MI~ OC 1IU D1UuLe ~~AIIII~~PI
Editorial Notes and Comments 1
THE RASTAFARI MOVEMENT IN KINGSTON, JAMAICA, Part I
M. G. Smith, Roy Augier, Rex Nettleford 3
"NEW VIEWPOINTS IN GEOGRAPHY": A TEACHERS'
Barry Floyd 30
TWO POEMS FROM GUYANA
Brian Chan 38
NOTES AND COMMENTARY:
Rudie, Oh Rudie!
G. White 39
Notes of Iere, The Amerindian Name for Trinidad
K. M. Laurence 45
Drugs from The West Indies
Compton Seaforth 52
Errol John; Screenplays. Force Majeure, The Dispossessed,
Bridget Jones 57
Wilfred Cartey, West Indies, Islands in the Sun,
James Carnegie 59
BOOK LIST 62
PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
EXTRA-MURAL STUDIES .... ... .... .... 63
VOL. 13. No. 3
NOTE ON MANUSCRIPTS
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
"Ras Daniel Heartman and Son", self portrait.
By kind permission of Miss Winnie Risden.
Photo by Lee Moragh.
Copyright reserved, and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
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
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A SELECTION OF CONTENTS FROM PAST ISSUES
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 ......
(I) F. J. Ajayi, Christian Missions in Nigeria, 1841-1691
(ii) Errol Hill, Man Better Man
K. S. Julien
John E. Moes
Ripley P. Bullen
D. B. Murray
L. A. Eyre
K. O. Laurence
Vol. XII No. 3
The Baffling Creator: A Study of the Writing of James Baldwin Gregorio Arana
The Effects of Modern Technology on Small Developing Countries
With Surplus Labour Sieve DeCastro
The Civil Service Strike in British Honduras C. H. Grant
Commentary: A Conference on Climatology and Related Fields
in the Caribbean Barry Floyd
Margaret Neilsen, Biology and Hygiene for Caribbean Schools
Sheila Duncker, A Visual History of the West Indies
Vol. XII No. 4
Spanish-American Novel 1940-65
Spain & Dominica
Non-Standard Eiglish of Grenada
Linguistic Problems in British Honduras
Barbara Howes, "From the Green Antilles"
Walter Jekyll, "Jamaican Song and Story"
Vol. XIII NO.
Roger Mais Design from a Legend
Commentary and Notes
Ambitions of Jamaican Adolescents and
The School System
Education and Training of Management in Jamaica
Edward Brathwaite, Rights of Passage"
D. A. C. Waddell, "The West Indies and the Guyanas"
The Jews of Jamaica: A Historical View
Vol. XIII No. 2
The Influence of the Irish in Montserrat
A Caribbean Plan for Primary Education
Patterns of Imagery in Two Novels of Curacao
West Indian Literature: Some Cheap Anthologies
Len Jacobs & Beth Jacobs, "The Family
and Family Planning in the W.I.'
Harry Bernstein, "Venezuela & Colombia"
John Fagg, "Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic"
Gulls (Poem) ..... .. .... ..
Helen S. Abrikian
G. R. Coulthard
Norman Ashcroft &
John C. Messinger
James A. Marai
G. W. Roberts
Norman H. Davis
Editorial Notes and Comments
This quarter, CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY reprints the 1960 Report
on the Rastafari Movement in Jamaica one of the most important
sociological enquiries made by the University. The text has long been
out of print and frequent demands for copies may be usefully met by
presenting the entire Report in two parts, the second section to follow
in Volume 13 no. 4.
We are grateful for the permission of the authors and of Mr. Alister
McIntyre of the ISER, under the auspices of which department the
report first appeared. The Movement is by no means a thing of the
past. To the contrary, further investigations of the phenomenon o.f
the Rastafari and their developing inter-relationsip with the society
will certainly be repaid by a closer understanding of the socio-
economic patterns of this era.
Investigations in a closely related field, the sub-culture of the
underprivileged young known in Jamaica as "rude boys", occupies
Garth White, a third year student of the Social Sciences. His obvious
concern and commitment to the society is a reassurance, we hope, that
this young University may yet play a vital role in the societies it
serves. In Notes and Commentaries too, we reprint a short article on
Drugs from the West Indies which first appeared in Volume 7 No. 4.
In keeping with C.Q's policy of spotlighting the thinking of experts
on matters of Caribbean import, this issue also presents a report by
Dr. Barry Floyd, President of the Jamaica Geographical Society, on
"New Viewpoints in Geography", a teachers' conference.
Of Caribbean interest also are the poems and book reviews which
round off the contents of this issue. Brian Chan, a nineteen year old
presently attached to the British Council in Guyana, seems a refresh-
ing new voice among West Indian poets.
Mrs. Bridget Jones of the Modern Languages Department, herself
a keen student of the cinema, responds to a book of three screen-plays
by West Indian actor/playwright Errol John whose interest in the
medium of film, mirrors perhaps an increasing concern on the part
of West Indian writers with that most accessible and powerful art
James Carnegie from the U.W.I., who recently completed work
for his Master's thesis in History, teaches that subject at Jamaica
College. His review of Dr. Wilfred Cartey's wide-ranging book on the
West Indies should be of special interest to educationalists in the
The Rastafari Movement In
20th July, 1960.
My dear Premier,
At the request of some prominent members of the Ras Tafari
brethren, three members of the U.C.W.I. staff, Roy Augier, Rex Nettle-
ford, and M. G. Smith, spent every day of two weeks with Ras Tafari
brethren, making a survey of the movement, its organisation and its
aspirations. They have produced a report, which I enclose herewith.
The team has made a number of recommendations, which require
urgent consideration. The movement is large, and in a state of great
unrest. Its problems require priority treatment.
Though the movement has no single leader, or group of leaders, it
is willing to produce a small group of prominent representatives to
discuss with the Government the recommendations contained in this
report. I very much hope that you may be able to arrange such a
meeting at the earliest possible opportunity.
(Sgd.) W A. Lewis,
Hon. N. W Manley
The aim of this study is to present a brief account of the growth.
doctrines, organisation, aspirations, needs and conditions of the Ras
Tafari movement in Jamaica, especially in Kingston, the capital. The
data presented here were collected during a rapid survey among the
Ras Tafari brethren of Kingston during the fortnight beginning on
July 4th, 1960. This survey arose out of letters written to the Principal
of the U.C.W.I., Professor Arthur Lewis, and to the Resident Tutor,
Extra-Mural Studies, Mr. Rex Nettleford, by members of the Ras Tafari
brethren living in Kingston. These letters asked the College to assist
the brethren in various ways, especially in the educational field, and
by publicising the truth about the brethren and their doctrine. In
view of these diverse requests, a meeting was arranged at which Pro-
fessor Lewis discussed the appeals with a number of brethren and offer-
ed to send a team of three faculty members to work among them for
a fortnight in order to determine the predominant needs of the brethren,
and to formulate a programme of action. Mr. Horace Gordon of the
Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, who helped to arrange this meet-
ing, acted as Chairman. By kind permission of the Rev. M. E. W
Sawyers, Chairman of the Jones Town Government School, the dis-
cussion took place there on Monday 4th July from 8.30 to 11.00 p.m.
The assembly having declared their support for the College survey, it
began the next morning.
This is not the first occasion on which the University College of the
West Indies has been involved in a study of the Ras Tafari movement.
In 1953 Professor George Eaton Simpson of Oberlin College, Ohio, U.S.A.
carried out a field study among four Ras Tafari groups In Kingston
under the sponsorship of the Institute of Social and Economic Research
U.C.W.I. In 1955 Professor Simpson published his findings in two
articles, "The Ras Tafari Movement in Jamaica: A Study of Race and
Class Conflict" (Social Forces, vol. 34, No. 2), and "Political Cultism in
West Kingston" (Social and Economic Studies, Vol. 4 No. 2) The
second of these articles which was published by the U.C.W.I. is the
more informative; but both essays concentrate on a thematic treatment
of Ras Tafari doctrine, descriptions of street meetings and worship,
paying little attention to the history, organisation of background of the
movement. As we shall see, the nature of the cult has changed quite
significantly since 1953, and Professor Simpson's account has to be
brought up to date. Simpson's early work enabled the present survey
to proceed far more rapidly and effectively than would have been
II. HISTORY OF THE MOVEMENT
During the 1920's, Jamaica knew two prophets. One of them, a
man called Bedward, attempted to fly to heaven, was tried and placed
in the mental hospital as a lunatic, dying there. Bedward left behind
him a settlement at August Town near the University College. The
other, and by far the more important prophet, was Marcus Garvey. who
founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the United
States, proclaimed black nationalism, and preached "Africa for the
Africans at home and abroad": "One God, one aim, one destiny."
Garvey sought to found a black state in Africa to which Negroes from
the Western world would be transported, and this was one of the objects
of the Black Star Line. This Line was a failure, but Garvey's message
was a success, and will continue to attract the support of black peoples
for generations to come. Only recently, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah placed
Garvey's symbol of the Black Star Line in the centre of the Ghana flag.
The Garvey message gave American Negroes a racial pride and strength
they sorely needed. Garvey's tradition continues among the Negroes of
Chicago, New York and similar Northern cities.
In 1927 Marcus Garvey was deported from the United States and
returned to his homeland, Jamaica, preaching his doctrine of black
racial pride and return to Africa. It seemed that he was a prophet
without honour in his own country The whites and browns disliked
the doctrine. The blacks found it rather onerous, for Garvey empha-
sised the virtues of thrift, hard work, perseverance and foresight, and
relied on his followers to pay their way to Africa by their own efforts.
Although he kept his headquarters in Jamaica until 1935, he made little
headway here. In 1929 he was imprisoned briefly for contempt of
court. He was elected to the K.S.A.C. in February 1930, but failed to
win a seat in the Legislative Council. In 1935 he left Jamaica for
England where he died in 1940.
The Jamaica to which Garvey returned must have seemed to him
not very different in its racial organisation from the American areas
with which he was familiar. Garvey is said to have told his people to
"Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of
deliverance is near." He is also said to have prophesied that his people
would be redeemed and returned to Africa in the 1960's, and according
to some people, in 1960.
Truth has two levels in social affairs. There are actual events, and
there are statements about actual events. Statements believed to be
true are often sociologically more important than those which are true.
What people believe or assert emphatically, represents a social force
which cannot be disposed of merely by denial. For the Ras Tafari
brethren today, Garvey is a major prophet, but his relationship with the
founders of the Ras Tafari movement between 1930 and 1935 remains
In November 1930, Ras Tafari was crowned as the Emperor Haile
Sellassie, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the conquering Lion of the
Tribe of Judah. The Daily Gleaner featured this coronation on the
front page of its issue of November 11th 1930. Some Jamaicans of a
Garveyite persuasion say that they then began to consult their Bibles.
Could this be he of whom Garvey spoke? A number of texts showed
that it was. Revelation 5: 2, 5 "And I saw a strong angel proclaim-
ing with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the Book, and to loose
the seals thereof? And one of the elders saith unto me. 'Weep not:
behold, the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open
the Book and to loose the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the
earth." Later, when the Italians invaded Ethiopia, Revelation 19: 19
was fulfilled "And I saw the Beast, and the kings of the earth, and
their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on
the horse, against his army." In 1941, with the Emperor's return to
Ethiopia, the succeeding verse was fulfilled "And the Beast was
taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before
him, with which he deceived them that had the mark of the Beast, and
them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a
lake of fire burning with brimstone."
The doctrine that Ras Tafari, known to the world as the Emperor
Haile Sellassie I of Ethiopia, is the Living God, was developed by
several persons independently. Of these Mr. Leonard P. Howell is
genuinely regarded as being the first to preach the divinity of Ras
Tafari in Kingston. Howell is said to have fought against King
Prempeh of Ashanti (1896), and claimed to speak an African language.
'The Promised Key' a basic Ras Tafari text, published in Accra, Ghana
around 1930. shows clear evidence of Jamaican authorship. (Jamaica
Times 28th May 19.8) Howell also spent several years in the north-
eastern U.S. where he came into contact with black and white racism.
Another early preacher was Mr. Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert. Mr.
Hibbert was born in Jamaica in 1894, but went with his adopted father
to Costa Rica in 1911, returning to Jamaica in 1931. In Costa Rica Mr
Hibbert had leased 28 acres, which he put in bananas. In 1924 he had
joined the Ancient Mystic Order of Ethiopia, a Masonic society the
constitution of which was revised in 1888, and which became incor-
porated in 1928 in Panama. Mr. Hibbert became a Master Mason of this
Order, and, returning to Jamaica, began to preach Haile Sellassie as
the King of Kings, the returned Messiah and the Redeemer of Israel.
This was at Benoah District, St. Andrew, from whence he moved to
Kingston to find Howell already preaching Ras Tafari as God at the
Mr. H. Archibald Dunkley is another man who may claim to have
brought the doctrine to Jamaica. Mr. Dunkley was a Jamaican seaman
on the Atlantic Fruit Company's boats, and finally quit the sea on the
8th December 1930, when he landed at Port Antonio off the s.s. St.
Mary. Coming to Kingston. Dunkley studied the Bible for two-and-a-
half years on his own, to determine whether Haile Sellassie was the
Messiah whom Garvey had prophesied. Ezekiel 30, I Timothy 6,
Revelation 17 and 19 and Isaiah 43 finally convinced him. In 1933
Dunkley opened his Mission, preaching Ras Tafari as the King of
Kings, the Root of David, the Son of the Living God, but not the Father
Himself. Other early preachers include Robert Hinds, who joined
Howell, and Altamont Read who turned his following over to one Mr.
Johnson when he became Mr. N. W Manley's bodyguard about 1940.
Another somewhat more secular stream was meanwhile developing
on the Kingston Dungle. There, Messrs. Paul Erlington, Vernal Davis,
Ferdinand Ricketts and others had been in the habit of discussing
Garvey's doctrines and the social conditions in Jamaica which justified
them. The emphasis of this group was on social reform in Jamaica as
well as migration to Africa. Remembering Garvey's words that when
a king is crowned in Africa the time is near they lent a willing ear
to the doctrines preached by Howell, Hibbert and Dunkley independent-
ly, and some time in 1934, under the influence of Robert Hinds, this
group recognized Haile Sellassie as the Living God.
The early Ras Tafari Missions originated and developed indepen-
dently. Dunkley's effort was the King of Kings Missionary Movement;
this had no headquarters, officers, or constitution. Dunkley confined
his preaching to Kingston. In 1932 Hibbert, on hearing Howell preach
at a street meeting in Kingston, asked for a brief spell on the plat-
form, after which Howell asked him to help him in Kingston as he,
Howell, was going to preach at Port Morant. Like Dunkley, Howell at
that time had no formal constitution, rules or account of his mission.
While Howell was in St. Thomas' Parish, Hibbert formed the body of
Howell's followers into a group called the Ethiopian Coptic Faith, with
a definite organisation, procedure, and rules. On returning from St.
Thomas, Howell rejected this order, removing its banner and member-
ship with him and leaving Hibbert to carry on alone. Hibbert con-
tinued preaching, and on one or two occasions Dunkley, whose ideas
had much in common with his. spoke on Hibbert's platform. With his
mystical orientation and Masonic discipline, Hibbert proceeded to
develop the Ethiopian Coptic Church on orderly lines, and for this
purpose had certain extracts from the Ethiopic Bible of St. Sosimas,
including the Ethiopia Dascalia (Apostolic Constitution) printed at his
own expenses by the Star Printery, Kingston, for the instruction of his
followers. Dunkley, who lacked this background, continued to base his
teaching on the King James version of the Bible.
The most successful early preacher was undoubtedly L. P Howell,
who moved between Kingston and Port Morant until 1940, with Robert
Hinds as his deputy in Kingston. He had the largest following and
was the most effective propagandist. On December 16th 1933 the Daily
Gleaner reported that Howell was selling photographs of the Emperor
in St. Thomas for one shilling each. (Daily Gleaner, 16/12/33, p.l.)
Informants say that about 5,000 postcardsize photographs were distri-
buted in this way, the purchasers being informed that this was their
passport to Ethiopia. On January 5ar 1934 the Daily Gleaner reported
Howell's arrest at Port Morant. His trial was well publicised in the
Daily Gleaner of 15th March 1934 (p. 20) and 17th March 1934 (p.6)
Howell was sent to gaol for two years for sedition.
On December 7th 1935 the Jamaica Times published an account of
the so-called Niyabingi Order in Ethiopia and the Congo 1. This was
just a few months after Italy had invaded Ethiopia. Both Ethiopia and
Haile Sellassie were in the news. According to the account in the Times,
the Ethiopian Emperor was head of the Niyabingi Order, the purpose
of which was the overthrow of white domination by racial war This
violent notes had already been struck by Howell, and Niyabingi was
defined in Jamaica as "Death to black and white oppressors." Some of
those people who worshipped the Emperor and were locally known as
'Ras Tafaris' or 'Rastamen' came to describe themselves as 'Niyamen' -
that is, members of Niyabingi. The Niyabingi commitment to racial
violence generalised the violence already preached by Howell.
The police were not slow to act. Besides arresting Howell, they
charged Dunkley with disorderly conduct while holding a meeting at
Bond Street and Spanish Town Road, Kingston, on September llth
1934. Shortly after this, Dunkley was sent to gaol for 30 days on a
similar charge at Morant Bay. On the 20th February 1935 he was
placed in the Half-Way-Tree lock-up and from there removed to the
Asylum, where he remained for five months and twenty-one days. J. N.
Hibbert was also arrested on three occasions in 1935; once in Port
Morant, where he had gone to correct Howell's doctrinal errors, and
twice in Kingston, being fined 30/- for disorderly conduct after appre-
hension on a charge of lunacy.
