1825,
31. Burchell, p. 325.
32. The documentation for these disputes which came to be called the "Baptist Purity
Question" is too extensive to include. See boxes 3 and 4 (1839) and Outuoing Jamaica
1839-42) LMS as well as BMS for 1835-42. The following also discuss the matter covering
a decade of fulminating rancour.
Samuel Green, Baptist Mission in Jamaica. . (London: 1842); Evangelical Magazine
(March 1835), p. 127; On Conversion: The First Circular Letter of the Baptist Missionaries
to the Churches in Jamaica (Jamaica: 1836); Letter of the Committee of the BMS to the
Churches of Christ in Jamaica (London: 1843); Jamaica Herald (March 7, 1838); Edward
Steane, op. cit., and "An Exposition of the System Pursued by the Baptist Missionaries in
Jamaica by missionaries and catechists of the LMS in that Island", 17th November, 1842,
p. 204. BMS.
33. Wallbridge to Tidman, January 29, 1842, Box 4 (1842-44) LMS.
34. Panton of the CMS auxiliary committee in Jamaica called them "bowdown Baptists" as a
contemptuous term for the procedure of asking converts before baptism, "Who bowed you
down brother?" That is, "Well friend, what or who induced you to think about religion?"
See Edward Steane, op. cit., and Panton to Jowett, July 30, 1839, CW/065/34, CMS.
35. Knibb to Dyer, November 7, 1831, John Howard Hinton, Memoir of William Knibb
(London: 1847), p. 204.
36. Ellis to Brown, August 28, 1837, Box 2, Outgoing (July 1837 November 1839) LMS,
and Phillippo, Jamaica, p. 423.
37. Edward Bean Underhill, Life of James Mursell Phillippo (London: 1881), p. 139.
38. Apprenticed Labourers to LMS, September 25, 1837, Box 4, British Guiana Bcrbice
(July 1836-39), LMS.
39. Henery to Ellis, December 15, 1838.
40. W. Rose, A. Jansen, C. Farrell, C. Headecker, to Ellis, January 1, 1839.
41. Henery to Committee, May 11, 1839, Box 2 (July 1837 November 1839), LMS.
42. Ellis to Henery, August 30, 1838, Box 2 Western Outgoing (July 1837 November 1839),
LMS. Henery was sent to Williams Hope Estate which was intended to effectively silence
him. Tidman to Haywood, December 16, 1839, Box 3, Western Outgoing (December 1839 -
June 1843), LMS.
43. Wray to Ellis, September 18, 1835; Mirams to Ellis, August 18, 1834; Howe to Ellis,
June 29, 1835, Box 3 British Guiana Berbice (June 1834-36), LMS.
44. W.N. Gunson, Evangelical Missionaries in the South Seas, 1797-1860 (Ph.D., Australian
National University, 1960).
45. As has been discussed by the author in "The 'New Mechanic' in Slave Society: Socio-
Psychological Motivations and Evangelical Missionaries in the British West Indies", The
Journal of Religious History, 1979.
46. Gunson, p 2. Gunson refers to missionaries as an "intermediary class" in the process of
establishing themselves in the social class toward which their sympathies were ultimately
directed as part of "a desire to better themselves." Pp. 16, 34, and 318.
47: In W.N. Gunson, "Victorian Christianity in the South Seas: A Survey", The Journal of
Religious History 8 (1974-5): 184.
TRANSPLANTING PREJUDICES: THE FAILURE OF THE
BAPTIST EXPERIMENT USING JAMAICAN 'NATIVE AGENTS'
IN FERNANDO PO AND CAMEROONS, 1841-1850
By the 1830's it had become evident that the 1807 British law abolishing the
African slave trade and subsequent British efforts to enforce it had not effectively
stopped the illicit commerce in human cargoes. Noting that surreptitious slaving
activities would not be interrupted as long as New World demands for slave labour
continued to be supplied by those African chiefs who were unable to relinquish a
trade upon which they had become dependent, British abolitionists sought new
remedies for this stubborn problem. In 1839 the prominent humanitarian-publicist,
Thomas F. Buxton, in his publication, The African Slave Trade and Its Remedy,1
set forth a programme believed by many of his contemporaries to be the final solution
to the continuing slave trade dilemma. What was needed, Buxton contended, were the
conversionn of Africans to Christianity and the substitution of new exportable cash
crops for the illegal one-crop economy dependent on slaves alone. To avoid devastating
European mortality rates in Africa, Buxton proposed sending Africans in the Diaspora
'he and others who later implemented the programme referred to them as "native
agents") to help their brothers in Africa. Native agents, he assumed, would be immune
to the diseases of their motherland and would enthusiastically respond to her desperate
:ry for aid.
Although the British sponsored Niger Expedition of 1841, sent to study the
Feasibility of Buxton's ideas, proved a failure when death and disease forced its early
return to England, enthusiasm for the native agency idea remained alive among
missionaries in those British possessions where potential native agents abounded among
newly emancipated blacks. During the next two decades five missionary societies
initiated missions to West Africa predicated upon the native agency idea. The first of
these originated in Sierra Leone where liberated slaves, educated under the joint
auspices of the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.) and the British Government,were
sent after 1840 by the C.M.S. to various parts of the West Coast with considerable
successes. The other four missions, all originating in the British West Indies and all
sending emancipated West Indian native agents to Africa, met with much less success.
These four were as follows: the English Baptist Missionary Society in Jamaica to
Fernando Po and the Cameroons (1841): the Basel Presbyterian Missionary Society
(with Moravian cooperation) in Jamaica to Akwopong, Gold Coast (1843); the Scot-
tish United Presbyterian Church in Jamaica to Old Calabar, Nigeria (1846); and the
Anglican West Indian Church in Barbados to the Rio Pongo, north of Freetown,
Sierra Leone (1855). Of these four, only one, the English Baptist Mission Society's
(B.M.S.) experiment using Jamaicans will concern us in this article because it was the
first and largest, and because its failure was most influential in turning subsequent
mission societies against further contemplating similar experiments.
Initiative in the West Indies
By the 1830's the concentration of British missionary activity on the island of
Jamaica had made converts of a large portion of the slaves and had provided many
of them with the rudiments of a British Church education. Perhaps it was inevitable,
therefore, that when the Emancipation Act of 1833 provided for an apprenticeship
system of preparation for freedom to terminate in 1838 with total emancipation for
all, many of the missionaries hit upon the idea that the ex-slaves might make excellent
recruits for African missions. Keenly interested in using West Indian agents in Africa,
in 1838 Buxton personally contacted several missionary societies in Jamaica with this
purpose in mind. Overwhelmed by the responses he received from Jamaica indicating
an already prevailing mass enthusiasm for his project, he concluded that "among the
liberated Africans in our West Indian colonies, we are likely to be furnished with a
number of persons in whom are united the desirable qualifications of fitness for the
climate, competency to act as teachers, and willingness to enter upon the work."2
Buxton's encouragement, combined with growing British support, apparently acted as
catalyst to rouse the missionaries in Jamaica from the planning stages into action
during the late 1830's.
Enthusiasm was not lacking among the recently emancipated Jamaican slaves,
either. This was especially true in the Baptist churches which found themselves in an
excellent position to spearhead the back-to-Africa missionary drive. Profiting from
earlier evangelistic work done by the "Native Baptists" (a movement which developed
out of the teachings of North American Negro immigrants in the late 18th century), as
well as from restricting themselves to the conversion of black slaves and the building of
black congregations, by the 1830's the Baptists had far surpassed all other missionary
sects in membership. The slaves naturally assumed that the main credit for their
emancipation belonged to the missionaries and expected further social and political
gains from religious conversion.4 Such motivations may have played an important role
in the massive enthusiasm for church membership and African missions displayed by
Baptist converts during this period. In 1838 thousands offered their aid and personal
services for Africa and some were even reported returning to their homeland on their
Overwhelmed by this wave of enthusiasm, in 1839 the Jamaica Baptist Union res-
ponded with a proposal to the London-based Baptist Home Committee for an African
mission staffed by Negro missionaries trained in Jamaican schools and financed by
Jamaican churches. Despite some initial reluctance and skepticism on the part of the
Home Committee, the combined influence of William Knibb, the man delegated to
carry the proposal to London, and the timely publication of Buxton's book carried the
day in favour of commencing an African mission staffed mainly by Jamaican native
Once an affirmative decision was made, the B.M.S. acted swiftly. The missionary
John Clarke and the medical doctor G.K. Prince, both considered "accustomed to the
Negro character and inured to a burning and pestilential climate" by their long resid-
ence in Jamaica, were selected to make preliminary arrangements in Africa, "as might
facilitate the introduction of the gospel chiefly by Native Agency."7 The Society
applied to send them with the Niger Expedition, but the Government declined their
offer, having already accepted two CMS men who had chosen liberated Africans from
Sierra Leone for the Expedition. The two Baptist missionaries, therefore, set off on
their own for Fernando Po, an island off the coast of Cameroons, where they arrived
in January, 1841. After visiting local headmen and chiefs on the island and on the
adjacent Cameroons coast, they decided on Fernando Po as the first headquarters of
the Mission, by virtue of its easy accessibility to communications with England and
the African coast, its large bi-lingual ex-slave population which would be helpful in the
study of African languages, and its ostensibly favourable climate.8
Returning to Jamaica after 14 months in Africa, Clarke and Prince recruited several
"native agents" to help publicize the African mission during a planned fund drive in
England. Among Clarke's converts at his Jamaican mission station were Richard and
Joseph Merrick, father and son, who in 1839 had been the first Jamaicans ordained as
ministers of the Jamaican Baptist Church, and who had thereafter supervised Clarke's
four churches in his absence. Highly educated and facile in several languages, young
Joseph had served as a printer's apprentice and later editor of an antislavery newspaper.
With these qualifications, he was admirably suited to go as one of the Mission's
"native agents." Another singled out as candidate was Alexander Fuller. "A son of
Africa" who had been nine years a member of the Spanish Town Church and a Sunday
School teacher there, Fuller was especially favoured for his dedication and his profici-
ency at his carpenter's trade.9
The party of missionaries, accompanied by Merrick, his wife and Fuller, arrived in
England in the spring of 1843. Almost immediately the two West Indians found them-
selves on a whirlwind tour of the English Baptist churches. As had been hoped, their
speeches and sermons had an electrifying effect. Exploiting their African descent to
the fullest, they pleaded for training institutions in Jamaica to train native agents and
for funds to make a proper beginning in Africa. Merrick's intelligence and Fuller's
simplicity, combined with the dedication exhibited by both, generated the hoped for
support. On July 15, 1843, the party, with the exception of Clarke, sailed for Fernando
Po, arriving there on September 6, 1843. In addition to the Merricks and Fuller, Mrs
Prince was also of African descent though all had been born in Jamaica. The first
native agents sent from Jamaica to "regenerate" Africa had arrived.10
Meanwhile, the BMS delineated its Mission policy for Africa. Fernando Po was
accepted as the first of a series of stations to penetrate deep into the Continent. Only
native agents, defined as "Africans or those born in tropical climates" were to be
considered qualified for the work. Agent selections were to be made with care from
among the "black and coloured" families in Jamaica, many of whom were believedto
be members of African tribes still remembering their African languages and culture.
European missionaries, preferably those accustomed to tropical climates, were to
supervise. All missionaries were at first to reside in Fernando Po for a period of
"acclimating", after which they were to move on to the more arduous work on the
mainland.11 The views of the Society on its mission policy were summarized in its
The civilizers of Africa must be Africans. While Europeans are prevented from
entering Africa by the unhealthy climate and their suspected colour .. thousands
and millions of Africans have been permitted to be carried into countries where
Europeans can not only reach them with safety, but where they are continually
surrounded with the arts and knowledge of Europe. These Africans may be trained
with great facility to be the improvers of their country. Africa is in so low a state,
that at first persons of very moderate acquirements will be most in contact with the
minds of their countrymen.. Europeans, without so immense a destruction, might
thus give their aid to the improvement going on in the country itself; for it is the
personal labour of missionaries that is ruinous; and mere superintendence, which is
all that would be required in this case, may be exercised for many years without
The perpetuation of these outdated assumptions, based upon an 1828 publication,
was somewhat unrealistic in 1843 at a time when a much more recent publication
reporting on actual experience with West Indians in Africa had become available to the
English public. This was the 1842 publication of the journals of James Schon, an
astute missionary observer hired by the CMS to accompany the Niger Expedition of
1841.13 For several reasons enumerated later in this article, Schon unequivocally
recommended against recruiting West Indian missionaries for African service. His
recommendations proved far-sighted and, since they were the only assessment of this
nature available in print during 1843, they should have borne careful scrutiny by the
BMS in preparation for its African mission. The fact that the BMS chose to ignore his
work was especially surprising in light of the fact that Prince and Clarke had on several
occasions met Sch6n and other members of the Niger Expedition during their 1842
stay in Fernando Po.14
In July, 1843 Clarke and Alfred Saker, a new missionary volunteer from England,
returned to Jamaica to recruit a contingent of West Indians for the proposed missionary
settlement. As Clarke recruited during the following weeks, he noted in his journal
each recruit's racial classification and the position each would hold in the Mission as a
teacher or a settler. His notes tell an interesting story. Those classified as teachers with
their racial classifications were Mr Bundy, "white-by-law" and Mrs Bundy, "mulatto"
(besides designating him as a teacher, Clarke also noted that Bundy would be going as
a "missionary assistant"); Mr and Mrs Ennis, "coloured"; Mr and Mrs Norman, Mr and
Mrs Gallimore, and Miss Cooper, all "coloured-creole"; and Mr Duckett racially
unclassified. 15 It might also be added at this juncture that Joseph Merrick, recruited
one year earlier as the only full-fledged Jamaican missionary, was classified by Clarke
as a Quadroon, "sufficiently fair to pass for white persons in any country where such
distinctions do not prevail."16 The following were recruited as settlers in 1843:
Mr Duffis, a "Congo from Kabenda" and Mrs Duffis, a "Fanti"; Mr and Mrs White,
"black"; Mr and Mrs Trusty, "black-creoles"; Mr Williams, "black Congo." In addition,
young Joseph and Samuel Fuller, both classified as "black boys", were taken to join
their father, Alexander Fuller, already in Africa. 17 The entire contingent of Jamaicans,
including the children, numbered thirty-six in all.
Several conclusions can be drawn from Clarke's method of recruitment. His classifi-
cation of recruits into categories of settlers or teachers distinguished between them
along racial lines, re-inforcing and perpetuating a racist social system existing in
Jamaica. By the early 19th century, Jamaican slave society was divided into a caste
system with the white masters at its pinnacle, coloureds (mulattoes) holding a central
position, and blacks at its bottom. The coloureds, who as products of illicit unions
between masters and slaves were often educated and emancipated by their fathers,
were recognized by white society as superior to blacks, having been granted privileges
according to their shade, they were extremely sensitive about maintaining their
privileged position and advancing further toward "white-ness" by any means
possible. 18 Clarke's racial classifications gave strong evidence that he was at least
partially adhering to this colour conscious system in his recruiting: the two recruits
closest to "white-ness" were going as a missionary and an assistant missionary (Merrick
and Bundy, respectively); the teachers were all classified coloured; and the settlers were
all black or classed by their tribal origins. Logic and common sense were on the
missionaries' side for recruiting in this manner. Disruption of the prevailing social
hierarchy would most certainly have disturbed group solidarity, as became readily
apparent when after reaching Africa the missionaries made just that mistake. Moreover,
in their efforts to emulate the white caste the people of colour had taken on white
attitudes and, being better educated, were better prepared to act as teachers for the
Mission. Merrick, for example, was a highly educated, ordained minister and those
going as teachers had all held teaching posts in Jamaica.19
Notwithstanding the logic behind the missionaries' recruiting policy, their perpetua-
tion of the Jamaican social system was to have unfortunate consequences in Africa.
Encouraged by their congregations and white sponsors, the teachers became convinced
that the unique combination of their education and African ancestry somehow pro-
vided them with extraordinary qualities which prepared them for responsible roles in
Africa unattainable to them at home. Their white mentors, on the other hand, their
idealistic notions about the coloureds' special qualities notwithstanding, were like the
coloureds, carrying with themselves the whole baggage of prevalent Jamaican stereo-
types and social expectations which was to make the practice of what they promoted
very difficult in the field. All of this was to have unfortunate consequences in Africa.
Also evident in Clarke's journal were his minimal efforts to pursue the part of BMS
policy which argued tribal and linguistic affinities of Jamaicans for Africa as reasons for
recruiting them as "native" agents. Of those recruited, only three were born in Africa
or knew anything of their African origins. This remission on Clarke's part could not be
attributed to a lack of potential agents fitting the necessary BMS criteria. Centuries of
intense labour exploitation, coupled with a preference for male labourers, had main-
trained a constant excess of deaths over births in Jamaica, requiring a continuous
inflow of new slave imports. Moreover, during the decade before the reduction of
this inflow by the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the number of slave imports was
the heaviest in Jamaica's history. 20 In 1829 approximately one-third of the slaves on
plantations were still recognized Africans and as late as 1843, the year when the BMS
did its recruiting, the Baptists could identify large numbers of Africans by tribes in
their churches.2 In at least a diluted form, therefore, African traditions remained
strong among many blacks who stood apart from creoles and coloureds as a separate
group, by virtue of their blackness, Africaness, and slave status. Putting aside the
question of whether Africans of diverse tribal backgrounds would in practice have
made better agents among tribes unfamiliar to them in Africa, it remains noteworthy
that more identifiable Africans were not selected to accompany the mission. Although
Clarke did not make clear the extent to which Africans as compared to coloureds were
forthcoming during the recruiting process, it is clear that despite the missionaries'
espousal of the "Africanness" of Jamaicans as criteria for using them in Africa, the
Africans recruited were from the outset designated for minor, labouring roles, while
the more Europeanized creole coloureds were identified as the "native agents"
envisioned for the African mission.
H1nally, it should also be noted that no real attempt was made by the missionaries
to discover the motivations of the Jamaicans who volunteered to go. The recruits had
not been trained or oriented for missionary work as had been planned by Knibb and
other promoters. Instead, in the enthusiasm of the moment, they had been selected
quickly, almost indiscriminately. Indeed, the lack of time and the difficulty in finding
volunteers, despite the ostensible mass enthusiasm, may have left little opportunity for
selectivity among the recruits.22 Joseph Fuller's Recollections indicated that his
Jamaican companions volunteered out of mixed motives without comprehending the
hardships they would face, that many joined at the last moment and only temporarily,
and that he himself, pressured into going by his father, went with the expectation of
returning to Jamaica after a few years of service.23 The hopes of economic and social
advancement which had caused so many Jamaicans to join the BMS churches in the late
1830's may also explain why some joined the African Mission at this time. The
dissatisfactions later voiced by some after they were unable to achieve their expecta-
tions in Africa implied that such motives may well have played an important part in
their agreeing to go.
The mission party finally set sail for Africa in December, 1843. The long voyage
proved extremely difficult for the Jamaicans who found themselves cramped together
in the hold of the Chilmark, a small vessel built to carry only a few passengers. In
addition, they were contemptuously treated by the crew, were deprived of fresh water
and food, and were not provided with a cook to prepare the little food they did
receive. With bitter reminiscences of these events, Joseph Fuller made it clear in his
autobiography that a combination of lack of preparation and lack of concern for the
large number recruited was the cause of their suffering:
.. there was no cook! At least not for the black people. The good friends who had
chartered the Chilmark had never thought about it.24
When the coloured teachers inquired about the cook, the pejorative distinction
between "settler" and "teacher" was made acutely clear when the captain told them
to "get one of the settlers to undertake the job." 5 Expecting better treatment, the
coloureds complained bitterly, which, in turn, irritated the crew members who picked
on them, "calling them names and depriving them when possible . keeping back
biscuits from their children, etc. as punishment."26 In their frustration, the Jamaicans
eventually turned to quarrelling amone themselves along colour lines. Observing their
discontent, Clarke was distressed by his "painful view into characters", particularly in
Bundy, who was "too quickly accusing and spreading suspicions" among the others. 27
Perhaps not by accident the "white-by-law" Bundy was emerging as ringleader of the
group of coloured malcontents. His role as chief agitator was to intensify in Africa.
The Jamaican Missionaries in Fernando Po, 1844-1846
Occupied first by the Portuguese, and then by the Spanish, the island of Fernando
Po, located in the Gulf of Guinea just off the Cameroons coast, was abandoned by
Europeans until the British received Spanish approval in 1827 to establish a base there
for their anti-slave trade naval patrols. A settlement called Clarence grew up in the
northern part of the island and competed with Freetown, Sierra Leone, as a depository
for liberated slaves until 1834, when the British Government abandoned it in favour of
Freetown. Thereafter, the Government's properties were purchased by the West
African Company, a private trading firm headed by one John Beecroft who also
doubled as governor of Fernando Po for Spain and after 1849 as Consul representing
British interests in the surrounding coastal regions. Beecroft was instrumental in
convincing the Baptists to explore Fernando Po and its surroundings for potential
missionary sites in 1841.
