* ** : '* j.. ... -' \ .
277CAR IB BE AN
VOLUME 2 : NUMBER 4
^aJ Su 4 Sif f ^3
COVER ILLUSTRATION: Aimee Dubuc de Rivery (See-A Good Story,
Reprinted from a copy in the collections of the
University of Florida Librairies
Reprinted by permission of
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES, Kingston, Jamaica
A Division of
KRAUS-THOMSON ORGANIZATION LIMITED
Printed in Germany
VOL. 2. No. 4
EDITORIAL NOTES 3
A GOOD STORY
S. Davey 7
FOUR POETS OF THE GREATER ANTILLES
Eric Williams 8
BALLAD OF MY Two GRANDFATHERS
Nicolas Guillen 16
Nicolas Guillen 18
Sir T. W. J. Taylor 20
Claude Thompson 26
SALT FISH AND ACKEE
J. H. Parry 29
OUTSIDE THE WALLS
Andrew Pearse 36
THE PROBLEM OF "OVER-POPULATION" IN PUERTO RICO
Simon Rottenberg 50
CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY, VOL. I, Nos, 1-2
The Editors received numerous requests for Nos. 1 and 2 of Vol. I of
Caribbean Quarterly, and would be most grateful if any readers who have either
of these to spare would be willing to return them. Forty-eight cents will be paid
for each copy. It will be understood that many libraries are anxious to get them
in order to have a complete series of Caribbean Quarterly.
PHILIP SHERLOCK, University College, Jamaica, B.W.I.
ANDREW PEARSE, Extra-Mural Department, Old Post Office, St. Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain,
Trinidad, P. 7.I.
MSS. AND COMMUNICATIONS TO THE EDITOR should be addressed to the Editor of the
Caribbean Quarterly, and not to an individual. Unsolicited MSS. which are not accepted
for publication will be returned if accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope.
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the Editor in Trinidad. This will entitle them to four successive issues.
Trinidad and Tobago,
Subscribers in United
Kingdom or Abroad
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College of the West Indies.
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Road, St. Michael.
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Building, St. Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
The Editors ask readers to note that the price of Caribbean Quarterly,
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will include the four issues of the Quarterly post free, has been raised to $1.50
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Sir Thomas and Lady Taylor
The news of the honour bestowed by Her Majesty the Queen on the Principal
of the University College of the West Indies, Sir Thomas Taylor, has been received
throughout the West Indies with great pleasure. Those who have worked with the
Principal know how completely he has given himself to his great task, and now
his example has been an inspiration to all who strive for the development of the
The Editors of Caribbean Quarterly are happy to offer their sincere
congratulations to Sir Thomas, and to his gracious wife Lady Taylor.
Caribbean Seminar on Adult Education
The Government of Jamaica has invited the different Governments of the
Caribbean territories and a number of organizations and institutions interested in
the development of the region, to participate in a Caribbean Seminar on Adult
Education which is to be held in Jamaica this September.
The Seminar is being sponsored by the Department of Extra-Mural Studies of
the University College of the West Indies, the Education Department of Jamaica,
the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, the Jamaica Agricultural Society, and
the Co-operative Department of Jamaica.
The theme of the Seminar is "The Role of Adult Education in the Caribbean",
with emphasis on the fact that adult education is a vital part of any programme
of industrial and agricultural development. The Seminar will be held at the Manor
House Hotel, which is six miles from Kingston and the inclusive daily rate for
participants is thirty-five shillings (35/-: $5.00 U.S.). The Seminar will run from
Monday, 1st September, to about Thursday, 18th September.
The first two days of the Seminar will be given up to discussing two of the
key problems in the region-the problems of productivity and of the West Indian
Family. Dr. Simon Rottenberg, who is Director of the Institute of Labour
Relations at the University of Puerto Rico, will lead the discussion on productivity.
The following four days will be spent in making field trips to observe the
work that is being done in community development in Jamaica. In one district
visitors will see experiments in co-operative housing, home economics and joint
work by Extension Officers belonging to different Government agencies; in the
Yallahs Valley visitors will see the disastrous effects of erosion and illiteracy and
they will learn of the steps that are now being taken to deal with these problems;
in a third district members of the Seminar will see an attempt at running a land
settlement as a co-operative and in the fourth area it will be possible to see the
way in which country folk can lift their standard of living under voluntary
During the day or two following on the field trips members of the Seminar
will discuss what they have seen and will formulate five problems to be studied
1 I *
by five groups. These will deal with these five subjects-Home Economics, Literacy,
the Production of Basic Material for Community Education, the Place of
Co-operatives in Adult Education and the Role of the Public Library. Each group
will have two chairmen and a secretary. Dr. Lydia Roberts, of the University of
Puerto Rico, will be one of the co-chairmen of the group dealing with Home
Economics. Dr. Rodriquez Bou of the University of Puerto Rico, will lead the
section on Literacy. Dr. Rodriquez Bou was the UNESCO Consultant on Literacy
at the Seminars in India and Brazil. Miss Ella Griffin of the staff of the United
States Department of Education, who is now a member of the staff of UNESCO and
who is working on a literacy project in Jamaica, will lead the section on the
production of basic material. The five groups will be expected to prepare detailed
programmes setting out aims, methods and techniques, types of material
recommended for use, and plans for training. Through the pooling of experience
and the discussion and demonstration of methods it should be possible to prepare
programmes that could be carried through in such a community as Jamaica with
its limited resources and with its comparatively high percentage of illiteracy. This
means that the report on the Seminar will consist very largely of programmes
rather than of papers.
During the time that the Seminar groups are at work there will be at least
one meeting each day for all participants. At these meetings a number of persons
who are engaged in adult education will give a detailed and factual account of
their work, Thus, M. Gabriel Jean-Francois will speak about the UNESCO project
which he is directing in the Marbial Valley in Haiti. This series will probably
include descriptions of the work of the Canadian Association for Adult Education,
some of the work in adult education in West Africa and the work of the School
of Inter-American Studies at the University of Florida. The last two days of the
Seminar will be given up to the presentation of the programmes.
Adult Education Centre-Trinidad
The Government of Trinidad is now deliberating on plans for establishing an
adult education training centre and workshop in Port-of-Spain. The building is
already earmarked for the centre which if realized will have accommodation for
residential courses and equipment for the production of teaching aids, films,
film strips, &c.
Development in British Honduras
During his two years in British Honduras, Mr. Stanley Sharp, now Resident
Tutor in the Leeward Islands, did valuable pioneer work in adult education in
British Honduras. He was recently succeeded by Mr. Rawle Farley, B.A., B.sc.,
who is a Guianese by birth, and who taught in British Honduras and in St. Kitts
before going to London on a British Council Scholarship.
One of the features of the present programme in British Honduras is a series
of seven public lectures on "The Idea of a University." The Daily Clarion
commented editorially on the first lecture, quoting these significant words of the
Hon. S. A. Hassock, Acting Attorney General of British Honduras:-
"The University College of the West Indies is the anvil on which the
ignorance and the prejudices of the Caribbean area will flatten."
Two valuable conferences have been held in the past months, one called by
the Colonial Development and Welfare Organisation in Barbados for social welfare
officers in the British West Indies, and the other arranged jointly by the Food and
Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations and the Caribbean Commission on
Home Economics, attended by representatives of the territories of the four
metropolitan powers. The social welfare conference was especially valuable in
underlining the urgent need for co-ordination of social welfare and community
development activities in various territories. Its most important resolution asserted
that the weakness of West Indian family life was the basic problem facing social
welfare services and called for thorough study of the West Indian family. The
Home Economics conference devoted much of its attention to the training of home
economists for the Caribbean area, and also to the necessity of reforming school
curricula away from cookery and dressmaking classes and in the direction of
general home improvement.
The West Indian Family
Dom Basil Matthews of Trinidad has written a study of the West Indian
Family which is to be published in the "Caribbean Affairs" series of the Depart-
ment of Extra-Mural Studies of the University College of the West Indies. It is
the result of many years of research and study, and is an important contribution
to knowledge in a field of studies which is highly controversial and in which
comparatively little work has yet been done. We invite our readers to look out for
the publication of this pioneer work by a West Indian sociologist on one of the
most important problems of social life in the West Indies.
This leads us to mention "Caribbean Affairs" at greater length. The books
and pamphlets published in this series give information about the life and work
of the people of the Caribbean. The authors aim at a factual and objective treatment
of their subject. The following works are now available from the Department of
Extra-Mural Studies, University College of the West Indies, Mona:
Social Structure of Jamaica 2/-
Social Structure of the British Caribbean (excluding Jamaica)
in three parts 1/3d. each
A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados 1/3d.
This last in an abridged version of that fascinating book, "The True and Exact
History of the Island of Barbados" written by Richard Ligon in 1653. It is a
picture of the social revolution which took place in the Caribbean Islands in the
middle of the seventeenth century when sugar replaced tobacco and estates took
the place of small holdings.
The Resident Tutor for Trinidad and Tobago took six Trinidadians, including
two artistes, a photographer, two dancers, and a collector of folk tales to Carriacou,
a small island in the Grenadines. The party stayed ten days, and studied the Big
Drum Dance, one of the most interesting activities of Carriacou life. The dancers
learnt several of the "nation" dances, which carry the names of African tribes,
and they hope to be able to use these with the Little Carib Dance Group. The
party intends to make a more systematic survey next year.
Puerto Rico Festival of Folk Music and Dance
Groups of musicians and dancers from all over the Caribbean area will be
attending the Puerto Rico Festival which runs from August Ist-10th. The British
West Indies will be represented by two dance groups from Trinidad, one from
Jamaica, a steel band from Antigua and a "cocolute" player from Grenada.
The first graduates
Undergraduates of the University College of the West Indies have been busy
with their examinations. A group of twenty-five medical students sat for the
2nd M.B. while seventeen sat for the B.Sc. Plans are now being made for the
first graduation ceremony to be conducted at the University College. Since the
degrees are those of the University of London the ceremony cannot take place
until after the award of the degrees has been confirmed by the Senate of the
University of London. This means that a number of those who graduate will be
absent from the ceremony. Provision will be made for their presentation by proxy.
The Senate of the University College of the West Indies has set up a committee
to consider the form of the ceremony.
We wish to take this opportunity of expressing our gratitude to Mr. Louis
Agostini, for the help given to this Journal at its inception, and to offer to his
successor Mr. Doston Clarke our very best wishes and congratulation on his
A Good Story
Aimee Dubuc de Rivery is the cover-girl whose portrait adorns this issue
of "Caribbean Quarterly" Her strange adventures and amazing rise to
eminence are outlined unconvincingly below.
Au QUARTIER DU ROBERT, sur 1'habitation la Pointe-Royale, vint au monde, en
1766, Aimee Dubuc de Rivery, appartenant A l'une des plus anciennes et des plus
notables families de la Martinique. Envoy6e en France pour y recevoir une
education 616gante et soign6e, elle passa plusieurs ann6es dans la maison des Dames-
de-la-Visitation, situde a Nantes. A dix-huit ans, elle fut rappele par sa famille
et s'embarqua dans ce port, en 1784, pour revenir dans sa patrie. Le navire, qui
la portait, atteint d'une voie d'eau et pris de s'engloutir dans les flots, fut
recontrd par un batiment espagnol faisant voile pour Majorque, qui recueillit
1'6quipage et les passagers du navire nantais.
Au moment d'attendre sa destination, I'espagnol fut attaqu6 et captr6 par un
corsaire alg6rien. Aim6e Dubuc de Rivery, accompagn6e d'une vieille gouvernante,
fut conduite a Alger. Le Dey de cette r6gence frapp6 de sa beauty, et suivant
les moeurs orientales et barbaresques de cette nation, voulant faire la Cour au Grand-
Turc, son maitre, lui exp6dia la juene fille en present. Selim III qui r6gna quelques
ann6es apres sur la Sublime-Porte, ne fut pas insensible aux charges de la captive
La juene Creole, subissant A regret sans doute son strange destin6e, devint
la Sultane favorite du Grand Seigneur, et, en 1808, sons fils n6 en 1785, ayant pris
les renes de 1'empire turc, sous le nom de Mahmoud II, elle se trouva Sultane Valid6.
Le sang qui coulait en parties dans les veines de Mahmoud II, dut exercer son
influence sur la direction de ses ides qui le porterent A tenter chez sa nation des
r6formes qui rendent son regne cle&bre dans la histoire de l'Islamisme. Ce fur sans
doute aussi a l'action secrete de la Sultane Valid6 que S6bastiani fut redevable de
l'ascendant qu'il exerga sur le divan en 1807 et qui le fit triompher et des intrigues
et des armes anglaises.
-from S. DAVEY "Histoire de la Martinique."
Four Poets of the Greater Antilles*
IN RECENT YEARS it has become quite fashionable in certain circles to talk of
Caribbean co-operation. The practice not infrequently diverges from the preaching
when the faith is put to the test. This is not surprising. The traditional Caribbean
outlook is isolationism, not co-operation. Engendered by distance and the absence
of adequate communications, isolationism has been suckled by the international
rivalry which has dominated Caribbean history, and reared on insular jealousy.
But let us suppose that these deeply ingrained characteristics of Caribbean society
were magically to disappear. Let us suppose that cheap and regular communications
were to be provided between, say, Trinidad and Haiti, and, more miraculously,
that our Trinidad middle-class availed themselves of them. Let us suppose that,
with the stroke of a wand, we could blot out the four and a half centuries of
international rivalry for Caribbean hegemony, and start with a clean slate. Let us
suppose, finally, that the Caribbean were suddenly transformed into an area of
fraternity, in which the Trinidadian, for example, acknowledged the equality of
the small islands. Let us imagine, I say, all these miracles, and Caribbean
co-operation would probably be no nearer realisation than it is today. For the two
fundamental obstacles to its achievement would remain: the absence of a common
body of knowledge, and the language barrier.
In my opinion, the development and organisation of this common body of
knowledge of the Caribbean, based on the deliberate cultivation of the multi-lingual
facility, is the great political desideratum and intellectual truth of the age and the
area. It is with this in view that I have selected for my subject this evening four
outstanding contemporary poets of the non-British Greater Antilles: Nicolas Guill6n
of Cuba, whose complete works were published in Buenos Aires in 1947 under the
title of El Son Entero; Jacques Roumain, who died in 1944, and Jean Brierre,
both of Haiti; and Luis Pales Matos of Puerto Rico, whose major work, Tuntun de
Pasa y Griferia, was reprinted in Puerto Rico in 1950. A few translations of
individual poems by Guillen, Roumain and Brierre are included in The Poetry of
the Negro, 1746-1949, edited by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, and
published in 1949.
Two dominant influences have moulded these four men. The first stems from
Africa. African influence is strongest in Haiti, whose population is overwhelmingly
Negro. Its strength is appreciable in Cuba and Puerto Rico where, even by the
conventionally elastic Caribbean criteria for differentiating between whites and
non-whites, the census figures estimate the coloured population at about one-half
A lecture to the Trinidad and Tobago Literary League of Cultural and Debating Clubs,
on 4th April, 1952.
of the total. Of the four writers, however, only the Puerto Rican, Pales Matos, is
a white man; the others are coloured.
