Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Front Matter
 Editorial comments and notes

Digitization of this item is currently in progress.
Caribbean Quarterly
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099208/00139
 Material Information
Title: Caribbean Quarterly
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: University of the West Indies
Publisher: Extra Mural Dept. of the University College of the West Indies
Place of Publication: Mona, Jamaica
Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 843029
sobekcm - UF00099208_00139
System ID: UF00099208:00139

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
        Front Matter 3
    Editorial comments and notes
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
Full Text
MARCH, 1967


Roger Mais: Man With a Guitar
Photographer Amador Packer
Kind Permission of Mrs. Jessie Dayes

VOLUME 13. No. 1

.MARCIT. 107




Editorial Comments and Notes 1

W I. Carr 3


Errol Miller 29

Robert Fox 34

Edward Brathwaite, Rights of Passage
Louis James

D. A. G. Waddell, The West Indies and the Guianas
Stephen Dabydeen

Benjamin Schlesinger






MSS. and Communications should be addressed to the Editor. Unsolicited MSS.
which are not accepted for publication will be returned if accompanied by a stamped
addressed envelope.

Copyright reserved, and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden



Editor: Director of Extra-Mural Studies, University of the West Indies,
Mona, Jamaica.

The Editor is advised by an Editorial Board, consisting of members
of the University Staff.

Single copies can be obtained in the West Indies, from booksellers
or from the Extra-Mural Department in any territory.


Subscribers in the West Indies and the
United Kingdom (4 issues post free)
Subscribers in other countries

$2.00 W.I. or 8/4d.
$2.00 (U.S.) or equivalent

Fill in the form below and send with subscription to:

Caribbean Quarterly,
Department of Extra-Mural Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica,

or to the local office of the Resident Tutor in any territory.


"Caribbean Quarterly" Subscription Form



in payment of

valid from Vol.


No.. ............ for 4 issues.

Date: ............ ..............................

I enclose



Vol. vm No. 4

Documents Which Have Guided Educational
Policy In the West Indies: The Keenan Report,
Part I The Elementary School System in
A West Indian Student in England
Salt Fish and Ackee (Reprint)
Sociology, Social Administration and
Social Work
The Shortage of Science Teachers In Under-Devel-
oped Territories
English Literature In the Caribbean -
An Analysis Based on
Results of the U.W.I. Examination
in English Literature 1962.
(I) V. S. Nalpaul, The Middle Pasage
(II) Derek Walcott, In a Green Night

Vol. X No. 4

Documents Which Have Guided Educational
Policy in the West Indies, No. 8:
Report on the Commissioners Mayhew &
Marriott on Secondary & Primary
Education in Trinidad, Barbadop,
Leeward Islands and Windward, 1931-32
The Richest Trade Centre of the Indies:
A Vision of Trinidad's Future
Literature of Latin America & the Caribbean
Short-Term Improvements in Caribbean
Economic Planning
(I) Douglas Hall, Ideas and
Illustrations in Economic History
(II) Wendell Bell, Jamaican Leaders:
Political Attitudes in a New Nation
(liL) Edwin Rosskam, The Alien

Vol. XII No. 2

The Education of the Engineer in the West Indies
The Creation of Full Employment in Jamaica
The Role of Capitalism in Jamaica's Development
The First English Settlement in St. Lucia ..
Commentary: Tree Crops In West Indian Agriculture
The Teaching of Geography in the Caribbean
(1) F. J. AJayl, Christian Missions
in Nigeria, 1841-1891
(li) Errol Hill. Man Better Man

Vol. XII No. 3

The Baffling Creator: A Study of the
Writing of James Baldwin
The Effects of Modern Technology
On Small Developing Countries
With Surplus Labour
The Civil Service Strike in British Honduras
Commentary: A Conference on Climatology
and Related Fields In the Caribbean
Margaret Nellsen, Biology and Hygiene
for Caribbean Schools ..
Shella Duncher, A Visual History of
the West Indies .. ...

Shirley C. Gordon
Mervyn Morris
J. H. Parry
T. S. Simey
G. D. Bishop

W. I. Carr and J. E. Ingledew
Peter Rudder

John Searne
John Figueroa

Shirley C. Gordon
Barbara flll
G. R. Coulthard
C. Y. Thomas

Havelock Brewster
A. W. Singham
Lee Robinson

K. S. Jullen
John E. Moes
Ralph Thompson
Ripley P. Bullen
D. B. Murray

L A. Eyre
K. O. Laurence
Louis James

Gregorio Arana

Steve DeCastro
C. H. Grant

Bah y Floyd

Hopeton Gordon

d. 8l Abriklan

Editorial Notes and Comments

Roger Mais died in 1955. Last year the manuscripts of his work were
presented by his sister to the Library of the University of the West Indies
for safe keeping. Bill Carr was at that time on the staff of the Department
of English. He has critically assessed Mais' work which he feels has not
received the attention which it richly deserves and we are proud to make
this the main feature in this issue.

Benjamin Schlesinger is visiting Professor of Social Work. at the Uni-
versity of the West Indies. He has undertaken a study of the Jewish com-
munity in Jamaica and has submitted to us a very readable account of his
findings which will be of interest not only to our readers in this territory
but in the area as a whole.
Robert Fox of the Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation contri-
butes a useful note on the need for education and training in the field of
management based on his several years experience in Jamaica.

Our other commentary is on an enquiry involving 150 adolescents in
senior modern schools in Jamaica. Errol Miller is attached to the Depart-
ment of Education of the University and therefore has a special interest in
this subject. His brief paper emphasises the need for research into the
operation of new systems of education in the community.

Louis James of the University of Kent in Canterbury has reviewed for
us Edward Brathwaite's Rights of Passage. Edward Brathwaite is a member
of the Department of History who is presently at the University of Sussex
on secondment and Stephen Dadydeen of the Department of History of this
University has reviewed D. A. G. Waddell's The West Indies and the Gulanas
one of a series of books on the West Indies and Central America.





2) Adams, Magnus and

3) George Cumper:



6d. each



M. G. Smith The life of Norman Paul
a healer, diviner and
seer in Grenada, as re-
corded by M. G. Smith
Edited by Seven lectures delivered
Errol Hill in a seminar held during
May and June, 1963, in
Port-of-Spain under this
general title.

A St. Lucian Journal

Poisonous Plants
in Jamaica 3/- each.

Looking at Figures
5/- each.

Agricultural Research in
Jamaica (Five papers from Seminar in
1965). 2/-
Single plays by the following authors,
complete list on application.
Errol Hill
Derek Walcott
Cicely Howland
Roderick Walcott
Douglas Archibald

scripts of broadcast programmes are avail-
able from the Radio Education Unit of
the Department.

Louis S. Grant

1940-1956 G. R. Coulthard
RELATIONS TERMS Edited by R. Nettleford
3/6 H. R. Roberts
3/6 Carlyle Dunkley

Roger Mais: Design from a Legend.


There is a manifest lack of wisdom in establishing a titular claim upon
a writer. Your alert reader will naturally suspect the presence either of
smartness or of a distortion of achievement in favour of the requirements
of an imported intention. The critic might seem to be marking the cards
and so the onus is on him to justify the ascription as his discussion proceeds,
as the tendency of his argument is revealed. In the case of Roger Mais,
however, some kind of preliminary intimation of purpose is necessary in
order that the primary implications of his strenuous and honourable com-
mitment to his craft shall be realized. And a descriptive analysis of his
career as a writer is of the sharpest relevance to West Indian writing as a
whole within the British Caribbean. His work and the impulses which
inform and direct it seem to me significantly unlike those of any other
West Indian writer; and the facts of his career and the nature of his pre-
occupations oblige us to a more than tentative re-reading of the official
context the context which receives so much misleading definition in
George Lamming's The Pleasures of Exile. This ambiguous and frustrating
book has a kind of classical status in the long effort of West Indian intro-
spection. One hears sharp dissent from both the general and the particular
bent of Lamming's rumination, but still Toussaint L'Ouverture, Prospero
and Caliban, the peasant significance of Samuel Selvon: there do seem to be
possibilities here and we permit them to stand perhaps by default. For no-
body else has attempted a similar and as prolonged an enquiry (save in so
far unpublished theses) and so Lamming's proffered significance have, if
not always the strictest relevance, at least the advantage of convenience.
The blurred insistencies, if only by the density of their accumulation, man-
age to draw attention to contours of feeling with which people are familiar.
And so we concede an order of reluctant attention.

With some of George Lamming's particular estimates (estimates that
were for him presumably crucial) we need hardly concern ourselves. The
careers, for example, of neither Samuel Selvon ('shot through and through
with peasant urgency') nor V. S. Naipaul ('his conception of intelligence is
limited to answering examination questions') have since attested to Lam-
ming's assertions. Where Roger Mais is concerned Lamming tells us 'In
Jamaica. they murdered Roger Mais, and they know it'. Apart from a
sideswipe at Jamaican philistinism he really doesn't say anything else and
at no stage does he attempt to discuss Mais' work. We are left with a rather
romantic accusation and have to fend for ourselves in trying to find out what
Lamming might mean. It was certainly never my impression that "they"
are aware that they ever murdered Roger Mais: the Jamaican in any case
is not especially gifted at pondering his own limitations. And are we meant

to feel that Mais might have been more welcome elsewhere? In, for instance,
Barbados? But the ponderous rigidity of the social structure of that island
could hardly have fertilised the interests of a Mais, and its flat, definite
overbred topography is alien to the bracing, symbolic framework of Mais'
imagination. As Derek Walcott suggested a year or so ago Jamaica, with its
complex of mountain spines, is uniquely and personally the Roger Mais
country. And at the same time that sombre pessimism which is a taproot of
Jamaican thinking and feeling is an essential presence in Mais' work. His
best writing gives it utterance as tragic art and one hardly envisages him
in easy consort with the nervously inspired anarchy of the Trinidadian. He
might have responded to some thing in Guyana but in fact he had no first-
hand knowledge of any of the other West Indian communities. He did not
leave Jamaica until he was forty seven when he went to work in England
and subsequently in France. And even in France his two most immediate
confreres John Hearne and Zachary Matalon were both Jamaicans.
By the time Mais returned home he was dying and his remaining few months
were devoted to occasional painting and to work on his unfinished novel
In The Sight Of This Sun. But none of this means Mais a purely Jamaican
possession. J. E. Clare McFarlane (to attempt a barely plausible comparison)
is that: the very fact that the poet laureate was so little of a serious artist
confines him entirely to the archives of Jamaican literary history. Roger
Mais, by contrast, is a deeply significant West Indian possession.

And this perhaps is where the problem starts, the problem, that is, of
supplying a particular account of Mais' importance. It might seem easy
enough. His name is usually mentioned with respect by people who claim a
mature interest in West Indian fiction. But there is nevertheless an accretion
of legendary reputation about his name, and a prevailing insistence that his
work is to be read against the background of 1938, the founding of the PNP,
his association with Focus and his registration of the massive and sinful
poverty of Kingston. Respectable Jamaica was shaken by the account of the
society provided in The Hills Were Joyful Together and Brother Man (it was
felt that he had either let the side down or that he had betrayed some arcane
middle class confidence). Mais, who as we all know was imprisoned by the
British in 1944, is to be seen as a leader of the cohorts of anti-colonialist
intelligence, and his fiction is to be read as constituting an outraged yet
compassionate sociology. This, for example, is an essential emphasis in Mr.
Norman Manley's brief introduction to the new edition of Mais novels (Pub-
lished in one volume by Jonathan Cape, 1966). But, although Mr. Manley's
pages are a generous tribute to the memory of a dead friend, it seems to me
his emphasis is a misleading one. It doesn't help us to come at a sense of
Mais' quality as a writer, and although it points to the content of the fiction,
it can't help us in trying to define its underlying tragic metaphysic. Anyone
who has read Black Lightning with attention is surely entitled to feel that
Henry James might be more usefully invoked than George Lamming, or even
Vic Reid. But Henry James, alas!, is not likely to be a welcome guest.
And yet I recall the more or less avid reception granted to H. Orlando
Patterson's novel The Children of Sisyphus a recollection prompted by a
recent re-reading of Mais' work. Apart from the fact that it is a sharp indict-
ment of Jamaica that some of Mais' content should have to be proffered
again (on Patterson's showing and one doesn't dispute his adequacy here

- things have simply got worse) Patterson's book seems to me radically
inferior. His awareness of people is suspect and faulty, immature in its
definitions both of human dignity and human frailty. The characters in the
book are used by an imagination basically unnerved by its own findings: and
the use of Camus seems to me intrusive and factitious. We have the tragic
ambition but no tragic realisation: understanding is replaced by ponderous
philosophising and the sombre intelligence of Camus disappears, is extin-
guished in a nightmare sociology. But the book was strongly approved of and
taken as a volume of mature utterance. Had Mais' importance, one won-
dered, been forgotten? Or was it ever properly known in the first place?
Children of Sisyphus has overt intellectual pretensions of a kind that had
no attraction for Mais. But I felt here a genuflection towards the Sunday
newspaper reviewers a kind of sanctioned intimation that West Indian
fiction had grown up and could now afford to be intellectually sophisticated
about poverty. There are many West Indians willing to believe this kind of
thing and so one would half expect Mais to be seen as some sort of arduous
homespun rustic having about him, in his practice as writer and painter,
the virtues of the simple pioneer. At any rate, one went back to his work.
There are roughly three preliminary distinctions to make or at the
moment, I suppose, they have the quality simply of assertions. They are
necessary so that we may come at the intrinsic quality of the art, and so
that we may rid the art of the encumbrance of other people's opinions of it,
and other people's reputation. The distinctions (or assertions) are these:
Mais was not a political novelist; his significance cannot be understood in
terms of the impressively original social content of his two published King-
ston novels (original, that is, on first appearance); and finally he is not to be
ultimately associated with something known as 1938 and the movement for
independence. It is true that this last tells us something about Mais his
enlisting as a special constable, for example, and then changing his mind
and going over to the other side when he saw for the first time what things
were actually like. But we are not entitled to see him as a novelist of 'pro-
test' as though an account of his importance could be allowed to rest there.
Having said all this, of course, it is now necessary to supplement and qualify.
The statement 'Mais was not a political novelist' means at least two
things. When he brings Jamaican politics into the scope of his art his treat
ment has the stubbornly held parti pris of the honest polemical journalist. One
is aware of fists pounding tables and of flimsy copy subbed ready for the
final printing. It is not his political views one questions here it is the fact
that his presentation of them remains unassimilated into the particular
experience of his characters. They tend to go in for rather awkwardly self-
conscious discussions: the tone becomes overt and insistent. It is possible
that, as Vic Reid has remarked in relation to the last section of New Day, he
was too close to the events, too much a part of them, to be convincing about
them as a novelist. In 1950, for example, Mais wrote two novels Blood on
the Moon and Storm Warning which are a threnody on the Jamaican
electorate's choice for a second consecutive term of the Jamaica Labour
Party. One or two recognisable Jamaican political figures appear in the books
and a good leal of material that Mais had been working over in fragmentary
fashion achieves a temporary unity, a temporary balance in the two novels.
For Mais the return of the Bustamante Government had tragic implications

and there is obviously strong inward pressure to get these two books writ-
ten, even if not published. (Whether he made any attempt to have them
published is unknown). The titles of the two novels fairly suggests their
prevailing tone and the occasionally melodramatic urgency with which
Mais contemplated Jamaica's future. But what is of especial importance
is that almost immediately after completing these two novels Mais began
work on The Hills Were Joyful Together the inferior work, in other
words, has helped to make possible the achievement of his first published
novel The published version of The Hills Were Joyful Together contains
no overt politics (apart from the sceptical and exhausted liberalism of the
Prison Chaplain towards the end of the book) to paraphrase Wilfred
Owen one might put it that 'the politics is in the pity' But the original
manuscript (which runs to well over six hundred pages of typescript) does
contain a lot of rather heavily symbolic irony at the expense of colonialism.
social injustice and local politics. These are to be found chiefly in the choric
meditative passages which connect the different sections of the novel and
also in the relations between the Chaplain and some of his parishoners.
Anyone who consults the typescript ms. of the noval (now deposited into
the safekeeping of the Library of the University of the West Indies on its
Jamaican campus) will see the large number of passages that Mais sup-
pressesd for publication. Most of them (apart from an important relation-
ship which I shall reserve for my discussion of Brother Man) do not deserve
a place in the book. They impede what the reader soon comes to recognize
as its central movement. They dull the fine edge of Mais' sensibility and
inhibit the tragic significance and their solitary interest lies in the fact
that they inform us about what Mais was willing to abandon. Why they
were removed is uncertain. We do not know whether the initial prompting
came from Mais himself, or whether the suppressions were tactfully indi-
cated by an intelligent publisher's reader. In my view there are retro-
spective grounds for supposing that Mais made the cuts himself. For
example, the Ras/Tansy relationship which is little more than hinted at
in the published version is viry fully and movingly developed in the ms.
I can't imagine a publisher's reader demanding its removal if he was
simply after a shorter book then there are other things that could have
been curtailed. But we do know that the Ras/Tansy relationship is the
central focus of Mais' next novel Brother Man. And Brother Man is not
marred by insistence, not cluttered with the strenuously self-evident. Miss
Sylvia Wynter, however, (and I mention this to make a point about Mais
rather than about Miss Wynter) couldn't take the hint. In her radio play
based upon Brother Man she has to bring in an Englishman (of senior
position) who has been seen in a car along the Palisadoes making love to
a coloured Jamaican girl on the sly of course so that his wife and his
class/colour contemporaries won't find out. Mais' own view of the English
was often sharply enough expressed but the delicately enquiring quality,
the charity of life, we encounter in Mais' novel simply doesn't require this
kind of cliche. One wonders if Miss Wynter realises the extent to which
she vulgarises the integrity of her model but then I suppose we can't
have everything.
After Brother Man, Mais published Black Lightning and was at work
on the unfinished In The Sight of This Sun almost until his death. I say
Mais published Black Lightning (the reader might expect one to say wrote,