On his release from prison, Howell is said to have run a bakery and
occupied premises at 108 Princess Street, Oxford Street and the corner
of Luke Lane and Heywood Street. He established an organisation
known as 'The Ethiopian Salvation Society', which was said to be a
local branch of an American organisation. This Society was apparently
registered under the Friendly Societies Law. To quote Howell's defence
in a later trial:
"In May 1940 he purchased Pinnacle on behalf of the Society in
America for the branch in Jamaica. Apart from himself, over
five hundred members of the Society resided at Pinnacle. The
members did not pay any rent for living there. They burnt
coal and lime, and cultivated portions of the property, which
was a large one. The proceeds of this, after the Manager had
taken out a portion for food allowance and clothing, went to
the funds of the Society." (Daily Gleaner 25th August 1941,
Pinnacle, which is near Sligoville, was an abandoned estate when
Howell acquired it. Informants relate that he moved there with about
1,600 followers from Kingston and Port Morant. By the middle of 1941
the police were taking action against the Pinnacle community. The
Daily Gleaner of July 15th (p. 1), 16th (p. 16), 17th (p.1), 18th (p.1),
23rd (p. 9), 26th (p. 1), 29th (p. 14), 31st (p. 16), August 19th (p. 6) and
August 25th (p. 15) gave full reports of this action and its results. 70
Ras Tafari followers of Howell from more than 600 who lived at the
Pinnacle camp were arrested, mainly on charges of growing ganja and
violence. 28 of these were sent to prison. Howell evaded the police
for several days, but was found on July 25th 1941 and brought before
the court on 18th August that year, being convicted and sent to Spanish
Town Prison for two years. Howell was convicted on four charges of
assaulting people, not for growing ganja. Peasants settled on the
environs of Pinnacle complained that their holdings were subject to
raids from the Pinnacle community, and that they were often assaulted
when seeking to claim their own property. One deposition cited Howell
as saying, "I will give you ninety-six lashes, I will beat you and let you
know to pay no taxes. I am Haile Sellassie, neither you nor the
Government have any lands here." (Daily Gleaner, 31:7:41, p. 16).
The account of life at Pinnacle which is presented by these news-
paper reports corresponds closely with that given to us by Ras Tafari
brethren. Some brethren say that at Pinnacle, Howell represented him-
self as God and took the title of Gangungu Maraj or more familiarly.
Gong. He is said to have lived in a large house with thirteen wives or
concubines. His followers worked the estate under his direction: yam
was the main subsistence crop, and ganja (also known as marihuana,
hashish, Indian hemp, or simply 'the herb') was the main cash crop.
The trade in ganja is said to have been controlled. Howell is said to
have acquired property at Rollington Town. Kingston and in the parish
In 1943 Howell returned to Pinnacle after being released from
prison. His second administration seems to have been fairly similar to
the first. His guardsmen grew their locks and were referred to as
'Ethiopian warriors.' Savage dogs assisted the guards. Strangers
entering the estate gate were announced by beating on gongs. Howell
paid the taxes on Pinnacle himself, redistributing the plots among his
followers as he thought fit. By all accounts, Pinnacle seems to have
been rather more like an old Maroon settlement than part of Jamaica.
Its internal administration was Howell's business, not Government's. It
is therefore understandable that the unit could have persisted as a state
within a state for several years without the people or Government of
Jamaica being aware of it. Howell's men continued to raid their
neighbours around Pinnacle, but lacking protection, these people kept
silent. From 1933 Howell had been preaching violence, and apparently
at Pinnacle this doctrine and body of attitudes took definite form. In
1954 the police finally broke up the settlement, after accumulating
evidence that ganja was being grown there on a large scale. 163 persons
were said to have been arrested, including Howell; but the latter was
acquitted with three lieutenants on appeal. Thereafter he remained in
Kingston, discredited among the brethren because he had made claims
to divinity, and early this year he was confined to the Mental Hospital.
From the earliest days, many Ras Tafari brethren had worn beards
and let their hair grow, because of Ezekiel 5 and other Scriptures. Up
at Pinnacle a further development occurred, probably after photographs
of Somali, Masai, Galla and other tribes in or near the Ethiopian
border had become current. This was the plaiting of long hair by men
known as the 'men of dreadlocks' or simply 'locksmen.' These men of
dreadlocks were the Ethiopian Warriors and the self-declared Niyamen.
Numbers 6: i, ii, v provides the Biblical basis for this practice. "And
the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: 'Speak unto the children of Israel
and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate them-
selves to vow the vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the
Lord all the days if the vow of the separation there shall no razor
come upon his head: until the days he fulfilled in the which he
separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy and shall let the
locks of the hair of his head grow." According to informants, the
men of Dreadlocks first began to appear in Kingston round about 1947.
Meanwhile other developments had taken place. In 1937 the
Emperor Haile Selassie empowered Dr. Malaku E. Bayen, who later
edited The March of Black Men: Ethiopia Leads (Voice of Ethiopia
Press, New York, U.S.A., 1939) to establish the Ethiopian World Federa-
tion Inc. This organisation came into being on August 25th, 1937 in
New York City, with the purpose set out in the following preamble-
"We, the Black Peoples of the World, in order to effect Unity, Solidarity,
Liberty, Freedom and self-determination, to secure Justice and maintain
the Integrity of Ethiopia, which is our divine heritage, do hereby
establish and ordain this constitution for the Ethiopian World Federa-
tion Inc." (The Constitution and By-Laws of the Ethiopian World
Federation, 1937, p. 4) The Constitution and By-Laws is, as one would
expect, a very careful and businesslike document, having articles which
deal with aims and objects, membership, international officers and their
duties, conventions, elections, meetings, local branches, their establish-
ment and organisation, committees, impeachments of officers, units,
benefits, amendments, order of business, etc. The document runs to
30 pages. The first Local was established in New York by Dr. Bayen
in 1937. The first Local to be established in Jamaica was Local 17,
which Paul Erlington set up in August 1938 with one Mr. Mantle as its
first president, and Erlington as Vice-President. Hibbert, Dunkley and
those adherents of the Ras Tafari doctrine other than Howell's
supporters were foundation members of this Local, which quickly
became dormant. The third President, Mr. C. P Jackson, was dismissed
for contempt of the members. Miss Green, his successor, whose appoint-
ment was a compromise between rivals, soon removed herself together
with the Charter of the Local.
Local 17 having died, Local 31 was then established with Mr.
William Powell as its first President. This was in 1942. Disputes about
leadership and operations continued until Mr Cecil Gordon assumed
the Presidency, which he then held for a number of years. Paul
Erlington had gone to America during this period, and his early
colleagues, Vernal Davis and Ricketts, who joined Local 31, soon got
into difficulties with its leaders.
Meanwhile the doctrine was spreading and a number of less formal
groups emerged, some of which were the Ethiopian Coptic Church, the
United Ethiopian Body, under Brothers Claudius Stewart and Joseph
Myers, the United Afro-West Indian Brotherhood under Mr. Rafael
Downer, the Ethiopian Youth Cosmic Faith under Brother Edie, who
has since gone to England, the African Cultural League, and the Brother-
hood Solidarity of United Ethiopians (B.S.U.E.), linked to the local
Ethiopian World Federation movement loosely, if at all. J. N. Hibbert
had established in 1941 a local branch of the Ethiopian Mystic Masons,
which was closely connected with his Ethiopian Coptic Church. By
1944 this branch had become dormant, due to the emigration of its
members to Panama. Many other small groups which had sprung up
in the movement in this period suffered a similar fate. In 1953 Simpson
estimated that there were twelve groups of Ras Tafari brethren in
Kingston, having memberships ranging between 20 and 150. He noted
that at that time the public seemed to have little interest in or overt
resentment of the brethren, who were none the less regarded with
contempt and disgust, especially the locksmen. Police interference was
negligible, except for periodic ganja raids.
III. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
In 1953 when Professor George Simpson studied the Ras Tafari
brethren in Kingston, the various groups operated independently and
attracted little public notice; but the Ras Tafari movement as a whole
was on the verge of important developments. Pinnacle was raided in
1954, and the increase in the number of dreadlocks men in Kingston
dates from then. 1955 saw a very large expansion of the activities of
the Ethiopian World Federation in Jamaica. The commencement of
large scale emigration to Britain, the decline of revivalism in Jamaica.
and the activities of the political parties, all gave a fillip to the move-
ment, which has since grown very rapidly
In 1954 the police invaded Pinnacle and many of Howell's followers
went to gaol. Others scattered, some to Kingston, others to Vere or
other parts of the country. The number of locksmen in Kingston in-
creased at this time. Howell, a broken force as far as the Ras Tafari
brethren were concerned, ceased to be a leader. The country had been
alerted to the scale of ganja production, and in 1957 the Government
denied the special privileges claimed by the Maroons of Accompong after
a well publicised lawsuit, involving ganja cultivation. Colonel Michelin,
then Commissioner of Police, ordered several drives against ganja
cultivation and traffic. The number of prison sentences on these
grounds increased sharply. Since the Ras Tafari brethren were known
to praise and esteem ganja, they were an obvious target for these raids.
Bad blood increased between the brethren and the police. From 1954,
police had acted against bands of locksmen in Kingston; one group of
18 was arrested, charged with contempt of Court, then with rioting,
and finally with assembling with a view to rioting. Twelve of these
were sent to gaol for fifteen months each. In the same year another
group of 32 locksmen were arrested at North Street while marching
with banner and Bible, demanding freedom. (Daily Gleaner, 17.4.54,
p. 1). Clearly, the break-up of Pinnacle was linked with this sudden
appearance of marching bands of locksmen in Kingston. The police,
after their experience of Pinnacle, may have assumed that groups of
locksmen were of Howell's persuasion, bent on trouble. Perhaps for
this reason the police were quick to act before trouble broke out. They
are also said to have shaved and beaten locksmen accosted in these
In 1955 Mrs. Maymie Richardson came to Jamaica on behalf of the
headquarters of the Ethiopian World Federation Inc. to expound its
doctrine and organise further Locals. There was a rush of informal
groups into the E.W.F and shortly afterwards Locals 27, 11, 37, 32, 33,
19, 40, 41, 43 and 77 were established, most of these receiving their
Charter during November 1955. Local 11 at Rock Hall, St. Andrew,
Local 32 at Montego Bay and Local 25 at Spanish Town are the only
branches outside of Kingston. Only two Locals, numbers 19 under
Cecil G. Gordon, and 31 are registered with Government. Gordon had
left Local 31 to establish 19 when Mrs. Richardson came. Unregistered
Locals are loosely attached to those recognized by Government. Downer's
United Afro-West Indian Brotherhood became Local 7 in 1955, and
Hibbert's Ethiopian Coptic Church became Local 27. The B.S.U.E. and
the African Cultural League joined together to form Local 37. After
Brother Edie had left for England, members of the Ethiopian Youth
Cosmic Faith moved into Locals 7 and 33. H. Archibald Dunkley, on a
prophetic interpretation of the Scriptures, acquired the Charter for
Local 77 and wound up the King of Kings Mission and that Local forth-
with. Local 40 came to grief when the man who had paid more than
half of the establishment and members' dues found that a rival intend-
ed to collect the Charter and pass it on to one of the leaders of the
Marxist People's Freedom Movement. He quickly confiscated the
Charter, and the Local never met again. Local 41 consists of women
only. Mr. Cecil Gordon, the President of Local 19, visited the United
States in 1956 for the 17th Annual Convention of the E.W.F. Inc., and
returned as Second International Vice-President for the Caribbean.
Mr. R. R. I. Maclean and Mr. Lloyd Brooks, the President of Local 13,
are both Deputy International Organisers and Officers of the New York
headquarters. Certain groups already established such as the Ethiopian
Body continued to remain aloof from the Federation, split, and develop-
ed their own branch organizations. Other groups, such as the United
Afro-West Indian Brotherhood, continue to function as Missions in St.
Ann's Bay and Montego Bay, and Local 32 came into being in this way.
Many more Ras Tafari brethren were still unaffiliated to organizations
of any sort. Some members of E.W.F Locals established their own
movements while remaining affiliated to their Local; thus, the United
African Nationalist Movement is headed by certain members of Local
37 and represents a Missionary effort to recruit adherents ostensibly
for enrolment in the E.W.F branches.
In 1955 the Jamaican migration to Britain assumed major propor-
tions (G. W Roberts and D. O. Mills, 1958, "Study of External Migration
Affecting Jamaica 1953-55"; Social & Economic Studies Vol. 7, No. 2,
p. 45), and in the same year the executive of the Ethiopian World
Federation Inc. at 151 Lenon Avenue, New York 27, wrote to the Execu-
tive Committee of Local 31, informing them that the Emperor Haile
Sellassie I had granted "500 acres of very fertile and rich land
through the Ethiopian World Federation Inc., to the Black People of
the West, who aided Ethiopia during her period of distress." With the
migration to Britain underway, and the opportunity for migration to
Ethiopia apparently open, the Messianic cult which Professor Simpson
had studied in 1953 became a full-blown belief in mass migration.
In June 1955 one of the writers visited St. Elizabeth to carry out a
survey of labour and employment conditions. All households in a given
area were to be enumerated. Almost to a man, the people interviewed
regarded the survey as a census by Government of all those who wanted
to go to Africa. With the rapid increase of emigration to Britain, the
movement to Africa was also in the air.
In 1955 Mr. Branford of Trench Town, Kingston is said to have
approached certain City merchants, asking for clothes in which to go
to Ethiopia. He had dreamed that the Emperor told him to prepare
and proceed to Palisadoes Airport, Kingston, where aircraft were await-
ing him and his followers. In late 1955 and 1956 other groups went to
the various Kingston piers after receiving similar messages, and sought
passages on boats. Garvey is reported to have said that No. 1 Pier and
No. 2 Pier and Victoria Pier would be filled with boats waiting to take
the people back to Africa. Ghana was just becoming independent.
Liberia was said to be inviting West Indian immigrants. The Emperor
himself had authorised the Ethiopian World Federation Inc., New York
to organise black settlers to occupy lands which he had personally made
available from his own estate in Ethiopia.
We have now to go back a few years to introduce a musical note.
Until 1930, Revivalism (pocomania and Zion) had a ritual monopoly
among the Jamaican folk, rural and urban. This cult, described by
Professor George Simpson (Geo. E. Simpson 1956 "Jamaican Revivalist
Cults" Social & Economic Studies, Vol. 5. No. 4. pp.' 321- 442) was
frankly polytheistic and stressed an autocratic leadership of small com-
peting groups. Revival, which spread throughout Jamaica after the
Great Revival of 1861, had displaced earlier tribal cults, only one of
which, the Cumina of St. Thomas and West Kingston, still retains its
original form. (Jos. G. Moore & Geo. E. Simpson, "A Comparative Study
of Acculturation in Morant Bay & West Kingston" Zaire 1957 Nos.
9-10 pp 979-1019 and 1958 No. 1, pp 65-87 Belgium). Like Cumina,
Revival stressed spirit possession and sought this through the dance
and the drums. Working with the Ras Tafari and Revival groups in
Kingston in 1953, Simpson was especially impressed by their differences,
and summarised these as follows:
"All of these cults draw their members from the economical-
ly depressed, uneducated lower class of Jamaica. Revivalists
and Rastafarians are bitter enemies, and have nothing but con-
tempt for one another. We have referred earlier to the
authoritarianism of Revivalist cults and the democracy of the
Ras Tafari movement. Spirit possession, a prominent feature
of Revivalist meetings, never occurs in a Ras Tafari gathering.
Witchcraft and healing, exceedingly important activities in
both Revivalist bands, are not practiced by the Rasta people.
In the four Ras Tafari groups I observed, the ubiquitous drums
of the Revivalists were replaced by rhumba-boxes. Otherwise
the musical instruments were much the same, consisting mainly
of rattles and tambourines. (Geo. E. Simpson, 1955, "The Ras
Tafari Movement in Jamaica: A Study of Race and Class
conflict." Social Forces, Vol. 34. No. 2, p. 169)
Simpson's studies occurred on the eve of major changes in Jamaican
folk religion. Since 1953 Revival or pocomania has steadily lost ground
before expanding American Protestant missions, especially the Church
of God movement financed originally from the United States. Where
there were many flourishing pocomania tabernacles in Kingston, there
are now relatively few. Those people who originally practised or preach-
ed Revival have either joined the Church of God, lost faith, moved
elsewhere, or drifted in the direction of the monotheistic multi-sided
Ras Tafari creed.
One of the older Jamaican musical forms was burra. Burra may
have come from the same religious stratum as the Cumina dance:
since 1930 it has been mainly confined to the slum areas of Kingston.
Burra has three distinctive drums known as the bass, funcde and
repeater. All are double-membraned drums, the bass being the largest
and the funde and repeater being small drums of similar size. The
repeater, which is the treble drum, has a tight membrane while that
of the funde is slack. The repeater plays the melody, the bass gives
the rhythm and the funde syncopates. Cumina and the Big Drum or
Nation Dance of the South Caribbean also use three drums of a similar
In Kingston the burra drums were used for secular dances on
holidays but they also had a more specialised function. It was the
custom of slum dwellers in the early thirties to welcome discharged
prisoners back to their communities by burra drums and dances on the
night of their return. Only those who knew the purpose of such a
dance would normally join it. Throughout this period no drums were
used at Ras Tafari meetings, although Ras Tafari members would often
attend these burra dances. With the collapse of Revival in Kingston
and the dispersal of Howell's following from Pinnacle, the increase of
ganja prosecutions and the police action against Locksmen especially,
a new development took place. Many criminals professed the cult and
adopted the beard for professional purposes. Of these the late Woppy
King who was executed for rape and murder is merely the best-known.
Many Ras Tafari brethren became habituated to crime through associa-
tion with hardened criminals after long sentences in gaol or ganja
charges. Those brethren whose avoidance of ganja and locks kept
them clear of the police progressively disassociated themselves from the
Locksmen among whom the criminals moved more freely. The old burra
dance by which discharged prisoners were reintegrated with their slum
communities was taken over into the Ras Tafari movement by Locksmen.
