:,. \: V. *. > *g,<
Volum 1 -o.S. &
, 'Ji *. *\* .. .'/*
:i f : Lq,. b' v
h ~ b
^1, ,'11 f^-
;; V*^' ^^^^Volume 15 -Nos 2& 3
i,' ^ -i"'^^ -!"June September 1969
VOLUME 15 Nos. 2 & 3.
Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.
5. TRIBUTE TO SIR PHILIP SHERLOCK R. M. Nettleford
(Address delivered on the retirement of the Vice-Chancellor)
7. YEAR'S ENDING (Poem) P. M. Sherlock
8. THE STUDENT AND THE UNIVERSITY'S CIVILISING ROLE -
20. GIB HALL REVISITED (Poem) Derek Walcott
21. THE ROLE OF THE EXTRA-MURAL DEPARTMENT -
J. Roby Kidd & R. M. Nettleford
39. UNIVERSITY STUDY (Poem) Mervyn Morris
40. THE EVOLUTION OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN JAMAICA.
(1937- 1962) Sybil Francis
59. 97 YEARS OLD (Poem) Robert Henry
60. THE U.W.I. AND THE TEACHING OF WEST INDIAN HISTORY -
64. EMPTY LOT (Poem) Dennis Craig
65. AN INTRODUCTION TO CARIBBEAN LITERATURE A. Derrick
(Text of lecture delivered in Antigua under the auspices of
the Extra-Mural Department)
79. WORTHING MIDNIGHT (Poem) Slade Hopklnson
81. CALYPSO DRAMA (Excerpt from Dr. Hill's book now
in preparation, The Trinidad Carnival: Mandate for a
National Theatre) Errol Hill
99. SPECTATOR SPORT (Poem) Dennis Scott
NOTES AND COMMENTARY:
100. The Role of the University of the West Indies
in Family Planning Karl A. Smith
104. ii. Interview with An Artist
(Jennifer Dickson, interviewed by Hugh Morrison after her
exhibition held at Creative Arts Centre, U.W.I., Mona,
108. OEDIPUS AT COLONUS (Poem) John Figueroa
109. GABRIELLE (Short Story) Colin Hope
119. FAMINE (Poem) Wayne Vincent Brown
120. Poma de Ayala, New Chronicle and good Government
Felipe Guaman (Trans., Ed. by G. R. Coulthard) Wilson Harris
122. The Hero and the Crowd in a Colonial Polity
-A. W Singham Morris Cargill
127. Black Intellectuals come to Power
Ivar Oxaal Ken Post
130. NEGUS (Poem) (Excerpt from Islands) Edward Brathwaite
COVER: Mona Campus: architect's blueprint.
JUNE SEPTEMBER 1969
An official publication of the
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. All correspondence
should be addressed to:
Department of Extra-Mural Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
We invite readers to submit manuscripts or recommend subjects
which they would like to see discussed in CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY.
Articles of Caribbean relevance will be grateful received.
10/- or $2.40 (E.C.)
$3.00 (U.S) or equivalent
Subscription orders may be forwarded to the Editor or to the local
office of the Resident Tutor in any West Indian territory served
by this University.
"Caribbean Quarterly" Subscription Form
N a m e............................ .......................... ... .............................................
A d d ress.............................................................. ................................................
I enclose................................... in paym ent of....................subscription(s)
valid from Vol............................. No.....
.for 4 issues.
S ig n e d ...... .... ....................................
D ate....... ............................................. ......................... ..............
This double issue of CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY, volume 15 numbers
2 3, honours Sir Philip Sherlock, Vice-Chancellor of the University
of the West Indies 1963 69.
Its contents focus on the role and achievements of the University
which Sir Philip served with imagination, energy and an unfailing faith
in the potential greatness of the Caribbean peoples. He has been admin-
istrator, academic, poet, writer, a leader of his community and a
patron of the arts. In this year of his retiring, the Quarterly brings
together contributions on each of those fields, written by men and
women whose careers and interests owe much, directly or indirectly,
to the quality of his leadership as well as to the very existence of
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
REX NETTLEFORD Deputy Director of Extra Mural Studies and Director of
Studies in the Trade Union Education Institute at Mona.
LUCILLE MATHURIN-MAIR Warden of Mary Seacole Hall of Residence at Mona.
SYBIL FRANCIS Staff Tutor in Social Welfare Work, of the University's Department
of Extra Mural Studies.
ELSA GOVEIA Professor in the Department of History, Mona.
ANTHONY DERRICK Schoolmaster and Extra Mural Tutor in Antigua.
ERROL HILL for many years Staff Tutor in the Dept. of Extra Mural Studies, now
Professor of Drama and Associate Director of Theatre at Hopkin's Centre, Dartmouth
College, New Hampshire.
KARL SMITH faculty member of the University Hospital of the West Indies.
COLIN HOPE Resident Tutor in the Bahamas.
JENNIFER DICKSON Artist, print-maker and teacher.
HUGH MORRISON Director of the Radio Education Unit of the U.W.I.
WILSON HARRIS West Indian novelist resident in Britain.
MORRIS CARGILL Radio, Television and newspaper journalist in Jamaica.
KEN POST Lecturer in the Department of Government, Mona.
FDWARD BAUGH Lecturer in English, Mona.
PHILIP SHERLOCK retiring Vice-Chancellor of the U.W.I.
DEREK WALCOTT St. Lucian poet, playwright and journalist, resident in Trinidad.
MERVYN MORRIS Warden of Taylor Hall, Mona.
ROBERT HENRY Resident Tutor in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
DENNIS CRAIG Lecturer in the Institute of Education, Mona.
SLADE HOPKINSON Lecturer in English, University of Guyana.
DENNIS SCOTT Sub-editor, Caribbean Quarterly.
JOHN FIGUEROA Professor of Education, Mona.
WAYNE VINCENT-BROWN post-graduate student in English, Mona.
EDWARD BRATHWAITE Lecturer in History, Mona and former Resident Tutor in
COLLECT FOR TODAY
Tumbling Beauty in the tall grass
Come not near me
Shouting up the leaf-toss'd citadels
Do not tempt me.
I must not tumble with you in the grass
I must not bellow with you up the trees
I must be patient, wind;
Patience is irksome
Tribute to Sir Philip Sherlock
SOMETIME AGO while interviewing a past Governor of Jamaica
about his work during the late thirties and early forties I was struck
by a particular point which he made. He admitted that he had come
to Jamaica in the wake of its disturbances determined to clear up
the mess. He had also come in the style of the old colonial adminis-
trators, pledged to maintain law and order and little else. This no-
nonsense attitude was to be deeply tempered, however, by his early
exposure to Jamaicans with undoubted talent and with what he called
an intense belief in themselves. One of those who stuck in his memory
he said, was "a brilliant young man called Philip Manderson Sherlock."
The mention hit a responsive chord with me, for in my experience
as a student here, Mr. Sherlock, the Vice-Principal of the then UCWI
in one way or another stimulated in many of us this awareness that
we and no one else must be, the creators of our own society. This
in turn bred in many of us a spirit of commitment to the challenging
job of shaping the future society for ourselves. Some of us realized
that we were on the tailend of a process begun by West Indians of
Mr. Sherlock's generation of transforming the territories of the West
Indies from dependence to responsibility. But many of us had visions
of sharing in the burden of the inheritance and many of us saw the
potential of the University College of the West Indies becoming the
greatest bit of achievement by West Indians for themselves. It was Mr.
Sherlock, as one of the homegrown founding fathers, who helped
students like myself to understand the significance of Mona, in this
light. If we had any doubts as to whether West Indians had achieved
anything, not having created anything, these would disappear on
contact with Mr. Sherlock. And contact was one of the easiest things
with him. He made himself accessible and constantly sought out
students to find out what the young West Indian was thinking and
more specifically what were the needs of the young West Indian
undergraduate some of us still in possession of our innocence, others
all but lost and oftentimes uncertain in a new situation, still others
of us discrediting the UCWI, as only West Indians can, for not being
top-rate like Oxford or Cambridge and declaring that we were here
because we had no choice. Mr. Sherlock's tolerance and understand-
ing were no doubt put to the test on this score and as Warden of
Irvine Hall he won the affection of the most delinquent of inmates
because of certain virtues which have never left him namely his
compassion and capacity to make every individual feel that he
is an important entity. I also recall his civilised attitude to
authority, always approaching the exercise of it with a refreshing
sense of humour and always prepared to give the student the benefit
of the doubt if such a student displayed the slightest capacity for being
He was long committed to the view that our own products should
be encouraged to man our staff as soon as was feasible. The Extra
Mural Department which he founded and directed for many years
was by its nature a department that sought out West Indians from
early; and Mr. Sherlock's own dedication, persuasiveness and wellknown
charm were enough to attract back to it, as to other departments,
graduates of this University. I remember his writing to me in Oxford
telling me that two jobs were available in Jamaica, one in the UCWI
paying 750 per year and another elsewhere paying 1,400. The letter
ended "I am sure you will take the one that pays 750." Colleagues in
the Extra Mural Department will, no doubt, agree with me that Mr.
Sherlock had the gift of getting people to work in a dedicated manner,
and his education for citizenship in a transformed West Indies became
the anchor of University adult education throughout the English-
speaking Caribbean. The tedium of frontier work bred frustration not
infrequently, and the remote control methods of the registry and
bursary at Mona sometimes made some colleagues believe they were
the victim of some devilish conspiracy. But the Director in the person
of Mr. Sherlock was always around to reassure. He made us believe
that the work of the University was the greatest creative act in the
region and he in fact made Extra Mural work a creative experience in
a system that has too often been accused of being a pale shadow of
the Oxbridge pattern. This is something of a paradox for Mr. Sherlock
has always made us believe that the University or any West Indian
institution could not live unless it were given a force which was
naturally its own.
He simultaneously demonstrated that he was no chauvinist and
made many of us understand the true function of a University and
the UWIs role as a contributor to the mainstream of knowledge and
human discovery. He was particularly adept at striking a judicious
balance between this and the need to satisfy our own specific and felt
needs. In recent years I have had many discussions with Sir Philip,
Vice-Chancellor, as he was to become. His deep concern for the UWI's
providing for us greater intellectual depth and increased aesthetic
sensibility reveals the man's foresight and vision. His understanding
of the needs of every discipline taught in the University and his
efforts to see to their development in depth is well known. But he
also tackles the more difficult task of seeking to explore "the individual
anguish" and to plumb what Wilson Harris calls "the unrealised wells of
West Indian feeling." He knows too well that politicians cannot do
this and he charges the University (its staff and students) to help in
this great endeavour for the future enrichment of West Indian life.
He has done this against the greatest odds-against the inherent con-
tradictions and endemic conflicts of West Indian life, against sus-
picion, distrust, envy and cynicism, born of an understandable in-
security betrayed by us as a people. But he has continued with an
intelligence and generosity of spirit born of his own self-integration.
We could add once more his compassion and his tolerance. And what-
ever else may give cause for reservations, Sir Philip will live long in
the memory of those of us students and staff who have had the unique
pleasure of working with one who will be regarded as a great West
R. M. NETTLEFORD
No sunset sequence here
With dawn to come
The glory and the fullness of the day.
Time's child, in me
Tomorrow lives with yesterday.
Into my rented house I take
Deed and desire;
In me, Time's child and creature frail,
Fulfilment and prophetic fire.
A bondsman and his tenant I
Follow the strict progression laid
By Time upon the patient earth,
The springing seed that flowers and fades;
Show in myself his changeless will
What time he subtly steals
My round cheeked innocence
And in its place reveals
The grinning eyeless bone.
The Great House one, Time rides the fields
Wide as the world, far as forever.
His Great House roof the heavens blue,
With walls that touch eternity.
Bound to his will my body yields.
I from my tenant's cot
My small and rented lob
Observe his timeless vast demesne
His changeless bright today.
I in my changing self
His nature comprehend
And circumscribe his power,
Hold fast and bind within my mind
That which is gone and is to come,
The sunset and the dawn, the deed and the desire.
Time's child, in me
Tomorrow lives with yesterday.
P. M. SHERLOCK
The Student and the University's
AFTER 21 YEARS, a stocktaking of the University's civilising role
seems timely, assuming that one can resolve the issues of definition
which instantly arise.
The civilising process can be regarded as an activity of the lecture
room, of the common room, or of the streets. It depends; the chief
impulse may be towards mastering the textbooks and acquiring a
degree; or the extra-curricular may offer equal or greater temptation; on
the one hand, the extra-curricular activity of refinement, where the con-
versation is informed and sparkling, and the beverage is mellow, a
sort of leisurely Oxbridge image, but West Indian style-so the
beverage is probably Mountgay; or on the other hand it may be a
grittier process, a deep and immediate involvement with one's whole
Some would rule out the first concept, as irrelevant to a
"civilised" debate; there are after all known boors and philistines
with Ph.Ds.. One of the unforgettable students of U.W.I., Slade
Hopkinson was asked by an undergraduate reporter for an opinion'in the
campus newspaper: "What is your attitude to extra-curricular activi-
ties?" He replied "That's all I'm interested in"
The majority of students, one suspects, would disagree. For them,
the degree's the thing. In a degreeless society, it is vital to "qualify"
So Hopkinson notwithstanding, it cannot be ruled out in any con-
sideration of how the student at U.W.I. sees his student life, how
much time he spends in libraries and laboratories, and how much
time he spends in "other places", and what those "other places" are.
The student is clearly not a free agent in this process. Society's regard
and expectations of him alter greatly; and society's ambivalence be-
devils him. University studies in the present West Indian educational
and economic context are for the chosen few: the ur.chosen may
react irrationally. There is a parallel here with the Jamaican view
of the traveller, explored with shrewdness by that wise analyst of
local neurosis. Louise Bennett. Her Mary's Dry Foot Bwoy is pulled
up sharply for the affected accent he brings back with him from
abroad, and the community mounts a campaign of ridicule to bring
him back Into line. But just as real is the disappointment with the
son who returns unchanged from his American stay "and you
come back not a piece betta dan how yuh did goh wey? not even
lickle language bwoy? not even lickle twang?". To remain the same is
What Jamaican or West Indian society seems to want of its
student, is the best of both worlds, 'improvement' without irritation.
The student may enjoy a few years of slovenliness and any number of
mild flirtations with the current -isms, so long as he returns to
the fold with his shoes polished, his hair combed, and his visible
sign of improvement, his degree, safely under his belt. A rough kind
of understanding can then be reached, the society reassured that its
guarantees are secure, the student confident that the interim belongs
Any sample of any group of students anywhere in the world would
reveal such a variety of personal impulses that to assume a corporate
identity, however handy, would be a presumption. So one generalises
This reservation conceded, it is probably true to say that the first
generation of Mona students, have been, to date, the least obsessed
with the curriculum. Understandably; they were a bright group, virtu-
ally the pick of the intellectual crop; they were nearly all of confident
middle class stock, many had been out of school three or four years
or more and had seen something of life; were reasonably mature
persons, but had not yet gone rusty; there was a certain sophistica-
tion. Talent abounded; this was the era of Walcott, the poet, painter,
dramatist, and sometime student; and the medical undergraduate
who was also athlete, debator, orator, photographer, horticulturist,
was not entirely unique. The residential pattern of the University
gave this small group maximum opportunity for intense, sustained
and furiously competitive interaction. As a result, individuals pursued
wide-ranging extra-curricular activities with outstanding success, in
the music room and the common room, on the sports field and on
the stage. So in the field of drama, for example, the tiny campus
of a couple of hundred in the early mid-fifties contained at one and
the same time Rex Nettleford, Stan Irons, Ancille Gloudon, Hugh
Moss-Solomon, Mavis Arscott, Mary Braithwaite, Archie Hudson-
Phillips, Vincent Browne, Slade Hopkinson, Derek Walcott, Carol Dawes,
and the staff member Errol Hill. The extraordinary fact would have
been if this constellation of talents had not produced something fine
and exciting in the performing arts. And as they moved through
a repertoire ranging from Sophocles to Tenne:see Williams, the Uni-
versity Players demonstrated the levels of creative professionalism
possible in student theatre.
The chief Campus publication, the monthly Pelican, also reflected
effective student effort. The sustained technical competence of its pro-
ducers ensured that it seldom missed it; dateline; nor did its dozen
or so regular prestige advertisers fail to give their support. There was
a high degree of student and staff participation; each issue contained
an average of between 10 to 15 regular features by different writers on
sports, fashion, religion, drama, literature, etc.
The publication gave, too, revealing glimpses of the cranks and
personalities who left their stamp in this era: for example, the re-
markable medical student and his remarkable feature "The Book of
the Dead", a witty, archaic, weirdly stylised commentary on campus
trivia, which ran for years. He was one of many individuals in an era
of confident individualism.
Revelling in their brave new world of Mona, that alumni of the
50's were to all reports, the most assured, most spirited group of
U.W.I. students. The community outside found them a fascinating
breed, tolerantly overlooked their occasional aloofness and arrogance,
and conceded them their right to develop their own rather dashing
The fact that medical dominated the student body during this
period was an important factor in determining the relationship
between the campus and the outside world. All of the first 33 who
arrived in 1948 were students of medicine, the prestige profession par
excellence of the West Indies. Ten years after U.W.I. began, by which
time the other faculties of Natural Science, Arts, and Education had
appeared, the medical still formed a considerable force, more than
30% of the student population of 622. The Jamaican community was
well disposed towards the student; dignified professional organisa-
tions like International House extended hospitality: families invited
him home and hopefully brought out the daughter of the family.
In addition to social approval the student alto enjoyed a closer
contact with the staff, which the sheer statistics of the period made
inevitable; in the academic year 1952/53, for example, there were 65
full time resident members of the teaching staff to a student body of
252. Influence and association, even if unasked, were unavoidable. The
Principal, Sir Thomas Taylor, was as much part of the Univer-
sity's first music society as the student member was.
The faculty also took the lead in defining the terms of the new
academic adventure-What is a University, and what do its members
do? An example of campus activity, significant in many ways, was the
debate arranged by the Guild of Undergraduates on 20th October,
1954; the moot was "The study of science offers more advantages than
a study of the Humanities" All four speakers were members of staff,
who in the course of the debate examined the functions of a Univer-
sity as they saw it from their particular disciplines: the occasion drew
a record student attendance, and received full coverage in the student
press. The debating society incidentally enjoyed high status; the Gov-
ernor of Jamaica, then Sir Hugh Foot, was a honorary member; it
was generally acclaimed to be one of the most successful student
societies. For its time it was one obvious forum for exploring what
a University was about.
At a more formal level, the opening address of the Dean of the
Faculty of Arts to the Freshman class of 1954/55, an address reprinted
in the Students' Annual Pelican magazine, is also revealing. He
approved the view of a University which sees it primarily as a place
of "conversation" distinguished not by the "assertive voices of the
world of power or politics" or by "any dogmas which might emerge"
but by "the quality of mind which evolves in the participants." This con-
cept implies that the "pursuit of learning is urbane, civilised, tenta-
tive not basically a search for remedies for the ills of the outside
world." The Dean continued "the undergraduate belongs to one of
the few remaining leisured classes . leisured in the sense that you
have time to explore, however fragmentarily, the world of the mind.
You are not passive-yet you are not committed-there is no feeling
that the world is too much with you"
There is no sense of urgency here, no sense of social involvement,
nothing here, if unchallenged, to inflame the imagination and send
impressionable youth rushing off to the barricades. When the debate
continued, less officially in the Junior Commonroom at Gibraltar
Hall, without benefit of staff direction, it followed roughly the Dean's
path, and in any event, as a topic of student concern, tended, if the
memories of that generation serve them right, to take second place
George Lamming visited the "green academy", as he called it in
1955, and his first impression of undergraduates was that they seemed
to him to have been "on holiday since birth" But he soon sensed an
almost hidden layer of wider and deeper interests which gradually
rose to the surface as the 50's advanced. Campus life shifted its venue
from the Junior Commonroom, Gibraltar Hall, to the more spacious
new Union; there was a comparable expansion of horizons; individual-
ism imperceptibly gave way to a more conscious regionalism.
The novelty of West Indianism had been, from the very beginning,
an important fact at Mona. But students carried their regional aware-
ness easily; it was the delighted, spontaneous recognition of kinship,
reflected in light-hearted inter-island exchange of "picong" A few
postured about it, the student leader, for example, who with a special
emphasis, often announced himself as a "West Indian who happened
to be born in Jamaica" But no trauma here; the society was largely
indifferent; Carnival, calypso, steel band and roti found ready homes
But as 1958, the date of political Federation approached, student
West Indianism assumed dimensions. The formation of a PNM group
in 1956, the first political party with exclusively territorial affiliations
on the campus, produced strong reactions; it was felt by many to be
a backward, divisive move. Student opinion seemed shrewd and sensi-
tive to the pretentious politicking of the Federal negotiations: the
Standing Federation Conference at its Senate House meeting in '56
sat within earshot of the students, and they enjoyed a ringside seat
at the capital site squabble, which they promptly parodied in the
But on the whole, the arts, rather than the politics of Federation,
seemed the stronger interest, and inspired the University Players to a
peak of brilliance not since equalled, with their 1956 production of
Walcott's Sea at Dauphin, the outstanding piece of the Jamaica
Drama Festival that year which walked off with the honours in act-
ing, production and playwriting. Other works of Walcott were put on
in this period; so was Errol Hill's Man Better Man, and other locally
written one act plays. The annual production of Words and Music,
increasingly with original scripts, was becoming part of the Jamaican
Christmas tradition; the campus theatre was forging a link between
town and gown; more significantly, students were projecting high
cultural standards of fresh distinctive West Indian content.
Closer geographical contact with the whole region then seemed
necessary, and the External Affairs Commission of the Guild of Under-
graduates, in 1957, the second year of its existence, organised a highly
successful public relations enterprise, the first student tour of the
West Indies. The group included some of the most talented and
attractive sportsmen and debaters, ideal for advancing the image of
the new young West Indian academics who charmed their way through
the islands that summer of the eve of the Federation.
Between 1958 and 1961, the University College began to alter its
shape and direction at a pace and in a regional context, which ulti-
mately was to affect deeply the whole texture of student life.
The standing Federation Committee egged on by Dr. Eric Williams,
set up the Cato Committee in 1957 which reported the following year
to inquire into the College's policies with special reference to its resi-
dential character, the nature and scope of the curriculum, the West
Indianisation of its staff, and its relationship with the University of
London; these are all matters which the College was already consider-
ing as integral aspects of a necessary programme of expansion. The
independent, much reported action of the politicians accelerated
these deliberations within the College, gave clear guidance for future
development, and made the point nicely that Mona's affairs, even in as
domestic an area as where students lived, was not the exclusive
concern of academics. By this time, the fundamental take over of
the College by territories of the Federation was well advanced: he
who pays the piper was beginning to list his favourite tunes.
In 1959, teaching began in the Social Sciences, which had until
then been confined to the Research Institute. Politics, Sociology and
Economics soon became popular subjects and by turning a searchlight
on the area's pressing problems injected a new strong note of
immediacy into undergraduate scholarship.
In 1960, the first West Indian Principal took charge of the
College Dr. Arthur Lewis, an economist, and the chief agent of
University expansion; under the instant impact of his abrasive
presence, students almost forgot, if they had ever known, the mild
and unobtrusive Englishman who had been his predecessor. The
College was never again the same after Dr. Lewis' vigorous regime.
During these years, the town shifted its boundaries dramatically
to meet the gown. The vast, green nomansland between the campus
and the city grew houses and people, and overnight became Mona
Heights, an annex of the College, the newest Hall of residence.
These years saw also the birth and death of the West Indian
During the crucial period of the University's development, three
or four activities of students were specially significant. In 1959 about
12 members of the staff and 35 of the liveliest students from all Fac-
ulties, together with an equivalent number of Canadians, took part
in a Seminar on "The West Indies in Transition", which was organ-
ised by World University Service, a staff-student group, now defunct
at Mona. Deep analysis of the West Indian situation lasted for six
weeks of the summer vacation in the course of which the Seminar
members each visited at least five West Indian territories.
Another strenuous intellectual exercise, outside of the curriculum,
marked this period. This was the series of weekly open lectures by dis-
tinguished scholars which started in 1958, dealt with a range of
topics including philosophy, law, Africa, literature, the idea of a Uni-
versity, etc., and ended abruptly in 1960 when a car accident pre-
vented Mr. C. L. R. James from completing his course of talks. Large
numbers of staff and students regularly attended and took part in the
discussions which followed in the Common Rooms of Halls and in
the homes of staff members. It was the last campus-wide conversation
of any value between staff and students. After that the pattern crys-
tallised that a few staff spoke to a few students; for the rest, never
the twain did meet.
It was also the last probing attempt of students to define a Uni-
versity in abstract terms, and to codify the new West Indian spirit.
As such it was the summary of a decade's debate; and was the most
thoughtful and comprehensive synthesis of the collective experience
in the West Indies to date. So much was fluid, the statement could
only briefly hold good. No matter where the lecturer may have started
early in the evening, by midnight at least, the student participant had
manipulated the subject towards himself, this University, in this
region, at this time. His narcissism was more apparent than real:
for what he really said was "I know now what a University is, but
what does this particular one do?".
