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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
    Front Matter
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
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Full Text


7c~,i o~S"

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VOLUME 15. No. 4-



Copyright reserved, and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.

K. O. Laurence, Ph.D. Cantab.; Senior Lecturer Dept of History

Kenneth Ramchand, Ph.D. Edin. Lecturer, Dept. of English, (Mona)

Vilma Harvey (Howard University, Washington)
Landeg E. White, M.A., Lecturer, Dept. of English, Chancellor
College, University of Malawi
Martin Mordecai, student (Mona)

Glenn Godfrey, (British Honduras)
Darryl Crosskill, student (Mona)
George M. Sammy, Ph.D. U.W.I.; Lecturer, Dept. of Chemical
Engineering (St. Augustine)
52. Black Music Leroi Jones
Pamela O'Gorman, F.T.C.L. Director of Music (Creative Arts
Centre, Mona)
54. Ghetto '68 Ed. Sol Battle
Wayne Brown, B.A. (Hons.) Eng. U.W.I.
58. Black Pow-Wow Ted Joans
Mervyn Morris, M.A. Oxon.: Warden of Taylor Hall (Mona)

COVER: Diagramatic street plan section of Port-of-Spain.
(see "The Trinidad Water Riot of 1903", p. 5)



An official publication of the


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"The Trinidad Water Riot of 1903:

Reflections of an Eyewitness"

Edited by K. O. LAURENCE

(Based principally on the Report of the Commission of Enquiry which
followed the riot)

THE WATER RIOT of 1903, during which the old Red House was
burnt down and most of the Government's records and papers destroyed
by the fire, is a well known episode in Trinidad's history. A Commission
of Enquiry later in the same year heard and recorded a considerable
amount of evidence, and its report received wide circulation; and In
1962. Dr. Eric Williams devoted half-a-dozen pages of his History of the
People of Trinidad and Tobago to the incident. The general pattern
both of the riot itself and of its causes is clear. Recently however a
manuscript was discovered in Trinidad in which a medical practitioner
who later became a prominent public figure, and who witnessed the
early stages of the riot, provides a brief retrospective account in which
he reflects also on some of the general characteristics of the system of
Crown Colony Government then in force. This manuscript is now pre-
sented to the public in the hope that it may contribute something
towards the continuing investigation of the operation of Crown Colony

The immediate cause of the Water Riot was the introduction into
the Legislative Council of a new Waterworks Ordinance which became
the focus of a violent agitation. That agitation can only be explained
in terms of a long history of dissatisfaction with the city's water supply.
In the nineteenth century, and indeed much later, the population of
Port of Spain, especially its wealthier sections, was notoriously incline
to waste water. Too many people left their taps running habitually,
though local opinion was inclined rather to assert that the water
problem was due to a lack of adequate supplies. Disputes between the
people and the Government over the adequacy and waste of the water
supply had been current for a generation, and in practice inadequate
water pressure greatly aggravated the losses which the city's residents
sustained by fire. Spectacular fires occurred in 1895 and again in 1901,
and fire insurance companies raised their premiums by more than 100%
in this period.

In 1895 a comprehensive scheme was put forward both for provid-
ing extra water supplies, and for reducing waste by introducing water
meters. By 1902 considerable, if rather slow progress had been made
with the provision of additional supplies. It had ceased to be necessary
to cut off the city's water, and the pressure had been almost doubled.
The Government therefore considered that the citizens might now

reasonably be asked to take steps to reduce waste, since for its own
part it had done something to augment the supply; and particular
exception was taken to the habit of the wealthier towns-people of
maintaining large plunge baths which needed 1,000 or 2,000 gallons,
and were often filled by leaving a tap open at least all night if not all
day as well. Apart from the waste of water, meters were not yet in use,
and the practice of calculating water rates by the size of the supply
pipe clearly favoured the wealthy householder with the large bath at
the expense of the rest of the community.

The proposal to instal meters however had excited strong opposition
ever since its first appearance in 1895, and public protest had led to the
disallowance of a metering Ordinance in 1896. The new attempt to
control the use of water, the Waterworks Bill of 1902, was at once
greeted with a public protest meeting at which objection was taken
both to the form of the Bill, which was thought to give the Government
too much power to arrange details by executive action, and to the
general principle of restrictions on the use of water. Meters were
assailed as "being absolutely unreliable and unsuited to the customs
and habits of the inhabitants." This Bill was ultimately withdrawn,
but in the following year its place was taken by a new one, the eventual
source of the riot.

Meanwhile, in a further attempt to prevent waste of water, the
Director of Public Works, Walsh Wrightson, began in 1901 to enforce
the law permitting the cutting off of pipes which were found running,
or In disrepair. In 1901 he cut off 185 pipes, in the next year 163: and
in the first twelve weeks of 1903 he cut off 181, often without notice.

In February 1903 he further attempted to cut off the water used
for flushing the city gutters, leaving them to be swept dry, until forced
to retreat by public indignation. Wrightson maintained that only by
cutting off pipes which were causing waste had it been possible to
extend the water supply to what was then the outlying village of Wood-
brook; and that he had been fearful that a shortage might occur during
the ensuing months. But this vigorous activity, just as new supplies of
water were becoming available and a new Waterworks Bill was being
prepared, was very largely responsible for the antagonism which the
people generally showed both towards the new Bill and towards Wright-
son personally. It was later described by the Commission of Enquiry
as "a drastic and objectionable remedy."

Here was certainly ground for discontent. But the inhabitants of
Port of Spain were also highly sceptical of the supposed additional
supply of water which the Government claimed to have provided since
1895. Although water was no longer locked off, and the pressure had
risen, many refused to believe that much had been achieved. And it
was generally feared that the whole waterworks scheme was obviously
destined to lead to an increase in the water rate. It was also opposed
by supporters of alternative schemes for supplying water, some of
whom were persons of much influence. Finally, the Government did
not take adequate pains to keep the public, or even the Legislative

Council. informed of progress with the waterworks scheme, and tended
to treat even its details as confidential.

The Waterworks Bill of 1903, created a new Water Authority on
which the unpopular Wrightson seemed to the public likely to have a
paramount influence, and on which there was not a single non-official
representative of the community. The Bill also provided for special
rates on large baths, and for the installation of meters as an alterna-
tive provisions which in view of the history of the waterworks
question should have been expected to produce public uproar. Obviously
therefore, the new Bill should have been brought forward with the
greatest care and tact, and most carefully explained. Ample time should
have been allowed for discussion and possible amendment. But the
system of legislation current in Trinidad did not allow for preliminary
consultations with members of the public. When the Bill was published
on 5th March, 1903 it was violently attacked in the press; yet the
Government, instead of trying to counter those attacks and correct the
misrepresentations of the press, proceeded to plan the second reading
for 16th March. Such haste was, as the Commission of Enquiry stated,
"calculated to give colour to the view that the Government cared nought
for public opinion" Even the Unofficial Members of the Legislative
Council, who had vigorously opposed the previous Waterworks Bill in
1902, were not consulted.

On 14th March a public protest meeting held in the Queen's Park
Savannah under the auspices of the Ratepayers Association was largely
attended, perhaps by 2,000 people. On 16th March the Council Meeting
at which the Waterworks Bill was listed for second reading was so
seriously interrupted by spectators in the public gallery that the
Governor adjourned it for a week. During that week the Governor and
his Executive Council decided that in an effort to prevent the Council
Meeting being again disturbed the public should be admitted only by
ticket on 23rd March. Tickets were to be issued on the basis of first
come first served until the available accommodation was taken up. As
soon as this decision was published its legality was challenged, and
another public meeting was held, in what is now Woodford Square, to
protest against it. The legal arguments need not detain us; several
local lawyers held that the order was illegal, while the Law Officers of
the Crown, both in Trinidad and later in England, defended it. The
important point is that the public were provided with an additional
grievance against the Government, the belief that it was acting illegally,
to add to its already inflal -ed feeling on the Waterworks Bill. Further,
in the event an undue proportion of the available tickets were given to
clerks in Government offices, so that the Government was quite plausibly
accused of packing the Council Chamber. It will always be matter for
argument whether the Governor would have been better advised simply
to have given instructions that when the available seats were filled
further admission to the Chamber should be stopped.

When March 23rd arrived the Committee of the Ratepayers Associa-
tion attempted to enter the Chamber without tickets, claiming that the
ticket order was illegal. They were prevented by the police, and some

of them then addressed a gathering crowd, which was rapidly growing
excited and extremely noisy. Inside the Chamber the Council Meeting
began at noon with H. A. Alcazar, K.C., an Unofficial Member later to be
one of the Colony's most distinguished public figures, questioning the
legality of the ticket order.

Being ruled out of order, he moved the adjournment of the meeting
as a further gesture of protest, but the motion was lost by 6 votes to 14
and Alcazar then walked out of the Chamber. It seems probable that
the crowd outside misunderstood the failure of the motion for the
adjournment to mean that the Government proposed to proceed at
once to pass the second reading of the Waterworks Bill. and at this
point, to quote the Commission's Report, "All control over the mob was
lost". It began to throw stones, dragged the Governor's carriage down
to the waterfront and threw it into the sea, and attacked the Council
Chamber itself. The police confined themselves for an hour to the
defence of the Council Chamber, while several people tried hard to re-
strain the mob. Then however, at about 2.30 p.m. the Red House was
set on fire. The fire spread rapidly, more stones were thrown, and
after the Riot Act had been read the police opened fire.

When the riot subsided the Red House had been destroyed save for
its walls and the Registrar-General's vault, and 16 people had been
killed and 43 wounded by the police. The Commission of Enquiry ulti-
mately held that "the authorised firing was not more than was neces-
sary for the preservation of the lives of those in the Red House, but.
in several instances there was excessive and uncalled for shooting on
the part of the police" They went on to comment on the "wild and
unnecessary firing down St. Vincent Street", and the absolutely unjusti-
fied use of the bayonet in certain cases; but pointed out that the paucity
of commissioned officers at the scene had left many police beyond effec-
tive supervision.

After the riot the Commission of Enquiry concluded that "an
ignorant and incensed people who had been fed with falsehoods [about
the Waterworks Bill] for a month" before the riot occurred, had been
further incited by the publication on the morning of the riot of the
deliberate falsehood that the acting Chief Justice considered the ticket
order to be illegal, for which they blamed the editor of the "Mirror",
Richard Mole.

Apart from the particular public grievance over the Government's
handling of the waterworks question and the issue of the Ticket Order,
another factor in the agitation which preceded the riot was the old
demand for some form of elective representation in the wholly
nominated Colonial Legislature. Again, in 1898 the Borough Council
of Port of Spain, the only body on which Trinidadians had elective
representation, had been abolished; and the demand for its restoration
was also brought forward. These factors provided some of those promi-
nent in the agitation with a standing grievance against the government,
but it is unlikely that these political motives had any significant in-
fluence on the crowd. In retrospect one may suggest that although the

Commissioners appreciated that there was "a regrettable and serious
division between a large and influential portion of the Community in
Port of Spain and the Executive Government regarding public affairs",
their report nevertheless placed too little emphasis on this background
and too much on the immediate questions at issue in seeking to account
for the riot. The true seriousness of that background, and its influence
in rendering the citizenry inflammable whatever might be their social
circumstances, is perhaps, better caught in the address to the Com-
mission by H. A. Alcazar, as one of the counsel who represented the
interests of those killed or injured in the riot: "it was a recognized fact
that the interests of the Government were not [those] of the people.
The actions of the Government were such that the public had come to
regard the interests of the Government as entirely separate from their
view. The Government are regarded as bent upon getting as much
taxation out of the people as possible to keep up a bloated civil list.
And I am sorry to say it, sir, for many years past that impression has
been gathered from the acts and conduct of the administration itself.
there is an absolute lack of sympathy with the people displayed by the
Government" Alcazar alleged that for years past Government had
done nothing to alleviate the lot of the poorer classes, while its attitude
towards representations from the unofficial members had been almost

If Alcazar was exaggerating the case somewhat, there is little doubt
that he represented the attitude of very many citizens of Port of Spain.
He claimed that Government had indeed taken so little notice of the
Unofficial Members that the resultant feeling of powerlessness and use-
lessness had led most of them to lose interest in Council business.