or went on to produce) because that novel does not represent some sudden
radical shift in Mais' interests, for all the substantial differences which are
evident between it and its predecessors. The germ of Black Lightning can
be found in the unpublished early novel Another Ghost in Arcady. Jake,
Amos, the carving these are present in that novel in the form of a short
story supposed to have been written by one of the characters. And there
is also a dramatisation of Black Lightning written between the short story
version of the novel and the completed novel itself. This suggests that the
themes of Black Lightning held a strong central interest for Mais roughly
ten years separate Another Ghost in Arcady from the published version
of Black Lightning and if we can subsequently define these themes and
suggest the nature of the interest we will, I think, have established Mais'
tragic significance though the connexion between the inhabitants of the yard
in The Hills Were Joyful Together and the unurbanised people of Black
Lightning is not an easy one to realise. In a recent conversation Mrs. Edna
Manley told the present writer in relation to Black Lightning that "We none
of us realized how important it was for him to write that book." Thus we are
likely to insist that Mais' true bent is in his presentation of Kingston poverty.
If this is what we feel, however, then the significance of The Hills and
Brother Man will largely evaporate and we will be left with the bare bones of
reportage. People's experience simply isn't interesting if it is an exclusive fab-
rication from the raw materials of social observation. Mais' characters are es-
tablished at a level, and represent a concentration of understanding, that al-
lows one to talk meaningfully about tragic art. And it is this that realises the
the connections between Mais of The Hills and the Mais of Black Lightning
The emphasis should be upon an order, a harmony: and Black Lightning ought
not to be seen as a movement away from the central experience of the two
earlier novels, an instance of minor Augustan virtue, Mais' Vicar of Wakefield.
In The Sight of This Sun is (on the face of it) a retelling of the Bible
story of David and Bathsheba. (The Bible held the deepest moral and
imaginative significance for Mais and is a frequent presence in his writing.)
This account may well disconcert, but we are not offered colourful allegory,
nor any version of romantic legend. Cecil B. DeMille isn't even a ghostly
presence. The central pre-occupations of the work are defined by Mais'
sense of contemporary Jamaica, and it reflects his original power (original
that is in West Indian writing) of making the particular society he under-
stands a metaphor for the human condition. He knows his own world so
well that we can all live in it. The primary conflict in the novel is between
the hard, astute and contemptuous contriver Joab, who has to get on with
the business of government, and David the artist, dislocated from the world
which is supposed to be his, where he 'belongs', and yet inescapably com-
mitted to it. David and Joab, as Mais' fable presents them to us, hostile
and suspicious, nevertheless cannot detach themselves from each other.
The tension between them is in its way a social dynamic. The novel is a
deeply moving and subtly worked fragment and it provides perhaps the
maturest sense of duty and relationship, of a determined universe and the
contrary nature of personal choice, available at the moment in British West
Indian writing. I am thinking of Mais' treatment of Uriah and Bathsheba
- the scene when Uriah, aware that the vital content of his relationship
is draining away, that he is in some unknown yet final way nullified by
his wife, comes into their room with a dead snake coiled around a stick.

The snake nearly killed Uriah himself. It isn't melodrama, or marital Grand
Guignol. Uriah, one feels, must bring the snake in as it embodies his im-
potence, his finally malevolent desire to find out what is 'wrong', and the
horror also of two people who realise that they are not what they thought
they were, and that their living together is a falsehood, a matter purely
of formal deportment. The novel doesn't get as far as the relationship
between David and Bathsheba (I would say that we have perhaps a quarter
of what Mais presumably had in mind. It is easy to see from the pace of
the narrative and the subtle configuration of individual scenes that we
would have had a long novel.) The two are aware of each other, and David
at least realises what is bound to happen their relationship will hardly
be a matter of choice or delight, rather perhaps a destined and absorbing
anguish. The fragment ends with the image of the eagle, with the lamb in
its talons, heading for the distant mountains. Its shadow falls on the up-
turned faces of David and Uriah, still essentially unaware, trying to convey
to the king a sense of his affection and loyalty: and David half embarrassed,
half pleased, trying to be patient and gentle but seeing in the eagle and
the lamb the truth of their condition.
It is worth mentioning in passing that when a reading from West In-
dian fiction was held in the early summer of 1966 at Mary Seacole Hall,
U.W.I. the theme being the local fictive treatment of relationships be-
tween men and women Mais' work supplied most of the extracts read.
It is in his work chiefly that we see the freest and fullest enquiry, the
truly generous sense of life Papacita and Girlie, Brother Man and Minette,
Jake, Amos and Estella, David, Uriah and Bathsheba the people are
inwardly and closely realized. They are not the cardboard products of pre-
dictable views of race or social and cultural background, and not puppets
controlled at the behest of vindictive cliche as they are in, say, Neville
Dawes' The Last Enchantment.
I shall be attempting fuller discussion of the novels later on but I hope
the foregoing sufficiently disposes of the insistence that Mais is primarily
a political writer, or a novelist of protest. (In the West Indies you cannot
really distinguish between the two.) Or, if the hope should be more tenta-
tively expressed, perhaps the reader will be encouraged to feel that there
is a marked inadequacy in imposing upon Mais a merely convenient func-
tion. Descriptions of content, of course, are much easier to undertake than
judgments of value.
The second preliminary distinction referred to earlier proposed that
"Mais' significance cannot be defined in terms of the impressively original
social content of his two published Kingston novels." Poverty and the mal-
formed living that goes with it have in the West Indies the status of tragic
conventions. But poverty in Kingston is of a peculiar hideousness, barely
to be met with elsewhere. This is the consequence partly of the herding
of people into the evil El Dorado of West Kingston, the whole context of
stunted hope, quelled aspiration and physical and moral decay. Small
wonder that Mais could give Brother Man the kind of significance he has.
And the situation is immensely worsened, of course, (or caused by?) the
barely credible remoteness of the Jamaican monied classes. "Two na-
tions" seems miserably inadequate an an epithet to bestow upon a dis-
crepancy that so radically assaults the eye and the heart. All this is implicit

in the two Kingston novels and elsewhere in Mais unpublished work. But
the two books cannot be discussed in the terms simply of realisation of
nightmare. This would give Mais a local status comparable to that of a
courageous and articulate sanitary inspector in Victorian England and
Mais was an artist, not a sort of choleric Edwin Chadwick. The roots of the
book are not present in the vividly seen, the actualised data of yard life,
but at a level of symbolic awareness which defines the tragic humanity of
the whole light, darkness, the prison, the sea, the hills, the gully, Surjue's
wall. These cause the book to transcend the information conscientiously
scribbled in the reporter's (or the research student's) notebook. The power
of the art is a perpetual enforcement of the cruel nature of the poverty,
the denial of life that goes with it. It isn't the poverty that gives us the
book. There are times when Mais' prose reminds us of the evocative range
of the prose of (say) the opening of Bleak House a prose that is not
functionally descriptive, but a prose that is fully exploratory, defining
experience rather than merely recording it. The prose, in other words, of
an artist.
The last of my three categories and again one used as a frequent means
of evasion evasion, that is, of the responsible business of talking about
the novels is 1938 and the movement towards national independence.
Mais' association with the People's National Party especially in its early
vibrant days is matter of plain record. When the history of that party
comes to be written Mais' name will find its natural and proper place along
with others who appear in the early numbers of Public Opinion (some of
whom like Mais himself went to prison.) But it is another question entirely
whether this supplies a necessary context for a discussion of his significance
as an artist. (Though an observation like this can, in the West Indies, have
the status almost of blasphemy. I am thinking, for example, of the kind
of automatic and literal-minded acceptance of the Empire Day scene in
George Lamming's In The Castle of My Skin. We have there all the dread-
ful decor of the West Indian setting not so very long ago the meaning-
less blare of the British national anthem, the suits, the sycophantic bully-
ing teachers etc. No West Indian could read the episode without respond-
ing to the dreadening pressures of the occasion. But in fact he is importing
his own experience into the book. As a piece of writing it is strained, fac-
titious and derivative.) In the conversation referred to earlier Mrs Manley
said something like "We, all of us then (i.e. in the thirties) felt we had
to move carefully. Roger never did." But the implications of the remark
are not as obvious as they may perhaps appear. There is not very much
in Mais' early writing (apart from his journalism) that would lead an un-
informed reader to suppose that he is dealing with a writer deeply involved
in the activity of a new political party, with independence as one of its
eventual aims. Most of his poetry (in the main late Victorian in tone and
impulse) shows a responsiveness to effects of light and wind and silence,
to the hill country of Jamaica, to a romantic conception of personal rela-
tionships, and also (and rather selfconsciously) to the vocation of the artist.
His first unpublished novel Another Ghost in Arcady (1942) is a heavily
Lawrentian diagnosis of middle class personal relationships and the sub-
sequent facts of his development as an artist (as I have already suggested)
bear out my contention that to assign to the art a predominantly political
and social context is to misunderstand the nature of the art. Mais' work

is no more to be sufficiently comprehended against the emotional back-
ground of 1938 than the work of, let us say, Andrew Marvell is to be suffi-
ciently comprehended against the emotional background of the English
Civil War. (Milton it is, by comparison, who emerges as narrowly partisan.)
And anyone who evokes that threadbare cliche "a weapon in the class
struggle" manifests a sensibility that has little honest understanding of
The issues here are complex and a necessary tact is required for their
discussion. No West Indian writer in the nineteen thirties, if he was a man
of honesty and force, could do other than feel that colonialism was the
primary nullification. We tend in England to neglect this, as we live there
in an atmosphere no longer dominated by the necessary contentions with
the arrogance and the insentience of class and authority. (Consider, for
example, the flaccid generalities of Kingsley Amis's Fabian Society pamphlet
of some seven or eight years ago; a genteel plea on behalf of political indif-
ference.) But the West Indian could not distance his politics, could not re-
move them to the end of a cultivated perspective. His quality as a person
was involved in the stipulations of inferiority, the kind of Brand X status
that the colonial metropolis and its delegates in his own territory accorded
to him. The West Indian writer knew that he could only write if he com-
mitted himself to changing this. He could not opt out without denying his
own humanity. And the brute circumstances of West Indian history made
impossible for him the kinds of intelligent aloofness of posture available
to, say, Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was always in
the thick of it because in so many abominable ways he was the history of
his society. And this again is something very difficult to convey to the
Englishman who may only know the West Indies from a history book or
a map of the Caribbean the unique hideousness of the West Indian his-
torical experience and the claims it continues to exact in the present. This
society will for a long time to come remain a tragic monument to human
selfishness and indifference. The artist in England has not had to deal with
anything like this he can take himself fairly comfortably for granted
(though he should never forget the lonely courage of a James, a Conrad
and a Lawrence) and he knows that his fellow countrymen will in the main.

But in Jamaica the seriousness (solemnity in fact) with which art was
taken when its existence was noted ripened into farce. A poet laureate
was robed and crowned on the stage of the Ward Theatre. The same poet,
in a debate with Mais in the pages of Public Opinion, seemed to feel that
you could imitate the example of Shakespeare in the twentieth century by
writing blank verse and by "copying" the Shakespearean richness of meta-
phor. Mais felt that what you had to do was to try and realise the nature
of Shakespeare's originality in his own time. If this could be established
then the modern writer might find he had some mature guidance. It is a
superficial debate but of interest for two reasons. Firstly, one is surprised
that it could take place at all Shakespeare was hardly available in the
terms of the debate; secondly, Mais, in the Jamaican context, was correct.
So much Jamaican verse was, and still is, barrenly imitative. What we have
is the slavish adoption of minor Victorian romantic verse, and what is felt
to be the Shakespearean mode is in fact uplift and grandiloquence. The
relevance it has to Shakespeare is about equal with that of Matthew Arnold's

sonnet "Others abide our question, thou art free." Indeed, one suspects that
it is Arnold's sonnet which has helped define the kind of attention Shakes-
peare has received. Its rather schoolmasterish tone, its hazy grandeur and
its awed exaltation make it an appetising ingredient in a West Indian literary
setting. It is to Mais' credit then that his early work was uncompromisingly
Jamaican. He published in 1939 and in 1942 two collections of short stories:
And Most Of All Man and Face and Other Stories. They were published at
his own expense which meant that he was largely dependent upon his own
energy and the intelligent generosity of his friends. They are not in them-
selves especially remarkable. The pathos is at times a little contrived and
the volumes as a whole are too self-conscious, too aware of doing some-
thing for the first time. For what Mais provides is not the mythical bores
of West Indian verse, nor the nubile slavewomen, haughty creoles and
rakehell plantation owners of that Edwardian dispenser of fantasy H. G.
DeLisser. We have instead maids, garden boys, icetruck sidemen and yam
patch farmers. We have ordinary Jamaicans in a setting immediately recog-
nisable as Jamaican and for perhaps the first time in Jamaican fiction there
is a real rather than a fabricated encounter between a writer and his
environment. But I am suggesting it is this that gives the tales their im-
portance rather than any intrinsic qualities of art. They would suffer by
comparison with, say, V. S. Naipaul's Miguel Street, but then irony doesn't
come easily to a Jamaican and in any case the detachment which enables
Naipaul to safeguard his ironic resourcefulness was not possible for Mais,
partly because of personal temperament (Mais was always involved, always
strenuously committed) and partly because of the facts of Jamaican his-
tory. Trinidad, like all the other West Indian territories, is the victim of
a prolific economic swindle but it never suffered extensively from the
squalid brutality of the plantocracy in the ways that Jamaica did. Irony
has a certain explicable irrelevance when you are confronting cruelty, suf-
fering and poverty. Or rather, perhaps, for a Swiftian power of indignant
exposure (one thinks of his Modest Proposal) you need history rather than
an agglomeration of wicked incidents and you need an agreed consensus
of definition. The Jamaican in the 1930s had the one and not the other.
Mais gives us a personal response but his isolation makes it seem tentative.
Consequently his two collections of tales have about them the air of pro-
paganda on behalf of a present imperfectly understood and a past only
dimly known. The relationship between a creative writer and the sinister
facts of his country's history cannot be decided for him by the insistence
and the requirements of a political party, nor by the pressing demands of
the immediate context. As T. S. Eliot puts it:

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What's not believed in, or if still believed,
In memory only, reconsidered passion.