He answered as he asked: student activism originates in this period,
modestly; it started with the women of Mary Seacole Hall who staged
a demonstration before the Chancellor H.R.H. Princess Alice and the
Princess Royal, in March, 1960 as a protest against the prolonged lack
of dining room facilities. By this act "the undergraduate society sud-
denly emancipated itself' (Pelican Annual 1960). It was described as
"a determined, silent and dignified" affair. It had its critics, those who
deplored the impropriety of students demonstrating before two mem-
bers of the Royal Family: and those who felt it a waste that all that
dignity, determination etc. had not been put to a bigger and a better
Three weeks later they rose to the challenge: the Sharpeville
murders sent hundreds of undergraduates led by the Acting Principal
Dr. Philip Sherlock and several other members of staff on a solemn
march through the streets of Kingston, and down to the Victoria
Pier, where they held a mass meeting to protest Apartheid inhumanity.
The demonstration touched on no local issues, and implied no sharp
divisions within the campus structure: it was a unique and impressive
display of University unity and idealism, which earned the respect
and approval of the Jamaican public and press. Sir Alexander Busta-
mante, Hon. Hugh Shearer and others joined the University speakers
on the platform at Victoria Pier to cry out against injustice, racial
hatred and so on.
The next occasion which propelled the Mona Students into the
streets of Kingston was less conveniently remote than the sufferings
of South Africans. Their part in the referendum campaign of 1961
was the desperate, last-ditch attempt by the only genuine West Indian
caucus to have their emergent nationalism. In Jamaica the issue
carried tremendous implications for the future of its political system
and indeed for its whole national development. The activity of
students in the campaign identified them for the first time as a group
with a clear political stand, and launched the crucial controversy of
the 60's, still unresolved, both within and without the University,
concerning the level and extent of student involvement with the
Their cause was a lost one. The results of the referendum and
the subsequent end of the Federation demonstrated that in their 13
years of groping towards a new civilisation, the inhabitants of Mona
had merely succeeded in civilising each other: their green tower hung
suspended in mid air.
"We at this University have to reconsider our position we have
to replace our sense of loss with a new dynamism." (President of the
Guild of Undergraduates Pelican Annual 1961/62)
In the attempt to fill the vacuum the student of the 60's has had
to come to terms with a number of novel and often conflicting factors.
First was the vast expansion of numbers which characterized the
new decentralised, partly residential, independent University: from
977 at Mona and St. Augustine in 1960, the undergraduate population
by 1965 included Cave Hill, Barbados, and had reached 3,038. At Mona,
more than half lived off the campus.
Expansion meant also the broadening of the curriculum to meet
many more of the specific man-power needs of the area, hence the
introduction of shorter and more professionally oriented courses; it
meant a sharp rise in Governments' financial aid to students.
This brought to the University a wider social spread and a wider
age range; an increase in the numbers of the very young teen-agers
fresh from school, enthusiastic, bursting with potential, but still
fumbling for values, uncertain what to make of University, and
urgently needing an expertly organised if unobtrusive framework for
channeling their energies. There was an increase too in the middle-
aged, many out of the classroom for years; they had acquired social
and domestic responsibility not easy to offload; they were less con-
fident of their need or capacity to take time for the extra-curricular;
their situation at its most extreme exists in the presence of the
evening student, the newest member of the undergraduate body.
These factors created serious practical problems for student organi-
sation, at the very time when staff support and expertise became less
available. The Faculty increasingly moved out of student life, and
withdrew into the retreats of College Common and the Senior Common
Room. The students battled with their organisational problems very
much on their own; and even bright ones, fully competent to take on
a variety of activities with academic loss, found their resources in-
adequate to keep the Guild of Undergraduates and its societies func-
tioning at the desired level. So that the record of the Guild through-
out these years is a sorry saga of financial scandals and constitutional
crimes; of frequent squabbles with a Union determined to build its
own empire; of committees of enquiry into this and that; of reports
and recommendations unread and unimplemented; of one spectacular
attempt by a President and Guild Council to chastise the student body
in the name of good administration; of the prompt overthrow of that
regime; of bitter complaints by a Guild Council that its right hand
never knew what its left was up to. The postponed Annual General
Meeting of the Guild became the sick joke of the campus; the particu-
larly unhappy record of the Guild pressures seen in the official death
of the monthly Pelican, its replacement by the now virtually departed
Scope, the always uncertain fate of the Pelican Annual, and the near
complete disappearance of student publications; tales of apathy and
more apathy; Guild elections in the present year attracted only 40%
of the students to the polls.
Some of the attempts made to improve Guild affairs clearly
made sense; for example the office of affairs of a Dean of Students
to provide at a high level the administrative support and liaison
necessary for the proper functioning of a large student community;
this, however, failed after the particular Dean and the particular
Guild stopped speaking to each other. Similarly the post of a Perma-
nent Managing Secretary to the Guild, originally conceived as a res-
ponsible professionally trained executive, is an imperative; but this,
too, has fallen by the wayside.
The practice in some Universities of allowing the key student
officials to take time off from their studies in order to devote them-
selves fully to organisation, has never been examined at Mona. It
may be that the idea behind it touches too deeply at the society's
values which find the extra-curricular irrelevant. In an attempt to
readjust these values, awards and colours for non-academic distinction
have been introduced, without noticeable effect; nor has the establish-
ment of an Arts Centre, conceived originally as a focus for campus
creativity, made so far any significant impression on student life.
The falling levels of student participation and performance in the
60's reflect the absence of an efficient structure. Some groups, it is
true, notably the religious societies, continue steadily to appeal. And
the University has never failed in any year to produce outstanding
persons in every field, from music to athletics to debating; it is the
corporate achievement that has been lacking. The late Sir Frank
Worrell was dismayed at the overall standard of student sport. The
Dramatic Society, once the shining example of student effort, did
some interesting creative work with Dennis Scott in the early 60's;
produced a very fine "Moon on a Rainbow Shawl" in the mid 60'; in
between it slumped from mediocrity to near inactivity and reached
its present state of depressing amateurism. The University Singers
for a couple of years in the early 60's kept Undergraduate stocks very
high in the community and outside the region, with concerts of real
quality; when the moving spirits behind its success left the group
fell apart. The Pelican Annual editorial of 1965 concerned itself
exclusively with "the widespread lack of interest in the pursuit and
values a university society is usually considered to uphold" "Carnival
remains the only fully popular kind of festival, and off-colour calypsos
the highest kind of popular student creativity "
There are however three aspects of student life which modify any
assessment of the 60's as a period of unbroken descent into apathy.
First are the Halls of residence; on the Campus at Mona, the
Hall is home; in this respect it has both helped and hindered student
By providing for the student a secure domestic base and easily
accessible fellowship, it has softened the urge to be up and doing on
a larger scale. Frank Worrell felt strongly that competitive Hall sports
with their strong jeolousies had a damaging effect on the Univer-
sity's capacity to field the best possible University team. When mixed
Halls appeared in the 60's, the Union become less necessary as a meet-
ing place of the sexes. One recent and rather alarming development
is the organisation of drama on a Hall basis; it is no doubt, a well-
intentioned device to revive failing interest; but from the perspective
of the whole University, it is a desperate device likely to disperse
and dilute already scarce talents.
On the other hand, the Hall is a real community, whose value
grows in direct proportion to the growth of the University. The
problem of communication, a current nightmare of the Guild, is
not a problem in the Hall; members of Hall, too, can draw continu-
ously on the help of such staff as live, work and plan together with
students. So that over the years the Halls have tried with some
success to fill the cultural breach; their lecture discussions, art ex-
hibitions, musical sessions, etc., have always had consistently higher
student participation than those organised by other groups.
In the Halls alone is sustained, interdisciplinary exchange possible;
radicals and reactionaries can still meet under one shared roof.
Attempts to make the Halls into more than dispensers of bed and
breakfast have been continuously frustrated by the growing indiffer-
ence of Faculty and administration. With the decline of the Union
as a centre of student life and the obvious inadequacy of the soda
fountain as a real place of conversation, the Hall even-indeed,
especially-in a non-residential University, contains great potential
for exercising civilising influence in every sense of the word. Its im-
portance as a meaningful social unit in a rapidly expanding institu-
tion is recognized by the evening student in his slightly unrealistic
but nevertheless significant request to be a member of a Hall.
Another interesting aspect of student concern in this decade is
its wider involvement with society. The External Affairs Commission
of the Guild of Undergraduates has been responsible for organising
these interests. Its activities in urban and rural Jamaica have in-
cluded the radio programme TUSS (The University Student Speaks),
charity drives, work camps, the organisation of summer jobs, and
adult literacy projects, all of which have served to take the student
out of his University world and to place him into the community, in
ways which earn full public co-operation and approval.
Thirdly, the growth of radicalism and the University's orientation
towards closer international contacts in the 60's have been the
strongest evidence of continued student vitality. Mona has always
had its avant garde, noticeably perhaps in the earliest years when
everyone was his own pace setter: in the Federal period they were
internationalists, as well usually of the Arts Faculty, and likely to be
historians, increasingly impatient with the "bookbeaters", and
directing the gaze of the campus towards Algeria, South Africa,
Hungary and Albania; their tone was liberal-humanitarian and still
detached. With the end of regionalism, their internationalism became
stronger and more militant; led by social scientists, some of whom
were staff members, they discovered the philosophy of a third world
in convulsion, where every intellectual is activist. Fanon, Guevara
and the rest brought the West Indian academic right back into his
own backyard and to a searching analysis of his society; and this,
at the very time when the ex-colonies of the British Caribbean were
hoisting their new flags and passing into the first phase of nervous
nationalism. The anomalous situation of the University as a regional
body supported by separate independent units, added greatly to the
potential factors of friction. The main issue of contention became
that of academic freedom; the symbols were the passport and work
Unofficial radical student leadership tended to overshadow official
student leadership: similarly official Guild publications gave way to
a more vigorous independent press, frequently dominated by radical
journalism. The contents of the short-lived but dynamic magazine
"Impact", and the erratic but always lively "Rising Star", reflect
vividly over past years the interaction of the national and the inter-
national, the mounting dissent with the existing social and political
order, Vietnam and Kingston violence, Stokely Carmichael and Sugar.
Watts and Ganja, Rhodesia and Rasta, Black Power and Tourism,
Student Power and Rodney.
Because of their energy, their fierce sense of commitment, and
their shrewd insight into the value of the communications media,
Mona radicals (and the genuine ones are relatively few) have made
the campus seem far more militant than it inherently is; certainly
they have, from time to time, been effective in mobilizing large
numbers of students of every range of opinion, in a series of protests
against both the University and the national authorities. The teach-
in, the sit-in, the shut-out, over the issues of the strike of the Jamaica
Broadcasting Corporation, Rhodesia, and Government security policy
have all made clear student discontent with the establishment, as
they have also escalated public opinion against the "Mona monsters"
(a description of student demonstrators first used by a local journal-
ist in 1965). The culmination was reached on 16th October, 1968,
when hundreds of students marched down the Mona road and into a
head-on collision with the national power structure.
The traditional institutions of Government, Press, Army and
Police combined to inform the student what his business in an
academic institution should be, or more specifically, should not be.
And for a time it seemed that the October revolution had triggered
off within the University community itself, a response productive of
real cultural and intellectual ferment, centred around the true func-
tions of a University. There was a flurry of publications, official and
unofficial-almost all of which have now disappeared. There were large
assemblies throughout the crisis, which in retrospect were valuable
therapy to a besieged community in a state of shock, but led to no
real continuing dialogue. There seemed to be a wide meeting again
of University minds, of staff and students, which on closer scrutiny
turned out to be a handful talking to a handful, all in the same
language. And there has been one cultural event of real originality
throughout the year of the University's coming of age, an African
evening in a Hall of residence.
A curious state of limbo hangs over Mona today. Clearly it cannot
last. It may be that there is no turning back to the culture of the
Common Room as the campus once knew it; the excursion into the
streets of the city carry very painful, ineradicable memories of sting-
ing teargas, and the thud of police batons. Students can always turn
to their textbooks and this may well be where society is happiest to
see them buried.
And the student may be forgiven for feeling that it is the society
which in the final analysis will decide which way he turns. For there
are built into the structure of the student body at U.W.I. features
which tend to ensure the security of society's guarantees. One of these
is size; 2,500 students, the largest enrolment to date at Mona, may be
just too few (14%) of the nation to matter in the whole cultural scheme
of things; the quality of assertiveness has to be extraordinary to
carry meaning and influence. Another aspect of size is the limited
physical environment of small islands, making the campus accessible
to community pressures in a very real and literal sense; no family
or friend is ever out of reach: No one gets lost in the way that an
American midwesterner can anonymously attempt to reshape himself
and his peers if they will allow him, on an east coast campus.
The financial dependence of the Mona student re-inforces his
cultural imprisonment within the community; for his bills are paid
by a family a few miles away, or by a watchful government. Another
significant feature of the student body, is the high proportion of
women 30%, of the group in 1948, 49% of today's students, a sex,
traditionally known in most countries, conspicuously so in West
Indian society, as jealous guardians of the status quo, tending to see
the University and themselves as passive recipients of the existing
national culture. In such a situation everything depends on how con-
sciously the student assesses and articulates his role as a person of
distinctive civilising potential, and how selfconsciously he sets about
pushing aside the meshes of social control.
Towards this end the University provides him with at least one
powerful prop, its tradition as an intellectual pace setter. Historically
it has been the fundamental business of Universities to break fear-
lessly through the barriers of known truths in order to explore the
unknown, cantankerously to doubt what seems beyond doubt, to make
of today's dissent tomorrow's orthodoxy.
This tradition is now in the melting pot; in the several worlds
of the 20th century, the meaning of academic freedom has been
stretched almost to breaking point conveying many things to many
people, to some nothing; but until a new definition emerges adequate
to the needs of this age, something of its ancient force still holds
good, and can legitimately support the student when he wishes to
defend his right, as a member of a University, to "do his own thing."
But he must first decide what that thing is.
GIB HALL REVISITED
In those raft-planked bunkhouses christened 'Gibraltar'
by World War II D.Ps, as if they knew
we'd drift like displaced persons too, even further
from Europe than the homeless, homesick Jew,
that to a New World, thoroughly tagged and named
we could add only rhetoric, who had
less faith than the prophetically maimed;
a generation late, I sad-
den in knowledge that the brightest ones were sold
to a system, like those stars to Arabic,
that all our freshmen protests hid the sick
envy of Caliban for his master's gown
of ersatz ermine; fearing the fission
of red gown to black, of fire to ash, we moved
across dry Christmas grass like heatless flames,
cold, unlit candles looking for one vision,
our red gowns quailing like poinsettia.
Now, in the black, processioned and approved,
black gowns acknowledge us by our first names,
the red ones mark their own betrayals down.
- DEREK WALCOTT
The Role of the Extra Mural
The visitors to the College Report in 1954 commenting on the
prominent and vigorous activity of the (then) UCWI was borne out
by the promising programme of the Department not only then but
in the years that followed. The vigour and prominence came from
the creative impulses that from the beginning seemed to distinguish
the work of Director and Tutors.
ORGANIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT
THE University College of the West Indies germinated in the
midst of buzz bombs, and began life in unpainted wooden shacks
which had been hastily built for war refugees. Sir Thomas Taylor, the
first Principal was appointed October 1946 and reached Jamaica the
following month. Before long, new and handsome buildings were going
up and staff were being assembled from all over the English speaking
world. As Principal Taylor described it:
the staff is cosmopolitan or at least represents a good deal of
the British Commonwealth. Mathematics and Physics are under
the charge of West Indians; the Librarian was deputy-librarian
of the University of Capetown; the Professor of Chemistry
comes from New Zealand as does a member of the Botany de-
partment. Two Professors of Physiology and Pathology are
from Durham and the senior bio-chemist is a Canadian. The
Professor of Modern Languages comes from Edinburgh but was
born in Germany. History and English are run by Edinburgh
men. The Principal is English and the Registrar is Barbadian
but both come from Oxford. This is as it should be. As the
years pass, the proportion of West Indians will increase rapidly,
but there is always the need for cross-fertilization in a univer-
sity and it may well be that the new university institutions in
the British Tropical region will provide training grounds for
each other in this way. 1
The first appointment after that of the Principal, was of Philip
Sherlock, Director of Extra-Mural Studies. The Irvine Committee had
received many briefs and observations urging action in adult educa-
tion. Almost immediately vigorous efforts were taken and these have
continued for a decade.
The Director had first to recruit a staff. He sought them in all
parts of the West Indies and abroad as well. With the help of an
English extra-mural tutor, lectures were given throughout the Eastern
Caribbean and a beginning was made in soliciting and training class
In the first few months resident tutors were appointed in seven
different territories and work began in publications and such special
fields as public administration and industrial relations.
In addition to the purposes that were stated in the Irvine Com
mittee and by the Director, the work in the Extra-Mural Department
seems to have been influenced by a number of principles or guide-
lines, which while never fully stated, have continued to affect the
direction and development of both policy and programme. Here we
will simply identify these principles while the manner in which they
have been applied and represented will appear more clearly later. It
is our contention that it is their application that makes the Extra-
Mural Department of the University College of the West Indies the
singular institution it Is, every bit as much as its valiant attempt to
serve scattered peoples over so many hundreds of miles.
1. A West Indian Approach: It is not easy to demonstrate clearly
that an educational department is well-rooted in its own culture and
following directions and serving needs that are indigenous. Yet if we
look carefully we can see that this is the case. Titles of staff members
(e.g. Resident Tutor or Staff Tutor) have been borrowed from the
universities in England but the functions that these men serve, and
the qualities they need, are far from being identical with those in
England. Certain features of North American adult education can also
be found (e.g. the radio Listening Posts are a variation of Canada's
Farm Forum) but in this and other examples what we find is a West
Indian project that was suggested by another activity, not copied or
adapted from the alien model. Andrew Pearse, one of the first tutors
to be recruited from the United Kingdom, saw this clearly.
The idea of a University Department of Extra-Mural Studies
originated in the unique circumstances of late Victorian Eng-
land. Under quite different conditions we in the British West
Indies must re-interpret it. No dogmas have yet arisen, nor is
its function laid down by regulations, as now in Great Britain. 2
It is interesting to note that this independent approach seems to
be very different from that taken in some other British territories.
Dr. S. G. Raybould, back from his observation of extra-mural work
in Africa, stated:
Both in Nigeria and the Gold Coast the work of the extra-
mural departments, as of their parent university colleges, was
deliberately founded on British models. 3
It may also be of interest to point out that considerable independence
in development marks the work of universities in Canada.
Many of the social forces and educational ideas that influenced
the development of adult education in the United Kingdom and
the United States were also operative in Canada. Moreover,
Canadians travelling abroad were observing developments and
noting those that seemed to hold some promise for a young and
struggling country. Canadian adult education, in the University
and outside, displays many influences from both Britain and
the United States. Nevertheless, most of what has been done
has been fashioned here to meet conditions that were peculiar-
ly Canadian. The terms used to describe the work may be iden-
tical with those used elsewhere, and there are some broad
parallels, but the specific policies and programmes have usual-
ly been worked out locally. 4
No attempt will be made here to draw any comparisons between
the results achieved in the West Indies and what has been done in
Africa or elsewhere because suitable comparable data are not avail-
able. For the moment, we are simply pointing out that in the West
Indies there has been no attempt to measure success by standards
fashioned in Oxford or New York or Toronto. The goal has been
simply to utilise university resources in the most effective ways pos-
sible under existing circumstances. It is interesting to speculate that
this striking self-reliance may have come about as a direct result of
the decision to include two West Indians on the Irvine Committee.
We noted earlier that this was the only one of the Committee in which
such representation was carried out.
2. An attempt to utilize the dynamics of nationalism. By the mid-
point in the Twentieth Century we ought to be fully aware of the
explosive force, the enormous energy for potential ill, or potential
good, that is nationalism. At least we have had many examples of
dire results. But nationalism exists, it cannot be denied or evaded.
No other fact in the present day West Indies has any greater weight
or consequences. The University College, since one of the primary
purposes for which it was created is to prepare the way for self-gov-
ernment, has itself become a symbol of nationalism.
Philip Sherlock has spoken of the dilemma and the opportunity
For the present scratching at the soil with his hoe, as well as
for the intellectual, love of country has become a powerful
motive. This explains the almost evangelical note in the work
of what is now the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, and
the composition of songs like:
"We work that Jamaica shall truly be great,
An island where God has command;
An end shall be put to division and hate,
New unity sweep through the land."
Alongside the patriotic motive runs that of self-betterment;
the genuine desire to improve one's qualifications in order
to serve one's country better and in order to be better off.
Civil servants, trade union officers, teachers, leaders in co-
operative societies and many others find that their daily work
gains in significance because it not only brings them their
bread and butter but is a contribution to their country.
This growth of national feeling gives new meaning to public
affairs. All adults are now citizens, participating in the affairs
of the country. But nationalism brings dangers and anxieties
as well. Toynbee, in a fine professorial outburst, has defined
the Spirit of Nationality as the bastard offspring of the impact
of Democracy upon Parochial Sovereignty. In an emergent
nation one of the most urgent tasks of adult education is to
keep the dynamic force, the appeal of patriotism, the passion-
ate creative interest in country and culture, and at the same
time to show how independence leads to interdependence,
nationhood to membership in the family of nations, pride in
one's own to an understanding of the way in which differ-
ences may enrich rather than impoverish human society
The problem then is how to preserve the dynamic, the
creative energy, and at the same time to liberalize the senti-
3. A concept of "university leadership" In the approach that the
Extra-Mural Department has taken to its work no attempt has been
made to make a division of educational needs as those that are of
"university standard" and those that are not. All intellectual needs
are considered relevant and the university college is considered to
have a responsibility for them unless and until there are other suit-
able services. Naturally, however, without unlimited resources; some
selection has had to be made about what service can be attempted.
But the choice has been made with other criteria in mind that what
is usually regarded as "university standard" We shall return to this
discussion later but here we again find a distinct difference with
practice in some other British territories. In describing work he had
surveyed in Africa, Dr. Raybould observed:
Two features of the adult educational scene itself are of special
interest and importance, not only because of the contrast
they present to the situation in England and Europe generally,
but because of their effect on the work of the extra-mural de-
partment. They are, that the initiative has been taken, and
provision is almost wholly made, by governments and the
university college; and that not only are there inadequate
facilities for liberal adult education but for all other forms
of part-time education for adults. The effect of both circum-
stances is to put pressure on the Extra-mural Department to
undertake work of kinds not appropriate for it.
It is not for us to suggest that the judgment made is right or wrong
as it affects Africa. But in the West Indian situation a decision about
what is "appropriate" was made according to West Indies needs; judg-
ments associated with older universities elsewhere were not con-
sidered of particular relevance.
While on the subject of "university leadership' it may be well
to point out that the chief motive observed and practised in the De-
partment is "education for leadership" Not much is said about this,
but it is very well understood. The kind of education which is all
too common and which tends to cut off or remove the ablest men
and women from their fellows and their own communities, is not
scorned but neither is it advanced. Implicit in all that the Depart-
ment stands for is the notion that a man or woman that has re-
ceived an education has an enlarged responsibility. The words found
over one of the gates at Harvard University Enter that ye may learn;
depart to serve your country are well exemplified.
4. Experimental methods. In his first address as Principal, Sir
Thomas Taylor had said, "the best way for the University College to
support this (Extra-Mural) work will be learnt by experience and it
must be learnt" From the very first month of operation the work of
the Department was to be experimental in design and in practice. All
of the tutors have approached their own assignments in this light.
But it has been experimental in the best sense, the application of
principles under new conditions with some observation of results. It
was never a case of random activities, of "catch-as-catch-can" In
commenting on this characteristic the official "Visitors to the College"
in 1954, after some admonition that the College must be selective in
what it does, that "it could achieve less by attempting too much", said:
A continued experimentation in projects and methods is quite
compatible with this policy of selection, since one of the De-
partment's permanent tasks must be to serve as a centre of
adult education experiment, transferring to other agencies in-
cluding government authorities the responsibility for the
administration of new schemes once their worth and practi-
cability have been proved by pilot tests. The Department is in
a favourable position for assessing the adult education needs
of the whole Caribbean region, and is building up a unique
body of information by bringing together the varying experi-
ence of its resident tutors and through its wider contacts with
other universities and other agencies such as UNESCO. Its
appreciation of these particular responsibilities is shown by
the prominent part it played in organising the first "Carib-
bean Seminar on Adult Education" in 1952 on an interna-
tional, not merely inter-territorial, basis.6
Attempts have been made, on two or three occasions, to conduct
the kind of evaluation without which experimentation is likely to be
governed by whim or caprice rather than be a planned, deliberate
experience. This present report has grown out of such an evaluation
and out of the decision to emphasize and consolidate the more de-
sirable features of the work as it has become clear what these are. We
shall note a number of examples of experimentation in later chapters.
5. A single institution and local initiative. From the first days of
the University College it has been understood that two purposes must
be served simultaneously which, without care, might have come into
conflict. One is to concentrate forces and build up the intellectual
power in a single institution, the University College. The Irvine Com-
mittee was clear about this: "We recommend the establishment of
a single university' At this stage in the development of the West
Indies resources are not sufficient for the establishment of several
different institutions of higher learning. Such an attempt would have
led to diffusion of power and weakness everywhere. In 1957, Dr. W. W.