It is instructive to notice the reaction of the Colonial Office to the
riot and to the Commission's subsequent strictures on the Colonial
Government. It was excessively sanctimonious and self-satisfied. The
Secretary of State, Joseph Chamberlain, viewed the riot as an "outrage"
which had "struck at the root of all government and brought discredit
upon one of His Majesty's most important and most prosperous colonies"
He regretted that there had been such marked lack of contact between
the Executive and the Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council,
and stressed the need for mutual co-operation between them if the
Government was to operate smoothly. He took the view that the
Executive should defer to the wishes of the Unofficial Members when-
ever possible, and consult their views at all times. Yet Chamberlain
was not convinced that the relationship between Government and
governed had been as bad as alleged, and wrote: "I cannot bring my-
self to believe that Trinidad would have been so conspiciously prosperous
[itself a relative judgment], had not officials and unofficial alike been
as a rule working hand in hand for the good of the Colony" Perhaps
the Secretary of State was trying to soften the general impression of
an inept government which cared little for public opinion that the
Commission had largely confirmed, in an effort to maintain the reputa-
tion of the Crown Colony system for shortly afterwards both the
Governor and the Colonial Secretary were recalled.


Dr. Stephen Moister Laurence, of brown complexion, was born at
Port of Spain on 8 January 1866. After a highly successful career as a
boy at Queen's Royal College, he won a Trinidad Government Scholar-
ship in 1883 which enabled him to study medicine at the University of
Edinburgh. Returning to Trinidad in 1891, he began to practice
medicine from his residence in St. Vincent Street. In 1903, when the
Water Riot took place, he was a widely known and successful doctor
with a residence in Abercromby Street, three blocks from the scene of
the riot; but his public career was to come later. Subsequently, he
became a member of the Board of Education and in 1911 he was nomi-
nated by the Governor to sit as an Unofficial Member of the Legislative
Council of Trinidad and Tobago. For the next ten years he continued
to hold this position on a Council composed entirely of members who
either sat ex-officio or were similarly nominated.

As a member of the Legislative Council Dr. Laurence was excep-
tionally active. He spoke frequently, on a wide range of subjects, taking
an especial interest in matters concerning education, public health,
public finances, and the system of Indian indentured labour then in
force. He was frequently critical of the Executive Government and
until 1917, when indentured immigration was finally abolished, he was
one of the leading opponents of that system. At first prepared to
countenance continuing indentured immigration provided its scale be
reduced, he began in 1912 to call for the progressive liquidation of the
whole system, thus attacking not only the Government's policy, but also
the vested interests of those of his fellow Unofficial Members who repre-
sented the sugar interest. He took the view that immigration which
was aided from public funds was no longer in the interests of the
Colony. On a number of occasions he recorded his solitary dissent
from the Government's proceedings in immigration matters. In 1918
and 1921 he played a significant part in the discussions on two new
Education Ordinances.

After ceasing to be a member of the Legislative Council in 1921 Dr.
Laurence was for many years Port Health Officer of Port of Spain. He
continued to serve as a member of a number of public bodies, notably
the Central Board of Health and the Board of Education. He retired
from medical practice in 1941 and died in 1951. It was during this
period that he penned the reflections on the Water Riot which are here
presented. In writing them he was able to look back over nearly half
a century of active life under the Crown Colony system, much of it as
a public figure, and to speak from personal experience of the attitudes
of its officials and of the political and social atmosphere which
characterized it.

Throughout his active life Dr. Laurence was also a prominent
Methodist layman, and his passing remarks on British religious
authorities were likewise based on his personal experience of dealing
with British missionaries in Trinidad.

The manuscript appears to be incomplete. It is also unpolished,
containing many abbreviated words and some which are not easily

legible. It is written on the back of certain printed papers, and some-
times across their face at right angles to the line of printing. Some of
these papers bear various dates in April, May and June of 1941 so that
the manuscript was probably written some time, but not too many
months, after June 1941, when Dr. Laurence was 75.

His manuscript is here presented in full, the only changes being
in punctuation and paragraphing, and in the ironing out of abbrevia-


The Riot of March 23 of 1903 stands out with uncommon vividness,
as regards certain of its episodes, in my political memories. Not that I
was in any way actively associated with that fateful event; but from my
observation of certain happenings, both before and after its occurrence,
for rioting ensued but a short while after I left the scene in the adjoin-
ing streets.

As I have reflected again and again on the whole tragic affair I
have sought to probe the real cause of so unusual an outbreak of law-
lessness as well as the relative responsibility of the Colonial Office, the
local government, and the public, together with the lessons the events
seemed to teach. The whole sorry business seemed to centre around
the Governor, Sir Alfred Moloney, at any rate in my mind.

In order to make good this view of the tragedy, I shall endeavour to
narrate briefly the story as it impressed me. To my mind the primary
mistake was made when Downing Street1 appointed Sir Alfred Moloney2
to be Governor of Trinidad. To support this statement I shall quote
the Governor's own words, in which on his first meeting with the
Legislative Council he sought to apologise for his presence and commend
himself to their and the Colony's favourable acceptance. His address
was unsound, lacking in self-respect and modesty, but bursting with
self-commendation (at the expense too of his wife an awful mean -
ness) and self-conceit. I was present and heard his address. I have
never forgotten it: never ceased to resent it.3 These are his words-

The question has no doubt occurred to many why I should
have been preferred as I have been why this compliment should
have been paid me as regards my promotion to this go-a-head.
magnificent Colony of Trinidad. Well, I may say I have an
official acknowledgement that my advancement is due to my
service I am the senior Governor in the West Indies I am
now approaching [the completion of] my 17th year of government.

I was told recently that the selection of the Governor was
very largely attributable to his wife, and therefore the Colonial
Office ought to make the rule that those who may be considered
for promotion should have first introduced their wives to Downing
Street Well, I can assure you that Lady Moloney had nothing
to do with the selection.

If not before, certainly after this delivery, many a listener (and I
am afraid myself among the number) must have echoed, "Why?" I have
been careful to read the address of his successor (Sir Henry Jackson)
under similar circumstances. Not a trace of such bombast. Certainly
if Downing Street intended to be complimentary it was to Sir Alfred
Moloney, not to Trinidad, when it brought him here from Grenada.

The next reference must be to the Council Meeting of March 16
which was adjourned owing to the interruptions of the strangers. I
fancy I can still see and hear the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Knollys, and
Mr. Aucher Warner as they called attention to the unusual conditions
obtaining. It seems to me a Governor with any tact would have
seized this chance of showing that his West Indian experience had
taught him how to handle a West Indian assembly of harmless folk
carried away by novelty and excitement. To have done so successfully
would at least have redeemed some of the errors of his first speech.
He held his peace and the Council was adjourned. 5 This, in my
opinion, was the first local mistake.

I am going to pass by the question of the wisdom of insisting on
Tickets of Admission to the Council Chamber, as I have never been able
to satisfy myself of all the facts. 6 I doubt, however, if even the ticket
question would have caused the riot.

At any rate the next mistake was committed by Colonel Brake
when he secreted the Constabulary within instead of placing them on
guard around the Building.7 Let me justify this charge. I was
stationed in Abercromby Street on the Eastern side opposite the
entrance to the Audit Office, 8 from which I had a clear view of the
same. Not a policeman to be seen. Coming up the street between the
Building and the Square was a moderate crowd of women and children
dancing and singing. As they reached the cross street they began
throwing stones at the Audit Office windows, which they succeeded in
breaking. The peculiar sound of breaking and falling glass I can hear
distinctly still. I could not help feeling a few police would have stopped
it easily. Probably the show of legal force would have wholly prevented
it. No doubt those concerned must have been thought that the with-
drawal of authority was intended to proclaim the reign of license and
the abandonment of the field to lawlessness.

About this time I drove away to some work at Woodbrook. Soon
the rising columns of smoke caught my attention. By the time I got
back to the heart of the city the riot was over.

I feel positive that if Colonel Brake had stationed half a dozen police
at each corner of the grounds, there would have been neither fire nor
riot. Probably Colonel Brake had never heard of the saying, "A stitch
in time saves nine." His policy was to wait until the riot was com-
plete, and then try to stop with bayonet what a needle might easily have
prevented. So much for the Riot. Reviewing its antecedents and
consequences may prove not without its lessons and encouragements.

To begin with the Colonial Office, on whom rested and still rests the
responsibility of controlling the Crown Colonies. Our Governors are
appointed from Downing Street. Downing Street must therefore accept
responsibility for their selection and appointment. There will always be
governors and governors. Forty or fifty years ago it was probably the
same policy that guided the choice of governors as of teachers of small
children anybody could govern nations, just as anybody could teach
children. In any case the governor was sure to know a bit more than
the natives (at least as Downing Street must have argued) while any
adult must know more than his young pupils. Fortunately years have
brought to both the Colonial Office (as we at any rate refuse to doubt)
and Education Authorities a revelation of the fallacy of such a policy,
and the reasonableness, not to say necessity, of the opposite principle.

That I am not singular in querying the wisdom and justice of the
Colonial Office of those days I call Sir Alfred Moloney to witness. He
thought fit to defend himself against a forgone conclusion that the
Governor's wife counted for more than the Governor. This seems a
convenient place to both charge and discharge the Colonial Office with
respect to much that has happened in these western isles.

Fifty or sixty years ago the Colonial Office must have been at about
the height of its power. The Secretary of State for the Colonies was a
sort of dictator in the realm he governed. His fiat made or unmade.
The British people in general scarcely knew or could recognize the names
of the Colonies, much less their situation. I remember in the mid-
eighties of last century being asked by an educated young Scotch
woman, when climbing up the hill-side of the Wallace monument, 10
whether I was a Boer although I came from Trinidad. I was so
taken aback, that I replied, "it depends on what you mean: I certainly
am not a B-O-E-R, spelling it, you alone can decide whether I
am a B-O-R-E." A Colonial Office official would have been in hardly
better case, for some strange stories have been current of the direction
of men they sent out to the tropics.

Now, if the very position or importance of the Crown Colonies was
scarcely known to Downing Street, how could anything be known of
the people? In this connection there was one serious source of error
which must be exposed. The inhabitants of the Crown Colonies were
divided into two unequal but practical classes; the British officials
abroad and their families (as Froude styled them, the English in the
West Indies; or as I have heard them called by one of themselves,
European Exiles) and Natives. It is the loose meaning and careless
use of this descriptive term that has caused a good deal of Crown Colony

When however we analyse the term 'native' in relation to racial
origin as well as place of birth, we discover the true explanation of
many a mistake made alike by British people in general and the Colonial
Office in particular. This special class division must have begun long
ago when the East that is, India was the Colonial possession.
Naturally, there were but few English, and these were mostly constantly

back and forth, so that the whole Indian people were referred to as
natives. This was perfectly correct, because they were both of pure
Indian stock and of Indian birth. This justified use of the term 'native'
would be extended to the entire East, and also to Africa. In all these
cases the large mass of the population would be native both by race
and birth. It will be readily seen that the British mind when referring
to Colonies would naturally think of the inhabitants in terms of British
or native the two classes being distinctly separate in civilization and
culture as well as origin of race and place.

But when one turns to the West Indies the whole question takes on
a very different complexion, and calls for handling from a very different
angle. I am glad to be able to state that this opinion is founded on
actual experience in my dealings with British authorities in England,
both political and religious, as I retain a very vivid memory of both.