Although the bulk of the island population consisted of the Bantu speaking Bubi
people, more important from the point of view of this study was the exogenous
African population which had settled around Clarence between the years 1827 and
1840. These West Coast Africans consisted of liberated slaves who traced their origins
to the adjacent tribes of the Niger Delta, Cameroons, and Congo; and to sailors and
labourers brought from Anglo-American settlements further to the west, such as Sierra
Leone, Liberia, and Cape Coast. Through the years a small handful of West Indians had
also found their way there from the British Caribbean. Most of the settlers spoke
pidgin English which served West Coast trading people as their commercial lingua
franca; a good number could also read and write. B7 1841 the small settlement num-
bered well over 1,000 people.
It was this polyglot settlement which Clarke and Prince had found so attractive
when they first visited the island in 1841. The settlers preferred European values,
spoke the English language, had lost most of their tribal ties, and since they were
accustomed to a constant inflow of newcomers, they could be expected to mix well
with the planned-for Jamaican settlement. In addition, as bi-lingual Africans they were
expected to serve as excellent sources for language study in preparation for missionary
expansion in the Continent. Many might even be used as interpreters and agents to
As expected, the people of Clarence welcomed the proposed Baptist Mission in
1841. Even before the West Indians arrived, a thriving Baptist church and day school
were in operation under the supervision of the Rev Thomas Sturgeon, who was sent
from England to assume the pastorate while Clarke and Prince returned to recruit
Jamaicans during 1842. When in September 1843 Dr Prince returned with the first
two Jamaican agents, Fuller and Merrick, they were enthusiastically welcomed and
the development of initial good relations portended well for the West Indian missionary
Since the West Indians did not come as missionaries to the people of Clarence (who,
due to their previous exposure to Christianity, had flocked in large numbers to the
new Baptist Church), the question of whether the Clarence Africans would find the
West Indians as acceptable as European teachers to instruct them a problem later
confronted among indigenous tribes of the West Coast did not prove a problem at
this time. Indeed, as has been noted, the assumption that as newly arrived immigrants
the Clarence Africans would accept other newcomers on an equal basis appeared at
first to prove accurate. However, there were important differences between the
Africans and the Jamaicans. Unlike the former, who had come to Clarence adapted to
African life-styles and who had perceived Clarence as a civilized place to live, the
Jamaican coloureds were accustomed to a more European-style of urban living. This
became evident when the already disgruntled main contingent of Jamaicans arrived at
Clarence harbour in February, 1844, only to discover that the mismanagement they
had endured on shipboard was to continue in Fernando Po. No accommodations had
been prepared for them and they were compelled to remain on the Chilmark until
various townspeople consented to take them into their homes. Inevitably, differing
social attitudes and life-style expectations developed frictions between the African host
families and their Jamaican boarders.29
Further exacerbating matters, the poor planning of the missionaries was further
evidenced by their inability to arrange immediate employment for the newcomers,
while the Jamaicans were chagrined to observe that African residents who had proven
themselves eager workers since the 1842 opening of the Mission were employed as
salaried agents. This practice of employing cooperative Africans by the Mission was the
beginning of a competition between the Africans and the ostensibly less cooperative
and more expensive West Indians which was eventually to be resolved in the African's
favour in later years. In his later recollections about the initial lack of employment for
the teachers, Fuller contended that if their energies had been immediately harnessed,
"they would have had to attribute their failure to themselves"; as it was, he
concluded: "they found too much time for unprofitable surmising."30
But perhaps most critical of the missionaries' remissions was their neglect to make
provision for the Jamaicans' medical needs on the assumption that the latter's African
descent would keep them immune from African diseases. Much to everyone's amaze-
ment, however, the West Indians immediately suffered from fever; and, from the point
of view of the Jamaicans, their suffering was magnified by the absence of medical
services for them.31
It may well have been, therefore, that by the time reluctant Bubi chiefs agreed to
accept Jamaican teachers in their villages during the following months, relations within
the Mission had already deteriorated to an irreversible point. Evidence of this emerged
when Ennis, the first Jamaican to be sent out, became disenchanted with his station at
Lakatta and proceeded to open others, on his own initiative, and without consulting
anyone to the great consternation of Clarke. In 1845 Ennis finally settled at
Basakato where he remained until 1846. Gallimore, who was sent to Bassipu, and
Norman, who remained in Clarence as master of the settlement day school, appeared
relatively contented at first. But Bundy, who was stationed at Rebola, spent little time
there. Instead, most of the time he was in Clarence complaining of various illnesses,
thereby continuing to breed discontent among the others. Just four months after his
arrival Bundy announced that he wished to return to Jamaica.32 Of the five male
teachers, Duckett proved the most energetic and manageable of the group. Throughout
1844 he often accompanied Merrick on his visits to Bimbia (the first BMS station on
the Cameroons coast) and in 1845 he was the only one of the teachers who willingly
moved permanently to work on the Continent.
Efforts were also made to find suitable employment for the settlers. Suitable
employment, in their case, should have meant exemplary homesteading and cultiva-
tion of the soil. But because this involved purchase of land and transportation
problems, it proved even more difficult to accomplish than placing the teachers and
only the Trusty family was ever thus placed. The Trustys were sent to Bassiwala, a
property purchased by the BMS from the West African Company. The family remained
at this solitary post until 1846, when they removed to Bimbia. The other settlers -
Williams, White, Duffis, and Phillips were never settled anywhere but remained in
Clarence with no specific assignments. They were generally employed in construction
work or accompanied Clarke on visitations to the various stations manned by the
Thus by 1844 all of the Jamaicans were finally settled at their various stations. Two
troublesome years later, after much quarrelling and ineffectiveness, most of them
returned to Jamaica. Why this failure? The central thesis of this article maintains that
the transplanting of Jamaican racial and social perceptions, by exercising a detrimental
influence on the expectations of both the coloureds and the whites about the "proper"
role of the coloureds in the Mission, was an important cause of their failure; other
contributing factors were the lack of preparation of the recruits for the rigours of life
in Africa, 3the poor management of the Mission (especially on the voyage to Africa
and during the initial months in Africa), and lack of financial resources to do the job
right. The perpetuation of these problems during the two years after 1844 eventually
produced insurmountable barriers to the kind of cooperative spirit essential for the
success of the fledgling Mission.
As has been noted, the BMS had been remiss in ignoring predictions about potential
problems with West Indians made earlier by James F. Schin, the CMS representative
who accompanied the Niger Expedition in 1840-41. While Schon had stated that in
some ways West Indians might be suitable for African work because "they have seen
more of European habits; are better acquainted with agricultural labours; and have a
much greater taste for European comforts, if these be considered an acquisition", he
insisted that the drawbacks imposed upon them by their Jamaican background far
outweighed their assets:
The high wages that they have been accustomed to receive, and the high notions
which they have imbibed of their own importance, have, I am afraid, rendered
them, in a great measure, unfitted for Africa. Add to this, that many may carry a
recollection of the driver's lashes with them; and many more have a disposition to
inflict them on others: so that one would not feel disposed to cooperate heartily
with England, and the other would little recommend the civilization system by his
conduct. And besides, it must never be thought that a black skin is a sufficient safe-
guard against diseases incident to the climate of Africa.35
Schon's fears concerning the usefulness of such agents in Africa were probably derived
from his observations of poor race relations among American mulattoes, American
blacks, and indigenous Africans in the Afro-American settlements of Liberia. Another
source of his skepticism may have come from his disenchantment with West Indian,
Liberian, and Sierra Leonian performance in the abortive "model farm" experiment on
the Niger during 1840-41.36 Whatever his sources, the Baptist Mission clearly experi-
enced many of the problems he predicted.
The first sign of renewed discontent among the Baptist Jamaican agents after they
were settled at their stations in 1844 occurred when the teachers learned that the
settlers had been permitted to remain in Clarence. Already dissatisfied by their
arduous work among the Bubis who were one of the most primitive and exclusive of
Africa's peoples, the coloureds apparently viewed this turn of events as a derogatory
reversal of roles. Traditional Jamaican social distinctions reserved the privileges of
"civilized" urban life to the coloureds, while rural work, which seemed to smack of
slave labour, should have been relegated to the blacks. 37 Joseph Fuller, himself a
black, appeared to accept these social distinctions as natural when he implied in his
memoirs that the ill feelings which ensued over this issue were produced not by the
Jamaicans' expectations but by the Europeans' refusal to adhere to them. Fuller
explained that since most of the settlers remained quartered in Clarence whereby they
were permitted to "leave their proper work", the settlers began to feel that "they were
in the same position as the Teachers." The teachers in turn began to feel that "they
ought to have the same position as the European Missionaries, which they were made
to feel they were not. ." Concluded Fuller: "At last this grew to such a pitch that the
whole band became dissatisfied."38
Other manifestations of discontent were displayed in the teachers' continued
questioning of Clarke's power to place them at their various stations, and in their
altercations with Clarke over their living conditions, low wages, and types and quality
of work expected of them. 39 Further exacerbating the authority issue was a continuing
internal political struggle between Clarke and his colleagues over control of the Mission.
By 1845 the missionaries split into two quarrelling factions, often including in their
debates the issue of authority over the Jamaicans. Thus divided among themselves
over this question, it was not surprising that the Jamaicans soon came to question
anyone's authority over them.
West Indian demands for higher wages and comfortable living standards had been
predicted by Schon and were not long in surfacing within the Mission. Accustomed
to European tastes and comforts, the Jamaicans, most with large families to support,
found their low salaries insufficient to buy the high priced imported goods which they
considered necessities. The original plan had been to bring Christian settler families
who would lead exemplary lives for Africans to emulate. But large families were hard
to finance and very young children proved especially vulnerable to diseases and were
first to die. Fuller, for one, felt that it was a big mistake to bring large families to
Africa; he noted that "grown people could get along this way but with children it
was different, and through them their parents suffered deeply." Since it was the
coloured teachers, and not the black settlers, who had brought large families with
many small children with them to Africa, this perhaps partially explains the coloureds'
incessant complaining about low salaries and living standards. By July 1844, at
Bundy's instigation, two of the teachers threatened to discontinue at their posts until
they received what they considered to be a decent wage. Later in the year all fell
deeply in debt, and eventually by 1846 several were forced to quit the Mission for
more lucrative trades. In fact, the Jamaicans' European sponsors had expected to
have it both ways: they had brought Jamaicans to Africa on the assumption that their
Europeanized ways had prepared them to teach the Christian way of life to their
African brothers, yet they expected them to somehow eschew their Europeanized
tastes and live at African subsistence levels.
The most basic of the Jamaicans' frustrations, however, was their inability to fulfill
personal expectations with which they had come to Africa. This, naturally, was felt
most acutely by the coloureds who, as Fuller had explained, expected "to be in the
same position as the Europeans, which they were made to feel they were not." 43 As
it became progressively more obvious to them that their expectations would not
materialize, they grew more suspicious and resentful of all efforts to control their
activities. On their part, the Europeans, expecting of the Jamaicans devoted missiona-
ries who would dedicate their lives to the cause of missions without expecting rewards,
at first misinterpreted and later condemned the Jamaicans' actions. Clarke's private
commentary, written amidst his perennial altercations with them, begins to illustrate
the European interpretations of Jamaican actions. He observed "a spirit of jealousy",
"the continuous operation of discontent and pride", "disrespect and self-will", "an
unmanageable spirit", and that ". . coloured people are, in general, foolishly
sensitive . and only a few minds rise above petty, childish feelings"; in a similar
manner, Schin had earlier condemned West Indians for "the high notions which they
have imbibed of their own importance . ."; 44 and Prince, in his conclusions about
Jamaican performance in 1846, perhaps best summarized the collective disenchantment
shared by the missionaries:
The first occasion of disappointment was the absence of fervor; a listlessness and
contentedness to be unemployed; then a manifestation of a disaffected mind
because unwarrantable expectations of a personal character were not realized; and
afterwards an intemperate and resentful opposition to gentle control. .45
In fact, a hopeless vicious cycle had been produced by the transplanted Jamaican social
system: the more the coloureds struggled to break from European authority and
acquire recognition as equals, the more the European stereotypes of the 'coloured' or
'creole personality' seemed to be verified.
Pejorative descriptions such as those noted above naturally bring to mind an
obvious problem faced by historians writing about black men under the domination of
white men: since most of the available sources were written by whites they represent
the white point of view. The sources used to write the present work are no exception
to this rule. The only available source written by a Jamaican was Joseph Fuller's
autobiography, and since he came to be considered one of the most faithful servants
of the Mission by the time he authored it many decades later, it is at best a question-
able description of the Jamaican point of view. While the abundance of evidence
written by whites leaves little doubt that transplanted social practices hampered
Jamaican performance in Africa, the same sources demonstrate just as clearly that
racist stereotypes and prejudgments made by the missionaries concerning Jamaican
abilities and potentials caused the former to be equally ineffective in their dealings
with the latter. Missionaries like Clarke and Prince, who had spent several decades in
Jamaica prior to joining the African mission, had thoroughly imbibed the assumptions
of Jamaican slave society. Of Prince's attitudes more will be said later; Clarke's views
have been demonstrated by his comments and actions described above.
In defense of Clarke, however, it should be noted that in exasperating moments he
made pejorative remarks about his European colleagues, as well (though in referring to
them he did not indulge in similar kinds of stereotyped generalizations). And since the
physical limitations imposed upon him by the responsibilities of founding a new
mission and providing for a large staff on a very limited budget were frequently over-
whelming, he experienced many exasperating moments, indeed. Nor can it be- denied
that his negative reactions to the recalcitrant Jamaicans were often justified under
these harsh circumstances. Indeed, what the sources eventually reveal in Clarke is a
troubled ambivalence which, on the one hand, kept him totally dedicated to the
continued success of the Jamaican agency experiment, but which, on the other hand,
greatly hampered him from achieving it by his stereotyped views of them. Despite his
private misgivings, therefore, his public statements (which at times were somewhat
solicitous and patronizing, and therefore irritating to the Jamaicans) were sympathetic
and optimistic in their continued support for the Jamaican experiment. Note, for
example, his published comments in the aftermath of some of his most heated con-
frontations with the Jamaicans during the first and most difficult months in
I think most of our Jamaica friends will turn out well, but they need, at present,
constant watching, directing, and instructing. They, in Jamaica, have not been
called out to act for themselves. They are in a new situation altogether: and if we
view their former state, opportunities, habits, etc., we shall not expect too much at
first. Indeed, some of them are noble men... 46
At no time was Clarke's continued support for the Jamaicans more obvious than
during 1845. when a barrage of missionary letters sent to the home supporters
blatantly exposed the growing disenchantment with the Jamaicans' performance. The
letters also point to a further widening of the rift within the Mission, this time between
the supporters and opponents of continued use of Jamaicans. In March 1845, one of
Sturgeon's letters emphasizing the need for tried men willing to suffer without expect-
ing rewards was the first of these letters to appear in the BMS monthly publications,
the Missionary Herald. Also writing critical letters was Alfred Saker who, after
successfully opening a small outpost station in the Cameroons, had become convinced
that indigenous African agents were preferable to imported Jamaicans; but most
caustic of all in his extreme opposition to further employment of Jamaicans was
Dr Prince, who, in addition to his unhappy experience with them in Africa, may
have been negatively influenced by his 23 years in Jamaica spent as a slave-owner
and practicing plantation physicain, as well as by his gossipy creole wife.47
As more letters came pouring in from England during the Spring of 1845 expressing
concern about the Jamaicans, the missionaries agreed that the Jamaicans should be
vindicated if only to preserve good will and home support. Incensed with the "untrue
and exaggerated" tales told of the Jamaicans who "have acted better than we have a
right to expect from such preparation", Clarke especially set to work sending out
vindicating letters which were as untrue and exaggerated in their praise of the Jamai-
cans as the earlier letters had been critical of them.48 Unfortunately, efforts to win
home office support for a variety of conflicting causes by means of exaggerated long
distance reports was a typical cause of inefficiency among nineteenth century African
missions, and the BMS in Africa was proving itself no exception to this rule. The
letters written in 1845-46 inevitably had disruptive effects on the confused home
supporters, as well as on the missionaries in the field who discovered months after the
letters were sent what their colleagues had been writing, thereby repeatedly refuelling
the festering controversy.
An additional blow to the Mission came in June 1845 when the settler Duffis
unexpectedly died, causing a sensation among the Jamaicans in Fernando Po. Notwith-
standing the promise that their African ancestry would protect them from African
diseases, all of the Jamaicans had continued to suffer from various diseases since their
arrival; now they observed one of their own number first to die among the adult
missionaries. Undoubtedly, their fear of disease and death was a major cause of
Jamaican discontent. Unlike their European counterparts who went to Africa with full
knowledge of the potential dangers to themselves, the untrained and unprepared
Jamaicans went with promises of immunity, unprepared to pay the ultimate price
expected of them. In December the teachers met with Clarke and demanded that
Bundy, who had relentlessly continued to complain of being deathly ill, be given
immediate passage home. Although unconvinced of the seriousness of Bundy's illness,
it was agreed that his removal would prove salutory for the Mission and that he should
be placed on the first vessel bound directly for the West Indies.
Into this sad state of affairs came a final blow late in December 1845. Increasing
trade and British activity around strategically located Fernando Po had not gone
unnoticed by the Spanish Government, which now decided to repossess the island. On
December 29, a Spanish consul accompanied by two Jesuit priests ordered the
Protestant church closed and the Baptist Mission off the island within twelve months.
Although Sturgeon and two African teachers were later allowed to remain (when it
became evident that the priests had become too sick to stay and the Baptist school
was a necessity), the remaining missionaries were left with three choices: they could
pull down their homes and move with all their possessions to Bimbia; they could
remain in Clarence in a private capacity; or they could return to Jamaica. The only
option the Mission could accept was removal to Bimbia. The mass transfer to Bimbia
in 1846, along with the burden of supporting several families in the new settlement,
proved a financial burden far beyond BMS means or expectations.
Not all of the Jamaicans elected to make the arduous move to the Continent. Most
of the teachers had steadfastly refused to go over when opportunity arose on previous
occasions and they now grasped the opportunity to return to Jamaica. In January
1846, Clarke reported that all of the teachers but Duckett had asked to go home,
along with Mrs Duffis, widow of the dead settler. Despite all his efforts to dissuade
them, the teachers continued to pester Clarke for passage money. He finally offered
them three choices: they could continue working for the Mission, wait for a ship
going directly to the West Indies on which their passage would be paid, or leave the
Mission to take up another trade.49
The financial state of the Mission could ill afford sending the Jamaicans home,
particularly by way of England, which was a much more expensive route than direct
passage to the West Indies. The missionaries also wished to avoid passage via England
because they suspected that the Jamaican teachers hoped to "be noticed" there and
would "become a burden" on the BMS in London. However, since it soon became
evident that most vessels stopping at Fernando Po were bound for European ports,
Bundy, impatient with Clarke's dilatory tactics, finally took matters into his own
hands. Persuading the English merchant, W.B. Lynslager, to loan him passage money
on the promise that Lynslager could bill the BMS for it in London, Bundy took
passage for England in January 1846. Next, Gallimore quit the Mission and Norman
gave notice he would leave his position at the school to work at the more lucrative
trade of a tailor.50 Emulating Bundy's example, in June, Gallimore obtained advance
passage money for England from Lynslager. During an angry altercation with Lynslager
over this matter, Clarke asked the merchant to stop interfering in Mission affairs and
warned that he would not get his money back, to which Lynslager retorted that in that
event he would "expose" the Mission in England. In this manner by June 1846 two
of the teachers and their families had left for England on their own accord, despite
BMS opposition; and in July, the Norman family also departed when Clarke managed
to arrange passage for him on a French vessel sailing via Guadaloupe.51 The problem
of returning the Ennis family and Mrs Duffis was resolved in November 1846 when
Hope Waddell, leader of the Scottish Presbyterian Mission at Old Calabar which was
also experimenting with Jamaican agents, returned to Jamaica for new recruits and
agreed to take the two Baptist families back with him.