The politician and the propagandist will hardly recognize themselves
here, neither perhaps will the historian. One remembers for example, the
frigid determination with which Eric Williams gives us the facts of West
Indian history in his Capitalism and Slavery but denies us any experience
of its texture. What the reader will question will not be Dr. Williams' knowl-
edge nor his professional competence. It will be his relationship to the
past and the present. The politician, perhaps, cannot recognize the extent
to which his version of history will reflect the essentials of his own per-
sonality, nor the extent to which the past will become something merely
plastic in his hands. And yet, after all the politician is in the long run
history's material.
The artist, however, requires the aloofness of another kind of time
and he cannot permit his history to be handed to him in the form of a set
of party responses. Consider, for example, the inferiority of the modern
section of Vic Reid's New Day. What comes movingly and beautifully alive
for the contemporary reader is the Morant Bay community in the context
of 1865. But when the novelist comes down to a relating of contemporary
events a rich intimacy (supplied in important measure by historical dis-
tance) is lost and we have barely fictionalised versions of public figures.
This whole final section has the tone and atmosphere of a House history
of the PNP. Or one might compare the subtle economy of insight and telling
of his The Leopard with the young Kenyan novelist James Ngugi's Weep
Not Child. Both the novels are set during the period of Mau Mau but the
differences between the two cannot be understood only in terms of Vic
Reid's mature talent. It should strike us as a positive advantage in The
Leopard that Vic Reid hadn't been to Africa when he wrote the book.
Ngugi is so close to the experience he describes that he provides little more
than large gestures and emotions that mean well but end in sentimental-
ity. However, the point at issue is perhaps best grasped by reference to
the fiction of Alejo Carpentier, a Cuban novelist and one of the undis-
putably major figures in Caribbean writing. I am thinking in particular
of his novel Explosion in a Cathedral. A detailed discussion of Carpentier's
work still needs to be undertaken, at least in English, and it would be
premature to endow him with the status of a Joseph Conrad. But the tenta-
tive context (for one who has no Spanish) is provided by Conrad's Nostromo.
Like Conrad, Carpentier establishes a subtly concrete and specific world
(Cuba and the French West Indies) unprepared for its encounter with the
French Revolution. The tragic shock (e.g. the appearance of the first guil-
lotine in Guadeloupe) is matter of history; but the ironic awareness, the
understanding of the unfulfilled relationship between motive and perform-
ance, the rich art which sustains in creative relation a density of conflict-
ing pressures this is Carpentier's achievement. One remembers through-
out the reading, however, that Carpentier is writing out of Cuba's ex-
perience of Spanish colonialism and the writer in the Spanish (and, one
supposes French) ex-colony has a permitted intercourse with the resources
of an old, a richly endowed culture. This is not a colonialism of the imagin-
ation. Indeed, in its literary consequences it is the reverse of this. Cuba
has an Alejo Carpentier. Jamaica had a J. E. Clare McFarlane; the kind
of artist you probably have to expect after a sustained period of cultural
humiliation. It is not the habit of British colonialism to extend to the
people it takes over (or forces into being) either the means or the oppor-

tunity of imaginatively finding themselves. At least this has certainly been
the case since the early eighteen hundreds. (V. S. Naipaul has some sug-
gestive pages in An Area of Darkness when he discusses the changes in the
implications of "British" during the nineteenth century. Gradually, it
became a way of life, a would-be moral style. It couldn't be shared with
the 'natives'. It could only be a means of self-assurance against them, the
sense of a superiority that had to be constantly insisted upon. One realises
to some extent one substantial advantage enjoyed by the American colonists.
They got free in the eighteenth century and, of course, most of them
were white.) Now there would be no point in attempting a detailed com-
parison of methods among Britain, France and Spain in the Caribbean.
You might as well distinguish among a competition of John Crows. But
Spain and France seem to have conceded some generosity of imaginative
endowment. The British have supplied warehouses, religious forms, the
law, ugly, barely functional cities (there are almost no towns in the British
Caribbean that anybody can be said to meaningfully 'live' in. Roughly speak-
ing, people either make money in them or they starve in them.) And one
recognizes a frigid and self-complacent utilitarianism that helps to make
the wicked handicap of a Batista, a Trujillo or a Duvallier nearly impos-
sible. But at the same time the local imagination is denied (unless it
seriously and deeply seeks for it) vital sources of nourishment and reflec-
tion, and there is consequently a great deal of purely manufactured political
and social writing in verse and prose in the British Caribbean. Stock pre-
judice leaps to do willing substitute for an informed and pondered response
and novelists like Neville Dawes, Fitzroy Fraser and Miss Sylvia Wynter
find, perhaps to their own surprise, that they are taken seriously. The
materials of history in the West Indies are in the archives, in the faces of
the people, in the maleficient artefacts in the museums, in the unemploy-
ment and felt shock of deprivation on your return from Europe or North
America deprivation of so much of the living substance of life. V. S.
Naipaul puts it thus in The Middle Passage:

History is built around achievement and creation: and nothing
was created in the West Indies.

(I used to feel that this summed it all up, and I partially reject it now
because it seems to me too much of a comment upon the present, or upon
the effort possible in the present. Naipaul seems to be inviting one just
to get up and go away.) Well, it is true that a writer like Carpentier makes
most political and social writing in the British Caribbean seem childish
but I am not willing to accept that the ugly fragments of British West Indian
history cannot be fused into an ir aginative harmony, into an order which
is the consequence of a profound integrity of vision. Carpentier has achieved
this, to my mind: but of course when we say "British" West Indian history
we remind the "British" West Indian writer just what he is faced with.
I can only hope that this has not seemed too long a digression the
reader's patience might have been tested less if he had been warned of what
was coming. I will insist, however, that the issues are important, and the
attentive reader I think will not have lost sight of Mais as the discussion
proceeded. After all, his context was being described and an answer was
being provided (or suggested) to the claim that Mais was a political
novelist and that it is against the background of 1938 that we are to under-

stand him. Had Mais chosen to take himself seriously and consistently as
a political writer his enterprise would have failed and we would not now
be terribly interested in him. (I trust that my digression helps to explain
why I feel justified in offering this as a flat assertion). It is true that Mais
is reported as having said in relation to The Hills Were Joyful Together
that his aim was
.to give the world a true picture of the real
the dreadful conditions of the working classes.

We don't have to take him at his own estimate, however, which does
not mean we patronise him by suggesting that the critic knows better.
Simply, that for Mais to talk in this way about a book which does far more
than this, suggests the dilemna of the honest Jamaican artist. He cannot
remain unmoved by what he sees and yet in a sense the artist is artistically
indifferent precisely because he cannot record it all, because he chooses
and arranges. Mais' vision of life as an artist was too strong for his own
didactic estimate here to have any essential relevance to the book. And to
insist that it does is in my view to patronise his talent.

I have devoted my attention so far to the general tenor of the re-
putation of Mais' published writings, and to some of the considerations that
must arise. But the celebrated 'legend' (helping to provide me with my
title) grows also from a sense of the personality, the essential character
of the man, in the recollections of people who knew him. Both John Hearne
and George Lamming have sensitively attested to their knowledge of Mais'
richly intransigent presence and bearing, and the man remains alive in the
memories of many people who have not seen their way to writing about
him, or who knew him only in special and peculiar circumstances. In-
evitably the reputation tends to be poached off. Jamaican literary circles in
fact teem with spurious artefacts who will use a now conveniently dead
Mais as an excuse for talking about themselves. But it is not hard to find
the people who know truthfully what they are saying. A senior physician
at the University of the West Indies described him as an extraordinarily
gentle person and one who had accepted without cant or rhetoric (and one
would suppose also without passivity) the fact of his imminent death. This
in fact is the key word among people who knew him well. Mr. Terry
Smith, who used to work for Public Opinion, and who was
a young apprentice journalist when Mais was editor recalls him as the comic
tyrant of the Public Opinion offices loud, bawdy, intensely energetic and
with an overwhelming power of concern. Mr. Smith also recalls the atmos-
phere of Mais' departure from the offices when the police came to tell him
that his appeal had failed. A silence, no rancour, a calm collecting to-
gether of pencils and paper, gentle goodbyes to the staff. The general
impression is of a turbulent, sometimes intractable, urgent man with a great
capacity for anger and at the same time a great personal gentleness: a man
au fond serieux at times, I suspect, to the dismay of his friends who
would have preferred to take things easier than Mais was willing to per-
mit. He hardly ever held down what people call a 'regular' job. After an
unlikely period of employment with the Ministry of Education as a very
young man, work, (as fathers with marriageable daughters would define
it) became for Mais a rather inconstant affair. But his essential activities

were multifarious. He was a skilful floral gardener and small acreage
farmer, a gifted amateur photographer with a sensitive eye and awareness
of composition, an inventor of recipes, a political journalist, a poet, novelist,
dramatist and painter. Most of the things that are worth doing he did and
he can remind us of D. H. Lawrence in the fullness with which he put him-
self into what he was doing (we have his sister, Mrs. Dayes' testimony for
this) in his inability to be anything less than totally interested in, totally
involved. This outflowing of life that people recognized in D. H. Lawrence
Mais had also. And he also shared in that wisdom that William Blake hints
at in his aphorism (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell).

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction. The vivid
energies I am trying to describe here persisted virtually until his death.
He returned from France towards the end of 1954 very thin, tired and
the victim of a continual nausea. Whether he knew then that he was dying
of cancer isn't precisely known. Some of his friends feel that he had actually
guessed but in any case he was surgically examined and an inoperable
cancer was found. "Cancer", Mais said, in a profoundly memorable comment,
"cancer is a Fascist disease" He continued working on his novel, first by
hand and subsequently by dictation, until he was too frail. But a half dozen
small pastels that he completed not long before he died testify to the inward
strength and responsiveness of his hold on life. They concentrate the eye
upon an intense vividness of colour, texture and particulars and are an
epitaph such as any man might envy:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.

John Donne has his characteristic relevance.

Not that much of what I have been describing here met with any positive
reception in Jamaica itself. The Philistine nature of British colonialism
seems like sensitivity of mind by comparison with the Philistinism it creates.
And Mais felt deeply the presence in Jamaica of something at once callow
and brutal, ugly and rapacious. He comments on it explicitly in fact in the
short piece Why I Love and Leave Jamaica. Respectable Jamaica shunned
the image of its responsibilities that Mais presents in The Hills Were Joy-
ful Together and long before the appearance of that novel Mais had the
reputation of being the essential tegaregg a Jamaican word meaning
defiant and shiftless, arbitrary and rootless. But the essential answer to
this order of casual summary is supplied by the body of work recently
deposited in the care of the Library of the University of the West Indies.
The mss. as a whole deserve the fullest critical scrutiny (hardly possible with-
in the confines of a single article) and the quantity though not always the
quality more than sufficiently supports my claim on behalf of Mais'
strenuous commitment. He worked intensely in prolonged isolation and,
ine-itably, an energy that sustains itself for so long without overt reward
makes the middle class mind feel downright uneasy. Of course, that mind
gets it both ways. If the writer doesn't "work" then he is lazy, unreliable
and socially unattractive: if he does "work" and gets nothing for it then

he is simply an eccentric. Either way the ordinary mind is safe. Qui-est-ce-
qui trompe ici?


It is time now to consider the work itself and so I had better begin
by stating my own position clearly. The work of his that I regard as of
enduring significance, as ultimately establishing his stature, belongs in the
main to the last five years of his life. And I am talking here about Mais'
writing. I admire his work as a painter those paintings especially that
I consider to be his own, rather than awkward or unexciting pastiches -
but I lack the experience and the qualifications to discuss his painting.
The reader needs in fact a fuller context than I can supply to offset any
remarks I might make that he finds he disagrees with.
To begin by discussing the different categories of his writing, I will
say that I find a sustained reading of his verse rather disappointing. There
are certainly individual poems that stay with one, poems dealing with
Jamaican mountains and a poem or two describing in acid terms his sense
of his isolation in Jamaica itself. But too often he provides a kind of Ernest
Dowson surface (suggesting that his themes are confined in both relevance
and treatment) with occasional echoes of Hart Crane fortified of course
by his own kind of masculinity of tone. But in the main the primary achieve-
ment of contemporary poetry English and American would seem to have
passed him by. And this is- no comment upon Mais' own intelligence. The
West Indian writer in the 1930s just did not have certain crucial advantages
(as has already been sufficiently suggested here). If there is the imposition
upon a writer to create his own total ambience especially in the face
of ruling class indifference then he will not have the opportunity to expose
himself fully and fruitfully to the best in his own time (or for that matter
the best in the past.) By comparison with Roger Mais then (most of whose
verse belongs to the thirties and forties) Derek Walcott must strike us not
simply as a better poet, but also a much better off poet and clearly these
two go together. As one reads Mais' verse and verse plays one does not
detect the serious (which means the used) presence of, say, Hopkins, or
Yeats or Eliot and the influence of D. H. Lawrence would not seem to have
reached him until fairly late in life. Another Ghost in Aready, for example,
was written in 1942 and the nouvelle The Seed in the Ground in 1943, and
Mais was by then over thirty five. One responds to the excitement of the
encounter with Lawrence, especially in the last thirty pages or so of the
nouvelle, while at the same time feeling that Mais has not made any of
Lawrence's preoccupations sufficiently his own. Consequently what is his
own tends to be submerged under a copiously Lawrentian manner. It is in
Black Lightning that Mais shows us a Lawrentian sensitivity about personal
relationships but in ways that are completely personal. There is nothing
imitative here, nothing borrowed and left unacknowledged. It is all his own.
Now there must seem some inevitable patronage in seeming to discuss
Mais' stature by comparing him with English writers. The reader may feel
that the local writer is being made to look provincial and awkward when
put beside metropolitan writers. The proper stress is that the society was

provincial and awkward and its finest intelligence was correspondingly
inhibited. The opportunities the writer needs were simply not available
and so it was natural that the best minds in Jamaica in the thirties were
involved in politics with the kinds of impoverishment which that can
entail. One has the profoundest admiration for the fact that anything hap-
pened at all but there is no point in insisting on achievement in a context
which denied the possibility of achievement. Roger Mais' early work must
be preserved as integral to the record but it does him less than justice
to try and invent a reputation out of it. And, one says, Mais is most
fully regional when he is least overtly so.

The stress here is crucial because I am not simply noting the inferiority
of context of the Jamaican writer in the thirties in order to make some kind
of pointlessly artificial comparison. What it actually means of course is
that to realise this inferiority of context is to realise the extent to which
the most sensitive imagination of the area was colonised. And the essen-
tial liberation that a writer like Roger Mais achieved is not to be under-
stood in terms of the PNP, the political journalism, nor even the grim
period spent in prison. It is to be understood in terms of the ultimate
quality of his work. Very often we have to define this very sharply for
ourselves as we make our way through his early unpublished work, against
a background of the inferior, the naive, or the merely commercial. Rejection
slips and letters from literary agents, for example, are indispensable minor
adjuncts to a study of the archive in the Library. Rather impersonal little
notes they are suggesting faint disbelief in the possibility of such a person
as a West Indian writer. And as a consequence there are Mais' own attempts
to conform to the supposed requirements jottings here and there of
formulae for short stories, mechanical notes on plotting, odd notes on the
content of fiction designed for a market that expects fiction to thrill but
not to disturb. He was far, far too good to do this sort of thing well. There
are also the potboiling pieces he wrote while living in England journal-
istic fragments of rather laboured facetiousness, or simple little stories
that might have caught the eye of a magazine reading public. It isn't imme-
diately easy to see what he took himself to be doing. There is, for instance,
a fairly strenuous attempt to write like an Englishman: Mais, that is to
say, often assumes the stance of the ruminative, easy going chap, that the
Englishman often flatters himself he really is. You would not know they
were written by a West Indian and yet they strike one as definitely foreign.
They lack the identity they overtly claim and yet they have yielded up
their own. One remembers however that Mais had little money and no
regular employment, and in any case he was during this period (19524)
at work on In The Sight Of This Sun, and subsequently in France he was
preparing for the exhibition of his paintings sponsored by the late Richard
Wright. It was also in Europe that he became aware of the disease which
finally killed him frequent nausea entailing a rigid diet, continual loss
of weight, the tired return home and eventually the unanswerable diag-
nosis. None of this is to be understood as supplying anything in the way
of excuses, or even of explanations. Mais does not need them. It is simply
a way of moving on to suggest the richness of his achievement.

Most reviewers in England when The Hills Were Joyful Together ap-
peared in 1953, drew attention to the squalor of life that so fills the book,

to Mais' own presence and quality as moralist, as believer in human dignity
and so on. Remark was also made about lyrically descriptive passages which
had something to do with the fact that Mais was a painter. The reviewers
were generally enthusiastic and very properly this must have been a matter
of great content to Mais himself after years of neglect and isolate endea-
vour. But in the trade of fiction reviewing approximate responses are
stated, the book is left to find its own way, and if it is unfortunate it can
remain in the grip of the original opinion. Even now, thirteen years after
the book's appearance, you can still find people who regard Mais as essen-
tially a writer of protest. The ferocious intensity of Jamaican poverty is
understood to give the book its meaning and purpose. The logic of this
of course is, that if ever that poverty should be eradicated the book would
become merely a curio, or an angry and compassionate report rather than
a novel. We know Mais' view of his own intention, but our response must
be to invoke one of D. H. Lawrence's central dicta "Never trust the artist,
trust the tale." And we do not patronise Mais if we insist that his own
account of his intention is inadequate to his actual achievement, that it
does not describe what a reader's experience is likely to be. Consider, for
example the opening and closing pages of the book:
The yard counted among its ramshackle structures an old shaking-
down concrete nog building with the termite-ridden wood frame eating
away until only a crustacean shell under the dirty white cracked and
blistering paint remained.
This building stood on the south side. A row of barrack-like shacks
at back and another row of barrack-like shacks to the north, with the
crazily-leaning fence out front, enclosed what was once a brick-paved
courtyard in the middle of which there was an ancient circular cement
cistern and above it a standpipe with a cock leaning all to one side
and leaking continually with a weary trickle that was sometimes stronger
than at others, depending on the pressure from the main outside..