The burra drums became known as akete drums and the old burra dance
was replaced by the Niyabingi dance. The criminal commitment to
violence and disorder reinforced the Niyabingi doctrine of "Death to
white oppressors and their black allies." Anti-social behaviour became
a positive goal for some and a mark of pride of race for others. As more
people, including old Revival Shepherds, left pocomania for Ras Tafari,
emphasis on drumming increased, and with it the Niyabingi sub-cult
of violence. Thus criminality got a foothold within the Ras Tafari
movement. The more obvious this seemed to the police, the greater
was their 'persecution', and the greater the number of convictions, the
more rapid the growth of this element. Its expansion took place at the
expense of the more reasonable and orderly section of the Ras Tafari
In March 1958 Prince Edward C. Edwards held a 'Convention' of Ras
Tafari brethren at Kingston Pen adjoining Back o' Wall. Handbills
had been circulated in advance announcing this Convention. Some
brethren from as far afield as Montego Bay sold their belongings and
giving away the proceeds came to Kingston in the firm belief that at
the end of the Convention they would embark for Africa. The Con-
vention was reported in the Jamaica Times (March 8, 1958, pp. 1 and 14)
Eyewitnesses relate that a large number of old car and tractor tyres
were collected at Prince Edward's establishment behind the Tivoli
Cinema, that H.E. the Governor, Sir Kenneth Blackburne, visited
Edwards' premises before the Convention opened, and that speeches
made by young and old on the platform before the assembly consisted
of streams of filthy language, which is perfectly in order among some
brethren, who hold that no words are bad in themselves. Nightly
dances to the akete drums were held around fires .fuelled with the
collected tyres. Some witnesses indicate that there were guards,
"soldiers" and the like policing the place. The Niyabingi dance and
theme were publicised through these gatherings, which lasted for 21
days. On one occasion units of the Kingston Fire Brigade were called
on to put out the fires which had become threatening. They did this
with considerable enthusiasm, dousing the environs at the same time.
Thereafter there were no fires. One morning at about 4 a.m. an
assembly of Ras Tafari brethren moved in a body to the Parade known
as Victoria Park shouting their intention to capture it. On receiving
news of this, the police moved to meet them. and after some fighting
the Park was cleared.
The Convention, which had apparently attracted three thousand
people (Jamaica Times, 8th March 1958, p. 1) many of whom were Locks-
men, seems to have ended without anyone embarking for Africa. Those
who had disposed of their property in this belief were ashamed to return
to their communities.
Prince Edward's convention marks the decisive point in the
deterioration of relations between the Government and the public on
the one hand, and the Ras Tafari movement on the other. The anti-
social elements so heavily emphasised during those three weeks were
perhaps irrevocable. During the latter part of 1958 two cases occurred
at Trench Town, Kingston in which Ras Tafari men were said to have
thrown children into the fire as sacrifices.
The cult of criminality and violence increased steadily within the
movement. Its moderate wing lost control, and a fair number of E.W.F
Locals became dormant. The news of Haile Sellassie's land grant
spread like a rumour, unverified, irrefutable. The executive of Local 19,
who held the letter, did little to publicise the facts. The moderate wing
were sharply divided among themselves on doctrinal and personal
In the early part of 1959 the Rev. Claudius Henry, a Jamaican who
had been in America for some years, established the Seventh Emmanuel
Brethren, shortly to be followed by the African Reform Church, after a
brief and unsuccessful association with the Ethiopian World Federation,
the local head of which, Mr. Cecil G. Gordon, published a letter in the
"Star" (April-May 1959) disclaiming association with Henry. During
the summer of 1959 several thousand cards bearing the following state-
ment were distributed:
Pioneering Israel's scattered Children of African Origin
back home to Africa, this year 1959, deadline date Oct. 5th, this
new Government is God's Righteous Kingdom of Everlasting
Peace on Earth, "Creation's Second Birth." Holder of this
Certificate is requested to visit the Headquarters at 78 Rosalie
Ave., off Waltham Park Road, August 1st 1959, for Our Eman-
cipation Jubilee commencing 9 a.m. sharp. Please preserve this
Certificate for removal. No passport will be necessary for those
returning home to Africa. Bring this Certificate with you on
August 1st, for "Identification" We are sincerely, "The Seventh
Emmanuel's Brethren" gathering Israel's Scattered Children for
removal, with our Leader, God's Appointed and Anointed
Prophet, Rev. C. V Henry, R.B.
Given this 2nd day of March 1959, in the year of the reign
of His Imperial Majesty, 1st Emperor of Ethiopia, "God's Elect"
Haile Sellassie. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. "Israel's
Informants say that about 15,000 tickets were distributed at 1/- each
although marked "Free" and that many people sold their possessions
and came to Kingston in the expectation that they would proceed to
On the morning of May 7th, 1959 a dispute occurred at the Corona-
tion Market, Spanish Town Road, Kingston, between a bearded Ras
Tafari gate-keeper and a non-Ras Tafari market policeman, both
employees of the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation. According to
informants, the policeman was quickly assisted by other policemen and
the Ras Tafari was severely drubbed in public. According to the
brethren, the market vendors, who knew and were friendly to the beaten
man, proceeded to stone his assailants with vegetables and anything
they could lay hands on. In a short time a police van arrived with
men. The vendors, say the Ras Tafari, proceeded to batter the police
and set the van on fire. A Fire Brigade lorry then turned up and this
in turn was set alight. More police arrived and there was a general
melee at the end of which the police were fully in control and are said
to have proceeded to the Back o' Wall area where many Ras Tafari live
and there they wreaked vengeance. Some brethren had their houses
broken up, about 57 were arrested, a fair number of beatings are alleged
to have taken place, and many Locksmen were forcibly shaved. Accord-
ing to the Ras Tafari brethren, the original riot at the Coronation
Market occurred between the police and the public there, and did not
involve them. The judicial sentences passed on apprehended Ras
Tafari merely confirmed the Leftist interpretation that this Government
was a 'Fascist' agent of imperialist capital. Dr. Fidel Castro's successes
in Cuba gained local significance. The general public who are quite
out of sympathy with the Ras Tafari seem to have ranged themselves
on the side of Government and the police.
On July 28th 1959 the fourth Jamaican General Election was held.
This was the fourth time that the P.N.P. and the J.L.P. confronted one
another. On their last meeting at the Federal Elections of March 1958,
the J.L.P. won handsomely, and it was therefore of special importance
to the People's National Party that they should recover the lost ground
in July 1959. Many Ras Tafari brethren refused to take part in this
election, whether registered as voters or not. They held the view that
neither party represented them, and both would only treat them harshly.
One Ras Tafari man from Back o' Wall told us that on Election Day a
mob of local residents who supported the People's National Party
attacked his house and broke it up. He showed us the site where the
house had stood. He said he complained to a policeman, who replied
that there was nothing that he could do, perhaps because squatters
have no rights on this land, and may be legally unable to claim com-
pensation for damage to their property. Such incidents were inter-
preted by the Ras Tafari brethren as further proof of collusion between
the P.N.P and the Police, denial of human rights, and 'Fascist'
Some Ras Tafari brethren, in explaining their lack of confidence
in the political parties, repeat the story that agents of the People's
National Party at this election promised spokesmen of the Ras Tafari
movement repatriation to Africa if the latter voted for the People's
National Party and this Party was returned to power. P.N.P. spokesmen
assert that this story is a complete fabrication, but, as we have remark-
ed before, beliefs are equally effective whether they are based on fact
or not. Clearly such allegations are politically profitable to those
persons interested in discrediting the People's National Party, and to
others who are interested in discrediting both parties, and the two-
party system with them. One aspect of the record of the Ras Tafari
movement as set out here is a record of disturbances, cumulatively in-
creasing. It is perfectly clear that this increase will continue until
some positive action is taken to meet their reasonable demands. From
Howell's day to Prince Edward's Convention and from the latter to the
African Reform Church movement and the events of June 1960 are
quite small steps. It would be a pity if either Party failed in its duty
to the Jamaican people and the Ras Tafari brethren at this time. It
would also be disastrous.
If the declared Ras Tafari brethren in Kingston are estimated at
between ten and fifteen thousands, the undeclared but closely integrated
sympathisers may be an equal number, and the sum of these two may
be somewhat less than the numbers of people in Kingston who might
take the side of the Ras Tafari brethren if circumstances seemed
favourable. Since many Ras Tafari brethren are beardless, and live
dispersed through the City, the actual strength of the movement is hard
to estimate, while its penetration among the disaffected urban lower
class is correspondingly easy. The only effective opposition in this
stratum may come from well-paid Unionised labour, for whom the
present arrangements may seem satisfactory; but in our opinion this
section has doubtful loyalty to either Party or to the present social and
IV. THE DOCTRINES OF THE MOVEMENT
From the history which has been presented in the preceding
chapter, the reader may readily deduce that Rastafari brethren are a
very heterogeneous group. Rastafarians hold in common only two
beliefs: that Ras Tafari is the living God, and that salvation can come
to black men only through repatriation to Africa. On all other matters
the opinions of the brethren vary as widely as the opinions of the rest
of the population. Some wear beards, others do not; and only a small
minority wear the locks. Some are men of the highest moral fibre,
while at the other extreme are men of crime and violence. Some smoke
ganja; others abhor it. Some are excellent workmen, while others avoid
work. In all matters except two, the divinity of Ras Tafari and the
necessity of repatriation, Ras Tafarians are a random group.
They are also very disorganised, and lacking in leadership. Probably
the great majority are not attached to any of the many organizations
which give themselves names and lists of officers. There is no leader
or group of leaders who can speak for the movement as a whole or
define its doctrines.
The following description of attitudes to various matters must
therefore essentially take the form of "some say this, others say that."
This in itself may help to clarify public misconceptions.
The Divinity of Ras Tafari
All brethren agree that the Emperor Haile Sellassie is the Living
God, the Returned Messiah and the Representative of God the Father.
The name 'Sellassie' means 'Power of the Trinity'; Ras was the
Emperor's title before his coronation in 1930: Tafari is a personal name
of the Emperor Halle Sellassie before his coronation. Many brethren
nowadays refer to the Emperor only as Haile Sellassie, arguing that
after his elevation to the throne, the use of his former title would be
incorrect. Proverbs 22, Isaiah 43 and John 16 ("For I am in the Father
and the Father is in Me") shows that Ras Tafari is the Living God,
Old Alpha, the Lion of Judah invincible and visible, the Redeemer of
Israel, who are the black race. A full-length photograph in the
Illustrated London News of Saturday 11th January 1936 shows the
Emperor standing with his right foot on an unexploded Italian bomb.
This illustrated his invincibility. Photographs of the Emperor defend-
ing Ethiopia against the Italians. and such publications as "The March
of Black Men Ethiopia Leads." support his role as the champion of
the black race.
Beyond this point, the religious beliefs of Ras Tafarian brethren
diverge widely. Here is an account of one extreme.
(The account which follows is that which is taught by some
deeply religious men, who derive from the Bible well defined views on
the role of the Black Man in the divine purpose.)
The Creed of a Ras Tafari Man
The black race are the true Israelites, the House of David, and the
Emperor, the Lion of Judah, descended from King Solomon and the
Queen of Sheba, is their true head. Those Jews whom Hitler and the
Nazis exterminated were merely false Jews of whom the Scripture has
said, "Woe unto them that call themselves Israel and they are not."
God is black (Jeremiah 8), Haile Sellassie is black, Solomon and Sheba
were black, and so are the true Israelites. The white men have wor-
shipped a dead God, and have taught black men to do likewise. The
white man's God is really Pope John XXIII, Pope Plus's successor, the
head of the Ku-Klux-Klan. The Emperor, who as God controls the
world and its future, is head of the Nya-Binghi who are champions of
the good in the fight against Babylon (Rev. 19) and its defenders, the
Ku-Klux-Klan, who are evil.
The Bible contains the Word of God, but Scripture shows that half
of this has not been written save in your hearts. King James I of
Britain, a white man, translated the Bible, distorting and confusing its
message; but to those who, by virtue of Ras Tafari's divine power, have
been given inspiration and prophetic insight, the false passages put in
by the white man for his own purposes are easily detected, and accord-
ingly Ras Tafari brethren treat the Bible carefully, using only that part
which they regard as the true Word of God. (Psalms 18, 21, 29, 48, 87,
137; Genesis 18; Numbers 6; Leviticus 11, 21; Deuteronomy 16; Isaiah
11, 43; Jeremiah 23, 8; Malachi 1; Hebrews 11; I Corinthians 4; I Timothy
6; I John 4; 2 Thessallonians 3; Ezekiel 5, 13, 23; Revelations 13, 15, 17,
18, 19, 22). These passages, together with the Ten Commandments,
define the principal behaviour, prohibitions and observances of the
brethren. But before itemising these we should define the racial
polarities intrinsic to this doctrine.
The black race, having sinned, was punished by God their Father.
Punishment was meted out in the form of slavery, conquest, and control
by the white man. The four pirates, John Hawkins, Cecil Rhodes,
Livingstone and Grant brought the Africans to the Western world as
slaves under Elizabeth I, who has been reincarnated as Elizabeth II.
Her former beloved Philip of Spain, has also been reincarnated as her
present husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The golden sceptre which
belonged to the House of Judah in Ethiopia and which carried with it
the dominion of the world was stolen from Ethiopia by Rome which
then had world empire and from Rome by Britain which inherited
the Roman power. On the coronation of Haile Sellassie I in November
1930, King George V of Britain sent his son, the Duke of Gloucester, with
this sceptre as a gift to the Emperor The Duke of Gloucester, who is
said to have succeeded George V as Edward VIII, while in Ethiopia
wandered off into the bush, eating grass, thereby revealing himself as
the reincarnated Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. The Emperor
Haile Sellassie, receiving the sceptre, simultaneously recovered the
symbol of Ethiopian world power. In return, he is said to have given
the Duke of Gloucester a small emblem for King George V When the
Duke returned to Britain and handed this to his father, the latter is said
to have been stricken with paralysis and to have died shortly after,
although it was some months before this fact was announced to the
British public. The Duke of Gloucester then became King and, to fulfil
prophecies, abdicated, knowing that he shall resume the throne after
the reincarnated Elizabeth I to rule as the last King of Babylon and to
witness its utter defeat. This is clearly apocalyptic, the Messiah being
the Emperor and the instrument chosen for the destruction of Babylon
being the Bear with three ribs (Rev. 13), that is Russia, which "will
come to stamp up the residue thereof so that Babylon shall be a
desolation among the nations."
Babylon really covers the Western world. Extreme racialists include
Russia but many do not. In its local form, Babylon is explicitly repre-
sented by the Government, the Police and the Church. Ministers are
Antichrists and preach Antichrist. They are the agents for the mental
enslavement of the black man. Their most vicious representatives are
black priests, the oppressive allies of the white man. Both the white
and black oppressors shall suffer the same fate. The original God of
the white man was Adam-Abraham, the leper, Anglo-Saxon blood-
sucker and slave-master. Pope John has inherited his role. All white
men are evil, all coloured men are evil, some extreme racialists say all
yellow men are evil; some black men are positively evil these are the
allies of the white oppressors. Others live in sin, not knowing that
Ras Tafari is the Living God. These mental slaves nonetheless are
Ethiopians who will be redeemed by the work of the Church Triumphant,
which is the Ras Tafari brethren, and will be brought back to their
own vine and fig-tree in Ethiopia. Recent events in the Belgian Congo
prove the truth of Garvey's prophecy that 1960 is the year of redemp-
tion, and herald the future of the white man. The massacre of black
men by the white South Africans at Sharpeville in April this year is
merely the latest well-known example of how the white treat the black.
This shall be repaid in kind. The worst people in Jamaica are the
priests, the police and the false prophets who form the Government.
Sir Alexander Bustamante and Mr. Norman Manley have shown them-
selves to be agents of the imperialists, merely concerned to facilitate
Zion is "on the side of the North, the City of the Great King"
(Psalm 48) It is known to the uninstructed as Addis Ababa. Ethiopia
is the prepared place for Israel, the heaven of the black man, just as
Europe is the heaven of the white man and China is heaven for the
yellow man. Long ago the entire continent of Africa was known as
Ethiopia, the white man called it Africa and carved his empires within
it. Now these empires have crumbled. Africa is almost free. South,
East and Central Africa are the last white strongholds but these shall
surely fall quite soon. The complete collapse of white dominion in
Africa is the direct effect of Haile Sellassie's will and word. This proves
he is the Messiah, presently redeeming his people. "Africa for the
Africans at home and abroad" "One God, one Aim, one Destiny";
this proves that Marcus Garvey was a major prophet whose words are
presently being fulfilled. It also assures the brethren that most black
Jamaicans will soon accept their doctrine.
Jamaica was a nice island, but the land has been polluted by
centuries of crime. For 304 years, beginning in 1655, the white man
and his brown ally have held the black man in slavery. During this
period, countless horrible crimes have been committed daily. Jamaica
is literally Hell for the black man, just as Ethiopia is literally Heaven.
Long ago pirates spoke of it as Mount Africa, the slave mart. This it
still is. Although physical slavery was abolished in 1838 and Queen
Victoria gave 20,000,000 to the island of which 14.25 million were
earmarked for the repatriation of the black slaves to Africa, none of
them or their descendants have ever been sent back. Instead, the
Jamaican Government is forcing people to go to Britain, where their
slavery will continue.
Black men are Ethiopians. Many do not know this. The brethren
do, and claim an Ethiopian nationality, as the United Nations charter
in its very first paragraph and in Clause 15 entitles them to do. "Every-
one is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declara-
tion, without distinction of any kind No distinction shall be made
for the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country
to which the individual belongs, whether it be independent, trustee, non
self-governing or under any other limitations of sovereignty." (United
Nations Charter). Brethren interpret this to mean that they individual-
ly can claim and are fully entitled to Ethiopian nationality It is
obvious that such claims require ratification by the Ethiopian Govern-
ment on an individual basis, but there are many statements, such as
that in the preamble to the Ethiopian World Federation Inc., which
states that "Ethiopia is the divine heritage of the black people of the
world" that can be cited as evidence of the Emperor's grant of national
status. The important point is that this claim for Ethiopian nationality
expresses a positive rejection of Jamaican citizenship and national
status. Insistence on this Ethiopian claim is the measure of alienation
from Jamaica. Only when the issue is pressed can we fully appreciate
the intensity and depth of this alienation: and only when we examine
the historical and contemporary context of this movement and its
devotees can we understand the causes and conditions of this alienation.