Meanwhile, what had become of the Jamaican settlers? In contrast to the poor
relations between the missionaries and the coloured teachers, the settlers had exhibited
surprisingly little discontent and got along well with their sponsors during these trying
times. No complaints about the settlers appear in Mission records and all of them
willingly transferred to Bimbia in 1846. Why the better relations between the settlers
and the Europeans? As has been noted, unlike the coloureds who considered their
status and work demeaning and below their station (and who, it will be recalled, had
come to Africa convinced that their special qualities had prepared them for important
positions in the Mission), the settlers' much lower expectations were apparently
satisfied by their roles in the Mission. Since they came to Africa willing to practise
their trade and do manual labour as settlers, they were not disappointed. Perhaps the
reason for their greater success was again to be found in the Jamaican social system
which pushed coloureds to compete for white values and status; while blacks, secure
in their own cultural identity, escaped the dilemmas experienced by those finding
themselves in a halfway status between two races. If our theory that prevailing
prejudices in Jamaican society were transplanted to Africa has merit, then the above
assumption gains support from experience in Jamaica where white-black relations were
commonly known to be more amicable than white-coloured relations.52
The Jamaicans at Bimbia, 1844 1850
The adjacent Cameroons Coast, where Baptist interest next turned, had for centuries
experienced vigorous rivalry among various European merchants who traded with the
coastal tribes, first for slaves and ivory, and later for palm oil. By the mid-nineteenth
century British trade predominated in the Cameroons estuary. The Bantu speaking
Duala were the dominant tribe in the estuary, with the Bantu Isubu of nearby Bimbia,
a promontory located near the estuary mouth, second only to the Duala in commercial
importance. The Duala were divided into two collateral branches, headed by two para-
mount chiefs, Bell and Akwa; the Isubu were ruled by their paramount chief, William.
Jealousy between the chiefs and their lesser lineage heads resulted in almost continuous
trade competition and warfare among them. Warfare was also sporadically waged with
the interior tribes, who were the chief providers of foodstuffs and slaves to the non-
cultivating trading peoples of the coast. By the nineteenth century the Isubu and
Duala consisted of 2/3 slaves and 1/3 freemen, with the freemen using various
religious and secret societies as prime law enforcement bodies to control their society.
The sudden executions of slaves accused of witchcraft and eruptions of warfare over
trade disagreements were commonplace occurrences under these circumstances,
presenting a much more hostile environment to the Baptist missionaries than the one
they had left in Fernando Po.
Announcing in 1843 that his "heart is on the Continent", Joseph Merrick was first
to cross over to the adjacent coast to study local dialects and seek new mission sites.
He received invitations from both Akwa and Bell, but decided on a site offered by
William because of his conviction that Bimbia, a high promontory standing out from
the coast, would be the healthiest spot for the new settlement. Surprisingly, a friendly
relationship immediately developed between the Jamaican missionary and the Isubu
chief. This was surprising because during initial explorations of Bimbia in 1841 Clarke
and Prince had been told by William in no uncertain terms that their presence was
unwelcome there. Likewise, after soliciting William to accept missionaries in 1841,
the Niger Expedition had met with similar rebuffs.53 Part of the explanation for
William's change of heart by 1844 was the changing political and commercial climate
in the Cameroons. In 1841 William had still been involved in sporadic slave trade and
naturally feared that missionaries would interrupt his surreptitious activities. But by
1844 the British had signed a series of anti-slave trade treaties with the chiefs, whereby
for an annual subsidy the latter agreed to restrict their activities to legitimate trade.54
William's acceptance of Merrick in 1844, therefore, may have been due to his realiza-
tion that instead of being an impediment to trade, the presence of missionaries might
prove a catalyst bringing an increased inflow of the white man's trade goods to
Indeed, once the idea of having missionaries in their towns was accepted, the coastal
trading chiefs began to compete for having a white man in their service. After he
opened a new station in Duala during 1845, Saker was incessantly troubled with
jealousy among the chiefs who competed for his presence. Likewise at Bimbia, Chief
William inveterately summoned Merrick to show visiting dignitaries the "white man at
his command." 56 While this high prestige value of European missionaries enhanced
their influence among the mercantile coastal tribes, it unfortunately had the opposite
effect on the acceptability of non-white agents. For example, Duckett, who worked
with Merrick at Bimbia, was badly treated by the Isubu, "who had not learned to
respect him." And when in 1845 Chief Bell's permission was sought to open a station
in Duala with an African assistant from Clarence, Bell refused until a white man was
sent. Similarly rebuffed were two Clarence converts, "whom the natives did not
value", sent to Old Calabar in 1846. One year later the first Jamaican teacher intro-
duced by the Scottish Presbyterians at Old Calabar was rejected for not being "a
proper white man."57 Numerous similar negative responses to non-white agents
experienced by the Baptists convinced them that West Africans "have a respect for
whites which they do not feel for persons of their own colour." 58 Although this
initial rejection of Jamaican agents is not to be construed as an important factor in
their ultimate failure, it did help fuel growing missionary disappointment with Jamai-
Joseph Merrick was one Jamaican who was to prove an exception to this rule.
During the founding years of BMS efforts, his influence far surpassed that of the other
missionaries in the Cameroons. His apparent acceptance as a white missionary, coupled
with his language facility and discreet dealings with chiefs and commoners alike, were
important keys to his success. He carefully avoided exacerbating existing jealousies
between the chiefs; he acted as useful mediator between British and African officials;
and, by persuading the chiefs that it would not interfere with their trade and authority,
he opened the way for mission expansion into the interior.59 At least one European
observer became convinced that William's volatile character could be conciliated only
by "the mildness and suavity of Mr Merrick."60 Giving support to this assumption was
the indisputable fact that only during Merrick's short tenure (1844-1849) did the
BMS prove successful at Bimbia.
After his permanent move to Bimbia in 1844, Merrick spent much of his time
exploring surrounding territories and studying local Isubu dialects. He was assisted by
Duckett (as teacher), Alexander Fuller (as labourer), and several converts from
Clarence. In 1845 a printing press was provided for the publication of his voluminous
Isubu translations.61 The following year brought the expulsion from Fernando Po of
the remaining missionary staff who now founded a new settlement at Bimbia called
Jubilee. Unlike Clarence where they had lived in a relatively well established settle-
ment, Jubilee was their first effort to settle Jamaicans among indigenous Africans.
Emulating the typical Jamaican settlement pattern, Jubilee emerged consisting of two
parallel rows of houses, divided by a row of orange trees planted down the centre of a
straig tt street. The agricultural products brought from Jamaica, such as the breadfruit,
pear, mango, and a variety of vegetables were all transplanted from Fernando Po.
Clark and Merrick were elected co-pastors of the newly erected Jubilee Church.62
Unfortunately, these auspicious beginnings again proved short lived. By July 1846
nearly everyone was again down with fever and in early 1847 the inevitable deaths
followed: first, one of the European missionary wives died, followed by the Jamaican,
Alexander Fuller. During late 1846 discontent resurfaced among the fearful Jamaicans
and most of them demanded to go home.63 Too late the missionaries recognized that
the Bimbia promontory was, in reality, one of the unhealthiest spots on the coast. In
May 1847 the missionaries made a hard decision: Clarke was sent back to Jamaica in
the mission vessel accompanied by most of the Jamaican settlers and the last of the
teachers, Duckett, who was very ill. Only the Merricks, Trustys, Williamses, and
the two Fuller boys remained. The departure of most of the settlers at this time again
demonstrated that the debilitating effects of perpetual sickness and in some cases
death, caused the Jamaicans to simply flee for their lives from Africa.
Since the BMS had been the first to experiment with Jamaican agents in Africa, and
had done so on a relatively large scale, its apparent failure influenced two other mis-
sionary societies which appeared on the scene with similar objectives in 1846. Its most
immediate impact was on the Scottish United Presbyterian Mission at Old Calabar.
Like the Baptists, the Presbyterians had planned to send a colony of West Indian
Christians to serve as examples for Africans to emulate. It was assumed that West
Indians would survive better than whites and would eventually take sole charge of the
Mission.64 However, upon their arrival in 1846, Waddell and his party spent much
of their first year in Clarence and they were not long in drawing adverse conclusions
about the Jamaicans. Having been, like Prince and Clarke, a long time resident of
Jamaica, Waddell was especially prone to make snap judgments about them. At Old
Calabar he incessantly quarrelled with them about their qualifications for responsible
posts and he soon discovered that here, too, the chiefs reacted unfavourably to non-
white teachers.65 By the time he took two Jamaican families home for the BMS in
November 1846, his negative feelings were crystallizing:
This class of labourers have not all given the expected satisfaction. The greater part
have left to return to Jamaica by various routes. . This and other things make me
anxious about the sort of fellow-labourers that may be preparing for us in
It was a sign of the drastic reduction in expectations for the Jamaican role in the
Mission, that when Waddell returned with a handful of new recruits in 1847 he
designated them as simple domestics, artisans, and labourers, who were employed
for only limited periods of time.67 In effect the Jamaican native agency idea had
been dropped, and in the years to come Africans were trained to staff the required
native agent posts.
The influence of the BMS was even more obvious on the American Board of
Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1846. The American Board was considering the
use of Afro-Americans in its Gabon Mission and it interviewed Dr Prince on BMS
experiences. Unfortunately, Prince's disgust with West Indians had just reached its
height in reaction to the renewed outburst of discontent at Jubilee. This was demon-
strated by an unusually candid letter he wrote to a friend in late 1846 in which he
referred to them as "transplants" from the West Indies who had been "spots and
canker worms to the Society." Since they had "lamentably failed" as agents, he
concluded: "This hard learned lesson should check the Society's imaginative ardour
for Evangelizing Africa by her descendants."68 Based upon its interview with Prince,
the American Board published its predictably negative findings in 1847. It concluded
that the assumption that whites could be replaced by blacks was unfounded. While
individual blacks might render valuable service, the black churches of America and
the West Indies were not prepared to furnish mature agents. Under no condition
should the number of black agents be permitted to surpass the number of whites, or
else the blacks would become unmanageable. The old argument of New World Negro
immunity to African diseases was discredited, and the preference of Africans for
whites over blacks was reported. In completing its report, the Board advised the
training of assistants for its Mission from among local African converts.69
Despite the general disenchantment with the departed Jamaican agents in 1847, the
next two years turned out to be the period of greatest progress for the BMS at Bimbia.
The smaller sized staff was approximately commensurate with BMS ability to finance
the Mission. Moreover, the efficiency of the remaining seasoned and experienced staff
permitted Merrick to make rapid advances in his Isubu and Duala translations which
were put into print on the small printing press provided for that purpose. Three smaller
stations were opened, each with its own school at which Joseph Fuller and Trusty
were alternately posted as teachers. Attendance at Jubilee Church increased and many
learned to read and write the Isubu language for the first time. The volatile Chief
William proved more manageable than ever before, evidenced by his promulgation of
several laws preventing the persecution of converts by traditionalist opponents.70
Elated with the results of his labours, Merrick optimistically called for a new colony
of Jamaicans, "men of deep toned piety", to act as Christian examples in heathen
But Merrick's elation proved unfounded. An illness which had debilitated him in
1847 recurred in 1849, and while en route to seek medical aid in England he died at
sea. He was only thirty-one years of age. In his short years in Africa, his extensive
influence and his translation work proved him an outstanding example of what a
well prepared Jamaican missionary could accomplish there. While he lived, Merrick's
shining example had kept the Jamaican native agency idea alive, despite the terrible
attrition of other Jamaicans from the staff. But his death, combined with the departure
of Clarke, deprived the Mission of the last two promoters of the Jamaican experiment.
At the same time the costly move to Bimbia and the diminishing enthusiasm for the
Mission among Jamaican and English supporting institutions alike, had placed the BMS
into dire financial straits requiring retrenchment. Accordingly, in 1850 the European
missionary staff was cut and the Jamaican agency policy was dropped in favour of
indigenous African agents who were proving to be inexpensive and obedient
assistants.71 By 1851 the only Jamaican remaining on the staff was Joseph Fuller, who
was embarking on a long missionary career that was not to end until the Mission
closed its doors in 1887. He, like Merrick, was to demonstrate that Jamaican agency
could be highly successful in African work when given the proper preparation and
opportunities (Merrick had trained him at Bimbia during 1846-49). With a few
exceptions, other assistants after 1851 were recruited from among local Africans. The
Mission thereafter became progressively self-supporting and self-managing, with the
Baptist emphasis on African responsibility remaining its guiding principle until its
termination in the mid-1880's when the Germans occupied the Cameroons.
BELA VASSADY, Jr.
1. T.F. Buxton, The African Slave Trade and Its Remedy, (London, 1840). The first edition
of the book appeared in 1839.
2. Ibid., 492-7. Buxton was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response he received to his 1838
circular from the heads of missionary societies in Jamaica. He was told that even before his
circular arrived two large meetings had been held in Kingston to organize a society "for the
Evangelization of Africa, by means of native agency."
3. E.A. Payne, Freedom in Jamaica, (London, 1946); P. Curtin, Two Jamaicas, (N.Y., 1970),
4. lbid.,35, 114.
5. J.H. Hinton, Memoirs of William Knibb, (London, 1847), 257 ff; Payne, Freedom, 73-74;
Baptist Missionary Society Annual Report, (1838), 21, hereafter cited as B.M.S. Report;
Buxton, Slave Trade, 429-30, 497.
6. Hinton, Memoirs, 277 ff; Missionary Herald, (Aug. 1840) and (July 1840), hereafter cited as
M.H.; F.A. Cox, History of the Baptist Missionary Society, (London, 1842), II, 351-53.
7. B.M.S. Report, (1840), 29-30; Ibid., (1841), 33; Cox, History of the B.M.S., II, 354.
8. M.H., (Nov. 1840), 603-5; Ibid., (Sept. 1841), 466.
9. Baptist Magazine, (April 1850), 199, 202-3; J. Clarke, Memoir of Richard Merrick, (London,
10. B.M.S. Report, (1843), 1;M.H., (July 1843), 390-2, 135 ff.
11. B.M.S. Report, (1841), 34; Ibid., (1842), 29-30; M.H., (Sept. 1841), 467; Ibid., (Aug. 1843),
12. B.M.S. Report, (1843), 36. The Society was quoting James Douglas, Hints on Missions,
(Edinburgh, 1822), 47-8.
13. J.G. Schdn and S. Crowther, Journal of an Expedition Up the Niger in 1841, (London,
14. W. Allen and T.R.H. Thompson, A Narrative of the Expedition to the River Niger in 1841,
(London, 1848), II, 144.
15. J. Clarke, Journal, I, (Oct. 14, 1843), 35; Ibid., (Oct. 18, 1843), 39-40; Ibid., (Oct. 25,
1843), 54-55; Ibid., (Nov. 1, 1843), 61. Source: John Clarke, African Journal, (1843-46,
2 vols.), M.S. in B.M.S. Archives).
16. Clarke, Memoir, 53.
17. Clarke, Journals, 1, (Oct. 18, 1843), 40; Ibid., (Oct. 25, 1843), 54-56; Ibid., (Nov. 1, 1843),
71; Ibid., (Nov. 2, 1843), 62.
18. Jamaican society was very colour conscious. At the bottom of the social scale were the
blacks, at the top were the whites. In between these two extremes was a large array of
gradations dividing men socially and economically by the colour of their skin. The old
convention in the West Indies gave the child of the "fourth generation of union with a white
in successive generations" a legal right to rank with whites. The steps toward "whiteness"
were ranked as follows: mulatto, terceroon, quadroon, mustee, musteefino. The child of a
musteefino by a white had the right to be called "English, free of taint" or "white-by-law."
On Jamaican society and its caste system, see: Curtin, Two Jamaicas, 18, 23, 43-46, 240;
O. Patterson, The Sociology of Slavery, (London, 1967), 59-64; W. Jordan, "American
Chiaroscuro: The Status and Definition of Mulattoes in the British Colonies", William and
Mary Quarterly, XIX, No. 2, (April, 1962), 183-200; D. Lowenthal, "Race and Color in the
West Indies" in J.H. Franklin (ed.), Color and Race, (Boston, 1968), 302-348.
19. It was generally understood in Jamaica that coloureds shunned manual labour, considering
it the mark of Negro slavery, while blacks were accustomed to hard labour and were often
trained for a useful trade. See Curtin, Two Jamaicas, 43 and Patterson, Sociology of
Slavery, 64. In the case of the B.M.S. Jamaican recruits, all of the coloureds had been
teachers in Jamaica and the blacks were sawyers, carpenters, masons, etc. See sources quoted
in footnotes 15, 16, 17.
20. Curtin, Two Jamaicas, 24.
21. Ibid., 237, quoting Parliamentary Papers, 1831-32, XX (721), 567, 575; Patterson estimates
that an African population of 25% in 1789 had grown to 37% by 1817. Patterson, Sociology
of Slavery, 146; B.M.S. Report, (1843), 36-39, sets forth a detailed breakdown of the
membership of one Jamaican Baptist congregation by African tribes to demonstrate the
availability of African agents. See also M.H., (Aug. 1843), 435, which demonstrates that
West African tribesmen found in Jamaican churches have counterparts in Clarence,
Fernando Po, "so that we have in Jamaica or Clarence an agency prepared to our hands."
22. Clarke had misgivings about finding volunteers when he began his recruiting. Clarke, Journal,
I, (Oct. 14, 1843), 35. It took him three months of visiting Baptist churches in Jamaica to
gather recruits. See sources cited in footnotes 15 and 17.
23. J.J. Fuller, Recollections The West African Mission of the B.M.S., (n.d.), "Introduction",
11-12 (ms. in B.M.S. archives).
24. Ibid., 14-15.
25. Ibid., 14-16. Toward the end of the voyage misery became so intense, concluded Fuller, that
"... I cannot tell what would have been the result if we had only touched [land] at any
point before we reached our destination."
26. Clarke, Journal, I, (Dec. 28, 1843), 98-100; Ibid., (Jan. 18, 1844), 119.
27. Ibid., (Feb. 10, 1844), 134-316, 147-152.
28. However, none were ever sent to evangelize their own tribes. Since a venture along these
lines was successfully prosecuted by the CMS using a similar pool of repatriated slaves in
Freetown, one wonders if an opportunity was not missed here by the B.M.S. Clarke early
recognized the potential of Fernando Po for language study. In 1844 he published his
Specimens of Dialects: Short Vocabularies about Two Hundred African Languages. This
publication may have suggested to Koelle his own Polyglotta Africana, compiled a short
time later in Freetown.
29. Bundy and Norman especially complained about their inadequate accommodations, but all
of the Jamaicans became dissatisfied with being quartered on the people of Clarence. For
Norman and Bundy, see: Clarke, Journal, 1, (Feb. 16, 1844), 153-6; Ibid., (Feb. 23, 1844),
172; Ibid., (Apr. 11, 1844), 212-13. For dissatisfaction of whole group, see: J.J.. Fuller,
Fernando Po & Cameroons, (B.M.S., n.d.), 3-4, 6 (ms. in B.M.S. archives).
30. Clarke, Journal, I, (Feb. 26, 1844), 174-5; Fuller, Fernando Po and Cameroons, 6-7.
31. Ibid., 6; Clarke, Journal, I, (Mar. 3, 1844), 187-8; M.H., (July 1844), 374-5; Ibid., (Aug.
32. For Bundy, see: Clarke, Journal, I, (June 20, 1844), 236; Ibid., II, (Dec. 28, 1844); B.M.S.
Report, (1846), 34. Clarke was clearly skeptical about the legitimacy of Bundy's alleged ail-
ments: "He (Bundy) eats and drinks well, and walks about strongly." See Clarke, Journal,
II, (Dec. 2, 1845), 133.
33. Clarke, J( nal, 1, (Mar. 29, 1844), 198-9; Ibid., (Nov. 1, 1844), 307; Ibid., II, (Nov. 15,
1844), 29; aid., II, (Feb. 24, 1845), 121; Ibid., II, (Feb. 25, 1845), 123, 126-7; M.H.,
(Apr. 1845), 203-7.
34. Original plans had been to train Jamaican missionaries either in England or in the Baptist
Theological Institute, founded for that purpose by William Knibb in 1843 at Calabar
Jamaica. However, declining enthusiasm for the Mission and the Institute, combined with
the acute need for training pastors for Jamaica at the Institute, resulted in only one of its
graduates ever to go to Africa and that not until the 1860's.
35. Schon and Crowther, Journal, 63-5. Also see: Proceedings of the Church Missionary
Society, (1844), 4ff, but especially 41.
36. For observations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, see Allen and Thompson, Expedition, 1, 78,
89 and Ibid., II, 21. Several West Indians, Afro-Americans and liberated Africans were
employed by the Expeditionsto help superintend and run the experimental model farm
attempted on the Niger Expedition. These agents proved very uncooperative and difficult
to control. They demanded higher wages, abused the local African employees, perpetually
threatened to quit, were insubordinate and undisciplined all of which eventually contribu-
ted to the decision to abandon the project. See Ibid., 1, 76 and Ibid., II, 353-64.
37. Although not accepted as social equals by whites, in 1830 all free coloureds were legally
declared equal in civil and political rights without regard to racial origins. Thereafter, their
efforts to avoid identification with their slave plantation and African past were evident in
their occupational and social habits. They avoided manual agricultural labour, lived in urban
centres, and discriminated against blacks. See Curtin, Two Jamaicas, 43, 175.