Graves said, "The arguments in favour of a single institution are as
cogent as they were ten years ago." 7
But it is equally clear that the very great variety to be found In
the West Indies, demands that local initiative and leadership in extra-
mural affairs be encouraged. We will see how this has been attempted
in each of the territories. It should be re-emphasized that these two
objectives are related, not antithetical.
6. The Arts and Humanities as well as academic and vocational
subjects. Early in the development of the Extra-Mural Department, a
tutor in drama was appointed. This was done on the understanding
that "precisely because they wear the warmth and colour of the senses
the arts are the strongest and deepest of educative influences." What-
ever opens up man's mind, or gives him the confidence to try out his
powers is no frill but the very core of an educational programme for
a new nation. This understanding has not always been grasped by
those interested in fundamental education of community development.
It is sometimes argued that the arts should be postponed to some day
in the future when basic important jobs are finished and there is time
enough for aesthetics. Dr. Williams warned: "It would be absurd to
believe that one could get any real basis among British West Indian
workers and peasants if the approach to them has any trace of the
conception that the purpose of adult education is that they should be
taught to appreciate art, literature and music." 8 Absurd it would be,
but this is quite different from the situation in which men and wo-
men through the arts are opened up to an understanding of them-
selves, are encouraged to express themselves and become more deeply
aware of their country and their interdependence with all men. Staff
members in the Extra-Mural Department have understood with com-
mendable clarity that their task was the "education of man, as a man."
7. Select able men and "give them their head" The West Indian
territories are so widely separated that men in the field have to operate
for months on end without much guidance or direction from head-
quarters. No other policy than the encouragement of initiative could
possibly work under such circumstances. Accordingly, an attempt has
been made to select a "team" or able men, rather than establish any
rigid hierarchy or authority. This is an application, in the West Indies,
of what Professor Waller of the University of Manchester has advo-
University work is what university men do. I believe in the
long run there is only one satisfactory way of marking out the
sphere of the Universities in adult education-and that is to
say that it is work done in that field by University teachers
with the full knowledge and sponsorship of their University. 9
We shall have something to say later about the way such men
can be found and given supervision and encouragement.
8. To mobilize others in the common service. The Irvine Commit-
mittee, in recognizing some of the special problems of the smaller
islands, proposed that volunteers should be employed in extra-mural
work. "It will probably be necessary for the Tutors in the Leeward
and Windward Islands to inspire volunteers to act as organizers
and to arrange for occasional visits of selected persons from these
islands to one of the larger centres for refresher courses or to attend
residential summer courses at the University" However, there is a
related conception that is something much larger and more significant
than this 'care-taker' proposal. The purpose is nothing less than the
encouragement of all interested graduates and others with artistic
and scholarly interests to take part in a common effort. Andrew
Pearse commented on this notion, as the result of his own experience.
We must make demands upon graduates so that they circulate
among the people not only as people doing specialized jobs,
with high social prestige, but as university trained individuals,
carrying into classes, lectures, discussions and committees the
spirit of their learning.
It is important that the university and its extra-mural arm
should mobilize not only scholars, but curious laymen, collec-
tors, writers, social workers, teachers, photographers, artists
and technicians to document and study the West Indian
As for the Extra-Mural Department, our problem consists first
in bringing together in the several territories those who grasp
the purpose and meaning of a university, on the common
ground or devotion to it and realization of the vital and unique
nature of its contribution to the West Indies today. Secondly,
it consists in thinking out ways in which the influence of
the university can flow out from these men and women to
others, and work like yeast in a community.
9. Whilst time is burning. There is a sense of urgency about all
that has been done in the Department.
Efforts have been made to build for the future, and build soundly.
Yet everything has been done with astounding speed. All kinds of
development in the West Indies are happening at once. Leadership is
required at every point in the great arc of settlement and in every
walk of life. Appropriate guidance to a new business or a new trade
union in this present year may save it from going through and re-
peating some of the errors that have plagued similar organizations
elsewhere. New constitutions, new forms of self-government must be
studied and legislated for almost every year. Economic development
must come swiftly if the grim race with a rapidly growing population
is to be won. Economic development demands training, imagination
and discipline as much as it does investment. A West Indian socio-
logist and lyric poet M. G. Smith has stated the situation in a poem.
I saw my land in the morning
And 0 but she was fair
The hills flamed upwards scorning
Death and failure there.
I saw through the mists of morning
A wave like the sea set free
Faith to the dawn returning
Dark tide bright unity.
I saw my friends in the morning
They called from an equal gate
"Build now, whilst time is burning
Forward before it's late"
Organisation and Development
In a paper delivered at the Duke of Edinburgh's Study Confer-
ence, Philip Sherlock pointed out that everything depends upon
The existence in the people of a certain spirit and will. Action
is required but action comes from desire and hope and
self-confidence. It must have a dynamic. The creation of the
dynamic is the first task, but it is easy to start, hard to keep
up. Inertia can be overcome, but all energy tends to run down.
How to keep action moving on is the hardest of all social
problems. Partly the answer is to be found in organisation and
methods, and partly in the constant regeneration of the
energy of the start. That is the second task. Neither can be
accomplished without a process which is educational in its
essence; not the education of books; but the education re-
lated to living problems and derived from the action taken
to solve them. 10
Organisation, and the regeneration of energy. How has this been
The first step was easy enough. In some countries there might
have been a fundamental disagreement between those who would
favour concentration of effort at the centre and those who would urge
some distribution of effort to serve outlying people. But when terri-
tories are spread and so separate, you must decentralize if you wish
to reach people at all. The sole alternative was a large-scale pro-
vision of scholarships to bring men and women to the campus of
the University College, of a dimension not at all practicable.
Dr. Eric Williams had put the case for decentralization very
forcibly in his pamphlet on higher education in the Caribbean.
The peculiar conditions of the West Indies call for decentrali-
sation of adult education and the establishment of a number
of extra-mural centres in the various islands under the control
of the university. The curriculum of these centres should not
be dominated by academic considerations of symmetry or
uniformity, but, with university approval, should permit such
modifications as are called for by the individual peculiarities
of the various territories. The instruction should be given by
faculty members of the university enjoying the same status
and privileges as ordinary members engaged in undergradu-
Accordingly there was general agreement that resident tutors be
appointed to serve in the territories. This had an added advantage, it
allowed for the greater usefulness of academic teaching staff at the
centre by making available outposts through which the teaching
power of the university could be extended.
Tutors were placed in British Honduras, Jamaica, the Leeward
Islands, Barbados, the Windward Islands, Trinidad, and British
Guiana. At each post the tutor set up an office and began to organize
and conduct an educational programme, varied according to circum-
stances, but usually consisting of the following:
coaching of students taking degrees by correspondence and
consultation with students expecting to proceed to resi-
dential work at UCWI or elsewhere
residential short courses
festivals of the fine arts
use of press and radio for diffusion of information
co-operation with other organizations in special educational
As we shall see, each tutor began by establishing classes. These
enjoyed varying kinds of success but often there was considerable dis-
appointment at the lack of response. Before long there was a grow-
ing realisation that a class programme was far from being all that
was required. Gradually, but with increasing confidence, the tutors
began to organise residential courses and other forms of adult edu-
cation, and to collaborate with colleagues in the territories in a broad
programme of continuing education.
As fully as possible, the tutors have given attention to the educa-
tion of the public. Radio has been used intensively in most territories
for this purpose. Tutors have arranged many public lectures, and
public lecture series; delivered by visiting professors from the Uni-
versity College or by well-informed persons resident in or visiting
territories. For sustained impact the short but intensive seminar or
residential course was introduced, with considerable success.
It soon became apparent that in certain fields more help was
needed than could be supplied by a "generalist"-the resident tutor
himself, or could be found in most of the territories. Accordingly,
tutors in public administration, industrial relations, and drama were
employed and made available for limited periods to each territory.
From the very beginning the Department has made every possible
effort to publish suitable material. As we shall see, its publishing
record is substantial, equal or surpassing that of many long establish-
ed universities. In the past five years interesting leadership has been
given in education by radio and this is now the main responsibility
of a special radio unit.
The official "Visitors to the College" in April 1954, were impressed
with the organization and scope of the work.
The Department of Extra-Mural Studies has been a prominent
and vigorous activity of the College from its earliest days.
Adapting its work to the opportunities of the region in which
the provision of adult education facilities is less but the need
for them greater than in the United Kingdom, the Department
necessarily differs in range and in methods from its counter-
part in the home universities. It has striven to assist, supple-
ment and co-ordinate and not to displease, other adult educa-
tional organizations and activities, and aim at confining its
direct work to that appropriate to a university
The Department has also developed as a regular feature of its
work the organisation of special courses. These have taken
various forms; some have been summer schools, for example,
for school teachers in biology, and for agricultural extension
workers in "The Jamaican Community"; some have been
longer, such as the ten-week, part-time, course on "The New
Constitution and Jamaica" for senior civil servants, and the
ten-week full-time residential course for trade union leaders
from almost all the West Indian territories which was in pro-
gress at the time of our visit. With the appointment of specialist
staff tutors such as those in Industrial Relations and in
Drama, this feature of the Department's work is expanding
The Department has experimented in a great variety of
methods and media, in addition to its class programme and
special courses. It makes great use of week-end schools, of
public lectures and of projects such as an exhibition of Arawak
remains in St. Lucia and the production of a specimen issue
of a newspaper in Trinidad. As an illustration of its experi-
mentation in attempting to meet the adult education needs
of a dispersed population in areas of poor communications we
might mention the "Citizens' Listening Posts" developed in
Jamaica. Groups of listeners meet each week to follow a course
of broadcast talks or discussions in preparation for which a
pamphlet giving syllabuses, guides to reading, summary back-
ground discussion and points for discussion are circulated. The
pamphlet gives advice on the technique of group discussion
both for group leader and members; the groups send in reports
on their discussion and also questions which are dealt with in
one or two of the broadcasts during the series. Courses of
broadcasts for this purpose have been given on such sub-
jects as "The Citizen and the Law," on economics and psy-
The Department has decided that it should have as one of
its main objectives the training of leadership groups, so that
its direct influence on leaders and potential leaders in such
spheres as the trade union and the civil service can both
immediately assist the West Indian territories in their present
stage of rapid social and political change and also, through
these leaders, be passed on to wider groups.
For much of the first decade the Department of Extra-Mural
Studies has had a form somewhat as in the chart:
-- __ --1-----
Special Services Special Departments
Radio Unit Public Administrations
Resident Tutors Publications Industrial Relations
Summer Schools and
Conferences for entire
British Jamaica Leeward Windward Barbados Trinidad British
Honduras Islands Islands Guiana
Classes Education of the public
Special seminars and conferences Co-operation with other agencies
Residential schools Local projects and research
Summer schools Festivals of the arts
Initial capital financing for the University College was provided
by the British Government. This includes all of the university build-
ings, laboratories, halls of residence, housing for the academic staff;
it includes equally the university hospital, the faculty of education
and the Institute of Social and Economic Research.
The recurrent operating expenses, on the other hand, have been
borne by the participating colonies, in proportion to their population.
Since Federation, the main contributions will come from the Federal
Government, with the colonies of British Honduras and British Guiana
continuing to contribute as before.
The main support for Extra-Mural work has been provided from
the general budget of the university college. Modest fees are invariably
charged for classes, in an effort to make them self-supporting and
this is equally true of seminars and residential courses. In some ter-
ritories, mostly Trinidad, the territorial government has made a con-
tribution to the class work. Government organizations and corpora-
tions have supported special seminars or residential courses by gifts
in money, services, or by subsidizing attendance. For example, the
Jamaican Government gave a grant of 400 towards the cost of a
course for senior civil servants, and the Jamaica Agricultural Society
300 for a course for extension projects.
For new projects of any kind and for the further training of his
staff the Director has had constantly to seek outside sources of funds.
A single financial standard for all
One does not wish to be unduly critical of the official University
College Visitors. But the remarks of the visitors on finance and extra-
mural work seem curious and "out-of-tune."
It is perhaps in its own interests that the Department should
have to work to a fixed and limited budget, sufficient to meet
its expenditure on its permanent staff and minimum central
activities and overheads, since this compels it to be selective
in its work and to make every effort to transform its separate
activities into self-financing operations.
Now this is a very common kind of observation, but, with all respect,
that makes it no less insulting. The implication is that Extra-Mural
workers must be kept in a financial straight jacket or they will
behave irresponsibly. If this is true, why not follow the same policy
with classicists or the medical faculty. There is simply no evidence
to show that university men in an extra-mural department will use
money with less responsibility than university men in any other
faculty. Some happen to be more responsible than others, as is also
true of mathematicians and historians. On the whole the Extra-Mural
Department seems to have contrived much on a slender budget. Does
any other department have a better record? Of course if a man
cannot handle a budget wisely he should be dismissed. Otherwise ade-
quate budgets should be provided and university men expected to
spend them wisely. An end should be put to a "double standard", to
this queer and unfounded notion that university staff in the Extra-
Mural Department should be treated, so far as money is concerned,
in some way different than their colleagues.
J. ROBY KIDD
Long before there was a Department of Education, and even after
the establishment of that Department, the Extra Mural spearheaded
work in TEACHER TRAINING by offering courses in pedagogy and
subject matter development, throughout the Caribbean. The present
Easter courses for teachers in Chemistry and other Natural Science
subjects have evolved from early Extra Mural endeavours. The Insti-
tute of Education now gives the matter of teacher training greater
scope and meaning.
LABOUR EDUCATION was one of the first areas of activity. Lead-
ing Trade Unionists throughout the region have attended one seminar
or other organised by the Extra Mural Industrial Relations Tutor.
The work has expanded now into the Trade' Union Education Institute;
Industrial Relations is now offered in the B.Sc.(Econ.) and Manage-
ment Studies courses in the Faculty of Social Sciences-one of the
later faculties to be established in the University.
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION readily found advocacy in Extra
Mural to serve the express needs of the small farming communities,
particularly in Jamaica. This area is today an integral part of the
programme of the St. Augustine based Faculty of Agriculture which
does extensive work in the territories of the Eastern Caribbean.
In 1955 a Conference on TRAINING IN PUBLIC AND BUSINESS
ADMINISTRATION organised by the Extra Mural Department in
Collaboration with the Administrative Staff College of Henlay-on-
Thames was followed up by residential courses for middle and senior
administrative staff in both Government and Business between 1956
and 1960. These courses pioneered the now established Diploma in
Public Administration in the Department of Government, and pointed
directions for the now popular business management courses, some
of which are privately organised in the larger territories of the region.
Inservice TRAINING for SOCIAL WORKERS, the appointment of
a Sta.f Tutor in the field in 1959 and the building of the Social
Welfare Training Centre on the Mona campus were all the work of
Extra Mural. Today there is a two year Certificate course for Social
Workers while the short in-service courses continue in greater depth
within the Extra Mural Department.
THE CREATIVE ARTS have long received immediate support from
the Extra Mural Department. A Creative Arts Centre on the Mona
Campus, annual courses in the performing arts and Arts Festivals as
well as much individual activity in writing, painting, etc., are the
direct results of the early and continuing work of the Department.
Extra Mural commitment to ADULT EDUCATION has been expressed
in an experimental rather than a doctrinaire way. But from the early
years it sought to bring workers in the disciplines together, to clarify
objectives and exchange ideas. An early seminar on Adult Education
drew together adult educators from the contributing territories as well
as from Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Panana, Surinam, Martinique and
the Dominican Republic.
It is against this background of pioneering work and commitment
to maintaining the Department as the University's agency for experi-
ment that evaluation of the work is best seen.
Despite what would seem to be an 'occupational commitment to
optimism' on the part of the staff of the Extra Mural Department, no
one has been smug enough to ignore the need for periodic evaluation
and re-assessment of the work in adult education. In 1958, Sir Philip
Sherlock, the first Director of the programme, invited J. Roby Kidd of
Canada to do a full-scale inquiry into the work of the Department."
Descriptive rather than analytical, Dr. Kidd's report put between
covers important and useful facts and figures on how the department
went about its business. The report was to form an invaluable back-
ground for Professor Cyril Houle of the University of Chicago who
came a year later and reported yet again on the work of the Depart-
ment. Before that (in 1954) Dame Lillian Penson had led a team of
Visitors to the University and had reported, inter alia, on the work
in adult education. So in fact did the Cato Committee made up of
West Indian and British leaders, in 1958. All the evaluators spoke
enthusiastically in praise of the work of the Department. The Penson
Committee recognized the "evidence of a contribution of high academic
standards and realisation of the special circumstances and require-
ments of the various territories of the West Indies" to be found in
Extra Mural work. The Cato Committee acknowledged the Univer-
sity's "anxious concern to serve the West Indian community by the
wide dissemination of learning and study in a variety of subjects"
and re-affirmed its faith in the work of the Extra Mural Department.
Kidd's careful documentation of the Department's activities is itself
an expression of his regard for the work that was done. Houle went
further by not praising the excellence of the staff and work in gen-
eral but also pointing out shortcomings particularly in the matter of
administrative arrangements which hampered the work.
Added to all this has been the constant review by members of
the staff itself. Self-criticism has been more than a past-time with
tutors however, and the annual staff conference instituted by Acting
Director, Rawle Farley and continued by Visiting Professor S. G.
Raybould of Leeds, H. L. Wynter and Hugh Miller were to serve as
forums for re-examination and self-appraisals. The crisis of the
University has been in a real sense the crisis of the Department. Ques-
tions of relevance of the Institution to West Indian life and charges
of the University being an ivory tower of colonial elitism-to name
just two things-have all been squarely confronted in the work of the
Department. The work has also constantly faced the threat of diffus-
ing itself too much in order to meet the needs of the scattered popu-
lation it serves. But as the Penson Committee said, "it is perhaps in
its own interests that the Department should have to work to a fixed
limited budget, sufficient to meet its expenditure on its permanent
staff and minimum central activities and overheads, since this
compels it to be selective in its work and to make every effort to
transform its separate activities into self-financing operations."
Yet effort to do just this has sometimes served to deprive the
work of other things as important. The field of Adult Education as a
discipline quickly comes to mind. Despite the wealth of experience
gleaned over the past twenty years in the Department, no systematic
codification of it has been done in Adult Education terms. The appoint-
ment of a Staff Tutor in Adult Education following on the Houle
recommendation did not result in definitive work since the incum-
bent was soon to be put in charge of other priorities concerned with
the day-to-day operations of the Department. Not all tutors in the
department have felt that Adult Education has a sufficient subject
matter and is sufficiently rigorous to constitute a separate discipline.
Yet one Resident Tutor pursued diploma work in the field and another
is currently on leave in Canada pursuing a doctorate. The Department
did, however, design blueprints for a post-graduate course in Educa-
tion. Perhaps the uniquene-s of West Indian experience must await
postgraduate researchers who will be sufficiently stimulated to isolate
the principles which have governed that experience so that a body
of teachable material can be produced as incentive for further work.
The Extra Mural Department has naturally identified the activity
as one essential to the growth of a people and has consciously given
leadership over the years to adult education agencies all over the
Caribbean-particularly in social welfare, labour, co-operatives and
agriculture. In 1952 the Department spearheaded an international
seminar on Adult Education and in 1959 the Resident Tutor in Jamaica
had a follow-up. But although its leadership in the field has been
a dynamic one, the Department has never given the impression that
it wishes to hold sway. This has helped to maintain the necessary
climate of goodwill and interest such as the U.K. Extra Mural work
had from WEA at the turn of the century. Extra Mural Programmes
are invariably presented "in collaboration with or "in joint
sponsorship" with one or more of the going adult education agencies
in territories throughout the West Indies. It accounts for the wide
voluntary participation in the programme and helps to explain why
so much can be achieved despite the lack of funds.
For the work of the Department can claim some achievement.
Most of the major creative affairs in the West Indies in the post-war
period have had some filip from Extra Mural work. Hundreds of civil
servants, public leaders (including Prime Ministers, Premiers and
ambassadors) and labour leaders participated in early Extra Mural
programmes as students and/or teachers. The other thousands who
have attended workshops, seminars, courses, conferences ranging from
a day to six months are not mere statistical entities but living men
and women now contributing to West Indian life. For many years
the University meant 'Extra Mural' to most West Indians outside of
Jamaica where the University was originally sited. The Penson Com-
mittee felt it was "fair to recognize that the Department by the very
nature of its work and by the representational functions of its tutors
resident in each of the seven territories, has made an invaluable con-
tribution to the general public relations of the University as a whole,
and that the financial investment made in this work cannot be
judged wholly in terms of its technical qualities."
It is by the qualitative measure of its contribution that the
Department is most fairly judged. Some of its achievements defy
quantification though one must not deny the usefulness in knowing
that in St. Vincent in year x, for example, enrolment for classes rose
by 200% over the previous year. Indeed the rigorous keeping of
records has not been a strong point of the Department's work and
though positive steps have been more recently taken to ensure that
usable records are at hand for comparative study and for re-assess-
ment exercises, it will be some time before the full effect of this is
This probably accounts for certain criticisms that are sometimes
levelled at the Department. One such is the charge that the Depart-
ment does not build up a statement of major objectives nor does it
list priorities for future expansion should resources become available.
This is not altogether the case. The 1963 Antigua Conference sought
to do just this and actually did, though the more valid criticism that
there has not been a thorough follow-through cannot be gainsaid.
Priorities have emerged and the Department has found itself in a
surprisingly receptive mood to cope. The Social Welfare Training
Centre, the Trade Union Education Institute, the Creative Arts Centre
have all developed naturally out of the Department's work in the
training of social welfare workers and community development officers,
the training of labour leaders, and the stimulation of the arts particu-
larly drama, dance, music and painting almost from the beginning of
the Department's life. These are not things grafted on to a dying
institution-rather they sprang out of the fertility of the early work
started. The newly consolidated programme need to be contained in
a slightly different structure where Resident Tutors in the field can
feed wholesomely on the work of these specialised agencies. But not
all tutors and not all territories will have a 'felt need' for Social work
training or labour education or even the Creative Arts in depth
doses. The obvious answer would be that tutors should be realistic and
offer what the University Extra Mural Department can offer. But any
such simplistic approach to the solution of the special problem of the
territories is likely to negate the Tutor's work.
The criticism that the recruitment, induction and training of
staff members is largely a matter of chance and opportunism is still
a valid criticism. There have been improvements in approach since
Cyril Houle made the criticism but Extra Mural Work, uncodified and
protean, is left to reveal itself to many a tutor rather than get
studied. Problems are avoided by the instant spiritual connexion tutors
seem to make with the work. Those who have found it too taxing in
its many-sidedness and uncertainties have resigned without much ado.
Many others have remained and there are some who seem committed
to making it a life-service.
The physical facilities of University Centres will ensure greater
continuity for many aspects of the programme all over the West
Indies. It may even help to knit together the many adult education
agencies which have sprung up in the field since Extra Mural began.
The limitations of the programme are still not understood by many
well-meaning public leaders who support the programme, and Tutors
will always be faced with the vagaries of compromise between making
their work a commonplace ingredient of community service and
attempts at bringing to the community intellectual excellence, which
is the job of a University adult education agency.
The goal is that more important in West Indian community which
has no strong intellectual tradition, where the rationale of existence
turned on commercial profit for too long, and where as hewers of
wood and drawers of water, most people had their thinking done
elsewhere for them. In this respect the adult education programme
of the University of the West Indies must be strengthened not weak-
ened for the 'best' is yet to be achieved.
The Department has the good fortune of holding a staff comprising
people with a great sense of dedication and an idealism that happily
is not often used to blind one to the realities. It is a highly self-
critical staff sometimes impatient with the slow rate of change where
change is necessary, but never falling prey to incurable cynicism. Most
of them possess a good deal of energy and better still an understand-
ing of the kaleidoscope of issues which concern us daily in West
Indian life. The issues in the end all turn on overriding need for an
uprooted people with varied backgrounds and with new responsibilities
following on the transfer of power, to find themselves in the context
of a rapidly changing world dominated by technology and torn by
myriad contradictions. In many ways the West Indies is a microcosm
of this wider world experience and this gives to the work of West
Indian adult education a certain sense of immediacy that it might
not have otherwise had.
The work may need to be tightened up and given sharper focus
in a wider framework of West Indian adult education but it can never
flourish if bound by a straightjacket of inflexible administrative pro-
cedures and spiritless pedestrian policies. For the task is still to
educate for nationhood, or rather to help translate the formal transfer
of power into positive and substantive exercise of this power by West
Indians who see themselves as citizens of a modern world. The work
in adult education remains then at heart a creative exercise-disci-
plined indeed, but never lacking in vitality and never to be deprived
of the spirit of discovery which must be its dynamic motive force.
R. M. NETTLEFORD
1. Taylor, T. W. J. "The University College of the West Indies", Universities Review,
2. Pearse, Andrew, "Outside the Walls", Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 2. No. 4.
3. Raybould, S. G. Adult Education at a tropical University, London: Longmans Green
& Company, 1957.
4. Kidd, J. R. Adult Education in the Canadian University, Toronto: Canadian Asso-
ciation for Adult Education, 1956.
5. Sherlock, Philip. Address. "A Programme of extra-mural studies for an emergent
6. University College of the West Indies. "Report of Visitors to the College", 1954.
7. Grave, W. W. Address to Convocation, 1957.
8. Williams, Eric. "Education in the British West Indies", Port-of-Spain: Teachers Eco-
nomic and Cultural Association, 1954.