It follows that the Ras Tafari brethren do not regard the Jamaican
Government as their government. The true believers or extremists
refuse to vote. To them, the two-Party system of which Jamaica is so
proud is utterly discredited, and there is some fervent admiration for a
one-Party state such as Egypt, Czechoslovakia. Russia or China. The
Jamaican Government is regarded as the lackey of the British Govern-
ment, since Jamaica, despite all its recent constitutional changes.
remains a colony, is defended by British soldiers, and inspected by the
Colonial Secretary, Mr. Ian Macleod. The only true Government is the
theocratic government of Emperor Haile Sellassie I, the King of Kings
and Lord of Lords. The Communist system is far preferable to the
present capitalist system of the white and brown Babylonians. Dr
Fidel Castro is showing what can be done in Cuba, but for sixteen years
Jamaicans have used their control of government merely to perpetuate
and intensify slavery
The only thing which will satisfy the true brethren is repatriation
to Ethiopia. The Emperor has provided land for the black peoples of
the West, especially for his worshippers. The Jamaican Government
has refused to let the people go, since it wants to keep them in slavery
But as Marcus Garvey said, 1960 (or the '60s) is the time for redemption.
If nothing is done, "Watutsi war dance going play here," even though
the true believers will never use violence, since their doctrines and laws
emphasise redemption by Peace and Love and their ruler is the Prince
From these basic doctrines and orientations all the specific symbols
and practices follow. The Ethiopian flag of green, yellow, red, is the
flag of the Ras Tafari movement. Green represents the pastures of
Africa, yellow represents the wealth of that land, red the Church
Triumphant. Some flags, such as the Ghana flag, may also have a
black star; this is not usual, but where found, the black stands for black
supremacy as well as for Marcus Garvey's Back to Africa movement.
The Emperor's photograph is always present; brethren often carry it
around with them, together with pompoms or scarves of green, yellow
and red which identify them. Beards and long hair are enjoined on
men (Numbers 6, Leviticus 21); it is sin to shave or cut the hair. It is
sin to touch the dead since Jesus said "Let the dead bury their dead."
It is sin for black women to straighten their hair or for women to use
cosmetics. Corinthians 1: iv says that women must always have their
heads covered. Marriage in a church is regarded as sinful, not merely
because the church is a Babylonian device, but because it is written,
"Whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder" and it seems
well understood that couples often separate. Concubinage is prescribed
in the monogamous form, the 'wife' being called a Queen and being
treated with great respect. Alcohol is forbidden, together with gambl-
ing. Wine may be drunk in small quantities. It is forbidden to co-
operate with any Government except that of Ethiopia. Current Ja-
maican beliefs in obeah, magic or witchcraft are nonsense these have
no empirical validity. Revivalism, whether pocomania or Zion, is a
deliberate propagation of Babylonian error through which the mental
slavery of the black man is maintained. Pork is forbidden, (Leviticus
II). The 'herb' (ganja) is a gift of God, who enjoined us to smoke it in
Genesis 8, Psalm 18 and Rev. 22. God Himself smokes it and we should
do likewise to keep His Laws. In the same way, God does not shave
his locks or beard and we must do likewise, since He made us in His
image and it is sin to deface this by shaving, as do the Babylonians.
Education for children is dangerous, since the Babylonian schools
enchain them mentally with false doctrines. Some extremists accord-
ingly send their children to private schools run by teachers who are
either adherents of this doctrine or sympathetic to it. For this they
pay, knowing that their child will not be mocked or shamed because
of long locks, beliefs or appearance. Sodomy is advocated by the priests
of Babylon, notably the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Fisher
Icf. Anglican comments on Wolfenden Report). These are the ways
of the white man and his God. The black man knows better.
Worldly possessions are not wanted in Jamaica. The only thing the
extremist wants is immediate repatriation. Work is good, but not in
the form of slavery, which in Jamaica is now represented by wage em-
ployment for unjust masters. What is the use of working when within
two or three months we shall again be unemployed for another indefinite
period? Property, such as land, if acquired here tends to tie the
believer to the Babylonian slavery. To prepare for repatriation, reject
wealth, property and everything Jamaica can offer. In fact it does not
offer very much to black people. The true brethren share what they
have with others in their group. They do not beg, they do not steal,
they depend on God's grace for livelihood, knowing that He will look
after His own, and that the ganja which they smoke guards them
against physical illnesses, curing all complaints and giving them wisdom,
love and understanding. It is because the white and brown men know
that ganja has these properties that they have forbidden its use by the
blacks and persecute the latter on this account through the police.
*Since the Jamaican police are mainly black Ethiopians working for
Babylon, their persecution of the brethren constitutes a 'tribal war'
instigated by the white and brown oppressors. Police are said to use
and sell ganja for their own profit. So do the white and brown elite.
The herb has been sanctified by Scripture and is freely used in Ethiopia.
as magazine photographs and articles show
Many people who regard themselves, and are regarded as Ras Tafari
devotees, do not share all of the views summarised above, and may
oppose some of them very strongly. We have seen that even the
Emperor's title is disputed. Some brethren regard him as God's Repre-
sentative; the great majority regard him as God. Some brethren dis-
tinguish sharply between Ethiopia and Africa: some define black
supremacy as a withdrawal of the black men from the countries ruled
by white men. Many brethren hold that ganja is evil and befuddles
the brain; one or two are puzzled by the failure of Government to
enforce its own anti-ganja legislation. Many brethren value education
for themselves and their children; some have demanded adult education
facilities, including technical training; others, whose children have
recently won scholarships to secondary schools, make genuine sacrifices
to try to keep them there. Many brethren want wage employment in
their particular trades and skills; many are willing to work with other
brethren in co-operative units processing materials or buildings, but
reject wage employment. Many brethren value literacy, oppose violence
and crime. Some brethren are or have married in Church; some
gamble, many do not oppose alcohol taken in moderation. Many are
willing to co-operate with Government providing that Government does
recognize their needs, their doctrines, and desire for repatriation. Many
value formal organizations, the clear definition and fulfilment of obliga-
tions. Some who regard themselves as brethren are not quite free from
beliefs in magic, obeah or witchcraft. Some look for basic changes in
the affairs of the brethren to the power of God (Haile Sellassie) through
repatriation, others to negotiation between the Jamaican and Black
African Governments, or to the Ethiopian World Federation in New
York. Love and Unity, Peace, Equality and Justice, no exploitation
these are the essential common laws. The beard which is the precept
or the wedding garment, is the fulfilment of the vows made to God.
The Sabbath, commencing on Friday at 7 p.m. and ending on Saturday
at the same time, is common to all; so is the taboo on pork. (Deutero-
nomy 16). The basic doctrines common to all brethren, whatsoever the
degree to which they have been individually alienated from Jamaican
society, can now be set out.
1. Ras Tafari is the Living God.
2. Ethiopia is the black man's home.
3. Repatriation is the way of redemption for black men. It has
been foretold, and will occur shortly.
4. The ways of the white man are evil, especially for the black.
The brethren do not speak of people joining their cult. In their
view, the doctrine is in them at birth but unfolds and comes into con-
sciousness when they recognize the Emperor as God and themselves
become fully conscious. When this happens, the convert makes a
private vow or pledge to his God, usually to a photograph of the
Emperor, that he will abide by the laws of God and the rules of the
doctrine. Many are called but few are chosen, and for this reason
many brethren do not fulfil all the laws, such as those regarding their
hair. On this basis some differentiation is made between the "true,"
"partial" and "false" brethren, and this is sometimes expressed as the
elect and the non-elect, or the priests and the members; but whenever
these distinctions are declared, groups reject their applicability to them-
selves. All are one and one are all.
An important and extremely complex set of ideas cluster around
reincarnation. Some brethren affirm that they personally and physical-
ly experienced the whips of the slave-drivers. These hold the doctrine
of reincarnation illustrated already by reference to Elizabeth I and II
of England and the two Philips, of Spain and Greece. Despite these
illustrations, there is no general rule that an individual should have
the same name on reincarnation. One Brother held that men are
reincarnated through the male line, females through the female line-
for this reason it is not possible for the brethren in Jamaica to be
repatriated by reincarnation. Another man held that this doctrine of
reincarnation was false on mathematical grounds, since there are not
enough dead souls to meet the requirements of an expanding population.
A third view is rather more sophisticated: reincarnation is the reaffirma-
tion of one's lost culture and traditions. In this view, the Africans
brought to Jamaica had "our culture beaten out of us, our language,
and all that our forefathers did. We reincarnate in this culture through
Almighty God Ras Tafari."
All brethren who regard Ras Tafari as God regard Man as God.
Man are those who know the Living God, the brethren. Men are the
sinners who do not, and some of these sinners are the oppressors.
'Thirty Locks men' is wrong speech; correctly stated it is 'Thirty Locks
man,' for man is one, in God and with God. For this reason there are
no leaders, only brethren and members. For this reason there is no
belief, only knowledge, prophecy and inspiration.
Men die. being sinners. Man (the believers) do not die. For this
reason the dead should be left to bury their own dead, since death only
applies to sinners. God being Man and eternal, Man lives eternally, in
the flesh as well as the spirit. Heaven, which is in Ethiopia, is waiting
to receive the brethren. Duppies, ghosts and the like are nonsense.
Prophecy has various forms, and sometimes dreams are messages.
All Ras Tafari brethren agree that the black man is exploited in the
Western world, and must get back to Africa. For some this is a secular
doctrine, derived from the history of the Negro during slavery and
since. For others it is a religious doctrine, enshrining the proposition
that the black man is the chosen race of God. This extreme view is
expounded in the Appendix.
The secular view is rooted both in history and in the contemporary
social structure of Jamaica. Everybody recognizes that Negroes were
exploited during slavery Ras Tafarian brethren assert that Negroes
are still exploited.
When challenged, they point to the contemporary situation, where
economic and racial lines run close together. Eighty per cent of Ja-
maica's population is black, about two per cent is white, and most of
the rest is coloured. By and large, the economic system is a pyramid
with whites at the top, coloureds in the middle, and blacks at the bottom.
Nobody can pretend that in Jamaica today the average black child,
brown child, and white child have equal chances at birth.
The slums of Kingston are an excellent breeding ground for black
nationalism. Unemployment is endemic and widespread in Kingston,
and many persons who actively seek employment have for years had
only occasional casual labour. The areas where many Ras Tafari
brethren live have no water, light, sewage disposal or collection of
rubbish. It is not strange that those who live in these conditions would
like to emigrate.
Marcus Garvey taught that the black man would find his soul only
by turning his back on white civilisation, and returning to Africa, to live
under black government. All Ras Tafari brethren believe this to be true.
Beards and Locks
The most obvious source of division and dispute among the brethren
is the treatment of the hair. The brethren fall into three categories:
the Locksmen, whose hair is matted and plaited and never cut, neither
their beards; the Beardmen, who wear their hair and beards but may
trim them occasionally and do not plait the hair, but keep it clean. Both
these groups wear moustaches. Thirdly there is the Baldhead or 'clean-
faced' man who is not obviously distinguishable from the ordinary Ja-
maican except by some article such as the yellow, green and red
pompom or scarf. Cleanfaced men are mostly employed. Many em-
ployed men who have not overtly declared themselves to be brethren
are deeply sympathetic to or interested in their doctrines and move-
ment, and some of these wear beards. Not all beardmen in Kingston
are Ras Tafari brethren; many criminals have adopted the beard as a
form of disguise and because it enables them to penetrate Ras Tafari
groups in the slums and facilitates access to ganja and information
many who profess the doctrine in any of its forms may do so for ulterior
motives. The Ras Tafari brethren are themselves very conscious of this.
The dispute about beards and hair centres on the interpretation of
Scripture and of the brethren's role in contempo-ary Jamaica. Clean-
faced men argue that beards, in view of current Jamaican attitudes
which are hostile to the Ras Tafari, deprive people of employment. We
have met many cases in which persons were refused work because of
their beards; and others in which employed persons who had adopted
the doctrine and begun to grow the beard as a symbol of their creed,
soon lost employment. Beardmen are divided among themselves, some,
who have fairly regular jobs and carry themselves with dignity, hold
that the beard and long hair are enjoined on brethren but should be
kept neat and clean as the Emperor keeps his beard and hair. Others
who lack employment blame their condition on the Babylonian con-
spiracy, holding Government as well as the public responsible, and take
pride in the beard as the precept or cross which they bear for their
religion among the heathen. It is a short step from this position to
that adopted by the Locksmen, whose vows are Nazarite. Locksmen
point with pride to photographs of East African tribesmen whose
coiffure is almost identical with their own. They regard themselves
as the most elect and purest adherents to the doctrine, the persons who
have suffered most for their religion and race, and the vanguard, the
Ethiopian warriors. Many beardmen and almost all clean-faced or
baldhead men take a sharply different view. To these people the Locks-
men have discredited the Ras Tafari movement, and are bringing it
into further disrepute through their associations with ganja, crime and
verbal violence. The division here is basically between persons with
some commitment to the standards by which self-respect and self-
improvement are measured in Jamaican society, and those whose com-
mitment is to standards which are totally alien. For the Locksmen do
have their own standards, and these are as genuine as any others. To
them, racial pride and religious observance together require a physical
appearance almost identical with that of some East African tribes.
Similarly, ganja is an article of use in East Africa and is regarded as
sanctified by God. The criminality of which they are accused seems to
Locksmen to be simply a Babylonian lie. The violence which some of
them emphasise pales by comparison with passages from Ezekiel, Isaiah,
Revelations and the like, the Bible of Babylon.
Some brethren will have nothing to do with ganja, while others
accord it religious significance. It is identified by its users with the
herb of Genesis 8, Psalm 18, and Revelation 22.
Those who smoke ganja say that it has therapeutic effects, and
keeps away illness. They deny that it is harmful. To those who assert
that ganja smoking makes some men violent, they reply that so also
does drinking rum and if it is not illegal to drink rum, why is it illegal
to smoke ganja?
One difference between rum and ganja, which the brethren do not
recognize, is that while an overdose of rum incapacitates, an overdose
of ganja does not. Thus, when a man predisposed to violence drinks
too much rum, he ceases to be dangerous. But such a man, on smoking
ganja, becomes more dangerous the more he smokes.
Those of the brethren who object to ganja complain that it is used
by influential people merely for exploitation. They assert that many
policemen sell ganja, and that the police could stop the sale of ganja
if they wanted to do so. In every country of the world there are some
corrupt policemen who protect the trade in narcotics; but there is no
evidence that Jamaica's policemen are more deeply involved than
policemen in other countries.
The team had no contact with the followers of the Rev. Claudius
Henry, who are, in any case, a small minority of the Kingston Brethren.
The great majority of Ras Tafari brethren are peaceful citizens who
do not believe in violence. Nevertheless, since the movement is
heterogeneous and includes all types, its members range from complete
pacifists at one end to criminals, the mentally deranged and revolu-
tionaries at the other end.
The language of the movement is violent. This is because it is the
language of the Bible, and especially of the Old Testament. It is
apocalypic language, in which sinners are consumed with fire, sheep
are separated from goats, oppressors are smitten and kings and empires
are overthrown. All Christians use this liovent language, in their
religious services and elsewhere. The use of such language does not
mean that they are ready to fight in the streets. It does, on the other
hand, mean that the concepts of revolution are neither frightening nor
Recent events have increased the acceptability of revolutionary
ideas. We have already shown that relations between Ras Tafari
brethren and the police have deteriorated sharply over the last few
years. They have deteriorated even more sharply in the last four
months, in the course of which the police have carried out extensive
raids, made numerous arrests, and, in the heat of the moment, have
indulged in many arbitrary acts against Ras Tafarians. The brethren
have a strong sense of persecution, which draws them together. In
this mood an explosion of violence is quite feasible.
We have no evidence that Ras Tafarians, as a group, are being
manipulated by non-Ras Tafarians with violent beliefs, such as Com-
munists. Ras Tafarian doctrine is radical in the broad sense that it is
against the oppression of black men, much of which derives from the
existing economic structure. But it has no links with Marxism, either
of analysis or of prognosis. The movement has been infiltrated by a
number of criminals, but these people are essentially individualists, and
have little ideological influence.
For Jamaican leftists the violent part of the Ras Tafari spectrum is
a gift; capitalist, bourgeoisie and proletariat can be directly translated
into white, brown and black. Revolution becomes Redemption with
Repatriation as the issue provoking bloodshed. The Marxist vanguard
wears a Niyabingi cloak. Ras Tafari brethren themselves often speak
of the wolf in sheep's clothing among them. The Leftist doctrine
attracts the young unemployed and those with schooling, as well as
the disinherited. In our survey we encountered certain groups among
which the Marxist interpretation and terminology predominated over
the racial-religious. Events in Cuba, China, Egypt and elsewhere
endow the Marxist analysis with a pragmatic validity and power. In
so far as this political philosophy employs the ideology of Ras Tafari
racism, its spread throughout the bulk of the population is assured
unless Government takes positive steps to meet the legitimate needs of
the lower classes, including the Ras Tafari group. The choice before
Jamaica is that between social reform which is planned, peaceful and
rapid on the one hand, or changes of a different sort. It is certain
that Jamaican society cannot continue in its present form. Since
economic development presumes social stability, this means that any
successful development depends on an intelligent programme of social
reform. The recent spread of Ras Tafari doctrines among educated
middle class youth is largely due to the appeals of ganja and Marxism,
but this spread will surely continue so long as Jamaican society fails
to provide the young with significant ideals of social justice for which
to strive, and opportunities for their achievement.