The second dominant influence in the work of these writers comes from the
United States. They belong to the period of Caribbean history which saw the vast
development of United States power, especially its economic power, in the
Caribbean. In 1898 the United States annexed Puerto Rico outright; in 1906 Cuba
agreed not to borrow any money or cede any bases without the consent of the
United States, and conceded to the United States the right to intervene in Cuban
affairs to protect life and property when deemed necessary by the United States;
in 1915 United States troops occupied Haiti which was thereafter forbidden to
borrow money without the approval of the United States.
It was the age of what was called in the United States dollar diplomacy; its
symbol in the Caribbean was the large sugar plantation owned by United States
capital and worked by landless Cuban and Puerto Rican labour. The Caribbean
looked like becoming, in the words of United States propagandists of three decades
ago, "the American Mediterranean." Latin America replied with denunciations of
what is called "Yanqui Imperialism." The climate of international relations was
only improved in 1934, when Franklin D. Roosevelt announced his Good Neighbour
Policy, in which he proclaimed to the world that the United States had no
imperialistic ambitions in the Western Hemisphere. The marines were thereupon
withdrawn from Haiti, the legislation interfering with Cuba's sovereignty was
repealed, and the United States inaugurated a series of reforms in Puerto Rico
which have brought contemporary Puerto Rico to a position of autonomy not
exceeded anywhere in the Caribbean.
It is against the background of these two dominant influences, from Africa
and the United States, that I propose to treat the poetry of these four poets. If
I consider these two influences separately in the interest of clarity, it will be
appreciated that they are really closely related. For example, the Negro in Cuba
might be a worker on a sugar plantation owned by a United States Company.
First, Africa. The poetry of Pales Matos is full of sonorous Africanisms, in
which he obviously revels and which he uses very effectively. Let me give you an
example. He says ("Pueblo Negro"):
"Last night I was obsessed by the remote
Vision of a Negro people
-Mussumba, Timbuctoo, Farafangana."
Here is another example ("Majestad Negra"):
"In the broiling Antillean street
Goes Tembandumba of Quimbamba-
Rumba, macumba, candombe, bambula .
Underlying these Africanisms is the fact that Puerto Rico is "one-half Spanish and
the other half African" ("Ten con Ten"). But what else is Africa to the Caribbean?
For Pales Matos it is an amalgam of dance, drums, voodoo and sex. His Negroes
do nothing but "dance, dance, dance" ("Candombe"), as if possessed ("Numen").
The nights for him resound with drums ("Tambores"). The Negro woman he
portrays as one "in whose maternal curve is hidden the prolific harmony of sex"
("Pueblo Negro"), whence springs the "torrid love of the mulatto woman"
("Mulata-Antilla"). It is true that Pales Matos describes the Antilles as "a carriage
of sugar factories, a Turkish bath of molasses" ("Canci6n Festiva para ser llorada").
But he does not go into this question, beyond a reference to the "sad Negro"
("Lamento") and the Negro woman "singing of her empty life as a domestic
animal" ("Pueblo Negro"). Thus, in the poetry of Pales Matos, the African
influence is emphatically cultural.
With Guillen, on the other hand, the influence is basically economic. While he,
too, has his Africanisms and emphasises the African origin, his Negro is a poor
worker, working in the sun whilst the Arabs sell their wares and the Frenchmen
take a stroll or a rest ("Guadalupe, W.I."). His life is dominated by sugar-"the
Negro tied to the sugar plantation. The Yanqui on the sugar plantation" ("Cafia").
The whip, sweat and the whip ("Sudor y Litigo")-these are his lot. He is the
hungry Simon Caraballo, sleeping in doorways, with a tile for his pillow and the
ground for his bed, cold in his feet, without coffee in the morning ("Balada de
Simon Caraballo"), prototype of the lost men who wander aimlessly about the
city like "dogs abandoned in a storm" ("Canci6n de los Hombres Perdidos").
Roumain and Brierre, the Haitians, deal not with the Negro in Haiti but with
the Negro in the world as a whole, and place their emphasis on racial discrimination.
Roumain writes: "I have kept your memory, Africa, You are in me"
("Bois-d'Ebene"), but it is the memory of the Middle Passage and the mortality
of those whom the slave traders referred to contemptuously as "ebony wood" or
"black ivory" Where the dance, the song and sex comprise Pales Matos' Negro,
Roumain protests against these:
"To whom a Negro
Is only an instrument
To sing, n'est-ce pas
To dance, of course
To fornicate, naturlich
Only a commodity
To be bought and sold
In the pleasure market" ("Sales Nbgres").
Brierre is bitter at the thought that the broom, the tool, the elevator and the
kitchen are the Negro's share, and reminds us that behind the music, the love and
the dance there are concealed dope and loneliness. The chief consideration for him
is the discrimination against those who, as he says, "constructed Chicago whilst
singing the blues, built up the United States to the rhythm of the spirituals."
The difference of emphasis is perhaps best exemplified by comparing the
attitude of Pales Matos and Brierre to Haitian independence. Pales Matos stresses
the concern with titles of nobility on the part of the black and mulatto aristocracy
which replaced French rule. He pokes fun at the "Duke of Marmalade" and "Count
of Lemonade" ("Canci6n Festiva para ser Ilorada" and "Lagarto Verde") at whom
many others before him have laughed, forgetting that these were actual place
names in Haiti. He sneers legitimately at the cafd-au-lait women, the elegance of
the aristocracy and their minuets. But when he makes the statement, "there goes
the Count of Lemonade multiplying the orang-outangs in the thickets of
Christophe" ("Lagarto Verde"), he comes perilously close to that analysis of
Negro character made by the planter-historian of Jamaica, Edward Long, in 1775,
that the Negro bore a closer resemblance to the orang-outang than he did to the
white man. Brierre, on the other hand, a passionate Haitian nationalist, gives us
this interpretation of the struggle for Haitian independence:
"In St. Domingue
You marked out with suicides
And paved with anonymous stones
The tortuous path which opened one morning
On to the triumphal road of independence
And you held over the baptismal fonts
Clasping in one hand the torch of Vertieres
And with the other breaking the bars of slavery
The birth of liberty
For all Latin America" ("Black Soul").
Let us now turn to the second influence in the work of these poets-the United
States. Pales Matos is full of wrath for the tourist trade, which he calls "the Anglo-
Saxon pest," and the United States tourist, whom he identifies with Sinclair Lewis'
Babbitt. In a bitter passage, he writes:
"Whore, rum, Negro boy. Delight
Of the three great powers
In the Antilles" ("Placeres"),
the powers being France, Great Britain and the United States. For the rest, Pales
Matos deals with the question obliquely and by indirection. This is his description
of Puerto Rico, his "green Antillean isle" ("Ten con Ten"):
"This is my whole history:
Salt, sterility, weariness,
A vague indefinable sadness,
A motionless fixity of stagnant water,
And a cry, out of the depths,
Like a terrible and obstinate fungus,
Compact among soft carnations
Of useless quenched desires" ("Topografia").
He calls on God to have pity on "my poor town where my poor people will die
from nothing! in this old town where nothing ever happens" ("Pueblo"). He
reaches the depths of frustration when he writes that Puerto Rico, "in the desert of
a continent bleats like a stewed goat" ("Preludio en Boricua").
Pales Matos did not like the United States and could see no salvation for
Puerto Rico. What, then, was his vision? He looked around him at his Caribbean
neighbours. What he saw was a collection of names which he has never visited,
islands of papiamento and patois ("Intermedios del Hombre Blanco-Islas"),
fiery calalu and strong rum, plantains and coconuts. His conclusion is a purely
negative one-"all united, dreaming and suffering and struggling against diseases,
cyclones and greed, dying a little at night and restored again at dawn" ("Mulata.
Antilla"). His only recourse was to fall back on a purely personal solution and
cultural nationalism-a vigorous cultivation of his native Spanish language, which
was officially subordinated to English after 1898.
Guill6n moves in another world from Pales Matos. As contemptuous of Babbitt
as Pales Matos, his resentment is specific: the United States tourist spends on
liquor enough to cure a Cuban suffering from advanced tuberculosis ("Jos6 Ram6n
Cantaliso: II. Visita a un Solar"). Loving Cuba as much as Pales Matos loves
Puerto Rico, his opposition to the United States is not cultural but economic. It is
directed at absentee capitalist investments, as a result of which "my country is
sweet from outside, and very bitter from inside" ("Mi Patria es dulce por fuera"),
and under which the Cuban, "yesterday the slave of white overseers armed with
angry whips, is today the slave of ruddy and voracious Yanqui sugar barons"
("La Voz Esperanzada"). Where Pales Matos turns his back on his neighbours,
Guillen woos them. He noted that the same foreign hand on Cuba's flag is on
Venezuela's, and says: "how bitter this oil, caramba, which tastes of Cuban
sugar" ("Son Venezolana").
Pales Matos sought the solution of his problem in linguistic nationalism.
Guill6n, on the other hand, sought it in international politics. He turned to the
communist party and communist ideology. The solution which he advances is "the
levelling and harvesting call of the Revolution" ("La Voz Esperanzada"). His
refuge is Stalin, whom he calls the captain, at whose side, if we care to take his
word, free men walk, Chinese, Negro and white, constituting a "rough bloc of
blood from Siberia to Ceylon and from Smyrna to Canton" ("Una Canci6n a
Stalin"). Guill6n repeats again and again this theme, with variations: the united
front of whites and Negroes. He describes Cuba, for example, as a mulatto mixture
of African and Spanish, who dance the same song ("La Canci6n del Bongo").
Elsewhere he speaks of Cuba as sprung from one grandparent who was Negro and
another who was white, both of the same size, "Negro anxiety and white anxiety,"
shouting, sleeping, weeping, singing ("Balada de los dos Abuelos"). As yet a
third illustration, he talks of two children, one Negro, the other white, "branches
of the same tree of misery" ("Dos Nifios").
The International is the hope that Roumain, too, holds out to us. The Asturian
miner, the Johannesburg Negro miner, the Krupp metal worker, the peasant of
Castille, the outcast of India, the Indian of America, the white worker of Detroit,
the black peon of Alabama-Roumain's thesis is the familiar Communist one, that
all, shoulder to shoulder, will proclaim "the unity of suffering and of the revolt
of all peoples on the entire face of the earth" ("Bois-d'Ebene"). He assures us
that, from the depths of the gold mines of the Congo and South Africa, from the
cotton plantations of Louisiana and the sugar centrals of the Caribbean, even the
tom-toms will learn the language of the International, and the day will come when:
all the outcasts of the earth
will march to the assault of your barracks
and of your banks .
with this world
of dirty Negroes" ("Sales Negres").
Brierre's homage to Roumain, "the immense brazier surmounted by the Red
Flag" ("Nous garderons le Dieu"), suggests that he is not unsympathetic to
Stalinism. The communist ideology is implicit also in the conclusion of his poem,
"You await the next call
The inevitable mobilisation
tomorrow for the assualt on the Bastilles
towards the bastions of the future
to write in all languages
on the clear pages of all skies
the declaration of your rights ignored
for more than five centuries
in the Congo
everywhere in short where your black hands
have left on the walls of Civilisation
imprints of love, mercy and light."
This, then, is the choice we are offered by these four poets: to sing the
International with Guillen and Roumain, or bleat like a stewed goat with Pales
Matos; to die under the Red Flag with Guillen and Roumain or stagnate and die
from nothing with Pales Matos. Guillen and Roumain call on Stalin; Pales Matos
harks back to Tchekov and betrays a weariness and sadness reminiscent of the
mal de sidcle of the French romantic movement in the nineteenth century. As
opposed to the insistent propaganda of Guillen and Roumain regarding the racial
equality of world Stalinism, Pales Matos offers us his sonorous Africanisms. It
would be a tragedy for the Caribbean if these were the only alternatives.
Fortunately they are not.
Pales Matos' own Puerto Rico is the outstanding example in the Caribbean
today that there is a third alternative-a democratic party so firmly rooted in the
masses that its popular majority constitutes a virtual monopoly. Under the
leadership of Governor Mufioz Marin, Puerto Rico today is not weary, sad or
stagnant, a country where nothing ever happens. It throbs with a vitality which
never ceases to astonish those accustomed to Caribbean inertia and which has no
counterpart in the Caribbean. What influence this release of his people's latent
energies has had on Pales Matos is not clear. I am not aware of any poetry written
by him within the past few years. But this much is certain. Puerto Ricans in their
thousands have rallied not to Stalin but to Mufioz Marin. They have at the same
time worked out a cordial relationship with the United States on the basis of local
autonomy, and thus found that participation in a larger entity which Guillen and
Roumain sought in the Stalinist International and which Pales Matos was unable
to find at all.
It is equally fortunate for the Caribbean territories that the answer to the
powerful plea of Roumain and Guillen for racial equality is not the Africanisms
of Pales Matos. My personal experience of the West Indies and the Negro in the
United States convinces me that this racial propaganda is the basis of the
superficial appeal for Negroes in particular of the communist doctrine which few
understand. This propaganda is too powerful an attraction for people with the
heritage of slavery and who still live to a considerable extent in what the
distinguished United States educator and sociologist, Charles S. Johnson, calls
"the shadow of the plantation." There are those who claim that the communist
practice of race relations diverges from the theory. I am in no position to express
any view on this. But what can be said is that it is wholly false to think that
communist ideology has a monopoly of the theory of racial equality. Nearly a
hundred years ago, seven years after the Communist Manifesto, to be precise, the
doctrine of racial equality was stated by one of the brightest stars in the nineteenth
century democratic constellation-the United States poet, Walt Whitman. Though
it is long, I think it appropriate to conclude tonight with this little-known manifesto
of fraternity by Whitman, entitled "Salut au Monde":
"I see all the menials of the earth, labouring,
I see all the prisoners in the prisons,
I see the defective human bodies of the earth,
The blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunchbacks, lunatics,
The pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers, slave-makers of the earth,
The helpless infants, and the helpless old men and women.
I see male and female everywhere,
I see the serene brotherhood of philosophy,
I see the constructiveness of my race,
I see the results of the perseverance and industry of my race,
I see ranks, colours, barbarisms, civilizations, I go among them, I mix
And I salute all the inhabitants of the earth.
You whoever you are I
You daughter or son of England I
You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you Russ
You dim-descended, black, divine-soul'd African, large, fine-headed,
nobly-form'd, superbly destin'd, on equal terms with me I
You Norwegian! Swede I Dane! Icelander you Prussian!
You Spaniard of Spain I you Portuguese 1
You Frenchwoman and Frenchman of France!
You Beige! you liberty-lover of the Netherlands! (you stock whence
I myself have descended);
You sturdy Austrian! you Lombard I Hun! Bohemian farmer of Styria I
You neighbour of the Danube !
Each of us inevitable,
Each of us limitless-each of us with his or her right upon the earth,
Each of us allowed the eternal purports of the earth,
Each of us here as divinely as any is here.
You Hottentot with clicking palate! you woolly-hair'd hordes!