Near the cistern in the yard a gnarled ackee tree reached up
scraggy scarred, almost naked-branched to the anaemic-looking sky.
A thrifty black mango tree leaned over the southern half of the front
fence, its branches lopped back every so often to keep it from over-
hanging the narrow sidewalk. A prickly lime tree struggled up from
among the earthed-in, seamy rotting bricks in the yard: it stood against
the northern row of wooden shacks right outside the room where the
three Sisters of Charity lived, and crooned and gossiped and cooked
and sing-sang sad hymns of wailing the live-long day.

One's response cannot simply be, is this what a yard looks like? How
well Mais describes it, or something along these lines. For not only is it
a soundly functional prose, that is to say, it does give us the yard, we have
the feel and smell of it, but it no more merely describes the yard than the
opening page or so of Bleak House merely describes fog. What we essen-
tially have (though the adjectives are occasionally a little too explicit about
themselves) is an evocation of an order of life, of the content of experience.
S.only a crustacean shell ......remained' it prepares us for Papa Bedosa,
the dyspeptic coward who asserts his manhood through his whining bully-
ing of his wife. It prepares for Bajun Man, the sexually confident lout, for

Manny and Wilfie and Ditty Johnson, the three adolescents who will learn
about 'sex' (this being all they will learn) in the litter strewn gully that
runs at the side of the yard. And then 'gnarled', 'naked-branched', 'thrifty',
'lopped', 'prickly' 'earthed-in, seamy, rotting': none of this merely describes,
it identifies modes of experience. By the time we have finished the opening
paragraphs we perhaps have taken the irony of the title The Hills Were
Joyful Together. It comes from a revivalist hymn based upon the 98th
Psalm and the 98th Psalm is a hymn to the glory of God and the beauty
of His presence in His creation. His representatives in the yard, however,
are the three Sisters of Charity whom we soon find to be mean, patron-
ising and self-righteous their Christianity a barren thing and In fact
by the end of the fourth paragraph we can recognize their religion as
something futile, 'sing-sang sad hymns of wailing', as no more than a self-
regarding evasion in that grim and unappeasable context.
There is a unifying symbolism in the book which in the long run
entitles us to define an allegorical purpose. Allegory of course can easily
be little more than a slogan faced with something we don't understand
we say "it's an allegory" in the hope that somebody else will agree, or in
the hope that we can convince ourselves that we are really saying some-
thing. And allegory can be an inferior mode even when it is truly found
to exist because it is fairly easy to cheat, to provide mere portentousness
instead of genuinely serious enquiry. The Hills Were Joyful Together can,
however, be responsibly and properly described as a major allegorical
work. But in trying to describe it as such one has to be fairly brutal.
Poverty, when it is merely written about, is merely boring. Mais is absolutely
faithful to the constituents of his situation, the dirt, the smells, the cruelty,
the pervasive sense of defeat and failure. But what is truly important is
the ways in which the yard, its setting and its people became universal
emblems for experience as the novelist perceives it. We reach into the
experience of his people, not because they are poor, or because we are sorry
for them, but because the content of their experience has a tragic resem-
blance to our own. (This enables me to suggest in passing another serious
limitation in Orlando Patterson's Children of Sisyphus. The novelist rather
insists that we feel sorry for his characters and then, as though he realized
that pity on its own can become tedious, he seems to recall the Aristotelean
'pity and terror' and we have episodes of gratuitous violence, gratuitous
in the sense that the hysteria of the writing leaves us simply with the
authors feelings. But Aristotle spoke of 'catharis', of the purging of emotion
by pity and terror.) Patterson leaves us with two emotions competing for
priority; Mais' tragic awareness, however, is authentic, with an authenticity
achieved partly by the design of the book. Kingston stands on a flat plain
and is almost entirely surrounded by mountains or by cool and enticing
hills. Wherever you are in that hot, ugly city you can see them and always
they seem to define the sharpest difference between your particular reality
and what they themselves might be deemed to stand for. They stand for
whatever you wish, but they will always allure, and suggest something finer
and more gracious than anything you might happen to have. In Mais' novel
they 'are connected to the yard by a gully whose function is to draw off
the flood waters during the rainy season and convey it to the sea. In the
dry season the gully hides a mean and furtive life the fight between
Manny and Patoo, the uncreative sexuality of Wilfie and Ditty Johnson,

carrion and deposited rubbish rubbish that can undergo a strange trans-
formation, however, when a shaft of sunlight picks out a tin can or a frag-
ment of broken glass. For a moment the bright glitter concentrates the
eye and the surroundings are forgotten. It is to the side of the gully that
Ras, the gentle Samaritan of the yard, retreats when he wants to smoke
a spliff when he wants to create for himself a new and temporary world
in which illusion can be taken for truth. And it is along the gulley that
Reema walks naked as her mind gives way after Surjue's imprisonment.
The gulley, in other words, is not just a place, a specific Kingston fact.
Its arid disorder and its occasional surges of flood water define the limits
of possibility in the living of the inhabitants of the yard.
There is a moving episode fairly early in the book when the people
are gathered at a fishfry in the centre of the yard. Floodwater has brought
mud down into Kingston Harbour and thousands of fish are killed for
lack' of oxygen. They flounder at the harbour's edge in shoals and Ras
brings a cartfull back. For a while, the people are gorged, relaxed and
content. Then Lennie Risden, whose bright, practical ambition finally takes
him to Florida as a fruitpicker, begins to act and sing the Jamaican folk-
The ribber ben come down,
The ribber ben come down,
The ribber ben come down,
A-how me come over?
Lennie's vigour and enthusiasm affects the people around him and they
all begin to sing. For a moment the oppressive detail of their lives is for-
gotten. An experience can be shared which is exciting and generous. Mais'
explicitness at the end of the episode nearly overpoints it:

And they all laughed, and bright tears stood in the eyes of some,
to witness that they still understood the meaning of miracles.
but the essential recognition is that nobody ever will 'come over', not even
Lennie. He gets away but he can't take Zephyr the prostitute with him.
Zephyr feels she has been a whore too long to love anybody and she compels
him to go. The arbitrary gift from the mountains the mud which chokes
the fish simply re-inforces the lack of opportunity and choice. "The
floods clapped their hands, Alleluya! And the hills were joyful together".
The local version of the psalm has assumed a mocking resonance.
It is not possible to present an account of the elaborate (but controlled)
detail of the book and so the last episode to consider is Surjue's death at
the end of the book. He is serving a prison sentence for breaking and enter-
ing and in the last pages of the book he is attempting to escape:
He did not hear the sound of the single rifle shot.
For an instant that is too small to count or reckon he must have
felt the steel-jacketed bullet tearing through his flesh, just under
the right shoulder blade.
And that was all.
Darkness of night absolute and eternal shut upon him.
He hung suspended another instant, and then he seemed just

to let go all he had won so desperately .fell back with a
thud to the ground below.
He fell spread-eagled on his back, and lay still.
A scudding shapeless mass of filmy clouds drew over the face
of the moon. The stars put out again.
A dog howled in the darkness outside the wall.
He lay on his back, his arms flung wide, staring up at the
silent unequivocal stars.

Surjue has for some time been the protagonist of the novel. By contrast
with the others his life, petty crook though he is, he has had something of
style, point and elegance. He has always had a confidence and sureness of
control and as long as he remained in the yard things could perhaps not
get too bad. After his arrest, however, he becomes associated with what
is surely the central impulse of the book:

.enclosed within these walls a man was shut from light,
like a seed struggling toward the sunlight from between damp

We are intended to accept this as a generalised metaphor for experience
and as he climbs the wall towards the moon and the stars Surjue bears
everybody's burden with him and the effect of his death seems to me
essentially tragic especially when we consider how it was caused. Warder

without thinking. .drew the rifle to him. His hand of
its own volition, jerked a cartridge into the chamber. The butt
came up to his shoulder. Without even bothering to aim he pulled
the trigger. .He saw the thing against the wall stop writhing.

Nicol is hardly a man, not even a cruel functionary carrying out what
is supposed to be his duty shooting an escaping convict. He is simply a
destructive mechanism "without thinking" "of its own volition"
"the butt came up" "without even bothering. "
Nicol is the embodiment of mechanical function that dominates, inflicts
pain and denies humanity, the blind social and cosmic force that in Mais'
view here must have the last word.

The vision of the novel is of humanity confined within a pitiless universe
that turns all questions into purely rhetorical questions, as there are never
any answers forthcoming. The yard, the prison, the suffering and the de-
privation, then, are not finally the data of a particular society, not simply
the consequence of colonialism and class selfishness. They are elements in
the universe. It is in relation to this vision (before one offers some neces-
sary degree of qualification) that the book should be discussed and pon-
dered. Anger has little presence in the narrative and by this stage in his
career (if indeed he ever seriously believed in it) Mais had gone beyond
any real belief in merely political alleviation. His concern is with a situation
as starkly uncompromising as the heath in King Lear. The alternative to
the experience of the heath, however, and the limitations that drove Lear
out upon it is, of course, Cordelia. Shakespeare doesn't leave us with the
facile impression that Albany, or even Edgar, can really influence events

significantly. And yet the implications of Edgar's "Ripeness is all" suggest
something that is lacking in The Hills Were Joyful Together. There are
moments, especially in the choric passages which link the chief episodes
in the book, when we feel that the tragic sense is replaced by something
wilfully insistent. The writing becomes inflated and selfconscious and we
have the impression that Mais is drawing melodramatic attention to a soli-
tary possession, to something that is being withheld from his fellows. We
are not fully admitted into the suffering, we become observers rather than
participants. We sense the presence of pessimistic invention rather than
tragic awareness, and we must turn to the next two books to realise the
full capacity of his art.

Brother Man (1954) grows out of what is present merely as a hint in
its predecessor the relationship between Ras and Tansy. Both are minor
characters in the published version of The Hills Were Joyful Together but
they have a salient and developed life in the ms. version. Tansy is finally
able to go back to school and she offers to teach Ras how to read. He in
turn tells her Anancy stories and generally keeps an eye on her in the
yard. It is a simple union between Innocence and Experience until a
knowing metallic bray from Euphemia gives a sinister connotation to Ex-
perience. Ras knows what she means, Tansy is merely frightened. But the
relationship is poisoned. Mais removed most of this from the version accept-
ed for publication. We don't see much of Tansy and we have Ras simply
in terms of charitable externals. As I said earlier one doesn't know why
Mais made his cuts whether at the request of his publishers or because
he had changed his own mind. But at any rate Tansy and Ras appear again
as Brother Man and Minette in Brother Man. The novel is much shorter
and much more sharply defined than its predecessors though we can see
some kind of formal relationship. Instead of the metaphysical ambition of
the choric passages of The Hills we have a concrete human background
available in terms of the voices of the people who live in the lane:

Flyin' Saucer tek-in Mercedes..
Cho! A-swing her tail up an' down de street.
How she-one manage ketch so-much sailor
Mus' be black-gal something sweet!.
Hear dem say-say Papacita de mek eye after Bra' Man
Mek Bra' Man find out!.
Hm! jus' wait bwoy!.......
Massa Jesus! gwine be hell!....

The voices, mocking, inquiring and endlessly commenting establish the
human reality against which the contrasted experience of Papacita and
Brother Man is worked out. Mais unfortunately doesn't resist the temptation
to overpoint at times and so instead of letting the voices speak for them-
selves (was he perhaps apprehensive as to whether the dialect would be
understood by an English readership?) and so he tells us that they "still
carry their burden of the tale of man's woes." The effectiveness of the
anonymous play of voices isn't lost but we could do without this kind of
portentous reminder as to their function in the book.

In the first page or two of the novel the voices introduce us to the
central people in the book: Brother Man, Papacita, Cordy and the rather
vaguely sinister Bra' Ambo. Brother Man we soon have as follows when
he picks up an injured bird:

Brother Man got up, with a murmured exclamation, went out
through the door, and presently came back with the bird in his hand.
It fluttered a little, scared, though scarcely conscious, almost dead. A
single drop of blood congealing at the side of its beak glowed like a
jewel against the dark grey-green of its feathers.

It was going to die. Minette knew it, and she had an instant of
impatience and vexation with Brother Man for trying to bring it back,
to make it live. She didn't know why she felt this, only that it came
up inside her, until she wanted to cry out at him, but it stopped in
her throat.

Minette had been found by Brother Man half starved in a city street
and he had taken her home with him. Minette, in that grim world of poverty
and exploitation, supposes that only one thing can happen: she will be 'kept'
by Brother Man, she will become 'his' woman. In fact this is not what has
happened. Her role is almost that of Brother Man's daughter. She is fed
and cared for and Brother Man hardly notices when she comes to love him.
From being willing to provide a service in return for food and a roof over
her head her need for Brother Man becomes deeply human. And in certain
important emotional respects she sees more than he can. The reader shares
her impatience at Brother Man's attempts to keep the bird alive, not be-
cause he is 'wrong' to do so but because his charity (which we must inter-
pret as the Bible offers it) is incomplete until it can respond to the human.
Brother Man is incomplete until he can become fully aware of Minette.

A different kind of failure (and one that will not be healed) is present
in the relationship between Papacita and Girlie. Girlie is a strong passion-
ate, bitter woman accustomed to the syndrome of male betrayal and Papa-
cita is exactly the man whom she would choose to live with a self-
important, flashy little vulgarian. All that keeps them together are the
passionate demands each makes on the other, and passion here is a matter
of grappling violence "Hurt me like that hurt me Love me and hurt
me! Hurt me hard!" The passion is wholly uncreative "Love me and
hurt me" offering neither pleasure nor ecstasy. It is a contest of physical
wills. Papacita must overcome the woman this is an unspoken need
between them but for neither is there any fulfilment. Papacita remains
smugly patronising, and Girlie remains bitterly empty. As they recover
from their sterile exhaustion they begin to pick at each other again and
we are told .so they went on spearing at each other, because of this
uneveness and insufficiency between them, and she goaded and taunted
him until he could stand it no longer."

The basic rhythm of the novel, at the level of personal relationships,
exists in the contrast between Papacita and Girlie and Brother Man and
Minette and we have there a genuine realisation in art. But there is also
a wider social context. Brother Man is a Rastafarian (his name is a Rasta-
farian greeting) and the Rastafarian sects are almost entirely non-political

(though a Rastafarian candidate did stand in the General Election of 1962)
Brother Man has none of the absurd bigotries that characterise some of
the Rastas one knows, but one of the things he shares with them is a
remoteness from the practical details of economic and social amelioration.
The Rastafarian orientation is towards Africa (an emotional requirement
which is significantly absent from Mais' novel) and the possibility of re-
medying Jamaica's economic evils is to them an irrelevant possibility.
They do not regard themselves as belonging to the society, so it is of little
concern to them whether the society changes or not. Brother Man is at no
stage associated with dogma, nor with sectarian vehemence but he remains
an isolated figure, with his effulgent charity, in a world like that of The
Hills Were Joyful Together. One thinks of the pathetic figure of Cordy,
her man arrested for peddling ganja, and her baby dying of what is pre-
sumably gastro-enteritis. Her suffering unhinges her mind and she becomes
bitterly opposed to Brother Man whose charity produces no immediate
results. As Isaac Rosenberg puts it "You either bear or break" and Cordy
breaks. She becomes the accomplice of Bra' Ambo, Brother Man's vindic-
tive opponent, an obeah man and a false healer. My point at the moment,
however, is that Mais has a purely moral attitude towards what he examines
and he does not at all concern himself here with the temptations of party,
nor with the alluring expediency of revolutionary social change. One might
put it that the figure of Christ is more real to him than any contemporary
political leader, and it is a matter of biographical record that the Mais family
read their Bible very seriously, and for Roger Mais himself it soon becomes
evident that the Bible was a profoundly significant moral and imaginative
record. The prose of the Bible can be detected in the prose of Brother Man
and there is an episode in the novel when Minette reads to herself
some of the passages dealing with David and Bathsheba that legendary
accounting of passion, treachery and violence. Doubtless, this must seem
a reactionary view to offer when we consider the kind of reputation Roger
Mais had, and when we consider Now We Know and the reference there
to the Soviet Union. In the art, however, the kinds of concern I have
described are there, part of the fabric of the presentation and not matters
of dispute.