The attitudes of Ras Tafari brethren to work do not differ from
those of the rest of the population. At one extreme, the movement
includes some excellent workmen, highly skilled and industrious. At
the other extreme are not a few who avoid work. In the middle are
the great majority of average disposition.
Though the attitudes of Ras Tafarians are similar, the brethren
differ from the rest of the population in that a much larger proportion
are unemployed; not because Ras Tafarians are difficult to employ, but
because it is the unemployed who are most easily attracted to the move-
Much of the psychology of the brethren is the psychology of the
unemployed in any part of the world, and is similar in its essentials to
that of the unemployed working class in Europe or in the United States
during the nineteen thirties. There is the same sense of shiftlessness
and of despair. In the absence of organised relief, many brethren live
on the charity of their fellows. And many have become so used to not
finding work that they have ceased to look for it.
The movement is rooted in unemployment. If the supply of jobs
in Kingston were to catch up with the demand for jobs, a hard core of
religious belief would remain, but the movement would cease to have
mass significance. This is well recognized by those Ras Tafari
extremists who say that they do not want the Government to take any
special measures to improve the economic lot of Ras Tafari brethren.
The general public believes in a stereotype Ras Tafarian, who wears
a beard, avoids work, steals, smokes ganja, and is liable to sudden
violence. This type exists, but it is a minority. The real danger is
that if all Ras Tafarians are treated as if they are like this, more and
more will become extremists.
What strikes the investigator, on the contrary, is how deeply
religious the brethren are. Our meetings with them began and ended
with the recitation of psalms and the singing of hymns, and were
punctuated by frequent interludes of religious observance. A move-
ment which is so deeply religious need not become a menace to society.
M. G. SMITH
[END OF PART 11
"New Viewpoints In Geography"
A Teachers' Conference
IN AUGUST 1967 a week-long Conference for school ard training
college teachers of geography was held at the University of the West
Indies, Mona: the first of its kind to be run for geography teachers
from the West Indian islands of British expression.
The Conference was sponsored jointly by the Geography Sub-
Department at U.W.I., the Extra-Mural Department, and the Jamaican
Geographical Society. The latter organization has as its main ob-
jective the professional advancement of geography in Jamaica and the
Caribbean; it aims to achieve this goal in a number of ways, the most
tangible being through the sponsorship of periodic meetings, lectures,
field excursions, conferences and other group activities, also the
mounting of a publications programme. It was only natural that the
Society should choose to mark the first anniversary of its foundation
through a Conference devoted to familiarizing both veteran and
fledgling geographers with some of the contemporary developments in
The purpose and objectives of the Conference were, indeed, explicit.
It is no exaggeration to say that, beyond the Caribbean, the science
of geography is in the midst of an intellectual and pedagogical
renaissance. From the great centres of learning in North America and
Western Europe, a veritable flood-wave of new concepts and view-
points in geography is advancing over the academic scene. It is of
great interest and importance to West Indian geographers to be aware
of these fundamental reforms and intellectual thrusts in their
discipline. And beyond being aware of them, they should attempt to
learn something about these rigorous new analytical approaches, and
to gauge to what extent they may introduce them into their own
schemes of geographical teaching and research in the Caribbean area,
particularly for re-structuring and up-grading the content of geography
courses in the High Schools and Teacher Training Colleges.
To be sure, much of the literature of the revisionists in geography
makes formidable, even frightening, reading to the traditionalist
scholars in the field. 1 There is, for example, a whole new vocabulary
or jargon used by the "in" group or "cognoscenti" in this methodo-
logical reformation. How many school teachers of geography in Jamaica
are familiar with (or can explain) the following concepts and terms:
spatial systems analysis; temporal dynamics of spatial structure; loca-
tion theory cluster; central place hierarchy; normative models; density
threshold; flow linkages; accessibility connectivity; earth ecosystem
and sub-systems; energy, moisture and momentum fluxes; the steady-
state concept of climate?
As much as the more humanistic and literary-minded geographers
may deplore these abstract concepts, and urge a return to the canons
of a pure and wholesome English, with its refreshing simplicity of
descriptive words and phrases, the fact remains that the application
of rigorous, theoretical-deductive methods in geographical studies
demands the use of such analytical and conceptual tools. If geography
is to keep abreast of the astounding progress in the other earth
sciences as well as the social sciences, and if geography is ever to
achieve an academic esteem which most of its practitioners feel is
long overdue, then these techniques must be utilised, and substantive
research, teaching and publications undertaken and produced in
It would be foolish then for West Indian geographers to act like
King Canute on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, and attempt to stem
or to throw back the flood-wave of statistical and theoretical method-
ology in their subject. This is not to say, of course, that Caribbean
geographers can embrace all these new concepts over-night (or over-
week) Neither can they effect their own revolution in West Indian
geographic thought without major effort on the part of many people
in the profession. It will require a careful and probably lengthy re-
educational, or further educational, process for most teachers of
geography in the Caribbean lands. Then there are the hard realities
of the school curriculum and the conservative framework of the G.C.E.
examinations to contend with, not to mention the virtual complete
absence of "new-look" books and personnel trained in the new school
In the immediate future, West Indian geographers must try to
develop strategies for achieving their objectives, once they are agreed
on the direction in which their subject should move-and the speed
with which innovations should be introduced into the Caribbean
area. Certain reservations have been made concerning the premature
introduction of advanced geographical concepts into the developing
areas, particularly in those countries where there is not even a hard
core of traditional literature and emperical-inductive materials upon
which to base the more sophisticated treatment of earth-man rela-
tionships. Since these reservations have been recorded at length else-
where2 they are not pursued further at this time.
Clearly if methodological and pedagogical changes are to be initi-
ated. they should begin in the schools, at the Secondary or High School
level. It is from this source that the more promising students for
engaging in advanced studies at the "growing" or "cutting" edge
of geography will be recruited by the Universities and Teacher Train-
ing Colleges. This is why particular interest is being focused on the
U.S. effort to introduce new viewpoints into geography within the
schools system, and this is why two American geographers were
especially invited to the Conference, to present papers on the High
The Planning Committee for the Conference was fully aware that
a steady diet of "new-look" geography for five days might well produce
indigestion as well as mental exhaustion, and might even seem irrele-
vant to some of the more pressing and practical problems which
face today's Caribbean teachers of geography within the present
structure of the schools and syllabuses. This is why sessions were
also included on such immediate issues as field studies, methods of
surveying, air photo interpretation, teaching aids and equipment
for the geography room, contemporary text books, the uses of radio
and TV in geographic education, and so forth. In consequence,
the Conference hight better have been entitled: "Continuing and New
Viewpoints in Geography."
,The keynote speaker for the Conference was Dr. Leslie Oummings,
head of the Geography Department at the University of Guyana, and
one of the leading proponents of geographical innovation in Middle
America. Guyanese by birth, Dr. Cummings received his undergradu-
ate training at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, along strictly
traditional lines. He then went to the University of Iowa, USA, for
further studies. Under the intellectual influence of Professor H.
McCarthy, he quickly became converted to the "Iowa" approach in
the geographical renaissance and, apart from his doctoral thesis, he
engaged in a number of academic exercises, notably the writing of
an introductory course for university-level geography studies in-
incorporating new concepts in spatial analysis. He also conducted
significant experiments in the use of computers -for solving geographic
Dr. Cummings has already done much through his teaching and
publications to encourage a more rigorous and theoretical approach
to geographical studies in the Caribbean area. His impact upon the
discipline may be expected to grow appreciably over the years ahead.
In his opening address, Dr. Cummings acknowledged that the task
of discerning new directions in a field is fraught with dangers,
especially when one is somewhat immersed in the stream. "One is
conscious of movement, but you are never quite sure whether you are
in the main stream or just in the vicinity of some particularly vigorous
tributary." This is one reason why, in the historical development of
the discipline, some scholars have paused, looked at geography, and
provided overviews. James and Jones in their American Geography:
Inventory and Prospect, Hartshorne in his monumental Nature of
Geography, are examples from the recent past while Bunge's Theoretical
Geography, and Haggett's Locational Analysis in Human Geography
are landmarks pointing to new and exciting directions which geography
Dr. Cummings then commented on the background to educational
change. He claimed that there is a perpetual need for innovation in
teaching, since society always tends to find out more than it knows
how to teach. If one may borrow from the terminology of Malthus,
knowledge seems to develop in geometric progression, while methods
of organizing and imparting this knowledge seem to grow in arith-
metic progression. It is a trait of most societies that educational
systems are among the ones most zealously protected from the winds
of change. And change is the hallmark of the content of geography,
a hallmark which is often not reflected in teaching method and
content. "Despite this built-in resistance factor, it is to be hoped that
the establishment of Geography at Mona and at Georgetown will
provide the stimulus for the spread of new ideas, new directions.
Indeed, the fact that we have gathered here from all over the Carib-
bean to discuss our discipline is, in itself, a new direction.'
The major components for educational change are well known.
There must first of all be a realization of future needs by a society.
That society must be able to discern the new kinds of adjustment and
new kinds of skills it will need. Secondly, there must be the techno-
logical basis to spread the accumulated knowledge: inexpensive books,
radio, television and so on. The socio-economic climate must also be
conducive to the idea of using resources (especially money) for inno-
vation, training and reorganization. Also there must be continued
advance on the research frontier, adding to what is already known.
And lastly, there must be a willingness on the part of practitioners
to accept change and the need for change. This is perhaps the hardest
to accomplish. The teacher can be an impediment to change or a prime
mover .for change.
Dr. Cummings proceeded to discuss the methodological background
to current developments in geography. He recognized that the content
of what is taught is partly a function of what has been, discovered
through research or exploration. What is in the forefront of knowledge
in one generation becomes the content of classroom material in the
next. This "filtering process" makes it important for one to look at
current research in geography before new directions in teaching in
terms of content, techniques and equipment can be identified and
encouraged. Reading current articles in the geographic literature one
meets with such concepts and expressions as significance tests, K-3
network, first regional nearest neighbour, intervening-opportunity
models, linear trend surfaces: "terms and ideas we will be teaching
our students here in the Caribbean in a short time, if some are not
doing so already. Since we are taking part in the information ex-
plosion. and since the ".facts" with which we deal in Geography are in
a state of change, the trend is towards the teaching of concepts and
more efficient methods of organizing those concepts. For example, if
we want to teach students about world trade, we will want to do so
withinn the framework of spatial interaction. If we want to understand
population density distribution in urban areas we will want to approach
this topic deductively, building a model of the situation and then ex-
amining the correspondence of this model to a scientifically-selected
sample of cities."
Much has been heard of the enormous sums of money poured into
the American Space Programme and the enormous shift of resources
into this prestige area. The social sciences in the U.S., including
geography, are having to react to this challenge by a re-examination
of methodology, objectives, techniques and the content of material
especially at the research level. Geographers are becoming more prag-
matic. Social scientists are being pushed from narrow and strictly-
defined areas toward increasingly extensive involvements in practical
matters. The growing involvement of the geographer in society is being
paralleled by a growing involvement of the teacher and student in
classroom problems. This awareness of responsibility, this involvement
has resulted in a "feedback", which has caused re-evaluation of the
content of geography teaching at all rungs of the educational ladder.
The current trend towards "qualification" is a response to many
factors: the great leap forward the physical sciences have been making;
the machines (especially computers) that have become widespread; the
large amounts of raw data which have been amassed and which are
available by new methods o.f information storage and retrieval." The
United States, building upon a base laid down in Britain, Germany
and Sweden, has generated the front line troops carrying the flag into
unchartered areas of geographical exploration." The philosophical
basis of this revolution was provided by Schaefer in 1954. He recog-
nized that one of the central problems in geographical research was
the search for more efficient ordering of facts, so as better to discern
the regularities which underlie phenomena we study and the laws
governing the spatial distribution of phenomena.
The quest for regularity, for generalizations, has been aided by
the use of theoretical-deductive systems, by the exploitation of sophis-
ticated mathematical-statistical techniques and the use o-f analogous
situations and theories. For a discipline, as it advances, is no longer
content to make simple generalizations from observable facts: it tries
to "explain" those lowest-level generalizations by deducing them from
more general hypotheses at a higher level. "As the hierarchy of hypo-
theses of increasing generality rises, the concepts with which the hypo-
theses are concerned cease to be properties of things which are directly
observable and instead become 'theoretical concepts': isomorphism,
completely-connected graph, population potential, which are related to
the original observations by logic or analogy."
In addition to presenting the keynote address, Dr. Cummings also
introduced Conference participants to the potential use of computers
in geographical study. He led them through an exercise in population
distribution analysis, involving map measurements, computer program-
ming, card punching, also a visit to the U.W.I. computer centre and
an opportunity to observe the IBM 1620 machine in action.
In his prefatory remarks to the computer session, the Confer-
ence chairman commented: "It is perhaps trite to observe that we are
all -members of the Cybernated Generation. The Age of Cybernetics-
of mechanical-electrical communications and computer systems-is
clearly upon us. Over the last ten to twenty years, electronic computers
have been making dramatic inroads into the fabric of human society,
inducing both wonder but also widespread apprehension. Is the
computer a friend or an enemy of man? Will it devalue the human
brain, or happily free it from drudgery? Will it ever learn to think
for itself? Will it cause widespread unemployment by speeding the
processes of automation in industry, in commerce, even in education?"
The answers to these questions are by no means clear at the
moment but one thing is very obvious. Swept forward by a great wave
of technology of which the computer is the ultimate expression, human
society is heading for profound and far-reaching changes. According
to the Vice-President of the General Electric Company in the US.A.:
"The electronic computer may have a more beneficial potential for
the human race than any other invention in history." These words
are echoed by the head of one of Britain's electronic companies: "The
computer and automation will bring the greatest change in the whole
history of mankind."
Certainly computers are the most sophisticated and powerful of
the tools devised by man to-date, and computers have already affected
whole areas of society, opening up vast new possibilities by their ex-
traordinary feats of memory and calculation. Computers have given
new horizons to the fields of science and medicine, changed the tech-
niques of research in many other areas of man's intellectual en-
deavours, even improved the efficiency of governments. Man's entire
space-age efforts could not have been mounted without the aid of
computers, both on the ground and taken aloft into orbit.
Someone has likened the difference between a human being
armed with pencil and paper and another with an electronic computer,
to the difference between a Norman archer armed with a cross bow
and a pilot carrying in his aircraft a hydrogen bomb. "Or put it
another way. You could fill our entire National Stadium in Kingston
with scientists equipped with sliderules and notebooks and set them
to work on a problem which it would take the rest of their active lives
to solve. Yet a modern IBM computer could solve the same problem
within a few minutes, perhaps even within a few seconds.
Coming closer to home, it is apparent that computers may be utilized
to resolve many geometrical problems of concern to geographers,
problems of spatial location, geographical spread, density and accessi-
bility, circulation patterns, linkages, flows and so forth. "Not all of
us can hope to master the considerable skills required to programme
the computers correctly to do these calculations for us, but at least
we should be aware of and informed as to the sorts of geographical
work and problems which computers can undertake, and what their
output means in terms of geographical realities in the world around
As recorded earlier, two American geographers were invited to
brief Conference participants on the High School Geography Project
of the Association of American Geographers. The aims of the project
were well described by Professor James Anderson, Chairman of the
Geography Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville;
practical work on sample units from the High School Project was
undertaken in a workshop session under the supervision of Professor
Anderson and Dr. Stanley_ Brunn also of the Department of Geography,
University of Florida. Geography teachers in the Caribbean and
other interested persons who would like to know more about the
American High School Geography Project may write to its director,
Dr. Nicholas Helburn, P.O. Box 1095, Boulder, Colorado 80302, U.S.A.
A panel discussion on the role of field studies in geography was
m;.oderated by Mr. John Macpherson, author of Caribbean Lands and
experienced geographer in West Indian matters (now Publications
Officer, Institute of Education, U.W.I.) Members of the panel were Mr.
David Smith, Miss Ann Norton and Mr. Edward Douglas, all members
of the Geography Department, U.W.I.; practical advice was offered in
the organizing of field trips and the preparation of questionnaires in
the areas of physical geography, population and settlement, and land
use. Conference participants had an opportunity to test the recom-
mendations of the panelists through an afternoon field excursion to
Lluidas Vale via Spanish Town, Bog Walk and Linstead.
A well-informed and entertaining contributor to the Conference
programme was Dr. Bruce Ogilvie, geographer on the staff of the
largest commercial map publisher in the U.S.A.: Rand McNally and
Company of Chicago. Dr. Ogilvie took a lively interest in the problems
of teaching geography in the Caribbean, spoke formally on the prospects
for improving the physical facilities through teaching aids and equip-
ment for the geography room, and informally on mapping and related
topics. His presence added expertise and professional competence in
the commercial sphere to the Conference programme.
Among other items on the programme which deserve special
mention in this record was a most worthwhile exercise in text book
appraisal, undertaken by groups of teachers, utilizing books on display
at the Conference and donated by publishers, and supervised by John
Macpherson. His four-page, multiple choice evaluation sheet: "Criteria
for Selecting Geography Textbooks" is an invaluable guide to the
sorts of questions teachers should be raising on school books for
geography. Copies of the evaluation sheet may be obtained by writing
to the Secretary, Jamaica Geographical Society, c o Geography De-
The second evening of exceptional interest comprised a viewing
of superb serial photos of Jamaican physical and cultural landscapes
via 35 m.m. slides. The pictures were taken and shown by Mr. J.