How, then, does the 'native' question in the West Indies differ from
the same question in relation to India or Africa? The discussion of the
factors into which a simple analysis divides the subject is fortunately
quite easy. Land of bfrth, racial origin, civilization and culture suffice
rs factors to enable a solution to be made. If, instead of presuming
that these factors in the West Indies had the same significance or in-
significance as in the East, British authorities had acquainted them-
selves with the difference, then Downing Street at least not to men-
tion religious authorities would have made fewer mistakes and most
likely scored more numerous successes than recorded history has

If this were a general history of the West Indies instead of a cursory
reference to the responsibility of the Colonial Office for happenings in
the West Indian Crown Colonies, it would be necessary to deal
exhaustively with the influence of these four factors in differentiating
natives in these islands from those similarly distinguished in the East
or Africa. In the limiting circumstances, however, it is only necessary
to point out the main characteristics of the several factors. As far as
land of birth is concerned, it is well to confine the enquiry to the last
hundred years natives included those born in Africa and brought to
these islands, as well as their descendants (whether pure or mixed)
born in the West Indies As to racial origin, the overwhelming
majority of the people would be of pure African stock. There would
however also be a growing number of inhabitants of mixed or Anglo-
African origin, corresponding to the Eurasians in the East. The essen-
tial element in this comparison is not the mixture of the two races,
but the proportion of the resulting class to their Indian or West Indian
forbears. The Eurasians were too few in number to exert any influence
on the great native mass of India, from a mere handful of whom they
sprang; while the mixed race in the West Indies were always a growing
proportion of the natives from whom they derived origin. Whenever,
therefore, within the past half or three quarters of a century, the
Colonial Office thought in terms of 'native', in relation to the West
Indies, there would always be the greatest possibility of mistake, unless
the special connotation of 'native' was recognized and acted upon. If

consideration of the two preceding factors is necessary in interpreting
'native', civilization claims an even more important interest. It is here.
perhaps, that Kipling's lines have some little application:

East is East, and West is West
And never the twain shall meet.

The native of India is likely to remain a native, while in the West Indies
the native-born is becoming more and more a westerner. If the ques-
tion is put, why is this? The answer is ready to hand the West
Indian native grows up in too close touch with western civilization to
fail, natural mimic as he is, to adopt it as his own. The standard is
one that of Western European civilization; and for better or for
worse, speaking generally, the West Indian, whether of pure or mixed
African descent, is adopting and adapting himself to the same civiliza-
tion as the Englishman in his English home, whose religion and demo-
cratic ethics have been passed on to him.

Unless and until the Colonial Office assimilates and makes this
fact the foundation of its Crown Colony policy, occasional disorder.
often as tragic as avoidable, is sure to follow.

The last factor is culture. Education, the arts, and whatever con-
tributes to western culture find an easy home in the West Indies, the
progress of which has no need to lower its head when compared with
other lands. Perhaps the best resume and the most fitting comment
on this question is the reply said to have been given to her Majesty
Queen Victoria at her Jubilee by the late Mr. Lazare, himself of pure
African stock: "Do you speak English in Trinidad"? asked her
Majesty. "Madam in Trinidad we are all English" A final answer. 11

Just about this time (the period of the Riot) the Colonial Office
seems to have settled on a policy of transferring officials from the East
to the West, at all events to Trinidad; for there came Mr. Wrightson, 12
the originator of the water trouble, out of which the riot issued. Also
Colonel Brake who knew nothing about the mentality of the western
native, and so contributing to the riot. Then, in spite of the failure of
Eastern experience, Mr. Hugh Clifford came as Colonial Secretary 13 -
a clever man, but of unbalanced judgement, prompt to draw conclusions
even without proper premises. Now I have always been undecided
whether to charge or discharge the Colonial Office in relation to these
three appointments and the catastrophic episode with which they were
associated both before and after the event. In both East and West
they would have to work for and control native populations. The prin-
ciple of transfer seemed, therefore, commendable. But the native
populations, as the Colonial Office should have known, were absolutely
different for the reasons already advanced. This not only vitiated the
'native' principle, but made it a most dangerous basis on which to rest
methods of government and control. I well remember Mr. Clifford
tackling me on this subject. He asked, why did not responsible citizens
like myself restrain the members of the Ratepayers Association 14 from
extreme measures and so prevent the Riot? My answer was, "Because

we pay high salaries to gentlemen like you and Colonel Brake to protect
us and our homes" I also took the opportunity of pointing out to him
that West Indians were westerners to whom a different treatment had
to be given to that to which he was accustomed in the East. And, per
contra, the method of approach to officials here had no likeness to that
of the East from which he came.

Each one can praise or blame the Colonial Office in the light of the
foregoing. Myself a close, because a highly sensitive, observer of the
Crown Colony government in the West Indies, I am free to confess that
there has been a marked advance in knowledge of the Colonies them-
selves and of their political and economic needs and possibilities, in the
light of the native populations. Some of this advance, in both political
and religious control, has been due to wider knowledge of general con-
ditions within the Empire, some to sending out men to gain knowledge
of natives and needs on the spot; some to the increasing opportunities
inhabitants of these islands have seized when visiting England to spread
the knowledge among the English of West Indian conditions.

Like all progress, the improvement in status of the Crown Colonies
has been at times costly, catastrophic events being necessary to rouse
the resting energies of the Colonial Office to needed activity in response
to the striking hour of advance. This 1903 Riot in Trinidad was such
a catastrophe and may form the test by which the awakening of the
Colonial Office and the resulting advantage to Trinidad may be judged.

To resume the story of the Riot. How did the Colonial Office react
to the riot and its grave local consequences? The answer makes an
interesting study. The reaction was both political and economic.

The first necessity was to find the facts. A Commission was there-
fore appointed. But when men are appointed who have been steeped
in law and lore both English and the old ideas surrounding the
word 'native', and lacking acquaintance with the advancing stream of
the evolution of native West Indians, their report is hardly likely to
take us very far. I do not propose to criticize the conduct of the Com-
mission though I well remember the grave complication to which it
gave rise: 15 nor yet their Report to our Masters in Downing Street,
arising presumably out of which was the political and economic treat-
ment administered to this Colony. Passing by, therefore, the Com-
mission's Report, I propose to analyse the results to the Colony of the
first riot with loss of life I can remember. Dealing first with the
political changes resulting from the riot, the Government may be
referred to.

The Governor Sir Alfred Moloney was removed, but only after a
whole year. 16 Even if the Colonial Office had not intended it, he him--
self made it absolutely necessary. The effect of the riot, for which, as
I have held, he was so largely responsible, was to make him completely
rattled. 17 Though I withold the actual proof (de mortuis nil nisi
bonum) I can be credited when I say that nothing so became his
bombastic advent as his ungovernor-like and unlamented departure.

This was certainly one to the credit side and a much needed one -
of Colonial Office policy. I think public opinion at the time added yet
another credit mark to this policy when Sir Henry Jackson took over
the government. He will be met again under happier circumstances in
the course of this narrative.

The next in command was the Colonial Secretary. If I were asked
whether he was the type of man to advise a governor when present or
represent him when absent, I am afraid my answer would be a
categorical "No" He too was removed within a few months. is I have
already mentioned his successor, Mr. Hugh Clifford, a much abler man
but with quite as much to learn of the business of government.

Now, the two high officials who were principally responsible for the
circumstances which led to the riot were the Director of Public Works,
Mr. Wrightson, and the Commander of Local Forces, Colonel Brake.
Mr. Wrightson came to Trinidad from the East. I am not going to
question his ability as an Engineer. I do not need to. The question I
wish to raise is a general one: is a competent engineer de facto an
equally competent legislator? A question pregnant not only with good
sense, but one on which has hinged much objectionable comment in
relation to our own legislature council. Mr. Wrightson was, no doubt,
quite capable of finding water, but wholly unfit to lay down the law as
to how it was to be used. It is convenient to refer here to this baneful
system of making an official a compulsory legislator a system creating
dissatisfaction on the part of both lawmakers, who have to neglect their
official duties, and people, the only associated benefit being the prefix of
'Honourable' to the official title. There can be no one who, like myself,
has been an unofficial member of Council but must have felt irritated
and annoyed on occasion at seeing some bird of passage who knew little
and cared less of legislative business, casting a vote of equal value with
that of an unofficial who took seriously his legislative duties. In Trini-
dad today this is no longer possible, the likely result of yet another
riot. 19

The trouble in this case arose from the fact that Mr. Wrightson was
not only required to procure the city water, but to lay down the law as
to how the citizens should use it, since his was the duty of practically
drafting the Waterworks Ordinance. 20 The irony of the situation is
that while Mr. Wrightson was the stormy petrel of the period, the riot
did not in reality spring so much out of the 60 gallon bath, which was
the battle standard raised by the public 21 for that had passed in the
Council Meeting of March 16, without special incident but by a senti-
mental side-issue raised by Mr. Wrightson against an unofficial member,
Mr. Leotaud. 22 It was the uncompromising reply given by Mr. Leotaud
to a man who was for the moment the bete noire of the public that
caused the loud cheers, that caused the adjournment (at the instance
of Mr. Fenwick),23 that caused the ticket order, that roused public
opposition, and opened the door to outside opposition on March 23, with
rioting and its disastrous consequences.

Yet keener irony is supplied when it is pointed out that while the
60 gallon bath was considered the pivot on which the whole question of

objection to the Ordinance turned, Mr. Wrightson, about a year later, when
introducing the same Bill as amended by a Select Committee, told the
House: "the amount of water allowed extra charge had been increased
from 60 gallons to 200 gallons but it was understood at the time of the
original discussion that 100 gallons would be readily accepted that
the 60 gallons was only put in the original Ordinance for the purposes
of discussion, and would be increased to 100 gallons, and he certainly
had no objection to 200 gallons".24

What a tragedy to come out of so simple a matter. That a legislator
should lay down 60 gallons, when he had no objection to 200, could only
have been prompted by the finger of fate, which, dissatisfied that this
cause had been safely weathered, tossed down another scarcely related
cause of strife into the arena, and succeeded in starting the trail that
led to the final riotous explosion.


1. Downing Street at this period contained the offices of the Secretary of State
for the Colonies as well as of the Prime Minister, and the expression is used by the
author to mean the Colonial Office or sometimes, more generally, the Imperial Govern-

2. Sir Alfred Moloney fought in the Ashanti War of 1873 as a lieutenant, before
taking up his first colonial civil service appointment in 1875 as acting Auditor of the
Gold Coast. He became Assistant Colonial Secretary, Gold Coast in 1877 and remained
in West Africa until 1891, when, as Governor of Lagos, he was transferred to the
Caribbean to be Governor of British Honduras. In 1897 he became Governor of the
Windward Islands, moving to Trinidad ir 1900. (Colonial Office List, 1907).

3. The quotation from Governor Moloney's speech which follows is an exact
reproduction of the words in the official record of the Legislative Council Debates, from
which in fact it appears to be taken. Further quotation from the same address may
be used to support the author's description of it as "lacking in self-respect and modesty,
but bursting with self-commendation and self-conceit": "In other governments it has ever
been my great privilege to have earned the goodwill, and, I may even say, the affectionate
regard, of those with whom I have been associated for some years. And again,
.. so far as work goes, I have always been fond of it, and I do not think that that
pleasure will leave me whilst I am in Trinidad" Altogether a most infelicitous and
inauspicious address with which to mark his swearing in as Governor, and a failure to
rise to the occasion in the Legislative Council which was to be repeated at the time of
the Riot. (Debates in the Legislative Council of Trinidad and Tobago, 1900. pp. 297-98,
4 Dec. 1900)

4. R. S. Aucher Warner, K.C., was an unofficial member of the Legislative Council
from 1899 to 1904, when he was appointed Solicitor General and thus became an official
member. He remained one until 1921, being promoted to Attorney General in 1918.
Warner also achieved the distinction of captaining the first West Indies cricket team to
visit England, in 1900.
(Debates in the Legislative Council of Trinidad and Tobago. 1904, 1918, 1921)

5. When the final outburst of interruption occurred at the Council Meeting of
16 March 1903 and Mr. Aucher Warner commented on it, the Governor's only recorded
words before adjourning the meeting were: "it is impossible to hear unless you remain
quiet". He made no impression upon the noisy public. (Debates in the Legislative
Council of Trinidad and Tobago, 1903. p. 55. 16 March 1903). H. A. Alcazar also
believed that the Governor could have stopped the interruptions on 16 March, if he


had threatened to clear the Chamber. (The Commission of Enquiry into the Water
Riot of Monday, March 23rd, 1903. Port of Spain, 1903. p. 349).