It is inevitable then that Brother Man should be cruelly treated by
the very people he has tried to help. A bearded man commits a peculiarly
shocking murder and the city is gripped by an ugly surge of feeling directed
against all men with beards. The emptiness of poverty is filled with hatred
and violence and Brother Man is beaten, stoned and befouled. The novel

He saw all things that lay before him in a vision of certitude, and
he was no longer alone.
"Look at me," he said.
Her gaze met his, unfaltering.
"You see it, out there, too?"
She looked up above the rooftops where that great light glowed
across the sky.
She said: "Yes, John, I have seen it."
"Good," he said, and again, "Good."
He moved away from the window, back into the cool dimness of

the room beyond.
And she went before him, carrying herself proudly, shielding the
little flame of the candle with her hand.
One supposes that it is the relationship with Minette that now makes
him "no longer alone" and yet it seems necessary (in the context of Mais'
art) to take the ending as movingly ironic. John suggests John the Baptist,
rather than a contemporary configuration of Christ. And his surname,
Power, can hardly be seen as a simple assertion of the creative strength
of goodness and truth. It is a "little flame" that Minette shields and the
"vision of certitude" suggests a stoical generosity of spirit that apathy and
violence do not make irrelevant; but apart from thib "the waste remains".
Mais' last completed and published novel, Black Lightning, surely bears
out the implications here. We have again the involvement with Biblical
legend, this time with the legend of Samson and Delila (there is also a
play by Mais called Samson) and we are very far removed from the familiar
Mais background. The novel is set in hill country, and poverty, violence and
the cruel urban world are wholly absent. So much so, that apart from a
sensitive reading of the novel by Mr. Kenneth Ramchand (Public Opinion
June 10, 1966) the novel has received virtually no attention. I mentioned
earlier that the core of the book is contained in the unpublished Another
Ghost in Arcady in the form of a short story told by one of the characters.
The relevance Mais might have intended it to have in that work escapes
me, but what is important is that it stayed with him. There is also a drama-
tised version of the story written sometime between 1943 and 1950. Why
it took over ten years for the novel to be written, or rather for the original
tale to find its final form, one cannot say. Though there are roughly two
hypotheses. Either Mais could not sufficiently possess himself of what he
wanted to say when he worked at it as short story and play: or he put it
aside in the context of the 1950s (after his imprisonment) while his atten-
tion was concentrated on poverty, violence and Jamaica's first experiment
in internal self-government. The reader who has followed my discussion so
far might indeed feel that these two alternatives are fundamentally related.
Among Mais' posthumous papers there exists a transcript of his own
view of what he was attempting in the novel and here are some of the
things he has to say:

It is the story of a strong man's struggle to find self-sufficiency,
and how he failed in the least of things and lost all; and of another
who grew from weakness to strength, because he found the one thing
that the other lacked......

(Amos) realises that at last in all the world there is someone who
has need of him. But he realises it with a sense of wonder and humility,
and out of that a new, positive, sensitive Amos crystalises. And from
here on Amos grows in strength, suppleness, sturdiness, and in self-
realisation, while Jake grows less and less in those attributes which he
had in abundance before...
Their (the young lovers') story is offered as a contrast to, and as a
relief from the larger, more catastrophic theme, and it brings the book
to what might be regarded as a happy ending.

Mais also tells about the village crone, Old Mother Coby, who warns Jake
against "the sin of making graven images" (Jake is working on a statue
of Samson). But the village people feel that Mother Coby has "the gift of
the spirit", and eventually, while working on his carving, Jake is blinded.
Now there is a natural temptation for the writer to beguile himself into
believing that the completed fiction precisely squares with the declared
intention. In the case of Black Lightning, however, although Mais' own
account cannot substitute for our pondered experience of the book, it is
essentially informative about his relation to the book, and a central theme
in the book itself Jake and his carving of Samson suggests a major
preoccupation of Mais' own: the experience not merely of being an artist,
but of being a Jamaican artist.
Here, for example, is Jake at work on his carving not long after his
wife has left him for another man:
The most important thing left to him in life now was his carving,
and something was happening to that. He could feel it slipping away
from him in some intangible manner. It was as though his hand had
lost its cunning, and faltered when his mind would push ahead.
The heaviness was in his hand. ..in his hand.
And then another time it would be strangely the other way about
.then it was a wanting of vision, a'blindness, a blur..
Nevertheless, over the page we have this:
He said, gazing steadily at the carving, "All mine!" like that.
A little earlier Jake had been pondering the story of Samson and Delila:
He thought now that the biggest thing in the story was not Sam-
son's betrayal by Delilah, not the fact itself, but what must have
secretly lain underneath, and had gone before, that the Bible never
gave any clue of at all.
Jake, in fact, deserted by his own wife (as at this stage in the novel it so
appears) cannot envisage any of the possibilities of betrayal, and above all
cannot conceive of the ways in which the woman might have been hurt,
of the ways in which Samson's self-reliance and physical strength might
have been simply a form of crushing self-righteousness. He goes down into
his forge (he is the village blacksmith) and takes up his hammer:
Suddenly he swung it up above his head with both hands and
brought it down on the anvil a resounding blow.
And the head of the hammer flew off, like a stone from a sling,
and it made a hole clean through the opposite wall, and lodged some
ten paces away in the soft turf.
*And he was left holding the haft only in his hands.
It is a disturbing manifestation of physical strength, a strength which
in his wilful recoil from compassion and understanding, Jake has endea-
voured to transform into a moral attribute. But ..he was left holding the
haft only in his hands." A little later Jake is standing in front of the
statue and discussing it with his deformed protege Amos:

"Where does the finger point? Down what blind road. .through
what blank wall. .to what? Where will he take that burden to its
last resting-place, and set it down? And be restored to himself again,
whole? That's what it is, Amos. That's what it calls for, you under-
stand? And it will not come. Something else, but not that."

The rhetorical questions (for they are that in the present context) are
the utterance of Jake rather than of Mais. "And it will not come" refers
to Jake's inability to define in his material the answers that he wants, and
he senses that the carving is turning into something else. In the earliest
version of Black Lightning the "something else" was Christ. The figure
remained Samson's but the face was the traditional face of Christ, only,
under Jake's hands, blinded. Jake's blasphemy, then, consummated in his
own blindness, was that he had put out the eyes of compassion. The ex-
perience in the final version gains by being inexplicit: what we recognize,
surely, is Jake's breach of faith with his material and his craft. It is not so
much he cannot see, as that he will not see and his physical blindness
(it happens in the scene I am discussing) is the symbolic corollary. And
one of Jake's questions is in fact answered as a consequence of his own
fate. "Where will he take that burden to its last resting-place, and set
it down?" During his long blindness Jake comes more and more to depend
upon Amos. And Amos, to begin with a venomous isolated little hunchback,
comes to learn about human need and compassion. By the end of the novel
we accept without question his restoration to life.

The relationship between Jake and the statute, then, can remind us of
the ironic awareness of Henry James in his stories dealing with artists
and writers. And it can remind also of the sculptor, another denier of life,
in Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken. One doesn't invoke these writers in
order to establish a case, but rather to suggest that Mais stands with them
in an equivalence of concern. Black Lightning is the work of a mature
artist with the most serious interest in his craft, and it attests most strongly
to Mais' talent, that he should exhibit this kind of Interest in the Jamaica
that has been sketched in the course of this article, the Jamaica to which
he devoted so much effort and attention.

The novel is not to be wholly comprehended, however, in terms of this
central and moving fable. The rural setting is beautifully and firmly present
in Mais' registration of the mountain atmosphere, the country people, and
especially the lively young boy George. George's illicit and exciting gallop
on the mare is one of the finest accounts of boyhood experience in West
Indian writing. The prose of the novel has a chastened range of implication
unavailable to the rhetorical gesturings that mar parts of The Hills Were
Joyful Together and Brother Man. "All men come to the hills, finally"
Mais says in one of his poems, and it is not overneat to suggest that Mais
has here deeply found himself. His earlier ventures into sentimentality are
strongly eschewed, partly by the economy and clarity of the writing, and
partly by an insight into human relationships that is not cluttered by asser-
tions as to what relationships should be like. There is Jake's wife's realisa-
tion at the end of the book that Jake bitterly resented the fact that he
needed her. She left him because she believed he could live out the image
of himself that he needed without her, and at the same time she recognizes

the inadequacy of her response. To do this was in large measure to destroy
him. And at the close of the book the young lovers, Glen and Miriam, in
a mutual happiness, hear the echo of the gunshot as Jake takes his own
life. "Their story is offered as a contrast to, and as a relief from the larger.
more catastrophic theme, and it brings the book to what might be regarded
as a happy ending." The 'might' doesn't express any doubt on Mais' own
part rather it supplies a warning to the reader.


It is necessary now to attempt some brief, final justification of the
claims implicit in my title though my hope (not necessarily my expec-
tation) is that the record has sufficiently spoken for itself. I would make
no claim at all to having said all that might be said, and certainly I would
not wish to demand uniform agreement. Like all truly significant writers
Roger Mais is susceptible to indefinite qualification, to reservations and
findings by readers who have honestly felt him in their own terms. My
responsibility, as I saw it, was to release the man and his work from the
claims of an insistent context and to suggest orders of concern that can
be seen to determine his work but which have so far received scanty atten-
tion. Mais was a genuinely tragic writer, and his tragic sensibility (which
at times expresses merely pessimism) is inadequately represented when
it is discussed against Jamaican history and Jamaican economic misery
exclusively. Out of the experience of his people and his own particular
understanding of it Mais created a tragic art. And if my use of 'tragic' here
appears as a matter of emphasis rather than definition I can only invoke
W. B. Yeats' account: "Tragedy ought to be a great breaking of the dykes
between man and man." This is the function of art and it was Mais' function
at his best. It was because he saw the suffering of his own people so truly
as a writer that he is able to involve us all in a view of the human con-
dition. His sad, thwarted arduous characters are emblems for ourselves -
through them we perceive some of the realities of our own experience. He
did not finally require the props of political allegiance, nor did he take
refuge in slogans that pass themselves off as history. He was too honest to
solicit ideological escapes and like Conrad his endeavour was "above all to
make us see". To know Mais' work is to know Jamaica and to know his
Jamaica is to know very much more.


Ambitions of Jamaican Adolescents

and the School System


Senior modern schools in Jamaica are populated with adolescents who
either were not selected to sit the common entrance examination or sat the
examination and failed it. They represent about 65% of the 12-15 year old age
group, another 10% in "high school" or "technical high schools", a very
small percentage in private secondary schools and the rest being in no school
at all. It is stated that the students in the senior schools are of modest mental
abilities and would not benefit from the academic or technical education giv-
en in high schools and technical schools respectively. The core of the curri-
culumn in these schools is composedof English, Mathematics and the practical
subjects cookery, needlework, woodwork, metal work, technical drawing
and arts and crafts. This core of subjects accounts for about 75% of the periods
on the timetable. From this curriculum it is hoped that the students will gain
a "rich amalgam of general and practical education. Armed with this the
school leaver should be able to steer his way successfully through apprentise-
ship in trade, industry, commerce and agriculture. He may enter the minor
government services if, in addition, he seizes the opportunities of further edu-
cation." The question arises: Is this stated objective congruent with the ob-
jectives and values of the students in these schools? Some indication of the
answer to this question might be gained from a study of students of two ur-
ban senior schools. Generalizations to the entire population would be danger-
ous, however, since the sample consisted of only 158 students.


It might be instructive to look first at the students' view of education. In
an open end questionnaire these students were asked, "What do you treasure
most in life? Give reasons for your answer." Eighty-eight percent of the
sample stated that education was the most important "thing" to them. There
was no significant difference between first-year students and third-year stu-
dents (last year of schooling). Since this response was not solicited in any
way and each answered independently it might be assumed that these stu-
dents do put a high value on education. This assumption receives support from
the fact that both Head teachers report that many students after leaving
school, having reached the age limit, come back to beg for places. Also that
having failed to get these places, they enrol in the evening institute and con-
1. Suggestions to Teachers in Senior Schools and Departments. Pub. Ministry
of Education, Jamaica.

tinue their education there. Again on another questionnaire on which stu-
dents were asked to write about themselves, many of the 14-year olds des-
cribed the future as being "black" because they would have to leave school
at the end of the year.

The reasons the students gave for their choice of education as "the thing
most valued" could almost all be classified as social mobility reasons. They
needed education, "in order to get a good job", or "to amount to somebody in
life" Very few students gave reasons which indicated that they value educa-
tion because it is something worthwhile in itself.

It is not surprising that education is most valuable to these students be-
cause of the following three considerations. Firstly when the Head teachers
and class teachers of the students were asked to state the values which the
schools, and themselves personally, tried to communicate tto the students,
educational along with moral values were placed first. It could be said that
the teachers were successful in communicating this value to the students
and also succeeded in gaining commitment to it. Secondly, the free place sys-
tem was instituted in 1957, with its increased provisions for the less privileged
members of the society; the society as a whole has thus become "secondary
education conscious". Secondary schools prize education. Thirdly, the stu-
dents have seen older adolescent relatives and friends "make good" as a
models for them and they have come to value education as the means of mak-
ing good themselves.


Let us look at their subject preferences since this should give some in-
dication of their values concerning the type of education they are receiving.
Subject preferences were judged on the basis of their answers to the ques-
tions "What subject do you like best? Why?" Forty-eight percent of the
sample preferred English, while 33% preferred mathematics and only 5%
preferred any of the practical subjects. There were no significant differences
between the preferences of boys and girls or between first and third years.
This differences between the preference for Mathematics and English and
the practical subjects take on importance when it is remembered that En-
glish, Mathematics and the practical subjects form the core and bulk of the
curriculum. Both Head teachers report that past students who return to con-
tinue their education in the evening institute very seldom choose to study
any of the practical subjects; instead they choose the more academic sub-
jects. From these findings it seems reasonable to say that as soon as these
students have any choice in determining their course of study they "drop"
the practical subjects. In other words, they do not value the practical sub-
jects. This is in keeping with the reasons for valuing education, in that the
type of education which results in social mobility is an academic education
and not a a practical one.

Let us now examine the socio-economic status of these students as judg-
ed by their parents' occupation.


Parents' Occupation 3rd Year 1st Year
Boys Girls Boys Girls
HIGHLY SKILLED 11.5% 25.8% 16.7% 16.7%
SKILLED 50% 51.6% 48.7% 45.2%
SEMI-SKILLED 26.9% 7.5% 16.7% 11.9%
UNSKILLED 11.5% 6.5% 11.3% 16.7%
CASUAL LABOUR 2.8% 3.3% -

Where children were not living with their parents the occupation of their
guardians was taken. Sir Cyril Burt's classification of occupation was used.
Examples of occupations classified in the several categories in Table I are:
Higher Professional doctors, lawyers, managing directors, professional en-
gineers. Lower Professional technical engineers, surveyors, civil servants,
teachers. Clerical and Highly Skilled stenographers, nurses, druggists,
salesmen. Skilled: tailors, dressmakers, carpenters, drivers. Semi-skilled -
postmen, waiters, bartenders. Unskilled domestics, fish vendors, gardeners.
Casual Labour occasional road work and oher simple forms of routine work.
From Table I it can be easily seen that no student had a parent holding
a Higher Professional job, while only 1.6% had parents who were classified
as casual labourer. If this sample is representative of the population of these
schools then it would indicate that the children of the highest and lowest
strata of the labour force are missing from senior schools. While it is quite
likely that the children of the Higher Professional group are in other schools,
it tis also quite likely that the children of the Casual Labour category are in
no school at all. (This is, of course, based on the assumption that there are
people in Jamaica whose occupations could be classified in these categories.)
Forty-eight percent of these parents belong to the Skilled category while
approximately 17.5% belong to the Clerical and Highly Skilled and 15% to
the Semi-skilled category. If from these occupations the children were placed
into social classes, it would be reasonable to say that they the majority,
that is come from lower-middle to middle-middle class homes.