38. Fuller, Fernando Po and Cameroons, 7-8.
39. See, for example, Clarke, Journal, 1, (June 27, 1844), 238 and Ibid., (July 10, 1844), 243.
Duckett was the only one of the teachers who did not demonstrate resentment over Clarke's
40. Ibid., (Mar. 18, 1844), 193; Ibid., (July 31, 1844), 257-8; Ibid., II, (Jan. 9, 1845), 114-15;
Ibid., (Apr. 1, 1845), 187-8; Ibid., (Sept. 6, 1845), 33. Throughout 1844-45 Clarke and
Sturgeon argued over who was to appoint Jamaican teachers to Clarence Day School and
Prince and Saker argued with Clarke over the opening of new stations without Clarke's
consent (note the similarity to arguments Clarke was having with the Jamaican teachers over
this same question). To avoid further infighting, in 1845 the missionaries were ordered to
select a superintendent from among their number. Clarke was selected by a majorityofone
vote, with Sturgeon, Prince, and Saker vehemently opposed. Thereafter, Prince and Saker
boycotted all staff meetings.
41. Unlike the settlers, who ranged in age from 35 to 60 years old and brought only a few older
children to Africa, the coloured teachers were all younger (24 to 33 years old), and three of
the coloured families were each accompanied by 3 to 4 small children. At least four of the
coloured children were less than one year old on arrival to Africa, and by 1845 three of the
youngsters had died. See Fuller, Fernando Po and Cameroons, 8;and Fuller, Recollections,
"Introduction", 15; For ages of family members, see sources quoted in footnotes 15 and 17.
42. Clarke's reproofs against their indebtedness only increased the teachers' hostility toward
him. See Clarke, Journal, I, (July 10, 1844), 243-4; Ibid., (Aug. 16, 1844), 265-6; Ibid.,
(Aug. 20, 1844), 266-7.
43. Fuller, Fernando Po and Cameroons, 7-8.
44. Clarke, Journal, 1, (June 27, 1844), 238; Ibid., (Aug. 16, 1844), 265-6; Ibid., II, (Dec. 7,
1844), 75; Ibid., I, (June 14, 1844), 228; Sch6n and Crowther, Journal, 63-65.
45. M.H., (American Board), Aug. 1847, 254.
46. M.H., (Jan. 1845), 47, quoting from a July 25, 1844 letter written by Clarke to the Home
47. Ibid., (Dec. 1845), 398; Clarke, Journal, II, (Mar. 6, 1845), 168. Dr Prince and his wife
both sent letters condemning the Jamaican experiment. Clarke's notation about Mrs Prince's
role in this affair inadvertently again revealed his own personal biases: "The sad legacy Mrs
P. has as a planter's daughter of delighting naturally in talking against black people is one
reason why she has so recklessly done so." See Ibid., II, (Apr. 24, 1845), 211.
48. Clarke, Journal, II, (Apr. 21, 1845); Ibid., (Apr. 23, 1845). Clarke's letter of April 28, 1845,
appeared in M.H., (Aug. 1845), 430: "All seem to feel that they have a work of the greatest
importance in hand; and are expected by God and by man to act diligently and devotedly.
All appear to have confidence in me as their friend; and although they are often in straits for
my lack of cash, they murmur not they take what we can give them, and we all unite in
meeting difficulties as we best can."
49. Clarke, Journal, III, (Jan. 6, 1846), 158; Ibid., (Jan. 22, 1846), 166-7; Ibid., (Mar. 27,
50. The reasons for not sending them via England are discussed in Ibid., III, (May 18, 1846),
245-7. For Bundy's departure, see: Ibid., (Mar. 22, 1846), 215-16. The very spiteful argu-
ments and accusations exchanged between Clarke and the teachers during these last weeks
before the Jamaicans' departure are described in Ibid., III, (May 16, 1846), 243: Ibid.,
(May 18, 1846), 245-7; and Ibid., (May 23, 1846), 247-8.
51. I or Norman's and Gallimore's departure, see Clarke, Journal, III, (July 15, 1846), 220.
Lynslager's bills drawn on the B.M.S. for the Jamaicans' passage were later rejected by the
Society. Lynslager apparently had a penchant for supporting dissident Jamaicans. In 1848
he employed a Jamaican fired by the United Presbyterian Calabar Mission and supported
him in his battle to get his back pay from the Mission in 1849. See Waddell, Journal,
(Dec. 22, 1849). In later years, Lynslager acted as British Vice Consul under Beecroft, and
was appointed Acting Consul upon the latter's death in 1854.
52. Curtin, Two Jamaicas, 157.
53. M.H., (Nov. 1841), 578; Baptist Magazine, (May 1850), 266; Allen and Thompson,
Expedition, II, 292.
54. 10 84/493 Canning to Admiralty, Oct. 3, 1843; FO 84/755 Beecroft to Palmerston,
July 16, 1849; M.H., (July 1844), 374. For an excellent survey of the changing commercial
relations in the Cameroons at this time, see: K.O. Dike, Trade and Politics in the Niger
Delta, (Oxford, 1956).
55. In 1842 it was reported that William "prided himself on his connexion with the white man,
and the multitude of good things he possessed from their country." Allen and Thompson,
Expedition, 11, 229, 296.
56. Emily M. Saker, Alfred Saker, (London, 1929), 91-3; Baptist Magazine, (May 1850), 268.
Merrick's light complexion apparently made him indistinguishable from white men. The
Isubu boasted of the "white man" who lived among them and had learned their language.
M.H., (July 1848), 242.
57. Ior Duckett's troubles, see: Clarke, Journal, III, (Dec. 7, 1845), 137-8; M.H., (Sept. 1844),
486; Ibid., (May 1845), 265. For Bell's reaction, see: Clarke, Journal, III, (June 30, 1845),
277. For lyo's rejection of B.M.S. converts, see: Ibid., (Apr. 3, 1846), 17; Ibid., (Oct. 16,
1846), 321-2. One year earlier when Clarke first visited King Eyo of Creek Town, Old Cala-
bar, the wily old chief had made it clear that he preferred whites, because "white man can
do what black man never do." Ibid., (Oct. 15, 1845), 78-9. For Eyo's rejection of the United
Presbyterian agent, see: Hope Waddell, Journal of the Calabar Mission, I, (May 11, 1864)
and Ibid., (June 11, 1846). As late as 1876 a B.M.S. missionary in Duala was compelled to
replace a black teacher because a "disregard for the services of a coloured teacher has
become manifest" and the church members "are ambitious .. to obtain a white man."
Grenfell to Baynes, Cameroons, July 24, 1876.
58. M.H, (American Board of Commissioners), Aug. 1847, 254.
59. M.H., (July 1848), 442; Clarke, Memoir, 80; FO 84/755 Beecroft to Palmerston, July 16,
60. Clarke, Journal, II, (June 30, 1846), 273, 285; Clarke, Memoir, 80.
61. By 1848 Merrick had translated selections of the Old and New Testaments and severe hymn
books and catechisms. He had also prepared a variety of dictionaries, primers and vocabula-
ries which he planned to send to Jamaica for the training of new agents. See M.H., (Aug.
1847), 528 and Ibid., (Mar. 1849), 182. As late as the end of the 19th century his works
were still reported the only published authority in the language.
62. Fuller, Recollections, B2; Fuller, Autobiography, II; M.H., (Jan. 1847), 10, 54.
63. Clarke, Journal, III, (Nov. 14, 1846), 331-2. Clarke reported that Prince, who at this time
resumed writing letters denigrating the Jamaicans, had again fallen under the influence of
the misguidancee of his wife, a prejudiced woman."
64. Hope Waddell, Twenty-nine Years in the West Indies and Central Africa, (London, 1863),
208-11, 665; Missionary Record of the United Secession Church, (Jan. 1846), 3, 6-7.
65. For example, in 1846 Waddell cautioned a colleague that West Indians were "puffed up with
ideas of their own ability and importance." Waddell, Journal, I, (Feb. 27, 1846), and
(Mar. 6, 1840). For the negative reactions of Old Calabar chiefs to Jamaican teachers, see:
Ibid., (May 11, 1846) and (June 11, 1846).
66. United Presbyterian Church Missionary Record, (May 1847), 74-5.
67. Waddell, Twenty-nine Years, 301-2.
68. Prince to J. Wenger, Nov. 1846, Fernando Po, (B.M.S. archives).
69. M.H., (American Board of Commissioners), Aug. 1847, 253-55.
70. M.H., (Aug. 1848), 508; Ibid., (Mar. 1849), 182-3; Ibid., (Oct. 1849), 657-60. All who
professed conversion or sought aid were protected by the Mission. Since these were often
people who were either accused of witchcraft or had broken traditional laws, this practice
naturally engendered the enmity of the traditional authorities toward the Mission.
71. Alfred Saker, one of the first to question the efficacy of Jamaican agency, began a small
station during 1845 in Duala relying solely on local African assistance. He trained the Afri-
cans in various trades and indirectly produced a loyal contingent of evangelists for missionary
work. Not only did the Africans prove to be effective teachers, but they were also obedient
to authority and became self-supporting. Thus, when during the 1850 retrenchment period
the B.M.S. sanctioned "the principle of sustaining the mission by native agents", it was refer-
ring to local Africans, not Jamaicans. Saker's Cameroons station became new headquarters
for the Mission and, since Chief William withdrew his support when J. Fuller took charge of
Jubilee after Merrick's death (perhaps again demonstrating that Jamaicans lacked sufficient
status to gain the acceptance of coastal chiefs), the station at Bimbia was discontinued.
RACE, CLASS, AND DEVELOPMENT IN BARBADOS
One of the most interesting changes which has occurred in the English-speaking
Caribbean over the past two decades has been the emergence of a number of sovereign
states. The British government granted political independence to Jamaica and Trinidad
and Tobago in 1962, to Guyana and Barbados in 1966, to the Bahamas in 1973 and to
Grenada in 1974. This wind of political independence has not ceased to blow
over the region, as Dominica and St. Lucia have also joined the ranks of the
independent nations in 1978 and 1979 respectively. Implicit in this drive for
political independence in the English-speaking Caribbean, as in other parts of the
Third World, has been the assumption that the attainment of political independence
would somehow lead to national and regional development.
"Development" is not confined to the promotion of economic growth. It also
entails a struggle for social justice through the realization of the individual and social
aspirations and expectations of historically under-privileged segments of given popula-
tions. The English-speaking Caribbean is a region which has been traditionally ruled by
white oligarchies who distributed power, privilege, and prestige on the basis of grada-
tions in skin colour, and who regarded first the Negro slaves, and later the East Indian
indentured servants, as little more than chattel. To the latter groups, therefore,
independence and development signify more than the right to have national flags and
anthems, or other superficial expressions of sovereignty. As Lewis 2 has observed, a
profound metamorphosis of social structure and social attitudes is required if the
development process in the region is to be accelerated.
There can be little doubt that the extent to which it will be possible to accelerate
the development of the English-speaking Caribbean will be partly determined by how
the leaders of these countries approach the so-called New International Economic
Order. Dependence on loans, investments, markets and protection all foreign has
functioned to make countries in the region very vulnerable to outside forces, such as
the transnational corporation. 3 But while the decision-makers in this part of the world,
like those in other parts of the Third World, need to expose the injustice at the
international level, they must, at the same time, eliminate the inequalities and injusti-
ces in their own countries, irrespective of what is taking place at the international
level.4 It is on this latter consideration that I will be concentrating in this brief article.
For illustrative purposes, I will be dealing with the distribution of occupational
opportunities among the three numerically major racial groups in Barbados. The three
groups under examination are Negroes, Whites, and Coloureds (mixed White and
Negro). The decision to emphasize the distribution of occupational opportunities is
based on the assumption that occupation is the best single index of class position. A
person's occupation will reflect his education, values, and previous personal associates,
and will influence his current personal associates, income, job security, working
conditions, the wealth he can accumulate, and his life style.5 In turn, the manner in
which class relations are tackled helps to determine the nature of the development
process in any social order.
Some Historical Observations
The relationship between race, occupational inequality, and development cannot
be meaningfully understood or handled unless it is examined within its historical
context. To begin with, we may note that Barbados was the first British West Indian
Colony to transform its social structure from a small-holder, semi-subsistence base, to
a slave-plantation, near monoculture regime which was dominated by a class of
wealthy, white, sugar planters.6 The basic social formula under the Barbadian slave
regime consisted in a small cadre of white masters driving an army of Negro slaves, a
formula which has influenced three centuries of Barbadian history, and which has only
been slightly modified in most of the English-speaking Caribbean up to this day.7 I
will elaborate on this.
As soon as the Negro slaves became "full free" in the British West Indies in 1838,
the ex-slaves almost everywhere had nothing to do with the plantations. In the oldest
established of these colonies, namely Barbados and St. Kitts, the plantocracy hardly
faced a shortage of labour after Emancipation, since little land was available for the
emergence of an independent peasantry. Production was fairly well maintained in
such colonies through the use of Negro labour. However, in those territories where
land was available, and given the sugar industry's need for a cheap, constant, abundant
supply of labour for maximum profits to be realized, both the planters and the
metropolitan government agreed on Asian immigration as the solution to the labour
problem.9 Of these Asian immigrants, nearly half-million Indians arrived in the period
1838-1917, while a considerably smaller number of Chinese came between the years
1852 and 1893.10 Barbados was the only British West Indian Colony which did not
participate in the programme of Asian immigration.11 In territories such as British
Guiana and Trinidad, Asian immigration led to the emergence of a group of Indian
peasant proprietors who ended up competing with the European landowners.12 In
Barbados which received no Asian immigrants, the white population continued, almost
unchecked, to use the coloureds as a valuable buffer against the Negro masses.13
In Barbados, as elsewhere in the Caribbean, the introduction of the Negro into a
region where an efficient, adaptable, and inhuman form of forced labour provided the
underpinnings of a plantocratic, exploitative, form of social organization,14 was
contradicted by the pervasiveness of concubinage and the consequent appearance of a
"hybrid race of mixed bloods." This racial group, the coloureds, completely identified
with "whiteness", regarded itself as culturally, socially, and phenotypically separate
from the Negroes, was provided with opportunities for occupational and educational
advancement by the whites, and helped to aggravate the already existing economic and
social divisions. 15 It is considerations such as this which makes it imperative to exa-
mine the occupational gains made by Barbadian Negroes not only in absolute, but also
in relative, terms. In the next section, I will be examining occupational data for the
decade 1960-1970, the most recent period of which standardized and comparable
data are available on the subject in Barbados.
Occupational Inequality in Barbados
In 1970, the population of Barbados had only increased by 1% from 232,327
people in 1960. During this period, the labour force, that is, those people who were
actively seeking jobs as well as those who were working, declined from 92,000 to
90,000. The decline in the labour force apparently resulted from a fall in the average
participation rate. For the population aged 15 years and over, the participation rate
fell by 5 points from 65% in 1960, and even though there was an increase of 5,000
persons in the 15-20 age group, the representation of the latter age group in the
labour force increased by a mere 400 people. 17 The 9% decline in the participation
rate of the 15-20 age group probably resulted from youths continuing to attend
school, rather than seeking employment in an economy characterized by a chronically
high level of unemployment, especially for individuals under the age of 25.18 I will
have more to say on this question of education and employment later. For the present,
let us have a brief look at the general distribution of the working population, for
which data are provided in Table 1.19
In those occupations with the highest prestige, namely, professional, technical,
administrative, executive, managerial, and related jobs, a relatively small number of
people had employment during the decade under review. The number of administra-
tors, executives, and managers decreased from 3% to a miniscule 1%, while there was
an increase in the number of professionals and technicians, from 5% to 9%. In the less
prestigious white-collar jobs, there were no changes of any phenomenal importance.
The number of clerks rose from 5% to 10%, while the number of salespeople remained
between 9% and 11%. The vast majority of the working population, predictably, was
in agriculture, crafts, production process and service work all forms of manual
labour. Because of the absence of comparable data, by racial origin, for the entire
occupational system, I will now focus on the racial distribution of the white-collar
occupations. But first, a word on the numerical composition of the three racial groups.
The white population has been larger than elsewhere in the English-speaking
Caribbean, although throughout the region the number of whites has steadily
decreased over the past century.20 The data in Table 2 show that over the decade
Negroes comprised the overwhelming majority of the population. Neither the white
nor the coloured group accounted for more than 6% of the population in 1960, and
each of these groups constituted 4% of the population in 1970. If we are to say that
equality of occupational opportunity exists for these racial groups, we would at least
expect the distribution of occupational opportunities to reflect these proportions in
the racial distribution of the population.
OCCUPATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE WORKING POPULATION
BY MAJOR OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORY, BARBADOS
1960, 1967, AND 1970
1960 1967 1970
Occupational Category % % %
Professional, Technical and Related 5.2 8.0 9.3
Administrative, Executive and Managerial 3.1 2.7 1.2
Clerical 4.6 10.4 9.8
Sales 10.8 9.2 9.8
Farmers and Fishermen 25.3 21.3 15.3
Quarrymen (including Refining) 7.8 8.2 1.3
Workers in Transport and Communication
Production and Process Workers 20.6 22.3 25.2
Service Workers (Textiles) 19.9 17.9 21.4
Labourers (not elsewhere classified) 0.7 4.2
Members of Armed Forces
Other Agricultural Workers (not elsewhere
classified) 0.2 1.3
Not Stated 1.3
Other Non-manual Workers
Semi-skilled Workers 2.0
Total 100. 100. 100.
85040 76500 83981
When Table 3 is examined in the context of Table 2, several things immediately
become apparent. To begin with, in the less prestigious white-collar occupations such
as sales and clerical work, there was a tendency for Negroes to be under-represented,
and for whites and coloureds to be over-represented. On the face of it, the 27%
increase in Negro representation in clerical jobs was impressive, especially since there
was a marked decrease in the number of whites and coloureds in such occupations.
This pattern did not hold, however, in sales jobs, where there was actually a decrease
in Negro representation, from 83% to 77%.
POPULATION BY RACIAL ORIGIN, BARBADOS
1946, 1960, 1970 (PERCENTAGES)
As one moves up the occupational scale, the situation is even more interesting. It is
apparent that over the decade Negroes almost attained proportional representation in
professional and technical occupations. The 17% increase in the number of jobs which
belonged to Negroes was accompanied by a notable 13% reduction for whites and a
less conspicuous 4% for coloureds. Significantly, however, while whites had only 2%
of the professional and technical jobs in 1970, their representation as administrators,
executives, and managers jumped from 22% in 1960 to a striking 51% in 1970!
Simultaneously with the apparent white exodus from the professional and technical
arena to greener pastures, the number of Negro administrators, executives, and
managers plummeted from 65% to 31%, that is, more than a 50% reduction.
No necessary inference can be made from these data that the racial distribution of
occupational opportunities in Barbados is the same in 1978 as it was in 1970. The
data do allow us, however, to make two general observations. In the first place, it may
be said with some confidence that while Barbadian Negroes have made substantial
occupational progress in absolute terms, their relative progress has been much less
impressive. It is true, for instance, that Negroes have almost achieved proportional
representation in professional and technical jobs. But this degree of upward mobility
has been contradicted by a reversal in Negro representation in jobs at the very apex of
the occupational structure where whites, in particular, have consolidated their hold.
The second point which may be made is that the conventional wisdom on the
distribution of economic opportunities in Barbados is highly questionable. That
wisdom, embodied in a work of Barbados' leading historian, F.A. Hoyos,23 holds that
up to the year 1940 Barbados was a plantocracy governed economically, politically,
and socially by whites, but that from that year Grantley Adams launched an "assault
on the oligarchy" which changed the island "beyond recognition." The evidence I
have presented, however, tends to reinforce the observation of George Cumper 24 that
Racial Group 1946 1960 1970
Negro or black 77.3 89.1 91.5
White 5.1 4.3 4.0
Coloured 17.6 6.0 4.0
Other and Non Stated 0.0 0.2 0.5
Total 100 99.6 100
192,800 232,333 235,229
DISTRIBUTION OF WHITE-COLLAR OCCUPATIONS
BY RACIAL ORIGIN IN 1960 AND 1970
Total RACI AL ORIGIN
Occupational White-Collar Negro White Coloured Other Total Total
Group 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 % %
60 70 60 70 60 70 60 70 1960 1970
No. No. PERCENTAGES
Technical 4323 4248 73 90 15 2 11 7 1 1 100 100
Executive and 2670 1046 65 31 22 51 11 12 2 6 100 100
Clerical 3761 3289 52 79 27 10 20 10 1 1 100 100
Sales 8338 3510 83 77 7 11 9 8 1 4 100 100
in the post 1945 era the Barbadian occupational structure exhibited a strong tendency
toward inter-generational rigidity among the white-collar, skilled and unskilled groups,
with a strong resemblance to the relatively rigid social stratification which traditionally
existed in the island.