6. For general account of the Ticket Order Question see Introduction, Pages 4-5.

7. Colonel H. E. J. Brake was Inspector General of Police and Commander of the
Local Forces from 1902 until 1907. After the uproar at the Council Meeting of 16
March, and the issuance of the Ticket Order with respect to the Meeting of 23rd March,
the Government anticipated that attempts would be made to force an entrance into the
Council Chamber on 23 March. Very early on the morning of 23 March therefore, a
body of 35 police carrying rifles and bayonets was posted in the Colonial Secretary's
Office, near to the Council Chamber. Their presence there seems to have remained
generally unknown until they were eventually called on to act.
But Colonel Brake also made other preparations. He called in to the Central Police
Barracks, adjacent to the Red House, 35 additional men from the country stations, thus
raising his available force to 200, and alerted the Fire Brigade and the Volunteers. Then
on the morning of 23 March, shortly before the crowd began to gather, 64 police carry-
ing batons were moved from the barracks and posted in and around the Red House.
The fact remains that these men must have been so disposed that none was visible to
the writer from his position at the corner of Abercromby and Knox Streets. (Report
of the Commission of Enquiry into the Recent Disturbances at Port of Spain, Trinidad.
1903. Cd. 1662, pp. 4-6).
In fairness to Colonel Brake it should be noted that the Colonial Office took the
view that placing armed police in the Red House "may well have saved the lives of those
who were in the buildings when the riot and the conflagration took place" (Chamberlain
to Moloney, 21 July 1903. Cd. 1988, p. 2)

8. The Audit Office was opposite the Red House across Knox Street, between St.
Vincent and Abercromby Streets. The crowd came up Abercromby Street, between the
Red House and Brunswick (now Woodford) Square.

9. Colonel Brake ordered the police to fire on the crowd, but there is no evidence
that he authorised the use of the bayonet, though some policemen certainly used it.

10. The monument to Sir William Wallace, the Scottish patriot who was executed
by the English in 1305, stands on a hill on the outskirts of Stirling in Scotland. This
incident occurred when the writer was a young medical student.

11. By a strange coincidence the gentleman credited with this remark was in
1903 a member of the Committee of the Ratepayers Association and one of the leaders
ot the agitation which preceded the Water Riot, during which, however, he made great
efforts to restrain the rioters.
Emmanuel Mzumbo Lazare, a solicitor and conveyancer, was born in Trinidad in
1864 of African parents. In 1897, as Lieutenant and Adjutant in the Trinidad Field
Artillery Volunteers, he was one of the contingent of Local Forces which represented
the Colony at the celebration in London of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. He was
decorated by the Queen for the occasion, and is said to have been the only Volunteer
Officer to be formally presented to the Queen at the Jubilee. It was he who received
the formal Royal Message to the Colony. A. C. Burkett, "Trinidad, a Jewel of the
West," Port-of-Spain, The Author, 1913, pp. 95-6.
After the Commission of Enquiry into the Water Riot had castigated the Colonial
Government for failing to prosecute those who had incited the riot, Lazare, among
others, was put on trial for doing just that, but was acquitted in the Supreme Court.
Thereafter he continued to play a prominent part in local agitation for reforms of various
kinds, especially with regard to representative government and the living conditions of
the working classes. He gained a considerable reputation as a lawyer, and from 1920
to 1924, when he resigned because of ill health, he served as a nominated unofficial
member of the Legislative Council.
(Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the Recent Disturbances at Port of Spain,
Trinidad. 1903. Cd. 1662, pp. 6-9)

12. Walsh Wrightson served in the Public Works Department of Ceylon, as a
District Engineer and subsequently as a Provincial Engineer, from 1875 to 1895, in which

year he was transferred to Trinidad as Director of Public Works. As Hc:td of
Public Works Department he was forthwith nominated to the Legislative Council as
Official Member. (Colonial Office List 1919)

13. Hugh Clifford began his career as a Colonial Civil Servant in Malaya in 1883.
In 1903 he was transferred from the post of British Resident in Pahang to be Colonial
Secretary of Trinidad and Tobago. In 1907 he returned to the East as Colonial Secre-
tary of Ceylon, and subsequently he became Governor of the Gold Coast, Nigeria and
Ceylon in succession, before retiring in 1929 as High Commissioner for the Malay States.
He was one of the most able and successful Colonial Governors of his generation: but
in view of the author's remarks about "unbalanced judgment" it is not worthy that in
the later stages of his career Clifford suffered from "cyclical insanity" which sometimes
produced eccentric behaviour. (Dictionary of National Biography).

14. The Ratepayers Association was a body of middle class citizens, including
number of coloured lawyers and substantial tradesmen as well as some resident English-
men and some "less reputable persons." It had been formed, according to Governor
Moloney, "for the express purpose of supervising the expenditure of public monies,
because there was no representation," and it had a reputation for rigorous criticism of
the Government. Its leaders were motivated partly by the desire that elective members
should be introduced into the Legislative Council, partly by a grievance over the
abolition of the Borough Council, of which many of them had been mem-
bers, in 1898, and partly by a simple desire to play a part in public
affairs. Although only 185 of the 6,793 ratepayers in Port of Spain were mem-
bers of the Association, it clearly had a very wide influence, and was able to capitalize
on the Colonial Government's tendency to ignore, and so to alienate, the public. The
Association was determined to do all it could to block this latest Waterworks Bill and
it led the agitation which preceded the riot. The Commission of Enquiry took the view
that the Association's effort to create so much noise outside the Council Chamber as to
force the abandonment of the Meeting of 23 March had excited the crowd beyond
control, and resulted in riot.
(Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the Recent Disturbances
Spain, Trinidad. 1903. Cd. 1662, pp. 25-6.)
Here was a link between the movement for elective representation and the opposi-
tion to the Waterworks Ordinance.
(Moloney to Chamberlain, 18 May 1903. Cd. 1661, p. 70)

15. Soon after the arrival of the Commissioners from England the impression
developed that they were treating the representatives and officials of the Colonial Govern-
ment with more consideration than the representatives of the opposition to the Water-
works Bill. They inspected the Red House and Police Barracks in company with the
Colonial Secretary and the Inspector-General of Police, and the Waterworks in companY
with Mr. Wrightson, without giving notice to the representatives of the Ratepayers
Association. More generally, they were frequently seen in company with members and
supporters of the Government on social occasions. They visited the Ste. Madeleine sugar
factory with Hon. G. T. Fenwick, "notoriously in sympathy with the Government side,"
the Maracas Falls and the Five Islands with the Colonial Secretary, and were dined
and entertained by prominent members of the Government, including Wrightson.
The Ratepayers Association became convinced that the Commissioners were likely
to be less than impartial. They alleged that Government witnesses were always treated
with consideration, while witnesses from their Committee "were examined with great
harshness and severity without any apparent cause." The latter allegation at least is
supported by other evidence. They claimed too that a number of witnesses whom they
had proposed to bring forward, including several members of their Committee, were not
afforded an opportunity of being heard because on the only day when they were avail-
able the Commissioners chose to go on a pleasure trip up the Caroni River in a party
which included counsel for the Government and the Captain of the Trinidad Light House,
whose conduct during the riot was at issue.
Counsel for the Ratepayers Association therefore presented a formal protest against
the Commissioners' conduct, and boycotted their final sitting. (The Commission of
Enquiry into the Water Riot of Monday, March 23rd, 1903. Port of Spain. 1903.
pp. 466, 505-6).)

16. Moloney was retired in 1904. (Colonial Office List, 1907.)


17. Evidence is not lacking that Governor Moloney was not only unable to cope
effectively with the agitation which preceded the riot, but also unable to achieve a
balanced view of the situation after it. Immediately afterwards, in a telegram to the
Colonial Office, he made the thoroughly misleading allegation that the incident was
being turned into an opportunity to demand elective representation. And his elaborate
attempts to justify his actions are clear indications that he felt himself insecure. Further,
enquiries into the deaths which occurred in the riot were slow and less than thorough,
and no immediate effort was made to institute prosecutions against rioters or those who
were alleged to have incited them. The Governor must bear ultimate responsibility for
these matters. (Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the Recent Disturbances at
Port of Spain, Trinidad. 1903. Cd. 1662, p. 334)

18. Sir Courtenay Knollys, Colonial Secretary of Trinidad and Tobago at the time
of the riot, began his career in 1874 as Sub-Receiver of Trinidad. He moved to Barbados
in 1879 to be Auditor General and became Colonial Secretary there in 1883. He
returned to Trinidad in 1894 as Colonial Secretary, so that his experience had been gained
entirely in the West Indies.
Knollys was a prime example of a British Colonial Civil Servant who was "out of
touch with the people." After the riot he tended to dismiss his critics as being "in
sympathy with crime and riot," and it is clear that he regarded yielding to popular
clamour as a sign of "weakness." (Colonial Office List 1904. The Commission of
Enquiry into the Water Riot of Monday, March 23rd, 1903. Port of Spain, 1903.
pp. 479-86: Address by H. A. Alcazar).

19. This is a reference to the changes in the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago
recommended by the West India Royal Commission of 1938-39 which followed the dis-
turbances of 1937. Before that date the official and unofficial groups in the Legislative
Council were usually exactly balanced with the Governor's casting vote providing the
Government with an official majority if it should be needed. The Royal Commission's
recommendations, published in 1940, included the suggestion that in future there should
be only three official members, the Colonial Secretary, Financial Secretary, and Attorney
General. Unofficial members would thus have more scope, and be able to vote down
Government measures, while the customary phalanx of officials who took little or no
real interest in legislative business would disappear. But the "value" of a member's
vote, to which the writer refers, was not otherwise affected. A new constitution embody-
ing these proposals came into force in May 1941. (Recommendations of the West India
Royal Commission. Cmd. 1674. 1940)

20. ihc Waterworks Ordinance of 1903 was initially drafted by Wrightson, and
put into proper legal form with the assistance of the acting Attorney General.
(Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the Recent Disturbances at Port of Spain.
Trinidad. 1903. Cd. 1662, p. 23)

21. The Waterworks Bill of 1903 had proposed to levy a special water rate on
baths exceeding 60 gallons in capacity in addition to the normal water rates. The pro-
posed maximum charges rose from 5c. per gallon capacity on baths of 60-100 gallons,
to 10c. on baths over 800 gallons. Baths over 1,000 gallons were to be allowed only
with special permission, and then subject to a rate of 15c. per gallon. As an alternative
measure, at the discretion of the Water Authority, owners of baths exceeding 60 gallons
might instal the hated meters and pay only for the water they actually used, at a
maximum charge of 10c. per thousand gallons.
The proposed rate, varying from $3 on a bath of 60 gallons to $100 on a bath of
1,000 gallons, was regarded as so high that everyone would be compelled to have a meter
-- and meters were commonly thought to be unreliable. But it was not the size of the
limit so much as the fact of a limit which roused opposition.
(Ordinance relating to the Port of Spain Waterworks, 1903. Papers relating to the
Recent Disturbances at Port of Spain, Trinidad. 1903. Cd. 1661, p. 24)

22. At the close of the Council Meeting on 16 March 1903, Wrightson recalled
the fact that at the Meeting of 7 April 1902, when he himself had been absent from the
colony, Mr. Charles Leotaud, an unofficial member, had referred to him as "much more
evasive than straightforward." Wrightson asked for an assurance that this remark had
not been intended to be personally offensive to him. Leotaud, whose remark had
referred to Wrightson's answers when asked whether the city had enough water to cope


with fire-fighting, replied that he had had no such intention, and had in fact spoken
"in a time of temper." But he then went on to add, "one has great cause for making
such a remark"; and that while not intending any personal offence he was nevertheless
perfectly willing to repeat it. This reply drew loud cheers from the public galleries,
which led to the adjournment. (Debates in the Legislative Council of Trinidad and
Tobago, 1903. p. 55. 16 March 1903. Also 1902, p. 177, 7 April 1902)

23. George Townsend Fenwick, a representative of the sugar planting interest, was
in 1903 Senior Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council, having held his seat for
16 years. He supported the Waterworks Ordinance, unlike most of his unofficial
colleagues, and after the riot held that the public had been misled and incited. (The
Commission of Enquiry into the Water Riots of Monday, March 23rd, 1903. Port of
Spain, 1903 p. 505)
When the final outburst of cheering occurred at the Council Meeting of 16 March,
following Leotaud's reply to Wrightson, Fenwick did not in fact move the adjournment,
but rather that "strangers" should withdraw. After an ineffectual attempt to restore
order the Governor then adjourned the Meeting. (Debates in the Legislative Council
of Trinidad and Tobago, 1903. p. 56, 16 March 1903). Fenwick remained an unofficial
member for another decade, and was knighted for his public services in 1912.