Boys Girls Boys Girls

HIGHER PROFESSIONAL 56.3% 2.6% 70.5% 12%
LOWER PROFESSIONAL 9.4% 16.4% 8.8% 18%
CLERICAL HIGHLY SKILLED 124% 68.4% 2.9% 60%
SKILLED 21.8% 12.5% 17.6% 10%

An examination of TABLE II quickly reveals the fact that no student
wants to take up an occupation classified lower than the skilled category. Al-
so only approximately 15% actually choose Skilled occupations. (48.7% of
their parents are classified in the skilled category). This seems to be a very
clear indication that these students would like to move up the occupational
- social ladder and the least they think they can accomplish is skilled oc-
cupations. This further confirms the point made already that these students
value education as a means of social mobility and that they do not see the cur-
riculum of the senior school as being able to enhance their chances since it
only allows them to realize their objectives at the lowest level. The stated
objective of the senior school is to produce skilled personnel while 85% of
these students desire occupations above the skilled category.
The second observation is that the boys' occupational preferences are
unrealistic when considered in relationship to the type of education they are
at present receiving, their educational attainment so far, and the fact that
they will be out of school at age 15. 70.5% of the first year boys and 56.3% of
the third year boys aspire to Higher Professional jobs. (This difference in
percentages is not significant.) Not one of these boys has a parent in this
category. On the other hand the girls' preferences are "more realistic" when
compared to their parents' occupations. Only approximately 7% aspire to
Higher Professional jobs. About 82% desire jobs in the Lower Professional
- Clerical and Highly Skilled categories. (48% want to be nurses). The girls'
preferences indicate some "occupational progress" but the social mobility
indicated is not as great as that desired by the boys. On the average girls de-
sire occupations one or two levels about their parents' while boys prefer jobs
2 or 3 levels above their parents'
One possible explanation of this difference in preference between boys
and girls is that there is much less parental pressure on the girls "to make
good" than there is on the boys. Whereas in middle-class society it is felt that
girls will get husbands to "look after them", and hence it is not necessary for
them to become highly qualified, boys from their earliest youth are exhorted
to "rise" socially and amount to "somebody" The threat of becoming a
"handcart man" is commonly heard when boys show negligence towards their
school work. The hypothesis that parental pressure is responsible for the un-
realistic preferences of the boys receives support from the fact that most of
the boys wanted to be doctors or lawyers. It should be remembered that when
the parents were children, Medicine and Law were two of the few professions
in which colonials could rise to prominence and influence. It could be that
these parents are prompting their children to pursue careers which they as-
pired to in their youth, but for lack of educational opportunity were forced
to accept Clerical, Skilled or Semi-skilled occupations. In other words parents
want their children to realize their ambitions of yesteryear in circumstances
in which they are no longer relevant.


From the preceding discussion it appears that these senior school students
value education for social mobility reasons and that for these same reasons
they do not value the type of education they are receiving in the senior

schools. Also that the vocational preferences of these students are congruent
with the stated vocational objectives for which the schools were designed. It
should be remembered, however, that this study was done on a 10% sample of
the population of two urban senior schools. This imposes severe limitations
upon the inferences that can be made. Objectively these findings are only
valid for the students studied. In attempting to answer the question, "What
are the implications of these findings for educational development?" the
comments will be confined to the group that was studied and not for the entire
The Jamaican Government is going to convert all senior schools into
Junior secondary schools. The question arises as to whether the parents of
these students will accept the new schools as bona fide secondary schools.
Students and parents see education, more precisely secondary education, as
the main vehicle of social mobility. If these junior secondary schools do not
enhance social mobility they will not be accepted as secondary schools. This
will, however, take some time before is is known whether these schools en-
hance social mobility or not. On a short term basis, students and parents will
judge the new schools on the basis of its curriculum. The type of curriculum
that is known to produce social mobility is an academic one. If the curricu-
lum of he junior secondary schools is not different from the senior schools
in an academic direction parents will take it that the schools have had a change
of name only.
It should be remembered that this survey only involved 158 subjects.
Hence any finding on such a sample can only usefully serve as one possible
source of hypotheses for more thorough investigations into the problems
arising from the operation of a tripartite system of education in a developing
society. What effects does it have on the values and ambitions of adolescents
in different parts of the system? How does the community view the different
parts of the system? What effect does this have on educational development?
One should hope that some answers are forthcoming.


Education and Training of Management

in Jamaica

One of the illusions of our time is that all the answers to the problems of
a developing country are at hand as soon as the necessary resources are avail
able. Time and again, however, resources have been made available, money
has poured into the developing country but little result has been achieved.
The reason was that management and skilled man-power which was used
lacked either the understanding of underlying social conditions or the prac-
tical know-how, or the ability to adjust decisions to changing circumstances.
It has therefore become more fashionable to call for the development of hu-
man skills as a foundation for successful economic development. Human skills
may bean technical skills, the skill of the doctor, the engineer, the account-
ant or it may mean the ability to lead, to direct people; the skill of the teach-
er, the manager. We in a developing country can learn practically most aspects
of technical skills but the training of managers must be conducted within the
general development of the country and must take into account the living tra-
dition of the nation and tthe sociological revolution that follows in the train
of the economic one.
However, one must realise hat the developed nations are not at a stand-
still; they too are progressing; are short of educators and trainers; have mas-
sive and complicated problems of man-power development; but at least they
are working from powerful bases.
It is tempting to think in terms of precise planning and centralised direc-
tion, but we are talking of human beings, unpredictable and changing in their
outlook. We have sometimes made mistakes and sent to the United Kingdom
of the United States trainees who come back highly qualified in something
for which there was no need in Jamaica. Luckily, they find jobs abroad
otherwise we would end up with young men holding first-class university
qualifications and no jobs. There is no more fruitful breeding ground for un-
rest than unemployed educated proletariat.
The history of management training and education in Jamaica began
eight years ago. The first page was written by the Jamaica Industrial De-
velopment Corporation with the help of the Council for International Pro-
gress in Management. Militant trade unions and the deep class cleavage have
made it obvious that the standard of supervision was completely inadequate.
The Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation began by giving informa-
tion courses for top management, and in this way persuaded it of the neces-
sity of training supervisors. Later the actual courses following a distinct pat-
tern were introduced. They dealt with job relations, job training, safety on the
job. These courses covered 45 hours of instruction stretching over three weeks
and were very successful. Over 150 courses have to date been held for indus-

try, commerce, mining, hotel industry, agriculture and government organi-
sations. In the same field of supervisory training the Ministry of Labour or-
ganises annually a course of lectures for technical knowledge ranging from
costing and work study to human relations. The two types of courses are sup-
plementary. This year the JIDC has started follow-up courses for the original
members of the first course who have now risen in management and there-
for see additional skills. Another interesting feature is the Appraisal Session
held approximately six months after the completion of the course in the form
of an open-end discussion between the Training Officer, Top Management and
Course participants. The purpose is to ascertain whether organizational
changes would be desirable to improve communications.

An interesting development emerging from these courses has been the
creation of the first professional management organization in Jamaica, the
Junior Mangement Circle which was formed in 1960 and whose members in-
clude supervisors and works managers. This is a vigorous body, holding lec-
tures and seminars in the supervisory field. One of its most promising ac-
tivities has been a joint supervisory trade union seminar which brought to-
gether the leaders of the shop floor and so illuminated the varying points of
view There are now two other management organizations in Jamaica: Sales
and Marketing Executives and the Administrative Management Society.
Both enjoy strong support amongst the younger element; both have
done excellent work in their respective fields. The "Jamaica Institute of Per-
sonnel Managers" has just been formed. It is too early to speak of its effec-
tivities has been a joint supervisory trade union seminar which brought to-
zing courses for personnel in retail distribution.

During 1958 a remarkable seminar took place at the Blue Mountain Inn
sponsored by the JIDC where top managers met and discussed management
development. Out of this came the foundation of a Management Institute of
Jamaica. Unforunately, this Institute did not maintain the momentum, but
under the impact of a visit from Dr. Marsh, the Director of the British Insti-
tute of Management, attempts were made to form a new Jamaican Institute
of Management. In 9967 the Institute was constituted and has within half a
year become the focal point for management in Jamaica. It has gained the
confidence of Top Management, it holds discussions groups for managers and
acts as spokesman of management in main matters towards government, the
U.W.I. and other organizations.

During 1966, the JIDC widened its scope in training and added courses
for managers of small business, export marketing, packaging, hotel training
and management development courses. It also tried to help other organiza-
tions set up their training courses. In its aim to attract able men and women
to industry it has organised lectures in schools dealing with opportunities in
industry and facilitating the passage from school to work. In 1966 the JIDC,
together with the U.W.I. held a one-day seminar on the subject "What Indus-
try and commerce expect from School Leavers and University Graduates".
Let us now look at Education for Management. In 1960 the Jamaica Cham-
ber of Commerce was greatly perturbed by the lack of facilities for training
in management and asked a firm of consultants to enquire into the study faci-
lities for commerce and management in Jamaica. At that time the University
of the West Indies following the pattern of British Universities had offered

no training for management apart from public administration and, to a limited
extent, that element of management contained in the B.Sc. Economics Degree.

The College of Arts, Science and Technology which also was a gift from
Britain and was patterned on the British example, regarded management as
its legitimate field of work. From 1961, therefore, full time, day release and
evening classes were offered. The full time course of two years
leading to a certificate in business studies, includes such subjects as
management, marketing, costing and data processing. The day release courses
were more directed to office management while the evening classes were spe-
cialised ones, training young people as accountants, company secretaries, cost
accountants, marketing managers, salesmen, works managers, industrial su-
pervisors and personnel managers. In addition in order to stimulate interest
in management subjects special ad hoc courses were offered dealing with such
subjects as-

The scope of Marketing in Jamaica;
Costing as a Tool of Management;
The Tools of Productivity;
Personnel Management.

In July, 1963, the first senior lecturer in Business Administration was
appointed at the University of the West Indies. A remarkable feature of the
first course in business administration was that of business executives being
invited to join the under-grduate class which brought a very satisfactory res-

The 3-year course-in B.Sc. (Business Administration) covers in the first
year such general subjects as economics, applied economics, accountants, po-
litical history. In the following two years, however, business administration,
industrial and trade relations are optional subjects.
There is also a 2-year one-day per week part-time course leading to a dip-
loma. This covers, in addition to economics and business administration, such
subjects as quantitative methods in business and "government in business".

In addition the department offers fortnightly evening seminars for

In addition to the undergraduate course there is also a course leading to
the master degree in which one paper could be business administration and
the other industrial and trade, thereby giving this course a strong managerial

In addition to the Department of Economics the Extra Mural Depart-
ment has done valuable work in organizing single lectures and short courses
on management outside the Corporate Area. The most important and success-
ful scheme was a series of lectures on personnel management which was ori-
ginally held at CAST and which the Extra Mural Department successfully or-
ganises both in Mandeville and Montego Bay.

One of the outstanding problems which has become more serious is the
overlapping of the work done at the University of the West Indies and the

College of Arts, Science and Technology. The reasons are historical, but the
position is that there is no clear dividing line and that similar courses are of-
fered in both places. In a country of larger size and greater wealth than Ja-
maica, the overlapping might be a valuable contribution, but Jamaica
can hardly afford the under-utilization of scarce lecturing power and
unnecessary small classes. The idea solution might very well be a merger of
the departments concerned and the formation of a business school. But this
is at the best long term solution. For the time being much closer co-opera-
tion and the common use of lectures would seem highly desirable. It has
been suggested that the University should concentrate on degree courses and
leave the professional field e.g. the training of accountants, marketing, pro-
duction and personal managers, to CAST, but this is only a suggestion and
as far as I am aware has never been officially considered.

There is also very little contact between organizations catering for train-
ing and others concentrating on education for management. An ultimate aim
might very well be the setting up of a department of industrial relations at
the University concentrating entirely on short courses for managers already
in business. Such a department should make use of lectures at the business
school and would also draw heavily on part-time lectures from commerce and

The contact between the business community and the two teaching col-
leges is very slim. There is no tradition of consultation, no market orientated
policy in drawing up the syllabus. No provision is being made by firms to con-
sult with University and CAST lecturers, about their business problems. If
the Management Institute of Jamaica which is being discussed of the Jamaica
Industrial Development Corporation which make this work the cornerstone
of its activities and would bring about the integration of efforts in the field
of management training and education we would have transformed both
business policies and the educational approach.

The need for education and training in management in Jamaica is acute.
The doubts remain whether efforts, so far, valuable as they have been, should
not be reconsidered. In other words the question whether there is not a bet-
ter way, is one which calls for serious consideration.


Book Reviews

Edward Brathwaite Rights of Passage. London, Oxford University Press,
1967, 21s.

Even if this were not a good poem (which it is) it would be one of con-
siderable importance to the field of Caribbean poetry today. It is therefore
worth spending some time to discuss the poem's qualities and implications. I
would like to start with the 'blurb' tucked inside the cover on the dust jacket.
No 'blurbs' are an invaluable aid to the rushed reviewer who wishes to show
a working knowledge of a book after an examination lasting five minutes
flat, and at least one reviewer has quoted the 'blurb' of this volume, without
quotation marks, without question.

'The central narrative of a West Indian's progress from his country to
London and New York and home again is counterpointed with a series
of historical sequences that give the poem a rare depth and richness
of texture.'

Now there is a submerged autobiographical thread which emerges in
particular at the end, where the poem's various considerations become in-
tensely personal, and there is a controlling historical awareness. But this
does seem to be the most useful way of approaching the poem. The poem
explores the various viewpoints, located in place and time, true, but more
'inward' than the historical approach would require, which build up a com-
plex vision of what it is to be an expatriate negro. It tries to communicate
to us what it is like to be an African sold into slavery, to be a negro in the
United States, to be a Rastafarian brother. This is why the flexible style is
changing all the time. Coleridge said that every passion has its own rhythm;
and every person has his own style of utterance, as scientific studies of speech
patterns confirm. And so the different personages in the pattern of the negro
experience have their own ways of speaking.

I will come back to the poem's style later; it is central to the book's sig-
nificance. Let me first explore further Brathwaite's insights into the 'view
points' within the work, for we will see that its 'simplicity' is deceptive. In
his brilliant study of being a negro in the United States, now a Penguin Clas-
sic, The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison explores the conflict between what the
negro Is, and what society thinks him to be. Brathwaite's awareness of this
illuminates his whole treatment of the theme. When Brathwaite declares

I am a fuck-
in' negro,
man, hole
in my head,
brains in
my belly . (p.30)

the statement is ironic: this is how the whites see the negro, and the speak-
er explodes against this as he also attacks the cilches of negro jazz culture

keep them
for Alan Lomax, man, for them
folkways records, man,
that does sell for two pounds ten

But, as in reality, the line here between the external and the interior images
is uncertain, shifting. When he says

Tall, with slow
goes the saying
went the dream)
the negro
steps his way among the follies

Brathwaite is exploring the opposite negro cliche to that of the brainless
satyr the modern continuation of the 'noble savage' myth 'the real negro,
man, man, real/cool', the creation of negritudee' But like the cliche of the
negro jazz cultist, the rejection of the image is only partial. Just as negroes
have led the jazz scene, just as negroes do riot, a modified image of the 'real
cool' negro remains etched on our minds in the dignity of negro school chil-
dren walking the gauntlet of sub-animal white hate, in Meredith and Martin
Luther King. Or take a clearer example of this in a central personna of Rights
of Passage, 'Uncle Tom' The choice of Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous 'white-
washed' negro image, ('Uncle', close enough for sentiment, far enough away
for comfort), must, to one of Brathwaite's intelligence, be ironical. But, tak-
ing the cliche in the name, Brathwaite shatters and extends it by association
with another Tom, Shakespeare's quintessence of human isolation and suf
fearing in quintessential drama of the human predicament, King Lear 'Poor
Tom' who is 'a-cold' (p.21). Reaching behind the image of the genial negro
every white reformer hoped was true, Brathwaite shows up a human being re-
lated to him closer even than by blood, suffering, puzzled. But while Uncle
Tom' is not Mrs. Stowe's, he is also a character ignored as inconvenient by
many modern apologists of 'black power': the negro absorbed into the struc-
ture of the slave society, making of suffering, even of loyalty, a way of life.
Indeed, some readers will no doubt react strongly against Brathwaite's Uncle
Tom who retreats in his suffering into 'his heart' and laments his new gen-
eration of black sons who rush into the conflict between white and black
wishing for mercy, teaching
their children to hate
their skin to its bitter root in the bone. (p. (19)