9. Waller, R. D. "The great debate", Adult Education, Spring 1953.
10. Sherlock, Philip, "Aims and Priorities in Education" London: Report of H.R.H.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Study Conference, 1956.
11 Kidd, J. Roby. Report on Adult Education in the British Caribbean...
The window opened
on a tangled growth
of shrub, dry branches
twined in frantic strangulation.
He moved his wooden desk.
Second reel, New Life;
a barbed-wire fence
hard jagged cobblestones unworked
a solitary tree
and brown leaves
He moved the damn desk back.
The old sight flicked new pain:
that semi-cultured jungle
just outside; anarchic
He drew the curtains
and stayed in.
But all the living day
the mind's projector
played spliced re-runs:
a tree alone
and brown leaves
- MERVYN MORRIS
The Evolution of Community
Development in Jamaica
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT has been described by Arthur Durham
as "one of the most significant and far-flung economic and social
movements of modern times (or indeed of human history) ."
Conceived less than two decades ago as a means of promoting
social and economic progress in rural areas of under-developed
countries, the idea spread with amazing rapidity across Asia, Africa,
and Latin America and more recently to the developed countries of
Europe and the American continent.
The term "Community Development" was first used at a Confer-
ence of Blitish Colonial Administrators held at Cambridge, England,
in 1948. It was defined as
"a movement to promote better living for the whole community,
with the active participation and if possible on the initiative of
the whole community, but if this initiative is not forthcoming, by
the use of techniques for arousing and stimulating it in order to
secure its active and enthusiastic response to the movement
It includes the whole range of development activities in the
districts, whether these are undertaken by government of un-
official bodies." 2
This concept of Community Development was an outgrowth of
the Mass Education Movement which was introduced in the African
colonies in the previous decade as a means of rationalising and broad-
ening the base of the educational system to cope with the demands
of rapid change which began with the first World War. It was con-
sidered that the educational system, up to that time, had "placed
excessive reliance upon European methods and curricula and con-
centrated upon individual attainment rather than on raising the
living standards in the broadest sense of the term, of the community
as a whole. 3
Over the years, as the movement spread, there have been numer-
ous definitions of Community Development, the most widely accepted
being a definition in a United Nations document in 1960, which, describ-
ed it as
"the processes by which the efforts of the people themselves are
united with those of government authorities to improve the
economic, social and cultural conditions of the communities, to
integrate these communities into the life of the nation, and to
enable them to contribute fully to national progress. This complex
of processes is, therefore, made up of two essential elements: the
participation by the people themselves in efforts to improve their
level of living, with as much reliance as possible on their own
initiative; and the provision of technical and other services in
ways which encourage initiative, self help and mutual help and
make these more effective."4
Whilst the fundamental principles have remained unchanged, the
concept of Community Development has been adapted to many situa-
tions, and the original ideas have evolved to meet changing needs,
in the light of fresh insights. For example, there has recently been
much discussion of the concept of "community", and the current
thinking is in the direction of utilizing these principles on the basis
of regional development amongst a network of small communities.
From 1951 onwards, the United Nations focused a great deal of
attention on fostering this Movement and the under-developed
countries saw in it the possible solution to their problems of raising
the levels of living in their stagnant villages.
In 1956, the Secretary General of the United Nations, in one of
its policy-making councils stated that Community Development
had ceased to be regarded as only a trivial programme of minor im-
portance It could now be recognized as a balanced programme
for stimulating the local potential for growth in every direction "
By 1960 there were Community Development programmes at the
national level in more than 30 countries, with pilot projects In at least
A Group of Experts appointed by the Secretary General in 1963
to examine the relationship between Community Development and
national development programmes recommended that the United
Nations should significantly expand the means at Its disposal to
encourage the improvement and extension of community development
programmes. In countries where community development is already
accepted as a matter of national policy, efforts should be further
After reviewing international experience over the preceding decade
the Group was convinced that the processes associated with com-
munity development could be adapted to various stages of develop-
ment in each country" This Group was strong in its recommendation
that, in national planning for social and economic development, "unless
specific provision is made for the inclusion of community develop-
ment processes then failure to enlist the understanding and
support of the people can thwart national purposes at many critical
Community Development has, in fact, been accepted as an integral
part of national development programmes in the developed, as well
as developing countries. In Canada, for example, "Community Devel-
opment has become a basic component of public policy, reflecting
conviction and confidence that It represents a strategic approach to
development planning". 8 W. W. Biddle reports that, in the U.S.A.
"Many existing Federal, and some state, programmes of social and
economic improvement have, or are coming to have, CD aspects. New
proposed programmes are even more explicit in calling for this
emphasis as necessary to the success of the endeavour" 9
Jamaica was one of the earliest pioneers in the field of Com-
munity Development. Through the international exchange of ideas
and experiences, this country has played an important part in the
development of the basic philosophy and methods of Community De-
velopment which are today universally accepted. Jamaica, for many
years, served as a model area for the United Nations in-service train-
ing programmes for persons from Asia, Africa, and Latin America,
and Jamaica Welfare Ltd. was recognized as an associate project of
UNESCO. The experiences of Jamaica Welfare Ltd. (later known as
the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission) "figured prominently in
the U.N. studies and publications, seminars and study tours and other
forms of assistance to the less-developed countries of the world", o1
and in standard textbooks such as T. R. Batten's "Communities and
their Development". 11
Three of the pioneers who helped to shape the community devel-
opment programme in Jamaica-Eddie Burke, Arthur Carney, and
the late Thom Girvan-later became United Nations Advisers in Com-
munity Development in Africa and Latin America.
On the national level, Community Development has been an in-
tegral part of the social, economic, and political 'revolution' which
began in Jamaica in the 1930's and contributed significantly to all
three aspects-especially to the understanding and practical applica-
tion of democratic principles in the rural areas of Jamaica.
Three main agencies have been involved in this work in Jamaica:
the Jamaica Welfare Ltd., renamed successively Jamaica Welfare (1943)
Ltd., Jamaica Social Welfare Commission and Jamaica Social Devel-
opment Commission; the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Board and
the Lands Department. It is proposed, in this paper, to deal only with
the first-named agency, to trace the evolution of the concepts which
formed the basis of its programme, and the practical application of
these concepts, as the agency was progressively transformed from a
Limited Liability Company into a statutory board at national level,
financed and controlled by Government.
In the villages of Jamaica in the 1930's there was little concept
of the organised and integrated community. After the abolition of
slavery, no attempt had been made by government to channel the new
group life into some form or organisation. Outstanding work was done
by the missionaries in the establishment and development of new
settlements, but even here, as time went on, there was often rivalry
between the different denominations. Leadership in the village be-
came largely vested in the teacher, the parson, the postmistress and the
police persons identified with the middle class, whoes attitude to-
wards the "masses" often tended to be paternalistic and protective.
On the other hand, valuable groundwork was laid over the years by the
work of individuals, especially teachers, and by organizations such
as the Jamaica Agricultural Society and the Jamaica Union of Teach-
ers. Some indigenous practices of mutual aid and self-help such as
"day-for-day work" and "Partners" or savings groups had developed
more or less spontaneously. Voluntary organizations, mostly local
branches of international bodies, e.g., Y.W.C.A., etc. which began work
in Jamaica at the turn of the century, helped to foster ideas of lead-
ership and service.
The concepts embodied in Community Development were there-
fore not entirely new to Jamaica. What was new, however, was the
use of grassroots leadership, and the concept of integrated social and
economic development in a "people centred" programme based on a
partnership between government and the people, and between mutual
aid and self-help at the local level and the extension of technical
services and material aid from outside.
It is interesting to note that the first effort "to raise the level of
civilisation amongst the Jamaican peasantry" and to re-organise rural
life on systematic lines began as a private, voluntary effort, and at
a time when "it would have been considered absurd to spend public
revenue on a Social Welfare Commission" 12
Jamaica Welfare Ltd. owed its origin indirectly to the discontent
among banana producers and workers in the 1920's, with the margin
of returns which they were receiving. The export trade in banana was,
until 1929, controlled by The United Fruit Company and the Standard
Fruit Company. In that year another shipping company, The Jamaica
Banana Producers Association, organised as a co-operative, was set
up by the growers with Mr. N. W Manley as its adviser. The situ-
ation worsened as a price war ensued and a Commission was appoin-
ted to look into the matter. Before this body, Mr. ZeMurray, Mr.
Salvado d'Antoine and Mr. Manley, representing the three shipping
companies, argued their points, and finally an agreement was reached.
In the course of the negotiations Mr. Manley had emphasised
strongly the problems and potentialities of the Jamaican peasantry,
and the need to improve conditions in the country. So impressed were
Mr. ZeMurray and his colleagues by these submissions, that at the
conclusion of the negotiations an offer was made to Mr. Manley by
which the shipping companies would donate a cess of one American
cent on every stem of bananas shipped from Jamaica, to be used for
improving the cultural life of the island, particularly of the small
settlers, or peasantry. The money should be used for creative pur-
poses and not for ordinary charity or temporary relief.
It was decided that a Limited Liability Company should be set up
to administer the funds.
Jamaica Welfare Ltd.
In June 1937 Jamaica Welfare Ltd. was formed as a limited
liability company under the Companies Laws of Jamaica. Its objectives
to promote, manage and control schemes for and to do any
act or thing which may directly or indirectly serve the general
interests and the social or economic betterment and aid of the
agricultural or working people of and in Jamaica.
To engage in any work or activity directly or indirectly re-
lating to the finances, trade, justice and morals of or for the
These broad terms formed the basis of the organisation's operations
for approximately 30 years.
The first Board of Directors under the chairmanship of Mr. Manley
consisted of 11 persons especially selected, from the fields of agri-
culture, business and law, a civil servant, an anthropologist, a land
surveyor, a physician with special interest in nutrition, and an edu-
cationalist (Sir Philip Sherlock) who was "known for his interest in
It was agreed that no attempt should be made to embark on
purely economic or commercial ventures except in special circum-
stances where a scheme could be developed on co-operative lines or
might lead to the development of an industry in a depressed area. It
was also agreed that no attempt would be made to take over any duties
that rightly belonged to Government, "such as the provision of
schools or medical services."
After considering several possibilities the Board decided on the
1. Development of an Agricultural Training Centre and Land
2. Development of the tomato industry in St. Elizabeth
with the aim of transforming it into a co-operative.
3. Development of co-operatives through a programme de-
signed to encourage thrift and study.
4. Development of a programme of Community Education
with establishment of Community Centres and a mobile
5. Grants to organizations to enable them to undertake fur-
ther work in the social welfare field.
A programme of Cottage Industries was introduced shortly
In a country where land represented security, and where the
economic ills were, at that time, attributed largely to the need for land
reform, it is not surprising that the first project contemplated should
have been the establishment of an agricultural training centre and
a land settlement. A property was bought, but shortly afterwards the
Government announced its intention of establishing a large scale
land settlement programme, and the Board, in accordance with its
policy, reluctantly abandoned the project.
Two other basically economic ventures were launched-an attempt
to establish a starch industry-which was not, at the time, success-
full-and the establishment on co-operative lines of a new and profit-
able tomato industry in a depressed agricultural area in the parish
of St. Elizabeth.
From its inception therefore the work of the Jamaica Welfare
Ltd. had a strong economic component, and the relationship between
economic and social development was clearly recognized. Later, in
reviewing the 1937 situation Mr. N. W. Manley, the Chairman, stated
-"Unemployment was increasing, industrial development had not
commenced and agricultural development was languishing. The need
for social development directly related to the economic problems of
the rural areas was obvious to everyone. It was thought then that
if these needs were ever to be met and the problems ever to be solved
it would depend upon the growth of informed leadership and upon
the development of every service of self-help which would go to create
what came to be described as 'better village life'." 13
The Community Centre Approach
In attempting to meet the evident need for social, cultural, and
recreational activities and for developing organised group life, a com-
munity Centre programme was launched, based largely on the Com-
munity Centre programme in Britain. Two large, well-equipped Centres
were established in the country towns of Guys Hill and Porus, with
branches in surrounding districts. Two Officers-a male and a female
-were attached to each Centre.
The Centres were designed to provide an expanding educational
and recreational programme for the improvement of rural life in all
respects. Programmes included handicrafts, cooking, adult education
classes, physical training, social evenings, games, drama, debating and
literary groups, and special activities for children and young people.
Family Planning was introduced. Study groups for co-operative edu-
cation were started based on the technique of the Antigonish Move-
ment in Nova Scotia. Savings Unions were formed to encourage thrift
and to provide capital accumulation for further development.
Managing Committees were appointed locally to administer the
Centres. However, the staff of the Jamaica Welfare Ltd. were respon-
sible to the Company for the development of the work of the Centres
and a fair degree of control and participation in the management,
was retained by the Company. Two mobile Cinema Units were widely
used in collaboration with the Education Department.
In basing its original programme largely on the Community Centre
approach, Jamaica Welfare Ltd. made the mistake which has been re-
peated many times over in many countries. Whereas the company's policy
recognized, in theory, the need to build the programme "from the bottom
up", much of the actual practice violated this principle. The decision to
erect the Centres was made by the Company with little consideration
given to the existing groups. Marrier points out that "the constitution and
rules of the Centre perpetuated the dependent-provider relationship,
as did the composition of the local board which was composed largely
of middle-class members." The techniques used in the Centre left
little room for an assumption of responsibility by the individual for
his own welfare Even in respect to crafts, he was taught and had
little chance to teach himself. "The attitudes of the staff, although
devoted to the welfare of the people, were in line with these methods
and techniques." 14 Welfare officers came to be regarded by the com-
munity as "people paid to do things for them," and the Centres as be-
longing to the Company and not to themselves.
Batten has commented that "The Jamaican experience is no isola-
ted one, for the same approach was tried extensively in Tanganyika,
Uganda, and Nyasaland, with the same result and for the same
reasons. The centres failed to attract the common people Nowhere
did a sustained interest in the centres develop. Nowhere did people
make adequate use of the facilities provided." 15
Whilst recognizing that the Centres had undoubtedly brought
many benefits to areas which had hitherto had no facilities for culture
or recognition, Jamaica Welfare Ltd. admitted that the basic purpose
was not being achieved, as "the people were not being sufficiently in-
volved, participation was superficial, and the qualities of self-help
and responsibility were not being developed." 16 It was therefore de-
cided that no further Centres of this kind should be erected. Instead,
a new approach was adopted by which villages were encouraged to
form Community Associations and Councils, and to utilise existing
facilities, such as school buildings, or where necessary to erect modest
halls on a self-help basis, as Community Centres. These Centres
were affiliated to the Jamaica Welfare Ltd., and received small grants
towards furniture and equipment, and had the services of the
Company's officers, but the emphasis was clearly on local initiative.
This approach was found to be "more productive of that spirit
of 'community' which is fundamental to welfare work as we under-
stand it." The Island Supervisor reported that "In the act of making
the best of what there is, people find opportunity for developing the
essential qualifications for good fellowship, which has proved to be
basic to community organisation. "The programmes of the Centres led
naturally to the formation of interested groups to deal with varied
local problems, and the community came to regard itself as a unit
for better social organisation and action, while individuals found
"opportunity for self-expression and development of their talents." 17
Meanwhile, experiments in group organisation were being carried
out in other areas. A Co-operative Development Officer was appointed,
and a co-operative development plan, which became known as the
Study-Save-Work Plan was formulated in 1940. This combined study,
thrift through Savings Union, and practical projects in agriculture,
handicrafts, etc. with clearly defined targets.
Pioneer Clubs for men and women were established, and the Lucky
Hill Farming Co-operative Society, the first registered co-operative
farm, was established.
The Company worked along with the Jamaica Agricultural Society
in establishing the 4-H Club Movement.
A Committee was set up to co-ordinate the work of the voluntary
organizations, and in 1944 this became the independent Central Council
of Voluntary Social Services.
A Model Homes Committee was set up by the Board to study
problems of low cost housing, which led to the carrying out of co-
operative housing projects.
Complete freedom in the formulation of policy, and flexibility in
the use of the adequate funds provided by the shipping companies,
enabled Jamaica Welfare Ltd. in its early years, to carry out-in the
absence of any specific guidelines a necessary programme of adven-
ture and experimentation. The staff and Board worked as a team in
continually assessing, and building on, the practical experience being
acquired in the field.
The Company was fortunate in having, in those formative years,
Board Members and staff who were able and dedicated, possessing "a
sense of vocation, the spirit of perseverance and terrific faith in the
people among whom they worked." 18 Caught up in the spirit of ex-
citement and challenge which accompanied the birth of nationalism
in Jamaica at that time the Community Development movement de-
veloped a strong emotional content, and an almost religious fervour,
which found expression in such songs as:
We work that Jamaica shall truly be great
An island where God has command
We work as a team with one goal -
Jamaica, with God in control.
The Better Village Approach
Building on its four years' of experience in the field, Jamaica
Welfare Ltd. in 1941, again revised its policy, and adopted a new,
integrated programme focused on the whole village as the basic unit
in what it called 'the Better Village Approach' The philosophy and
techniques which were developed in this programme were later to re-
ceive recognition as a classic example of "Community Development,"
although the concept of "Community Development" was not formulated
until around 1948.
In addition to being a synthesis of the experience gained in
Jamaica, the new programme was also influenced by experiments
which were being carried out in other countries. Most important of
these were the approaches developed in India by Spencer Hatch, and
more especially, F. L. Brayne, whose book Better Villages provided
many ideas for the Jamaican programme; C. F. Strickland's work in
co-operatives in Africa; the Folk High School of Denmark; the An-
tigonish Movement of Nova Scotia, and later, the Mass Education
Movement devised by the British Colonial Office in Africa.
The Better Village approach placed Community Centres as a
natural outcome, rather than an initial element, in the programme of
village improvement. It recognized the importance of organising com-
munities from groups for the benefit of all sectors of the village popu-
lation before attempting to develop a co-ordinating and planning body,
and it insisted on the importance of finding and training local lead-
ers to take charge of operations at the group and village levels.
The basic philosophy was that "Building a Better Village depends
first and foremost on the desire of the villagers for self-improvement.
This desire can be found in most villages in varying degrees; In all
it can be roused and stimulated."
Features of the "Better Village Plan" were contacts with "Key"
people in the Communities; social surveys conducted with the help of
local leaders; strengthening and expanding existing village organisa-
tions; the development and training of local leadership; the forma-
tion of Community Councils comprised of representatives of existing
groups with members co-opted from amongst villagers to plan and
co-ordinate all village activities.
Group organisation was encouraged, with priority given to pro-
grammes for children and young people, and with the understanding
that "each group must always be reminded of the part it played in
the complete scheme for building a Better Village." Character-build-
ing was to be the underlying object of every activity, whilst the pro-
cess of discussion, decision-making and action in organised groups
would contribute to an understanding of democratic processes.
The organisation's Annual Report for 1954/55 contains the state-
ment that "by 1946 the changeover from the Community Centre
approach to the Community Association and Council approach had
been completed." By 1948/49 there were 51 Community Councils and
74 Village Committees and by 1954/55 the numbers had increased to
115 and 81 respectively.
Constitutional Changes after 1943
Jamaica Welfare Ltd. continued in its original form up to 1943/44.
However, with the outbreak of war, the shipment of bananas was
curtailed, and the contributions from the shipping companies diminish-
ed from 25,000 in 1937 to 1,314 in 1942, and ceased altogether in 1943.
The company faced a serious financial crisis.
Meanwhile the Colonial Development and Welfare organisation had
been set up as a result of the Royal Commission following the riots
of 1938. The Comptroller's Social Welfare Adviser, Prof. T. S. Simey,
impressed by the work of the agency, recommended strongly
that it should be grant-aided and expanded and used as a model for
rural welfare work in the West Indies. After negotiations between the
Company, the Government of Jamaica and C.D.&W., a five year grant
was made from Colonial Development and Welfare Fund to finance
the Company up to 1949.
The original Company passed out of existence, and its place was
taken by Jamaica Welfare (1943) Ltd. with a new and enlarged Board
of Directors appointed partly on a representational basis, which in-
cluded 14 representatives of Government and related agencies, the
Commissioner of Lands (as a link with the C.D. programme on Land
Settlements) and the Secretary for Social Services; six members, nom-
inated from the old Board were considered as co-opted members, retir-
ing annually in pairs.
The aims of Jamaica Welfare (1943) Ltd. remained basically the
same as those of its predecessor and the policy-making powers of the
Board were retained. However, there was now accountability to Gov-
ernment for the funds spent, and annual estimates and financial
statements had to be submitted to Government for approval. The
initial period of experimentation was virtually over, and the stage set
for organisation on a larger scale. The staff was increased and re-
organised, and a General Manager was appointed. The important
concept of the frontline Village Worker was introduced.
The work expanded rapidly. In 1938, 10 villages were reached, in
1944 they were approximately 16 and in 1949, 229 with a population of
Increased emphasis was placed on Staff training at a more pro-
fessional level, and a series of regional Six Months Social Welfare
Training Courses were held under the joint auspices of C.D.&.W. and
Jamaica Welfare (1943) Ltd., beginning in 1943. Mr. P. M. Sherlock,
who was then Education Officer in the Company, served as Dean of
the Courses in 1945 and 1946. The Courses continued until 1948, with
active participation by the University College of the West Indies.
3F Campaign (Food For Family Fitness)
The pamphlet "Mass Education in African Society" issued by the
British Colonial Office in 1944 aroused considerable interest in Jamaica
and helped to inspire the introduction, by Jamaica Welfare (194) Ltd.
of an island-wide mass education programme in nutrition which added
new dimensions to the work of the organisation and provided fresh
insight into Community Work.
The decision to undertake this work was prompted by serious
nutritional problems in Jamaica revealed by two Nutrition studies
which had been made. 20 Both revealed the need for more protein and
vitamins, requiring a change in the eating habits and cooking methods
The 3F Advisory Committee, appointed in 1946 to direct the 3F
programme, represented an important move towards co-ordination
and integration of effort at the senior administrative level. The Board
consisted of representatives of the Lands Department, the Depart-
ment of Education, Agriculture, Health and private agencies such as
the 4-H Clubs, Jamaica Agricultural Society, Central Council of
Voluntary Social Services, and the Jamaica Federation of Women.
The 3F campaign, which was to be one of the main features of
the agency's work up to 1951, included (a) a combination of mass
education techniques utilising fully local customs and folklore, (b) the
wide use of local leadership at the grass-root level, (c) the co-ordinated
involvement of various governmental departments and agencies.
The programme involved progressive study and action in simple
surveys (carried out by local groups), the preparation and use of simple
literature, and the implementation of projects relating to the produc-
tion, preparation and preservation of foods.
Further changes in the structure and administration of the
agency, which were progressively effected, were influenced strongly
by political considerations. In 1944, Mr. N. W Manley, who, at that
time was Leader of the Opposition in Government, was still Chair-
man of Jamaica Welfare (1943) Ltd., a fact which was, not unnaturally,
viewed with some misgiving by Government, despite the fact that
the agency had rightly excluded party politics from its operations. In
1945 the Constitution of the agency was amended to provide for the
inclusion of two members of the House of Representatives on the
When the Colonial Development & Welfare grants came to an end
in 1949, Government undertook the full financing of the agency, and
further and more sweeping changes were made. (In that year Mr.
Manley resigned as Chairman of the agency. The Secretary for Social
Services was appointed Chairman, and was replaced in the following
year by the Minister of Social Welfare, who held the office until 1955,
when Mr. P. M. Sherlock was appointed Chairman and held that
office until 1961.)
In 1949, a Law was passed creating the Jamaica Social Welfare
Commission, and vesting it with the powers, privileges, and interests
of Jamaica Welfare (1943) Ltd.
The Board of Directors now consisted of 15 members, five of whom
were government representatives appointed ex-officio, five more were
to be appointed by the Governor in Executive Council, and the re-
mainder were representatives of related organizations. Provision was
made for the Commission to co-opt two additional members.
Despite the constitutional changes, however, the policy and
programme remained substantially the same.
The growth of the Ministerial system in Jamaica was reflected in
further amendments to the agency's constitution, in 1958, when
appointments to the Commission were made the responsibility of the
Minister. The Commission was made a body corporate, with power to
make regulations with the approval of the Minister and the House
This paper does not deal with the work of the agency beyond
1962. It is interesting to note, however, that in 1963, the representative
principle in the composition of the Commission was removed by an
amending Law which provided that the Commission should consist of
not less than two and not more than nine members appointed by the
The most radical changes in the structure and functions of the
agency took place in 1965. Law 15 of 1965 changed the name of the
agency to the Social Development Commission, altered its powers and
duties, and removed its policy-making power. The new Law stated
The Minister may, after consultation with the Chairman, give
to the Commission directions of a general character as to the
policy to be followed in the exercise and performance of its
functions in relation to matters appearing to him to concern the
public interest and the Commission shall give effect to any such
The first three months of the year were devoted to the recruit-
ing and training of local leaders to conduct simple classes and pro-
jects. The campaign was then "launched" at public meetings, at which
local leaders were "presented" to the public. Techniques such as street
meetings and the "movable school" conducted in the village square
were among those used to arouse widespread interest in the campaign.