24. The point is, of course, that in 1903 the Government did not make it clear
to the public that the proposed limit of 60 gallons, above which a special rate would
be payable on baths, was intended only as a basis for discussion and not as the Govern-
ment's final word.

Literature & Society: The Case of

Roger Mais.

SHORTLY after the publication of his first novel, The Hills Were
Joyful Together (1953), Roger Mais declared that his intention had been
"to give the world a true picture of the real Jamaica and the dreadful
condition of the working classes." I We find in the work, accordingly,
a stark and realistic picture of impoverished people trapped in a squalid
slum that is identifiably Jamaican. The work has been received in
the spirit in which it was passionately submitted, and Mais's second
novel, Brother Man, consolidated the author's reputation as a novelist
of social protest. The reputation has persisted in spite of his third
novel, Black Lightning (1955), in which there are no signs of organised
society and not the slightest expression of a protesting attitude. The
work has been virtually disregarded in the West Indies, but I would like
to contend that it is in Black Lightning that Mais's art and understand-
ing are in greatest harmony, and that it is upon this his last published
novel that his reputation must rest.

I do not wish to imply that Black Lightning must be kept separate
from the other novels, nor would it be proper to take the view that it
is unrelated to the Jamaican social situation. But there is a progressive
movement from novel to novel of a kind that can only be described as
exploratory, and I would like to trace this movement as a way of show-
ing how Black Lightning develops out of, and imaginatively transcends
the local situation.

The first novel, The Hills Were Joyful Together, is set in a yard
which is a microcosm of Jamaican slum life. The characters are
differentiated from one another, but the author is more interested in
projecting the life of the yard as a whole than in creating individual
characters.2 Supplementing what we make of the expressed life of the
yard are authorial intrusions of two kinds, advancing two main
"philosophies" The first has to do with Mais's social protest intention,
and may be described as materialistic determinism. It is usually put in
the mouth of the prison chaplain: What happens to people when
their lives are constricted and dwarfed and girdled with poverty, things
like that and that and that come out of it moral deformity, degrada-
tion, disease. (p. 197). The second philosophy declared in the novel
occurs in authorial choruses at the beginnings of chapters. It is a
philosophy of Chance, or the indifference of the Universe: "The trifling
sprigs of chance confound our footsteps. the events that make to-
morrow quit themselves today outside our ken. (p. 242), and "The
dark shadows beyond our ken crowd in upon us and stand and wait
unseen, they wait in silence and drink us up in darkness. (p. 150).
As Mais declares them, however, these philosophies clash, and his art is
at its least convincing when he tries to show them working together.
The episode dealing with the death of Surjue at the end of the novel is
Illustrative. Surjue is just about to make good his escape from prison.

It is a dark and cloudy night, but just as the escaping character reaches
the top of the prison wall, the wind parts the clouds and the moon
shines through. Mais also contrives that at this precise moment,
Surjue's enemy, warder Nickoll, writhing with toothache, should lift his
head, see Surjue, and bring him down with the one gunshot that would
have been possible in the circumstances. As Surjue falls to the ground
on the free side of the wall, the perverse clouds return to cover the
moon, and a seemingly disconsolate dog bays in the distance. Mais's
over-deliberate manipulation at this emphatic point in the novel is
neither in keeping with the life-qualities he expresses in his characters,
nor does it do justice to his intuitions about life suspended in expressive
scene and image.

In contrast to Mais's self-conscious demonstrations there are images
of distress and vulnerability which express more than the author can
state. These appear notably in his presentation of the women, Rema
and Euphemia. Then there are scenes in which the sheer perplexity
of being human and not in control of the inner heartland is in evidence.
Such a scene occurs after the adolescent Manny has been rejected by
the older woman, Euphemia. His friend Wilfie is helping him to fix
the frame of a chicken coop:

Wilfie held the wire in place, and Manny drove home the
straightened nail, using more force than was necessary. He
clinched the nail head over the wire to make it hold. His hands
seemed extra big and awkward, and they were trembling a little.
He took his upper lip between his teeth and bit it until he
could taste the salty taste of blood in his mouth. He beat on the
ground with the hammer, and Wilfie just looked at him, still
without saying a word. He opened his mouth as though he was
going to speak, and shut it again.
(The Hills Were Joyful Together, pp. 162-163)

Mais's recurrent expressive quality works to great effect in Black
Lightning, not least in the section dealing with Estella's crucial elope-
ment. On the story level, Estella leaves Jake because she prefers Steve.
We have to wait till the end of the novel to realise that she still loves
the hero, and had left him only because his unconscious resentment of
his dependence upon her had begun to show. The scene in which
Estella tries to choose between Steve and Jake, however, prepares us for
complications by showing Estella as a creature pained and baffled not
simply about what choice ought to be made, but bewildered by the
strange contrarieties that exist within:
She stretched out her arms above her head, and her fingers
clutched at the tufts of scrubby grass that grew there, and tore
at them.
And then she lay still.
The sound of the pea-doves calling to each other under the
sweetwood trees, the song of the axe, the wind soughing through
the branches were the only sounds in the wood.

A shudder passed through her. She turned over on her side
again, sat up, pressed her fist into it, bending over as though
taken with pain.
The first brown smudgings of dust shook out over the silent
wood. She stood up, looked about her as though she had lost
her way, turned and went to the edge of the wood where it met
the common beyond, this side of the house.
(Black Lightning, pp. 32-33)

These are the dilemmas Mais is really interested in as an artist, and as
he develops, he finds they are attributable neither to society nor to an
external and malignant Chance.

In Brother Man the setting is again the Kingston slums, and the
theme is still an obviously social one, but there are significant shifts
of emphasis. The authorial intrusions are not only reduced in fre-
quency, they are disciplined into the form of a Chorus placed at the
beginning of each set act in a fire-act novel. While the details in
each act are identifiably local, the Chorus neither insists upon the
specialness of the Jamaican yard-dwellers' situation nor offers indig-
nant 'philosophical' generalisations. Rueful and detached, it abstracts
the essential repetitive humanity of what goes on among the urban
proletariat; "The tongues in the lane clack-clack almost continuously,
going up an down the full scale of human emotion, human folly,
ignorance, suffering, viciousness, magnanimity, weakness, greatness,
littleness, insufficiency, frailty, strength" (p.7). Mais is clearly stand-
ing back from his case, but his commitment is no less than in the
previous novel.

To some extent, the pessimism and pathos of The Hills Were
Joyful Together were modified by a number of un-emphasised positives
in the novel: charity, embodied in Mass Mose the clarinet-player, the
kindly Zephyr, and Ras, the serene and compassionate cultist; the
healing power of eros, seen in the relationship between Surjue and
Rema, and recalled with idyllic force by Surjue at the time of great-
est despair (p. 245) and an elemental and rhythmic energy which
bands the yard-dwellers in community as on the night of the fish-fry
(pp. 48-52) when they enact in song and dance the miracle of catas-
trophe over-oome3 the crossing of a swollen river. In Brother Man,
Mais gives prominence to one of the positives latent in The Hills Were
Joyful Together: the novel hopefully explores the protective possibility
of Messianic leadership. It differs further from its predecessor in being
built around a central character. But in the presentation of Bra' Man,
Mais fails.

The extended parallel between the life and crucifixion of Christ
and that of Bra' Man shows Mais's determination to universalise his
work, but It leads to the introduction of arbitrary visions and appari-
tions, miracles, naive moralising (as in the incident of the crab and
the little boy) and an unfortunate pseudo-Biblical prose. 4 Some of

these elements are present in the description of Bra' Man among the
And through him blessing came to the people in the lane, even
to those who did not go out to receive it. People came up to him
in the crowd, and touched their handkerchiefs against his clothes,
and came away again, and laid the handkerchiefs on their sick,
and they became well. And Bra' Man didn't even know it was
He went among them blessing them and healing them, and a
crowd followed him one day from the market at the foot of King
Street, the principal street in the city, because one woman had
recognized him, and she called the attention of the others, point-
ing him out.
(Brother Man, p. 109)

I have criticised places where Mais tries to make Bra' Man viable as a
separate character, not a copy of Jesus, but the parallels are too strong
for the difference to make any impact on the reader. The passage
incidentally illustrates the obverse side of Mais' intensity; no other
West Indian writer would have created a scene like this without a
comic intention.

A consideration of the relationship between Bra' Man and the girl
Minette throws further light on Mais's failure with the central charac-
ter. Bra' Man rescues Minette from the desperate beginnings of pros-
titution and brings her to live in his house. Certain episodes suggest
that Minette has been introduced as a sleeping temptation to the
Minette woke up in the middle of the night to find Brother
Man holding a lighted candle in his hand, staring down into her
She started up, frightened, her blood suddenly racing.
'What's the matter, Bra' Man?' she said.
'Nothing, daughter,' he murmured, unmoving. 'Hush, go back
to sleep."
He still held the candle aloft, looking down into her face in-
tently, as though searching for something there.
She felt oddly shaken, disturbed, she knew not how or why.
(Brother Man, p. 99)

When Minette's nightdress falls open to reveal her breasts, Bra' Man
"rested the candle on the table, drew up a stool beside her cot, and
sat down. She saw that he had the Bible in his hand. He opened it
and read aloud (p. 99) Although clearly worried about the sex-
lessness of his hero, Mais feels it necessary to keep him Christ-like
and chaste. Later, when the artist's instinct for fidelity to the situa-
tion he has created leads to Bra' Man's succumbing to Minette, Majs's
design for a Christ also manages to make itself felt. Minette kneels

beside Bra' Man's seat and takes his hands to the once rejected
He looked down at her, started to shake his head their
eyes met, held an instant. Something like an involuntary spasm
shuddered through his flesh.
His hands jerked away suddenly. He got to his feet so quickly
that the stool went over behind him. He stumbled rather than
walked away, leaving her kneeling on the floor.
He turned, looked at her, saw that she was sobbing, her
hands pressed to her face; her shoulders were shaking with her
Something like an animal cry went from him. He blundered
back across the distance that separated them, went down on his
knees beside her on the floor.
(Brother Man, pp. 136-137).

Mais will not allow intercourse by passion, but intercourse through
compassion is allowable for the Christ-character. Mais's failure with
Bra' Man as a fictitional character lies in this: the conflict which
ought to have been located in the character registers only as an un-
certainty of intention in the author.

With the inevitable 'crucifixion' of Bra' Man ("when they had
mauled him to the satisfaction of their lust, they voided on him and
fouled him" (p. 188), Mais's exploration of the redeeming power of a
secular Messiah comes to a disappointed end. Yet Mais does not allow
disillusionment to be registered in this novel. The shock of Bra' Man's
failure is plastered over by an ambiguous 'vision of certitude"

"They'll all come crawlin' to you yet, and beg you to forgive
He just bowed his head before her. His heart was too full to
He saw all things that lay before him in a vision of certitude,
and he was alone no longer.
'Look at me' he said.
Her gaze met his, unfaltering.
She looked up above the rooftops where that great light
glowed across the sky.
She said: 'Yes, John, I have seen it.'
'Good', he said, and again 'Good'
(Brother Man, p. 191)

The only certitude here is that Bra' Man and Minette love each other.
Unless we are meant to imagine that Bra' Man is indulging in a
superior irony over Minette's understanding, the novel ends over-
optimistically as far as Bra' Man's public prospects are concerned.5

The rejection of Bra' Man by his followers, like the crucifixion of
Christ, was a revelation of human contrareity. The wild impulse by
which they became a mob to destroy the one upon whom they found
themselves dependent was the result of inner, not outer pressures. It
is the inner, private world that Mais explores in Black Lightning.
There is no social density; the setting of the novel is remote; self-
contained, rural.