You own'd persons dropping sweat-drops or blood-drops I
You human forms with the fathomless ever-impressive countenances
of brutes I
You poor koboo whom the meanest of the rest look down upon for all your
glimmering language and spirituality!
You dwarf'd Kamstchatkan, Greenlander, Lapp
You Austral negro, naked, red, sooty, with protrusive lip, grovelling,
seeking your food
You Caffre, Berber, Soudanese
You haggard, uncouth, untutor'd Bedoweel
You plague-swarms in Madras, Nankin, Kaubul, Cairo I
You benighted roamer of Amazonia I you Patagonian! you Feejeeman I
My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determination around the
I have look'd for equals and lovers and found them ready for me in
I think some divine rapport has equalised me with them.
You vapours, I think I have risen with you, moved away to distant
continents, and fallen down there, for reasons,
I think I have blown with you, you winds;
You waters I have finger'd every shore with you,
I have run through what any river or strait of the globe has run through,
I have taken my stand on the bases of peninsulas and on the high embedded
rocks, to cry thence:
Salut au monde !
What cities the light of warmth penetrates I penetrate those cities myself,
All islands to which birds wing their way I wing my way myself.
Toward you all, in America's name,
I raise high the perpendicular hand, I make the signal,
To remain after me in sight for ever,
For all the haunts and homes of men."
Ballad of My Two Grandfathers
Shadows that only I can see
My two grandfathers go with me.
Lance with head of bone,
Drum of leather and wood:
My black grandfather.
Ruff round his broad throat,
Grey warrior's armour:
My white grandfather.
Naked foot, body of rock,
These from my black man;
Pupils of antarctic glass
These from my white man.
Africa of dank forests
and heavy, muffled gongs-
I am dying
(says my black grandfather)
Black water of crocodiles,
Green mornings of coco palms.
I am weary
(says my white grandfather)
O sails of bitter winds.
Galleon burning gold.
I am dying
(says my black grandfather)
O coasts of virgin throats,
cheated with glass trinkets.
I am weary
(says my white grandfather)
O pure sun of beaten gold,
caught in the hoop of the tropics
O pure moon so round and clear
Over the sleep of the monkeys.
How many ships, how many ships.
How many Negroes, how many Negroes.
What long refulgence of sugar cane.
What lashes those of the slaver-trader.
Blood? Blood. Tears? Tears.
Half-opened veins and eyelids
and empty daybreaks
and sunsets on plantations
and a great voice, a strong voice
shattering the silence.
O the ships, so many ships,
So many Negroes.
Shadows that only I can see
My two grandfathers go with me.
Don Federico shouts to me
and Taita Facundo is silent;
and both dream on through the night,
I bring them together.
Facundo. They both embrace.
They both sigh. They both
raise their proud heads
under the high stars
both of the same stature
Black anguish and white anguish
Both of the same stature.
And they shout. And dream. And weep. And sing.
And sing and sing and sing.
Over the sea
came the pirate,
messenger of the Devil,
with his steady, fixed stare
and his monotonous wooden leg.
Over the sea came the pirate.
We must learn to remember
What the clouds cannot forget.
Over the seas,
With the hyacinth and the bull,
with flour and iron
came the Negro, to make
and to weep in his exile
over the seas came the Negro.
How can you forget
What the clouds can still remember?
Over the seas
the parchments of the law,
the rod for fraudulent measuring,
and the pox of the viceroys,
and death, to sleep
over the seas.
A hard thing to remember
what the clouds cannot forget
over the seas.
[Translations by G. R. Coulthard] -Illustrations by Hugh Sealy of Trinidad.
An Address delivered by the Principal of the University College of the
West Indies (Sir Thomas Taylor) on its first Commemoration Day, 1951.
TODAY is the anniversary of the day when with due ceremony we installed our first
Chancellor and I feel it proper that I should address you on a subject which has to
do with the happenings of that day. In the ceremonies which most of you will
remember, men and women walked about in strange garments, mediaeval garments
of various shapes and colours, all of which had a meaning. They added enormously
to the pageantry of the occasion, the scarlet mass of our own undergraduate body,
the sober black of the bachelors and masters, the bright colours of the doctors of
different faculties from various universities, the silver laced robes of Vice-Chancellors
and the gold laced robes of Chancellors.
Some of you may remember the Dean of the Faculty of Natural Science from
the University of Puerto Rico. He too was in mediaeval garb, different in its cut
from that of the rest, in a long gown with a short cape trimmed with black velvet.
It was in the Spanish tradition of university dress and though different it was in
essence the same, a university officer wearing on a university ceremonial occasion
the dress of his mediaeval forerunners. The spectacle of the academic procession
on that day must surely have put many people in mind of the antiquity and history
of universities and that is the subject with which I propose to deal this evening.
I do so with some trepidation since I am no historian and I can see historians
sitting before me. But this is not an attempt to summarize the history of the
universities of the world; it is simply some disjointed remarks made with the
purpose of drawing your attention to the length of the tradition to which we
ourselves now belong.
How universities began is known roughly, but not neatly and clearly because
they did not have a neat and clear-cut beginning. The date when the older
universities of Europe began their existence as universities is very difficult to give
with any precision for the reason that they began before they were founded by
some authoritative act of a King, a Pope or a Bishop. They emerged and came into
existence and then at a later date were given an established organization. This has
not prevented people at various times in the past from entering into violent
controversy about whether University A is older than University B, nor has it
stopped the growth of legendary stories about the age of certain universities.
One of the classical examples is that of University College, Oxford, which for
long claimed to have been founded by King Alfred in or about A.D. 872. There is
not a shred of historical evidence for this and indeed it is pretty certain that what
could be called a foundation was made by William of Durham more than 300 years
later (1249), but this did not prevent the Master and Fellows of the College from
celebrating the 1,000th anniversary of the College in the year 1872. The story is
told how one member of the College, a historian, refused to attend the dinner, but
sent a parcel with a letter saying that the parcel contained a gift of great historical
importance to the College and asking that at the end of the dinner the Master
should open it and announce the gift to the assembled diners. The Master did so in
public with some pomp and ceremony and displayed some pieces of mouldy toast
which a label said were some of the cakes which King Alfred had allowed to burn
in the cottage according to the ancient story.
Universities began in a haphazard way and the real cause was one which can
be said still to exist today. A small proportion of young people have a genuine and
irrepressible desire for knowledge; with some it is a thirst for knowledge itself and
with others it is a desire to obtain knowledge for the purpose of attaining power,
a position, through professional qualification or otherwise. These young people know
that knowledge can best be obtained from another man; some can be obtained
from books, some by personal observation and experience, but in the end close
personal contact with another human being who has knowledge is the best way.
I will say more of this later.
If they have the opportunity, they therefore flock to a learned man and sit at
his feet. Where there is one learned man, there are likely to be several and hence
several pairs of feet at which to sit, so that inevitably certain places became centres
where young people in search of knowledge flocked and there was created a society
of teachers and students which was the beginning of a university proper and
which remains the essence of any university today. During my recent visit to
New Zealand, I read Beaglehole's History of the University of New Zealand and
remember the final sentence of the first chapter which is entitled 'First Principles.'
It reads, 'It should be added that a university, simply stated, is an association of
teachers and students, with this characteristic, that the teachers do not cease to
So these centres developed without any formal organization and as the fame
of a centre grew, so the flock of students grew and the university had come into
being though it had no formal foundation. That came later. There are a few
interesting points about this state of affairs which I should like to mention. The
first is that I am not suggesting that this process took place only in mediaeval
Europe. It has taken place in all ages and in all kinds of societies. Those of you
who have read the Socratic dialogues of Plato know that it took place in Athens
in the time of classical Greece.
In an entirely different society there is a famous example in the world of
Islam. The very ancient university of El Azhar in Cairo began with pupils
assembling round the learned men in the mosque which is still the university, and
this assembly was formally constituted as a university in A.D. 988, nearly 1,000
years ago, by the Caliph El-Aziz. This university still continues in much the same
shape and has not developed into new and specialised buildings as have the
European universities. It still teaches in the old way with the students squatting
on the floor in a circle round their masters with no epidiascopes or any modern
devices. It also differs from the European universities in other ways. The normal
course lasts seventeen years with a preliminary examination at the end of the
eleventh year. For long it was almost the only centre of Moslem learning and in
1912 there were 15,000 undergraduates with a teaching staff of 600, but since then
other Moslem universities have been founded and now it is down to about 5,000
Another interesting case is that of Bologna in Italy which is often taken to
be the oldest of the European universities. Here the same process occurred; the
students flocked to the teachers and, as had to happen sooner or later, some
organization became necessary. Everywhere else this step was taken by some high
authority, a King, a Pope or a Bishop, the great authorities of those days. But in
Bologna the step was taken by the students themselves who organized the teaching
and employed the teachers. They also treated them very harshly; to use the words
of Dr. Rashdall in his History of Mediaeval Universities, the teachers were reduced
to a most humiliating degree of servitude; 'The professor was fined if he were a
minute late for lectures, if he went beyond the time for closing, if he skipped a
difficult passage or failed to get through in a given time the portions of the law-
texts provided by the University. A Committee of students-called the DENUN-
CIATORES DOCTORUM-watched over his conduct and kept the rector informed
of his irregularities. If the doctor wanted to get married, a single day of absence
was graciously allowed him, but no honeymoon.'
This state of affairs became intolerable and the professors were rescued by the
city of Bologna. The city established salaried chairs in various subjects and made
the appointments and things soon assumed a more normal pattern. For this reason
the University of Bologna was from the first a secular university and several Italian
cities followed suit and set up their own secular universities. These are the first of
the civic universities. In England at present there are many universities founded
in the early XXth century which take pride in being civic universities, Birmingham,
Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and so on, but the pattern is as old as the XIth century
In those days most learning was associated with the Church, and Paris,. the
other really old university of Europe, was organized mainly to teach theology, not
law as at Bologna or medicine as at Montpellier where Rabelais was an under-
graduate. It was Paris that set the model for most other European universities.
It was the first to introduce the residential system which Oxford or Cambridge
followed and which everyone today agrees is the ideal, including those universities
which are not residential and are trying to become so.
The University of Paris in the old days was something much bigger and
grander than it is today. It was the intellectual centre of most of Europe and its
decline and fall was sadden and entirely due to Napoleon who reorganized it,
because he feared its power and influence. The universities of Great Britain really
derive from Paris and we ourselves can be considered remote descendants, because
the scarlet undergraduate gown you wear is after the fashion of the University of
St. Andrews, and if you ask why St. Andrews has the scarlet gown, the answer is
that at St. Andrews, which was founded in 1450, it is laid down that the gowns
should be after the fashion of the University of Paris. H. A. L. Fisher thinks it
probable that the establishment of Oxford came from the quarrels between the
English and French Kings in 1167 which led to a large body of English students
leaving Paris and returning to England. They went to Oxford where there was
already a body of students and brought with them the idea of residential colleges
and organization under proctors and thus set the pattern for the development at
the modern Oxford.
Cambridge derived from Oxford again as a result of a quarrel when a party
of the university migrated to Cambridge in 1209, having presumably got the worst
of the quarrel. Those were the days of bitter theological controversy, and secession
and migration were not uncommon. I might mention in passing an example of
secession and migration which might have led to the formation of a new university
but did not. It concerns my own college in Oxford, Brasenose. The name comes
from a brass knocker which was on the door of Brasenose Hall where the students
lived. In those days they usually slept on the floor of their tutor's room. In 1333
there was a dispute and the Brasenose men left Oxford and went to Stamford, a
town about 70 miles away where there was already a small body of teachers and
They took the Brazen Nose with them and fixed it on the door of the house
they took in Stamford. The King was displeased at this and ordered their return,
but by various subterfuges they managed to hang on in Stamford for about two
years. Eventually the King sent a Sheriff with a company of archers to compel them
to return. They went, but they left the Nose behind, presumably intending to go
through the motions of going and then return to Stamford. The archers saw to it
that they went to Oxford and so the Nose remained on the house in Stamford.
About 400 years later the College attempted to buy the Nose back from the then
owner of the house, but he refused to sell it. But a College has a long and
continuous life. About two hundred years later, in 1890, the whole property came
into the market and the College bought it all and then took the Nose back to
Oxford where it now hangs above the Principal's chair in the College Hall.
In their long history universities have had their ups and downs. In the early
days when people were more brutal and ill-mannered than today, life as a student
was at times too exciting. In Oxford and Cambridge there were constant quarrels
with the town authorities and the student had to turn out in arms to defend the
rights and liberties of the University. In 1355 the citizens of Oxford indulged in a
regular massacre of the clerks and students, so that the survivors fled in terror and
the University closed completely until the King sent troops to protect the scholars.
Things were not much better in Cambridge where in 1381 the town rioted and
destroyed all the University archives and records, including the original charter.
As many of you may. know, in spite of our youth we also have lost our original
charter; it went down in Star Ariel, the Tudor aircraft that disappeared between
Bermuda and the Bahamas in January, 1949, but we are not the first to lose one.
There were periods when the prestige of the universities of Great Britain stood high,
as in the days of Elizabeth when the fashion began for most of the undergraduates
to look forward to careers as laymen and not by taking holy orders. There were
periods of decadence when the ancient universities, firmly entrenched in their
privileges, neglected their tasks of learning and teaching.
In England the worst time was the XVIIIth century. some of you may have
read the autobiography of Edward Gibbon, the historian, who went to Magdalen
College in Oxford as a youth of fifteen in 1752. He was full of contempt for his
teachers. His tutor was a certain Dr.-, he does not give the name, and he says
of him, 'Dr.- well remembered that he had a salary to receive and only forgot
that be had a duty to perform. He burst out: 'To the University of Oxford I
acknowledge no obligation; and she will as cheerfully renounce me as a son as
I am willing to disclaim her as a mother. I spent fourteen months at Magdalen
College; they proved the fourteen months the most idle and unprofitable of my
whole life.' Again I must hasten to point out that things were little better in
Cambridge. It is recorded that from 1725 to 1773, nearly fifty years, no holder of
the Regius Professorship of Modern History delivered a lecture and one of these
professors died in 1768 by falling in a drunken stupor from his horse.
Things did not remain in this sorry state and during the nineteenth century
there was a great resurgence which I suppose was partly due to the growth of the
idea that elementary education should be for all and higher education for all who
are capable of profiting from it. This was a somewhat new idea. The history of the
development of education might seem more logical if universal elementary education
had been established first and then secondary schools and finally universities; but
this is not what happened. It was the exact contrary and I have my own idea as
to the reason. In England universal elementary education only began with
Gladstone's Education Bill of 1870, when Oxford had existed as a university for
at least 750 years. Some of the grammar schools are nearly as old as the old
universities, but compulsory elementary education only began in England eighty
years ago. The reason, to my mind, lies in what I have said earlier. At all ages
certain young people demand knowledge, hence the universities, but it took a
long time for the idea to grow that all people should get some education for the
good of themselves and the development of society, whether they desired it or not.
This resurgence was followed by an expansion of universities which began
perhaps with the establishment of the University of London in 1827 and which
has continued almost without pause since then and has spread over the whole
world. We ourselves are part of that expansion.