Individuals, in local Action Committees, undertook specific duties such
as house to house visiting, distributing literature, etc.-all designed to
encourage participation. Three to four months were then devoted to
Intensive project work in such things as soil conservation, vegetable
gardening, the rearing of poultry; simple nutrition and food prepara-
tion featuring the use of eggs, milk and green vegetables were taught,
as well as the preservation and storage of food. The year's work was
climaxed by Village Achievement days, which were small festivals, in-
cluding also cultural activities, and in which local leaders and partici-
pants played the leading roles. Later, Parish and all-island Festivals
The initial projects gradually assumed larger proportions. Interest
in cooking led naturally into a programme for Better Kitchens in
1945, a Home Improvement Programme in 1948, a Better Homes Cam-
paign in 1953 and finally a comprehensive Home Economics Extension
programme. The campaign pointed up the need for literacy, which
led to an expansion of the Adult Literary Programme.
The campaign lasted until 1951 during which year, 1,600 projects
were recorded. The Central 3F Advisory Committee which had been
established in 1947 to direct the campaign became in 1953 a perma-
nent 3F Council with the objective of improving the Nutrition and
Home-making standards of the people of Jamaica by initiating and
It was generally agreed that the 3F campaign succeeded in bring-
ing about appreciable change in the food habits of rural Jamaica. As
a technique, it was viewed by many as one of the most fruitful lines
of approach to the problems of village development. It demonstrated
the effective use of grass-roots leadership, and the numerous projects
brought satisfaction, a new appreciation of their abilities, and a
growing self-respect, to those associated with them.
The campaign focused the attention of both men and women on
the home and family, and highlighted the link between agriculture
and better living. It successfully involved the local village community
In attacking a national problem. Finally, in stimulating an action pro-
gramme based on a need of which the community had hitherto been
unaware whilst still maintaining local initiative the campaign
represented an advance from the "felt needs" approach in Community
Development to that of "persuaded" or "counselled" needs a con-
cept which is now being internationally advocated and discussed in
current Community Development literature. 21
The Cottage Industry Programme, which involved the organisa-
tion of the supply of raw materials, marketing, and centres of instruc-
tion also continued to expand. Sales by the agency increased
from 1,516 in 1943 to 19,016 in 1950-51.22 In addition the programme
stimulated the development of private enterprise in this new field of
Another important technique developed by Jamaica Welfare (1943)
Ltd. in collaboration with other agencies in the field was that of
the Regional Conference. This began in 1945 when, field officers
of seven departments and agencies working in the same area met
"to discuss closer and more harmonious relationships." This initial meet-
ing led to regular "get togethers"of officers of various government, semi-
government, departments and recognized voluntary agencies "to confer
on common problems and to decide on joint action on a regional
level." The Regional Conference subsequently received formal recog-
nition by Heads of Departments, and was formalised by a constitution.
The objectives included the sharing and pooling of ideas and in-
formation; prevention of overlapping; enabling joint participation in
programmed planning; strengthening the voluntary workers and vol-
untary organizations, effecting economies in transport, time, and
effort by pooling resources; and stimulating academic activities
amongst members through lectures, etc.
The agency's 1953-54 annual report recorded 13 Regional Confer-
ences in which 26 Departments were associated with 103 representa-
tives at 62 meetings held during the year. The Report stated that:
Seven of these conferences sponsored the Better Homes Campaign
in 33 villages, five had special village development schemes, and
three were considering Allied Extensions of their work.
Community Councils and the All Island Welfare Council
Community Councils consisting of representatives of organizations
in the village continued to be one of the main pivots of the Community
Development programme up until 1955. In 1949 groups of Councils were
organised into District Councils, to plan and execute programmes
at the regional level. In 1953 there were 115 Community Councils
with a membership of some some 30,000 persons and 12 District
Councils. In that year the All Island Welfare Council came
into being as "the apex of a pyramid raised on the founda-
tion of the various organizations in Jamaica." The Associa-
tion was described as "the voice of the voluntary field workers in
Jamaica-the people who carry the day to day burdens of paro-
chial welfare activities." Its objective was to "co-ordinate all the volun-
tary workers engaged in social welfare work, especially in the com-
munity development branch." The Association became affiliated to the
organisation (which had in the interim been re-named Jamaica Social
Welfare Commission) and was given a seat on the Commission.
In this period up to 1955 the work of the Commission expanded
steadily, although it was felt that the funds available to it were
inadequate to meet the demands. In a paper entitled "An Adventure
in Community Development," Mr. E. N. Burke, the General Manager
stated in 1955:
the motivation of contributing to national development
by associating with one's neighbours in various projects in the
local community has been spread from village to village, lead-
ers have been trained, the work has been co-ordinated and
organizers have worked together in planning and in creating
harmony and pleasant relationship.
The Co-ordinated Extension Services 1955
A significant change in the work of the Jamaica Social Welfare
Commission came about in 1955 when Government enunci-
ated a policy of co-ordination in connection with its Farm
Development programme. The Commission, which was at that time
under the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, was invited to
join with the extension arm of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ja-
maica Agricultural Society, the 4-H Clubs and the Agricultural Loan
Societies Board in forming the Co-ordinated Extension Services, which
would, as a team, be responsible for the execution of the Farm De-
velopment Programme. The concept of co-ordination was, in prin-
ciple, admirable, and undoubtedly had many advantages. However,
participation in this programme was not without some deterrent to
the basic work of the Commission.
Under the scheme, the Jamaica Agricultural Society, whose tradi-
tional role had been the organisation of farmers for agricultural pur-
poses, was given the responsibility, through its branches and staff, "to
explain in detail to the farmers the requirements of the scheme." The
Jamaica Social Welfare Commission (which had developed within
itself both organisational and technical services) was made respon-
sible for the setting up of a co-ordinated training unit for the pro-
gramme, and for "fundamental education, home economics and co-
operative organising work." In effect, the Commission's role in the
programme became that of a "servicing" rather than an organisingg"
Assistance to the farmers was channelled through the Jamaica
Agricultural Society branches, which became the focus of attention in
the villages, and Area Development Committees were set up which
were unrelated to the existing Community Council structure.
Although it was not intended that the Farm Development Pro-
gramme should replace the existing programmes of the Commission,
it led to a considerable re-organisation of the administration, and in
practice the major part of the Commission's efforts were absorbed by
this programme. The work of the Commission spread from 281 villages
in 1953 to 500 in 1957. This necessitated an increase in staff from 58
in 1953 to a total of 167 in 1957, the number of village instructors being
increased in that period from 23 to 90.
With the rapid increase in staff, and the sense of urgency which
accompanied the launching of the Farm Development programme, the
new (or rapidly promoted) staff of the Commission were put into the
field with very little training. It was doubted whether they possessed
a clear conception of the basic meaning of community development
and sufficient knowledge and appreciation of the skills required
in the slow process of welding the village into a strong thinking and
working unit. In the field, their attention was focused primarily on
the implementation of the Farm Development programme.
In the Commission's Report for 1957/58 the following statement
The design set for the operation of the Farm Development
areas gave to the Jamaica Agricultural Society and the 4-H
organisation the responsibility of organising communities to
receive the services afforded by the Commission. This meant
that quite a different approach from the normal pattern had
to be instituted in the Farm Development Areas. Concentra-
tion by way of planning, visiting, training and attendance at
meetings was most heavily on them. As a result the number of
Community Councils decreased by nineteen to 101 while the
project activities thrown up by voluntary leaders themselves
cou'd barely be maintained.
In 1954 the number of Community Councils had declined from
115 to 90, and in 1960 the number of Councils had been reduced to
72. This decline was attributed in part to the fact that:
(a) The introduction of co-ordination kept officers so busy with
co-ordinated parish and area conferences, co-ordinated train-
ing days, and farm development board meetings that coun-
cils were neglected.
(b) The feeling by some Jamaica Social Welfare Commission
officers that the fact that the Jamaica Agricultural Society
was made the organising agency in co-ordination meant
that they should cease to organise its Councils and the
actual discouragement of Community Councils by some offi-
cers in other organizations in the team.
(c) The influx of new officers in the Commission, and their rapid
promotion without proper training in community organisa-
tion. resulted in a staff many of whom were neither 'sold'
on the idea of Community Councils nor knew how to organise
(d) Some Councils ceased to carry projects and there was very
little to hold them together.
Even then the senior Community Development Officers considered
that Community Councils were necessary. One Officer stated:
A Community Council is the only organisation up to the
present time which co-ordinate community activities and ser-
vice, hence it becomes the meeting ground for people from
various organizations to get together, share their experiences,
understanding of each others point of view, and agree on a
definite plan it prevents overlapping and promotes common
The question may well be asked as to why, even in these circum-
stances, Community Councils, which had seemed so well founded,
should have declined in number. The situation has never been
thoroughly analysed, but one may conjecture that the role and the
prestige of the Community Councils, which were comparatively new
and not yet institutionalized in the society, might have tended to be
undermined by the new approach. Again, the Commission's admin-
istration, influenced by Government policy and the exigencies of the
Farm Development programme, allowed itself to be diverted from its
primary programme of comprehensive village development. A result
of this was that the concentrated drive in Community Development
per se was slackened at a time when the emotional climate of the
country was less charged than in the 1940's, and greater effort would,
in any case, have been needed to inspire and sustain organised
Despite the decline in the number of community Councils, at least
two thirds of them continued in operation and progress was reported
in the several areas of work undertaken by the Commission, including
Co-operatives, Cottage Industries, Adult Literacy, Home Economics,
Recreation, the Cinema Service, the Welfare Reporter Magazine which
was distributed to many countries, and community projects of various
kinds decided on by the communities themselves.
In 1962 the Commission withdrew from the Co-ordinated Extension
Services. Also in 1962, when the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission cele-
brated their 25th anniversary, a decision was taken by the Commission's
Board, under the Chairmanship of Mr. D. T. M. Girvan, to revitalize
and strengthen Community Councils throughout the island. The cele-
brations were linked with an appeal for rededication to the ideas of
self-help and group action, and a strengthening of the concepts and
methods of Community Development, in order to meet the new
responsibilities for a new concept of citizenship in independent
Jamaica. A conference of Community Leaders on "Community Action",
organised to launch this programme, met with encouraging response.23
Shortly afterwards, however, the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission
was replaced by the Social Development Commission in which the
policy and emphasis were different.
Urban Community Development
Mention must be made of an important, though short-lived pro-
ject in Urban Community Development, on which the Commission,
at the request of the Minister of Social Welfare, embarked in 1961 in
a depressed area of Western Kingston.
A detailed survey was conducted of the area, and a staff of
approximately 9 persons assigned to a pilot area. The programme was
directed by an Advisory Committee and officers worked in close col-
laboration with the Department of Housing in the establishment of
new Housing Estates, and with other agencies working in the area. The
"yard" comprised a group of family dwellings, established as the basic
social unit of the area. The technique of the "Yard Meeting" was
devised to develop citizen participation, local leadership and initiative,
in a partnership between the people and government to remedy some
of the chronic deficiencies in the area. Regrettably this programme
was discontinued after the re-organisation in 1963.
This review has attempted to indicate trends and methods over
a wide spread of time and programmes. Because of limitations of
space, many aspects of the work of this Community Development
Agency have not been fully explained, but many salient points have
been omitted. Throughout the period under review Jamaica Welfare
Ltd. underwent many changes, recorded many successes, and
certainly some failures. What then was its major contribution to the
life of Jamaica? The question was very succinctly answered by the
Hon. Edward Seaga, then Minister of Development and Welfare, in a
message from him published in the 25th Anniversary issue of the
Welfare Report in 1962:
The organisation has pursued programmes designed for
the economic Improvement of people through co-operative
action, for better homes and better family life; for increasing
the literacy of people; for lightening the burdens of daily life
through recreative and cultural activity. It has attempted these
through the process of stimulating people to action on their
own behalf, believing that improvement and change cannot be
imposed but must spring out of man's consciousness of his
need and his willingness to act to meet these needs. These pro-
grammes and the leadership capacities they develop have un-
doubtedly left their imprint in many a community in rural
To my mind that stimulation of initiative and action in
people is one of the most significant roles of the Commission.
We need to harness to its fullest potential our resources both
human and physical. We need a nation of citizens conscious
of their responsibilities as well as watchful of the good life.
I am convinced that the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission,
with its concept of Community Development has a valuable
Richard Poston, in analysing the Indian Community Development
programme, underlined the significance of this kind of contribution
when he stated that strong, self-reliant communities, competent
to deal intelligently with their problems, able to contribute positively
to the life of the nation, and to provide their people with lasting values
of human and spiritual content are essential to the welfare of modern
India and fundamental to the development of freedom and a
dynamic economy 25
1. Prof. Arthur Dunham. Social Work Yearbook 1960. Natnl. Assocn. of Social
2. Community Development Britain and the Developing Countries. British Informa-
tion Services 1966. No. REP 5958/66. p. 6.
3. Ibid. p. 3.
4. Community Development and Related Services. Reprint from Official Records of
ECOSOC, Twenty-fourth Session Geneva 1957. Document D/2931, p. 1.
5. Quoted by U. Nyun, Ag. Executive Secty. of ECAFE in Introductory Statement at
U.N. Seminar on Planning & Administration of National Community Devel-
opment Programmes, Bankok 1959.
6. Community Development & National Development. Report of Ad-hoc Group of
Experts, U.N. 1963 p. p. 5.
7. Ibid. p. 5.
8. Prof. Chas. E. Hendry, "Community Development in Canada"-Journal of the In-
ternational Society for Community Development Vol. 1. No. 2. July 1966.
9. W. W. Biddle, "Currents in Community Development" University of Missouri 1964.
10. Dr. Julia Henderson, "U.N. Message", Welfare Reporter No. 3. Vol. XXI, 1962.
T. R. Batten, "Communities and their Development", Oxford Univ. Press 1962,
contains several references, but especially pps. 71-77.
H. P. Jacobs, "What did 1938 do for Jamaica" Welfare Reporter No. 3. Vol. XXI.
13. N. W. Manley, "Problems as difficult as they were in 1937", Welfare Reporter No. 3.
Vol. XXI 1962 p. 77.
14. R. Marrier, Socia Wlelfare Work in Jamaica, UNESCO Monograph on Funda-
mental Education 1953, p. 80.
15. T. R. Batten, "Communities & Their Development" Oxford Univ. Press. p. 66.
16. G. C. L. Gordon, Paper on the Role of the Community Councils 1963.
17. From a Report by L. C. Pinnock, Island Supervisor.
18. Annual Report, J.S.W.C., 1953/54.
19. Marrier. Op cit p. 86.
20. Ja. Agricultural Policy Committee-"Nutrition in Jamaica". Kgn. Govt. Printer
1945, and B. S. Platt, "Nutrition in the West Indies", (Colonial Office No. 195,
21. T. Balakrishnan, U.N. Regional C.D. Adviser in the Caribbean. "Content organi-
sation and Methods of Training for Community Development" in Report of
the Caribbean Regional Training Workshop on C.D. and Local Govt. 1968.
p. 66. states The theory of 'felt needs' is slowly giving way to persuadedd'
or 'counselled' needs.
22. Marrier, Op cit. p. 106.
23. D. T. M. Girvan, "The History of Jamaica Social Welfare Commission"-Welfare
Reporter No. 3. Vol. XXI, p. 128.
24. Hon. Edward Seaga, Welfare Reporter No. 3. Vol. XXI, 1962, p. 76.
25. R. W. Poston. "Democracy Speaks Many Tongues" Harper & Row. 1962, p. 80.
97 YEARS OLD
Old men sit
Thrusting roots into the waiting land.
Mass' Charlie is 97 this November
so they say
The feel of his hand-skin
One with dry grass root.
Skin-crossed veins, black
Duck-ant tunnel up worn sleeves
swarming with 97 years of memories.
How can you, old man, believe these memories
Born when frame bent muscle-proud
To wrest existence from black-furrowed earth
and rising challenged fate and all the world
to bar your strength's ambition?
(Then hands rested only on small woolly heads
And when you willed
Warm thighs of evening's quiet.)
And does memory tell
How heat of battle fused you slowly
To the earth you fought and loved so fiercely
Bent your shoulders with the wind of oldness
Planting grizzled moss-bark in your hair
Drawing, trying leaping limb
to the slowly opening earth.
Now already you are earth
And palescent spittle quivering on your lips
Waits only for the passing wind
- ROBERT HENRY
The U.W.I. and The Teaching
of West Indian History
WHEN THE History Department of the University College of the
West Indies first came into existence in 1950, there was very little West
Indian history being taught in the schools of the region, and even that
followed a syllabus which had as much European as West Indian history
in it. Most of the undergraduates reading History were coming into
contact with the formal teaching of West Indian history for the first
time. Consequently, much of what they learnt came as a revelation
Nowadays, however, this situation has changed; the schools are
teaching more West Indian History and using a syllabus which has been
thoroughly revised; the undergraduates are rather better acquainted
with the facts of the subject when they begin their University course.
It is therefore possible to concentrate more on the interpretation of the
facts, while still emphasising the relevance of studies in this field to
their own experience as West Indians.
The increase in the teaching of West Indian History in the school
owes a great deal to the co-operation between the University and the
teachers. In Jamaica, for example an Association of History Teachers
was formed in 1956 and lectures were provided for them by staff mem-
bers of the University. Miss Shirley Gordon of the Department of
Education and Dr. Roy Augier of the History Department also arranged
several conferences to help history teachers to collect teaching material
for use in their classes, and to improve their command of their subject
matter by means of lectures and discussions.
The first of these conferences was held in Jamaica in 1956, and the
participants decided that a source book, a text book, and a bibliography
for use in the schools should be produced and that the authorities
responsible for overseas examinations should be asked to provide a
special paper in West Indian History for candidates taking the General
Certificate of Education at A level. In keeping with these decisions,
Knox College published a book of documents collected by the teachers
and edited by Miss Gordon and Dr. Augier; they subsequently edited a
further collection of documents entitled Sources of West Indian History
which replaced the collection published by Knox. The text book
entitled The Making of the West Indies was later produced by Gordon
and Augier with Dr. Douglas Hall of the University and Mrs. Mary
Record, who was then a school teacher in Jamaica.
Other conferences of history teachers were held at Barbados in
1958, at Trinidad in 1960 and again at Jamaica in 1964, and the possi-
bility of holding another is currently under consideration in the History
Department at Mona. These West Indian Conferences, combined with
the flow of graduates from the University into the schools, have made
it possible for West Indian History to be taught in most of the second-
ary schools in the Commonwealth Caribbean today.
Another result of those conferences was the decision of the teachers
to propose changes in the existing syllabus to the examining bodies in
Cambridge and London. After some discussion both bodies accepted
the changes proposed and by the end of the 1950s, the result of co-
operation between the History teachers and the examining bodies was
the new history papers in the Overseas examinations.
Some idea of the importance of these changes and the willingness
of teachers and pupils to take advantage of them can be gained by a
comparison of the figures for students taking the Cambridge A level
special paper on the post-Emancipation History of the British West
Indies. In 1959, when the paper was set for the first time, 42 students
wrote this examination. By 1965, the number of candidates had in-
creased to 145 and by 1969 there was a further increase to a total of
230. This development has also owed a considerable debt to the interest
of the University, which has collaborated with Cambridge on the setting
and marking of the papers, since this new paper was first introduced,
and continues to do so.
The teaching of West Indian History at the University has not stood
still while these changes were taking place in the schools. In 1953 a
class numbering less than 20 candidates reading history sat their final
examinations for the B.A. (General). This was the first group to write
a paper in West Indian History as part of their syllabus for the degree.
Since then, the degree course in West Indian History taught at Mona
has come to include, not only a greatly increased number of under-
graduates taking the General Degree, but also considerable numbers of
students taking a specialized degree in History, and students reading
for the B.Sc. (Econ.) and the B.Ed. When we add the increasing num-
bers studying for their degrees at St. Augustine and Cave Hill it becomes
clear that the proportionate increase of students taking A level West
Indian History in the Schools has been paralleled and even surpassed
by the growing number of undergraduates taking the degree course
in West Indian History at the University.
Nor is this all. Following on a decision by the University Council, a
Survey Course in West Indian History has been made compulsory for
the majority of undergraduates attending at any of the University
Campuses; and in addition the students are required to undertake the
preparation of a substantial essay paper in Caribbean Studies which of
course includes work in West Indian History. The latest development
with regard to these Survey Courses is that they are now being in-
corporated into the syllabus for the new General Degree as University
courses which will be a compulsory part of the undergraduates work in
each year. Most students graduating from the U.W.I. can, therefore,
be expected to have a general knowledge of the historical development
of the West Indies, and, in addition, a somewhat detailed understanding
of the particular areas of Caribbean studies dealt with in their essay
For the purpose of teaching both the Survey Courses and the Degree
course in West Indian History, it has been very useful to have available
the text book The Making of the West Indies and also A Short History
of the West Indies, the earlier regional study of the subject written by
J. H. Parry and P. M. Sherlock for use by undergraduates in the Degree
Course. These two texts compliment each other and both attempt to
write West Indian History as something more than an appendage to
the history of Europe. This concern with the internal logic of West
Indian historical development has also been emphasised in the actual
teaching of the subject at the University of the West Indies, where the
similarities and differences within the entire West Indian region and
the changes and continuities of its history are given particular
The University has also begun to produce post graduate students in
West Indian History, and this development has stressed the further
need for a more detailed and comprehensive reference work based on a
regional approach to the study of West Indian historical development.
To meet this need and also the more public need for an authoritative
analysis of the subject, the History Department of the University has
revived an idea which originated with Professor Parry its first head.
This idea invisaged the production by co-operative effort of a three-
volumed reference History of the West Indies, but had to be abandoned
for lack of sufficient financial backing. However, the Department has
managed to obtain a launching grant for the History from the Ford
Foundation, and the work of preparing chapters has been resumed.
Besides the editors, Hall, Augier and Goveia, who are all on the
staff of the History Department at Mona, other scholars both in the
West Indies and abroad are being asked to write for the History, thus
making generally available the specialist knowledge of West Indian
History which they have acquired in the course of their work. The
chapters thus written will be published as they are produced by their
different authors, and it is hoped that many people who could not
afford to buy the three volumes will still be interested in buying parti-
cular chapters as they appear. About five of these chapters have
already been accepted by the editors for early publication.
The teachers of history at the University also hope to be able to
publish paper back series of reprints from West Indian History, mono-
graphs on the historical development of the region, a journal of Carib-
bean History, and other materials of interest for teachers in the Uni-
versity and the schools. We hope by this means to widen the interest
in West Indian History and to reduce the cost at which important
teaching materials are available in the West Indies. If these publish-
ing ventures succeed, we should end by having a much larger and more
receptive audience for the discussion of West Indian History than exists
even at present.
While we hope to stimulate greater public interest in West Indian
History, we are well aware of the fact that our students stand to benefit
by the production of more easily available material for the study of
West Indian History. So we shall be attempting to kill two birds with
one stone. We hope, too, that our three-volume History of the West
Indies will also serve the purpose of enabling us to reach out beyond
the University and, at the same time, to better educate our under-
graduate and postgraduate students to increase their understanding
of West Indian historical developments. The two objectives are com-
plementary and both will affect the teaching of West Indian History
in the West Indies.
While we try to promote understanding of West Indian History
in the University, in the schools, and among the general public, we have
also found it necessary to give thought to the need for filling in the
wide background of historical knowledge which is relevant to the study
of West Indian History. Our syllabus for the Degree Course at the
University has always included courses, for instance, in European
history and the history of the Americas, which can better help the
student to see West Indian development in a wider focus. The earlier
syllabuses attempted to integrate these areas of enquiry under the
concept of Atlantic History. But this attempt was later abandoned
because of staffing difficulties. Ever since then, we have felt the need
for competence teaching in West African History, which was needed to
fill the gap left by our inadequacies in the teaching of Atlantic History.
Finally in 1967, we were able to recruit one of our own graduates,
Dr. Walter Rodney, to undertake the necessary teaching in African
History. But his exclusion from Jamaica has put an end to this develop-
ment for the time being, and it may be difficult to replace him, because
specialists in African history are greatly in demand at present both in
Africa and in other parts of the world. However, at St. Augustine, the
development of a centre of African and Asian studies has begun, so we
shall not be guilty of completely neglecting these subjects in future.
Yet we still need to back up our teaching in West Indian History with
a degree course in the history of West Africa.
While we have tried to increase the breadth of our teaching, as a
background to our degree course in West Indian History, we have not
neglected to provide opportunities for a study in depth of particular
aspects of West Indian History. This has been done by devising docu-
mentary special subjects on such topics as amelioration of the slave
laws and the history of Federation in the British West Indies. These
West Indian special subjects have been very popular with our under-
graduate students and we shall no doubt, produce more of them in the
future. They not only train the students in historical method, which
is the object of all our special subjects, but they also give them a much
clearer understanding of important aspects of West Indian History.
Both within and without the University the teaching of West Indian
History has been making steady progress over the past two decades.
Many West Indians now have a better knowledge of their past and a
better comprehension of the forces that shape their present. We still
have a long way to go before this understanding can be shared by most
of the regions people. But a start has been made in this task by the
University and the schools, and the progress so far achieved is encourag-
ing enough to inspire an increased effort for the future.
Only yards afar
snakes the smooth, wide road.