In a small cast, the central cha-acter is Jake, an artist-blacksmith
and the central symbol is Samson. But whereas the parallel between
Bra' Man and Christ had been imposed externally by the author.
Mais now invests in the consciousness of his fictitional character: it
is Jake who fastens upon Samson as a model of man's independence:
There were times when Jake, too, used to take long walks by him-
self into the woods, and he knew what it was that Amos got from
that feeling of being withdrawn from the world. He got the same
feeling from being alone with his carving. Healing went with it.
and a feeling of stillness and peace. And a feeling too that a man
is alone in the world and sufficient, and not dependent upon
(Black Lightning, pp. 90-91)

It is ironic that Jake should identify with Samson, for Samson is a
symbol of both strength and weakness, an archetype of the human
person. Mais is able to unfold Jake's growing awareness of this irony
as the dramatic, disconcerting process of the novel.

When the novel begins, Jake is at work on a carving of Samson
in solid mahogany, but progress is slow because his artist's hands are
struggling to express a truth not in accordance with his preconception
of Samson. After Estella leaves him. Jake's complacency starts to
crumble, the carving begins to take "its own end into its hands",
becoming "what it wants to be The finished work Jake con-
temptuously reveals to Amos is not Samson in his prime, but the
blinded Samson, a figure cf ruined strength leaning on a little boy:
Amos looked, and he tried to say something, but words could
not come to him.
'Do you see what I see?' said Jake. And without taking his
eyes off the statue: "Why don't you say something? Are you dmb?'
His hand reached out, and clutched the other's shoulder. 'You
are shaking like a leaf! Are you afraid? There's nothing here to
be afraid of. There's nobody gonig to hurt you.
And Amos said slowly: 'I see it, Jake. What-what you wanted
me to see. Yes, I see it now. I see what you mean. It ain't Samson
anymore, is what you mean; ain't it?'
'What is it then?' tensely. 'Tell me. Perhaps you can tell me.'
(Black Lightning, p. 112)

The lesson of Samson is driven home when Jake is blinded by lightning
and he is brought to depend upon Amos and Bess. Although Mais does
not see the sense of purpose which now comes into these characters'
lives as negligible, he makes us share Jake's contempt for the shabby
process of salvage to which men must resort in the. world. It satisfies
our sense of the protagonist's stature that with the tragic discovery of
his own and Samson's dependent humanity Jake should move in-
evitably to an aristocratic suicide.

Through his central character, Mais expresses a tragic view of
life, and a dignified response to it. In the developing relationship
betw en Glen and Miriam which he runs alongside the story of Jake,
a more practical positive merges.

The prevalence of concubinage in the social milieu from which
his characters derived, and Mais's uninhibited and realistic transfers
into The Hills Were Joyful Together and Brother Man must have
made it easier for the writer from Jamaica to observe the natural
conflicts and instinctive compacts that are constituents in sexual love.
And the drawing together of Bra' Man and Minette after Bra' Man's
public failure in Brother Man must have led the author to wonder
about the possibilities of men and women coming to terms with their
world through sexual relationships. However all this may be, the re-
lationship between Glin and Miriam is presented as a wayward
succession of approaches and retreats until Jake's suicide drives them
to the final step of accepting the need to be dependent upon each

By combining the suicide of Jake with the growth of love between
Glen and Miriam, Mais discovers a pattern of renewal after destruc-
tion. The natural setting of the novel reinforces this impression. For
Jake's alienation occurs in a world which includes George's spontaneous
affinity with nature (climaxed by the youth's exulting ride on the
mare Beauty), and the human crises in the novel are made to
coincide with phenomena in nature. All these motifs are caught up
in the final movement of the novel.

Jake had asked about Samson: "Where will he take that burden
to its last resting-place and set it down? And be restored to himself
again, whole?" (p. 110) It is by strict logic to the situation and the
character that for Jake as for Samson the resting-place should be
self-destruction. Jake must pull down his own self and hostile temple
to be whole again. A more generalised sense of renewal is suggested
by Jake's suicide taking place in a burgeoning wood after the flood:
"Birds sang from the wood again, and little by little it lost the dank
peaty smell of sodden rotting vegetation. It smelled again sweet and
fresh like the face of a young girl" (p. 201) At the same time as Jake
embraces his death, moreover, Amos and Estella make their compact
in the wood; George and Beauty are exulting in that gallop across
the common; and Glen and Miriam draw together.6

'The wood is full of peace If I had to die, I think I would
like to die out here.'
His arm tightened about her waist.
'Don't talk about dying. We want to live. Ain't it?'
'Yes, Glen. We want to live for a long, long time.
'That's the way to talk, girl, that's the stuff.'
(Black Lightning, p.

As Jake's suicide shot sounds from one part of the wood, life asserts
itself in another. This is a long way from the death of Surjue in
The Hills Were Joyful Together:
He fell spread-eagled on his back and lay still.
A scudding, shapeless mass of filmy clouds drew over the face
of the moon. The stars put out again.
A dog howled in the darkness outside the wall.
He lay on his back, his arms flung wide, staring up at the
silent unequivocal stars.
(The Hills Were Joyful Together, p. 288)

And there is more conviction in Glen's and Miriam's tentative
embrace than in the "vision of certitude" of Brother Man.

Mais's sense of the tragic in life, and his compassionate under-
standing were stimulated by the society in which he lived. In his most
assured fiction he attained to a genuine tragic vision by separating the
stimulus from its special social context.



John O'London's Weekly, (May 1, 1953).
It follows from this that any criticism which alleges that Mais is weak on characterisa-
tion in this novel is not to the point. Mais's characterisation here adequate for
what the novel is trying to do.
3. That this celebration is ironic, since the characters will not overcome the catastrophe
in their lives, has not been noticed in recent comment on the novel.

4. If, as is sometimes handed down to us, Mais's language is influenced by the New
Testament, it is necessary to discriminate as critics between times when the influence
is of artistic value, and times when it is a liability.
5. In an article by Jean Creary [and Louis James] in The Islands in Between (1967),
p. 58, this passage from the novel is commented on as follows: "It should not be
necessary to specify the significance of the 'great light' or the smaller flame Minette,,
with her new vision, now holds in her own hands. The joyful peace implicit in the
ending is its own fulfilment." This strikes me as a sentimental abdication from the
responsibility of the critic.
6. In this quotation and in the one following, Mais's dialogue, never quite convincing,
sounds like a Holywood script. But the context seems to distract us from niggling.


Only silence and graves--river clocked, thunder quails.
A green gourd swings the shade.
The drinking cup
The mural rein
And poincianas drop their regal red in memory.

Long white revival streets,
Drays sleep the heat;
Upon the backside of the hamper-beat
The basket-rhythm roped wares mountain peaks.
Mentos hoeing the armpits of the sun
Cudjoe on drums.

Winds higgle in the trees
Antelopes fun.
Light labrish in the breeze
They bushed the land.
Mangoes, brown guango bleeds,
Red plums, sweet sugar-leaves,
I cannot kill the sand.

The bending bamboo breathes
Flutes Accompong.
Green hands chained to the sea
Evening, Time hums
Telepathy and drums.

Sweet wood looping the green
The thatch outside, between,
Jancunoo spree,
Masks masking deep.

Green gourdy, swing the shade;
Silence, the clocking graves
So many Stations moulding, fracturing me.


Steelbands: a Personal Record.

ONE EVENING in March 1956, after listening to a special concert
arranged by the Trinidad and Tobago Steelband Association, Dr. Sydney
Northcote advised bands "to avoid delving into classical music" and
"concentrate on playing the type of music around which the steelband
was built" (Trinidad Guardian 20th March, 1956) Some ten and a half
years later, at an election meeting in Tunapuna, Dr. Capildeo, then
leader of the Democratic Labour Party, abused Professor John Russell.
adjudicator at the 1966 Steelband Festival, for daring to suggest that
pans should be standardised in range and pitch and that composers of
international repute should be invited to write especially for steelbands.
In retrospect, Dr. Northcote was probably wrong. He did not foresee
that nothing would improve techniques of tuning so dramatically as the
attempt to cope with composers like Mozart and Chopin. There were
contradictions too in Dr. Capildeo's position. At the Finals, which he
had just attended, all the bands played pieces by European composers
Handel, Mozart, Bizet, Suppe and even the locally composed test
piece sounded like something from a Viennese operetta. There was no
reason why bands should not be judged by the standards they had
chosen to emulate, or why the adjudicator should not point out the
logical consequences of steps they had already taken. -But the wheel
had come full circle. The adjudicators had swung from advising bands
against the classics to recommending that serious music should be
specially commissioned for them; and at least one prominent West
Indian was insisting that "these artists in steel" were just too good for
the opinions of an outside judge to be anything but impertinent.

One of the competing bands in the 1966 Festival was the Scherzando
Steelband from Tunapuna. The band was founded in 1957, but in spite
of a few minor successes and a couple of recordings it had not fulfilled
the classical aspirations of its name. In 1965 the five remaining mem-
bers decided to make a new start, and within a couple of months had
invited me to become manager and musical arranger. For me too this
was something of a new beginning. After a year in Trinidad, I had
found nothing which could explain the island to me or could link me
to its landscape. The natural progression of its novelists seemed to be
towards exile and disillusionment. The poetry, while dealing with West
Indian topics, had no language or rhythm of its own. I was prepared
to believe that calypsoes had once been witty and vigorous, but with a
few exceptions such as "Get to Hell out of Here" I could hear only
jaunty songs in Pidgin English in praise of carnival and "The Doc", and
addressed mainly to tourists. Even the dialect struck me as somehow
abstracted from the island, a language of jokes in a landscape of end-
less fertility; and the folk-tales, which were being busily "preserved" by
teams with tape-recorders, were just too limited and too derivative to
be very enlightening. I do not, of course, offer these as judgments, only
as impressions formed during one year and without any historical

But the steelbands were different. At first I saw only the most
obvious things. I knew that wherever I went in Trinidad there was
sure to be a band playing. I had watched the big bands in the Port
of Spain carnival, and I had been enchanted by tiny country bands in
their bamboo huts with tapla thatch roofs practising by the light of
flambeaux. I knew that steelband music was becoming an accepted
part of every public function, and that the bands themselves had music
for all occasions. I knew, in other words, what everyone else who read
the papers or travelled around knew, that the steelband movement was
a movement. It didn't need to be encouraged or "preserved." Most
important of all, I saw it as an activity which, while accessible to an
outsider, was essentially Trinidadian. Unlike anything else I had seen
in the West Indies, and in spite of all its limitations, it seemed a genuine
expression of the landscape and its inhabitants, a metaphor for the
lushness and untidiness, the gaiety and the indiscipline which were the
Trinidad of my experience. Nothing could have been more appropriate
than that, at my first practices, we should have been interrupted every
few minutes by a rustle in the leaves overhead, sending us all diving for
shelter while a mango crashed on the galvanise roof of the tent.

The first job was to prepare for the Festival. We had to learn two
test pieces, Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachlmusik (first movement) and the
Intermezzzo in E flat by Tony Prospect and a tune of our own choice,
Tchaikowsky's Waltz of the Flowers. I was a little uneasy about this.
Surely for a steelband festival we ought to be playing at least one
calypso? But the decisions weren't mine to make and my doubts were
soon swamped in the sheer delight of practising. The band's enthusi-
asm was infectious. Often, after three hours or so of hard practice,
when I felt they would never want to speak to me again, they would
insist on trying the passage "three more times." Every evening for
four months, one boy walked seven miles from a village in the hills and
seven miles back at night. It was exciting too to find how, without any
obvious publicity, news of what we were doing got around. I stopped
one day to listen to a band in San Fernando; "Is your band that bringing
The Waltz of the Flowers?" they asked. The climax was memorable,
On the night of the preliminary rounds our truck broke down, and we
arrived at the Tunapuna Palladium on foot, carrying our pans and
feeling very drab beside our shining, sponsored rivals. But when we
began to play, the audience went wild. They stood on their seats, threw
caps in the air, and shouted till the music was drowned and the producer
had to come on stage to restore order. When it was announced we were
through to the next round, an impromptu carnival broke out. I felt
that after a year of fastidious detachment I had suddenly got at the
heart of Trinidad. Nobody had to carry his own pans back.