During this expansion various experiments and new ideas were tried out, and
I should like to mention one because it is so strange. This was to abandon the
fundamental idea of a society of teachers and students altogether and to say that
the function of the university was to examine. It was to act as a judge and issue
certificates or degrees to anyone who presented themselves for examination. The
University of London originally had only this function and the University of
New Zealand was at first on the same model. The results were useful in some ways,
but I find it difficult to understand how such an idea was ever accepted. A
Frenchman in the Middle Ages, Etienne Pasquier, a poet and lawyer, who
successfully defended the University of Paris in a famous lawsuit, said that a
university was 'batie en hommes,' built of men, and the truth of this remains; a
university cannot be built of examination papers. Examinations are a useful and
necessary tool but must not be the aim. You should remember the words of
T. H. Huxley, the associate of Charles Darwin. He was much concerned about the
teaching of science in England and speaking of some of the students in the
XIXth century he said 'They work to pass, not to know; and outraged Science
takes her revenge. They do pass and they don't know.'
I should like to quote again from Beaglehole's History of the University of
New Zealand. He says 'The trappings of the university any act of Parliament can
give. But the university exists there and there only where the mind of the teacher
goes out to meet the mind of the student; where the student, in the excitement of
awakened intellect, grapples with the thoughts of a great book, or bends in the
absorption of scientific experiment. For this community of mind, this vivid and
enchanted silence, there is no substitute.
The university stands or falls in the end, even in the estimation of external
society, by the capacity and devotion of its teachers, their capacity for learning,
their devotion to truth and their communication to the student of a compelling and
intimate sense of the worth of these things.' If this is true, and I am convinced
that it is, the vacuity of the idea of a university whose sole function is to examine
needs no emphasis. Beaglehole should of course, have added that the student
must co-operate and participate in this essential process. He must have the intellect
to be awakened and he must use his intellect. The process cannot occur with a
student of completely blank and open mind. To quote from an entirely different
work, 'The cow is an animal with a remarkably open mind, yet it has never been
found to reach a high degree of civilization.'
If we neglect this temporary aberration of examining and not teaching
universities, it is true to say that there has been no fundamental change in the idea
of a university since universities began. There have of course been changes, but the
idea remains. There have been enormous additions to the realm of human knowledge
since Bologna in the XIth century, but, new or old, it is still knowledge. There
have been great changes in the technique and method of teaching, but the object
of university teaching, or the ideal of that object, has not changed. The desire for
knowledge is the raison d'etre of a university, the desire of the teacher and the
desire of the student. This desire is itself however a curious and complicated thing.
People want it for so many different reasons. The great majority of these reasons
are worthy, though some are more worthy than others; for example I should scarcely
think it worthy to desire a knowledge of working metals in order to be able to forge
coinage, or of the alkaloids in order to commit murder by poison, but these are
extreme cases. Francis Bacon classified the reasons a long time ago, in 1605 in his
book The Advancement of Learning, and what he said then is true today. It will
serve as a fitting end to this address.
'For men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes
upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain their minds
with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and sometimes
to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction; and most times for lucre and
profession; and seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason, to
the benefit and use of men. As if there were sought in knowledge a couch whereupon
to rest the searching and restless spirit; or a terrace for a wandering and variable
mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect; or a tower of state for a proud
mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or contending ground for strife and contention;
or a shop for sale or profit; and not a rich storehouse for the glory of the Creator
and the relief of man's estate.'
As the years pass we intend to observe this anniversary as a day of
commemoration on which we think of our own beginning. It will thus mark the
progress of our University College and we should think of it in the future as a kind
of annual stocktaking. Let us therefore all resolve today that during the year that
lies ahead of us we will do our best to give a true account of our gift of reason to
the benefit and use of men.
(We are grateful to the author for allowing us to use this colourful
documentation of a traditional form of Jamaican peasant co-operation,
woven around the rivalry of the boastful Big Joe and the quiet Fred
for Liza Ann)
IN MAY the rain came suddenly. When the tamarind tree in the common opposite
their house appeared almost dead, when her father had decided to sell his stock,
the rain came. Suddenly, in the night, it came. First as a hesitant patter and
then as a steady tattoo borne on a gust of wind hastening to the earth. She had
known then how the earth must feel and the dark faces of her father and her
mother had turned to each other in the lamplight.
In the morning the world appeared new. She came out on the barbecue and
went to the tank to see how much water had gone into it; but first, before she did
that, she turned her eyes across the Savannahs to the sea, turned her face into the
wind and then to the stone wall, now wet, on which a bird had been singing.
Her father came out filled with renewed life as if the rain had poured it into
him, and over his coffee in the kitchen he announced that he would have a diggin'
match the next week Wednesday. He said: -
"Gwine to plant out de three acres 'cross the common and only way
to do it is to have a diggin' match. Ah'll tell dem man on Sunday and
oonu 'ooman must look after de food. Ah'll get two bottles of rum. Now
we got de rain we must keep movin' "
He had been full of plans and he spent the day in the "buttery" looking over
his tools and mending a pack saddle. Her mother said nothing. After breakfast
she tied up her skirt in a "pokopanya" and took a hoe and went out to the land
behind the kitchen and began to plant corn.
Wednesday morning was upon them before they knew it. They had hardly
set a light to the large blocks of dried pimento wood that formed the fires against
the stone wall and put on kerosene tins of "chocolate" and water to draw coffee
before the men began to arrive, singing and shouting.
"Bring me half-ah hoe
Come gimme ya-
Bring me half-ah hoe."
She heard Big Joe roaring above the rest with his hoe over his shoulder.
"Bring me half-ah hoe."
And where was Fred? He was standing inconspicuously in the crowd and
he wasn't singing.
You never know how these digging matches get under way. One moment
they are drinking large steaming mugs of chocolate and coffee and then they are
off. A great line of men is surging across the field. They are digging potato hills
in one mad, frenzied, struggle right across the field. The hoes are rising and
falling with all the strength of the wielder. You never knew that men could work
so hard. And out in front is the singing man, singing and dancing and controlling
the match. Singing fast songs to get the tempo of the race, making his own words-
They had gone across the field like mad, leaving a straight line of sweet
potato hills behind them, and now they were coming back and the pace had begun
to tell. They had begun to string out-panting, sweating, straining every muscle.
out in front was Big Joe and just behind-it seemed impossible-Fred.
The spectators were shouting and the men were coming along with a
desperate hurry. Big Joe had not been beaten in any match for a year now and
here was a challenger to the champion digger of the district. To the people it was
only that. The champion digger and a challenger. To her it was much more than
that. The battle was for her. It was as if at the end she would be the prize and
that was what she knew they hoped to get-the prize of her esteem. The pace told.
The same two had gone far out in front and Big Joe became desperate. He
had hurried his strokes and put too much into the down swing of the hoe and
Fred had come up abreast. Then it had begun in deadly earnest. Hill for hill they
came down the line and the old people were standing on the finishing line. Hill for
hill they were coming and then imperceptibly Fred went ahead and strangely
enough she was glad. A hill ahead! Could he hold it? Her father spoke.
"The greatest diggin' match I have ever seen in the district."
Old Custos the oldest man in the district said "Only once afore ah ever seen
ah match like this and the winnah dropped dead."
Fear seized her heart. They had come on and on, then there was a greater
cheer for the new champion. They were panting as at the end of a long running
race. They were able only to lean on their hoes whilst the sweat ran down their
And then it happened. Someone laughed at Big Joe, and in moving he
bounced against her. She drew away from Big Joe, humiliated before her
"Who the rass you drawin' way from? Since when you become so
Fred dropped his hoe and hit him hard. Big Joe was up roaring:--"Rass
She stood petrified. Her father pushed Big Joe and Big Joe hit him. Her
father rushed for his gun. The men held both Fred and Big Joe and over all she
heard her mother shouting-
"Jesus Christ Tek him whey before Tata come out wid him gun!
Ah don't want Tata heng fe murder!"
There was a roar from the house and there was her father rushing from the
house and bringing the gun to his shoulder-
"Jesus Christ! Mass Tata."
"Mass Tata !"
Everyone except her mother, Fred and herself ran desperately for the stone
wall, Big Joe well up in front. She, not knowing what she did, took Fred by the
hand. Suddenly the gun spoke.
"Lawd Jesus I"
Everyone fell flat on their faces and Big Joe crawled behind the stone wall.
Everyone screamed. "Mass Tata!"
Her father stood there and he shouted-
"Dat one was in de air to get yoh people out of de way. I am just
waiting' for that son of a bitch to show his head."
Everyone trembled-flat on their faces on the red earth. Tata Higgins was
known for his gun.
They moaned. It was saddening sound going across the field to behind the
stone wall where Big Joe was hidden. No one moved for fear of Tata turning his
gun on them, and all the while she had been holding Fred's hand and he had
put his arm around her. Neither of them had realized that they were doing this
and even her mother just stood there waiting.
Everyone waited for Big Joe to break from cover but Big Joe was lying
behind the wall. At last her father laughed and lowered his gun and shouted-
"Everybody get up. Ah not shooting anyone but tell that Big Joe boy
to get off my place."
Then he came up to them-Fred and herself-and said-
"Drop in at the house anytime, son"
So then she knew. It was as simple as that.
Salt Fish and Ackee
J. H. PARRY
An historical sketch of the introduction of food crops into Jamaica.
THE HISTORY OF THE WEST INDIES often assumes, for the West Indian reader, an
air of unreality, because it is a story told from someone else's point of view. The
development of the island communities was determined, to a great extent, by
decisions made elsewhere. The political history of the West Indies has been until
recently a projection of the political history of half-a-dozen different European
centres, and has been so written and studied. The study, from a West Indian point
of view, of the development of West Indian communities, has hardly been
attempted. The economic history of the region, similarly, has been written chiefly
in terms of commodities which were of interest or value in Europe.
Throughout much of their history the West Indian colonies were run as estates
from which a profit was to be drawn: and they were run with the short-sightedness
usually associated with purely economic motives. The proprietors and settlers
concerned themselves with producing tropical crops which commanded a ready sale
in Europe or-later-in North America. After experiments with tobacco, indigo
and cacao, they fixed upon sugar as the most profitable crop, and sugar became
the characteristic West Indian product.
Sugar was most economically grown on fairly large plantations and its
production demanded a large force of field labourers. Indented servants, convicted
felons and slaves were brought in in great numbers. All these people had to be fed,
in countries where sugar monopolised the most productive land. The problems of
food production in the West Indies have never been satisfactorily solved, nor has
the history of the attempted solutions been adequately studied. The story of crops
grown in the West Indies for export to Europe has been told many times. The
story of crops grown to feed West Indians has still to be written.
It is time that a connected study were made. There is abundant material, both
in the field and in published and unpublished writings. For Jamaica alone there is
a whole series of full and careful accounts of animals and plants, wild and domestic.
The earliest and most famous was written by that indefatigable naturalist and
collector, Sir Hans Sloane, towards the end of the seventeenth century, and
published in two volumes in 1707 and 1725. Barham's Hortus Jamaicensis was
published (in Kingston) in 1794, but written much earlier; the author was in Jamaica
from 1731 to 1740. Patrick Browne-a medical man like Sloane-published his
Civil and Natural History of Jamaica in London in 1756.
This is a work of some originality and merit, though it does not compare with
Sloane's splendid folios either in the wealth of detail or beauty of production and
illustration. As befits a contemporary of Linnaeus, Browne's treatment is more
systematic than that of his predecessors; indeed Linnaeus is said to have accepted,
in general, Browne's classifications. Next in chronological order, in 1774, came
Edward Long's History of Jamaica, the third volume of which contains a
description of the flora and fauna of the island. Long was no botanist, and was
more interested in the uses of plants than in systematic descriptions; but he was a
shrewd, observant, and very entertaining writer, and his book is of great interest
to the historian of agriculture.
Bryan Edwards' famous History, published twenty years later, adds little to
Long in this respect. In 1814 appeared another work by a local planter-John
Lunan's Hortus Jamaicensis, which enjoyed the unusual distinction of publication
at Spanish Town, by the Government Printer. It is a full but undistinguished
compilation from earlier sources, and has the merit of acknowledging its literary
debts. It repeats a large number of old wives' tales about the medicinal value of
plants, which had been collected and retailed, sometimes rather sceptically, by
Sloane. In more modern times a work of a very different type-Fawcett and
Rendle's great Flora of Jamaica-is being published, volume by volume, by the
British Museum. The first volume appeared in 1910. Finally, mention should be
made of the Bulletins of the Department of Agriculture which preserve much
material of general historical interest, and an article in the Handbook of Jamaica
for 1881 on "Public Gardens and Plantations" describes an important feature of
the story. The information contained in all these writings forms a revealing
commentary on the social, and even the political development of the island.
The most striking fact about the food plants of Jamaica is that-like the people
and the domestic animals-they are nearly all exotics. They were introduced by
man to serve his own needs. Prehistoric Jamaica was remarkably deficient in local
food plants. The native Arawaks were gatherers of shell-fish, roots and berries.
Their only bread-stuff was cassava; the discovery of a method of leaching out the
poisonous juice of this root must have been, for so primitive a people, an economic
event of the first importance. Cassava will flourish where little else will grow. It
was probably introduced into Jamaica by the Arawaks themselves, in their
migrations from the mainland. It has spread from the Americas to parts of the
Old World, in particular to West Africa, but has never commended itself greatly
to European taste. Today, in remote and arid parts of Jamaica, "cassava without
salt, coffee without sugar" is proverbial diet in times of drought and hardship.
Possibly the Arawaks had maize. Their neighbours the Tainos of Hispaniola
used maize, according to the early settlers there, but the absence of grinding stones
from their village sites suggests that they knew only a soft variety. Hard types of
maize from which bread flour could be made formed the staple food of many settled
peoples of the mainland, and this hard maize was taken to the Old World by
Spaniards and Portuguese. Probably it was the Spaniards who brought it to
Jamaica, and probably its introduction was indirect, via Europe or West Africa.
The Spanish settlers in Jamaica, poor for the most part and never numerous,
devoted themselves, like most Spaniards in the New World, to pastoral rather than
agricultural pursuits. Their pigs and horned cattle were kept on the open savannahs,
and many ran wild. Sloane says that in his day wild cattle, though much reduced
in number, were still hunted on the north side of the island. Wild pigs are hunted
still today in the remote mountain forests. Having no silver to export, the Jamaican
Spaniards sold bacon, hides and tallow to passing ships, and imported from Spain
the wheaten flour, oil and wine which European taste continued to demand, even
in those parts of the New World where native food was abundant.
Imported European food however, must always have been a rather expensive
luxury, as indeed it still is; and the Spaniards did not neglect the other possible
method of increasing their food supply, by the introduction of new food plants.
Spaniards have always been lovers of orchards, skilled in tie management of fruit
trees-one of the gracious characteristics, perhaps, which they acquired from the
Moors who ruled and civilised so much of mediaeval Spain. Few missions and few
large Spanish houses in colonial America lacked the dignity of a walled orchard.
All the familiar varieties of citrus, except grapefruit, were brought from Spain and
grown in the West Indies in the sixteenth century.