Tyndale-Biscoe, noted freelance aviator and air photographer: selected
from a wide collection of air views of the island, the pictures were
supported by the well-informed commentary and aerial experience of
their originator. Through a special arrangement with the Jamaican
Geographical Society, Mr. Tyndale-Biscoe has agreed to supply sets
of 32 duplicate slides, at a cost of 4. 1. Od. per set, for use in schools
and other academic institutions in the Caribbean. Further information
on this offer may be obtained from the Secretary of the Jamaican
Since atlases are among the more familiar and time-honoured
tools of geographers, a symposium on resource atlases was included
in the Conference programme: the chairman for this general session:
was an applied geographer on the staff of the Town Planning De-
partment in Kingston, Mr. Nicholas Pennington. Professor Anderson
reviewed the history and production problems of the Florida State
Atlas and also reported on the progress being achieved in the creation
of an ambitious National Atlas for the United States. Dr Floyd out-
lined the research proposal of the Geography Department. U.W.I. for
the production of a descriptive resource atlas of the Caribbean, to be
used as a 6th. Form and University-level educational device, also for
promoting a fuller national and international appreciation of the
physical and socio-economic endowment of West Indian countries.
Afternoon workshops sessions offering practical instruction in air
photo reading and interpretation, compass travelling, plane tabling
and the representation of cartographic data on maps were held on
the final ay of the Conference, which officially ended with a poolside
party and dance at the Senior Common Room, U.W.I.
The full proceedings of the Conference are to be edited and
published with the support of the Scientific Research Council. Kingston.
National Academy cf Sciences National Research Ccuncil, The Science of Geography.
Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Geography, Earth Science Division, National Academy
oF Sciences National Research Council. Publication 1277 (Washington, D.C 1965).
Association of American Geographers, Geography in Undergraduate Liberal EdJcation.
Commission on College Geography, Publication No. 1 (Washington, D'C.; 1965).
Association of American Geographers, New Approaches in Introductory College Geography
Courses. Commission on College Gocgrcply. Publication No. 4 (Washington, D.C. 1967).
Association of American Geographers, Introductory Geography. Viewpoints and Themes.
Commission on Cbllege Geography, Publication No. 5 (Washington, D C. 1967).
2. B. N. Floyd, "Some Comments on the Scope and Objectives of Geography in the
Developing Areas," Journal of the Geographical Association of Nigeria, Vol. 9, No. 1
(June, 1966), 11-23.
TWO POEMS FROM GUYANA
If you must grope your way,
It can't be home
You are going, but from.
To some less loveless place, which may
When you get to, it is;
But shutters grin
Tight and voices within
Chant thinly promises
Of this or that.
With your rusty keys
You force your way in
To a pale hall
Of mirroring doors, all
Shut. You fall on your knees
And face your endless
Faces you can't bear
To face, too broken.
What now but shut your
eyes, having come
The New Man
His father was poet laureate
Who ended his sonnets with
Exclamation marks; but this young man,
Sour from university,
Spouts difficult verse liberated
From 'continental' standards.
Profession: professor. Hobbies: whores.
He drives a pink motor car.
He wears his wife to cocktail parties.
He is wrapped in politics.
He is consumed by politicians.
He is essential to the nest.
He hates his mother's guts.
I am proud of my country.
NOTES AND COMMENTARY:
I. Rudie, Oh Rudie!
"MAKE no mistake about it; by this mad fury, by this bitterness
and spleen, by this ever present desire to kill us, by the permanent
tensing of powerful muscles which are afraid to relax, they have be-
come man: man because of the settler, who wants to make beasts of
burden of them-because of him and against him. Hatred, blind
hatred which is as yet an abstraction, is their only wealth."
J. P Sartre, Preface to The Wretched of the Earth,
by Frank Fanon.
"To wreck the colonial world is henceforward a mental picture of
action which is very clear, very easy to understand and which may be
assumed by each one of the individuals which constitute the colonialised
A large percentage of 'rude bwoys' are long past this stage of
development. Hatred in their forebears, along with other factors, has
assumed proportions large enough to result in its internalisation at an
early age. It is becoming observable that this is an almost inevitable
quality of the entire urban "lower class" youth. By youth is meant
those persons ranging from 14 to 25 years of age. With few exceptions
ias in the case of the 'nice native' who may have struggled through
a night school at 'electrician work', enabling him to work at Marzouca's
and enjoy some measure of increased status, and who. since benefitting
to some extent -from the system is not fussy to the point of war.)
that majority of youth coming from the lower 60% of the population
that shows approximately 19% of the National Income is angry. Angry
to the point of violence. The only restraining factor may be the lack
of comprehensive organisation. And the hatred is pointed not only
against the settler and his descendants, but also to all that class of
persons who occupy the middle rung in the society. Rude bwoy is that
person, native, who is totally disenchanted with the ruling system;
who generally is descended from the 'African' elements in the lower
class and who is now armed with ratchets (German made knives),
other cutting instruments and with increasing frequency nowadays,
with guns and explosives. This last condition and to some extent a
lesser ambivalence toward the culture of the metropolitan orientated
"other" society is what really distinguishes between the rude bwoy
and the other angiy elements in similar station. In addition rude
bwoys are largely centre in those urban areas that suffer from
chronic depression and to which migration from rural areas was
largely direct: in the 50's id GO's. There is, however, evidence
of an increasing militancy among the youth centred in and around
the sugar belt. In rural areas it is seen that more ready availability
of food tends to obscure other injustices.
In many cases the rudie intuitively knows the symbols of dis-
torted Western culture. He knows that his music, ska, is given token
appreciation by persons who call a reshuffling of the U.S. based
"Cashbox" hit parade-a Jamaican hit parade. He knows that his
women's faces do not adorn lavish advertisement bill boards showing
washing machines or someone gently tapping a 23" television set. His
women are the women who are lucky if they fall into the group of
householders who eke out an existence on 300 p.a. Approximately
nine out of ten households in this country live on below 300 p.a. Some-
times units formed with slight deviation from the common-law type,
have to depend on whether "Jack Ruby go hustle something down
a de gully." At the gully Jack may be sifting sand that has been formed
after rains at 20 25/- per truckload. His muscled body may be the
result of straining .from five in the morning till six or seven p.m.
depending on light conditions. Because of the vigilance of the Gully
Police unless they are "dropped" something, he may have to begin
even earlier. "Nose" who "hustles" downtown may have to rely on
selling hangers or sno-kones or pants lengths, and in the case of the
former he runs the risk of being driven off King St. In some cases.
potentially violent mobs are braved and he picks a pocket. He may
be worse cff than the majority of the .1 million people who earn less
than 1 per week.
Surely this is not far removed from slavery. The system of
apprenticeship obtaining in post-emancipation days still forms a large
part of the formalised training of the urban lower class youth-the
more fortunate: the one who 'go learn a trade' at Quickly Repair
shops, small establishments and the like. atlatificaticn too, has de-
viated very little from the l:attern of the eighteenth century, when it
was based on hierarchy ''ranging between low status black and high
status white with middle status brown, yellow and off-white in between."
It must be remembered that political influence and political power
were then largely monopolised by the small group of whites who owned
most of the property, controlled economic activity and thus con-
trolled the political and social life of the island. The only deviation
from the strictly colonial model has been the displacement of imperial
administration by a rational class of political entrepreneurs. It is still
considered natural and desirable that our style cf living be dominated
by metropolitan events. The ruling elite still maintains its position
through metropolitan sanction and, as Faron comments with refer-
ence to the underdeveloped countries. "The incoherent mass of the
people is seen as a blind force that must be continually held in check
either by mystification or by the fear inspired by the police force"
R:d:ie culture has so developed as to command adherents among
the majority of urban lower class youth. Common experience and a
consciousness of a common ethnic origin influenced this development
a N.B. The Socio-Economic Status .
considerably. At this point, something should be said about the degree
of ambivalence toward the "other culture" as a factor distinguishing
between rude bwoys and those who internalise rudie culture but are
forced to participate in the metropolitan orientated value-system by
virtue, in the majority of cases, of the 'fact that their employment, as
a domestic servant perhaps, or as a clerk, involves them directly in
the economic system controlled by the middle and upper classes. This
usually involves exposure to middle-class consumption patterns, and
employers usually emphasise the need for the acquisition of metro-
politan culture items. This coupled with their treatment as inferior
beings can lead to two things, in the majority of cases. On the one
hand, it can lead to this greater degree of ambivalence toward the
middle class culture patterns. On the other, it can lead to a near-total
rejection of middle class standards and values. The impulse to leave
such employment may be generated by many factors, the more im-
portant of which are:
1. The prospects of higher purchasing power, if the leaver is his
2. An unwillingness to *fulfill social demands consistent with
economic position, and
3. The realisation that such employment is in many cases ex-
Having left. the individual may find that his purchasing power de-
creases, but he is once again a participant in a more commercial type
of living. Bargaining, for example, may take the place of formalised
procedure in economic relationships, i.e. instead of fixed prices on a
standardised scale, there are elements of bargaining based mainly on
lace-to-face relationships. For example, "Ribs" the small shoemaker,
may sell "de bredda" a pair of shoes at a price that takes into con-
sideration the brother's observable economic and social position. The
appellation "bredda" and "sister" which are used in everyday greeting
illustrate the type of relationship that the leaver encounters. In addi-
tion to these onetime participants in the more specialised economy,
there are, c.f course, those who were unable to obtain employment
Aspects of Rudie Culture-Music and the Dance
Rude bwoy was heralded in a selection from Studio One (record-
ing studio of Clement Dodd) by Roland Alphonso as early as late 1962.
But another musical ode, this time by the "Wailers" in late 1965
signalled that rude bwoy was no passing indulgence but a very real
element. Whatever the middle and uppper classes may have to say
about the quality of ska presentations, their usefulness as indicators
of the thought of the other society-predominantly black-cannot be
overemphasised. The number of rudie tunes on the air-waves reflects
the increased status accorded Rudies by this other Afro-Jamaican
society. Here it must be admitted that radio requests are often from
middle class youths who to some extent are acquiring, or are in the
process of acquiring, the symbols of rudie culture. Rudie culture items
such as shoes, hats, music, stripped bicycles, etc. are sometimes
possessed by these, but to what degree rudie culture is internalised is
yet a matter of conjecture. The metropolitan-orientated society is
simultaneously apprehensive of the Rudie, confused as to who he is
and what he represents, and yet his influence is pervading even the
bastions of the middle-class. Symbols of his culture are appearing
everywhere. Sound-systems, for example, are being used by the tradi-
tionally conservative and Victorian school-boards. A good sound-
system usually consists of an amplifier of about 300 watts, anything
between 5 to 10 speakers enclosed in boxes of cedar or mahogany.
Prior to middle-class acceptance, these systems supplied dance music
in halls, lawns and the like. Price of admission could vary from two
shillings for the Saturday night to five shillings on the holiday day
and night session. The music played is ska, although American negro
pop music enjoys some popularity. Notable among this "pop" music
are records of people like The Impressions, Shirley and Lee. It must
be noted that before the emergence of ska, music supplied by the sound-
system medium was usually from this source and old names like Fats
Domino, Bill Doggett and Louis Jordan are one-time stars. Ska is one
of the means of expression of the "lower class" It is a propagandistic
music and with increasing force it has acquired the role of commen-
tator on the society. It is now reflecting the increased militancy of
the class it generally represents. "Good Good Rudie" and "Let Him
Go" are tunes related to West Kingston. A tune by the "Ethiopians"
in its opening lines says:
"I'm gonna take over now
For I know that
And I know
Our time has come
We must wear that crown"
Any study of colonial or neo-colonial countries should consider
the dance. Fanon speaks of the native's emotional sensibility ex-
hausting itself in dances which are more or less ecstatic. It provides
relaxation which takes the form of a muscular orgy, in which the
most acute aggressiveness and the most impelling violence are canal-
ised, transformed and conjured away. He then discovers reality and
this is transformed into the pattern of his customs, into the practice
of violence and into his plan for freedom. The Rudie "dance", an
extension of the principle that resulted in the slowing down of tempo
in ska music has not "cooled down" the lower class native. Rather it
has caused numerous fights and recently even gang warfare at these
dances. The muscular tension now finds outlet in gang wars. The
fraternal blood-bath allows for procrastination of the choice, none-
theless inevitable, of armed resistance to the oppressors.
Violence, Politicians and Gangs
At first the only degree of organisation was that exerted by the
existence of a common "corner" By "corner" is meant simply in most
cases, junctions of two or more roads. But in the last months of 1965,
organised gangs in a sense that overstepped the necessity of a common
home area emerged. This is not to say, however, that many gangs were
not now organised around the fact that the majority of members
came from one area, say Felix City in Jones Town. With increasing
urgency, these gangs are gaining some sense of purpose other than
self-interest. They know that they are to be instrumental in the
effort of the burdened lower class to throw off the national bourgeoisie.
The entry of the politicians clouds the issue somewhat. The
tradition of political patronage manifested by both parties has
canalised to some extent the potential mass violence in many urban
areas along party lines. Nevertheless the greater end is still recognized
by rudie, i.e. his ambitions to help liberate the "sufferer" Perhaps
because of the isolation of urban rudie from his rural "co-sufferer"-
although there is some degree of mobility between rural and urban
centres of population-the politician will triumph in the long-run
with regard to the whole of Jamaica, but if one remembers incidents
as far apart as the 1938 uprisings, the Coral Gardens incident in St.
James, the higher incidence of cane fires in recent years, the Henry
rebellion and the spontaneous rising against the Chinese community
in down-town Kingston in mid '65, the possibility that the politicians
have miscalculated is very real indeed.
From recent events (West Kingston), it can be inferred that the
stage is set. The view that Marcus Garvey prophesied of this con-
frontation in 1966-67 is gaining currency in many circles. The Gov-
ernment perhaps does not think so, for many of its recent moves
seem designed to increase the burden of these suffering people even
more. For example, early in 1966, the area around Paine Avenue was
bulldozed. Later on it was Industrial Terrace and adjoining areas.
Where were these people, the large majority already at and below
subsistence level, to go? The hundreds of hungry youths who of
necessity had to move in amongst the dead in May Pen cemetery have
in -fact become certain of the imminence of a direct confrontation. In
issues such as these the "loyalty' of the army is to be doubted. A large
number of persons in the ranks originated in these depressed areas
and the predominance of black enlisted men among the ranks is a
feature worthy of note although these men face problems akin to
those of the domestic sefrants and clerks etc. that were mentioned
Since Thrasher dealt in 1927 with delinquency as a sub-culture
within the lower class, mention of "corners", "gangs", unjust, corrupt
law enforcement and the existence of a rudie sub-culture may lead
persons to believe that this "movement" is merely delinquency on a
large scale. The fact that this would include a large majority of youth
from the urban lower class whose activity will not be confined to
to rumbles and hatred of the police takes this out of the area covered
by the concept of juvenile delinquency. Their activity will not be
narrowly confined because as noted before rudie is aware of a wider
role. This wider role, despite the reported fratricide, transcends gang
and neighbourhood boundaries and arises because rudie is acutely
aware of the suffering of people of his own colour and his own class
and because he is convinced that this oppression stems from that other
The imminence of elections may precipitate an urban mass move-
ment more along colour-class lines than along any other. The West
Kingston ",fratricide" would have to be overcome before any such
movement could gain ground. Factors likely to bring this about are:
1. That the politicians involved should actively promote unity which
is most unlikely since it was they who promoted disunity in the first
2. That one or both of the politicians should be expelled from, or
leave their respective parties, in which case the conflict would have
to be reorganised around other non-partisan allegiance. However,
this is unlikely in an election year.
3. More realistically, that the other society should strengthen punitive
measures against both "gangs" in West Kingston to the point where in
order to survive, they would have to combine, e.g. a new and prolonged
4. That internal pressures within lower class groups outside of West
Kingston should intensify, effecting a reconciliation along fraternal
lines. All the -factors mentioned in the paper must of course be placed
in the general context of a dependent, unstable economy and an
uncertain international situation.
II. Notes of lere, The Amerindian
Name For Trinidad
IERE, the aboriginal name for Trinidad has traditionally been
interpreted to mean "The Land of the Humming-bird" This picturesque
misinterpretation persists despite the fact that in 1934, Dr. K. S.
Wise exposed its inaccuracy in the first article in Volume I of his
Historical sketches of Trinidad and Tobago. 1
Wise relies on the authority of Sir Walter Raleigh to support his
theory that the name Iere, deriving from the Arawakan word caeri, 2
means simply island, and he substantiates this view by reference to
Raleigh's History of the World (1614), Book 1, Chapter VIII, Section 15:
"The same happened to the Spaniards in asking the name of the
Island Trinidado, for a Spaniard demanding the name of that self-
same place which the sea encompassed, they answered Caeri, which
signifieth an Island" 3
Elsewhere, Raleigh also refers to the island of Trinidad, and states
specifically that it was called Caeri by the natives.4
These references drawn from Raleigh's works make it clear that
at least until the end of the sixteenth century the aboriginal name
of the island was still in use among the natives, that this name was
Caeri, and that this word meant island. I should like to adduce further
illustrative material, not used by Wise. to corroborate these points.
To begin with, there exists far more recent evidence of the survival
of Caeri as a name for Trinidad. As late as the mid-nineteenth century,
it was still in use among the Arawakan Indians of Guiana as is demon-
strated in the following lines from D. G. Brinton's The Arawak
Language of Guiana in its Linguistic and Ethnological Relations. s
"The Arawaks of today when asked concerning their origin point
to the north and claim at some not very remote time to have lived at
Kairi, an island, with which generic name they mean Trinidad."
As regards the significance of the word caeri, still more evidence
survives. That the word has nothing to do with the humming-bird is
abundantly clear. Wise (art. cit.) claims that the Indian name for
this bird is bimitti. To be more precise, bimitti is the Arawakan term
and tukusi its Carib counterpart; it is not possible that the name Caeri
could have descended from either of these two words.
On the other hand, we know that caeri was the generic Arawak
word for "island", as may be seen in W. H. Brett, The Indian Tribes of
Guiana, (London, 1868). p. 145, while Fr. Raymond Breton, In nls
Dictionnaire Caraibe Frangois, Vol. I (Auxerre, 1665, p. 8, translates
the Island-Carib 8 word acaera by "Isle, Pais" It should be noted
that the true Carib word for "island" is oibao, and that acaera is
really an Arawak word surviving in the language of the women, who
were spared in the conquest of the islands of the Lesser Antilles by
the Caribs, and whose language survived as the language of the women,
distinct from that of the men.