Through the trees
You can't see it, only hear
the motor horns and engines
trumpets of Elfland faintly
backed by roars
of mini-dragons to match
this sudden prehistoric outpost.
Far from today, yet here
the green-black lizards stretch
gold bladders translucent
from their throats, and chase winged food
across the realm of chlorophyll.
Strange how bush
on virgin land brings back
the dawn of history.
are monstrous reptiles which
a billion years of time and change
have shrunk to hard, black
glistening specks of pain.
So, fearing dinosaurs
I smash a dozen
with my shoeheel into
the unyielding flesh
of a white mahoe.
When ants die
their upturned under-bellies
and final spasms of legs
are as much of stark nature
as when death comes with sharp
steel and bursts of thunder
to men and massive beings.
You never really
notice it though, until
there is nothing else around
save blue-flies and lizards
and an occasional
blackbird on a tree
and all the living ants
that crowd around
to prod and feel their dead
in an empty lot, where
importance in the scheme of things
is a rumble of distant sounds.
An Introduction to
THERE is a new critical interest being demonstrated, at all levels,
in Caribbean literature in the literature of a region whose needs
impose large responsibilities, and at times make limited demands, on
its artists. In no country that I can think of, except perhaps the
Ireland of Yeats, have creative writers meant so much, and, to com-
pound the injury here, been hitherto valued so little. Several years
ago it was realized that something had to be done to attract the writers
who had gone into voluntary exile back to the West Indies. This, I
believe, is one of the aims of the Creative Arts Centre at Mona, which
is making possible a more intimate and extensive dialogue between the
artist and his local audience.
If the West Indian experience has been a source of strength for the
region's literature, it has also been a source of weakness. A variously
debilitating society has at times drawn Caribbean writers into the snare
of too overtly making a case, too crudely and superficially pleading a
cause. When this happens it is a source of disappointment to those
whom an almost desperate optimism prompts to return again and again
to the work of West Indian writers in the attempt to find some honest
means of survival in the mess of our cultural dislocation, of a society
riddled with pretences and absurdities. New slogans replacing the old
can never be the sure basis of a mythology that gives shape and mean-
ing to everyday experience. Sisyphus will merely have exchanged one
stone for another equally burdensome. Lamming suggests in Season
of Adventure that a painful backward glance must be taken and some-
how the blackmail of history be undone. But it is a complex and
extremely difficult undertaking especially so for the writer whose
art demands that he function without the temporary safeguards and
consolation of pretence, in which we, perhaps, can take refuge. In
West Africa, where some of the scars of colonialism paralled West
Indian sores, Chinua Achebe is convinced that a job of regeneration
and re-education must be done. In his address to the first Conference
on Commonwealth Literature, held at Leeds University in 1964, he
Today things have changed a lot, but it would be foolish to
pretend that we have fully recovered from the traumatic effects
of our first confrontation with Europe. Three weeks ago my wife
who teaches English in a boy's school asked a pupil why he wrote
about winter when he meant the harmattan. He said he would
be laughed at out of class if he did such a thing! Now you
wouldn't have thought, would you, that there was something
shameful in our weather? But apparently we do. How can this
great blasphemy be purged? I think it is part of my business as
a writer to teach that boy that there is nothing disgraceful about
the African weather, that the palm-tree is a fit subject for poetry.
Here, then, is an adequate revolution for me to espouse to
help my society regain its belief in itself and put away the com-
plexes of the years of denigration and self-denigration. And it is
essentially a question of education in the best sense of the
The writer cannot expect to be excused from the task of
re-education and regeneration that must be done. In fact he
should march right in front
Perhaps what I write is applied art as distinct from pure. But
who cares? Art is important, but so is education of the kind I have
The pitfall in such an intention is that the artist may become mere
propagandist, that in his desire to further a cause the inept writer may
indulge in over-simplification, over-statement, sentimentality or crude
melodrama. If the artist must always work within the confines of
social expedience, the world he creates is likely to evidence at times a
lack of intensity. Unless he so orders his emotions that they assume
validity within his fictional world they are likely to degenerate into
pronouncements that show a feebly dramatic propriety. In the face of
his conviction, it is a tribute to Achebe's sensibility that he handles
issues which are clearly important to him as a Nigerian with such pre-
cision and restraint. His "local" images, which seldom strike one as
being dragged in by the heels, at their best reinforce experience with a
certitude that in its turn gives integrity and force to the created world.
In the Caribbean, the writers of the British colonies have in the
main tended to be less stringently committed to social and political
causes than those of the Spanish and French territories. In the nine-
teenth and early twentieth centuries the creative imagination of
Haitian, Guadeloupean and Cuban writers, for example, seems to have
been limited in its range and experiments by the didactic and propa-
gandist purpose of their work. Perhaps a more odious history of
slavery and colonialism in these islands accounts for much of the anti-
European and pro-Negro elements in the work of such writers. But it
should also be remembered that Caribbean literature was influenced by
left-wing anti-imperialism and anti-clericalism in Europe after the
First World War and by a contemporary interest in Negro art and
customs. As an anonymous contributor to the Caribbean Quarterly,
Vol. IV, No. 1., points out:
Picasso, between 1900 and the outbreak of the First World War,
was imitating African sculpture. American 'rag time' jazz was
invading Europe in the years immediately following the war.
Stravinsky in 1919 published his piano rag music, O'Neill's
Emperor Jones (1920), and 'All God's Chilluns got Wings. Blaise
Cendrar's Anthologie Negre (1927), Andre Gide's Voyage au
Congo (1927) All these works point to a current fashion for
Negro art, or at least an interest in the Negro and his ways.
Perhaps most important of all is the work of Leo Frobenius on
In the Caribbean a mythical Africa was idealized and identified with
the vibrant, generative life of the earth. It possessed something
seminal that had been lost in the over-sophisticated culture of Europe,
in what the Haitian Phillipe Thoby Marcellin described in 1927 as its
civilisationss pourrisantes" In 'Nous Negres', Jacques Lenoir pro-
Nous nous levons et notre dance
c'est la terre qui tourne
notre chant qui rompt la vaiselle du silence
c'est le rytheme sans nom des saisons
le carrefour des quatre elements.
Along with the rest of white European civilization was rejected its
'religious opium' and a God who:
6tendit les mains sur ces totes friss6es, et les negres furent sauves
Pas ici bas bien sfr.
(Je n'aime pas l'Afrique' Paul Niger. Guadeloupe)
The staunchly Marxist communist Aim6 C6saire regarded Europe as a
"nom considerable de l'eron," "un gloussement ranque et un choc
assourdi," "un hoquet considerable." For the most part, the work of
writers in the French and Spanish Caribbean was characterized by a
social and public orientation and overtly propagandist aims. Yet one
does see the Haitians Dantes Bellegarde and Leon Laleau avoiding the
more clamorous socio-political commitment of writers like Lenoir.
Marcellin, Niger and C6saire. They seem less rigidly partisan and strike
a more personal and subjective note in their vaguely defined sense of
spiritual dislocation. In 'Trahison,' published in 1931, Laleau speaks
d6sespoir a uni autre 6gal D'apprivoisir avec des mots de
France Ce coeur qui m'est venu du Senegal.
And in Haiti et ses problemes, 1942. Bellegarde observes:
Nous appartenons a l'Afrique par le sang; & la France par 1' esprit
et aussi dans une notable proportion par la sang. C'est cette
alliance qui fait notre personality national. Renoncer a cet
"esprit," ce serait nous amputer la moitie de nous-memes.
In his Race and Colour in Caribbean Literature, G. R. Coulthard
points out that the most violent rejection of European civilization and
of Christianity comes from writers like Brierre, Roumain and Cesaire
who were closely connected with Paris as an intellectual centre. There
they met French African intellectuals thinking along similar lines and
were exposed to radical or Marxist European thought of the 1920-40
period. Another influence which Coulthard notes is the "Complex of
inconclasm which came to a head in the Surrealism of the 1920's"
Dadaism and its successor Surrealism were the enemies of all
traditional notions of art and indeed of all that was regarded
as the European cultural heritage . Like the Marxist
radicals they were violently anti-clerical and indeed anti-
Christian Anything "primitive" appealed greatly to the
Surrealists, as it was not associated with the odious supercon-
sciousness of traditional European culture which they regarded as
having been wrong from the start. Both Communists and
Surrealists made it their mission to attack and demolish all that
pertained to "decacent" or bourgeois culture. Aim6 Cesaire
was for many years a Communist in politics (he has represented
Martinique as a Communist deputy) and a declared Surrealist in
Reacting against a distasteful colonial background and influenced
by contemporary social and political ideology, writers from Haiti,
Martinique and Guadeloupe involved themselves in the cause of the
colonized Negro. They committed themselves and their work to the
struggle against exploitation and discrimination, against the position
of inferiority which the white world seemed to have assigned to the
negro. For the negro was claimed the heritage of a mythical, idealized
'Africa,' and the decadent, hypocritical civilization of Europe which
threatened to contaminate him was rejected.
As a result of its writers' socio-political commitment, the literature
of the Spanish and French Caribbean which emerged in the early
twentieth century tended towards an objective, social and public orienta-
tion. An obvious didacticism and vituperative social protest were often
its distinctive characteristics. For the most part its raison d'etre lay
not so much in terms of any personalized recreation of individual
experience as in how much it contributed to the social cause. It seems
to have been all very much a part of what Aim6 C6saire later described,
in 1950, as his systematic apologia of societies destroyed by imperialism
Pour ma part je fais l'apologie
systematique des civilisations para-
Je fais l'apologie systematique des
societ6s detruites par l'imperialisme
The social and political climate of Cuba in the 1830s had also led
to a similar commitment on the part of its novelists. In The Literary
History of Spanish America, Alfred Coester notes:
In the liberal constitution granted to Spain by Maria Cristina
in 1834, Cuba expected to have her part. But the degree of
freedom allowed her was by vote of the Cortes denied and the
Cuban deputies were excluded. Moreover, the despotic Miguel
Tac6n was appointed Governor of Cuba and given absolute
powers of repression. To the conduct of his office from 1834 to
1839 may be ascribed a rapid growth of separatist sentiment in
Though Madrid had authorized the establishment of an Academia de
Literature in Havana, General Tac6n forbade it. To Tac6n such a
society was likely to be a nesting ground for malcontents and for
subversive activity against his administration. At this time the lead--
Ing patron of Cuban letters was the wealthy, aristocratic Domingo del
Monte (1804-1854). Before Tac6n's arrival del Monte's patronage had
been purely literary. But finally disgusted by the governor's tyrannous
and repressive acts, he became more and more political in his aims.
Alfred Coester comments that:
He is perhaps the initiator of the political tract, that form of
literature so flourishing in the peculiar circumstances of Cuban
life. His most important effort was La Isla de Cuba tal cual estd.
Written in 1836 to refute a pamphlet by a Spaniard, F Guerra
Bethencourt, who praised the condition of the island, Del Monte's
tract was an honest protest against the harsh methods of the
colonial governor, Miguel Tac6n.
A literary circle was formed about the person of del Monte and writers,
even of prose fiction, were influenced by his didactic and propagandist
aims. 'Prose', Coester observes, 'was generally a weapon in the fight
for separation from Spain.'
Out of such a context grew a literature which sought every possible
means to discredit the Spanish colonial regime in Cuba. One of the
early pieces of prose fiction in this 'tradition' was the novel Francisco,
El Ingenio 0 las delicias del campo, written by Anselmo Suarez Y
Romero in 1839 but not published until 1880 in New York. Coulthard
The book was written by Suarez Romero on the suggestion of
Domingo del Monte with the object of offering a realistic picture
of the slavery situation in Cuba, in order to supply documentary
evidence for Dr. Richard R. Madden, British Commissioner on
the Mixed Arbitration Tribunal, on matters connected with the
Sefiora Mendizabal and her son Ricardo, demoralized and debased by
the slave system, are despotic and sadistic in their treatment of the
slaves. When the slave Francisco pleads for the second time for per-
mission to marry the mulatto girl Dorotea, Sefiora MendizAbal refuses
because she considers it a weakness to revoke an earlier decision.
Ricardo who had tried unsuccessfully to seduce Dorotea inflicts almost
incredibly severe punishment on Francisco. In the space of ten days
the slave receives three hundred and five lashes. His buttocks are
reduced to a pulp of raw flesh and into the wounds is rubbed with dry
straw a mixture of brandy, urine, salt and tobacco. In an attempt to
save Francisco more suffering, Dorotea gives herself to Ricardo. In
despair Francisco hangs himself. Suarez Y Romero's novel is very
obviously centred on the physical atrocities that the slave system made
possible. No subtleties of representation are attempted and one is
merely persuaded to condemn the ruthless cruelty of the plantation
According to Coulthard, another Cuban writer, Antonio Zambrana,
heard Romero's novel read at del Monte's house and took the story as a
basis for his El Negro Francisco which was published in Santiago in
1875. Zambrana's work shows obvious affinities of subject, treatment
and intention with Suarez Y Romero's earlier novel. Josefa and her
son Carlos, for example, are just as demoralized, despotic and harsh as
their counterparts in Suarez Y Romero's book. There is, however, a
sharper definition of characters, done largely in sensuous terms.
Cerillo Villaverde's Cecilia Valdes 0 La Loma del Angel shows
even greater originality of treatment. Much of the work is concerned
with the uneasy tensions of mulatto existence and an examination of
the negro who can pass for white. But there is much of the simply
vicious and cruel, an element that almost overshadows the touches of
satiric irony evident in the treatment of the master Sefior de Gamboa.
His wife's 'sentimentality' is at times a source of considerable annoyance
to him and he exclaims in all seriousness:
"Fancy believing that those sacks of coal from Africa have a
soul and that they're angels. Why, Rosa, that's blasphemy
I wish you'd realize that there's no difference between a bale of
tobacco and a negro, at least insofar as any capacity to feel is
Towards the end of the novel, Leonardo deserts the mulatto girl Cecilia
who has borne a child for him, and prepares to marry Isabel Ilincheta,
a woman of his own class. Jos6 Dolores Pimiento who had loved Cecilia
in vain suddenly turns up on the very evening scheduled for the
marriage. The scenes that follow, between Cecilia and Jose Dolores,
and before the door of the church when Jose Dolores plunges a knife
into Leonardo's heart, are almost grotesquely sentimental and melo-
One can see, perhaps, some change and development of the novel,
at least in the presentation of characters and the use at times of a
satiric irony. But they are tardy and limited in scope. As Coulthard
puts it, the object of Villaverde's book is to "Provoke the indignation of
his readers at the institution of slavery," clearly didactic and moralizing,
often relying on the melodramatic to ensure an unmistakable line of
distinction between the virtous and the villianous.
Comtemparary Cuban writing has moved away from the essentially
partisan and propagandist aims, from the persistent didacticism and
social and public orientation of the nineteenth century. There is no
pedagogic celebration of the Co-operatives in Onelio Cardoso's The Cat's
Second Death, or melodramatic downgrading of the police state in
Calvert Cassidy's The Execution. There is no tendentious moralizing in
Louis Aguirn's Santa Rita's Holy Water. The last is a humorous satire
on Roman Catholic belief in miracles, holy water and revelations of the
saints- and on a cynicism that can play on the gullibility of others.
Serafina Reinosa manages only to kill the sick with buckets of water
from a muddy stream, while a cross-section of the more destructive
elements in society joins the queue to her shack. In the line one finds
crooked lottery and pedlary, prostitution and racial prejudice. But
Aguiro's 'intention' is limited to a specific situation and event. One is
never made to feel this he is overly supporting a cause or indulging
in a general condemnation, that he presents the peasant woman in
terms of satirical comedy indicates a greater freedom today in the way
characters of any group or race can be treated.
The writers of the new Cuba have moved away from earlier proto-
types, through there is perhaps some evidence of the influence of
Romero, Zambrana and Villaverde in the gruesome melodrama of Ana
Maria Simo's Growth of the Plants and the macabre humour of Vergilo
Pifiera's The Drag6e. But there are still pressures in the society which
attempt to impose on its writers a commitment similar to that which
was voluntarily assumed in the nineteenth century. In the amend-
ment to his introduction to the Penguin anthology, Writers in the New
Cuba, J. M. Cohen remarks:
I would observe in general that in a situation still greatly affected
by the pressures of blockade, the liberal cultural group is finding
it harder to defend itself against the rigid party men whose
prejudices against uncommitted writing have made the lives
of some of the younger writers increasingly difficult. One can
only hope that this tendency will soon be reversed.
Even Fidel Castro in his Words to the Intellectuals, 161, publicly
recognized the 'problem' of creative artists working within revolutionary
conditions: "What degree of freedom they have within the revolu-
tionary conditions to express themselves in accordance with their
The novel has been slow to emerge as a major art form, widely used,
in Cuba a fact that made Alejo Carpentier's Los Pasos Perdidos so
conspicuous an achievement. In having to conceive of his characters
in terms decided by socio-political expedience and having to treat his
subject in such a way that he would not be 'letting down' a particular
group, the early Cuban novelist restricted the range of his creative
experiments in fiction. There were also the broad and rigidly pre-
served distinctions between 'the good' and 'the bad.' There was the
public orientation: the concern not so much with individual experience
as with general notions arising from it, the writer's inviting not a
private dialogue but the involvement of the reader in a real life socio-
political cause. The novel was used as a record of extra-personal,
collective response, as a document of social protest in a very limited
sense of the term. It is useful to recall here D. H. Lawrence's comment
in his essay on "Why the Novel Matters":
In the novel, the characters can do nothing but live. If they
keep on being good according to pattern, or bad, according to
pattern, or even volatile, according to pattern, they cease to
live and the novel falls dead.
Henry James's definition of the novel also offers a clue to the retarded
development of this art form in Cuba:
A novel in its broadest definition is a personal, a direct
impression of life: that to begin with, constitutes its value, which
Is greater or less according to the intensity of the impression.
But there will be no intensity at all, and therefore no value,
unless there is freedom to feel and to say. The tracing of a line
to be followed, of a tone to be taken, of a form to be filled out is
a limitation of that freedom and a suppression of that very
thing we are most curious about The execution belongs
to the author alone; ... .The advantage, the luxury, as well as the
torment and responsibility of the novelist, is that there is no
limit to what he may attempt as an extremist no limit to
his possible experiments, efforts, discoveries, successes.
The mobilization of French and Spanish Caribbean writers in public
causes at times resulted in the concept of 'applied art' being carried to
crude and superficial extremes. One of the finest things that emerged
from the negro and colonial involvement with the white world, and the
post First World War myth of Africa, was a movement which began in
the late 1920s and was subsequently labelled Afro-Cubanism. The
writing was convincing because of its thoroughly sensuous apprehension
and representation of what was 'African' or 'Negro' a quality that
Lenoir's rhetorical 'Nous Negres', for example, doesn't achieve. Nicolas
Guillen's 'Sensemaya: A Chant for killing a snake' evidences the direct-
ly impressive evocation of experience through sound, rhythm and ritual
repetition that was characteristic of Afro-Cubanist-writing.
When we look at the literature of the British colonies, there seems
comparatively little of a student social and political commitment and
overtly propagandist aims. But then V. S. Naipaul's comment on
Trinidad, that there "was no memory of bitterly suppressed revolts," is
true for nearly all these islands. In his introduction to Caribbean
Literature: An Anthology, Coulthard, too, points out that they "have
not experienced the horrors of military dictatorship and civil wars
which the Spanish- speaking islands have suffered." There were no
General Tac6ns and no widespread separatist feeling. In The Middle
Passage, Naipaul observes:
We were of various races, religious, sets and cliques; and we had
somehow found ourselves on the same small island. Nothing
bound us together except this common residence. There was no
nationalist feeling; there could be none. There was no profound
anti-imperialist feeling; indeed, it was only our Britishness, our
belonging to the British Empire, which gave us any identity.
So protests could be only individual, isolated, unheeded.
One should also remember that it was largely Spanish and French
Caribbean writers who were exposed to European and American atti-
tudes and interests after the First World War. It is not surprising that
Coulthard finds very little to say about the British West Indies in Race
and Colour in Caribbean Literature given the sort of thing he is
looking for there. One could hardly describe Edgar Mittelholzer's
Kaywana trilogy or Christopher Nicole's Ratoon, for example, as 'anti-
slavery novels', an expression that provides a convenient chapter head-
ing for Professor Coulthard. Marcus Garvey's violent denunciations of
European civilization and Christianity are exceptions to the general
rule. In the Tragedy of White Injustice, published in New York in
1927, Garvey exclaims:
Out of cold, old Europe these white men came,
From caves, dens and holes, without any fame;
Eating their dead's flesh and sucking their blood,
Relics of the Mediterranean flood;
Literature, science and art they stole,
After Africa had measured each pole,
Asia taught them what great learning was,
Now they frown upon what the coolie does.
A Jim Crow God the preachers operated.
This is hardly much more than demagogy in doggerel. Garvey was one
of the rare examples in the British West Indies of an ardent and
successful political reformer. But what little creative talent he might
have had, played a poor second fiddle to his propagandist and
demagogic intent. Claude McKay who went to America in 1912 shows
his admiration of Garvey in A Long Way from Home: "within a decade
he aroused the social consciousness of the Negro masses more than any
leader ever did." McKay's own attitude in poems like 'The Lynching'
and 'If we must die' is shaped by the American negro's predicament
rather than by McKay's experience as a Jamaican.
There seems to have been little worthy of serious consideration
written before 1940 in the British West Indies. Most of it, as Coulthard
points out, was "provincial, imitative and slipshod" "J. E. Clare
McFarlane, for example, in the 1920s was writing paraphrases of Words-
worth and Tennyson." One of the early writers was Egbert Martin
(1859-1887). Poems like 'The Swallow' and 'Twilight' evidence an
archaic romanticizing and profoundly unimpressive versifying. Too
often the writing suggests itself as material for humorous parody.
Claude McKay's Home to Harlem (1928) is still, however, very read-
able. McKay tends to concentrate on the dramatic presentation of
action rather than on close examination of character. Yet the racy,
often colloquial, narrative style of the novel holds the reader's interest
throughout. The great metropolitan mill of New York, the writer
suggests, "cannot rob negroes of their native color and laughter." The
sensuous vitality of their music threads them to "a remote scarce-
The piano player had wondered off into some dim, far-away,
ancestral source of music. Far, far away from music hall
syncopation and jazz, he was lost in some sensual dream of his
own The notes were naked, acute, alert. Like black
youth burning naked in the bush. Love in the deep heart of the
jungle Like a primitive dance of war or of love the
marshalling of spears or the sacred frenzy of a phallic celebra-
Its tracing of the Negro's verve and exuberance back to the vibrant,
generative life of a mythical 'Africa' connects Home to Harlem with the
work of French and Spanish Caribbean writers after the First World
War. It is significant that McKay, a naturalized American, lived in
France for ten years after the war. He was far more likely to be in-
fluenced by American and European interest in the Negro and the
African 'primitive' than any other contemporary British West Indian
writer. Yet in Home to Harlem he makes no overt 'case' for the Negro,
and his approval of characters like Ray and Grant who reject American
civilization and Christianity is clearly qualified. Grant's critical
appraisal of society, for example, blinds him to extenuating circum-
stances and to the vitality and generosity of people.
In British West Indian Literature, thought of 'Africa' stimulates a
varied response. In George Campbell's 'Mother', there is some degree
of romantic idealization. The black peasant woman of Jamaica stands
naked in a river, her child cradled in her arms -
Black mother, mother of Earth
She sings of mighty rivers
She sings of noble givers
And with accents strong
She sings of the African womb
Everlasting above the tomb
She sings of her island Jamaica
She sings of the glory of Africa.
The theme recurs later in Philip Sherlock's 'Jamaican Fisherman':
Across the sand I saw a black man stride
To fetch his fishing gear and broken things
And silently that splendid body cried
Its proud descent from ancient chiefs and Kings.
In Vera Bell's 'Ancestor on the Auction Block' however, the thought of
Africa, initially at least, prompts a feeling of shame.
Ancestor on the auction block
Across the years your eyes seek mine
Compelling me to look.
I see your shackled feet
Your primitive black face
I see your humiliation
And turn away
What is perhaps more characteristic of British West Indian writing is
concern with a problem of cultural ambivalence. One tends to find not
so much a simple idealization of Africa and rejection of Europe as the
experience of living somewhere between the two. For MacKay in
'Outcast' there is no Place and Time that he apprehends as uniquely
his own. It is a deeply personal and disturbing sense of deracination
that he voices:
Something in me is lost, forever lost,
Some vital thing has gone out of my heart,
And I must walk the way of life a ghost,
Among the sons of earth a thing apart.
For I was born far from my native clime
Under the white man's menace, out of time.
Derek Walcott's 'A Far Cry From Africa' is also a highly personalized
statement of the problem of cultural ambivalence. The poem is in it-
self a far cry from Aim6 C6saire's 'Aux' 'ecluses da vide':
.L'Europe patroville dans mes veines
comme une meute de filaires sur le coup de minuit.