To the Spaniards, also, the West Indies owe the banana and the plantain,
brought from the Canary Islands to Hispaniola (according to Oviedo) about 1516.
A wild plantain also grows in the West Indies, which had an economic use in the
days of sailing ships; for its succulent stems, cut into junks and stowed in great
bundles below the mizzen chains, served as fodder for the animals upon which
ships depended for fresh meat at sea. This wild plantain, however is not the parent
of the familiar cultivated varieties. Another very important economic plant, which
Oviedo describes as common in Central America in his day is the coconut. The
origins of the coconut are mysterious. It does not occur wild anywhere in the world
today. Oviedo implies that it may have been native to Central America, but, like
most sixteenth-century writers, he gives it its old-world name-nut of India; most
probably it came to the Caribbean from the Portuguese East, via the Iberian
peninsula. Both Sloane and Long wrote admiringly of its many uses; but the large
scale commercial production of coconuts in Jamaica is a comparatively recent
The Spaniards had grown sugar cane in Jamaica, grinding it in horse driven
mills; but the small quantity of sugar produced was consumed locally. It was only
towards the end of the seventeenth century, after the capture of the island by the
English, that Jamaica began to produce sugar in considerable quantities for export,
and that the problem of labour and food to support that labour became serious.
The English, in pursuing this development, possessed advantages denied to the
Spaniards. Through the Royal Africa Company they had direct access to the main
source of slave labour: and in North America they possessed colonies which were
already producing an exportable surplus of food.
Under English rule Jamaica became a land of large plantations worked by
slaves, producing sugar, indigo and the like for export to England or North
America. From North America it imported two vital articles of food: wheat flour,
chiefly for the use of the European settlers, and salt fish, which was the princip;
relish and the main source of protein in the diet of the slaves. Jamaica was more
fortunate than the other British islands in possessing a far greater area of virgin
land. From its wide savannahs it could produce-as it still does-its own beef and
pork; and the introduction of guinea grass in 1745 was an important event for the
cattle industry. Jamaica in consequence was much less dependent than (for
instance) Barbados upon imported Irish beef.
More important still, the slaves upon the Jamaican plantations could grow for
themselves most of the vegetable food they needed upon provision grounds-plols
set aside for the purpose in outlying parts of estates, usually in the foothills
bordering the coastal plains. Except for the one vital item-salt fish-the slave
population of Jamaica could, to a considerable extent, do without imported food.
In this respect also Jamaica differed from Barbados or St. Kitts. In the course of
the eighteenth century however, more and more of the best land came under sugar;
more and more slaves were brought in; and the provision grounds crept higher into
the hills, further and further away from the slaves' place of work. The problems
of the economical raising of food became more difficult, and the search for plants
yielding larger quantities of bulky food became more intense.
The eighteenth century saw a great increase in the variety of ground provisions
produced by slaves. Of the many varieties of yam now grown in the West Indies,
all or almost all are introductions from Africa or the East. There are three species
of wild yam in Jamaica. "Bitter Bessie," Dioscorea polygonoides, is quite unfit for
human food, though it is sometimes planted round the edges of cultivations to
confuse or discourage pracdial thieves. The rare Amedo yam of the John Crow
Mountains is also uneatable. The Himber yam, Rajania cordata, which grows in
the fertile hidden valleys of the Cockpit Country, can be eaten and is sometimes
gathered in lean seasons today. In earlier times it was probably a stand-by for the
Maroons and other runaways; but its thin, deep-set roots offer a poor reward for
the labour of digging it.
None of these wild plants can have been the parent of any of the
cultivated varieties. Among cultivated yams, Dioscorea sativa the so-called
negro-yam, may have been indigenous, for it also sometimes grows wild; but more
probably the wild specimens were originally escapes from cultivation. If they were
introduced, these coarse yellow yams must have come in the seventeenth century
at the latest, for Sloane mentions two varieties. He says nothing of wild yams. The
large floury white yams widely grown today were mostly eighteenth-century
introductions, and are described at length by the eighteenth-century writers.
Barham calls the yam "one of our principal bread-kinds in Jamaica" and lists four
cultivated kinds and one wild. Long merely repeats Sloane; but Lunan, writing
during Napoleon's war, describes six varieties in great detail.
Other roots introduced from the East or from the Pacific islands-eddos or
cocos and the like-were less, important than yams, though six distinct varieties
were known by Lunan's day. The sweet potato, indigenous to America, must have
been cultivated from an early date in Jamaica. Barham called it "one of the chief
bread-kind food for black and white," and Lunan echoes his description. The
so-called "Irish" potato-properly a Peruvian potato-first appears in Browne,
who calls it "Irish" and says that it was imported in large quantities from northern
England, and was beginning to be grown, without much success, in the hills of
Jamaica. Lunan makes no mention of imports, and agrees that the potatoes grown
in Jamaica were of poor quality. Tlat stricture is no longer true today; but Irish
potatoes are still a somewhat expensive luxury, and have never been of great
economic importance in the West Indies.
All these root crops have the advantage of being more or less unaffected by
storms, which so easily destroy bananas or maize. On the other hand, their
production is laborious, and several eighteenth-century writers, Bryan Edwards
among them, complained of the laziness and improvidence of the Jamaican slaves
in neglecting ground provisions and relying upon the more vulnerable crops which
required less labour. That criticism, also, cannot be applied to the Jamaican peasant
of our day, who relies heavily for food on root crops.
Jamaica, though more fortunate than the smaller islands, never emancipated
itself from dependence upon imported food, and always had difficulty in paying for
its food. The North American colonists showed a growing tendency in the eighteenth
century to buy sugar-illegally and in defiance of the unenforceable Molasses Act-
from the French islands, because it was cheaper there. Provisions imported into the
British West Indies from North America had therefore to be paid for largely in
The problem of paying for dollar imports is nothing new in West Indian
history The West Indians, whose media of exchange were either a purely local
currency, or else sugar itself, were always short of specie. They were mostly in debt
to their English correspondents, and got little from that source. Most of the silver
which circulated in the West Indies came from Spanish America. The incessant
smuggling to the Spanish mainland; the illicit export of slaves; the persistent
attempts to develop the logwood trade from Belize and other places on the coast
of Central America-all these enterprises were in large part Jamaican attempts to
obtain specie with which to pay for imported food and timber. They were quite
inadequate remedies. The attempts of the home government, in the Sugar Act of
1764, to protect the British West Indies by stopping trade between the French
islands and North America, also failed of its effect; and within twelve years from
the passing of the Act the North American colonies were in open revolt.
The war of American Independence was a major disaster for the islands. The
West Indians found themselves on the losing side in a great international war, their
plantations exposed to destructive raids, their export trade hampered, their supply
of imported food cut off. In Jamaica alone in 1780, 15,000 slaves died of famine.
Naturally the search for additional food crops acquired a new and desperate
urgency. Two new plants of great economic importance were introduced during the
course of the war. The ackee tree came to Jamaica from West Africa in 1778. The
famous gastronomic marriage which gave Jamaica its most characteristic dish-
and this article its title-dates from that time. As had so often happened in the
past, the ships which brought slaves to the West Indies brought also the plants
with which they were to be fed. The first ackee slips were purchased by Dr. Clarke,
the first Island Botanist, from the captain of a slaver.
More important still was the mango, an Asiatic tree which now grows all
round the world within the Tropics. The mango has had a long association with
the slave trade. To this day in some parts of Central Africa, lines of mango trees
planted by Arab slavers mark the routes down which slave caravans were driven
to the coast. The first plants to reach the West Indies were part of a collection
dispatched to the French islands from Mauritius, at the command of the French
government, in 1782. The ship carrying the collection was taken in prize by an
English frigate, H.M.S. Flora, Captain Marshall. The Admiral commanding on the
station-the great Rodney himself-recognising at once the potential value of the
capture, sent the plants to Jamaica, where they were propagated in Mr. Easts'
garden at Gordon Town. Like the ackee, the mango flourished spontaneously and
has spread throughout the West Indies. Many improved varieties have since been
introduced; and possibly no single plant is now more important in feeding the
very poor during the summer months.
After the war, in 1783, the West Indian representatives in London petitioned
for a resumption of trade with North America on the old terms. The petition-not
unnaturally in the circumstances-was refused. The United States were now a
foreign power, outside the system of Imperial preferential trade. Rum, molasses
and sugar could no longer be sent to the States, except by paying high duties or
by smuggling. Salt fish, grain and timber had now to come from Canada, in much
smaller quantities and-for a time at least-at a far higher price, or else from
England itself; but England had less and less to spare, and soon the threat of
another and more serious French war was once again to disorganise Atlantic
shipping. Yet still the great armies of slaves on the plantations had somehow to
The reaction of Government, both in Jamaica and in England, was vigorous
and constructive. In 1791 the Jamaica Assembly resolved that "Every encourage-
ment is to be given to the cultivation of Yams, Cocos, Maize, Plantains and such
products as the Breadfruit, Nutmeg, Cloves, Cinnamon and Coffee; it being
believed that the cultivation of such exotics would, without doubt, in the course of
a few years, lessen the dependence of the sugar islands on North America for food
and necessaries; and not only supply subsistence for future generations, but,
probably, furnish fresh incitements to Industry, new improvements in the Arts,
and new subjects of Commerce." Coconuts, coffee and nutmeg did indeed become
valuable crops, taking their places beside the native cacao and pimento; though
none of them ever rivalled sugar. Meanwhile the English Government was
sufficiently impressed with the urgency of the problem to send warships cruising
round the East Indies and Pacific to collect plants for introduction into the West
Indies. Cook's voyages had revealed a wealth of plant life hitherto unknown to
The breadfruit tree, found and described by Cook at Tahiti, especially
caught the public imagination, and in 1787, H.M.S. Bounty was ordered to Tahiti
to collect breadfruit and other plants. She was commanded by William Bligh, who
had been Cook's lieutenant. The mutiny of part of the ship's company prevented
Bligh from accomplishing his task; but in 1793 he was despatched upon a similar
errand in the even more appropriately named Providence brig, and this time
returned with a cargo of manna which included young breadfruit trees. Bligh
received handsome recognition of his services from the Jamaica Assembly. His
trees were planted in the Government Botanical Gardens at Bath in St. Thomas,
and from there distributed all over the island. Incidentally the foundation of a
number of botanical gardens in various parts of the West Indies at this time was
evidence of the importance attached to the problem of introducing new forms of
cheap starch for feeding field labourers, as well as of a general interest in botany
for its own sake.
The food habits of the West Indies were generally fixed by the end of the
eighteenth century. Since then there have been improvements in quality and
productivity, but relatively few fresh introductions. The immigration of indented
East Indian labour in the nineteenth century, it is true, brought rice into new
prominence and made it a familiar article of West Indian diet. From 1873 the
Government made strenuous attempts to encourage the cultivation of rice, by
experiments carried out at Hope, and by the distribution of information and seed.
But rice had been introduced from the East in the seventeenth century. Sloane
says that it was grown in his day in suitably swampy areas in St. Catherine,
St. Elizabeth and Westmorland, but that most planters neglected it because of the
difficulty of husking. The re-introduction of rice growing in the nineteenth century
merely carried out recommendations made by Sloane and others long before.
The importance of this long and tenacious struggle to make Jamaica grow
other kinds of food than sugar, is obvious. The story has an importance and an
interest more than merely botanical or merely economic; it is an essential part of
the social history of the island. Without the institution of slave provision grounds,
without the constant search for crops to stock those grounds, emancipation, in the
form which it took in Jamaica, would have been economically and socially very
difficult, perhaps impossible. It was the presence of a great variety of productive
and easily cultivated food plants which enabled unskilled praedial slaves to become
the sturdy independent peasantry who inhabit the hills of Jamaica today.
Outside the Walls
WHILE CONTRACTORS, professors, storekeepers, quantity surveyors, and countless
other workers have been building a University in Jamaica, an attempt has been
made through the Extra-Mural Department to make the idea of a University and
its work come to have meaning in the territories which lie many hundreds of miles
beyond its walls. It is of this "extra-mural" work in the Colony of Trinidad
and Tobago that I write, from its beginning early in 1949, to the middle of 1952.
The Colony has today a population of approximately 620,000, of whom about
30,000 live in Tobago and 220,000 are of East Indian descent, in most cases retaining
their original Muslim or Hindu religion. Until near the end of the eighteenth
century the island was inhabited by a few thousand Amerindians, with a few
small settlements of Spanish colonists, numbering about 200, and perhaps the same
number of slaves of African descent. Since Emancipation the population has
increased twelve fold through immigration mainly from the surrounding islands
and from India.
Since the first large scale undertakings to drill for oil, the urbanisation of
the island has proceeded fast. Today the majority of the population lives within
a twelve-cent-fare of a cinema and within earshot of a radio. There is a high
degree of social mobility, particularly since the war, when the Americans paid
proportionately high wages for labour on the several bases built on the island.
Though there is much unemployment and underemployment, people believe in the
possibilities of "getting on", and are open to new ideas which may appear as
means to this end. Education is generally regarded as a key to success. As a
community, Trinidad is in a fluid unformed condition and the sense of common
interest is still largely lacking. As a result of this social sanctions on behaviour
are slight, and apparently anti-social actions are not necessarily subject to
condemnation by public opinion, but may be justified by success. The outlines
of moral codes such as existed in the rural groups, whether Creole or East Indian,
have become blurred, but have not been replaced.
Compulsory education was introduced for certain areas in 1935 and for the
whole Colony in 1945. Very few elementary school teachers have had secondary
schooling, having become pupil teachers on reaching the age of fourteen. Under
the old system the elementary school child could expect little more than the three
R's, and most of the general knowledge he may have picked up was unrelated
to West Indian life. The curriculum of Secondary Schools was planned around
English examinations, and catered especially for the needs of the contestants for
each year's "Island Scholarships" to Universities. Medicine or Law, free professions,
were the goal of the Island Scholars and of those who could afford a University
education. The runners-up would enter the Civil Service. Teaching as a profession
lay far behind. A plucky few attempted to study for external examinations by
means of correspondence courses.
Probably the most popular form of adult education was the "Literary and
Debating Society", many of which were to be found in the Colony. Powers of
rhetoric were developed, and reading encouraged, but the tradition of learn-by-rote
did not make for discrimination and understanding.
CHANGES IN THE LAST FEW YEARS
The war years set off a series of developments which are having a radical
effect on Trinidad society, and it is on a background of these that the attempts
to bring the influence of the new University to bear on the life of the people must
Whilst the inrush of war-time dollars created thousands of petty entrepreneurs,
and acted as an economic stimulus, other less spectacular changes took place.
Previously the Oil Companies had regarded it as necessary to import nearly all
senior staff, so that the local man felt himself excluded from a worthwhile technical
or professional career in the island's major industry. This policy now appears to
be considerably modified, and the Companies are offering training at University
level to limited numbers of Trinidadians. Similarly, the Civil Service Training
Scheme was established for the deliberate purpose of replacing expatriates and
"giving greater opportunities to the people of the Colony than at present exist by
way of scholarships, training schemes, and the like, to fit themselves for appoint-
ment to the upper levels of the Service and ultimate advancement to the highest
offices of it" This has thus already done much to expunge the crippling though
not necessarily correct belief that the local Civil Servant could not expect to reach
the highest positions of responsibility.