Furthermore, the use of the word caeri is to be found generally in
the toponymy of the islands of the Lesser Antilles, either used in con-
junction with some other qualifying word, or standing on its own. For
example, Breton (op. cit., p. 409 et seq.,) tells us that the islands known
to us as the Saints bore the name of Caaroucadra, while Guadeloupe
was known as CaloucaBra9 and Martinique as loiianaca6ra, the latter
meaning Iguana Island.
Further afield, cay, (and its Spanish and French equivalents), a
cognate form of the word, appears in place-names as far south as
Northern Brazil to as far north as Florida. This form of the word is
documented as early as 1541, in the Islario of Santa Cruz o. Las Casas
in his Historia de las Indias specifically gives the meaning of cayos as
"Todas esta islas de los lucayos, porque asi se llamaban las gentes
de estas islas pequefias, que quiere decir, cuasi moradores de cayos,
porque cayos en esta lengua son islas." 11 The names Florida Keys,
Lime Cay, Rum Cay, are further survivals of this Arawakan cognate of
Caeri, as an unqualified place-name appears in connection with an
island other than Trinidad in the Caribbean group. Earliest mention
of it appears in Columbus' own account of his First Voyage, where
reference is made to an island called Quaris, which is suggested by some
writers to be a variant of the name Caeri or Cayre: 12
"As I have found no monsters, so I have had no report of any,
except in an island 'Quaris', the second at the coming into the Indies,
which is inhabited by a people who are regarded in all the islands as
very fierce and who eat human flesh.. They are ferocious among
these other people who are cowardly to an excessive degree, but I make
no more account of them than of the rest. These are those who have
intercourse with the women of 'Matinino', which is the first island met
on the way from Spain to the Indies" 13
During the Second Voyage as described by Dr. Chanca, physician to
Columbus' fleet, an island called Cayre was the first land sighted (Jane,
op. cit. p. 30), and it would appear to coincide with the Quaris of which
Columbus had heard but which he had not visited on his earlier expedi-
tion in the Greater Antilles. 14 The actual location of this island has
been a subject of some controversy, since Chanca describes but does
not name many of the islands discovered, and as a result of this, the
identity of many of them has been disputed. The island in question
has been identified with Dominica, 15 and a close study of the course
that Columbus took on his Second Voyage appears to confirm this
view. 16 However, when Cayre is mentioned subsequently during the
course of the Second Voyage, it is described by the Caribs to Columbus
as a place rich in gold (Jane, op. cit. p. 38), which leads Jane to suggest
that "either the natives were misunderstood or that the text is corrupt,
and that in place of 'gold', 'wood' should be read." (p. 39). I believe
that this idea is highly plausible, but I should like to suggest "boats"
rather than Jane's "wood", considering both the context of the above-
quoted passage 17 and the fact that in at least one Arawakan dialect,
the word for gold is caona, 18 which might so easily be confused with
canoa, especially by someone whose primary thought was of gold.
Another view, held by R. H. Major is that the Quaris (or Charis)
of the First Voyage might be Puerto Rico. 19 In my opinion this
identification is erroneous. It appears to be based on a faulty transla-
tion of what is probably a faulty text. Major renders the Latin "quae
secunda ex Hispana in Indiam transfretantibus existit" by "which is
the second from Espailola on the side towards India", and again "quae
solae insulam Mathenim primam ex Hispana in Indiam trajicientibus
inhabitant", by "who dwell alone in the island Matenin, which lies next
to Espafiola on the side towards India." 20 It is true that in the Latin
version of the Carta de Coldn used by Major, Hispana generally refers
to Hispaniola, while Spain is represented by Hispania, but the resulting
translation given by Major makes little sense; 21 moreover, three other
Latin versions of the Letter read Hispania rather than Hispana in this
context, 22 and the Spanish version used by Jane also supports the
view that Columbus was clearly referring to Spain, and not Hispaniola.23
However, when Cayre reappears during the course of Columbus' Second
Voyage as the first land sighted, Major (op. cit. p. 36), does not asso-
ciate it with the Quaris of the First Voyage and unhesitatingly identifies
it with Dominica (p. 21).
Sven Loven also identifies Cayre with Puerto Rico, but for reasons
far different from Major's:
"During the second voyage of Columbus, a Carib told him that they
rowed often to an island Cayre where there was much gold. I do not
believe that the island mentioned was the one which the Spaniards
first visited, 24 as Chanca supposes, that is to say Dominica, but precisely
Puerto Rico, which lies nearer to St. Croix." 25
The mention of the island of St. Croix in this context is very
strange and is indeed misleading. Contrary to Loven's belief, it is on
the island of St. Martin and not St. Croix that Columbus and his men
heard of the island of Cayre from the Caribs: it is after leaving St.
Martin that they discover Saint Croix, then the Virgin Islands, after
which they subsequently reach Burenquen, i.e. Puerto Rico. (Morison,
Admiral of the Ocean Sea, ch. xxx) Perhaps Loven's hesitation to
accept St. Martin lies in the fact that he believes St. Martin to be the
same island which bears this name today, but Morison has shown that
the island first named St. Martin by Columbus, is probably to be
identified with modern Nevis, which name, according to him, originally
applied to Saba.26 (See Map at end). In the light of the fore-going
Loven's theory loses all substance since his identification of Puerto
Rico with Cayre rests on the proximity of the former to Saint Croix.
Loven also makes another interesting point in his note on the
name Cayre (op. cit. p. 54).
"Cayre means island, that is the same name used on Trinidad. I
believe also that Columbus made the same error when he named Puerto
Rico 'Caribe', as Breton did, when he called Trinidad 'Chaleibe'"
Loven's point is taken up by Douglas Taylor who counters in the
"Breton's name for Trinidad, 'Chaleibe' (Sal6ybe), is hardly com-
parable with 'Caribe' (karibe), or even with "charaibe" (kardib), as
this author [Loven] appears to believe. 27
In my opinion, Taylor misinterprets Loven, who specifically states
that the mistake lies with Columbus and that Cayre means "island", if
Cayre, as a name for Dominica or for Puerto Rico is confused with
Caribe, and the name Carib certainly replaces Cayre or Quaris in many
documents concerning the First Voyage, this confusion has its origins
with Columbus and his contemporaries, a confusion viewed by Loven
Where Loven is possibly mistaken is when he suggests that Breton
too is guilty of confusing Cayre with Chaleibe and that the latter is
supposed to represent the former. Caeri (Cayre) is, as we have seen,
the Arawak name for Trinidad and for Dominica; Chaleibe is the
Island Carib name for the former island (Breton, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 411);
and I entirely agree with Taylor that the two names are not to be
confused and were not in fact confused by Breton. Taylor (op. cit. p.
33), compares the name Chaleibe 28 with that of the modern Dominican
village Salybia but he fails to make use of an important fact which
would have lent weight to his argument, namely, that in North-eastern
Trinidad, there are actually two places with similar names, one called
Salybia Bay on the Northern coast, and the other called Salibea on the
Eastern. Could it be possible therefore, that the Island Carib name
for Trinidad derives from, or should be associated with one or other
of these villages?
As far as I can discover, the name Chaleibe is recorded only in Fr.
Breton's work; otherwise, the Amerindian name by which the island
is generally known is Caeri, a toponym used elsewhere by the Arawaks
in the Caribbean. That the meaning of this word is simply "island"
is undisputably clear; it is equally clear that the name cannot correctly
be associated with humming-birds. I am sure that Trinidad will con-
tinue to be known by its picturesque appellation "Land of the Humming-
bird," but in the interest of accuracy, I wish to point out that this
appellation must be justified not by linguistic but by ornithological
K. M. LAURENCE
* f- (bOMe-INiCA
;ca-6 ycayre, Quaris, Clarib
2Cr T RtIN1 DAb
o JCaeri, Chatelbe
2. Also spelt Kaeri, Cairi, Ceyre, Cayre, Kaiiri; Kaeiri; and even Quaris or Charis. In gen-
eral, except when quoting, I shall use a standard form Caeri in Ihis article and shall
reserve the form Cayre for the name of the island which I identify with Dominica. Wise
points out that E. L. Joseph in his History of Trinidad, (Port-of-Spain, 1838); is the first
to give this word the form lere and to associate it with humming-birds. Wise, art. cit.
3. Wise, The words in bold
4. Sir Walter Raleigh, The Discoverie of the large and bewtiful empire of Guiana, Intro-
duction and notes by V T. Harlow, (London, 1928); p. 12. This work was written in 1596.
5. I have been unable to consult this work myself and the following question is taken
from Thomas Penard who cites them in "Remarks on an old vocabulary from Trinidad",
De West-lndische Gids, ix (1927), p. 265.
6. It is from this Carib work that the Trinidad name for the humming-bird, tucucho, as well
as the toponym, el Tucuche, is derived.
7. See C. H. de Geoje, Etudes Linguistiques Caraibes, Vol. (Amsterdam, 1909), p. 297
8. The term Island Carib is applied to the inhabitants of the Carib-dominated islands whom
Columbus first met in the Leeward Island on his Second Voyage. Their language is not
pure Carib and contains a number of Arawok features.
9. Other forms of this name found elsewhere are Kerkeir Turuqui ra and Calucaera.
10. See Georg Friederici, Amerikanistiches Worterbuch, (Hamburg, 1947), p. 154.
Bartolome de las Casas, Historia de las Indias, ed. Agustin Millares Carlo (Mexico, 1951);
of Columbus, (London, 1930); p. 15, Note 6 and pp. 32-33, Note 1.
Vol I. p. 200.
12. Among them is Cecil Jane, ed. c'nd trans. Select Documents illustrating the Four Voyages
of Columbus ((London, 1930), p. 15; Note 6 and pp. 32-33, Note 1
13. Jane, op. cit. pp. 14-16.
14. It musl be pointed out here that not all writers are prepared to accept the view that
Quaris and Cayre refer to the same island as we shall see later in this article.
15. Jane (op. p. 15, Note 6), suggests Marie Galante or Domi
16. S. E. Morison with his practical knowledge of the techniques of sailing supports the
theory that Cayre is Dominica. See his book Admiral of the Ocean Sea, (Boston, 1951);
p. 404. J. Rennard unequivocally associates this landfall with Dominica: "La descrip-
tion que nous donne le docteur Chance de la premiere ile decouverte au course du second
voyage ne convient qu a la Dominique 1. Documents inedits publies par J. Rennard a
I'occasion du Tricentenaire des Antilles, (Guadeloupe, 1935) p. 12.
que voyan alto con cloves y contezuelas para hacer sus canoas, e que traeran
cuanto ero (sic) quisieren. (Jane, op. cit. p. 39). I quote from the original Spanish here,
because Jane's translation is inaccurate at this point.
18. See Las Cases, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 226. Columbus must have had to make use of the
services of an Arawak interpreter to converse with the Caribs who gave him this
piece of information concerning Cayre.
19. Navarrete also associates Churis with Puerlo Rico. See M. F. Navarrete Coleccion de los
Viajes y Descubrimientos que hicieron per mar los espanoles. (Buenos Aires, 1945),
Vol. 1, p. 271.
20. R. H. Major, ed. and trans. Christopher Columbus Four Voyages to the New World. Letters
and Selected Documents. Introduction by John E. Fagg, (New York, 1961), pp. 14-15. These
extracts are taken from the famous Carta de Colon.
21. Major's identification of Matenin with "one of the Virgin Irlands', (p. 15), is totally
incorrect, since even if by Hispana, Hispaniola is meant, surely Columbus would have
believed India to be westward and not eastward of Hispanola. The some applies to the
position of Puerto Rico which, like the Virgin Islands, lies to the east of Hispaniola. (See
(Map.) The islands Quaris (or Charis, Carib), and Matenino are often mentioned as being
close to each other and as being the second and first islands respectively on the way
from Spain Io the Indies. This description coincides with the position of Dominica and
Martinique. I suggest Ihat the confusion Quaris-Carib arose through a corruption of
the Arawak name for Dominica, Cayre, a corruption which was probably induced by the
association of the name of the island with that of its warlike (Carib) inhabitants
22. See The Letter of Columbus on the Discovery of America. (New Ybrk, 1892), pp. 52-53.
23. 'Quaris', la segundoa a la estrada de las Indias (i.e. from Spain), and Matenin; que es
to primer isla partiendo de Espana para las Indias". Jane, op. cit., Vol. 1; pp. 15
and 17. Of the various forms of this latter (Spanish, Latin and Italian), which have
come down to us (the original has not survived), Jane (op. cit. Vol. 1, p. cxxiii), assigns
the position of primary importance lo the Spanish versions.
24. In point of fact they did not visit, but only sighted Cayre and actually landed at
another island, supposed to be Maria Galanle. See S. E. Morison and M. Obregon, The
Caribbean as Columbus saw it, (Boston, 1964); p. 113.
25. Sven Loven, Origins of the Tainan Culture, West Indies; (Goteborg; 1935); p. 54.
26. Morison uses a chart by Juan de la Cosa, Columbus' cartographer, to support this
theory. See S. E. Morison, Christopher Columbus, Mariner; (New York; 1964), pp. 77-78.
27. Douglas Taylor, The Black Carib of British Honduras, (New York), 1951), p. 33.
28. Taylor (loc. cit.), suggests that this word might plausibly be related to Breton's Island
Carib word chalibaboue and modern Kalina solibia, both of which mean "separate".
29. Proof of the appropriateness of this title on purely ornithological grounds may be found
in G. A. C. Herklots, The Birds of Trinidad and Tobago, (London; 1961); p. 141.
III. Drugs From The West Indies
NOWADAYS it is often argued that the threat of a third World War
diminishes with the upgrading of living standards in more and more of
the poorer countries to the level of those in the better equipped
countries. This is a sort of social pressure which works alongside the
forces of nationalism to improve living standards, through the conquest
of ignorance and disease in the lesser developed territories with the
minimum of dependence upon others. To deal with the aspect of the
conquest of disease, every nation must carry out its obligations to safe-
guard the common heritage of world health, if it is to keep the trust
of others. It must be able to protect its own health, and in consequence
the health of its neighbours. Moreover, if it would stand on a footing
of equality with other nations it should contribute towards the discovery
of cures for the ill-health in the world. To make this contribution,
non-industriallsed nations such as those in the West Indies should direct
most of their actions towards suitably developing their natural resources.
Scientific research is a necessary part of every country's plan for
the development of its natural resources. It is a long term economy
which may best be utilised through a permanent agency set up for the
specific purpose of obtaining and co-ordinating the results of such
research. This essay attempts to show why a Caribbean government
organisation should be established to encourage the exploitation and
development of the flora of the West Indies, for possible sources of new
drugs, through application of the results of both local and overseas
phytochemical research. Such a research organisation could be run
efficiently on less than 0.2 per cent. of the gross national product of
any of the progressive economic units making up the West Indies 0.2
per cent. of the national income was the figure recommended for basic
scientific research to all countries by a N.A.T.O. study group consisting
of eminent scholars, who met in 1960 in the Foundation Universitaire of
Brussels. There is another factor which should encourage a West
Indian government to finance this sort of research project. The weight
of public opinion would almost certainly favour a government body
searching for drugs in the many West Indian plants reported by folk-
lore to contain medicinal principles. People should support such action
because of the promise it would bring of crystallising their own myths.
And the chances are that this promise may well be fulfilled! For there
are examples of the discovery of powerful new pharmacologically active
substances in West Indian plant species. The Jamaican periwinkle
SVinca rosea L.) makes a "bush-tea" which is described locally as a cure
for colds and fevers. From this periwinkle, chemists have lately
extracted a new drug called vincaleucoblastine which can cure some
form of cancer. Wild susumber (Solanum verbascifolium L.) as well as
other members of the botanical family, Solanaceae, are used among
country folk for their insecticidal and other biological properties. From
wild susumber, a chemical known as solasodine is obtainable which may
be converted by microbiological methods into hormones, growth sub-
stances of importance to health and well-being in humans. There are
other cases of how chemical study of the lush West Indian vegetation
has yielded valuable results over a period of less than ten years. Any
West Indian reader can add to the periwinkle and the susumber a long
list of local plants which reputedly lower blood pressure, cure the social
diseases, and so on. Of course, collaboration in this research may be
desirable between the government and interested individual institutions
at home and abroad. But any new sources of drugs would be of
greatest economic benefit to the countries to which the plants are in-
Health is a necessity for the full enjoyment of life. In order to
maintain it and to improve it, today, we rely on hormones, on substances
which alleviate pain and cure the diseases which afflict mankind, on
insecticides by which the destroyers of food and clothing and the
carriers of disease are destroyed, and on anaesthetics which enable the
surgeon to perform operations which would otherwise be impossible.
These substances are often synthetic, they are built up in the laboratory
by chemical means from simpler, more readily available materials. How-
ever, the formulations of many of these drugs are planned according to
the formulations of those chemicals of similar physiological action which
were previously extracted from plants. The rest of this essay will show
in special cases how new drug formulations arise from the results of the
chemical studies of plant products.
This type of development work is undertaken by the practitioner of
chemistry rather than the pharmacist. The pharmacist or dispensing
chemist is concerned with the accurate dispensing of medicines pre-
scribed by the doctor, and these medicines are compounded of known
drugs. But, the research chemist in this field of study sets himself the
more difficult task of finding entirely new remedies, often from among
new types of substance in which there would be no reason to suspect
therapeutic action. This chemist sets out to learn the detailed formula
which is the chemical structure of his new compound, in terms of the
types, numbers and arrangements per group of chemical atoms that
make up the compound.