But he was there in history. And while never condoling for a moment white

oppression, Brathwaite sees in his Uncle Tom an element of suffering and
compassion for suffering ignored by many in the new Generation
clever caught democracy of laymen preachers,
lawyers, pupil teachers,
typists, skilled hospital
porters; each in his Wal-
ter Motty world a wild Napoleon with dir-
ty hands (p. 61)
while the
supporting poor, famished upon their simple
politics of fish and broken bread,
begin to catch their royal asses,
denuded into silence like the stones
We must emphasise here that Rights of Passage is but the first part of a tri-
logy; otherwise one could take the poem to task for its uncritical rural values,
the uncompromising rejection of industrialism and urbanism, as 'Mammon'
the uncompromising rejection of industrialism and urbanism, taken as
brilliant concrete crosses -
look he bears to crucify his freedom.
This brings us on to a consideration of the book's style, which is perhaps
the point of greatest general importance. There are two basic approaches to
writing poetry. One is intensive, the use of the full complex resources of lan-
guage to concentrate and fuse together what Ezra Pound once called 'an intel-
lectual and emotional complex of a moment of time'. It may use symbol, verbal
ambiguity or literary allusion to deepen and enrich the experience it gives. It
is the method of Eliot, and finds its ultimate perfection in the three-line
compression of the Japanese Haiku. While this method in a modified form
has been used with considerable success by a Caribbean poet like Derek Wal-
cott, it has limitations for the West Indian writer. It relies on language
brought to a pitch of complexity more usually found in long-established liter-
ary cultures; it is intellectual, and, while it has its own validity, it has diffi-
culties in relating with the non -intellectual elements in society; it is inward
and private, and unsuited to social and national issues. There are exceptions
to all this, as a poet like Yeats shows, but it is broadly true. On the other hand
there is the extensive poetry exemplified in the work of Walt Whitman and
William Carlos Williams. It relies less on image, allusion, subtle uses of lan-
guage; but prefers the 'poetry of statement', the speech of the people, if this
is selected and ordered, and instead of focussing into an ever tighter inten-
sity, it spreads itself over wide areas, feeling the contours of experience,
the various aspects of society.
The relevance of this technique to the West Indian poet is immediate,
but although the need for a West Indian 'extensive' poem, able to do justice
to the complexity of the West Indian situation, and to use the riches of col-
loquial idiom, is obvious, we have had to wait for Mr. Brathwaite's poem to
receive it. While he can use the terse concentrated image
The islands roared into green plantations
ruled by silver sugar cane (p. 47)

his more characteristic successes come with poetry of simple statement -
Dry season
follow wet season again
an' the green crop follow the rain. (p. 69)
Moreover, a good deal of the writing cannot be justified by meaning
alone, but for the communication of states of emotion through the rhythmic
effect of words. This again is important for the West Indian writer for,
while one rejects the concept of negritudee', that 'emotion in negro', West
Indian patios has a higher directly emotive content than standard English.
This has its dangers; parts of Brathwaite's poem are a little emotional, verg-
ing on the sentimental. On the other hand, the technique is brilliantly vin-
dicated in a section like "Wings of a Dove" on "Brother Man" Rhythms are
crucial to the poem, that is why it must be read aloud, and why many Euro-
pean readers without ears turned to Caribbean cadences are bound to find
passages flat and crude. A case for giving a long-playing record away with
the printed book. Brathwaite has, I think, tried to draw attention to this by
his fragmentation of the verse in many passages to brief phrases, even split-
ting words in two. When he reads the poem, it is not read as staccato, what
he is doing is to deliberately break up the conventional English cadences and
so weaken the reader to catch the cadence of Caribbean speech, of work
songs, blues, twist, drum beat.
This then is a poem every Caribbean writer will have to read and think
about. I would not like what I have said to be disqualified because I have not
showed the poem's weakness. There are passages, as I have noted, that verge
on the sentimental. There are moments when the rhythm and the actual
language used become incongruous, as when Uncle Tom cries
What harsh logic
guides their story?
There are lines as weak as
My new boss
has no head
for (female) figures
But the very points of weakness are part of a refreshingly genuine ap-
proach to the art of writing; an approach uninhibited by too much self-con-
scious anxiety to say 'the right thing'. Here is a poem whose considerable
techniques are subordinate to a full-blooded concern with the Caribbean


Review of D. A. G. Waddell The West Indies and the Guianas. Prentice-
Hall, Inc., N.J., 1967. pp. 149, $1.95 U.S.

History more precisely the historian is slowly but surely catch-
ing up with the West Indies. The sources of this new academic interest lie
in two clusters of antecedent reasons or intentions. One is noted by Dr. Wad-
dell when he points out that in recent years "West Indian history has come

to be studied and taught as an integral part of the West Indian educative
progress;" in other words, the use of West Indian history differs in no way
from that of English history. The second reason has to do with the increas-
ing interest of West Europeans and North Americans in that part of the
world's population now fashionably referred to as the third world and
which, undeveloped and illiterate, has emerged as the vast tide of imperial-
ism receded, or is believed to have receded. What we should note about
these reasons is their political incompatibility: the historian who works with
one intention is hardly likely tto harbour the other as honestly, and the
compulsions and conclusions generated by one must differ significantly from
those flowing from the other.

The essence of Dr. Waddell's book is that it attempts to reconcile both
sets of intentions; but the attempt is not wholehearted and there can be
little doubt that his major purposes in writing are bound up with the second
set of antecedents. The success of the book must be judged within this con-

The volume is one of a series entitled "The Modern Nations in Histori-
cal Perspective" Dr. Waddell himself was for six years a participant in the
West Indian educative progress when he was attached to the University De-
partment of History. His book, he tells us, is an "essay in the regional ap-
proach to West Indian history an introductory essay in interpretation
rather than a definite narrative of events"

It is what one might term macrohistory as distinct from microhistory;
synthesis and interpretation intended to gather up existing material rather
than to reach new ground, as distinct from detailed monographic research.
Of the latter, there are many, and many many more will be called; of the
former, perhaps the more valuable genre, there are few and this scarcity gives
to Dr. Waddell's work an irreducible immediate measure of value.

When he talks of West Indian history he means the history of "all those
territories in the West Indian region that remained colonies until the second
half of the twentieth century." We are told that another volume in the series
deals with Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, "those island states that
achieved independence at an earlier time." Dr. Waddell's definition of "region-
al" thus rests apparently on consideration of editorial policy and convenience.
But he himself goes further and justifies the restriction in an entirely dif-
ferent and reasonably questionable argument. "The exclusion of Cuba
(etc.) make possible a more unified treatment of the recent past by
confining attention to those territories whose common twentieth century ex-
perience has been that of continued colonial dependence on external metro-
politan powers".

Whether one thinks it worthwhile to doubt this justification depends on
one's idea on, first and more superficially, the possibilities and dangers of
maintaining the state of historiographical solipsism in which the "West Indies"
have existed. It is good that the Guianas are seen in the same perspec-
tive as the islands, but we lose much more on the swings than we gain on
the roundabout. The problem goes back ultimately to disputes (and this is
the second point) over the criteria of "colonial dependence" or less dis-
passionately, over the issue of imperialism. Dr. Waddell's justification is ac-

ceptable, given his dependence on formal, constitutional criteria. At the same
time and on the basis of other conceptions one may argue that the substance
of continued colonial dependence is most instructively identified in the his-
torical experience of these three republics. Cuba was the paradigm of West
Indian history until 1960. Even neglecting the Platt Amendment, it was for
all practical purposes a colony of the United States of America.

A word of philosophy: all this is not to say that Dr. Waddell's choice
is without meaning or relevance because it is truncated. For every historian,
as for every seeker after fruit and light, the datum of departure is necessa-
rily selective. But it is perfectly legitimate, and inevitable, to question the
alternative points of departure, as well as the criteria of selection to ex-
plain a particular a particular choice.
The book divides naturally into two parts one comprising the long
first chapter, an essay on the West Indies today; the second four-fifths
of the book is the historical section proper. Chapter One, then, in the wri-
ter's own words is an "assessment based largely on my own impressions,
formed in the course of residence and travel in the area an analytical
survey of the present social, economic and political situation in the West
Indies." Most readers will find it by far the most useful and interesting
portion of the book; but what is worthy of comment is the radically un-
even quality of the analysis.

On the one hand, Dr. Waddell shows himself a perceptive and astringent
observer of almost every aspect of W. I. life. On the state of the arts, he
comments that "few creative works by West Indians have yet emerged which
are both good and West Indian Much of what is good is however only
slightly West Indian; much of what is thoroughly West Indian is inferior."
He is sceptical about the region's commitment to economic development and
remarks that "there have been only very limited attempts to integrate the
objectives of economic development with other social goals" And of poli-
tics he emphasises his impression that "political policy-making has been
pragmatic rather than ideological, and conservative rather than radical"

But alongside these stimulating apercus there is a current of super-
fluity or superficiality which detracts from the interest, significance and
worth of the analysis. It is difficult (and perhaps unfair to claim this) to
point to specific passages and examples, but perhaps those on race, language,
and class will suffice. The significance of this inclination towards the trival
is that it points to the kind of audience for whom the book is intended. But
whatsoever in this chapter speaks to West Indians, that is eminently worth
reading and good; whatever is not worthwhile was not intended for West
Indian eyes. Be that as it may, West Indians will surely be happy to read
Dr. Waddell's concluding opinions on the world-significance of West Indian

The rest of the book explores the influence of the past, and explores it
clearly, coherently and concisely. The synthesis is extremely well done and
is worked out over four chapters, after a brief discussion of European settle-
ment. These four major chapters discuss the sugar revolution and its con-
sequences, the period of transition which ends with emancipation, the period
of "dependence and stagnation" (1830-1930), and the years, since 1930, of

"development and autonomy" The interpretative framework (and the in-
terpretation itself) which embodies these discussions is composed of two
elements. One is, to put it crudely, the tradition of empiricism within which
English speaking historians generally work and into which something of
Marxist ideas and of the Marxist approach have been admitted. It need not
be stressed that this welcome infiltration does not result in Marxist historio-
graphy (hough there is a respectable English variant of this school now).
This empirical approach or method is also used by all British West Indian
historians, and we often assume that it is the only plausible historical method.
There are other approaches to West Indian history, but to explore them is
beyond our purpose. We may point out that this empirical temper is now
shaping the use to which West Indian history is being put in West Indian
educative process a use which naturally approximates to the use of, say,
English history in England.
More immediately important is the second element in Dr. Waddell's
interpretation: his personal historical style and situation. First, he is an ex-
ceedingly impartial historian, not only in the sense that he is scrupulous and
honest (assumed without question) but in the sense that his awareness of
facts, values and ideologies is detached almost to the point of impassiveness.
This is, in a trival way, reflected in the even length of his major historical
chapters which cover the years 1640-1965. More significantly, the impartiality
is seen in the almost ideally egalitarian treatment of issues given the
initial bias of his chapter themes (which are not unexpected). All issues are
given equal treatment: no incident, personality, trend or issue is more im-
portant than another. All this reflects Dr. Waddell's command of the facts
of West Indian history; more important it seems also to reflect his situation
outside the historical-experiential situation, his distance from West In-
dians. And in this case, distance lends dull unrelieved flatness t othe view.

J. H. Plumb has written the educative argument (for studying his-
tory) is spurious: memory, sense of logic, critical use of evidence, lucidity
in exposition can be trained by large subjects as well as small, by problems
relevant to modern society as by matters "indifferent" Dr. Waddell's treat-
ment exhibits all those qualities but comes close to making West Indian
history a "matter indifferent"; perhaps it is already that, from the students'
point of view. What we need to remember is that if history is to serve the
needs of those who are alive today, the historian must be highly selective and
base his selectivity on our contemporary interests and preoccupations. It
is in this sense that each generation must indeed rewrite its history books.

Another, less easily defined characteristic of Dr. Waddell's style is an
inclination to a kind of teleological view of West Indian history. One feels
that he tends to see constitutional advance not only as the adequate criterion
of independence or as an objective for certain men, but as the consummation
of West Indian history, the end (proximate perhaps) to which it all worked.
One can only cite the very last paragraph, the very last sentence: "As the West
Indies reach the end of the colonial road and struggle to take their place
among modern nations, one can only hope that they have not had their pros-
pects permanently impaired by being colonies too long". It is another side
of the same problem we touched when we discussed the arguments for ex-
cluding the older republics.

In drawing together these comments we may rephrase a passage quoted
earlier; historical writing on the West Indies has been pragmatic rather than
ideological, and conservative rather than radical. We can be we are in
fact prisoners of our history and historiography. Perhaps like democratic
government, historical interpretation should be of the people, by the
people, for the people. As in the case of politics, so in historiography the
term "people" is full of ambiguity and flexibility and we must be alive to these
ambiguities. To see West Indian history from the people's point of view is
not to see constitutional advance but perhaps to see the transitions from a
society of slaves to a society of subjects, and from a society of subjects to a
society of servants, exiles, self-exiles and vagrants.


The Jews of Jamaica: A Historical View

Jamaica (Xamaica), has its name from an old Arawak Indian word for
"land of wood and water" It is an island in the Caribbean sea, 100 miles west
of Haiti, and 90 miles south of Cuba. It is 146 miles long and 51 miles wide.
Discovered by the Spanish, Jamaica was captured from them by the British
two centuries later in 1655 and remained a British colony until 1962, when
Jamaica became an independent country within the British Commonmon.

John Hearne points out "In line of continuous descent, the Sephardic
Jews pre-date any other families in Jamaica's history. They were here when
the English conquerors arrived, and were alone of the island's white popu-
lation, allowed to remain in undisturbed possession of their property and
conduct of their occupations". 1

In 1662 Jews came from Brazil, in 1663 from England, in 1664 from Bri-
tish Guiana, in 1673 from Surinam. During the eighteenth and early nine-
teenth centuries, Jews came to Jamaica from Curacao and Germany. Then
the influx of Jews appears to have ceased or considerably diminished until
the new migrations from Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the late nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries. 2

The conquest of Jamaica by Oliver Cromwell in 1655 found Jews already
among the settlers on that island. Jamaica had been given to the family of
Columbus, and by marriage brought into the possession of the Braganzas,
who afterwards obtained possession of the throne of Portugal. Columbus
was favourably disposed towards the Jews, and, excluding the Inquisition
from the island, rendered their settlement easy. Jamaica thus nominally un-
der the crown of Spain, was still to some extent autonomous and Portuguese,
and it was under these conditions that Jews first found themselves in the
island. The conquest by the English led to the expulsion of the Spanish
settlers. Similar treatment would probably have been meted out to the Por-
tuguese and with them the Jews (reputed Portuguese) if the hostility between
the Spanish and Portuguese had not been so keen as to render impossible the
withdrawal of the latter to Cuba. Without a near refuge elsewhere, the Por-
tuguese were suffered to remain on the island, and thus the new English
Government, immediately on the occupations, found Jews among its sub-
The presence of Jews in the island was considered by Cromwell an im-
portant factor in the furtherance of his colonial policy. In his organization
of the colony, he received valuable assistance from Simon de Caceres, the
colleague of Carvajal. The Restoration made little difference in the con-
dition of the Jews in Jamaica. Their numbers increased and they continued
to flourish. Some of them were engaged in retail trade, but the majority were

wholesale merchants, and the greater portion of the trade wth the Spanish
Main was in their hands. During the term of office of Governor Molesworth,
the settlers received permission to erect a synagogue.

The commercial success of the Jews, however, aroused jealousy among
their neighbours. In the year 1671, the English merchants petitioned the
Council of the colony for the expulsion of the Jews. The petition was in due
course transmitted to England, but Governor Lynch, in forwarding it, argued
strongly against the requested being granted, and paid a striking tribute to
the value of the Jews to the colony. The views of the Governor were adopted
by the King and Council, and the result of the petition was a recommenda-
tion that steps should be taken to encourage the settlement of still more
Jews in the island, and this desire for further Jewish colonists was satisfied
by immigration from Brazil and Surinam.

Despite the somewhat satisfactory position that the Jew held in the is-
land, attempts at persecution were not entirely wanting. In 1681 an endeav-
our to effect their expulsion was made by the Council of the Island on the
ground that the Jews were "descendants from the crucifiers of the blessed
Jesus." The Crown ignored both the request and the reasons for it, but the
special taxes levied on the Jews on the ground of their wealth continued.
Another reason given for this exceptional taxation was the exemption of the
Jews from many public duties and consequent expenses, it being suggested
that these exemptions were beneficial rather than of the nature of disabi-
lities. The Jews were at that time excluded from all public office, denied the
elective franchise, disqualified from serving on juries, and debarred from the
privilege of purchasing white servants. Permission was however, given them
to erect synagogues.
The twofold burden of special taxation and the restriction of privileges
was not borne by the Jewish community in silence. Petitions were sent up
every year against the taxes and invariably rejected. The fiscal burdens in-
stead of being diminished were increased, with the result that, by the open-
ing of the eighteen century, the bulk of the taxation of the colony was paid
by the small Jewish population. On the other hand, the greater portion of
the industry and the commerce was in the hands of that section. In 1711, the
Jews suffered a further disability of being prohibited, in common with mulat-
tos, Indians and negroes, from being employed in any of the offices created
by the Act of that year. In 1702, however, a new demand was preferred by
the Jews of the colony, that of the right to vote at elections for the Assem-
bly. The petition and remonstrance were declared to be "erroneous, false and
scandalous," and a proposal was even made to punish the pettioners by im-
prisonment. A lighter sentence, however, took its place, a fine of 2,000 on
the community. Before ten years had passed a less intolerant policy was ini-
tiated. In 1711, the question of the admission of Jews to the elected franchise
was considered, and a Bill to that effect was introduced into the Assembly.
That body, however, amended it so as to prevent the election of Jews, and,
in the dispute between the two houses that ensued, the proposed measure
was abandoned.