That was our finest moment. In the quarter finals we couldn't
impress the jewelled and cuff-linked audience at the Queen's Hall. Our
pans were "badly tuned," and we were out. The moral was obvious
and the band lost no time in pressing It home to me. We had to find
a sponsor. A sponsor would attract more members, secure engagements,

pay for better pans. Again, I was uneasy. I had already grown to
love the delapidated shed under the mango tree, where the strange
noises during the tune might turn out to be a chicken trapped inside
the bass. I had come to expect that the guitar e flat would be per-
manently out of tune. Would it really be an improvement to have the
pans covered with advertisements, and the boys dressed in blue jackets
and cummerbunds like waiters at the Hilton? My romanticism amused
the band. So we went ahead.

By this time, late 1966, there were already some forty sponsored
bands in Trinidad, and several of the firms we approached seemed more
interested in stealing an established band from another company than
in taking on someone new. To attract a sponsor we had to show we
were able to attract publicity, and to attract publicity in a land of four
hundred steelbands we had to do something striking and original. We
took a hint from the Festival. Professor Russell had praised us for,
In particular, some "very nice counterpoint." Perhaps we could draw
attention to ourselves by developing new styles in arranging. I liked
the idea very much. I had always felt that most of the arrangements
one heard were much too stereotyped. Even the best bands tended to
be noisy, untidy, and repetitive, playing with little variation in volume
and none in tempo and usually much too fast. It was rare for the
melody to leave the tenor pans (except to go, mysteriously, on the bass),
or for the double-second and guitar pans to do anything more interest-
ing than strum one chord to a bar or play brief arpeggios. What
variations I could hear were not proper developments but decorative
runs or extra chords stuck between the phrases. If the arranger had
a good idea, he was sure to work it to death, and the main aim seemed
to be to produce a searing hypnotic rhythm rather than an interesting
musical texture.

The obvious solution was to toss the tune about as much as possible
between the sections, to include always at least one interesting counter-
melody, to present not a slab of sound but a varied texture with
different instruments dominating different parts of the tune while
others occasionally dropped out altogether. But this brought problems,
some immediate, others not apparent till much later. All our pans
were tuned to the old "Invaders' styling" which meant that only the
tenors were tuned chromatically. We could play what we liked in C or
F or G, but horrible gaps appeared in the background pans when we
explored other keys. Even the tenors were unsatisfactory. Designed
at a time when tuners could not guarantee isolating notes properly and
therefore took care each harmonised with its neighbour (in the clock-
wise sequence: cl, fl, a1, cl sharp, el, gl, bl, el flat, gl sharp, dl, bl flat);
they were much too uneven. An ordinary major scale was haunted by
seven ghostly key changes, and f' sharp in the centre of the pan had a
completely different tone from the other notes.

We decided to begin at the beginning, and redesign the whole band
with only four sections tenor, double-second, guitar, and bass. For
the tenor pans, we put all the notes of the first scale (from b) in a
cycle of fifths around the perimeter with two octaves to each note in-

side. This design had two advantages. It was perfectly symmetrical
and therefore, in theory at least, easier to tune accurately; and it
isolated all the notes for each key in their own half of the pan so that,
whatever the key signature, the players' hands would move in similar
patterns thus ensuring smoother runs and simpler transpositions.
Nothing so neat was possible for the double-seconds and guitars. For
the double-seconds we divided the notes from e to g2 sharp between
two pans, placing them, each note with its octave, at intervals of thirds
and fourths in such a way that the left hand pan was exactly one semi-
tone lower than that on the right. We introduced triple (instead of
double) guitars, with the notes from c to bl distributed (each again
with its octave) at intervals of a minor third, with each pan one semi-
tone higher than its left-hand neighbour. Simplest of all was the bass.
The scale from A,, with octaves, was scattered over six drums at inter-
vals of a fifth. We scrapped the other pans, high-tenors, double-tenors,
and cellos, in the hope of achieving a clearer, more incisive sound.

In fact, we weren't being especially original. When, after hoarding
the designs for several days as our secret formula for success, I showed
them to Tony Williams, captain of Pan Am North Stars, I found he had
hit on similar ideas several years before though, inexplicably, no one
had followed his lead. Nor would I for one moment claim that we now
began playing better than other bands; there is, after all, all the
difference in the world between aspiration and achievement, and I soon
found myself dropping into stereotyped arrangements of my own. But
we did collect a small audience, and the beginnings of a new reputa-
tion. It was about this time that, passing a shop doorway, I heard
someone describe us to a friend. "Is a small small band," he said.
"But classy!"

Unfortunately, we could get very few engagements. Our status as
a "classy" band put us in a frustrating middle position, too small and
unknown for the Hilton and the Country Club, and too ambitious for
ordinary fetes that, at least, was our theory at the time. Our only
regular appearances were in churches. We found plenty of clergymen
anxious to jump on the steelbandwagon, and neighbours in the trace
got used to hearing us practising hymn tunes. "It don't make no sense
worrying," said Lal. "Some church bound to sponsor we soon."
Eventually, however, we were asked to accompany a Passion Play to be
produced on television at Easter 1967. It was our turn to jump, at the
long awaited chance of real publicity. Using bits and pieces from other
arrangements, we put together a twenty-five minute score which the
producers billed as the Passion Week Cantata to the fury of the
Trinidad Guardian music critic who insisted, quite correctly, that we
had provided only background music. Reactions to the programme
varied, but from our point of view it was a huge success. It didn't seem
to matter that the music was virtually inaudible. We had done enough
to merit a special write-up in the Guardian (with the word "counter-
point" featuring prominently), and to secure an invitation to appear on
T.T.T. Panorama, playing one of our new-style calypso arrangements
with me to explain exactly what we were trying to do. It worked. The

band played superbly, and the following morning Lever Brothers of the
West Indies rang up with an offer of sponsorship.

I find it hard to say exactly how we felt. We all seemed delighted,
but for all the drinks and the elaborate speeches about fruits and up-
liftment and greater heights, I am not sure I was the only one who felt
we had pulled off a minor confidence trick. The problem was, what
next? I had spoken as though the future was straightforward, as
though we needed only financial help to fulfil definite ambitions. In
fact, I now found myself hoping Lever Brothers would define a future
for us. They did; but in a manner which tossed the problem neatly
back into our laps.

They announced their intention of introducing a new kind of
sponsorship. All our expenses were to be taken care of there seemed
no limit to the company's generosity but, unlike other bands, we
were not to become a subsidiary of the sales department. There were
to be no advertisements on our pans, no glossy jackets, no mimic-
American image, no overt identification with the company at all. We
were to be entirely Trinidadian, to develop along our own lines, to
restore steelband music to its true course with its roots firmly in
carnival. The first steps were easy. We changed our name to
Camboulays with its suggestion of darkness, fire, and dancing. Henri
Telfer designed a uniform, an effective colourful carnival costume.
Slim, the captain, arranged a signature tune, an old minor calypso
called "The Night Mozambo Dead." But then we hesitated. I discover-
ed that in spite of my previous uneasiness about the calypso-less
festival, in spite of the fact that we had got exactly the kind of sponsor-
ship I wanted, I didn't know what to do next. What exactly was
"Trinidadian"? What was the essence of steelband music? Did it lie
in the curious tonality of the pans we had done away with? Was it
after all to be found in the strumming, in the concern with rhythm
rather than with texture? All my "reforms" of the previous year had
been based on the till now unacknowledged assumption that we would
develop away from carnival. How could we isolate exactly what made
steelband music such a perfect mirror of the island, and preserve that
without just standing still? More and more in the weeks ahead I found
that all the usual abstract questions about West Indian culture or non-
culture were being translated into day to day decisions. I found myself
In the ridiculous position of trying to stop being an Englishman. The
more my tunes were praised as "different", the harder I tried to prevent
them sounding anything of the sort, and the fear was always present
that what I thought was a good idea might turn out to be destructive.

We had to undo the very things which had brought us a sponsor.
Without a Tony Williams to tune for us, the designs we had worked out
were no good for the road. The bass had to be supplemented with tenor
bass pans; the guitars needed an extra kick so we brought back the
cellos; the tenors were too weak without powerful double-tenors back-
ing them and high tenors strengthening the top notes. We began to
sound massive and solid, as we had to for the open air. Nor were my
arrangements appropriate for our new role. Their very variety made

them hard to remember, thus limiting our repertoire, and the unavoid-
able changes in volume as the melody went on the lower pans or as we
switched from strumming to counterpoint were awkward when people
were trying to dance. Even my methods of preparing a tune began to
raise questions. I had always given each section its part separately,
bringing all the band together only at the end of the evening. But I
often found, when rehearsing an old tune, that people who were note
perfect when the whole band was playing couldn't begin to remember
their parts when asked to play on their own. It was as though once
the band had learned the tune my way, a different older memory process
took over; as though by thinking in terms of individual parts I was
trying to alter not only the character of the music but the character
of the players. The members were a long time telling me, but eventual-
ly they spoke. "You see Mr. White", they said. "You is a musician.
But Trinidad people want all kinda nonsense" Their tactfulness and
flattery were typical, but I had already got the message. Gradually,
we feel into the assumption that my arrangements were for special
occasions for T.V appearances, for church bazaars, for the U.W.I.
open day concert but that others did the real work.

However, I was still responsible for the competitions. And so it
came about that, in the steelband Panorama competition for Carnival
1968, the captain and I led the band across the Queen's Park Savannah
playing a light orchestral version of "Miss Tourist" I suppose it was
inevitable that, as the band and our supporters responded to the
occasion, the tune should have become in their view more like a proper
road march, in mine simply more noisy and ragged. I was bitterly dis-
appointed, not because we didn't get through to the next round of the
competition, but because the issues were now clear. I knew I was pull-
ing in the wrong direction. But the alternative seemed to be not to
develop at all. About a month later I went down to the yard to
practise a tune for the coming festival. A quarrel had broken out, and
Tony, our best guitar man, had resigned. I chased around and
eventually found him up in the hills with a tiny band, teaching them
by the light of flambeaux an old tune Scherzando had played before I
came to Trinidad.

At the time I thought this was our own private problem, illustrating
perhaps the difficulties that arose when people of different nationalities
tried to work together, or revealing simply the inadequacies in my
response to the island. It is only at a distance in place and time that
I realise how typical our disputes were of the steelband movement as a
whole. In a significant way, the 1966 festival was the climax of twenty
years development. Few seriously questioned then that bands should
test themselves by the standards of classical music before a professional
outside adjudicator. But the very success of the festival left the move-
ment in the air. It would be unfair to suggest that bandsmen simply
shirked the next stages in musicianship: but it would be equally un-
realistic to conclude that they fully realized the contradictions in what
they had been doing. From then on, those bands which could make
it spent as much time as possible on tour in North and South America
or up the islands on the cruise ships. Others, the smaller bands, led


an uncertain and envious existence at home. The confusion is best
illustrated by Bobby Mohammed, captain of Guinness Cavaliers who,
after insisting that studying music would destroy his inspiration as a
Trinidadian, announced later that his band was no longer interested
in local competitions. The most recent festival, with another foreign
adjudicator and a test piece by Benjamin Britten, found nearly all the
top bands abroad.