The political changes since the war which include the introduction of two
new constitutions, have exposed to view the political immaturity of the community.
No broadly based responsible political party exists, and the last election
was dominated by the personal rivalries of leaders and the use of racial sentiments
by contestants for power. Universal franchise for the election of a Legislature
preceded the adoption of responsible Local Government, which is only now being
introduced. But the very diversity of the youthful community which has yet by
no means been integrated, is both cause of immaturity and stimulus to political
thinking, and the existence, for example, of Hindu missionaries and cultural
missions is a challenge to a minority amongst both Creoles and Indians to consider
the ground they stand on, the motives for public service, and the values implicit
in social and political behaviour.
It is perhaps in the cultural field that changes have been most encouraging.
The exhibitions of the Art Society have been throwing up each year one or two
new painters who show that they have a unique and individual eye through which
they see the colorful world about them. The Little Carib Group under
Miss Beryl McBurnie and the Holder Bros. Ballet have demonstrated that a unique
form of Theatre is establishing itself, expressing West Indian life through music,
*FOOTNOTE :-From terms of reference of Report of Training Committee appointed 1949.
See report Trinidad M. 12/50, Government Printing Office, Trinidad.
mime and dance. The extraordinary success of the three biennial musical festivals
in the Cdlony have shown that there is a thirst for music, and willingness to undergo
some of the discipline necessary for artistic performances. And perhaps the most
phenomenal of all is the growth of the steel bands, a "youth movement" whose
members melodiously smelt not only oil drums into marimbas but music old and
new into the ever-changing and inimitable style of Trinidad's folk music. Members
of these bands must now run into tens of thousands.
EXTRA MURAL CLASSES
The Department of Extra Mural Studies was therefore opened at a moment
of great change in a mal-knit community penetrated with a deep sense of insecurity
and confusion compensated by widespread ambition, cultural and political self
assertion, and moved by bursts of vitality. Its work was an attempt to bring
University trained or otherwise well-educated teachers and scholars into the most
fruitful contact with those who wished to study and to develop their intellectual
capacities. Classes arranged for this purpose are listed:
PIONEER CLASSES 1949
Economic Problems of
Trinidad and Tobago
Part-time Tutors' Course
A. A. Shenfield, M.com.
A. C. Pearse, M.A.
E. A. Braithwaite, B.A.
Ruby Samlalsingh, B.A.,
L. McD. Christian, LL.B.,
Effective No. of
Centre Registration Sessions
Tobago 16 12
PROGRAMME OF CLASSES 1949-1950
Spanish I, II and III ...A. Garcia, D. Pierre, B.A., and P.O.S.
Spanish I and II A. Garcia and L. Edghill San Juan
Spanish I and II W. La Borde Pt. Fortin
French I, II and III J. Hodge, M.A., R. Braith- P.O.S.
waite and A. Mastelloni
French I and II Carmen Cartar B As L. S/Fdo.
Journalism Willa Bea Johnson, B.A. and P.O.S.
Appreciation of Art M. P. Alladin P.O.S.
Theatre Mrs. F. Caine Pt. Fortin
Theatre M. H. Olivier San Juan
Books, Readers and Writers J. Kelshall S/Fdo.
English Literary Background A. C. Pearse, M.A. P.O.S.
English Literature Various P.O.S.
Twelve Great Books Dr. E. Williams P.O.S.
Public Speaking Mrs. M. Wyke, M.A. Tunapuna
Appreciation of Music Umilta McShine, L.R.S.M. P.O.S.
Do. do. Kathleen Piper, L.T.C.M. S/Fdo.
Do. do. ... L. Edghill ... Santa Cruz
26, 23, 27 36
22, 17, 21
11, 23 36
Adult Education Methods
Economics of Agriculture
Labour in Society
Government and the Peopl
Growth of Western Civilisa
West Indian History
Dr. L. Jolly
C. K. Robinson
J. O'Neil Lewis, B.com.
Dr. Peter Pau, M.A.
R. Samlalsingh, B.A.,
L. McD. Christian, LL.B.
Ruby Samlalsingh, B.A.,
L. McD. Christian, LL.B.,
J. A. Charles
J. O'Neil Lewis, B.com.
J. O'Neil Lewis, B.com.
J. H. Herrera, D.P.A.
J. O'Neil Lewis, B.com.
J. H. Herrera, D.P.A.
C. Bramble, B.A., A. Camacho,
B.A., M. Riley
J. Husbands, B.sc.
E. Prickett, B.sc. and
J. Husbands, B.sc.
J. Deale, B.sc.
J. Page, B.sc.
F. Buck, B.sc.
R. Guevara, B.sc.
W. Thomas, B.sc.
F. Sweet, B.sc.
G. Rose, B.sc.
W. Williams, B.s.
A. Shenfield, M.com.
Edith Bornn, LL.B.
e P. E. Ferdinand
H. Cameron, D.P.A.
H. Cameron, D.P.A.
A. Thompson, B.A.
A. Mark, A.C.P. and
G. Sampson, A.C.P.
A. Mark, A.c.P.
Dr. E. Lewis
nation Dr. E. Williams
H. Joseph, B.A.
... Dr. E. Williams
19, 22, 21
S/Fdo. 10 36
S/Fdo. 9 36
S/Fdo. 7 36
West Indian History (Seminar) Dr. E. Williams
Do. do. Dr. E. Williams
Do. do. (Seminar) Dr. E. Williams
The Social Sciences Dr. E. Williams
Do. do. Dr. E. Williams
Civics-A Three-month full-time course
Government in Practice Charles Wilmot, M.A., A. G. Hamer, M.A.,
Dr. Peter Pau, M.A. Prof. Parry,
Mr. Robert Hale
Political and Social Theories Charles Wilmot, M.A., Dr. Peter Pau, M.A.,
L. Braithwaite, B.A., A. G. Hamer, B.A.
The West Indies Today Dom Basil Matthews, Ph.D., Prof. Parry,
T. Farrell, Edith Bornn, LL.B., N. P.
Bowen, Sir Hubert Rance, C. K.
Burgess, Prof. C. Shephard, P. M.
Sherlock, M.A., and others
Methods T. Wilson, B.A., S. Best, M.A., G. Sampson, A.C.P.
Group Discussion Charles Wilmot, M.A., and others
Literature and Music S. Best, M.A., A. C. Pearse, M.A. and others
Government and Society
For Friendly Societies
For Railway Workers
Spoken English and Clear
Charles Wilmot, M.A.
Charles Wilmot, M.A.
J. H. Herrera, D.P.A.
R. James, M.A.
R. James, M.A.
R. James, M.A.
P.O.S. 130 12
S/Fdo. 86 12
P.O.S. 13 24
Introduction to Psychology
Maths I, II and III
A. Mark, A.C.P. and
G. Sampson, A.C.P.
R. James, B.A. and
E. Bissessar, B.A. Dip.Ed. P.O.S.
E. Bissessar, B.A., Dip.Ed. S/Fdo.
PROGRAMME OF CLASSES 1950-1951
M. Riley, C. Bramble, B.A., P.O.S.
A. Camacho, B.A.
A. Camacho, B.A. P.O.S.
F. Sweet, B.sc. P.O.S.
Chemistry-Inter (Theoretical) W. Hodgson, B.sc.
Chemistry-Inter (Practical) W. Thomas, B.sc.
30, 8, 17 36
French I, II and III
Spanish I, II and III
Civilisation of Spain
Practical Writers' Class
Appreciation of Music
Government and Everyday
A. Mastelloni, R. Braithwaite, P.O.S.
B.A. and Miss I. Majani, B.A.
Mme. L. Jourdain D hs L. P.O.S.
Carmen Cartar B es L. S/Fdo.
D. Pierre, B.A., C. Arrindell P.O.S.
L. Edghill San Juan
K. Inniss, B.A. P.O.S.
C. Arrindell, B.A. P.O.S.
R. James, M.A., Mrs. M. P.O.S.
Wyke, M.A., A. C. Pearse,
M.A., D. Easton, Ph.B.
Winifred Dunne, L.O.S.M.
and Joan Townsend
Umilta McShine, L.R.S.M.
Rev. I. McK. Jones, B.A.
A. G. Hamer, B.A.
C. St. Louis
A. Thompson, B.A.
R. Robinson, LL.B.
do. R. Robinson, LL.B.
J. O'Neil Lewis, B.com.
(Elementary) J. O'Neil Lewis, B.com.
A. A. Shenfield, M.com.
story E. Kirton, B.A.
A. Morais, F.s.s.
hology Miss E. Bissessar, B.A.,
English R. James, M.A.
ing R. James, M.A.
San Juan 22
San Juan 6
San Juan 9
Ten-week full-time course for 24 students in Rural Leadership
The B r i t i s h Caribbean-A
Political Economic and
Home Life and Home
Community Life and Welfare
Literature and Music
Dr. Peter Pau, M.A., L. Braithwaite, B.A.,
E. Benson, Dr. Lamb, Dr. Jolly,
Dr. Monsterin and others
Mises E. Bissessar, G. Hannays, Vespry,
Harral and others
Messrs. Braithwaite, Ottley, Baker, Sealy,
Miss Shurland and others
Dr. Peter Pau, M.A., and others
Messrs. M. Barley, M.A., A. C. Pearse, M.A.,
Wilson, Sampson, Best, Gocking and
M. Barley, M.A.
Messrs. Hill, Barley, Pearse, Gocking,
Hamer and others
25, 19, 20
25, 20, 17
French I, II, III and IV
Spanish I and II
Latin I and II
Elementary Musical Theory
Appreciation of Literature
Composition of Style and
Public Speaking and Clear
English and Literature
Problems of West Indian
Effective No. of
Centre Registration Sessions
PROGRAMME OF CLASSES 1951-1952
Mrs. A. Brumby, A. Mastel- P.O.S.
loni, R. Braithwaite, B.A.,
C. Arrindell, B.A.
Carmen Cartar B &s L.
D. Pierre, B.A., C. Arrindell
R. James, M.A.,
A. Farrell, M.A.
Umilta McShine, L.R.S.M.
Sydney Hill, L.T.C.L.
Winifred Dunne, L.G.S.M.,
Jasmine Cross, M.A., S. Hill,
Miss E. Bissessar, B.A.,
A. Farrell. M.A.
R. James, M.A.
25, 11, 9 30
P.O.S. 16 10
P.O.S. 30 10
P.O.S. 16 20
Mrs. N. Mohan, B.A. Rio Claro 21
Eric Cozier P.O.S. 35
Misses G. Hannays, B.sc., P.O.S. 38
E. Bissessar. B.A., Dip.Ed.
D. Clifford, B.sc., U. Cross, P.O.S. and 42, 38
A. Camacho, B.A., S/Fdo.
L. Braithwaite, B.A. P.O.S. 26
Problems of Rural Society Mrs. G. McAllister, M.A.
Economics of Everyday Life L. McD. Christian, LL.B., B.A.,
Economics of Everyday Life J. O'Neil Lewis, B.com.
Psychology Study Groups
Introduction to Psychology
Logic and Scientific Method
History of Political Ideas
Elements of Government
Physics-Elementary I and II
Miss E. Bissessar, B.A.,
Mrs. D. Clifford, B.A.
C. St. Louis
S. Sabzali, B.A.
Dr. Peter Pau, M.A.
E. Kirton, B.A.
Van A. Stewart, BA.
Dom Basil Matthews, Ph.D.
Dom Basil Matthews, Ph.D.
A. G. Hamer, B.A.
Dr. Peter Pau, M.A.
Dr. Peter Pau, M.A.
A. Morais, F.s.s.
R. Guevarra, B.A., B.Sc.
R. J. Seemungal, B.sc.
W. Hodgson, B.sc.
Mrs. S. Richardson, B.sc.,
Mrs. S. Thompson, B.sc.
F. Sweet, B.sc.
P.O.S. 14 20
.. P.O.S. 16 20
Effective No. of
Subject Tutor Centre Registration Sessions
Chemistry R. Wilson, B.sc. Pt-a-Pierre 10 30
Pure Maths I, II and III Jasmine Cross, M.A., P.O.S. 31, 14, 19 30
C. Bramble, B.A.,
A. Camacho, M.A.
Pure Maths E. E. Habib S/Fdo. 30 20
Applied Maths E. E. Habib S/Fdo. 22 20
Applied Maths I and II A. Camacho, B.A. S/Fdo. 15, 22 30
It is difficult to give a clear picture of attendances at these classes. Effective registration
means those students who not only registered but are in attendance at the fourth or fifth
meeting of the first term. In most cases, especially in the large classes, by the end of the
second term attendance has dropped to about 2/3 of effective registration, and in the third
term has dropped to about half.
Amidst the clamour for job-getting certificates opportunism and the availability
of scholastic and financial resources have influenced our early programmes.
Many of the classes have been quite academic, e.g., those in Natural Sciences,
Maths and Languages. Students of these have usually been ambitious young
people taking a novel opportunity to qualify themselves for vocations, who in
more advanced countries would have attended non-residential Universities or
Polytechnics. Interests have been widened, minds quickened by a direct contact,
which correspondence courses cannot provide, with tutors and fellow students.
Classes geared to the Preliminary and Final Part I of the B.Sc. Economics of
London University have been run rather differently. Tutors have related principle
to local fact, and students have developed interest in and insight into West Indian
problems, as well as succeeding in examination.* It is significant that over
30 former extra-mural students, including several from the Social Sciences Group,
have entered or are about to enter universities abroad, some as a result of our work,
others much more strongly placed by having been able to bridge the Secondary
School-University gap, and all, we hope, to return disposed to contribute to the
adult education movement.
Classes of another kind have been arranged for special groups such as Friendly
Societies, Trade Unions, League of Women's Voters, Training College Students
Here the incentive to membership of a group becomes the incentive to study.
The circumstances giving point to this year's classes for Trade Unionists are: the
Trade Union movement has an effective history in the Colony of about 14 years.
The number of registered Trade Unions is forty. No book about or for West Indian
Trade Unions is available. Many Trade Unions have been established by individuals
whose ambitions were primarily political. It is not surprising to find that the young
movement is staffed in the branches by very inexperienced officers, with little
knowledge of the historical background of Trade Unions, of recognized practice,
or of legislation. That the branch officers are none the less serious-minded
*Experience suggests that a combination of the three subjects for the Preliminary-
Economics, Geography and British Constitution-with Papers in say, West Indian
History and Economic Social and Political Description of the West Indies would
make a good basic course and test of achievement for officers in the Public Service.
is witnessed by the quality of discussion in the classes and by the steady attendance
at the classes.