Indeed, it may be noted that the major changes which occurred in Barbados and the
other British West Indian Colonies between 1920 and 1960 were political, rather than
economic. In that era, the British government was apparently engaged in a systematic
attempt to correlate constitutional development with social change in its West Indian
colonies, and to grant political concessions when a particular colony seemed "ripe"
for such an advance.25 In such a highly favourable political climate, Grantley Adams
and his union-based Barbados Labour Party (BLP) were able to put a formal end to the
historic domination of Barbadian political life by the white political class in the elec-
tions of 1951, when they defeated the reactionary Electors' Association.26 The so-
called "assault on the oligarchy" nonetheless left the key positions in the occupational
structure in the hands of the white population, a factor which helped to contribute to
the supplanting of the BLP by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in the elections
Education for Social Change?
Of course, it is one thing to show that the racial distribution of occupational
opportunities still favoured the historically privileged groups to the year 1970. The
picture would be incomplete, however, if we were to concentrate on system mainten-
ance, without attempting to explain the quantitative and absolute changes which have
in fact occurred. I have already mentioned the emergence of Negro political leadership,
particularly after 1951. Another vital consideration is the considerable expansion of
educational opportunities which took place after the Barrow administration came to
power in 1961.
At the end of World War II, in Barbados and throughout the English-speaking
Caribbean, the rate of illiteracy was a function of skin-colour, and the distribution of
educational opportunities reflected an occupational distribution which was also based
on skin-colour.28 When the DLP came to power in Barbados in 1961, it castigated the
educational system for being "backward", and stated that the elimination of that
shortcoming was necessary for the promotion of social and economic development, as
well as for Barbados to "keep pace" with other progressive nations.29 Today, Barbados
has one of the lowest illiteracy rates in the Caribbean, and one of the most highly
developed educational systems, even though, until recently, such development has
been mainly focused on primary education.30
As can be seen from Table 4,31 there was a notable rise in the relative index of
secondary and tertiary enrolment vis-a-vis primary education in the period 1960 to
1969. During that period, there was a relative increase from 34.6% to 67% in the area
of secondary education, while the index for higher education increased from 0.02% to
0.1%. At the secondary level, enrolment multiplied by 2.5 between 1960 and 1968,
especially in the technical area, where the enrolment rate quadrupled.32 There was
also a sizeable increase in the percentage of students in the fourth and fifth years of
secondary general between 1962 and 1968, from 15% to 22%.33 At the tertiary level,
and specifically at the University of the West Indies, enrolment of Barbadian students
rose from 165 in 1959 to 645 in 1969 and 831 in 1973.34 Seventy-nine percent of the
1969 students were enrolled in the Humanities, Education or Fine Arts.3 Of course,
it goes without saying that the educational "explosion" which occurred after 1960 was
facilitated by the considerably increased governmental capital and current expenditure
In Barbados, as indeed throughout the region, the possession of prestigious
secondary school certificates is a key requirement for entry into the white-collar
occupations. Thus, given the expansion in secondary school enrolment just noted, it is
important to provide an indication of the number of secondary school graduates who,
with their overseas certificates, may have been looking for employment in the decade
under review. From various official documents,37 we know that of the 1,183 candi-
dates in the 1961 "0" level examinations, about half were successful as against 40% of
the 1,899 candidates in 1970, while in the "A" level examinations, 52% of the 148
candidates passed in 1961, as compared with 42% of the 313 candidates in 1970. The
successful candidates who entered the labour force immediately after leaving school,
or who did so after obtaining higher education, would have eschewed manual labour,
given the social stigma which has been historically attached to this kind of work in the
region. It is in this context that we can appreciate the increase in upward social
mobility observed in the preceding section of this article.
BARBADOS DEVELOPMENT AND TRENDS OF
ENROLMENT GROWTH, 1960-1969
Enrolment Relative Enrolment Relative
Index (thousands) Index (thousands) Growth Rate
Levels Primary = 100 Primary = 100 1960-69
Primary 42.8 100 40.3 100 0.71
Secondary 14.8 34.6 27.0 67.0 6.9
Higher 0.1 0.02 0.6 0.1 22.0
Total 57.7 67.9 1.2
The Barrow administration, which led Barbados to independence in 1966, was sup-
planted by the DLP in the elections of September of 1976 after 15 years in office.
During the DLP regime, Barbadians witnessed a period of educational expansion, and
absolute occupational gains for Negroes. They also saw the white population
strengthen its grip on the key positions in the occupational structure. It may be too
early at this stage to arrive at a defensible assessment of the direction in which the
present Government is likely to take the country along the road to development, but
there can be little doubt that far-reaching measures will be necessary to open up the
key occupational positions proportionally to all segments of the Barbadian population.
While the Barbadian racial-class structure has undergone some modification over the
years, the historical roots of this brake on development have not been tackled in any
To be sure, the present Government, whatever its motivation, would seem to be
aware that the political decision making process in the region may be entering an era of
new accountability. Perhaps this explains why the BLP has set up a commission to
review the financial dealings of the ousted DLP. It may very well come to pass that
the BLP may be likewise placed on the scales when it fails to win an election. In any
event, there are several reasons to think that unless problems such as the one examined
in this article are given serious attention, the political situation in Barbados may enter
a less tranquil phase in the near future.
To begin with, while educational expansion may function as a safety-valve
mechanism in an economic system characterized by quantitative and piecemeal change,
such expansion also has the potential to bring about considerable stress and strain in
the political system. It is instructive to note that ex-Prime Minister Errol Barrow, in a
post-mortem observation on the 1976 elections, opined that one of the major reasons
for the downfall of his administration was the fact that increasing unemployment
among secondary-school graduates caused them to take the side of the BLP. Should
this condition of "educated unemployment" continue to get worse, the political
situation could very well become less stable.
Again, although the Williams administration in Trinidad and Tobago was able to
weather the 1970 crisis, there is no guarantee that Barbados will be able to insulate
itself from the political conflict which has hit other independent Caribbean states,
such as Jamaica and Guyana. Indeed, there are initial indications that in the elections
of 1981, the BLP may have to contend with a re-organized DLP with a more radical
political philosophy. While, as has been pointed out in a local newspaper,38 there
was nothing in the DLP's term of office to suggest that fundamental change was
a part of its philosophy, the ex-government's new platform performers are now calling
for fundamental change, and would seem to be hinting that they will be taking a
position to the left of the ruling BLP. It remains for these murmurings of disenchant-
ment to be translated into clear statements of policy.
1. Joseph Ragatz, The Fall of the Planters Class in the British Caribbean 1763-1833, (New
York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1963), p. 3.
2. Gordon K. Lewis, The Growth of the Modern West Indies, (New York and London:
Monthly Review Press, 1968), pp. 387-388.
3. Roland I. Perusse, "Introduction: Caribbean Dependency Patterns", Revista Interamericana
6:1 (Spring, 1976), p. 5.
4. "The Third World and the New International Economic Order", Third World Outlook 1:1
(October, 1977), p. 4.
5. Earl Hopper (ed.), Readings in the Theory of Educational Systems, (London Hutchinson
and Co. Ltd., 1971), p. 16.
6. Richard B. Sheridan, Sugar and Slavery, (St. Lawrence, Barbados: Caribbean University
Press, 1974), p. 124.
7. Richard S. Dunn, Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies
1624-1763, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1972), p. 335.
8. P.M. Sherlock, A Short History of the West Indies, (London: MacMillan and Co., 1963),
9. Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean 1492-1969,
(London: Andre Deutsch Ltd., 1970), pp. 349-350.
11. Ibid., p. 350.
13. E. Franklin Frazier, "Race Relations in the Caribbean", The Economic Future of the
Caribbean, E.F. Frazier and E.E. Williams (eds.) (Washington, D.C.: Howard University
Press, 1944), p. 29.
14. Ibid., pp. 28-31.
15. P.M. Sherlock, "The Development of the Middle Class in the Caribbean", The Development
of a Middle Class in Tropical and Sub-Tropical Areas, (Brussels: International Institute of
Differing Civilizations, 1956), p. 325; Ragatz, op. cit., pp. 29-33.
16. Barbados Development Plan 1973-77, (Bridgetown: Ministry of Finance and Planning, 1973),
17. Ibid., p. 1-5.
18. Ibid. In Barbados, unemployment as a percentage of the labour force was estimated at 16%
for 1960 and 13-15% for 1970. See Appendix Table D in UN and National Statistics cited in
David Powell, Problems of Economic Development in the Caribbean, (London: British-
North America Committee, 1973), p. 23.
19. Ibid., p. 1-29.
20. K.H. Straw, "Some Preliminary Results of a Survey of Income and Consumption Patterns in
a Sample of Households in Barbados", Social and Economic Studies 1:4 (August, 1953), p. 6.
21. See George Cumper, The Social Structure of the British Caribbean Part II (Kingston,
Jamaica: University College of the West Indies, n.d.) pp. 25-27; Demographic Yearbook,
(New York: United Nations, 1963) p. 311; Commonwealth Caribbean Population Census:
Barbados Preliminary Bulletin, Population, (St. Michael, Barbados: Barbados Statistical
Service, July, 1973), p. 5.
22. Computed from Eastern Caribbean Population Census: Vol. III Barbados, (Port-of-Spain:
Central Statistical Office, April, 1960), Tables 8-1, 8-2, 8-9, 8-10; Unpublished "Tabulation
of 1970 Census Data", (Garrison, St. Michael: Barbados Statistical Service, September,
23. F.A. Hoyos, Grantley Adams and the Social Revolution, (London: MacMillan Education
Ltd., 1974), pp. 46, 53, 246, 247.
24. George Cumper, "Employment and Unemployment in the West Indies", The Economy of
the West Indies, George Cumper (ed.), Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Social and Economic
Research, University College of the West Indies, 1960), pp. 176-177.
25. Jesse H. Proctor, Jr., "British West Indian Society and Government in Transition 1920-
1960", Social and Economic Studies 11:4 (1962), p. 274.
26. Morley Ayearst, The British West Indies: The Search for Self-Government, (London: George
Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1962), p. 60.
27. Lewis, op, cit., p. 248.
28. P.M. Sherlock, The West Indies, (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1966), p. 130.
29. Government of Barbados, Development Plan 1962-1965 (Bridgetown: Government Print-
ing Office, 1962), pp. 1, 8.
30. Donald A. Lemke, "Education in the English Speaking Caribbean", Draft paper prepared for
the Unesco Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Santiago de Chile, June,
1975, p. 10.
31. Unesco/minesla/Ref/2, and Unesco/Statistical Yearbook, 1971, cited in Lemke, op. cit.,
32. Lemke, op, cit., p. 19.
33. Ibid., p. 18.
34. Ibid., p. 19.
36. In the decade 1962-72, public expenditure on education as a percentage of the total capital
expenditure rose from 4% to 8%, while that as a percentage of the total current expenditure
moved from 20% to 24%. See Barbados Development Plan 1973-77, op. cit., pp. 1-33.
37. See Department of Education Report, 1961, p. 13; Digest of Education Statistics, 1966:
Tables El, E3, and 1968: Tables El, E3; Ministry of Education Reports, 1969: p. 24; 1971:
pp. 22-23; 1972: p. 32; 1974: p. 24.
38. The Nation, Friday, December 23, 1977, p. 4.
STEREOTYPES OF NEGROES AND EAST INDIANS IN TRINIDAD:
Observers of Caribbean societies have often contributed to the perpetuation of
certain stereotypes regarding Negroes and East Indians. It has been acknowledged that
middle-class Negroes, for example, have become acculturated to the values of Whites
and have adopted standards that are not familiar to their poorer counterparts.' Lower-
class Negroes, on the other hand, have frequently been portrayed as contented with
the present, as emphasizing immediate satisfactions, as preoccupied With solving
immediate problems of existence, as lacking in ambition and as being generally
deficient in terms of many attributes widely regarded at least in modern industrial
societies as essential for high achievement or success." As early as 1892, Froude
suggested that the Negro peasantry was generally happy and contented with its lot
since food was easily available, little clothing was required and a simple shelter was
adequate.2 Regarding Negroes in Trinidad, for instance, Froude wrote:
Here are the cabins of the black peasantry with their cocoa and coffee and orange
plantations, which, as in Grenada, they hold largely as freeholds, reproducing as far
as possible the life in Paradise of our first parents, without the consciousness of a
want which they are unable to gratify, not compelled to work, for the earth of her
owen self bears for them all that they need.. .3
More recently, lower-class Negroes have been described as "oriented to the present",4
as "interested in constant fete" and unwilling to "give a thought to the morrow",5 as
unable to plan and save for the future, 6 as being "too interested in feting: dancing,
Carnival and expensive clothes", as being overly concerned with short-term financial
rewards8 and as having a strong preoccupation with the problems of immediate
East Indians, however, have generally been depicted as possessing traits likely to
assist them in achieving "success." East Indians at least in Trinidad are said to be
"willing to save and plan and work toward a distant goal",10 to be interested in saving
for the future, 11 to be inclined "to place a strong emphasis on education as a means
of social advancement"12 and to possess a "striving orientation."l3
In a more recent study, Rubin and Zavalloni report that readiness to defer gratifica-
tion and make sacrifices in the pursuit of long-term goals is shown in Trinidad by both
Negro and East Indian lower-class youths "with consistent regularity." 14 In general,
however, little systematic empirical evidence appears to be available regarding how far
the traditional stereotypes of Negroes and East Indians in the Caribbean are justified.
The present study is intended to shed some light on this question, at least in relation
to youths in Trinidad society.
It is argued in this investigation that, given the present social structure of Trinidad,
the social-class background of Negro and East Indian youths in that society is not
related to the youths' perception of occupational opportunity and to their quest for
"success." It is suggested, in other words, that while there may be some justification
for the customary stereotypes regarding certain groups particularly middle-class
Negroes and East Indians generally there might be somewhat less basis for maintain-
ing the usual stereotype of lower-class Negroes.
Coulson and Riddell suggest that "the explanation of the social phenomena, or
part, or individual in a society should be sought first in the way that society is
organized as a whole, in its principles of organization."15 The structure of the society
influences the way people perceive the social situation in which they live as well as the
nature of the values which they hold. If the social structure changes, people's percep-
tion of the social situation as well as their values are likely to change accordingly. As
Coulson and Riddell observe, "potentialities for action and development in many
directions are available to individuals, once appropriate structural opportunities are
In other words, a society may be organized in such a way that certain individuals or
groups tend to perceive that they have relatively limited chances of achieving "success"
in it. They may consequently tend not to emphasize "success" and not to strive for it.
If the structure of the society changes appropriately, however, such individuals or
groups may come to perceive the social situation differently and may begin to strive
There is evidence that in the United States 17 and Canada, 18 as in many other
societies, members of lower social-class groups tend to be less ambitious in terms of
occupational plans, for instance than their counterparts of higher social-class back-
ground. In the United States, for example, a positive relationship between social class
and ambition occurs among both White and Negro youths19 and is evident at all levels
of measured intelligence.2 One factor apparently contributing to the occurrence of
such a phenomenon is the existence of "important class differences in perception of
opportunity", middle-class youths tending to have more favourable perceptions than
lower-class youths of the accessibility of the more prestigious occupations. 21 In the
case of Trinidad, however, it is possible that recent changes in social structure might
have helped to generate favourable perceptions of opportunity at all social-class levels.
The result might well be that among youths for example, students enrolled in public
secondary schools there are no significant social-class differences in ambition or the
quest for "success", no matter what the situation might have been in earlier times.
The Social Structure of Trinidad: Selected Aspects
One of the main changes which has taken place in the structure of Trinidad
society has been the modification of what might somewhat loosely be termed the
"colour-class system." In this system, which emerged in Trinidad during the period of
Spanish rule and persisted after British conquest of the colony in 1797, Whites by and
large enjoyed both access to the more prestigious positions and the highest status.
Coloureds (people with a mixture of White and Negro blood) tended at least at
first to enter intermediate positions and to be accorded a corresponding status, while
Negroes occupied the lowest rungs of the occupational and status hierarchy. This
system was complicated by the presence of "poor" Whites and subsequently largely
as a result of immigration by the presence of various other ethnic groups. Even
toward the end of the nineteenth century, however, there was still a pronounced
division of labour along ethnic lines,22 and corresponding ethnic differences in social
status tended to persist.
The social structure of Trinidad has changed somewhat slowly. For example,
Negroes only gradually began to enjoy a limited degree of upward social mobility.
Thus, in the latter part of the nineteenth century there was opposition to measures
that might eventually result in higher expectations among Negroes: some Whites and
Coloureds regarded the efforts of teachers as "ill-advised attempts to hoist the lower
ranks out of their proper station and a threat to the future supply of plantation
labour." 23 Managerial, supervisory and other white-collar positions were in the main
beyond the reach of Negroes. As the twentieth century progressed, however, additional
occupational opportunities became available to members of this and other ethnic
groups, largely as a result of the expansion of government services, the development
of the educational system and the growth of economic activity. On the whole,
however, the most prestigious jobs in colonial Trinidad were held to a disproportionate
extent by Whites and Coloureds. The 1960 census of Trinidad and Tobago shows that
Whites and Coloureds were highly overrepresented in professional, technical, adminis-
trative, managerial, executive, commercial and financial occupational categories
whereas Negroes were seriously underrepresented in such categories.24
The position of East Indians also appears to have been affected by changes in the
social structure of Trinidad. Following their introduction into Trinidad in the nine-
teenth century, East Indians for a variety of reasons at first constituted a relatively
isolated group on the lowest rungs of the social-class structure.25 Eventually, many
became small-scale land-owners and some entered commerce as shop-keepers. As late
as the 1890's, however, there were few East Indian professionals besides teachers and
religious leaders if indeed the latter might be termed "professionals" and East
Indians were generally underrepresented among artisans.26
East Indians increasingly grasped new economic opportunities for example,
employment opportunities with oil companies after 1908 and became more widely
distributed in the occupational structure. Consequently, while East Indians were by
1931 strongly represented among labourers and peasant proprietors they were also
fairly well represented in teaching, business, clerical work and the government service,
and in 1931 nine East Indians were categorized as doctors and seven as lawyers.27 In
subsequent years, East Indians continued to make occupational gains. For instance,
East Indians received about 13.0% of all new appointments to the Civil Service in
1936, about 16.0% of such appointments in 1946 and again in 1961, but about 26.0%
of such appointments in 1970.
The achievement of constitutional independence from Britain in 1962 appears to
have been followed by improved occupational opportunities for non-Whites in Trinidad.
For example, in the first five years of independence over one thousand scholarships
in a wide variety of fields were awarded to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago mainly
to Negroes and East Indians to prepare them for important posts in the administra-
tion and execution of the country's affairs. Measures have also been taken by the
Government to ensure that suitably qualified "nationals" are given preference with
regard to employment in positions which in all likelihood would previously have been
filled by "expatriates", particularly in the private sector of the economy. 9Also, the
assumption by the Government of varying degrees of ownership of a number of oil,
sugar, banking and other enterprises has created additional job opportunities for
citizens of Trinidad (and Tobago). Furthermore, reforms in the educational system
have made it possible for individuals from a wide range of social backgrounds to
qualify as candidates for such jobs.
It appears that the close relationship between ethnicity and occupational pursuit
which had developed in Trinidad has declined in strength. Whites and Coloureds still
tend to be overrepresented in the higher levels of the occupational hierarchy. However,
Negroes, East Indians and others are distributed over the entire range of occupational
levels. Whether access by many non-Whites to the kinds of occupations frequently
held by Whites and Coloureds has brought the former a degree of prestige comparable
to that held by the Whites and Coloureds is yet to be clearly determined. What seems
clear is that it has become increasingly possible in Trinidad for non-Whites of varying
social origins to have access to positions at any occupational level once they possess
the necessary educational qualifications.
It appears reasonable to suggest that, in view of the continuing erosion of the
"colour-class system" in Trinidad and the relatively high incidence of access by
Negroes and East Indians to many of the more prestigious jobs in Trinidad, Negroes
and East Indians are on the whole likely to perceive the opportunity structure as being
quite open for those who are suitably educated. With regard to ambition or the
inclination to pursue "success" it seems that if East Indians as a group indeed
possess a "striving orientation" then there would be no social-class differences within
this group on some measure of ambition or "success" seeking. Among Negroes as in
the case of East Indians and other ethnic groups many "models" are available of
individuals from a diversity of social classes who, at least partly because of the
increasing "openness" of the society, have achieved varying degrees of "success". It is
likely, therefore, that among Negroes confronted with the possibility of achieving
admission to the more prestigious occupations there will be no significant social-class
differences in ambition or "success" seeking.
In the present study, a sample of Negro and East Indian youths attending public
secondary schools in Trinidad is utilized. University and other forms of post-secondary
education are available to these youths on a competitive basis in the Caribbean. It is
1. among both Negro and East Indian students there are no significant relationships
between social class and perception of opportunities
2. among both Negro and East Indian students there are no significant relationships
between social class and ambition or "success" seeking.
The methodology of the present investigation will be described under three sub-
headings: (1) Sample and Data Collection, (2) Description and Measurement of
Variables, and (3) Data Analysis.