Charles Leslie3 in his history of Jamaica published in 1740 writes of the
Jews as follows: "The Jews began about this time to make a considerable
figure: their numbers daily increased, and as they understood trade better

than any of the planters or merchants could pretend to do, the Governor
found it necessary to encourage that people. They were allowed many pri-
vileges, and had permission to erect synagogues and perform divine worship
according to their own forms. Whether or not such encouragement was good
policy I shall not determine; but it is certain their industry and moderation
may serve as a pattern; and show that excess of any kind is incompatible
with the interests of a trader. At the same time their little roguish tricks are
such that prove very detrimental to any society in which they live."

Edward Long 4 in his book published in 1774, writes: "The Jews who
are numerous here (that is in Spanish Town) have a synagogue where they
assemble every sabbath. Some are good men and benevolent to the gentiles
as well as to their own people but the greater part of them are selfish and
tricky. They are healthy and long-lived and very abstemious."

Bryan Edwards 8 in his history of the West Indies published in 1798,
writes: "The Jews enjoyed almost every privilege possessed by the christian
whites except" and here he proceeds to enumerate the civil disabilities
against them. He continues by stating "They have the liberty of purchas-
ing and holding lands as freely as other people and they are likewise allowed
the public exercise of their religion; and I have not heard that Jamaica has
any reason to repent of her liberality towards them."

The middle of the eighteenth century saw the Jewish Question again a
burning one in the island. Basing their claim on the Act of the British Par-
liament of 1740, the Jews of Jamaica demanded enfranchisement. The com-
munity, however, was not unanimous in the matter, and all applications for
votes on the part of the Jews were without exceptions refused.

When the final hurdle was overcome and the Bill of 1830 became law,
it was revealed that the petitions of 1826, 1827, and 1831 had actually been
drawn up by a Kingston Jewish merchant, Moses Delgado a Delgado had
obtained the co-operation of a senior member of the Assembly, Augustus H.
Beaumont. It was Beaumont who also paid the fee for the Bill of 1830, which
the Council insisted on labelling a private act. At the Meeting on Decem-
ber 13, 1831, in the Vestry Room of the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue, "the
gentlemen of the Hebrew persuasion" presented a silver tankard to Delgado
who promised to keep it and to hand it down to future generations of his
family who would "ever view it with feelings of pride as a nation's gift to a
beloved and affectionate father."

Hurwitz in examining the attainment of these rights, states: "The Jews
were granted full rights of citizenship in Jamaica in 1831. At that time, the
statute books of England were still filled with restrictive laws relating to
Jews. They were citizens, as they had been in Jamaica, but, as had been true
earlier in Jamaica, they did not have full rights. For that they would have
to wait. In the meantime, the Legislature of Jamaica had "set a noble exam-
ple of liberality," and the Jew of England, to paraphrase George Canning,
would have to call upon the New World to redress the evils of the Old.
Seven years later Sir Francis Goldsmith was able to use this emancipation
and its results in attracting Jews to public service in the island. So rapidly
were the advantages of emancipation seized by the Jews of Jamaica that by
1849 a sixth of the members of the colonial assembly were Jews, and that body

adjourned over Yom Kippur for the convenience of its Jewish members who
abstained from voting on the subject. The same year a Jew was elected speak-
er of the Assembly and another shortly afterwards became Receiver- General.
A considerable proportion of the inhabitants of the island in its prosperous
days were Jews, and it has furnished both Englishh and American Jewry
with several well-known names. Both Sir John Simon and Judah Benjamin
were born in the island, and the Anglo-Jewish families of Lindo and Henri-
ques also reached these shores from that point of departure.

Simon deCaceres, a Jew, was one of Cromwell's secret advisers on Ja-
maican affairs; and the deCaceres family settled in Jamaica. They influenc-
ed Charles II in granting commercial facilities to Jews in Jamaica while
Mannassheh ben Isreali, Rabbi of Amsterdam, was instrumental in promot-
ing Jewish immigration from Portugal.

A number of Jewish names were associated with Jamaica's thriving
sugar and vanilla industries, including Abraham Henriques, who owned 3,000
acres of land; Solomon de Leon, who had 1,000 acres in 1672, and David Lo-
pez, who owned 500 acres in 1692. As far back as 1802 we find Jacob Adol-
phus, a Jew, Physician to the Militia forces in Jamaica and esteemed friend
of the Governor's wife, Lady Nugent. He was knighted in 1840 and later be-
came Chief Medical Inspector of Army Hospitals and Physician General to
the Militia Forces. Dr. Charles McLarty Morales was Speaker of the House
of Assembly for an unbroken period of sixteen years up to his death in 1865.
Alexandre Bravo, owning 1,000 slaves and an advocate of emancipation, was
a member of the House of Assembly and Privy Councillor, and with his father,
Moses, made gifts to the Sovereign for account of the National Debt. From
1860 to 1863 George Solomon was Finance Minister. Emanuel Lyons was a
pioneer in the harware trade. Alexander Lindo, large landed proprietor, was
Custos (warden) of St. Mary. David Lindo was a distinguished chemist.
The Daily Gleaner, Jamaica's excellent daily newspaper, was founded
in 1834 by the late Jacob de Cordova and Joshua de Cordova. Michael de
Cordova was Managing Director from 1902-48, and Lewis Ashenheim was
Chairman of the Board of Directors for many years.

A monthly magazine of Jewish interest, "The First Fruits of the West",
was published in Kingston in 1844. There are several issues of this magazine
in the Institute of Jamaica. Perusal of its pages will repay the student
as the journal casts an illuminating light on the life and times it depicts.
Its co-editors were the Rev. M. N. Nathan and Dr. Lewis Ashenheim, M.D.
The latter practised in Jamaica, having come from Edinburgh in 1843. He
became known as "the apostle of sanitary reform."

Like the Chinese and Syrians of a later day, the Jews saw and seized
the opportunity of giving service as purveyors, and for many years they
afforded an outlet for the agricultural products of slave and free peasant,
and were the chief purveyors of imported goods. In a period of currency
difficulties they were prominent as dealers in currency and exchange. Some
of them also commenced life as artisans and craftsmen, and some of them
showed talent in journalism, literature and art. It was inevitable that their
commercial and other activities should attract that suspicion and enmity
to which the fact of being "foreigners", or the existence of differences in

religion has from time immemorial given a convenient handle. For many
generations they suffered discriminatory civil disabilities, but so also in
varying degree did slaves and the coloured population.

From the middle of the seventeenth century until the earthquake of
June 7, 1692, most Jews lived at Port Royal, and although no historian men-
tions a synagogue there; In the early days, one undoubtedly existed and was
destroyed in the earthquake. Proof of this can be found in a letter written
on the day of the earthquake by Edmund Heath, of Port Royal, to Dr. Char-
lette the Master of University College, Oxford, in which he states:

"I turned into Ye Jews Street, in order to get home, when their
synagogue fell by my side."
The Hunt's Bay Cemetery is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the
Western Hemisphere. Those at Newport, Rhode Island, Curacao, Barbados
and the New Bowery, New York, were established approximately during the
same period. Some of the tombstones are tri-lingual, bearing inscriptions in
Hebrew, English and Spanish. A few are inscribed with an admixture of
Portuguese and Spanish words. The oldest grave is that of Abraham Gabay

In the Jewish cemeteries at Spanish Town are the tombs of many of
the early colonists. Family names such as Adolphus, Andrade, Bonitto, Car-
valho, Henriques, Lara, Melhado, Pinto, DePass and Vaz are to be found.

The old Sephardi Synagogue at Spanish Town was consecrated in 1704
and had the distinction of being the oldest in the British Empire after the
Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, which was dedicated in 1701. An Ash-
kenzi Synagogue was built in the old Capital in 1706.

Haham de Cordova served the Sephardi Synagogues in Kingston, Port
Royal and Spanish Town for over forty years until his death in 1797. With
the migration to Kingston the community at Spanish Town rapidly dwindled.
Even so an effort was made to revive the old Sephardi Synagogue in 1899,
mainly due to the zeal of Bertram Andrade. The Sephardi Synagogue was
re-consecrated on August 14th of that year. A special train left Kingston
at 6:30 p.m. and the Synagogue was once more thronged but for the most
part by visitors of other denominations.

The synagogue at Montego Bay was consecrated in 1845, by Benjamin
Cohen Carillon. He was succeeded by Abraham Fereira Mendes whose sons
Frederick and Henry became outstanding rabbis in the United States. Sergeant
Sir John Simon was born at Montego Bay and settled in England in 1845,
where he attained great distinction at the Bar, and for twenty years was
M.P. for Dewsbury.

At one time there were three Synagogues in Kingston. One of the out-
standing cantors of the Ashkenazi Synagogue in Orange Street from 1789-96
was Myer Lyon (Leoni). Of him an interesting story is told about the time
when he was Cantor at the Duke's Place Synagogue, London in 1770. Thomas
Olivers, a Wesleyan Minister, attended a Friday Evening Service and was
so impressed by Lyon's chanting of the closing hymn, the Yigdal, that he
requested a copy of the melody. Olivers composed a hymn to this melody,

calling it "Leoni". Each verse commences with the words "The God of
Abraham praise", and the hymn is one of the most famous in the English

The final merger of the Synagogues took place in 1921, since which time
there has been one Synagogue, situated on Duke Street.

While Jews have lived at numerous places on the island, and Synagogues
have been been erected in Port Royal, Spanish Town and Montego Bay
(built in 1840 and destroyed by hurricane in 1912), almost 90 per cent of
the Jewish population now reside in the Kingston and St. Andrew area.10
The Congregation in Kingston was probably founded after the Port Royal
earthquake in 1692, but the old Portuguese Synagogue, Shaar Hashamayin,
was not completed at the corner of Princess Street and Water Lane until
1750. An Ashkenazi Synagogue, Shaare Yosher was consecrated at Orange
Street in 1789, and re-built in 1837. The House of Assembly voted 1,000
and the Corporation of Kingston voted 700 towards the cost of re-build-
ing. However, in 1882 both Synagogues were destroyed by a big city fire.
An attempt was made to amalgamate the two Congregations, and in 1885
the Synagogue, Shaare Shalom was built on the present site in Duke Street.
Amalgamation was not, however, universally popular at that time. In 1884
Sephardim built Shaar Hashamayim at 58 East Street, and some Ashkenasim
built a Synagogue on the former site in Orange Street. In 1900 the Sephardi
Synagogue merged with the larger Shaare Shalom, but in January 1907 the
great earthquake and fire wrecked the two Synagogues, and many valuable
records were destroyed with them. In 1911 the building of the Amalgamated
Congregation of Israelites was re-built on the site it had previously occupied.
Ten years later the Ashkenazim finally merged into what was re-named the
United Congregation of Israelites which now unites all of the 600 Jews (ac-
cording to the 1960 census) on the island. The Congregation is Progressive,
being based on a Sephardic ritual with a number of its own individualistic
traditions. It is administered by a Board of Directors.

The present Synagogue, situated at the corner of Duke Street and
Charles Street, is roughly the same size as the previous one which was
destroyed, and it accommodates approximately 600 worshippers. Instead
of a brick structure it has reinforced concrete, and the facade is made in a
style approaching the Spanish Colonial period. The Hechal (Ark) and the
Tebah (Reader's Platform) are in polished mahogany. They are adorned by
8 magnificent brass candlesticks which were donated in 17'3, and they have
clue Wilton carpets with a yellow Magen David design on the floor. The
Ark contains 13 scrools, some of which are more than 200 years old, being
originally housed in other Synagogues on the island. In 1936 a pipe organ
was installed. An unusual feature of the Synagogue is the sand which is
strewn over the floor. The only other Synagogues to follow this practice are
the Sephardi Synagogues in Amsterdam, Curacao, Panama and the Virgin
Islands. Some explain this custom as reminding us of the sand which covered
the floor of the original Tabernacle in the desert. Others suggest that it
represents the blessing of God to the Patriarchs that their descendants would
be as numerous "as the sand on the seashore" Less poetic would be the
interpretation that it deadens the sound of the wooden floor!

Adjoining the Synagogue, at 31 Charles Street, is the Jewish Institute
where socials, lectures, religious instruction, etc. are held. The Congrega-
tion, through the Jewish Ladies' Organization, runs a Home for the Jewish
Aged at 11a Oxford Road, Kingston 5. There is also a Sunshine Circle which
looks after the needs of the Jewish poor. There is an active W.I.Z.O. group,
and a branch of the B'nai Brith has been recently established. For the past
thirty years the congregation had as its Rabbi, Rabbi Henry P. Silverman,
who retired last year to England. Its present Rabbi is Rabbi Bernard
In 1967, the Jews of Jamaica are very active in the economic life of
Jamaica. The names of these families mark the history of Jamaican Jewry:
Henriques, Motta, DeLeon, Vaz, Gallant, de Souza, Mordecai, and Delgado
of Spanish-Portuguese origin, the Matalons and Settons from Syrian back-
ground, the Ashenheims, who are represented by the Jamaican Ambassador
to the United States Sir Neville Noel Ashenheim, and came originally via

In 1967 the outlook for the Jews in Jamaica, as far as a continuation of
a Jewish identity is concerned, is quite bleak. There is no "new blood"
entering the community, there is an increase in inter-marriage, and although
no statistics are available, from personal inquiry one gets the feeling that
it is only the odd marriage which is "jewish" As one meets the prominent
members of the Jewish community, one is impressed by the fact, that almost
all their children married Christian-Jamaicans, who did not convert to

Another oddity appears, in that the children of these marriages, in
which in most cases the mother is Christian, attend the weekly Religious
School, and odd festival services. In discussion with many of the active
Synagogue members, one obtains a pessimistic outlook for Jewish survival.
Is it possible that the history of Jamaican Jewry, with its long history
of freedom, and its relative isolation from other Jewish communities, and
the fact that after World War II there was no influx from the remnant of
European Jewry, has made it conducive to complete assimilation? With
such a colourful history, it would be tragic if the Jewish community in
Jamaica becomes a page in a history book and not a continuing living

(1) John Hearne, "European Heritage and Asian Influence in Jamaica" (in)
Our Heritage, Jamaica: Dept. of Extra Mural Studies, University of
the West Indies, 1963. pp. 7-37.
(2) Jacob Andrade, A Record of the Jews in Jamaica from the English
Conquest to the Present Time (1940) Kingston: The Jamaica Times
Ltd., 1941 (out of print).
(3) Charles Leslie, A New History of Jamaica, London: J. Hodges, 1740.
(4) Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, London: T. Lowndes, 1774.

(5) Bryan Edwards, The History, Civil and Commercial of the British
Colonies in the West Indies, London: B. Crosby, 1798.
(6) A full discussion of the attainment of full rights for the Jews in Jamaica
in 1831 can be found in: Samuel J. Hurwitz and Edith Hurwitz, "The
New World Sets an Example for the Old", American Jewish Historical
Review, LV, No. 1, September 1965, pp. 37-56.
(7) The original scroll of presentation and silver tankard are now in the
possession of the Synagogue in Kingston.
(8) Samuel J. Hurwitz and Edith Hurwitz "A Beacon for Judaism: The
First Fruits of the West" American Jewish Historical Review, LVI:
No. 1, September 1966, p. 56.
(9) Hurwitz & Hurwitz op. cit. pp. 3-26.
(10) Some of the information in this part of the article has been taken from
a booklet prepared by Rabbi Bernard Hooker, the present Rabbi in
Kingston, Jamaica.
For a copy of the booklet write to the Rabbi, 11% Oxford Road, King-
ston 5, Jamaica. The Synagogue has also copies, 92 Duke St., Kingston.


Robert Bayley:

Edward Braithwaite:

Trevor Burgin &
Patricia Edson

The Sunny Caribbees

Duel, Sloan & Pearce, N.Y., 1966

Rights of Passage

Oxford University Press 1967

$5.95 U.S.


Spring Grove: The Education
of Immigrant Children

Oxford University Press for
Institute of Race Relations 1967 21/-

Paul Edwards (ed.): Equiano's Travels

Heinemann's Educational Books
Ltd., 1967

Jean-Pierre 0 Gingras: Duvalier, Caribbean Cyclone

Exposition Press Inc., N.Y., 1967

Alan Shuttleworth &
Jennifer Williams: Race, Community and Conflict

Oxford University Press for the
Institute of Race Relations, 1967

C. C. Webster &
P. N. Wilson

Agriculture in the Tropics
Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd., 1966 .. 63/-


$5.00 U.S.