Je donne mon adhesion.
a tout ce qui n'est pas toi
Walcott's agonizing private dialogue reflects the orientation and the
intent (i.e. the search for a meaningful identity) of much of the
literature of the British West Indies. The delicate European/African
balance is variously treated in novels like George Lamming's Season of
Adventure, Denis Williams's Other Leopards and O. R. Dathorne's
Scholar Man. Dathorne himself points out that his hero Adam Questus
(the name is obviously significant) on his flight to Africa feels "the
slave blood in his veins that made him somehow a part of the whole
of Africa." But on his very first night in Africa he wakes to the realiza-
tion that "neither song nor singers nor the voices of the strangers who
spoke a foreign language meant anything to him!"
To some extent Wilson Harris's examination of what one might
loosely call a myth of Place is another aspect of the concern with feel-
ings of deracination and dislocated sensibility. In the Guiana Quartet,
Harris explores an intimate relationship between man and his physical
environment. One of the central motifs in Harris's fiction is a failure
of comprehension and hence of communication between people. In
The Secret Ladder, there is a void between the young surveyor, Fenwick,
who initially at least, is acutely ill at ease on the Canje river, and
Poseidon, the head of a group of negroes descended from runaway
Africans slaves. Fenwick in time begins to see Poseidon as the "Grand
Old Man of our history, my father's history in particular," but this
makes comprehension hardly less difficult:
There were reasons for his failure of comprehension of course.
simple ones to do with his refined upbringing (as his mother in
Georgetown would put it), he must learn to face and assess.
But if at all simple, It is with a primeval simplicity. For the real diffi-
culty lies in a mythical relationship, unshared by Fenwick, in which
Poseidon participates with his physical environment, a fulfilling
intimacy of man and landscape:
His ancient feet-webbed with grass and muck-were bare (he
had not worn his flapping fins today! . .
The description recalls a similar passage in The Far Journey of Oudin:
Oudin's extremities hands and feet had turned into mud.
He had crawled and crept far. He had risen to his feet to follow
her, but he carried with him rings round his ankles, and islands
off the foreshore, and it was with difficulty he still uprooted
and extricated himself.
It is significant that when Fenwick begins to understand Poseidon ("He
teaches us the terrifying depth of our human allegiance our sub-
servience to the human condition"), he experiences a mystical oneness
with the visible universe:
He shivered with the visionary tattoo of every branch and con-
stellation, conscious of the threads which bound him to their
enormous loom. the fever of emotion almost overwhelmed
him it was so unexpected and brutal and vivid the dream
of belonging to space.
Coupled with the myth of Place is the theme of that "terrifying depth
of our human allegiance," the notion of 'death-in-life' and 'life-in-
death,' of an inalienable nexus between the dead, the living and the
unborn. The conception, worked out through that frequently recurring
symbol of the seeing and mirroring eye, is responsible for most of the
apparent obscurity of Harris's work.
V. S. Naipaul who generally uses satire and a mocking irony to
distance his subject, claimed in The Middle Passage that
With two or three exceptions the West Indian writer has so
far avoided the American negro type of protest writing, but
his aims have been equally propagandist: to win acceptance for
No writer, Naipaul claims, "wishes to let down his group." The charge
is a serious one, for it implies that writers are rigidly limiting their
freedom to feel and to say. The result on occasion can only be a lack
of intensity and a loss of artistic integrity. But I doubt whether such
a general indictment could be made to stick, even when one admits
that some of the writing is clearly celebratory. The early Mittleholzer,
in With a Carib Eye, for example, can be very disconcerting. Here is his
description of the Barbados peasantry:
The peasants live in shingled shacks, often very delapidated,
many supported precariously on blocks of limestone. There is
an easy-going life, punctuated by bouts of field labour on leased
half-acre plots of land.
And less than two pages later:
incredible poverty such poverty as I had not thought
could exist and yet not a depressing poverty. Despite their
delapidation, these little half-ruined places had a charm almost
indescribable. They seemed so countrified and unashamed of
their condition that you dared not class them as slums. Instead
I found myself thinking romantically of ruined abbeys and
castles. Each of them was falling to pieces but doing so with
dignity amidst the wholesome scents of vegetation and sea.
With a Carib Eye is not fiction it is essentially journalistic in inten-
tion. But it wouldn't be enough simply to declare that slum shacks in
Barbados or anywhere else in the West Indies for that matter -
are shoddy, shameful affairs which no one would, in all honesty,
hesitate to call slums. What is highly significant, however, is that
Mittellholzer's perception seems to change course abruptly in mid-
stream- and this with shameless blatancy. Even his very mode of
expression reflects this, and from the concrete images, the lean, resilient,
almost austere prose, the preciseness of observation and statement, of
the first passage one moves to the emotive vagrancies of the second.
The hollow verbalizing of 'charm almost indescribable,' 'countrified and
unashamed of their condition,' 'wholesome scents of vegetation and
sea,' is perhaps even more offensive than the ludicrous notion of a
slum hut falling apart with 'dignity.' It is a lapse in critical honesty
that robs the language here of 'intensity'; a lack of conviction, a deep
down 'unsureness' in the writer, that makes the prose vague, hollow
and unconvincing. In its clutching at vague straws like 'countrified,'
'unashamed,' 'abbeys and castles,' 'dignity,' it ultimately strikes one as
a desperate bid to put a pretty plaster on one of the sores of under-
In Lamming's Of Age and Innocence, there is some degree of
romantic idealization of the peasant in the brilliantly imaginative
evocation of the Fire and Flood by the old woman, the perceptiveness
and lucidity of Thief and the richly emotive dialogue of the little boys.
In itself this romantic idealization is not a defect D. H. Lawrence points
out: "The novel is the highest example of subtle inter-relatedness that
man has discovered. Everything is true in its own time, place and
circumstance, and untrue outside of its own place, time and circum-
stance." But surely there is a limit to which Lamming can safely
heighten the perception and imaginative articulation of his 'peasant'
characters. This reservation has little to do with whether or not such
characters think and express themselves in the terms in which they do
in Lamming's fiction. It seems to me however, that a character begins
to lose that solid core of unique personality when nearly anything can
be expected of the character's apprehension and expression when
illiterate Crim, for example, may declare quite naturally, 'she train that
daughter like she was a horse studying' for the Grand National.' In the
description of the fisherman witness in Of Age and Innocence there is a
touch of the gratuitous and in a sense, inconsistent. For Rocky him-
self never quite validates the external claim that is made for him here-
He is comfortable and astonishingly calm, almost aloof in his
expression of patient forgiveness which he turns occasionally on
those who sit nearest him. His presence makes the Chief Justice
and the surrounding paraphernalia of -the Court seem irrele-
vant, ridiculous, absurd.
In the course of the 'action' of the novel, Rocky does not convincingly
emerge as the kind of man who could display the aloof and patient
forgiveness and the grand assured air of detachment that would make
Chief Justice and Court look ridiculous and absurd.
One also has reservations about Lamming's description, in Season
of Adventure, of San Cristobal's "promising experiment in a race of
mixtures." The passage evidences a careful use of verbal wit, but it
finally reads like an irrelevantly insistent note on West Indian cosmo-
politanism and graciousness. Statements of this sort in a good novel
are gratuitous. The novelist should allow his characters to reveal
themselves, not try to persuade the reader through tendentious, external
comment. To some extent it seems like an attempt to 'justify' the raw
material of fiction, to impress upon the reader that such people are
interesting and really worth writing about. The insistent repetition of
'gracious and alert. alert and gracious' may well have something to
do with what Naipaul calls the "myth, derived from the Southern states
of America, of the gracious culture of the slave society."
Recently, there appeared the second part of Edward Brathwaite's
triology, Masks. The poem is another attempt to face and assess the
African past. One of its distinctions is that it offers a more sensuous
experience of 'Africa' than anything previously written in the British
West Indies that I know of. In a sequence like 'Tano,' for example,
Brathwaite makes effective use of the rhythms and sounds of the Akan
liturgical lament. The statement of its experience in such sensory
terms makes Brathwaite's poem, at least at one level, seem something
like a British West Indian counterpart of the best of Afro-Cubanist
writing. With the new Afro-Caribbean movements which have recently
come into being in some of these islands, creative writing in the Carib-
bean may well follow more and more in the lines: of Masks.
Arrest the clockwork of the world,
Place a rough palm on the sky,
Now that In every wood
Of the fanned, coral-twigged sea,
In the folds of every furled
Cloth of weeds where shy fish stood
Today in salt-strained light,
In the grooved symetry
Of the waves' footprints on their floor,
And in the pools that lie
For high tide through the reef's door,
In the unwinking sight
Of the moon on its eucharist height,
Beneath the whipping wind
And the stars hung in chains,
In each sea-chamber, on each kind
Sofa or coverlet weed
Every lithe flank, every shell,
Each finned or prickled breed
Wears the camouflage of sleep
And quietly disdains
The possibly waking net
Or curious teeth from the deep.
Now the sky's dial tells
Midnight: while on the shore
The crabs in red and jet
Cool in their nests of sand
Have tucked in legs and eyes.
And each long-necked bird in a core
Of plumage has hidden its head.
It is some hours too late
For any sound of fisherman's wand
Or bargaining by the boat
After the toil of the net
From sun low to sun straight
To dew-time of the sun's bed
And the chill locked out with a coat;
Some hours beyond the time
Of wives on the beach, and girls
With skirts full of shells,-
Some hours beyond the time
Of the faces of my company.
Although the cunning mime
Of branches, as the wind curls
Its whip round sea-grape stems,
And the shadows' gaunt comedy
Play to only my eye,
Though drunks, fishermen's girls,
Voices, all my friends
Have gone, both tatters and pearls
There is a pain which quells
That other:-my intricate need,
and the coming hymn that I fear
And make without company.
At this hour and anvil I work,
Alone, to the wavelets' beat,
To break facility, greed,
Dishonesty's politeness, hate,
All the sins that lurk
In the sly nooks of the heart,
Approaching, I trust, the feat
Of ultimate innocence
Now I celebrate
In my hymning fool's career
The careful singer's part
For my need's recompense.
- SLADE HOPKINSON
AFTER A LAPSE of some years calypso drama reappeared in 1964
on the nightly calypso concert programmes traditionally offered to
the Trinidad public in the weeks preceding the annual carnival
celebration. The musical playlets have always enjoyed considerable
popular appeal and, in a period of emerging nationalism, it has been
argued that they contain the rudiments of a national drama and
theatre. In this article I propose to trace the history of calypso
drama and analyse the genre as a valid theatrical form.
Except for legendary accounts of earlier calypso singers and per-
formances, the first documented record of a Calypso as part of the
annual Trinidad carnival was in 1838.1 In this year the Negro planta-
tion slaves, freed in 1834, ended their period of enforced apprentice-
ship. Thus the calypso has been in existence for a hundred and
twenty-nine years, and probably longer. Yet calypso drama was intro-
duced only in 1933. What is the reason for this late development?
Did the calypso in fact slowly evolve through different stages of growth
towards a dramatic presentation in song?
In discussing the St. Pauler Neidhart Play in relation to the
growth of the German carnival comedy. Wolfgang Michael suggests
that the play belongs in the line which leads from the simple solo
recitation to the recitation enlivened by pantomime, which in turn
leads to the recitation with simple roles and finally to the simple
drama.2 This line of development is so plausible that it is tempting
to seek a similar formula in calypso history. Unfortunately, the stages
of growth are not so clearly distinguishable in the calypso which,
from its inception, contained a vocal refrain as an integral element
of composition and erudition. The existence of this refrain (or as
it is more usually called, "calypso chorus"), which spectators joined
in singing, gave the calypso an immediate dramatic force even as it
tended to impede the development of the form into a proper vehicle
One of the earliest known types of calypso is the "calinda," a
warrior song associated with the celebrated stick dance-cum-combat
which was a prominent feature of the mid-nineteenth century carnival.
Belligerent in character, sung in single line or two-line verse and
chorus pattern, these song chants seem to have originated in the
freedom songs or work songs of the slaves, both of which followed
the same call and response form of the calinda. At a mutiny of
African recruits in Trinidad in 1837, the war song chanted by the
Insurgents ran, in translation:
Leader: Come to plunder, come to slay.
Chorus: We are ready to obey.3
Another rebellious song of the slave period (considered by the
calypsonian Atilla, Raymond Quevedo, to be the earliest surviving
calypso) expressed the determination of Negroes to take part in their
Shango ceremonies against the orders of the planters:
Leader: Ja Ja Romy Oh.
Chorus: Ja Ja Romy Shango. (Repeat above two lines.)
Leader: Ja Ja Romy oh meti beni.
Chorus: Ja Ja Romy Shango.
The literal translation of the above is said to be: "I am coming to
the dance (Shango) of the God, Ja Ja Romy."4
With these examples we may compare any number of calinda
songs which have the same short, spirited, aggressive character in
music and lyric. Here is a traditional calinda, the words of which
were updated some years ago in a recording by the Roaring Lion
Leader: Here what they sing in the bamboo calinda.
Chorus: Man Man Man Peter.
Leader: Peter swear an oath with a razor,
Chorus: Man Man Man Peter.
Leader: Ramjohn made a blow at Cutouter,
Chorus: Man Man Man Peter.
Leader: Cutouter herself like the rock of Gibraltar.
Chorus Man Man Man Peter.
Leader: Peter get vex and join in the minor,
Chorus: Man Man Man Peter.
Leader: Wai-ai-ai-ai 'twas murder.
Chorus: Man Man Man Peter.5
The form seems simple enough on paper but it is highly effective and
dramatic in performance. The rapid alteration from solo voice to
chorus creates a feeling of conflict. Sometimes the leader will antici-
pate the end of the chorus line and come in over them; at another
time he will appear to drop behind the regular metre at the beginning
of his line, then suddenly spring forward on a syncopated beat. He
improvises not only with his lyrics but with the melody. He ornaments
in subtle ways his short passage, but is constrained always to return
to the original tune by the power of the chorus. It is as though leader
and chorus complement and compete with each other simultaneously.
The dramatic possibilities of this song-form are nowhere so well
illustrated as in the calypso. "Ten To One Is Murder," by the Mighty
Sparrow (Slinger Francisco), who was four times crowned Calypso
King. In this song, Sparrow actually presents his defence against a
charge of using a firearm with intent to do injury during a quarrel
with a band of young men. The case was before the law courts when
his song was released. Here are two stanzas in which the electric
calinda form is introduced by a quiet, reflective but ominous four-
Leader: Well they playing bad,
They have me feeling sad,
Well they playing beast,
Why they run for Police?
Ten criminals attack me outside of Miramar,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: About 10 in the night on the 5th of October,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: Way down Henry Street by H. G. M. Walker,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: Well the leader of the gang was hot like a pepper,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: And every man in the gang had a white handled razor,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: They say I push their girl from Grenada,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: Well I back-back until I nearly fall in the gutter,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: You must imagine my position not a police in the area!
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: Well I start to sweat,
And I soaking wet,
Mamma, so much threat.
Ten of them against me with fifty spectator,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: And the way they coming up like they want to devour,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: But in the heat of the excitement is then I remember,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: In my next pants' pocket I forget my wedger,
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!
Leader: I don't know what to do but I just can't surrender!
Chorus: Ten to one is murder!6
It has been observed that the impact of calypso songs can never be
recaptured on paper since it is the manner of presentation of the
singer which gives life to his rendition. This observation is true; but
it does not state the whole case against substituting the printed calypso
for a live performance because the underlying rhythmic harmonic
base of the calypso is also an important element which cannot be
conveyed satisfactorily on paper. In this respect, W. E. Ward points
to a significant difference between European and African Negro
rhythms when he says that "whereas any one piece of European
music has at any one moment one rhythm in command, a
piece of African music has always two or three and sometimes as
many PS four."8
In one of its earliest forms, therefore, the calypso was vastly
different from the "simple solo recitation" which Michael puts for-
ward as the first stage in the development of the German carnival
comedy. The next stage, according to Michael, is the recitation "en-
livened by pantomime." But in calypso history the pantomime per-
formance did not necessarily precede the drama. The pantomime
calypso is a product of the individual style of the singer of any
generation. Several contemporary calypsonians excel in this form of
presentation, and their "recitations" are not necessarily a step in the
evolution of a more complex form.
Among the most renowned of present-day songsters who use panto-
mime effectively is the Lord Melody (Fitzroy Alexander) The best of
his calypsos are pieces de resistance for the solo performer. Con-
sidered by many to be among the classics of calypso is his story of
the Baptist Preacher who fried up some bakes, went to work leaving
his four children at home, and returned to discover one of the
bakes missing. The following two verses and chorus illustrate the
ure of direct speech and the opportunity provided for pantomime
by the singer:
Verse: Where I'm living next door, well I'm trembling,
I rush to the partition and start knocking,
"Good Lord, neighbour Wimberley,
I beg you to have mercy!"
That didn't alter the situation
With the ignorant man,
He beat the children as if he was beating a snake,
Just because he was short of a Johnny bake.
Chorus: He shout out: "Freddy!" "Yes, Pa."
'You thief a bake here?" "No, Pa."
"Well, one gone, one gone, one gone!"
And the power fly up in the Preacher head,
He raff a belt and nearly kill the poor children dead
With whap! whap-whap! whap! whap-whap!
Verse: The neighbours around couldn't sleep again
Since the power fly in the old man brain,
Is a prancing, a shouting, and a running about,
And the father bawling: "Shut you mouth!
I roast four bake, one gone for a walk,
Where it gone to? Nobody wouldn't talk.
I giving you now until half-past six,
Otherwise I going hang somebody with licks." 9
Vivid and dramatic as such calypsoes are, there is no evidence of a
chronological development from the pantomime calypso to the calypso
drama. Only three years ago there occurred an experiment, quite
spontaneous, in which a calypso composed for solo performance was
successfully staged by four singers. Each singer played one of the
characters in the calypso and was dressed in costume suited to his
role. The composer was Lord Nelson (Robert Nelson), and his ballad
describes how a middle-aged jilted lover stops the marriage ceremony
of his youthful mistress and a young man who purported to be his
best friend. A surprise ending to this old plot is the decision of the
girl to return home with her old man, having by her escapade proved
his love for her.
In the little drama performed from this calypso (which has only
four 6-line verses and a chorus) four characters appear on stage,
namely: the preacher, the bride, the groom, and the lover. No script
is available of the stage performance, but the ease with which the
original song could be dramatised is clearly evident from the text
of the calypso transcribed from a commercial recording.
The song begins with a spoken injunction by the preacher at the
commencement of the ceremony. The first verse marks the sudden
entrance of the lover demanding that the marriage be stopped. In
the chorus which follows, the mood changes suddenly as in broken,
sobbing tones he addresses the bride-to-be, declares his love and begs
her not to leave him. This chorus is repeated with slight textual
variations after each verse. In the second verse the calypsonian
briefly becomes narrator for the first time before slipping back into
the role of the lover. The third verse has some more narration; then
the bridegroom speaks. In the fourth and final verse, the bride ex-
plains all. After the last chorus a single line is given to the bride;
"Let we go, darling," to end the song-drama and, incidentally,
take the calypsonian off stage. Here is the text .of this calypso, entitled
"Stella." In performance the chorus would be repeated after every
Spoken: Dearly beloved: we are gathered here to join together this
man and woman in matrimony. If any man feels that they
should not be joined together, speak up now or forever
hold his tongue.
Verse 1: "Please, Parson, stop the ceremony!"
I say, "Wait, Parson, that woman belong to me!
I pay dear for the dress she wearing
I thought she was a guest in somebody wedding,
Rev., try and understand,
If she marry, I will have to be she husband."
Chorus: "Ay, ay, Stella, Stella, how you go do that to me,
Stella! Is water in my eyes, I love you,
I pay the last penny for your dress,
Stella, how you go do that-Stell!
Listen to me, Stell! Listen, Stella!"
Verse 2: Well the priest almost pass out right in front of three of
When the old man shout out: "Rev. the bridegroom is my
Only last night he came down by me,
Drink my Scotch and I lend him money,
Rev., if you marry both of them at all
Prepare yourself to preach to a funeral!"
Verse 3: Well the whole church went in a big uproar,
The bridegroom snatch the old man and tell him, "Don't
talk no more,
This ain't no time to make a confession!"
Told the priest: "Go on with the ceremony "
The old man raise he hand in protest,
Snatch the bride and rip off she dress.
Verse 4: This time you should see the bridegroom throwing punches
left and right,
The bride hug up the old man begging him. "Honey, don't fight,
I was only marrying him to see if you love me,
You prove your point, let's go, honey!"
Leave the bridegroom on the floor,
Hug up the old man and walk out the door.10
It is clear from the foregoing examples that the true calypsonian
embodies the triple arts of the poet, the musical composer, and the
actor. He not only writes his lyrics and creates his melodies, but he
stamps each performance of his song with his own powerful his-
trionic talent. It is this individuality of talent that ensures the
calypso artist a strong partisan following. It is the same individuality
that militates against any attempt to impose upon him the discipline
and teamwork required for participation in a dramatic performance.
Thus, despite the unquestionable appeal of calypso drama it has
never become more than a novelty during the thirty-four years
since the first calypso drama was performed. And as we shall see,
the introduction of drama into the calypso repertoire in 1933 was
more an innovation to attract patrons from a rival calypso tent than
the logical development of an artistic form.
Wolfgang Michael describes the third stage in the growth of
German carnival drama as the "recitation with simple roles" which
immediately precedes the simple drama. Here at last we find a cor-
responding occurrence in calypso history. The calypso drama was
a direct outgrowth of the calypso duet. Both forms were first intro-
duced in the same carnival season. Before their introduction, however,
there existed a form of calypso performance during which verses
were sung alternately by individual members of a calypso team. This
early type of incipient calypso theatre is known as the "calypso
war" and is hardly ever practised nowadays. So now we have three
kinds of calypso theatre to examine: the war, the duet, and the
drama. Let us take each in turn.
It is alleged that in the slave period shantwellsll owned by
Pierre Begorrat used to engage in a war of insults among themselves
for the entertainment of their master and his guests. 12 However,
there is no mention of song duels in nineteenth-century written
records. The first notice of calypso duels does not appear until early
in the twentieth century when, during the 1903 carnival celebration,
"rival bands met in streets or in one another's tents not to test
superiority by blows but to engage in friendly competition in song
directed playfully against each other." 13
No record exists of the songs rendered at these band contests.
This was the era of the oratorical calypso when high-flown lyrics were
fashionable at the expense of tuneful melodies. Calypsonians must
therefore have pounced on their opponents' weakness in the art of
exalted versification. Since calypsoes were still improvised at this time,
singers could be vulnerable to such attacks.
In the post-World War I period, it was customary for calypconians
to make the rounds of the backyard masquerade tents during the
practice weeks before carnival. Many song battles ensued between
visiting and home-based singers to the delight of partisan spectators.
Typically a competitor in these duels rendered his complete com-
position at one go, and this was followed by a suitable rebuttal in
his opponent's song. 14
A development in the presentation of these song contests occurred
early in the 1930's. Songsters who were previously attached to
masquerade bands as managers, masquerade kings and/or shantwells
freed themselves from the duties involved in band management and
began to devote their energies and talents to calypso singing. They
formed group alliances and in the pre-carnival season appeared
together in calypso tents which were for the first time no longer
concerned with masquerade band practices. Calypso improvisation
gave way to painstaking rehearsal before performance. The atmosphere
in the tents were charged with competition as the singers vied with
each other to win personal acclaim from their audiences. Nightly
programmes closed with a calypso war or "picong" (French piquant)
session between the performers during which they improvised verses
ridiculing and insulting each other in a good-natured way.
The improvisational origin of the calypso was thus perpetuated
in the calypso war. Singers lined up at the front of the stage facing
the audience; the orchestra struck up a chorus taken from the theme
song of the tent, such as that used by the Young Brigade Tent during
Young Brigade again,
We are young and we have the brain,
Tell them we ain't 'fraid,
We going eat up the Old Brigade. is
And the war was on. During the chorus one of the calypsonians
would invent his opening attack on a fellow singer. As the short
chorus came to an end, he would sing his improvised lyric applying
the final touches in performance. The singer attacked would be
expected to reply and would have his barb neatly shaped by the
time the next chorus round was completed. Or it may be that one of
his friends would spring to his defence with a particularly apt piece
of invective. Thus the song-war would continue in free-for-all fashion
for about fifteen minutes until it was time to end the evening's
The open platform stage used at the first calypso tent erected by
Chieftain Douglas (Walter Douglas) in 1921 was now supplemented
by a hand-rail surrounding the acting area. Behind the rail the
singers stood in nonchalant lounging attitudes. The addition of this
rail must have impeded the development of calypso drama in the
tents, particularly in later years when the space below it was filled
in with bunting or board on which an advertising slogan had been
boldly printed. Then the singers appeared like so many puppets,
visible from the waist up.
The tents by this time had doubled in capacity, seating some 600
and more patrons. They were packed tight, some seated on the level
ground, some perched on the walls and others literally hang-
ing from the rafters. The acoustics were poor for this large
audience, and loudspeaker equipment was installed. The singers used
a hand microphone which, in the picong session, was passed from
one to the other as each verse was sung. The introduction of micro-
phone equipment was a further hindrance to the development of
Nowadays calypso concerts are held in more respectable sur-
roundings than the traditional backyard tent with its leaky roofing
and sawdust-covered ground. The principal venues in the city of
Port-of-Spain (they are still, however, colloquially referred to as
"tents") are a Trade Union assembly hall, a cinema, or a Friendly
Society meeting hall. The average accommodation in these centres
is anything up to or exceeding 1,000 patrons. The railed platform
is sometimes abandoned or modified by the addition of an open dais
in front. The dais forms a sort of open stage on which some
calypsonians, usually those performing pantomime songs, choose to
appear. When the cinema is used, the stage has a narrow walkway
jutting out into the audience on which singers can move forward in
an effort to compensate for the lost intimacy of the original tent
Another innovation which has been introduced in the last four or
five years is the darkening of the calypso tent auditorium. The effect
is to isolate the singer from his audience and to make the spectators
into detached observers rather than participants in the calypso ex-
perience. Accordingly calypso audiences seldom join in singing the
choruses as they did regularly in years past.