We know that chemistry teaches that every material thing is
ultimately composed of a pattern of atoms (i.e. chemically indivisible
units), which is called a molecule. Chemistry teaches that the geometry
of the molecule of any compound and the manner in which its con-
stituent atoms are bonded together determine all the sensible qualities
of the particular compound. The molecules of ammonia (I), of ethyl
alcohol (II) and of carbolic acid (III) are represented by the following
H, C, N and O represent the relative positions of the atoms of
hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen respectively, bonded in the
manner represented by the straight lines. Carbon atoms are some-
times represented by the intersection points of the bond-lines in the
formula, (see (III) ). The greater the variety of known patterns which
O-- 0 N
perform, say, a specific biological function the better equipped the
chemist becomes to synthesise similar biologically active molecules. Such
"man-made" molecules, produced by imitation and often by variation
of the groups present in known substances, are the new and sometimes
improved drugs. There are many examples of how the chemist has
been able to improve on Nature by using as a model for his synthetic
skill some medicinal substance which he has extracted from a plant.
For instance, there is the new analgesic, alphaprodine (V), which can
replace morphine (IV) or codeine (VI), as a chemical for the relief of
pain. Alphaprodine is synthetic and is analgesically more powerful
than morphine, which is extracted ,from the opium poppy (Papaver
somniferum L.) Alphaprodine was made in imitation of the structural
pattern of the morphine molecule, according to a theoretical relation-
ship established between structure and physiological action in the
H \ ( Hn
Herbal remedies have been used by man for more than five thousand
years. Perhaps in every country these traditional remedies have been
evolved by a process of trial and error, and they include drugs of real
value as well as many that are worthless. However, it was only about
a hundred and fifty years ago, with the great development of the basic
science of organic chemistry, that plants were first examined and their
physiologically active constituents isolated in a pure state. Structural
investigations of these pure plant drugs have been extremely valuable
in suggesting general relationships between the architecture of a specific
molecular type and its pharmacological behaviour. Here is a chemico-
pharmacological relationship of interest to the West Indian reader. A
blood-sugar lowering substance called hypoglycin A (VIII) has been
found in the Jamaican ackee (Blighia sapida Koen.) It may be meta-
bolised within the human body into the acid (VIII). Compare the
molecule (VIII) with pent-4-enoic acid (IV) and the cyclobutyl com-
pound (X). Like hypoglycin A, the molecules (IX) and (X), which
have not been found in the ackee, show hypoglycaemic action. So it is
conceivable that hypoglycaemia in animals may be associated in these
molecules with the grouping (C=C) separated by two carbon atoms
from the group (O=C-OH). Unfortunately, these simple molecules,
(VII) to (IX), are unsatisfactory as anti-diabetes drugs because they
produce undesirable side effects and allergies in treated cases. To
develop better blood-sugar lowering drugs of this molecular type, the
chemist may then synthesise new substances which incorporate, firstly,
the basic chemical relationships found in (VII) to (IX) to be associated
with hypoglycaemia, and secondly, such chemical groups as would free
the new compounds from undesirable side effects. This requires the
chemical combination of simple substances like (I) with other easily
available molecules by the usual techniques of heating, mixing, irradia-
tion and electrical treatment. Then all that remains is for the
pharmacologists and the clinicians to test the resulting chemical com-
binations in test animals and humans.
Sr H H o
C -c-c -C-C
Hi \ I \ 1 _-VA
H H H H
1 H jn
S / / 6'
CL --C -( -C -C
1/ I x o- .
w / / /
Such a process was performed in the development of alphaprodine
(V) from morphine (IV). This process will be repeated again and again
for this and other drug types as structural elucidations come to be per-
formed on the wide variety of still unknown molecular types which are
elaborated by plants.
The methods of chemotherapy involve the selective destruction by
chemical agents of parasites which produce within the host such ail-
ments as malaria and sleeping sickness. This developing science has
shown us that living microbial parasites may acquire resistance to a
particular drug which was able to destroy their parents. This is an
important problem. A new drug shows high promise in the treatment
of an infectious disease; but, after a time it becomes very much less
effective. The reason? Perhaps this phenomenon points to some
factor inherent in the nature of biological response of the living
parasites to changes in their environment. However, it is a warning
against complacency. It underlines the need for us to be ever in quest
of new drugs to replace those which lost their efficacy. This is a
technical reason in favour of the existence of a West Indian institution
which may join in the battle against disease-carrying germs that are
even so much more prevalent in the tropics. Further, this kind of
organisation should tend to curb the unfortunate one-way movement of
scientific talent towards the more highly industrialized countries.
There must be other practical reasons for the initiation of a vigorous
search in our flora for that safe drug from the Caribbean, which could
protect human flesh from the effects of radioactive fall-out!
Errol John Screenplays: Force Majeure, The Dispossessed, Hasta
Luego, Faber and Faber, London, 1967 25s, pp. 194.
THE instant eloquence and wider circulation of the pictorial image
has led to a general devaluation of the word. It is not surprising to
find that Errol John, after many years working in films and television,
has turned to the screenplay form for his latest publication. His early
stage success, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, deployed those insistently
lively Port-of-Spain voices which must have crowded his ears. By
enlarging his range of material, he is now registering a life that is
observed perhaps, rather than deeply absorbed. The ease of film is
that character may be delineated by a few close-ups, mood wholly con-
veyed by lighting and composition, and rhythm of images give coherence
to a structure; indeed as McLuhan points out, a film audience accepts
mere sequence as rational. However in his foreword, John challenges
his reader to accept the screenplays on the printed page, demanding a
concentrated effort of visual imagination on the basis of his texts. Their
merit as "novellas in their own right" must be distinguished from any
possible re-creation in cinematic terms.
The first work, Force Majeure, is presented with fewer explicit
directions to the camera and consequently reads more smoothly. It is
set in London, or rather that interchangeable, international backdrop
of luxury home, hotel or club, using airports, motorways and above all
the Ford Mustang to symbolize the restless, affluent instability of
modern man. John deploys this glossy veneer in deliberate contrast to
the shadow of violence which has marked his characters, reinforcing
the point by a pre-credit sequence of boy despoiling a lily pond and
especially by repeated focusing on a painting of bombed Dresden in
flames which dominates a gracious drawing-room. Unresolved brutal-
ities in the wider world determine his choice of characters: a neurotic
German girl, a Jewish literary agent and two American negroes, a
divorced couple, successful jazz singer and ambitious writer, who have
"come up from under" at the price of most of their illusions and self-
respect. Attention is often skilfully directed to the writer's unease in
an environment both permissive and yet only deceptively insulated from
fear and failure. (Incidentally John plays with the reader by delaying
an identification of the writer as negro that would be instantly avail-
able on screen.) However the ambivalent sensualities of this quartet
are all too modish, and the verbal exchanges often too brief and banal
when unsupported by the camera's eye. When the violence erupts it
adds a perversely decorative figure to a pattern which seems over-
familiar. The essential failure lies in the gap between these accomplish-
ed but not very original scenes of dolce vita and the wider social and
political significance which John strives to attain.
If Force Majeure suggests the style and milieu of several European
film of the earlier 60's, the very title of The Dispossessed, recalls
Bufiuel's Mexican period. Here, as in Hasta Luego which completes the
volume, John has used Central American settings for picaresque scenes
of low life. He responds to the common characteristics of poverty any-
where in the Caribbean area with perceptive interest, while alluding to
the important divergences: the Indian heritage, the impact of Spanish
speech and religion, bull-fighting for cricket.
In The Dispossesed much use is made of the striking visual possi-
bilities of a fishing community. The action is centred around Lou
Delvados, a reluctant fisherman, traumatically marked by the early
death of his mother, who asserts his revolt first by sexual prowess and
then sinks to theft and murder. In a powerful climax derived from
John's one-act play, The Tout, he betrays his half-witted sister and
dies by the hand of his crippled father. The tendency to melodrama
is obvious, and there is a baroque extravagance in the accumulation of
subsidiary scenes and characters: the homosexual Rico living in a
derelict car, the contrast figures of North Americans, the inevitable
Carnival sequence. In addition a rather crude use of symbolical motifs
punctuates the action. John's failure to make full use of this wealth
of material is again especially a matter of dialogue. Too strong a dose
of basic Spanglish after Hemingway will edge a tense scene towards
absurdity: "It is God's will, little sister," "I killed an old woman. They
catch me! They hang me!" Even in cold print the Trinidadian plays
spoke with great vitality to the inner ear. Here the appeal is to the
eye, but without verbal colour to differentiate individuals, shots such as
those tracking around several faces remain weak. Translations from
Lorca, less effective stylistically than snatches of calypso, appear in
addition to have influenced John to attempt a climate of poetic despera-
tion in which he is not yet quite at home.
Hasta Luego has fewer pretensions and works more satisfyingly as
it stands. A double act composed of El Cubano and the diminutive
Willie return to find that womankind has betrayed them: for one a
sweet young mistress has played false, while Willie's old aunt has
deceived his hopes by spending her savings on a sumptuous silver coffin.
Taking his revenge by means of a stolen wallet, El Cubano achieves
only a gesture, a fight and a maturing experience for his rival. John
sustains here a lighter touch, summed up by shots of his heroes hitching
lifts in a variety of vehicles, or the sad buffoonery of the failed boxer.
He tries with more discretion to transcend the anecdotal by allusions
to ancient rites lingering in the national consciousness, and an ironical
play on the Quijote.
In all, these scenarios possess considerable interest and show Errol
John to be extending his range both in content and technique. In print
their weaknesses are exposed. Too often the terse directions will pro-
pose a strong scene which is then diluted by clumsiness in dialogue. A
relaxed prose might serve his purpose better in purely literary terms
when the material poses difficulties of idiom. However a film director
works with such freedom that the shortcomings could disappear in the
transposition from script to screen: melodrama attenuated by subtle
direction of actors, obtrusive symbols woven into the composition and
a distinctive visual style imposed on the whole by camerawork and
John is entirely right to stress the importance of the film medium
West Indian societies in particular should be devoting far more atten-
tion to this major means of reaching the mass of their populations.
Film education might be developed in schools, and the efforts of over-
worked government Film Units more widely appreciated. It would be
good to see, as in French Africa, some of our young writers exchanging
pen for camera. The "New Wave" after all began with energy, know-
ledge and enthusiasm, not with money.
Wilfred Cartey West Indies, Islands in the Sun.
Thomas Nelson & Sons (U.S.) 224 pp. $8.50 (U.S.)
THERE is something very Irish about the West Indian islands, or
rather about two aspects of West Indian life. Like Ireland also a
divided "country" we are very often written about, and like the Irish
we have produced more than a fair number of literary men and women,
from a very small population. A recent literary entry, "The West Indies,
Islands in the Sun," by the blind Trinidadian linguist, Wilfred Cartey,
satisfactorily combines both propositions, though ostensibly it is "only"
a book for young people. Indeed, when we consider that membership
of the United Nations Organisation has long passed the century mark.
we should be flattered that the U.S. branch of Thomas Nelson & Sons
have seen fit to issue a volume of this area as the thirteenth in their
series on "World Neighbours." After all, large numbers of the islands
are still not independent. (Other volumes issued so far cover Alaska,
Brazil, Canada, Central America, Equatorial Africa. Greece, India, Israel,
Japan, Mexico, Russia and Britain.)
Dr. Cartey's book would appear to have certain similarities with
Sir Phillip Sherlock's "essay" in the series on New Nations and Peoples
which was published a little more than a year ago. Actually, apart
from their equally unsatisfactory sub-titles to be blamed, perhaps,
on the publishers the differences are vast. Sir Phillip's book had its
uses, particularly for people who have neither the time nor the inclina-
tion to read deeply about the area. There are many, and their existence
makes syntheses and digests as necessary as theses and critical analyses.
Dr. Cartey's book, however, though a good deal of it is not basically
"original," goes beyond mere synthesis into the arena of importance.
Two facts substantiate this view: the book deals with the whole
West Indies and not just the "British" islands, as most such volumes
tend to do; and it is written especially for teen-agers, a far more
difficult task than many academics suppose. Its educational value, the
range and quality of its observation, as well as the reputation of the
author, all merit its review in a Journal such as this.
The sub-title of the book is of course unfortunate. It brings to
mind the pseudo-folk tune of the same name (which Dr. Cartey supris-
ingly classifies as genuine) and the film starring Harry Belafonte, itself
based on Alec Waugh's "formula" best-seller. Song, film and book were
all false confections, though the latter two did have some redeeming
qualities excellent steel-band music, colour photography and skilled
writing. It would be sad therefore if anyone were to pass by this brave
little book after glancing at its cover. (It is only fair to note that the
cover attempts to counteract the associations of the title with a picture
of a youth wearing a very dirty shirt; but this, of course is likely to
offend, in another way, some of our public "censors" whose sole pre-
occupation lies in projecting a falsely glamorous image of the islands.)
Cartey's book and his publishers must share the compliment is
brave because though written largely for American consumption, it
devotes a fair amount to space to Cuba (under Castro) and to the pre-
cedent American "big stick" policy in that country, Haiti, the Dominican
Republic and Puerto Rico. At a time when the United States is under-
going a crisis of conscience over its Asian policies, it is a bold man, and
a bold company, who can revive memories of past guilts, or remind of
other bones in the throat. This is not to say that Dr. Cartey writes
with the bias of a typical Leftist; he also points to what American
intervention in the islands did accomplish positively, and delineates
some of the shortcomings of the Castro administration. But the typical
W.A.S.P middle-class American parent will probably not notice these
attempts at fairness, and one can anticipate American librarians and
school-teachers getting into hot water because of this book.
The quoted publisher's price is $3.50, approximately 30/- on the
post-devaluation market. Unless a paper-bound edition is to follow,
we must consider this unfortunate, since this volume should be required
reading for our children. Any number of excellent books on West
Indian history and geography have appeared in recent years, but few
of them detail the present situation, and few discuss its historical causes
as graciously as does this book. Many people will also find a great
deal of information that is new to them, on subjects usually neglected
by writers on the area the Dutch and French islands. It is worth
noting as well that throughout the book Dr. Cartey stresses his own
particular interests; the literature of the area, the music and the
religions all illustrated, on almost every page, with a series of
excellent black and white photographs including one of Prince
Buster doing the Ska in front of his record "Shack"! One hopes to
convey an idea of the liberality and catholicity of the books conception.
Most important of all, however, is Dr. Cartey's point of view, i.e.,
his "West Indianness." At two points, for example, he refers to "island-
hood" and "co-dependence" as alternatives facing the West Indies if
they wish to escape the continued domination of the great metropolitan
countries of three continents. As some MCC tours of the West
Indies have shown graphically, we are still allowing the propagandaists
of our former masters to beat us down psychologically in our own
territories, and on a "battlefield" the cricket pitch where we carry
bigger guns. Even if we continue to be gentlemanly and hospitable on this
psychological plane, we must equip our young people to be able to cope
with this type of warfare, which has other and more subtle aspects
as well and a book like Dr. Cartey's is extremely germane to the
building of the foundations of an intellectual armoury.
The book has faults, of course, some arising from the nature of the
market at which it is directed, or, perhaps, from the demands of the
publishers. Thus for instance the sexual mores of West Indian life,
current as well as historical, are only hinted at, and there is little about
important West Indian personalities like Hamilton, Raffles, Garvey.
Padmore, Cesaire and Fanon; there is also some careless proof-reading
with regard to dates and some quite difficult words, and one or two very
important omissions in the chronological section at the back. In addi-
tion. Dr. Cartey is perhaps too idealistic in his approach to Education -
a criticism which says more about our plight than about the mind of
the author and his portraits of the early U.C.W.I. and Henri
Christophe are a little too rosy. These, however, are blemishes, and no
more; they do not affect the general clarity
A few words about the author should not be considered irrelevant,
although Dr. Cartey would probably resent them. His physical blind-
ness is only hinted at in the acknowledgements, and not mentioned at
all in the blurb. I raise the issue here to make a point about the West
Indian University Graduates and/or intellectuals in general. Much
unfair, and uninformed, comment has been made about laziness, worth-
lessness and materialism among them; a man like Wilfred Cartey is a
comforting example of the reverse of these qualities. What others of
us must ask ourselves and our superiors are questions about the
lack of real productivity and real quality in our work. This applies
particularly now to those who aspire to write and teach; but it may
even have some relevance among our advocates, traders and admin-
istrators. When we consider that the book under review may soon
turn out to be just a small part of Wilfred Cartey's body of work, many
of us have justifiable reasons for feeling somewhat smaller.
SELECTED BOOK LIST
F. G. Cassidy and
R. H. LePage:
Edited by Ulli Beier:
DICTIONARY OF JAMAICAN ENGLISH -
Cambridge University Press. London 5 5,
WEST INDIAN NARRATIVE -
Nelson. 1966 4/7
WEST INDIES, ISLANDS IN THE SUN -
Nelson & Sons, 1966 $8.50
CARIBBEAN PROSE-- An Anthology for
Secondary Schools 9/5
INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN
PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EXTRA-MURAL STUDIES
DARK PURITAN M. G. Smith The life of Norman Paul.
5/- a healer, diviner and seer
in Grenada, as recorded
by M. G. Smith.
ARTIST IN WEST INDIAN Edited by Seven lectures delivered
SOCIETY Errol Hill in a seminar held during
4/- May and June, 1963, in
Port-of-Spain under this
IOUANALOA A St. Lucian Journal-1963
2) Adams, Magnus
3) George Cumper:
WEST INDIAN PLAYS
RADIO BROADCAST SCRIPTS
TRAINING FOR MEDICINE
IN THE WEST INDIES
A NEW DEVELOPMENT IN THE
AGRONOMY OF PIMENTO
SPANISH AMERICAN NOVEL -
TRADE UNION AND INDUSTRIAL
in Jamaica 3/- each.
Looking at Figures
Agricultural Research in
Jamaica (Five papers from
Seminar in 1968), 2/-
Single plays by the -following
complete list on application.
scripts of broadcast programmes
are available from the Radio
Education Unit of the Depart-
Louis S. Grant
G. P. Chapman
G. R. Coulthard
Edited by R. Nettleford
H. R. Roberts
THE HERALD LTD., Printers, 43 East St., Kingston.