The Theatre Workshop, planned for two years for students at the Government
Training College, has the aim of carrying into the country areas on completion of
their course a number of young teachers one of whose main interests will be
dramatic production. A third course, the success of which is probably due to the
close relation of its purpose to the daily work and ambitions of its students
(without overlooking the lively and imaginative leadership of the tutor) is that
in Journalism. In its first year the course dealt with "newspaper practice", and
produced a project newspaper in 2,000 copies, for which class members raised
$400 in advertisements. In its second it became a Practical Writers' Course, dealing
with language, sources of fact, criticism, &c., and incidentally lost many members
who felt that good writing was too far removed from Journalism to be worth the
attention of practical journalists. It has now become a course in Journalism once
again, with stress on widening horizons, and is not only producing another project
newspaper, but is digging into the Colony's archives for a "History of News-
paperdom in Trinidad"
Two full-time courses, one lasting three months in "Civics" and one of
ten-weeks in "Rural Leadership and Extension Work" were referred to in the
last issue of Caribbean Quarterly. From enquiries made a year later, it seems that
most of the students of the Civics Course were stimulated to run discussion groups,
to give lectures, to read more, and to have more confidence in what citizens can
do for themselves. One student offered himself for Legislative Honours, and could
be seen every night for six weeks before the General Election in the Tunapuna
area with a black board, a public-address system and a fairly interested gathering
around him. He was appreciated but did not collect many votes. Another student,
under the influence of the constant discussion of "self-help", returned to his
over-crowded Government school, and raised $5,000 for extending it.
The course in "Rural Leadership and Extension Work" was smaller, and
allowed more opportunity for discussion and tutorial work. It was marked by a
clash between the traditional local conception of leadership as the exclusive quality
of a leader, and leadership as a quality to be sought in a group of people able to
take collective action for public ends. The course has had interesting results. It
taught its sponsors much, established in the minds of several of the "leaders"
certain standards for the evaluation of voluntary welfare work, and initiated a
number of projects which have been and are being successfully carried out.f Its
value would have been manifold had it been related to a plan for rural development
and community education in the Colony, but unfortunately no such plan, and
no planning or even co-ordinating body is working yet.
An Adult Education Scheme for Trinidad and Tobago
During this period under review, interest in Adult Education has been
increasing, and early in 1950 a Committee was appointed to make recommendations
to the Governor about the co-ordination and development of this work during the
coming five-year period. The report, produced after nine months of work, has
been sympathetically received.
Its recommendations fell into four sections: (a) a means of associating
effectively and planning together the adult education work of several Government
Departments and other agencies; (b) a plan for basic Community Education
especially for rural groups; (c) Evening Institutes for vocational and technical
education; and (d) a residential training centre and workshop of methods.
Before the recommendations were accepted an experiment was carried out to
test the validity of the recommendation of Evening Institutes, which were intended
to be independent responsible bodies run by locally elected Committees and
recognized for the provision of classes by the Education Department, the Extra-
Mural Department, and the Board of Industrial Training. Two locally formed
Institutes were recognized by the bodies concerned, and arranged programmes.
Although some quite good educational work appears to have been done, local
self-government did not turn out as had been hoped. In one, the more active
members of the Committee were earning money as tutors of classes. In neither
case were the Executive Committees willing to discuss the elementary democratic
principle: whether Committee members of voluntary societies should be allowed
to make decisions on behalf of the general body affecting their own personal
financial gain. Indeed, though there were plenty of potential students and enough
people willing to teach for fees, too .few were found willing and able to give
disinterested voluntary service, without which responsible voluntary bodies, as the
Institutes were intended to be, can hardly prosper.
Perhaps the most important proposal in the report, and one which may later
make good the above deficiency, touched the equipment of an Adult Education
Centre, to be used for Residential Training Courses, Civil Service Training, and
short courses run by other bodies. The Centre would also be a "Workshop" where
the materials for Adult Education, namely pamphlets, charts, films and film strips,
and recorded sound could be produced. The training of workers in adult education
would go hand in hand with the preparation of these materials.
Extending outwards from the Centre, and based on it, a Community Education
Scheme was recommended, whose programme would include practical classes in
handicrafts, arts, music, health, home economics, &c., and would be run in close
liaison at the county level with the programmes of the Health, Agriculture and
Co-operative Departments, and flexible enough to encourage voluntary organizations
to participate with confidence.
Some of the objective conditions necessary for the successful unfolding of a
Community Education Programme appear to be present. The people in the rural
areas are in no sense apathetic: rather they are confused and receptive of new
ideas, though inexperienced in group action. Furthermore, a considerable number
of field officers are already doing community education work. The Department of
Agriculture employs in its Extension Service over 60 officers, and although the
present duties of most of them are administrative and purely technical, in theory
and in intention the whole content of their work should be essentially the
improvement of agricultural productivity and the patterns of rural life by means
These projects include (1) a series of week-end training camps for members of Women's
Institutes. (2) The formation of Two Boys Club. (3) A successful house building project.
(4) ;he establishment of two Agricultural Credit Societies.
of example, regulation, education, propaganda and the provision of technical
services. The Co-operative Department, employing twelve officers has similar aims;
initiation of co-operative endeavour, instruction in co-operative methods, and the
regulation of existing societies.
Within the Department of Health, in addition to a Health Education Officer
with a Mobile Cinema Unit, there are 112 Sanitary Inspectors who are not merely
health police, and much of whose work can be done by changing health habits,
and the attitudes of the people in town and country. The Education Department
runs Adult Education Centres at which adolescents and adults are taught primary
school subjects; it has established 18 domestic science and woodwork centres,
though these have not been used effectively for adult education yet. Futhermore,
the Education Extension Service, with its eight county officers and headquarters
staff of four, is in touch with 600 voluntary groups, guiding their activities and
training their leaders. To these services can be added the Information Office, with
broadcasting officer and a small film-making unit, along with the Departments of
Social Assistance and Probation, all of whom are involved in the education of
There is indeed a formidable array of man-power deployed on the field of
Community Education, and large sums of money are being spent each year,
though the net result is scarcely perceptible as yet. It will be no easy matter to
transform the present confusion of un-co-ordinated activities by half-trained
workers into a programme of Community Education, especially since the idea of
a co-ordinated plan is not fully accepted. What is accepted on all sides, however,
is the necessity for more thorough and realistic training in educational and
extension methods for field workers and community leaders. The wisest first step,
then, is likely to be the Adult Education Training Centre, with co-operation arising
functionally from its activities.
The Place of the University's Extra-Mural Work in the Scheme
What is the relationship of the University's Department of Extra-Mural
Studies to the Adult Education Scheme as outlined?
In view of the size of the resources available for Community Education and
the very small Extra-Mural establishment, it would not be wise for the latter to
carry organisational responsibility in the scheme, but should contribute to it,
through the Adult Education Centre, by assisting in training programmes and by
the preparation of written study material.
It is unlikely that the Government Scheme will provide satisfactory answers to
the problems of Trade Union Education. This is an important matter since the very
nature of Trade Union activities is likely to bring to the fore as officers and leaders
considerable numbers of gifted people with very little education but with a real
contribution to make to society provided they can educate themselves. Even in a
large country trade unions are likely to look askance at educational programmes
offered to them by a government, in which officials have control and which are
ultimately in the hands of the political heads of Ministries. Trade Unions are more
likely to establish relations of confidence with universities than with state organs.
It has therefore become a settled line of policy that the Department of Extra-Mural
Studies in the region should accept responsibility for assisting the unions in
establishing educational activities free from propaganda for the benefit of officers,
members, and indirectly, society as a whole.
There are also other types of more advanced adult education which the report
assumes will fall to our lot. However, it would, I believe, be a mistake to regard
the work of our Department as simply another kind of Adult Education. We must
look more closely at relations of the University to the community to find the
principle which must guide our work.
UNIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY
The idea of a University "Department of Extra-Mural Studies" originated in
the unique circumstances of late Victorian England. Under quite different
conditions we in the British West Indies must re-interpret it. No dogmas have yet
arisen, nor is its function laid down by regulations, as now in Great Britain.
Experience gained by trial and error during the past four years enables us to
establish our principles more firmly and, standing upon them, to take our bearings.
The points of view which follow are a personal contribution to the process of
orientation, relevant especially to Trinidad, and limited by the knowledge that
funds will remain scarce. Work in this Colony is likely to be carried on by one
university trained graduate with a clerk and a secretary, and such part-time
teachers as can be enlisted for modest fees.
The traditional University is a centre where people gather to enquire freely
into the nature of man and his ideas, into society and into the physical universe.
The number of facts and ideas revealed by enquiry and observation is infinite,
and after testing the veracity of the facts and the sense of the ideas, scholars must
judge their worth and appropriateness within the framework of ideas of their
society. Those who study literature, architecture or music also become judges of
aesthetic values, and, though many forms of enquiry do not invoke moral
judgments, yet the scholar has in the past accepted the social obligation laid upon
him by training and authority to make such judgments. In a word scholarship
implies the habit of making judgments of value, and a living University can be
expected to be a forum where judgments of value are in constant conflict, and
where opinions held are subject to critical scrutiny, in the light of new findings and
interpretations, and under the impact of national events and the world career of
The habits of free enquiry, of objective disputation, of judging values, have
not deeply penetrated the West Indies. They are seldom fostered by Colonial
status.* Yet the territories are moving towards responsible democratic government,
which is unthinkable unless such habits are to be found in different degrees at
various levels in society. Thus the contribution of this "liberal" idea of a
University, hardly apprehended yet in the region, is not merely desirable as an
*Before the war Punch depicted a Warrant Officer in the Indian Army teaching geometry
to a class of Indian soldiers. On the blackboard was a horizontal line, with a
perpendicular rising from it. He is pointing at the blackboard and saying "Now
the angle on the right hand side of the perpendicular, it is a right angle. The angle
on the left is, by order of His Britannic Majesty, a right angle also This we must
all believe I"
1 4 .- 4
abstraction, but a clamourous necessity for decent self-respecting living. It is true
that many West Indians have studied at Universities in the Old and New Worlds,
but their training has been carried out in situations quite remote from West Indian
"facts of life" and on their return they have seldom found institutions in which
the scholarly outlook has been embodied. They have therefore contributed little
more than technical and professional skill to the community in which they have
frequently felt themselves aliens. Our University has therefore unique obligations,
which no other institution can be expected to fulfil: that of fostering and
propagating free enquiry, objective discussion of ideas, and not merely the right
of the individual to his opinions, but his duty, his obligation to make judgments.
Extra-murally we can spread these habits by bringing University trained men
and women into association with one another in an atmosphere where the objective
discussion of live issues is not regarded as a betrayal of the cherished prejudices
of one's caste and where criticism will not be taken as personal affront. A milieu
can be nurtured in which thoughtful individuals can meet on common ground.
This might counterbalance the present centrifugal force which drives many of the
most gifted abroad, never to return; it would also ensure a welcome to scholars
from outside. But we must go further than this. We must make demands on
graduates so that they circulate among the people not only as people doing
specialised jobs, with high social prestige, but as University trained individuals,
carrying into classes, lectures, discussions and committees the spirit of their
In attempting to apply the principle outlined above, we encounter one most
formidable obstacle, the conquest of which established a second task of great
dimension. We have little reliable accessible knowledge of the West Indies. With
certain exceptions the few studies which have been made are hidden away in
journals, or else they have been made as touching some larger issue outside the
scope of West Indian affairs. It is important that the University and its extra-
mural arm should mobilise not only scholars, but curious laymen, collectors,
writers, social workers, teachers, photographers, artists and technicians to document
and study the West Indian world. The process of searching out and studying facts
about the region* and disseminating knowledge so gained is not merely an
invaluable service, but it involves those who do it in a career of eager self-education
and creates a disinterested love of study far removed from the struggle for
certificates. It reveals values and gives real content to political and cultural
As for the Extra-Mural Department, our problem consists first in bringing
together in the several territories those who grasp the purpose and meaning of a
University, on the common ground of devotion to it and realisation of the vital
and unique nature of its contribution to the West Indies today. Secondly it consists
in thinking out, after a careful scrutiny of the social process, ways in which the
influence of the University can flow out from these men and women to others, and
work like yeast in the community. The methods may be those of the lecture or
*In Europe, great contributions have been made to knowledge and scholarship by
laymen, especially in the fields of Natural History, Archaeology, Local History and
class room, informal club or discussion group, workshop or project group. The
yardstick must be the growth in mens' minds of those qualities which a University
before all else exists to nourish.
The problem facing us in the several colonies consists of mobilising the
University trained, and the 'natural' scholars bringing together on common ground
those who understand fully what a University is, so that they become a social and
intellectual force, than making such arrangements as will enable them to influence
other individuals on a considerable scale.
Our problem consists first in bringing together in the several colonies those
who comprehend the purpose and meaning of a University on the common ground
of devotion to it, and realisation of the vital and unique nature of its contribution
to West Indian society. Secondly after a careful scrutiny of the social process it
consists in thinking out the ways in which the influence of the University can flow
out from these men and women to others and work like yeast in the community.
The methods may be those of the class room, lecture hall, informal club,
"workshop", discussion group, which ever may be the most appropriate. The
yardstick must be the growth in more minds of these qualities which a University
above all exists to nourish.
1 4 *
The Problem of "Over-Population" in Puerto Rico*
COMPARED TO OTHER PLACES, the population of Puerto Rico is very dense, measured
both in terms of total acreage and in terms of arable acreage. An agriculturally-
dominant economy probably cannot support a population as dense as this one at
levels of living which even begin to approach those already conquered by the people
of the industrially developed parts of the world. The people of Puerto Rico aspire
to these levels of living and their aspirations are legitimate.
To this central thesis, I agree. Our problem now is "what to do about it."
For years, there has been abroad in Puerto Rico the idea that the solution-the
"what to do about it"-lies in thinning out the population and making it less dense.
I object not to the idea so much as to the emphasis which is put upon it, the
premise that lies at its base, and the extreme to which it is carried.
The premise is frequently expressed in an unsophisticated way and it appears
in a recently published book in these words: -
"Puerto Rico has too many people in relation to land and other resources
to support a normal standard of living for all."
The assumption here is that the standard of living of the people of the island
is somehow related to the number of acres of land per person and to the resources
which exist in the island in their natural state. The assumption comprehends the
following sub-assumptions: -
(a) the total area of arable land is fixed.
(b) the product that can be derived from an acre of land is fixed.
(c) the things which are produced here must be made of resources which
None of these propositions are, of course, true. We have now acquired sufficient
technical skill and are sufficiently ingenious so that we can make land arable which
is not arable in its natural state. By damming up water, irrigating land, changing
river flows, draining, and terracing, we are now able to produce great wealth from
land which a century ago would have been left wilderness. Land area, in the sense
of land available for production of useful things, can be enormously expanded by
If the land were, however, fixed in quantity, we should still be able to increase
the product which we derive from it. In the American Southern States, between
1929 and 1948, the per acre yield of cotton was increased 93 per cent.-almost
doubled; of tobacco 74 per cent.; and of corn 31 per cent.
*A paper for the Seventh Convention on Social Work in Puerto Rico, Hotel Caribe Hilton,
San Juan, May 2-4, 1952.
Between 1910 and 1945 the number of acres in the United States used for
agricultural purposes declined slightly, but in this period the volume of agricultural
production increased 70 per cent.
There have been press reports here of new findings in cane varieties which
could enormously increase the per acre yield of cane and the Commissioner of
Agriculture will gladly tell anyone how much the acre yield of coffee, tobacco,
and minor crops can be increased in Puerto Rico, with better cropping and fertilizing
So the implied premises that the quantity of land is fixed and that the quantity
of product per acre of land is fixed are both groundless.