Sample and Data Collection
The subjects of the present study were students enrolled in the Fifth Forms of a
number of public secondary schools in Trinidad. A randomly-selected sample of ten
public secondary schools representing about twenty-five per cent of all such
secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago in 1972 was drawn. The sample consisted
of all Fifth Form students present on the day their school was visited for the purpose
of data collection (schools being visited one per day for a period of two weeks). Since
absenteeism is relatively rare in the public secondary schools of Trinidad, practically all
Fifth Form students in the selected schools were included in the data collection. The
students were almost all sixteen- to seventeen-years-old and were due to take their
externally conducted examination the Cambridge G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) Examina-
tion approximately one month after the time of data collection. They comprised a
fairly select group in terms of measured ability since they formed part of the top
sixteen per cent of all primary school students who had taken the competitive,
country-wide selection examination on which admission to the public secondary
schools is based. The total sample consisted of 1,170 students attending schools in
widely differing locations in Trinidad.
The data were gathered through a questionnaire administered to students in the
regular classrooms, all students at a particular school responding to the questionnaire
at the same time. The questionnaire was designed to provide data regarding the
educational and occupational plans and aspirations of the subjects as well as selected
variables which were thought likely to be related to such plans and aspirations. The
administration of the questionnaire took place in May, 1972, under the supervision of
the present writer and with the assistance of teachers in the participating schools.
With the help of the teachers, the questionnaire responses of the small numbers of
apparent Whites, Chinese and racial mixtures were subsequently eliminated from the
sample. The students had been asked to enter their names on the questionnaire
response sheets and this facilitated identification of the response sheets of individual
students. It is possible that a few errors were made in ethnic classification. Incomplete
questionnaires were also eliminated. Of the 1,101 questionnaires which remained, 501
were classified as having been completed by Negroes and 600 by East Indians. This
classification was done on the basis of the students' names. It is possible that some
minor misassignment of students occurred here as well. From information provided
through one item in the questionnaire, 261 of the Negroes were classified as females
and 240 as males while 287 of the East Indians were classified as females and 313 as
Description and Measurement of Variables
Social Class: In view of the apparent absence at the time of data collection and
coding of an empirically derived scale of social stratification valid for Trinidad
society, the occupation of the head of the household to which each student belonged
is used here to assign her/him to one of the following four broad categories:
Lower Manual (e.g. labourer, unskilled worker, fisherman, unemployed person)
Upper Manual (e.g. carpenter, welder, automobile mechanic, taxi-driver)
Lower Non-Manual (e.g. clerk, secretary, salesman)
Middle or Upper Non-Manual (e.g. nurse, teacher, civil servant, doctor, lawyer,
The middle and upper non-manual categories are combined because of small numbers
of cases in the upper non-manual group. Students classified as lower manual or upper
manual are regarded for the purposes of the present investigation as being of lower-
class origin and the others as being of middle-class origin. It is recognized, of course,
that in view of the complex nature of social stratification in a society such as Trinidad
the categories employed here are probably only rough indicators of social class.
Perception of Opportunity: Three items in the questionnaire are intended to measure
students' perception of opportunity in Trinidad. Two of these items asked the students
how good they believed their chances were to obtain (1) a top Civil Service job and
(2) a top Government job, provided they were as well qualified educationally as other
applicants. For the first item the possible responses were five in number and ranged
from "Much Poorer Chance than Others" to "Much Better Chance than Others",
while for the second item the possible responses were again five in number but ranged
from "Very Poor" to "Very Good." In the third item students were asked to state
which of the following they regarded as the single most important factor that would
enable them to obtain any top job in Trinidad: (1) education, (2) knowing the right
people, (3) luck and (4) any other (to be specified by the student). The extent to
which students felt that their chances were favourable, that their chances were as good
as those of other people or that education was the single most important criterion for
employment even at the highest levels of the occupational structure would suggest it
is assumed how far they possessed a favourable perception of opportunity in the
Students' Ambition or "Success" Seeking: Students' occupational plans are used as an
indicator of ambition or "success" seeking. Data pertaining to students' occupational
plans were obtained by asking the subjects to name the occupation they actually
planned to enter. The subjects were also asked to describe the nature of the work they
expected to be doing in the job of their choice. The latter information is employed
here to determine more precisely the nature of the students' occupational plans.
Owing to the unavailability of an empirically derived scale validated in Trinidad -
for ranking occupations in terms of social desirability, the above information was used
to assign the subjects' occupational choices to one of three broad levels:
1. Manual or Lower Non-Manual (e.g. taxi driver, motor mechanic, salesman, clerk,
2. Middle Non-Manual (e.g. teacher, priest, economist, nurse, civil servant)
3. Upper Non-Manual (e.g. doctor, lawyer, engineer, dentist)
In the analysis of the data, cross-tabulations are carried out for (1) social class and
each of the items measuring perception of opportunity and (2) social class and occu-
pational plans. Sex and ethnic group membership are controlled. The items measuring
perception of opportunity are not combined into a single scale because of both their
small number and their varying format. The chi-square technique is employed and all
relationships are tested for statistical significance, the .05 level of probability serving as
the dividing line between significance and non-significance. The row percentage in
each cell of the cross-tabulations is also provided to facilitate identification of trends
in the data by inspection.
Negroes: The data appear to provide consistent support for the hypotheses in the case
of Negro youths. It may be seen from Tables 1, 2 and 3 that regardless of the measure
of perception of opportunity employed there are no statistically significant relation-
ships between social class and perception of opportunity. The findings hold for both
females and males. Again, as Table 4 shows, there are no significant social class differ-
ences in occupational plans among Negroes regardless of sex. Though not shown in
tables here, the findings persist even when the first and second columns in each of
Tables 1 and 2 are combined to eliminate cells with zero frequencies.
The percentages in Table 1 reveal that at every social class level the vast majority of
the subjects believe that their chances of obtaining a top Civil Service job provided
they possess the same educational qualifications as other applicants are as good as
those of their competitors. Thus, among Negro females 87.8% of lower manual,
92.2% of upper manual, 95.8% of lower non-manual and 91.0% of middle and upper
on-manual youths think their chances of obtaining a top Civil Service job to be as
ood as those of other similarly qualified applicants. Among Negro males, the corres-
onding results are 76.7%, 84.9%, 93.8% and 89.8%. At most social class levels, a
mall percentage of males and females rate their jobs chances as higher than those of
similarly qualified applicants but there is little difference between lower class (i.e.
)wer and upper manual) students and others regarding such a tendency.
'ERCEIVED CHANCES OF OBTAINING A TOP CIVIL SERVICE POSITION
Social Much As Much Row
Class Poorer Poorer Good Better Better N
Lower 0 2 36 1 2 41
Manual (0.0) (4.9) (87.8) (2.4) (4.9)
Upper 0 0 119 3 7 129
Manual (0.0) (0.0) (92.2) (2.3) (5.4)
Lower 0 1 23 0 0 24
Non-Manual (0.0) (4.2) (95.8) (0.0) (0.0)
Middle/Upper 1 1 61 2 2 67
Non-Manual (1.5) (1.5) (91.0) (3.0) (3.0)
Missing Values = 1
Probability is greater than .05
1 1 33 6 2 43
(2.3) (2.3) (76.7) (14.0) (4.7)
5 4 90 3 4 106
(4.7) (3.8) 84.9) (2.8) (3.8)
0 1 30 0 1 32
(0.0) (3.1) (93.8) (0.0) (3.1)
0 1 53 4 1 59
(0.0) (1.7) 89.8) (6.8) 1.7)
Probability is greater than .05
CHANCES OF OBTAINING A TOP GOVERNMENT POSITION
Social Very Very Row
Class Poor Poor Fair Good Good N
Lower 1 0 11 21 7 40
Manual (2.5) (0.0) (27.5) (52.5) (17.5)
Upper 0 2 20 64 43 129
Manual (0.0) (1.6) (15.5) (49.6) (33.3)
Lower 0 0 7 14 3 24
Non-Manual (0.0) (0.0) (29.2) (58.3) (12.5)
Middle/Upper 0 1 14 36 16 67
Non-Manual (0.0) (1.5) (20.9) (53.7) (23.9)
Missing Values = 1
Probability is greater than .05
2 1 7 24 9 43
(4./) (2.3) (16.3) (55.8) (20.9)
1 0 22 57 26 106
(0.9) (0.0) (20.8) (53.8) (24.5)
1 1 4 21 5 32
(3.1) (12.5) (65.6) (15.6)
0 0 14 30 15 59
(0.0) (0.0) (23.7) (50.9) (25.4)
Probability is greater than .05
SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ACCESS TO TOP JOBS
Social Knowing Right Row
Class Education People Luck Other N
Lower 31 5 4 1 41
Manual (75.6) (12.2) (9.8) (2.4)
Upper 111 5 4 9 129
Manual (86.0) (3.9) (3.1) (7.0)
Lower 18 2 2 2 24
Non-Manual (75.0) (8.3) (8.3) (8.3)
Middle/Upper 60 3 0 4 67
Non-Manual (89.6) (4.5) (0.0) (5.9)
Probability is greater than .05
40 1 0 2 43
(93.0) (2.3) (0.0) (4.7)
98 4 0 4 106
(92.5) (3.8) (0.0) (3.8)
28 4 0 0 32
(87.5) (12.5) (13.6) (1.7)
45 8 1 5 59
(76.3) (13.6) (1.7) (8.4)
Probability is greater than .05
Social Manual and Lower Middle Upper Row
Class Non-Manual Non-Manual Non-Manual N
Lower 3 37 1 41
Manual (7.3) (90.2) (2.4)
Upper 9 114 6 129
Manual (7.0) (88.4) (4.7)
Lower 4 19 1 24
Non-Manual (16.6) (79.2) (4.2)
Middle/Upper 4 60 3 67
Non-Manual (5.9) (89.7) (4.4)
Probability is greater than .05
Lower 5 36 2 43
Manual (11.6) (83.7) (4.7)
Upper 18 76 12 106
Manual (17.0) (71.7) (11.3)
Middle/Upper 8 45 6 59
Non-Manual (13.5) (76.3) (10.2)
Probability is greater than .05
The absence of significant social class differences in students' perception of
opportunity, when the students assume that they possess competitive educational
qualifications, is again revealed in Table 2. If the percentages in the columns headed
"Fair", "Good" and "Very Good" are combined for each social class as an indication
of favourable perception of opportunity, then most of the students regardless of
social class appear to assess their chances of obtaining a top Government job quite
favourably. These percentages for the lower manual, upper manual, lower non-
manual, and middle and upper non-manual groups respectively are 97.5, 98.4,
100.0 and 98.5 among Negro females and 93.0, 99.1, 93.8 and 100.0 among Negro
males. These percentages again reveal fairly strong optimism regarding opportunity
among Negro students.
On the third measure of the youths' perception of opportunity, there are again no
significant social class differences. The social class groups differ little from one another
regarding perception of the "single most important factor" enabling them to obtain a
top job in Trinidad. Table 3 shows that the majority of students regard education as
the most important factor in access to top jobs in Trinidad. It is interesting to note
that there are youths who believe that factors other than education are the most
crucial ones for access to top jobs. However, there is no evidence of any consistent
social class trend in this connection.
The present data also reveal that among both Negro females and Negro males there
exists no statistically significant relationship between social class and occupational
plans. Indeed, as may be seen from Table 4, not only are the percentages for the
different social classes fairly similar to one another but they are not distributed among
social classes in any systematic manner. Also, if for each social class the percentages in
the final two columns of Table 4 are combined it is found that for each social class -
and among both females and males over eighty per cent of the students report
planning to enter the more prestigious occupations in the country.
East Indians: The data do not seem to provide completely convincing support for the
hypotheses in the case of East Indians. The first hypothesis is supported, since as
Tables 5, 6 and 7 show -- there is no significant social class difference among East
Indian females or males with regard to perception of opportunity. However, the
results regarding occupational plans do not provide strong support for the hypothesis
relating to social class similarity in ambition or "success" seeking. While as Table 8
shows the probabilities for both females and males do not fall within the .05 level
accepted as indicating statistical significance, they are close enough to the .05 level for
us to conclude that the occupational plans of students are not clearly independent of
the youths' social class origins.
The percentages in Table 5 indicate that, as in the case of Negro students, the
majority of East Indian youths believe their chances of obtaining a top Civil Service
job once they possess appropriate educational qualifications to be as good as
those of their competitors. Among East Indian females, 87.3% of lower manual,
90.8% of upper manual, 93.3% of lower non-manual and 87.5% of middle and upper
on-manual students have such a level of certainty about their job chances. Th
corresponding statistics for East Indian males are 77.5%, 92.4%, 89.7% and 85.3%..
mall number of students regard their job chances as superior to those of other cand
ates but there seems to be no clear trend along the lines of social class.
ERCEIVED CHANCES OF OBTAINING A TOP CIVIL SERVICE POSITION
Social Much As Much Row
Class Poorer Poorer Good Better Better N
East Indian Females
Lower 1 2 62 5 1 72
Manual (1.4) (2.8) (87.3) (7.0) (1.4)
Upper 1 2 89 5 1 98
Manual (1.0) (2.0) (90.8) (5.1) (1.0)
Lower 0 1 28 1 0 30
Non-Manual (0.0) (3.3) (93.3) (3.3) (0.0)
Middle/Upper 0 1 77 3 7 88
Non-Manual (0.0) (1.2) (87.5) (3.4) (7.9)
Probability is greater than .05
East Indian Males
6 4 86 5 10 111
(5.4) (3.6) (77.5) (4.5) (9.0)
0 0 97 5 3 105
(0.0) (0.0) (92.4) (4.8) (2.9)
0 1 26 0 2 29
(0.0) (3.4) (89.7) (0.0) (6.9)
0 2 58 4 4 68
(0.0) (2.9) (85.3) (5.9) (5.9)
Probability is greater than .05
OF OBTAINING A
Social Very Very Row
Class Poor Poor Fair Good Good N
East Indian Females
Lower 0 2 10 40 18 70
Manual (0.0) (2.9) (14.3) (57.1) (25.7)
Upper 0 0 17 48 32 97
Manual (0.0) (0.0) (17.5) (49.5) (33.0)
Lower 0 0 4 21 5 30
Non-Manual (0.0) (0.0) (13.3) (70.0) (16.5)
Middle/Upper 0 0 18 55 15 88
Non-Manual (0.0) (0.0) (20.5) (62.5) (17.0)
Probability is greater than .05
Missing Values = 2
East Indian Males
Lower 3 4 21 64 18 110
Manual (2.7) (3.6) (19.1) (58.2) (16.4)
Upper 0 2 24 59 20 105
Manual (0.0) (1.9) (22.9) (56.2) (19.0)
Lower 0 2 6 17 4 29
Non-Manual (0.0) (6.9) (20.7) (58.6) (13.8)
Middle/Upper 0 1 13 38 16 68
Non-Manual (0.0) (1.5) (19.1) (55.9) (23.5)
Probability is greater than .05
Missing Values = 1
SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN
ACCESS TO TOP JOBS
Social Knowing Right Row
Class Education People Luck Other N
East Indian Females
Lower 66 3 0 0 71
Manual (93.0) (4.2) (0.0) (2.8)
Upper 89 5 0 4 98
Manual (90.8) (5.1) (0.0) (4.1)
Lower 29 0 0 1 30
Non-Manual (96.7) (0.0) (0.0) (3.3)
Middle/Upper 82 0 1 5 88
Non-Manual (93.2) (0.0) (1.1) (5.7)
Probability is greater than .05
East Indian Males
99 6 1 5 111
(89.2) (5.4) (0.9) (4.5)
97 3 1 4 105
(92.4) (2.9) (1.0) (3.8)
26 0 0 3 29
(89.7) (0.0) (0.0) (10.3)
64 2 0 2 68
Probability is greater than .05
Social Manual and Lower Middle Upper Row
Class Non-Manual Non-Manual Non-Manual N
East Indian Females
Lower 5 66 0 71
Manual (7.0) (93.0) (0.0)
Upper 10 81 7 98
Manual (10.2) (82.7) (7.1)
Lower 3 25 2 30
Non-Manual (10.0) (83.3) (6.7)
Middle/Upper 4 72 12 88
Non-Manual (4.6) (81.8) (13.6)
Probability is greater than .05 (P = .062)
East Indian Males
(4.5) (88.3) (7.2)
11 80 14 105
(10.5) (76.2) (13.3)
1 20 8 29
(3.4) (69.0) (27.6)
1 56 11 68
Probability is greater than .05 (P = .054)
It may be seen from Table 6 that in the case of both East Indian females and East
Indian males there is no significant social class variation regarding perceived accessi-
bility of a top Government job. If the percentages for each social class in the columns
headed "Fair", "Good", and "Very Good" are together regarded as an indication of
favourable perception of opportunity, it is apparent that most of the youths -
regardless of social class background make favourable estimates of their job chances.
The total percentages with such favourable perceptions in the lower manual, upper
manual, lower non-manual and middle and upper non-manual groups respectively are
97.1, 100.0, 100.0 and 100.0 for the females and 93.7, 98.1, 93.1 and 100.0 for the
On the third measure of perception of opportunity, there are again no significant
social class differences among the East Indian students. Table 7 indicates that most
East Indian students, regardless of social class, perceive education as "the single most
important factor" determining the accessibility of top jobs in Trinidad. While some
youths believe that factors other than education are the most crucial, no consistent
pattern can be discerned in the distribution of such students by social class.
With regard to occupational plans, the social class differences occurring among East
Indian youths though not statistically significant at the .05 level come close to
being so. As may be seen from Table 8, among both females and males but more
conspicuously in the case of the latter group students of manual background are
on the whole more likely to choose manual and lower non-manual (i.e. less prestigious)
occupations and less likely to select upper non-manual (i.e. the more prestigious)
occupations than are their counterparts of higher social class groupings taken as a
It appears that the customary stereotypes of Negroes and East Indians contained in
many studies of Trinidad society are not at least at the present time entirely
justified. As might be expected, Negro students of middle class (i.e. non-manual)
background tend to be highly ambitious. Though there is little empirical data on the
subject, it seems reasonable to assume that in colonial Trinidad middle class Negro
youths were more likely than their lower class counterparts to seek and gain access to
secondary education and that consequently they were more likely than the latter to
utilise existing avenues to middle class status. With changes in the social structure of
Trinidad, middle class youths have apparently tended to develop highly favourable
perceptions regarding opportunity and when the prospect of appropriate education
is open to them are likely to plan on entering higher-status occupations. It is
interesting to observe that the findings among Negroes hold for both females and
males. In recent decades at least, Negro females again, presumably mainly those of
middle class origin have enjoyed access to lower-level positions in the local Civil
Service, in teaching, in nursing and in other areas. It seems that concomitant with
changes in the social structure of Trinidad Negro females of middle class background
have simply raised their level of ambition in a variety of fields and are attempting to
capitalise on the many new employment opportunities available in Trinidad.
The results of the present investigation suggest that, even if one assumes the
traditional stereotype of the lower class Negro as someone deficient in ambition to
have had some validity, such a stereotype seems no longer generally applicable. Lower
class Negro youths of both sexes are as likely as their counterparts of higher social class
origin to have favourable perceptions of occupational opportunity in Trinidad. Further-
more, once they have access to secondary schools, lower class Negro youths of both
sexes are no less likely than those of higher social class background to be ambitious.
The vast majority of lower class Negro students perceive the opportunity structure as
being open and most of such students aspire to middle class status.
The evidence regarding the absence of significant social class differences in percep-
tion of opportunity is quite strong in the case of East Indians. However, the evidence
regarding the absence of significant social class difference in ambition are not as
convincing. The stereotype of East Indians as being uniformly highly ambitious is thus
not clearly supported here. This does not mean that lower class East Indians are less
ambitious than their Negro counterparts. A comparison of the percentages in Tables 4
and 8 would show that among both females and males East Indian youths are in the
main less likely than their Negro counterparts to choose less prestigious (i.e. manual
or lower non-manual) occupations and more likely than their Negro counterparts to
select more prestigious (i.e. upper non-manual) occupations. What probably helps to
account for the nearly significant relationship between social class and ambition
among East Indians is the relatively high percentage of middle class (i.e. "non-manual"
of all categories) males and females "planning" to enter occupations in the highest
(i.e. upper non-manual) category. Professions such as medicine, law and dentistry
continue to attract a disproportionate number of middle class East Indian youths as
compared with their lower class counterparts. What all this means is that the traditional
stereotype of East Indians appears to be accurate in the sense that East Indians tend to
be highly ambitious but inaccurate in the sense that the social class are not uniformly
Apparently, changes in the social structure of Trinidad have resulted in favourable
perceptions of the accessibility of the more prestigious jobs on the part of Negro and
East Indian students. Members of both ethnic groups tend to perceive that once they
are appropriately qualified their chances of obtaining desirable jobs are quite good.