On the other hand, the present-day calypso artist has become much
more of an actor than his predecessor. The team of singers, or "side",
now travels regularly to various parts of the country where they
perform in concert halls or community centres on open stages. The
best calypsonians appear frequently in night clubs; several travel
abroad regularly and perform on concert platforms in big metro-
politan cities. Many are internationally popular recording artists and
have developed vocal techniques suited to the studio. Performance
skills are thus greatly improved through playing under different
But to return to the calypso war; its value to the songsters was
that it retained the tradition of spontaneous improvisation out of
which the calypso was born. Singers adept at this art have always been
esteemed by their contemporaries. A tribute by the late Atilla the
Hun to the most celebrated extemporaneous singer in living memory,
the late Lord Executor (Philip Garcia) was published posthumously
I well remember Executor for I was his Apprentice de Kaiso
[i.e., calypso] while he was my Maitre. He was extremely versa-
tile and changing moods were reflected in the themes he
developed. Picong or satire was his forte and he exploded it
with a rapier-like dexterity to the discomfiture of his adver-
saries. I can well recall how he captured me when I attempted
to cross swords with him one day early in my career. The
verses he used were:
I admire your ambition, you'd like to sing,
But you will never be a Kaiso King,
To reach such a height without blemish or spot
You must study Shakespeare, Byron, Milton and Scott,
But I'm afraid I'm casting pearls before swine
For you'll never inculcate such thoughts divine,
You really got a good intention
But poor education. 17
Eventually the strain of improvising nightly at the end of two
or two-and-a-half hours of singing rehearsed calypsos proved too
great for the calypsonians. They began to use stock rhymes and
phrases, their verses became highly personal and offensive, or merely
banal, lacking sparkle and style. The audiences, sated with original
calypsoes, started to move out of the crowded tents during the singing
of the "war," and the practice fell into disuse in the 1950's.
As far as calypso drama is concerned, the picong war added
nothing to its development. There was no plot, no characterization,
not even a common theme, and little real wit. While the decline of
the art of improvisational singing is perhaps regrettable, its passing
was inevitable as soon as calypso-singing became a highly commer-
cialized and competitive profession and as soon as audiences began
to expect originality of tune and lyric with every new composition.
How the calypso duet was introduced is quickly told in the
following summary of an unpublished fragment from Atilla the
Hun's History of Calypso. 18 In 1933 competition between the tents
was acute. There was a marked falling off in gate receipts at the
Salada Millionaires tent (where Atilla and the Roaring Lion were
singing) because of the attraction of the Silky Millionaires Syndicate
comprising Douglas, King Radio (Norman Span), Lord Beginner
(Egbert Moore), and Lord Inveigler (Macdonald Borel). Upon re-
lating their problem to a sympathetic friend at a city restaurant in
which they were performing, Atilla and Lion were advised to take one
one of Lion's songs and convert it into a duet by having Atilla impro-
vise verses in answer to Lion. This innovation, it was felt, would draw
the crowds. And it did.
The calypso which gave rise to the duet was a humorous ditty
called, "Doggie, Doggie, Look Bone." In it Lion explains his troubles
in seeking to win the favours of a Grenadian girl. Atilla advises
him how he should proceed. The song ends with Atilla's prescrib-
ing an amusing recipe for a witch's brew ("obeah" in local parlance)
that Lion is advised he should "mix them all up together and wear
in your socks." This formula would ensure him a successful love-
suit. Here, for the first time in calypso, the dialogue form was used
around some semblance of a plot. The singers, however, acted as
themselves and did not assume the identities of other characters as
would be the case in a standard play. This first duet was so success-
ful, we are told, that it led to a number of others by Atilla and Lion
as well as by other calypsonians. I examined several of these early
duets but in none of them do the singers play any role other than
According to Atilla, the "phenomenal success" of the duet in-
novation inspired calypsonians to attempt "the adaptation of this
genre to a wider art-concept the drama inj kaiso." Atilla speaks with
authority on the history of calypso drama since he was chiefly
responsible for introducing and propagating the genre. With a
small group of calypsonians he performed these little plays over a
period of some ten years in calypso tents, in cinemas as "curtain-
raisers" before the film, and on concert platforms throughout the
country. He became a City Councillor, was Deputy Mayor of Port-of-
Spain, and later a member of the colony's Legislative Council.
But he never gave up his profession of calypsonian. Instead he used
the influence of his political office to advance the cause of the
calypso, seeking official recognition of it as an authentic and valid
art form that was a credit to Trinidad.
Regrettably, information about calypso dramas is not easily ob-
tained. Although recordings of calypsoes began in 1914, the calypso
drama has never been put on a disc. Newspaper reviews of per-
formances, when they are noticed at all, are very sketchy. Only one
script was ever published in the annual calypso booklets issued since
1942, and there is no record of its having been performed. Reminis-
cences of old tent patrons tend to be conflicting. I was fortunate to
gain access to a private recording of a calypso drama performed in
1965 and to trace a copy of the original text upon which it was
based. The version as performed is appended to this article.
The list of calypso dramas compiled from valuable records, by
no means a complete catalogue, is as follows:
1. The Divorce Case (1933)
2. The Civil Servant and the Obeahman (1933).
3. The Wooing of Olga (1934)
4. Frankenstein (1934).
5. The Marine Club Rum-selling Case (1934).
6. The Shouter Man (1934)
7. The King's Jubilee (1935).
8. A "ripping drama" presented by Atilla the Hun (1936)
9. The Savannah Tragedy (1939)
10. No Money, No Love (1939)-revived as The Missing Ball (1940).
11. Storming of the Maginot Line ((1940)
12. Adam and Eve in the Garden (1941)
13. A drama at Victory Tent which was stopped in performance
by Captain A. A. Cipriani (1944)
14. The Wrightson Road Scandal (1945)
16. The Case of Doris the Foolish Cook (1956)
16. Boysie Singh-Boland Ramkeesoon Murder Case (1957)
17. Stella (1964)
18. The Trial of Mano Benjamin (1965)
19. Nine Years' Honeymoon (1966)
We should note that these so-called dramas are little more than
short ten-minute or fifteen-minute skits in which the dialogue is
mostly sung in rhymed calypso couplets or alternate rhyming lines.
A great deal of comic mime is introduced. The orchestra plays
throughout, accompanying singers and spoken dialogue, underscoring
comic business, and where necessary providing a musical bridge be-
tween short dramatic sequences. Although prior rehearsal does take
place, this preparation is often cursory with the actor-singers be-
coming more proficient in performance. A distinct impression of
spontaneous, even improvised action is left with the audience at each
The average calypso takes about four minutes to sing. The
majority of songs (apart from the calinda-type calypso) now follow a
standard pattern of four eight-line stanzas and chorus, though they
may contain more verses if the earlier form of four-line stanza is
used. After the lengthy compositions of the 1920's, and previously,
this standardization was the result of two events. First, the teaming
up of calypsonians for tent concerts made shorter compositions
necessary, so that a more varied programme could be presented.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the commencement of
regular commercial recordings in 1934 limited the singing time for
convenience to one side of the old 78 r.p.m. disc.
In a programme otherwise consisting of four-minute calypsoes, the
calypso drama becomes a major item because, apart from its novel
form, it lasts three or four times as long as the average song. The
dramatic scope of these playlets is necessarily abbreviated. Yet they
contain the elements of a full-scale theatrical presentation and may
be considered miniature folk operas or operettas. Like the calypso
songs, the dramas were performed only in the year of their compo-
sition as it was considered unworthy of a calypsonian to revive an
old song or drama unless by very special request.
The single exception to this practice is the play, "No Money,
No Love" (No 10) which was first presented at the Prince's Building
in Port-of-Spain on the occasion of the City Council Silver Jubilee
celebrations in August 1939. It tells the story of an errant wife,
Millicent, whose affections are regained by her faithful but impecunious
husband after he has won the Missing Ball competition held by a
local newspaper. The drama was so well received at its special showing
that it was revived in the regular calypso season the following year
under the title, "The Missing Ball." The short life of calypso dramas
is another reason for the paucity of information about them.
Even with the fragmentary information at our command, certain
characteristics of the genre are apparent. First, of the nineteen
playlets listed, nine of them are known to be based on law court
cases (Nos. 1, 2, 5, 9, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19). The court-room drama,
though suspenseful, is static in form. The principals stand or sit in
fixed positions; movement is restricted by court procedure. Scenery
and elaborate properties are unnecessary. Such playing lends itself
admirably to the simple staging facilities of the calypso tent.
Play No. 7, "The King's Jubilee,' was another special calypso
performance outside of the carnival season. It was performed on an
open-air stage as part of a programme presented in the Queen's Park
Oval in Port-of-Spain to mark the jubilee of the reign of King
George V of Britain. Here again the setting is formal and static. The
stage depicts the King and Queen seated on a throne while state
dignitaries representing different countries pay homage by eulogising
Their Majesties in song. "Stella" (Play No. 17) also has a formal
setting, in this case a marriage ceremony which is in progress when
the play begins. The parson, bride and groom, and the interloping
lover are the only characters needed and the place of action-
before the altar of a church is taken for granted.
I have seen two of these little dramas performed. In neither was
scenery or furniture used. However, costumes were worn, including a
mask for one grotesque character, and hand properties, such as a
policeman's truncheon and whistle, were carried. Clearly the calypso
drama is intended to be a non-illusionistic re-enactment of events.
The tent locale is left undisguised, and there is no attempt to convey
the audience to a different time or place, or to persuade them that
the actor-calypsonians are assuming the identities of the characters
they portray. The style, in other words is presentational. The actors
show the audience what the play is about but make no attempt to
identify with character or to elicit an empathic response from the
Another characteristic of calypso drama is that the cast is small
in number. As I suggested earlier, getting calypsonians out to re-
hearse presents problems. There is no play director. The singer who
conceives the action simply indicates the rough outlines of what
should happen and where people should stand and leaves it as
that. The play arranges itself in one or two rehearsals and settles
down in performance. We cannot take at face value the report in
one newspaper in 1934 that "it had been hoped to present tonight
the famous drama, 'Frankenstein,' but due to great care and atten-
tion in production on the local calypso stage, necessitating more
rehearsals, instead 'The Wooing of Olga' will be presented."19 It is
more likely that the manager of the tent failed to get his singers out
to a single rehearsal of the "Frankenstein" play.
Apart from "The King's Jubilee" which took the form of a
pageant staged outside the calypso tent, six or seven actors were
the most ever used in a play, the average number being four. All
actors were made. 20 Atilla the Hun, whose voice was high-pitched,
took female leads in the early dramas. He was the aggrieved wife in
"The Divorce Case," Olga in "The Wooing of Olga," Millicent in
"No Love, No Money," and Eve in the "Adam and Eve" play.
In recent years the comedian Bill Trotman, who occasionally
appears on calypso tent programmes, has played the female roles
of Stella in the drama of that name, Lucie in "The Trial of Mano
Benjamin," and the bride in "Nine Years' Honeymoon." Costum-
ing males in female attire is part of ancient carnival tradition and
permits bolder ribaldry than would be possible if the roles were
taken by women. The convention survives in the Dame figure of
Yet another important factor in these calypso playlets is prompt
audience recognition and participation. As the plays are short, plots
have to be simple and immediately evident, even trite, although
new twists are introduced on old themes. In "The Wooing of Olga,"
based on a love triangle, the two suitors are a calypsonian and a
sentimental songster: the girl with appropriate loyalty chooses the
former. In "Stella" there is an age difference in the two lovers and
the surprise twist is that the girl, who is about to marry the younger
man, changes her mind and goes off to be the mistress of the old
man. The court-room dramas were based on highly publicized judicial
trials. Audiences were fully cognisant of the details, and the singers
were therefore free to concentrate on one or two episodes which
they freely and comically interpreted. The audience was addressed
directly either as members of the jury or as spectators in the court.
The "Civil Servant and the Obeahman" (No. 2), while based on a
police case, was reenacted without regard to the formal courtroom
atmosphere. This play tells of a government clerk who was arrested
while paying a visit to an obeahman (the local witch-doctor) In the
play the clerk collapsed after taking a potion mixed by the obeahman.
Shango drums are used to rouse him from the spell, and the calyp-
sonian Lion sings one of his "hot numbers" entitled "Fedarey the Re
Re Man." (Re Re is a wicked spirit that is supposed to enter the
bodies of human beings coming out of a trance.) Once again the
audience was in prior possession of the facts of the case and was
interested in the novel and amusing interpretations given by the
calypsonians. Their attitude was not unlike that of the ancient Greeks
watching new plays by their great tragic dramatists on old, well-
known legends and characters.
Other plays depending on instantaneous recognition are "The
Shouter Man" (No. 6) in which local characters associated with the
Shouter Baptist religion were impersonated, and of course the "Adam
and Eve" play in which King Radio played the Snake, and the
Growling Tiger (Neville Marcano) was the Apple. How the Tiger
contrived to be eaten remains a mystery.
In a singular instance in 1914 a calypso drama was stopped in
performance as a reaction to outraged public sentiment. The play,
according to the terse newspaper report, dealt with a clergyman
who sponsored a polite concert to raise funds for his school. As no-
body showed up for the concert, he took the advice of his sexton
and presented a belly-dancer who attracted a huge audience. 21 There
is surely a moral attached to this story, but the performance (of
which we have no further details) was considered disrespectful to the
clergy and was stopped by a leading public figure. This action coin-
cided with a general outcry against obscene calypsos and the
beginning of police censorship of this national pastime.
On the subject of audience involvement, I should mention that
the only printed calypso play, "The Case of Doris the Foolish Cook,"
(No. 15) written by Vivian Comma, has a character entitled "Audi-
ence." The author sub-titles his drama "a calypso operetta," I presume
he intended that rehearsed actors should be planted among the
audience to speak the few lines indicated in the text. The play ends
with the stage direction: "Audience sings, jumps up. Show finishes
with other characters joining in all parts of the theatre." 22 Vivian
Comma does not come from the ranks of the traditional calypsonians.
He is an amateur musician and composer of calypsoes. There is no
record that his operetta was ever performed.
We now come to the question of authorship. In none of the other
eighteen plays cited is credit given to an author. Investigations re-
veal that in some instances an original script of a calypso drama
was handed to the tent manager or to a leading singer by one of the
calypso "ghost writers." This script was then worked over by one or
more singers and the revised text further altered in rehearsal or per-
formance until the final version differed quite substantially from the
original. The play as performed was therefore a composite effort
with the orchestra leader playing an important role in the final
product. As a result no single author can rightfully be acknowledged.
Appended is the text of the calypso drama, "The Trial of Mano
Benjamin," as it was successfully performed in 1965. The original
text was submitted to the tent by a non-singer. The court case
concerned a small farmer, Mano, who took away two teen-aged girls
from their home in a remote country area, kept them under lock and
key, and allegedly tortured them so that their sight was impaired.
In both versions the original script and the final performance-the
material is essentially the same with the Judge playing the key
role. But the acted version (here reprinted) is markedly superior to
the original in dramatic arrangement because of its humour, its
wealth of pantomime, and its sparkling climactic judgment. The script
as performed also indicates the part played by the orchestra and the
separation of verse and choral melody (the Judge carrying the verse
line while the witness and defendant sing the chorus).
It would be wrong to leave the impression that most dramas were
first composed by ghost writers. Atilla the Hun names the principal
composers of calypso dramas of his time as Chieftain Douglas, Lord
Executor, the Roaring Lion, the Growling Tiger, and himself. In
his unpublished manuscripts he ends the section dealing with the
duet and with calypso drama by expressing regret that the hope of a
calypso opera still remains unfulfilled. His comment on this situation
can bear repetition: "It may be said with some vindication that,
but for the aloofness of the orthodox, classical musician from the
popular stream of culture and his failure to look to his own environ-
ment for inspiration, such a rare opportunity for full cultural self-
expression could hardly have passed unnoticed." 23
My own play, Man Better Man, twice produced at the Yale School
of Drama in 1960 and 1962, is the first full-length Trinidad musical
drama written in calypso verse style. 24 The play, despite its successful
performances at home and abroad, does not meet Atilla's call for a
calypso opera, being closer in spirit to musical comedy than opera.
The country awaits the arrival of a gifted musician-composer who
understands the indigenous music and has the skill to translate it into
a form suitable for theatrical presentation. Only then will the spon-
taneous efforts of our native troubadours be truly vindicated.
"The Trial of Mano Benjamin"-a calypso drama
(Based on a version by C. B. Pantin)
Judge: Ladies and genltemen of the jury,
(Verse 1) Your attention please,
We are about to start the trial
Of the beast of the West Indies.
It is alleged the accused, Mano Benjamin,
He did burn, disfigure, and mame
Teen-age Dulcie and Lucy,
And where they say he burn them
Ah fuss ah shame.
(Chorus) So come, Lucina, come and tell the jury,
Tell them, Lucy, what he do your sister, Dulcle.
Lucy: Look ah would tell you, Your Honour,
But hold the monster because, O Lord, ah fraid!
He tied down my sister, Dulcie,
And shave she with a razor-blade!
And that ain't all.
Judge: Lucina, you say that wasn't all
(Verse 2) That you see this criminal do,
Now tell the court in your own words
The other things that he did to you.
Because I was made to understand
That when he shaved her you start to cry,
Now is it a fact that he took an ice pick
And dig-out your sister eye?
Lucy: Yes, Your Honour, is the truth it ain't no lie,
(Chorus) With the same ice-pick
This criminal (pointing to Mano) dig out my right eye,
Then he take the razor-blade and make another dip,
And the razor-blade slip and cut-way she bottom lip.
Judge: Benjamin, get inside the box,
(Verse 3) Don't pretend no innocence,
You've heard all the accusations,
You better put up a good defence,
Because if the jury leave it to me
To settle your fate today
Ah would get two ice-picks and a long-handle razor
And deal with you Moses' way.
Mano: Gentlemen of the jury,
(Chorus) I beg you to have some mercy,
Please believe me
I used to mind Dulcie and Lucy,
I used to feed them, sew their clothes,
And to them I was more than kind,
For up to now you could see
Lucina wearing a drawers of mine.
(Musical bridge played repeatedly. The JUDGE states that
accusations like these are rare in his court, quite irregu-
lar as it is. He calls on Lucina to disprove what Mano
alleges. Lucina then reluctantly exposes the under-
wear which has Mano's initials, "M.B." printed or sewn
on the seat. During the exposure the DEFENCE
ATTORNEY intervenes with a bold objection to the
Judge: Gentlemen of the jury,
(Verse 4) You've heard all the evidence,
But in my book I know
That this criminal has no defence,
You have listened, you have glistened,
And let me say it's my sincere wish
That you find this criminal guilty as charged
For what he did to these girls from Biche.
(Chorus) So come, gentlemen, I want you to tell me,
Tell me the verdict. I done know you find him guilty.
Answers. He Guilty! He guilty!
Mano, you know you guilty!
Judge: Ah, ah, ah, ah,
Up to now poor Dulcle can't pe-le-le-le.
Judge: I'll now sentence you, Mano Benjamin,
(Verse 5) But let me speak my mind.
In all my years as a trial judge
I never met any of your kind,
You've tortured these girls, locked them in a house
For months as your prisoners,
You're nothing less than a monster,
You more sadistic than Hitler.
Says: Hang him! Hang him! Hang him!
Judge: I could hang you, Benjamin,
(Chorus) So you better say your prayers,
But I'm giving you ninety-nine
Plus ninety-nine years,
Plus you will be flogged with the cat every Sunday
At Maracas Bay,
By three strong men, Floyd Patterson,
Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay.
(The POLICEMAN, LUCINA, and the DEFENCE ATTORNEY
then scramble MANO off the stage, and the JUDGE leaves.)
1. In that year, 1838, the Port-of-Spain Gazette urged the abolition of Carnival. It
opened its attack in an editorial of March 2 deploring the "disgusting and indecent
scenes" that were enacted in the streets, one of which was "the African custom of
carrying a stuffed figure of a woman on a pole, which was followed by hundreds of
Negroes yelling out a savage Guinea song." This may be considered the first "road-
2. Wolfgang Michael, Fruformen der Deutschen Buhne (Berlin, 1963), p. 57.
3. E. L. Joseph, History of Trinidad (Port-of-Spain, 1838), p. 264.
4. Raymond Quevedo, "History of Calypso" in This Country of Ours, Independence
Brochure of The Nation (Port-of-Spain, 1962), pp. 81-97.
5. On Decca Record No. 17381-A (78 r.p.m.).
6. The Mighty Sparrow, One Hundred and Twenty Calypsoes to Remember. (Poit-
of-Spain, 1963), p.37.
7. Wenzell Brown, Angry Men, Laughing Men (New York, 1947), 261.
8. W. E. Ward, "Music in the Gold Coast" in Gold Coast Review (1927), 111: 214.
9. The Mighty Dictator (Kenny St. Bernard), comp. Trinidad 1951 Calypsoes
(Port-of-Spain, 1951), pp. 13-14.
10. On National Record No. N.S.P.028 (45 r.p.m.)
11. "Shantwell" derives from the French chanterelle or female soloist. The etymology
of the term suggests that the first calypsonians were, in fact, female, a suggestion
apparently confirmed by statements attributed to old veterans of the late nineteenth-
century carnival to the effect that the "cariso" was a woman's song and dance performed
in stick-lighting yards as an interlude to the more serious duels of the male batonniers.
Henry Breen, writing of singing societies in St. Lucia in the 1840's, refers to "the
chanterelle or female singer, upon whom devolves the task of composing their Belairs,
and of reciting them at their punoc uanccs. kar. i.ucia: Historical, Statistical and Descrip-
tive, 1844, pp. 192-193.).
12. "Mitto Simpson on Calypso Legends of the Nineteenth Century, in Caribbean
Quarterly, IV (March-June 1956), 250-263.
13. Port-of-Spain Gazette, February 26, 1903.
14. A few years ago a song feud raged between the Mighty Sparrow and Lord
Melody. Each calypsonian sang and recorded a number of compositions, highly disparag-
ing to his opponent. This feud was on for several years and even the near relatives of
the combatants were not exempt from attack. The writer has copies of eight calypsoes
by Sparrow against Melody and seven by Melody against Sparrow. There are doubtless
15. During the 1940's and 1950's the two principal tents were the Old Brigade and
the Young Brigade. Singers generally teamed up according to their age. The veteran
singers belonged to the former tent, which boasted a traditional style of performance,
while the youthful and more experimental calypsonians joined the Young Brigade. Need-
less to say keen rivalry existed between the two tents.
16. Calypso wars were not usually put on commercial records. The earliest known
recording is on Decca No. 17283-B (78 r.p.m.), labelled "Calypso War" with Radio, Tiger
and Lion taking part.
17. Sunday Guardian, February 19, 1964.
18. The complete manuscript of Atilla's History of Calypso is reportedly lost, although
excerpts from it have been published in various journals and newspapers from time to
time. The fragment cited was found in the calypso archives of Dr. J. D. Elder.
19. Port-of-Spain Gazette, January 17, 1934.
20. In only one instance was a woman character in calypso drama played by a female
calypsonian. This was in "The Wrightson Road Scandal" of 1945 when Lord and Lady
lere took the roles of defendants on a charge of managing a brothel. King Radio played
the Judge. Lord Caresser the Police Inspector, and Lord Invader was the tout. (Sunday
Guardian, January 14, 1945.)
21. Trinidad Guardian, January 22, 1944.
22. Sonny Blacks, comp. Calypsoes Souvenir Book of the 1956 Season (Port-of-Spain,
1956), pages not numbered.
23. Raymond Quevedo, History of Calypso, nd. Unpublished fragment.
24. Published in The Yale School of Drama Presents, ed. John Gassner (New York,
Field by the City. And all morning
thin bull dancers, the harsh-throated
scavenger children like bronze toys
dangle the shining day among them.
At this brave play they flicker
no heavier, no thicker than dust
in the bull's stare. I long to imitate
the trumpets of their breath,
the excellence of their small feet
that stamp out the sour air.
Still, I tremble,
knowing the choreograph is death.
Older, I dream behind that laughter
the skull; after the somersaulting
day, perhaps, a wound of darkness
delicate, motionless as horn; after
the flame of their mockery, the smoking
candles of sleep. And I know that
his sharp red victory would leave
unbruised by my cry those rusting springs,
the field's pale flowers, that axle,
to astonish me with their silence -
ah, the indifference of things!
If I were wiser, I would tumble also -
fiesta, wearing my fear like a bright shirt;
leaping, would mock such possible
consummations of pain and joy,
through the violent and persausive air
I too would court the dim beast; dancing
between the desolations
like some wild, brazen boy.