The third premise-that we cannot produce much here, because this is an
island without resources (without coal, iron ore, non-ferrous metal ore, &c.) lingers
longest and dies the hardest death. I have heard "economists" say that
manufacturing in this economy is "artificial,"-whatever that means-unless it is
local-resource based. The chinaware plant which fabricated ware from English clay
is by this premise, "artificial" but a wallboard plant producing from bagasse, or a
candy plant producing from sugar, would not be "artificial." I would suggest that
the only thing "artificial" in this argument is the argument itself.
It makes no sense at all, in economic terms, to divide industry into local-
material-based and imported-material-based parts. If you told a resident of
Nashville, Tennessee, that the shoe plants there are "artificial" because the hide
is grown on Texan cattle and imported into the State of Tennessee (or is it because
it is imported into the city of Nashville?), he would say you are talking nonsense
and he would not be wrong.
What does all of this mean? It means that the common talk of over-population
relative to land, or relative to resources, expresses im-precise thinking.
Let me make my counter-propositions:
1. Any people can live well, whatever its number or density, if it produces
a large volume of goods and services, per person.
2. The volume of goods and services which is produced per person is not
determined by the quantity of land within the political boundaries of
the area in which the relevant people live, nor is it determined by the
quality of the land (that is, by the resources).
The problem of population in Puerto Rico becomes, therefore, the problem of
how to increase output of goods and services. I have consented that enough of an
increase cannot be accomplished, if the economy is dominantly agricultural. The
economy must, therefore, become dominantly industrial. I do not ignore, of course,
the concomitant necessity for agriculture to become more productive. That is, even in
the agricultural sector-while the community is industrializing-output per acre and
output per worker must increase. I will not discuss the way in which industrialization
can occur, because, others have done it much better than I could. I would only
note, parenthetically, that every policy and practice of government and of private
non-political institutions, needs to be scrutinized to see whether it leads to this
objective and that the main lines of policy needs to be pointed in this direction.
Whatever policy leads to making the community less productive needs to be
abandoned. Whatever policy does not lead to making the community more
productive, and which is done at the expense of an alternative policy which would
make the community more productive also needs to be changed.
Let me pursue again for a moment the proposal that the problem of poverty
can be solved by re-dressing the balance between population and resources.
This could happen in two ways. First, expand the land area of Puerto Rico.
How? Well, I have heard students at the University recently proposing both the
conquest of the Dominican Republic and the purchase of French Guiana. Second,
leave the land area unchanged and reduce the population.
I submit to you that simple thinning out of population will not solve the
problem of poverty here. There are 2.2 million people in the island. Of these
.7 million are in the labour force. Those in the labour force are either working or
they are looking for work. The total figure of .7 million represents the potential of
producers of goods and services. We would not want to expand that .7 million
much, because, if we did, it would be at the expense of care of children by mothers
or at the expense of training for the young in school. Of the .7 million, perhaps
.2 million are unemployed or are under-employed, measured by number of hours
worked per week. If we thinned the population by taking the .2 million, plus four
dependents for each, out of the population, Puerto Rico would be left with
1.4 millions people.
Will this solve the problem of poverty? It will not. Why will it not? It will
not, because the half-million employed persons who remain are producing at a
rate of output per worker that is very low, by Western World standards. Those
who remain after the thinning would be somewhat better off, because they would
consume what is now being consumed by the .2 million non-producers and their
dependents, but the people would still be enormously poorer than the people of,
Thinning within the present land area of the island would not solve the
problem. Neither would thinning, over an expanded area. If part of the population
were transported to French Guiana, which were converted to a part of Puerto Rico
by purchase, and if, there, they produced, per worker, the same volume of output
as is produced now in Puerto Rico per worker, they and those who remain
on the island will still be poor. Thinning either way, thus, will have solved nothing.
There is no solution short of increasing output per worker and, I repeat again,
there cannot be enough of an increase of output per worker in this densely settled
island except by industrialization.
Some communities-like New Zealand-produce a good living through
agriculture. But a heavily settled area cannot produce a good living through
agriculture, because agriculture produces on an average much less per worker than
does manufacturing or some service industries.
There is still another imprecision in the talk of over-population. Almost always,
the case for over-population in Puerto Rico is made in comparison with other
countries. There is no economic logic in this reasoning. It is no more valid, and
may be less valid, to compare densities here and in the United States, than to
compare densities here and in New York State, or Manhattan Island, or the State
of Mississippi or the Mississippi Delta Region. The populations and areas of
countries, and therefore, their population densities, are determined by boundaries
which may have no economic significance. See where this leads us. If inter-regional
comparisons of population densities are permissible, we cannot say that we are poor
because we are crowded, because the number of cases of communities that live well,
although they are crowded, is enormously great. We need only look at large urban
centers all over the world to see that this is so.
Permit me to touch on only one other facet of this question before I close.
One of the "thinning-out" solutions which is going on is out-migration from
the island. Last year, the number of net-out-migrants was 53,000, the highest in
the island's history. This January, twice as many net-out-migrated as in January
of 1949, 1950, or 1951. So that this year, the number of out-migrants may outstrip
even 1951's record figure. The more people go North, the stronger the pull is upon
those who remain. Out-migration grows like snowballs running down hill. The
bigger the ball, the faster is the rate of its growth; the faster the rate of growth,
the bigger the ball.
But do we know whether we are losing the best part of our people, speaking
in economic terms. What do I mean by the "best part." This is the part of the
people with the greatest schooling and skill, with the highest intelligence, with the
most initiative, with the most highly developed sense of responsibility, with the
largest capacity to learn.
We ought to know this. Whether we know it or not, the migration policy of
the Government, to the extent that it can have one, ought to be administered in
ways which will keep the "best" in the island. It is a mistake which, fortunately,
has had little effect, but which has great interpretive significance, to publish here
accounts of job openings in the United States in the highly skilled trades, as has
been done. And, if large-scale out-migration is believed to be an important part
of a sound solution to the problem of poverty, it may be desirable to review the
whole policy of enforced standards of employment in the North for organized
out-migrants, or, at least, to administer the policy with great care. For those who
believe in the importance of out-migration, it must be seen that the higher the
standards demanded of American employers, before permitting them to recruit
Puerto Rican workers, the less is the number of workers who will go.
Let me re-capitulate:-
1. Emphasis on over-population contributes to mal-orientation of the people.
To the extent that the people believe that the problem of poverty in
Puerto Rico is solved by reducing the number of people, they lose sight
of the real truth that there can be no solution except by increasing the
volume and value of output.
2. Thinning out may do no good, if the productivity of the lesser number
of people who remain is not increased.
3. Thinning out through out-migration may have the effect of reducing the
average quality of the Puerto Rican people.
4. The total product of no community is derived from the land, thought of
number-of-acres-wise nor quality-wise (resource-wise). In a developing
economy, the land has a declining importance. In the world at large,
over the centuries, the land has had a declining importance. Less and
less of the total income of the world comes from the land. The land is
also less and less important, even in the production of agricultural
5. There is no logic in comparing population densities for whole countries,
rather than regional parts of countries. Whole countries are defined by
political boundaries that have no necessary relevance to the problem:
how does population density affect standards of living.
6. It is not true that, in Puerto Rico, we live badly because we are so many.
What is true is that, in Puerto Rico, we live badly because we produce
so little. There are thinly populated communities which are rich and
others that are poor; there are also thickly populated communities that
are rich and others that are poor. It is not large numbers per square mile
nor small numbers per square mile that makes a people rich or poor.
Thick or thin, what makes them rich or poor is the volume of goods
and services they produce.
I should like now to enter a caveat to forestall misunderstanding. I have been
discussing population thinning in economic terms and I have concluded that
population control offers no real solution to the economic problem of Puerto Rico.
I have not discussed the social welfare problem. There is no question that a poor
family of five children is better off than one of ten. And the poor family is so
common, that, in social welfare terms, the community may be better off with smaller
families. In short, while a strong case for population control cannot be made on
economic grounds, it may be that it can be made on other grounds. I have not
discussed this facet of the question of population control simply because it is outside
the scope of this paper.
SIR JAMES IRVINE, K.B.E. F.R.S.
Reprinted from "NATURE" by kind permission of the Editor
WITH the death, on 12th June, of Sir James Irvine, Principal and Vice-Chancellor
of the University of St. Andrews, this ancient seat of learning mourns the loss of
an illustrious son whose career at St. Andrews extended over a period of fifty-seven
years in the successive capacities of student, lecturer, professor and principal. His
services to the University, particularly during his tenure of the highest office for
more than thirty years, can truthfully be described as inestimable. In that period
he changed the face of the University and brought prosperity and high prestige
to a time-honoured academic foundation which in his early days was marked by
poverty, a paucity of students, and a lack of proper buildings and equipment for
the teaching of science.
James Colquhoun Irvine was born at Glasgow on 9th May, 1877. After his early education
at Allan Glen's School and the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, he entered the University
of St. Andrews in 1895 and graduated B.Sc. in 1898. Here he became a brilliant disciple of
Thomas Purdie, professor of chemistry, who always remained in his memory. It was during
an ensuing period of study under Wislicenus at Leipzig that he conceived the novel idea of
applying Purdie's method of methylation to the investigation of the molecular structure of
carbohydrates. From this idea sprang the famous carbohydrates research school at St. Andrews,
which he developed with so much energy and success during his tenure of the chair of
chemistry from Purdie's retirement in 1909 until his own appointment, in 1921, as principal
of the University. These pioneer researches led to later work of the first importance in
carbohydrate chemistry, much of which was carried out at Birmingham under the direction
of Sir Norman Haworth, who had formerly held an appointment in Irvine's department at
Irvine's researches were interrupted by the First World War ; at the same time, however,
the experience of the St. Andrews school was brought into full play in meeting the demands
of the British, French and Russians for such indispensable carbohydrates as dulcitol, inulin,
fructose, maltose and mannitol. There followed the complete preparation, in quantity, of
novocain. These tasks, together with difficult and dangerous work on mustard gas, hindered
the expansion of the fundamental researches on carbohydrates. This work was once more
getting into stride when Irvine became principal in 1921.
Soon afterwards, the scientific contributions that the new principal had made to the
national war effort were recognized by the bestowal upon him of a knighthood ; he had been
elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1918. A portrait of this fourth professor of chemistry
in the United College of St. Salvator and St. Leonard, painted some years later (1933) by
Oswald Birley, hangs in the Senatus Room of the University of St. Andrews beside that of his
teacher, predecessor and friend, Thomas Purdie. A distinguished pupil of Irvine has said that
"he was an inspiring teacher, and his lectures were models of clearness. More than that, they
inspired in the students a love of chemistry and gave them a desire to take part in the
discoveries that Irvine himself was initiating"
Irvine had shown his administrative ability as professor and also as dean of the faculty
of science but few suspected his latent powers until the broad opportunities of the principal-
ship unfolded themselves before him. A profound love for his University and an unfailing
faith in its high destiny enabled him to combine the vision of the seer with the drive of the
man of action, and to use tradition as the handmaid of progress and development. He cherished
the picturesque attributes of his ancient University, and drew into practical service the
pageantry and colour of the "College of the Scarlet Gown".
During his long term of office, the development of the residential system with its attached
Harkness entrance scholarships, together with the institution of regents, played a leading part
in widening the field of recruitment of students and in raising their number to an economic
level. New chairs were founded judiciously in every faculty of the University. Among many
notable advances in the part of the University situated in Dundee were the growth of the
schools of medicine and engineering, and the expansion of the chemistry department of
University College. These rapid developments, combined with the geographical handicaps
imposed upon a University with centres situated upon both sides of the Tay, have inevitably
given rise to growing pains. Such difficulties, however great, must be overcome in the interests
of the University as a whole. In Irvine's own words (1950): "Let it be an encouragement
and an inspiration to each one of us to reflect that. within the history of our own times,
obstacles so formidable have been met and surmounted I have faith, unconquered and
unconquerable, in the beloved University of St. Andrews"
Irvine's interests and activities, although concentrated upon the University of St. Andrews,
spread outwards in ever-widening circles as the years went by. He took a great and practical
interest in preserving the historical character of the City of St. Andrews. In the outside world
he rendered invaluable services to the Scottish Universities Entrance Board, the Scottish
Education Department, the Forest Products Research Board, the Carnegie Trust, the Pilgrim
Trust, the Commonwealth Fund, and many other organizations. He was a member of the
Prime Minister's Committee on the Training of Biologists (1931), chairman of the Viceroy's
Committee on the Indian Institute of Science (1936), of the Committee on Higher Education
in the West Indies (1944), and of the Inter-University Committee on Higher Education in
the Colonies (1946-51). He was a prime mover in founding the University College of the West
Indies, where the scarlet student-gown of St. Andrews may be seen in a new environment.
He was also an ever-welcome visitor to the United States on various occasions he delivered
special lectures and addresses in that country, as at Williamstown (1926), Princeton (1929),
and Yale (1931).
He was awarded many honours : in 1948 he became K.B.E. ; in chemistry he was
Longstaff medallist of the Chemical Society, Davy medallist of the Royal Society, Willard
Gibbs medallist of the American Chemical Society, and Elliott Cresson medallist of the
Franklin Institute of Pennsylvania. He received numerous honorary degrees from the
universities of the homeland, the. British Commonwealth and the United States.
He married in 1905 Mabel Violet, younger daughter of Mr. John Williams, of Dunmurry,
Co. Antrim. Throughout his subsequent career he owed much to his wife's unfailing devotion
and counsel, and to the background of a happy home-life. He had three children, including
one son, Nigel, who died on active service during the Second World War.
It is difficult to do justice in words to Irvine's many-sided character and personality. A
richly stored mind found expression in speech that could attain a rare eloquence and charm,
whether at great moments or upon more intimate occasions. He was an admirable chairman,
ever ready to lighten the routine of business with an apt anecdote or reminiscence. He had
a remarkable power of reducing a complicated problem to its essentials ; at the same time,
he had an equally remarkable memory for detail of all kinds. Persuasive in argument, tenacious
of opinions carefully formed, he showed the greatest determination and forcefulness in carrying
through a cherished project passionately held. He was a stern disciplinarian when occasion
demanded ; yet his students knew instinctively that in him they had a firm friend. He had,
indeed, a discerning sympathy with youth ; he would sometimes pause at his desk in the
midst of the weightiest matters in order to write a charming letter of encouragement or of
congratulation to a youthful acquaintance from him came many kindnesses of which the
world knew nothing. In himself he preserved throughout his life a certain element of spiritual
boyishness, allied closely with his eager zest for new knowledge and fresh experiences.
Two years ago Irvine wrote "I find myself-a twentieth-century scientist-gazing
across the chasm of five hundred years to a strange remote world and am conscious afresh
of a feeling which never entirely escapes me that, as the thirty-fourth Principal of St. Salvator's
College, I am privileged to share in the inheritance of a solemn trust ; at once I am brought
face to face with the question if the duty committed to that long succession of Masters has
been faithfully discharged". The answer is clear to us and will be even clearer to posterity.