Furthermore, they tend to think that education rather than luck, knowing the
"right people", or other factors is the single most important facilitator of access to
such jobs. Consequently, it seems, secondary school students of all social classes tend
to be strongly inclined to entertain high occupational expectations. Because of the
absence of comparative data from earlier decades, the present study cannot indicate
how much change has taken place among Negroes and East Indians regarding either
perception of opportunity or ambition. All that can be claimed on the basis of the
evidence provided by this investigation is that, assuming that the traditional stereo-
types of Negroes and East Indians to have been at least partially justifiable, such
stereotypes need to be modified in the light of changed circumstances in Trinidad
There is need for further research using a more representative sample of Negro and
East Indian youths. Also, information regarding how youths actually perceive their
job opportunities would be relevant to generalising the findings of the present study.
Here, students were asked to deal with a hypothetical situation to assess their job
chances assuming they were as well qualified as other applicants. It would be interest-
ing to know how they actually assess their job chances given their ability and other
characteristics. For example, do Negroes of similar sex and ability but of differing
social class origins have similar perceptions of opportunity and similar occupational
plans? Research along such lines will probably enable us to make more confident
statements regarding stereotypes of Negroes and East Indians.
ISHMAEL J. BAKSH
1. Helen-B. Green, "Socialization Values in the Negro and East Indian Subcultures of
Trinidad", Journal of Social Psychology, 64, 1964, p. 7.
2. J.A. Froude, The English in the West Indies (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1892),
3. Ibid., p. 73.
4. Helen B. Green, "Values of Negro and East Indian School Children in Trinidad", Social and
Economic Studies, 14, 1965, p. 209.
5. Daniel J. Crowley, "Assimilation in A Multi-Racial Society", in Vera Rubin (ed.), Social and
Cultural Pluralism in the Caribbean, Annals of the New Academy of Sciences, 83, Article 5,
6. A. Niehoff and J. Niehoff, East Indians in the West Indies (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public
Museum, 1960), p. 184.
7. Morton Class, East Indians in Trinidad: A Study of Cultural Persistence (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1961), p. 244.
8. Sidney M. Greenfield, "Family Organization in Barbados", Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation,
Columbia University, 1959.
9. T.S. Simey, Welfare and Planning in the West Indies (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946), p. 15.
10. Crowley, op. cit., p. 853.
11. Niehoff and Niehoff, op. cit., p. 184.
12. M. Cross and A.M. Schwartzbaum, "Social Mobility and Secondary School Selection in
Trinidad and Tobago", Social and Economic Studies, 14, 1969, p. 201.
13. Rubin and Zavalloni,op. cit., pp. 71-72.
14. Ibid., p. 56.
15. M.A. Coulson and C. Riddell, Approaching Sociology (London: Routledge and Keaan Paul,
1970), p. 44.
16. Ibid., pp. 95-96.
17. F.G. Caro and C.T. Pihlblad, "Social Class, Formal Education and Social Mobility",
Sociology and Social Research, 48, 1964, 428-38.
18. B. Abu-Laban, "The Impact of Ethnicity and Occupational Background on the Aspirations
of Canadian Youth", Sociological Inquiry, 36, 1966, pp. 116-23.
19. W.S. Bennett and N.P. Gist, "Class and Family Influences on Student Aspirations", Social
Forces, 43, 1964, PP. 167-73.
20. Caro and Pihlblad, op. cit., pp. 432-35.
21. F.G. Caro, "Social Class and Attitudes of Youth Relevant for the Realization of Adult
Goals", Social Forces, 44, 1966, p. 496.
22. M.D. Ramesar, "Patterns of Regional Settlement and Economic Activity by Immigrant
Groups in Trinidad and Tobago", Social and Economic Studies, 25, 1976, pp. 201-5.
23. J.J. Thomas, Froudacity (London: New Beacon Books, 1969), pp. 10-11. (Originally
published by T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1889).
24. Trinidad and Tobago, Population Census 1960, Detailed Cross-Classifications (Trinidad:
Central Statistical Office, 1962), Part G, 8, pp. 1-2.
25. M.D. Ramesar, "The Impact of the Indian Immigrants on Colonial Trinidad Society",
Caribbean Quarterly, 22, 1976, pp. 9-10.
26. M.D. Ramesar, "Patterns of Regional Settlement and Economic Activity by Immigrant
Groups in Trinidad and Tobago", Social and Economic Studies, 25, 1976, p. 205.
27. Trinidad and Tobago, Population Census, 1931 (Trinidad: Government Printer, 1933),
28. These statistics were arrived at by studying and classifying the names of appointees as
recorded in lists published in the issues of the Trinidad and Tobago Royal Gazette for the
years 1936, 1946, 1961 and 1970.
29. Trinidad and Tobago, The Emigration of Professional, Supervisory, Middle Level and Skilled
Manpower from Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad: Central Statistical Office, 1970).
THE BLACK MAN AND THE CARIBBEAN
AS SEEN BY NICOLAS GUILLEN AND LUIS PALES MATOS
The purpose of this paper is not to examine in extenso the poetic works of Guillen
and Pal6s Matos. Rather it is an attempt to address itself (briefly and schematically) to
one small area of the literary production of both poets the Negro and the Caribbean
experience. The position maintained in this article is that the foci and visions of these
two poets are fundamentally at varience with each other as far as "socially realistic"
literature is concerned.
Before the 1920's, the Negro was practically non-existent as an important element
in literature. He was always a peripheral creature, by-passed because of his supposed
racial inferiority. However, just after the first World War, European intellectuals
embarked on an "anti-rationalist" movement, rejecting the norms and values of that
Western European society that had unleashed the monstrous World War I. Thus they
looked for a new literary mode and, attracted by African sculpture, turned to the
Negro. It was this negrista fad from Europe, followed through by White Cubans, that
gave birth to works with the Negro as the central figure. However it must be noted that
the artists merely exploited the black theme. They amused themselves with African
rhythms, their vision was a purely superficial one, and without any real efforts to
penetrate the psychology of the Negro, they simply depicted him as a dancing, sensual
and brainless figure. Luis Pales Matos belonged to such a group. It was not until the
advent of Nicolis Guill6n that any deep and significant examination of the Negro
"El negro de Pale's . es un negro casi hipotetico y abstracto, remarked Tomis
Blanco.1 Pales Matos does not seem to be talking about flesh-and-blood Negroes but
some abstract entity he can conveniently label "la Nigricia" (See Numen; Bombo;
Intermedios. .; Ni'm-Nam). His Negroes are not even a part of the social fabric of
Puerto Rico; his vision is rather a dreamy, story-book one. It was also Tomis Blanco2
who said that Pales Matos ". . has produced a series of poems inspired not exactly
by the Negro population of Puerto Rico, but rather by the exotic Negro of travellers,
missionaries, slaves, explorers and ethnographers." We can easily see that even if we
concede that the poem, Esta Noche He Pasado Por Un Pueblo De Negros, was born out
of an actual Puerto Rican experience, the Negroes in this poem are portrayed as
primitive animals, crass and hostile.
Let us look at some other poems. Pale's Matos' Negroes seem to be incessantly
dancing to the sound of drums around a large bonfire:
Los negros bailan, bailan, bailan
ante la fogata encendida
ante la fogata encendida. (Candombe)
It is a world of cannibals (Bombo; Nam-Nam; Falsa Cancion de Baquine).
It is a world of animal sensuality:
Culipandeando la Reina avanza
y de su inmensa grupa resbala
meneos cachondos que el gongo cuaja
en rios de azucar ye de melaza. (Majestad Negra)
It is also a lascivious world where,
la doncella mas hermosa
rasgue su care y abra el sexo
para que pase, fecundandola
el mas viril de los guerreros. (Bombo)
Linguistically and acoustically, it is a terrible world of
y de guturaciones alargadas. . (Pueblos Negro)
The Black man for Pales Matos is obviously a cultural zero for he observes that while:
Asia suefia su nirvana.
Ame'rica baila el jazz
Europa juega y teoriza.
Africa grune: nim-nam. (Nam-Nam)
He is also clear and direct in his censure of the Black man when in Esta Noche He
Pasado. he refers to ". . esta raza ya hundida para siempre." He sees the Black
man as a racially and culturally inferior creature and treats him with contempt and
Nicolas Guillen on the other hand, turns directly to the real man. He looks at
Cuban Negroes as he knows them, not imagines them to be. He is not a curious out-
sider, titilated by African rhythms. He is neither the condescending White man who
merely describes the Negro through the use of literary, sonorific props. He speaks from
within and to cull a line from his Pequelia Oda A Un Negro Boxeador Cubano, Guill6n
shows us what it means to "hablar en negro." His first book of poems, Motivos De
Son, does not describe the Negro. Rather it allows the Negro to speak for himself, to
reveal the relationships between the Negro man and his woman, to express his psyche,
to show up his economic situation and to show that although people may ridicule
him and call him "negro bembon" (i.e. "thick-lipped nigger" or "blobber-lip darkie")
he should not let that perturb him. In short, Guillen tries to present us with a glimpse
of the psychology and social status of real twentieth century Blacks, unlike the
improbable ones that Pales Matos painted. Guillen himself said in an interview with
Jose Fernandez de Castro3 that his "poema-son" was designed with the object of
presenting ". . en la forma que acaso les sea mas convenient, cuadros de costumbres
hechos con dos pinceladas y tipos del pueblo tal como ellos se agitan a nuestro lado.
Tal como hablan. Tal como piensan." The significant point here is that Guillen's
Negroes are taken from Cuba. They are not that amorphous lump ("la Nigricia")
drawn from Fernando Poo, Tomboctti, Congo, etc. as in the Pales Matos concept. The
vehicle of expression is also very important. Guillen chose to present his Negroes using
the musical form that that the Negroes themselves had created in Cuba, i.e. the son.
So Guill6n's Negroes have a social context the slum areas and we see that the
years of the great U.S. depression take their toll on them as well. They have a culture
- their linguistic Songoro Cosongo, makes extensive use of the African drum rhythms
(see Canto Negro; Pregon) and like the White Negristas who preceded him, he makes
use of onomatopoeia, African words and jitanjaforas, i.e. pseudo-African linguistic
concoctions to suggest the African or African-derived atmosphere, e.g.
Mamatomba, serembe, cuseremba. (Canto Negro)
or the haunting and enchanting "Mayombe-bombe-mayombe" in the song of the
snake-hunt, Sensemaya: It would be idle to pretend that Guillen never yielded to the
lure of sensuality for he describes the rumba dancer as a sensual figure with a "grupa
flexible y dorada" (Rumba). However Nicolis Guillen did not forget that his Negroes
were real people and it is not surprising that in the aforementioned poem the rumba
dancer is not only described in terms of broad "haunches" (grupa) but also in terms
of her caderas ("hips"). His Negroes are simply called "negros" and not "esta terrible
tribu de basalto" or "la Nigricia" as Pales Matos would say. Pales Matos sought to
paint only blackness physical, emotional and cultural darkness. Guillen also des-
cribes physical blackness but, very significantly, he also proceeds to show that this
blackness had form. The Negro for him was part and parcel of the national situation.
He too has his part to play in society. He is not a primitive being in some secluded
village giving full release to his supposed animalistic lasciviousness. First we see in
Cana that the life of the Negro is intimately linked with the "canaveral" and all this is
put in its proper social matrix, the national situation of foreign control and oppression:
"el yanqui sobre el canaveral." Thus Guillen is implicitly saying that Blacks too have a
part to play in transforming a society which ravages them and also which belongs to
them. Taking into consideration the need for Black and White to pull together in
process of nation-building, it is not surprising that Guillen has made the important
point that the Song of the Bongo (Cancion Del Bongo) has a cohesive function for it
convoca al negro y al blanco
que bailan el mismo son
cueripardos o almiprietos.
It is instructive to contrast this with Pales Matos' aversion for the drum as an instru-
ment of unity between Blacks and Whites. Pales Matos cries:
i Ahi vienen los tambores!
Ten cuidado, hombre blanco, que a ti Ilegan
para clavarte su aguij6n de milsica.
Tapate las orejas,
cierra toda abertura de tu alma
y el instinto disp6n a la defense,
que si en la torva noche de Nigricia
te picara un tambor de danza or guerra,
su terrible pozona,
correra para siempre por tus venas.
(Intermedios Del Hombre Blanco Tambores)
Pal6s Matos was afraid of any "contamination" of White with Black. Guill6n recognizes
Cuba to be essentially a Mulatto society and was conscious of the need for unity and a
sense of identity with the two racial forces which have molded Cuba. The point is
that Blacks were an integral part of the social reality of Cuba and Guill6n could not
afford to be caught up in a fog of idle and frivolous romanticism of a dancing Negro
when in reality what he saw was a socially and economically down-trodden Negro. The
Negro in Guill6n's view was noticeably black (a point the Afro-Cubanists and other
negristas dwelled on) but he was also and more importantly so, the starving worker
whose life is dominated by sugar and the plantation. He is the poor slaving Negro who
ekes out a miserable existence under the boiling sun with the sweat of his body and
the cracking of the whip as the constant reminders of his unfortunate lot:
Latigo, sudor y latigo.
El sol desperto' temprano,
y encontro al negro descalzo,
desnudo el cuerpo llagado,
sobre el campo. (Sudor Y Latigo)
The Negro of the city areas is described thus:
y el hombre de la ciudad,
ay, Cuba, es un pordiosero:
anda hambriento y sin dinero,
pidiendo por caridad. (Mi Patria Es Dulce Por Fuera)
He is also the poor, lonely Simdn Caraballo whose "cama en el suelo esta" and whose
"almohada estd en un ladrillo" and who sleeps on anybody's doorsteps. This is the
Simon Caraballo whose skin is being eaten away by the "sarna", who wakes up with
cold feet and without coffee in the morning (Balada De Simon Caraballo). Note that
Sim6n has his fist closed with vengeance, that he is politically oppressed and that he
dies in the cold. Guillen's Negroes may suffer spiritual desolation and degradation as a
consequence of their economic situation they wander about the city aimlessly
"como perros abandonados en medio de una tempestad", and "la tripa impertinente
asmiticos, diabdticos/herp6ticos y paraliticos
mas sin regimenes diet6ticos. (Cancidn De Los Hombres Perdidos)
This indeed is a touching string of epithets, haunting and forceful for the mordancy
transmitted by the "esdnijulas" (the antepenult stress). In Guadalupe, W.I. he shows:
Los negros, trabajando
junto al vapor.
Los drabes, vendiendo,
los franceses paseando y descansando
y el sol, ardiendo.
Whereas Pal6s Matos could not find anything to fight for or to believe in as far as
Puerto Rico and the Caribbean were concerned, Guillen saw the Black man as a
sufferer and proceeded to look for a solution in the Communist cause. If we are to
examine the difference in the attitude of these two poets to issues of the Caribbean,
i.e. the stance they assumed, how they saw and reacted to the Caribbean, it is neces-
sary to look at those poems which offer us a sweeping view of the Caribbean. Pale's
Matos looked at his native Puerto Rico and mourns:
Esta el la tierra est6ril y madrastra
Todo duerme aqui sofocado. (Topografia)
He asks God to have mercy on his "pobre pueblo/donde mi pobre gente se morirA de
nada!" (Pueblo). Turning outside his country all he sees are "electiricos mininos de
ciclones", "los rones calientes de Jamaica", "fiero calalu de Martinica", "noche
fermentada de tambores del Haiti impenetrable y voudista." Cuba, Santo Domingo,
Dominica, Tortola, Guadalupe and Haiti are embraced as his Antillas, the Antillas:
sobre el mar de Colon, aupadas todas
sobre el Caribe mar, todas unidas,
sonando y padeciendo y forceando
contra pestes, ciclones y codicias,
y muri6ndose un poco por la noche
y otra vez a la aurora, revividas.
All of this is taken from the poem, Mulata Antilla. In Intermedios Del Hombre
Blanco Islas, we have the same stereotyped image of his Antillean neighbours (which
he never visited) as we have in Cancidn Festiva Para Ser Llorada. In this latter-
mentioned poem we find phrases which show either an unwillingness or an inability
to explore deeper issues, the real psyche of his Caribbean neighbours:
i En que lorito aprendiste
ese patua de melaza
Guadalupe de mis tr6picos
mi suculenta tinaja?
Aqui esti San Kitts el nene
el bobo de la comarca.
Pescando tiernos ciclones
entretiene su ignorancia.
Mackandal bate su gongo en la torva noche haitiana
Dentaduras de marfil
en la tiniebla resaltan.
Palds Matos' trademark, it seems, is a lack of profundity.
Guill6n, however, in his epic poem, West Indies, Ltd. depicts a West Indies where
racial intermingling has taken place, where there are unscrupulous politicians and
professionals, where North America has entered with her tourists, where Blacks lose
their dignity bowing to them, where "sell-out" leaders are manipulated by the U.S.,
where Blacks labour under inhuman conditions in the canefields. It also shows the
underlying currents of dissent and dissatisfaction of people chafing under an oppressive
system for each cries:
Me matan si no trabajo
y si trabajo, me matan,
siempre me matan, me matan
isiempre me matan!
Significantly, enough, the epic ends with the image of the closing fist:
Lentamente, de piedra, va una mano
cerrandose en un pufo vengativo.
Un claro, un claro y vivo
son de esperanza estalla en tierra y oceano.
El sol habla de bosques, con las verdes semillas...
West Indies, en ingles. En castellano,
Note the symbols of life and the suggestion of a purified state of renovation, It is also
interesting to note that the poem ends as West Indies and not West Indies Ltd., as in
the title, for in a Caribbean context the "Limited" connotes foreign ownership and
exploitation of the masses. It is significant that Guill6n's social commitment makes
him aware of "nonos de vientre abultado" in the coastal areas of Southamerica and in
Son Venezolano, the petroleum oddly tastes of Cuban sugar, suggesting then that the
same foreign hand that rules in Cuba also ruled in Venezuela. Thus, instead of feeling
alienated from his neighbours as Palds Matos felt, Guill6n shares comradeship with
It is clear to me that Guillen has a wider world view than Pales Matos and a more
penetrating one . because Guillen realized that man's spiritual well-being and his
ability to deepen his culture were inextricably linked with the economic factor. He
tried to show spiritual oppression through economic oppression and showed the
logical conclusion of this the chafing and fuming and the inevitable "puno
vengativo." Palds Matos was content with his stereotyped images, abounding in
In the matter of the treatment of the Negro in the works of both poets, the words
of Margot Arce,4 Puerto Rican professor and critic, did not fall short when she
"Luis Pal6s Matos es un poeta culto, mejor dicho, culterano . Se aparta de los
modos po6ticos populares; interpreta lo negro como un blanco civilizado y
esc6ptico. Se diferencia asi esencialmente de Nicolis Guilldn y Emilio Ballagas.
Estos poetas utilizan lo popular aut6ntico, el lenguaje de los negros habaneros, y
tratan de traducir de manera realista, no superrealista, el espiritu de la raza negra.
Sus negros estan circunscitos a una region y limitados a una geografia. Ven el negro
de adentro y en negro. Pal6s, por el contrario, lo interpreta desde arriba, desde fuera
y en blanco." (Emphasis mine)
PAUL A. DAVIS
1. Blanco, T., "En familiar" El Mundo, (1933).
2. "A Porto Rican Poet: Luis Pales Matos", The American Mercury, (Sept. 1930).
3. Fernandez de Castro, J., "Ha surgido el poeta del son: Nicolas Guillen" (entrevista con el
scudonomo de Juan del Pueblo) L.A.S.E., (6 de mayo de 1930).
4. Arce de Vazquez, M., "Los poemas negros de Luis Palds Matos", El Mundo, (21 de enero de
Arce, M., "Los poemas negros de Luis Pales Matos", El Mundo, 21 enero 1934.
Blanco, T., "En Familia", El Mundo, 19 febrero 1933.
---------- "A Porto Rican Poet: Luis Pales Matos", The American Mercury, Sept. 1930
XXI pp. 72-75.
de Onis, F., Introduction to L. Pales Matos: Poesia 1915-1959.
Fernandez de Castro, J., "Ha surgido el poeta del son: Nicolas Guill6n", L.A.S.E.,
6 mayo 1930.
Franco, J., The Modem Culture of Latin America, Penguin, 1970.
Guillen, N., S6ngoro Cosongo (Buenos Aires, Editorial Losada, 5a edici6n, 1971).
...----... El son entero (Buenos Aires, Editorial Losada, 5a edicidn, 1971).
Pales Matos, L., Luis Pales Matos: Poesia 1915-1959 (Puerto Rico), Editorial Univer-
sitaria, U. of Puerto Rico, 1971.
Marquez, R., "Introducci6n a Nicolas Guillen" in Nancy Morejon (ed.), Recopilacidn
de textos sobre Nicolhs Guillen, (CASA 1972).
Williams, E. "Four Poets of the Greater Antilles", Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 4,
THE WEST INDIES IN LATE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY NOVELS
English literature played a significant role in influencing anti-slavery sentiment
during the late eighteenth century, but little attention has been awarded that period's
women novelists who served as influencers through -the numerous popular novels
which they wrote. These novelists, for the most part, were middle-class women with
varying degrees of talent whose books were read by the British female population as
avidly as Gothic mysteries are read today. The views which these novels expressed
relative to slavery and to the slave trade both reflected and influenced the views of
their readers. For example, Charlotte Smith wrote not only Emmeline, or the Orphan
of the Castle, which is now studied as a type of early Gothic novel, but also such works
as Desmond (1792) and The Wanderings of Warwick (1794), novels which reveal
Smith's strong anti-slavery sentiment. Epistolary novels were the eighteenth century's
particular contribution to the growth of the genre, and Smith's Desmond follows that
form. In a letter to his friend Mr Bethel, the hero, Lionel Desmond, describes his
participation in a debate over the abolition of the slave trade. His opponent, a member
of parliament who owns an estate in the West Indies, opposes the abolition of the
slave trade on several economic and racial grounds. Smith's young hero counters each
point the M.P. presents, with the effect of eliciting the reader's admiration for
Desmond's able argumentation and of enlisting the reader's sympathy for his ethical
One of Smith's concerns is the dehumanizing effect which the practice of human
slavery has upon the practitioners; her exposition of the evils of slavery extends to all
parties involved. In particular, her lively criticism of the slave merchant rings with the
voice of authority. Although Smith never travelled to the slave markets of the Carib-
bean, her husband was the son of a West India merchant, and for a number of years
she assisted her father-in-law in his business. In The Wanderings of Warwick she
The slave merchant studies nothing but his profit and loss; and if at any time
something like a qualm of conscience should disturb the felicity he finds in acquiring
wealth, he reconciles himself to his pursuit with reflecting, that if he did not
drive this trade somebody else would an argument which I have often heard
used to justify every folly and every vice.2
In this latter novel, Smith renews her attack upon the institution she reviled. With
added sophistication she combines "showing" with "telling." In addition to first
person observations upon the slave scene in Jamaica, Smith's raconteur, Captain
Warwick, provides an inset story from a military colleague wherein the cruel behaviour
of a young colonial woman towards her little mulatto maid is displayed. Despite the
fact that Marianne Shaftesbury is drawn as the stereotypic white plantation-bred
woman, the depiction of her beating a slave child is an effective literary device which
supports the information Smith provides earlier through less dramatic means.
In The Farmer of Inglewood Forest (1796), Elizabeth Helme weaves her anti-
slavery message more skillfully into her story than does Smith. Although Helme
incorporates some West Indian material by way of two inset stories, the major action
of her book is limited to the conventional landscape of the English countryside.
Without resorting to exotic settings, Helme introduces into her rural picture a black
character who illustrates the worthiness of free black labour. Felix is first noted as a
workman threshing grain alongside white labourers. He emerges as a man of intelli-
gence, loyalty, and compassion. He is used by the author to comment upon the prevail-
ing ethics which he observes about him, but his comments are consistent with the
personality which Helme creates for him and are not merely gratuitous criticisms
enunciated by an alien observer although the author does sometimes use Felix as a
vehicle to express her own disenchantment with the hypocrisy which she found about
her: ". . for forty years Felix had persuaded himself that Englishmen were as good as
their faces, but learned, 'the only difference between many of them and us is, we wear
black without they within.' "3
Towards the end of the novel, Helme more boldly introduces the problem of
slavery as she adds a family of English creoles to her cast of characters. With this
family, the Fitzmorrises, Helme introduces the details of the London sale of a
Jamaican estate complete with its slaves. The humane effort of a Mrs Palmer to
purchase the freedom of some of these slaves results in the arrival upon English soil of
Julia, another well-delineated black character. Julia participates actively in the plot
advancement while simultaneously displaying her tenacious loyalty to her young
mistress. Helme's affirmation of these two well-drawn black characters, Felix and
Julia, is a persuasive argument for the emancipation of black people. As the idealistic
commentaries of Smith tend to remain on the level of abstraction, the personalization
of ordinary black characters is more effective from a didactic standpoint and more
acceptable from an artistic position.
Jane West also uses the West Indies as a background from which to draw important
characters in The Advantages of Education, or, The History of Maria Williams (1793).
West is less concerned with the evil effects of slavery upon the slaves than she is with
the breakdown of colonial morality in the environment of slavery. This issue is
demonstrated through the heroine's father. He is portrayed as the conventional planter
whose extramarital activities are explained to Maria Williams by her mother:
The planters, generally speaking, countenance each other in irregularities, at which
an English libertine would blush. The redundant fertility of these tropical climes,
and the bad habits which slavery introduces, are not favourable to the cause of
virtue. The lord of the soil, accustomed to the mean subservience of those around
him, who think themselves honoured by being made the instruments of his crimes,
soon overcomes every restraint of conscience, and pleads example to conceal, if not
to extenuate his fault.4
Although the explanation offered for the planters' immorality attempts to shift
responsibility onto the climate and onto the slaves, an awareness is expressed that evil
begets evil. West, having no first-hand knowledge of the Caribbean colonies, bases her
authority upon the commonplace picture of creole life. She displays the concern of
British women at home over the behaviour of British men abroad, but her expression
of concern suggests greater dismay over the disloyalty implicit in such practices than
over either the immorality ascribed to them or the unfortunate consequences for both
the mothers and children of illegitimate unions.
Helena Wells early establishes that her position on the slavery issue runs counter to
the more benevolent tendencies of her literary sisters. For example, in Constantia
Neville or the West Indian (1800), Wells reassures her reader that her heroine is the
recipient of a fine education despite her colonial upbringing because Mrs Neville took
pains "to keep Constantia away from the negroes" and employed a white woman in
the nursery. Later, in volume two, we learn:
The style of living at Nevis must be very different from what it was at Barbados; for
in that island there was no instance of any resident having a white mistress; all men
of fortune, who are not married, had their brown women; but such connections
were kept among domestics, the issue of them brought up as slaves, and not
unfrequently sold on the death of the master of the estate.5
Taken out of context, this quotation could be construed as a criticism of the unfortu-
nate results for the children of the unions described. In actuality, it is towards such
children that the writer directs her resentment. She creates a situation wherein her
heroine, having exhausted her financial resources during a lengthy stay in England,
contemplates earning her living as a governess. Her legal adviser introduces her to a
wealthy young man from the West Indies who wishes to hire a companion for his
younger sister. Constantia declines the position and the generous salary offered when
she learns that both Mr and Miss Carleton are the children of slaves. The narrative
voice describes the heroine's shocked amazement over the fact that a father's concern
for his mulatto children extends to sending the little girl to England for an education,
endowing his eldest son with his fortune, and providing financially for his other
children as well. The authorial voice denigrates such a father by emphasizing his
promiscuity: ". . he bequeathed trifling legacies to several others of his offspring, not
any two of which were by the same woman..." 6Constantia extends her scorn to the
amount of legacy reserved for these other children despite the fact that she herself is
penniless and is attempting to devise some scheme whereby she can avoid paying the
debts which she has accumulated in England.
Social justice prevails in Constantia Neville at least according to Well's judgment
- when the handsome young heir of "half a million" is "presumptuous enough to
address a beautiful, highly-accomplished and amiable young woman" who renders her
"decided refusal." Mrs Lambton, who relates the incident, has difficulty refraining
"from saying in pretty strong language that those who sent the issue of such connec-
tions to Europe, were not aware of the evil consequences that might result to society
from so doing." Wells does not attempt to explain the nature of these evil consequen-
ces, but leaves it to the imagination of her young lady reader to play upon the horror.
A reversal of the miscegenation theme is contained in Anna Maria Mackenzie's
Slavery: or the Times (1793). Mackenzie's hero, Adolphus Zimza, is a young African
prince who is neither servant, slave nor noble savage, but an educated mulatto who
falls in love with and marries the white heroine, Mary St. Leger. The marriage,
which provides the material for the book's festive ending, is approved by both fathers:
Zimza, King of Tonouwah, and General Godfrey St. Leger. Mackenzie's epistolary
novel departs from the ordinary right at the beginning. The book opens with a letter
from King Zimza in Africa to his friend Adolphus Hamilton in England. Dated "Second
Moon", Zimza's letter is couched in what the author intends to be the stilted English
of an European-educated African. Zimza's letter serves to inform the reader that he is
sending his young son, the Prince of Tonouwah, to England to be educated under the
protection of Hamilton. Mackenzie early confronts the matter of interracial marriage
without flinching. The reader learns from another letter that the Prince is the child
of Zimza and a white Englishwoman, Leonora. The serious tone of Zimza's allusion
to his marriage defies disapproval:
... her sensibility distinguished innate sincerity through the dark hue that shrouded
Zimza's countenance. Yes, she looked to the heart for that equality the Christians
deny us nor shrunk disgusted from the sable umbrage of an honest countenance.8
Lost to literary biographers, Mrs Mackenzie's view of an approved and happy inter-
racial marriage must represent an extreme and non-typical expression of the anti-
slavery sentiment current in the late eighteenth century. In her criticism of
Christianity's hypocrisy and lack of toleration for other cultures, Mackenzie's views
are reminiscent of Aphra Behn's sentiments as expressed in Oroonoko. Mackenzie
wrote a hundred years later than Behn and she was able to go beyond Behn's
romanticized portrait of a black Prince. Behn's enthusiastic affirmation of the heroic
Oroonoko did not induce her to match him with a white woman. She drew the "divine
Imoinda" as his partner. It is surprising that Mackenzie's daring departure in the
interests of the anti-slavery movement receives no comment in the literary history of
the late eighteenth century novel.
1. Charlotte Smith, Desmond (London, 1792), III, pp. 162-164.
2. Charlotte Smith, The Wanderings of Warwick (London, 1794), p. 59.
3. Elizabeth Helme, The Farmer of Inglewood Forest (London, A.K. Newman and Co., 1796),
4. Jane West, The Advantages of Education, or, The History of Maria Williams (London, William
Lane, 1793), p. 141.
5. Helena Wells, Constantia Neville or The West Indian (London and Edinburgh, 1800), p. 67.
7. Ibid., III, 68.
8. (Anna Maria Mackenzie), Slavery: or The Times (Dublin, 1793), p. 16.
FOUR SLAVE SONGS FROM ST. BARTHOLOMEW
Although the island of St. Bartholomew was a Swedish possession from 1784 (when
Louis XVI ceded it to Gustav III) until 1878 (when it was returned to France) the
role of the Swedes and their colony in the making of the modem West Indies has been
One reason, no doubt, is the difficulty of access to the source materials, mainly
of course in Stockholm or Uppsala and in a language unfamiliar to most Caribbean
historians.1 Yet the important role of the neutral Swedish colony in the early 1800's
- when for some time it provided the only Caribbean port freely open to American
vessels, and for a short period only Swedish vessels could trade with independent
Haiti at all is amply illustrated in the island's English-language newspaper, The Report
of St. Bartholomew which was published from 1804 to 1819.
The Report of St. Bartholomew is one of the very few early West Indian papers of
the period unknown to Lowell Ragatz and missing from his Guide for the Study of
British Caribbean History 1763-1834 (Washington, 1932). Apart from a short run
(23 July 1814 1 June 1816)in the library of the American Antiquarian Society, the
only surviving copies of the paper appear to be in Sweden. Through the courtesy of
the Royal Library, Stockholm, the present writer was supplied with a microfilm
(since deposited in the library of the American Antiquarian Society) prepared from
copies in the Royal Library, the Royal Archives and the Uppsala University Library,
which between them make up a complete set of the paper to 28 October 1819, when
it probably ceased publication. That a complete run survives is remarkable for a news-
paper which in 1814 had only 43 subscribers, and by June 1817 only 26.
For a considerable period The Report was under the editorial direction of Andrew
Bergstedt, the colony's Justiciarius and commandant of its militia. Several times
Bergstedt mocked some of the poorer members of the community in Gustavia, the
island's capital, at that time of some four thousand souls 2 by deliberately setting
advertising matter just as he received it. Thus on 6 April 1805 he printed the following:
I do hereby known that the underwritten have ettableret him here in this country
for to macke every kind of painting, Houses-Fournitures and what kind else, and he
will flattere himself to satisfy who it please to give him there work. Hi ar to be
found in one of the smale shops by the Wattersaid clos to the old Tawrenhouse,
fatter he doe hereby advertise, that he doe every kind of Madrasses.
Gustavia the 15 March 1805 Henry Bewerhout.
A Sara Bewerhout was later listed among freed negresses, so Henry perhaps was one of
'he colony's free coloured population.
Bergstedt later indulged in similar mockery by reprinting verbatim a petition by one
Sarah Trollop, in which she complained that she was being undercut in the sale of well
water by the owners of the church cisterns:
To the Honerable Praycedent end Maimers of the Kings Royal Manchesters Coat of
the Ireland of St. Bartholamiv. The humbil partition of Sarah Trollop a seamstress
leaving end inabetting in the thorn of Gustavia in the ireland aforesad. Mast
respightfulli shoes (etc.).
But Bergsted's approach was not entirely negative. Among contributors to The
Report was Samuel Augustus Matthews. Matthews, a respected Gustavia merchant and
member of the island's Council, had earlier been established in St. Eustatius, where in
1793 he wrote (and set much of the type for) his The Lying Hero, or an answer to
J.B. Moreton's Manners and Customs in the West Indies, which was printed for him
by Edward L. Low and Company. The Lying Hero is little known because of its
One of Matthews' contributions to The Report of St. Bartholomew, on 18 May
1805, was the text of four negro songs which he had collected. Lying forgotten in
Stockholm for a century and a half, Matthews' sympathetic and intelligent rendering
merits a modern reprinting.
Report no. 52 Sat. 18/5/05
The following Negro-songs after Mr Samuel Augustus Matthews, famous for his
knowledge of the West India Negro-English, are inserted to give distant Readers an Idea
of the common Language of the English Negroes. We are sorry, that we cannot com-
municate the tunes. (Edit.)
Melancholy Song with expression and without Drum
Vos motter Buddy Quow?
Aw bree Obeshay bong you,
You tan no sauby how
Daw boekra mon go wrong you, buddy Quow.
Chaw, tan way, Lem me Lone,
No so trouble begin now;
Aw goo mine tik von tone
So knock you rotten shen now, bruk you bone.
No haut burn, morrogoo,
Es granny ungry do you;
Aw hab sum bobrocoo,
Aw bring dem aw foo you, marrogoo.
No ungry no so dry
Foot true now no mo yerry;
Mek wataw foo me yie;
Aw cry so tay aw weary vipe me yie.
Dat time Quasheba tell,
Ee go bring von pickney fi me,
Aw nawngaw fo aw sell
Daw hog mi momy gim me, berry well.
Von kote aw buy um new,
Von rapper aw bin bring kum,
Von new bonkisser too,
Aw neber bin go tink um nawsy, true.
Ven unco Quaco say
De pickney he bin kum mon
Aw nawngaw more tay
Me haut bin nock pum, pum mon, true Gran Jay.
Got mighty day law bup,
See how Quesheba do me,
Daw Bockra mon he lub,
Ee bring mulatto foo me, Gor aa bubb.
Ee yie, ee nose, ee mouth,
Me bin goo mine foo hit um;
Tan ebry mossel bout,
Like Obeshay bin pit him out he mout.
Historical Song composed for the Banjea
Shatterday night aw bin daw my house man,
Bin daw me house man, shed down so softly,
Tank long Sabina, mit mommy Cumba, mit unco Quaco,
Eh ha ha ha!
Me haut bin so grad now, hungry foo true now,
Shunting foo yet day, herring and fish man.
Pot bin daw bile man, bile um so sweet man,
Set down so softly, no tink pon notin; mossa daw caw me.
Mossa daw caw me, kum yaw Kibenna, what you done do da,
Eh ha ha ha!
Kum yaw me boy go, charry de paper, foo Missy Tonsy,
Go law Baksar, cookly my boy go, bring kum de Haunsur,
Eh ha ha ha!
What me muss do now, hungry daw kin me
Mosser go sen me, run law Backsar man,
Pow bin fo furrer, yaw me da go now, yaw me da run now,
Eh ha ha ha!
Foot wha aw yet now, no gi you some man,
Yaw me da run now, no bin run furrer man,
Meet Missy Tonsy, bin pon von hoss mon, ge um de paper,
Say me, me boy, you run law you Mosser,
Tay im to morrow, bring kum de haunser,
Eh ha ha ha!
Me haut bin so grad now, hungry daw kin me,
Yaw me daw run now, yaw me daw kum now,
Kum law me house mon, house bin so dark now,
Chan seen you han mon, chan see you nose mon,
Chan see you yie mon
Eh ha ha ha!
Caw paw Sabina, caw Mommy Comba,
Caw unco Quaco, no year notin -
Eh ha ha ha!
Wha me muss do now, go law me house mon,
Sabina daw sleep day, caun um caun um,
Push um aw shub um, shub um aw push um,
He won gim me haunsur
Eh ha ha ha!
Wha me muss do now, hungry daw kin me, tink say poo cratur,
Bex long ee Mossar, dat time ee sen me, sun law Backsar mon.
Paw him so furrer too, what me must do now,
Lock foo de naun niam, dat time au fine um, yaw me set down so,
Yaw me day set now, yaw me day set now,
Naun niam so sweet now, dat time ee sweet me,
Set down so softly, no tink pon notin, au ierry von sunting,
Sunting dam walk man, daw walk lau me house mon,
Tink say dau Jumbe, me haut bin so fraid now,
Jumbe go kin me, Jumbe go yet me,
Eh ha ha ha!
Dat time au fraid so, frow down de nauniam,
Run pun de bed mon, can pan Sabina,
Mek um budge up mon, dat time ee budge up,
Tay um, Sabina, sunting daw walk you,
You no sauby wha he, Sabina bin tay me,
Bree say dau Jumbe, dat time ee tay me,
Me hat bin so fraid now, look foo de bamboa,
Kibber me head mon, kibber me face mon,
Kibber me yie mon, dat time au fraid so;
Jumbe dau walk now, au yerry ee foot mon,
Yerry ee shoe mon, since au bin bone mon, nebber bin yerry,
Jumbe bin hab on shoe pun ee foot mon, dat time au yerry.
Au cau pon Sabina, au tay um Sabina, who binness Jumby,
De Lau me house mon, au no owe him notin,
Au look foo me tick now, dat time au fine um,
Lik way pun Jumbe, yaw me daw lik way
Jumbe dau run mon, since au bin bone mon
Nebber bin yerry, Jumbe bin baul so, yaw ee dau run now,
Run close ee doe mon, opil ee doo mon, yaw ee dau run now,
Yau ee dau bawl now, au hit um au tump um,
Dat time ee run so, Jumbe be fall man,
Me haut bin so grad now, hit um au tump um,
Tay au bin weary, dat time au weary, au meet unco Quaco,
Ee begin to tay me, ee tay me,
You sauby who you do bong day, au tay um au sauby,
You no see dau Jumbe, who fote au Jumbe,
Dibbel dau Jumbe, you no see dau Mosser.
Ebo Song with Drum
O, lo, lo, lo, lo, lo, 0, 0, 0,
Poo cratur, O! Motche motter, 0, lo, lo, lo, lo,
Bockra work 0, bruk au haut, 0, O, lo.
Hey jigrejig, jigrejig, jigrejig.
Shatterday nite berry wen 0,
Monday mauning yetty nitetale.
Hey jigrejig, jigrejig, jigrejig.
Sweet Song with Soft Drum
Shatterday nite aucung lau town,
Chan fine my deery honey,
Run round de lebin street,
Chan fine & c.
Look behind de guaba bush,
Chan fine & c.
Vosh me pot, au vosh um clean,
Chan fine & c.
Au put in paze, au put in poke,
Chan fine & c.
Au bine me pot, au bine um sweet,
Chan fine & c.
Au sweep me house, au sweep um clean,
Chan fine & c.
Au clean me knife, au clean um shine,
Chan fine & c.
Au mek me bed, au mek um soff,
Chan fine & c.
Au mek um up, au shek um up,
Chan fine & c.
1. A good survey of available material is to be found in S. Barthelemy en svensk koloni 1784-1878.
Katalog utarbetad av Heribert Seitz. Stockholm, Lagerstrom, 1934.
2. In November 1804, the population of Gustavia was reported at 3,000 black and white plus
about 1,000 transients. In August 1806 the resident population of the town was given as 835
white, 802 free-coloured and 1,424 slaves. Most of the white population was American,
British, Dutch or French in origin although for convenience they may have become naturalized.
The Swedish-born population was very small, probably less than ten per cent of the total white
inhabitants. Most of the slaves seem to have been imported via St. Kitts or occasionally
3. There is a copy in the Boston Public Library.