It is not easy to know what conclusions to draw from all this. One
thing, however, is clear, that the current emphasis on steelband tours
to promote Trinidad abroad is not the answer. Perhaps it would be
hitting below the belt to suggest that steelband- (and Carnival itself)
were better off under the old Colonial system; but the pre-Independence
situation did at least confer one negative benefit, in that it led steel-
bands to assert their identity through rebellion. The present tendency
to regard all local art forms as assets in the tourist drive can only do
damage. Paragraph 7.20 of the Trinidad Government's Draft Plan for
Education (1968) emphasises the crucial importance of "the creative
genius" of a people in ensuring a nation's "survival"; but it goes on to
speak of "the commercial artist", "the local fabric designer", "the local
record producer" revealing how much "culture" is seen as a business.
The same paragraph warns of the "danger of sponsorship crippling the
art form by over management and over-regulation", but says nothing
of the greater danger of judging by economic returns or of adapting
one's personality to what the foreigner expects. The effect will be to
destroy the steelbandsman's identity far more than any colonial dis-
approval could have done, turning him into the Trinidad equivalent of
those north coast Jamaicans who implore you to buy their "native
beads" and "native carvings" and whom the embarrassed tourist can
provoke into dignity only by deliberate racial insult. I am convinced
still that the only sponsorship which can do any lasting good is the
k'nd of disinterested help given by Lever Brothers.

But even when this point has been made, the larger questions re-
main, translated as I have said into day to day problems. Should steel-
bands play classical or light classical music of mainly European origin,
or should they stick to local and Latin tunes? Should bands be large
and disciplined, depending absolutely on the abilities of the arranger,
or should they be small, giving opportunities for virtuosity and ex-
temporisation? Should bandsmen learn to read music, thus broaden-
ing their repertoire and saving hours of practice, or should they con-
tinue to play by memory, relying on the corporate rhythm of the band
as a stimulus? Should pans be standardised in range and pitch, and
perhaps be mass produced for cheapness and durability, or should the
present endless variety in tone and technique be preserved? Should
the tuners concentrate on producing a purer, more accurate note, so
that the arrangers can use more complex harmonies, or should they
keep the rich tone of the old-fashioned pans, limiting bands to the
simple harmonies of calypsoes and folksongs? Has steelband a future
outside the West Indies combined with other instruments, or should it
remain in its present form as an expression of life in Trinidad?


For myself, in spite of the story I have told, I still like to think in
terms of development and progress. I still hope that the instrument
can be extended so that some future genius, preferably West Indian
than not, will find in it a means of expression that does justice both
to its characteristic tone and to his own inspiration. But there are
balancing feelings. It would be sad if, adapting itself to a wider
audience, steelband music became just one more passport to exile-
dreadful if any future steelbandsman were to say with Naipaul, "I no
longer know Trinidad" And I cannot forget Tony, after three years
of comparative success, returning with a sense of loss to a country band
and a discarded tune.



He moves haphazardly, blown along the pavement
In uneven gusts, like ricepaper.
The oldest man in the world.
Not for him, beneath that mask of grey
Enamelled hair, dried dreams of palaces
Floating on their pools of silken poetry
Or orchideous concubines in rites of silk.
More likely a drab exchange of servitude,
Eastern soil for saltfish,
And the crudely offered tithes paid daily
On the mackerel counters by us lazy blacks
Who'd rather spend than sell;
The necessary sacrifice of language
And the timeless shame of burial
In this uncultured soil.
Yet in the intricate embroidery of that face
Are all the possibilities of legend:
Kublai Khan in beggar's garb.

Loub-limbed and less immediately ancient
I defer the pavement to this parchment schooner
With no port, this ivory chorale of semitones.


Muhammed Fixes The Fence

JUST AT the corner of West and Allen streets is a small two-storey
house that would long ago have fallen into the street were it not for
the grace of God and the help of two stout pieces of timber that have
been pushed under it's veranda. On the ground floor of this house is
a shop. The owner of the shop is Mr. Muhammed All.

Last Queen's birthday, Muhammed woke up feeling quite energetic.
He jumped out of bed, walked towards the window and threw it open.
Then he stood back. straightened his shoulders, and took a few deep

"Da one fine day," he said.

It was then that he noticed the hole in the fence. It was just a
place where the boards had fallen out. No one had bothered to fix it,
because it did not matter anyway. But Muhammed was feeling too
energetic to confine himself to the shop so he said,

"Must get that fence fixed or it guen cause trouble one of these
days." Later on around the table he told his wife, "Is a downright dis-
grace for a man fi work on the queen birthday especially a man we me
de da Messopotamia."
Usually at a time like this his wife would wring her hands, and
going to the far side of the room with her back to him say, "I no know
what ah do fi make God punish me like this, giving me a husband whe
too lazy fi get off his fat ass."

She would keep this up for an hour or so until finally be would say,
"Da woman like you make man sin he soul. You like you own way
too damn much. One of these days you guen get a good licking for it."

Then he would go and do exactly what she wanted him to do.

But today she was indifferent, -o now she only sucked her teeth and
moved over to the other side of the room to take care of the baby who
had spilled soup over herself. Muhammed was excited about the pro-
spect of fixing the fence. He rushed through breakfast, stretched, and
said to his wife.
"Mai, da we me tools de?"

"Tools." his wife returned. "How you expect me fi know about your
tools' man? When I use things I put them back whe I find them."

She looked at him a little wary. "What you want with tools anyway?"

Guen fix th3 fence man," he answered almost boastfully. She gazed
at him in amazement.

"You fix fence?"


Then her amazement turned to amusement, and she started giggling.
Soon she was laughing out loud. Muhammed could take no more of it.
His pride deeply injured, he stormed out of the room and down the
steps to look under the beam where he remembered he had left his
saw the last time he had used it.

He did not find it there, so he looked in a small back room behind
the shop. He found it lying beside an old cheese crate, it's blade thick
with rust. He took it outside, and rubbed it in the sand. Then he put
it under the faucet to get off as much of the rust as possible. He
started looking for his hammer but could not find it. After a while he
decided that he must have lent it out or else someone must have stolen
it. So he sent across to his neighbour, Mr. Finomenos. to ask for the
loan of a hammer.
Mr. Finomenos was a short, fat, little man. He was a professional
carpenter and very vain about his work. Whenever he was cornered
in an argument, he would stare his opponent straight in his eyes and say,
"Man you know who you talking to? You talking to Finomenos the
man who build the chair Princess Magret sit on. Royalty sit on the
chair Finomenos build, royalty: You understand?"

The boy returned a little later.

"Mr. Finomeros say he lef he hammer da work."

This was a lie, of course. Finomenos always took his tools with him
wherever he went. But everyone who knew Muhammed knew that he
forgot to return things he borrowed. Muhammed too knew his reputa-
tion, so he sent back the boy, "Tell the man da fi fix the fence. Tell
him ah will return it as soon as ah finish."

Finomenos was greatly amused when he got the message.

"Muhammed wa fix fence," he laughed. "Oh lord, don't kill me man.
Muhammed," he shouted leaning through the window. "Is true you wa
fix fence man?" He was laughing so hard that the rolls of fat on his
cheek were shaking violently. Muhammed was just going to shout
back something about "foolish ignorant cruffie" when Mrs. Larimas
interposed. Mrs. Larimas was a Jehovah's witness. She lived on the
lower flat of Finomenos' house.

"Brother Finomenos is that the way for a follower of Jehovah to
treat his brother?"

Finomenos was silent. He had agreed to become a Jehovah's Wit-
ness when she had begun fasting and singing hymns late into the night
for the revival of his soul.

"The Lord saith to be helpful unto thine brother. Now lend thine
hammer onto thine brother and glorify the name of Jehovah," she
shouted in her thin spindly voice.

So Finomenos lent the hammer.

Muhammed started to remove the boards that had been nailed
roughly on to cover the hole. As he removed one board he found that
the one next to it was also rotten, and soon he had removed all the
paling from one side of the fence.

Dogs and children began to gather. Miss Mary lived in the yard
next to them. Miss Mary was a massive negro woman with large white
eyes, fat cheeks and great breasts that dangled in front of her like
balloons. Miss Mary had a garden. The plants were in old paint tins.
The whole yard was green with algae growth. The children used to
urinate and brush their teeth over the plants. She came out of the yard
with a child holding onto her skirt. Wherever she went there was
always a child holding onto her skirt.

"Muhammed ah hear Finomenos laugh after you and ah just want
to tell you that ah think is a good thing you doing."

She stayed on a little to see how the fence was coming, then she
turned around and paraded back to her house.

A crowd of children surrounded Muhammed, a noisy romping group.

The sun began to get hot. The children and dogs started to get
in the way. A dog chased a little boy. He dashed past where
Muhammed was working, scattering nails and boards in his wake.
Muhammed rushed at the boy with the hammer, but the child ran away
screaming horribly

Muhammed started looking around for old boards to fix the fence.
Behind him trailed a herd of children. He found two pieces of old zinc,
and dragged them back. When he got back he found that one of the
children had stolen his pencil. He could take no more. He picked up a
piece of wood and rushed wildly towards them shouting. "Haul you ass
from here before ah kill you. You understand."

The crowd shrieked in unison, and scattered wildly. Muhammed was
tired. He felt the sweat dripping down his face. He picked up a piece
of zinc and started nailing it onto the fence. He finished nailing on
one piece, and started on another piece. The sun became a blazing
furnace. Muhammed felt the sweat pouring down his back and face.
His hair was falling into his eyes. He hit fiercely at the nail. He looked
at the knot of children that had gathered a little distance from him.
They looked ragged and terrible with horrible bloated stomachs and
skinny arms. Every now and then they would shout something sense-
less at him.

"Old man dead inna puddin' pan swell belly man eat too
much rice."

Huhammed hit harder to try to force back the heat and the taunts of
Muhammed hit harder to try to force back the heat and the taunts of
the children. Suddenly he hit his thumb. The hammer flew out of
his hand, and jumping up, he squeezed his hand between his legs and
started to moan.


The children saw this and went hysterical with glee. They jumped up
and down laughing wildly. Then they broke into a chant.

"O1' man lick he hand. 01' man lick he hand. 01' man lick he hand."
Muhammed left the children chanting and went upstairs to fix his hand.

Just as he was coming back downstairs, an old ex-serviceman and
one of Muhammed's comrades-in-arms shouted from off the street "Hi
there Sergent" The man who shouted from the street was an old man
in a faded khaki uniform that had been patched many times but which
was neatly washed and pressed. On his chest were three medals which
shone brightly, contrasting sharply with the worn look of the rest of
his uniform. He was trying to force his stooped back to stay erect. He
was smiling proudly.

"Hi hello Lieutenant". Muhammed said.

"You no going to the parade?" the man asked.

"Sure man", Muhammed said. "See you there later"

The man clicked his heels smartly, saluted and marched down the
Muhammed started on the fence again. A few more soldiers passed.

"What happen man? You is no going to the parade?"

"Sure man see you there later."

The police band passed and all the children left off watching
Muhammed, and hurried off to follow the parade.

Muhammed returned to his work with more resolve, and less gusto.
The sun continued to beat down on him. The sweat poured down his face
and neck. His fingers hurt him so he couldn't hold the hammer proper-
ly. Finally he threw down the hammer. "God dammit. A man can
only do so much and no more.'

He went upstairs and finally drifted off to the barracks to see the
parade. When he got back it was time to eat. After dinner he said
that it was bad to work directly after eating, so he sat down in bed to
rest. He fell asleep.

He was awakened by loud talking. It was Miss Mary talking to his
wife. "Da one down right shame," she was saying "Fi make a man like
that try ruin wa poor woman like me."

Muhammed half asleep felt it was a shame for anyone to try to
ruin Miss Mary.
"He broke down me fence and now no wan fix it back."

Muhammed felt very much ashamed, and pretended that he was

"Ah telling you that man heartless. As see the way he treat you, Mai.
He da one heartless man. Ah would tell him just what Ah think about
him but ah fraid ah lose ma temper"

She continued like this for a while, speaking very loudly, obviously
trying to awake Muhammed. But Muhammed was determined. He lay
there silently, and finally Miss Mary left.
As soon as Miss Mary left, Mai almost burst into tears. "Is a fine
husband you is, Muhammed. Make people come into me own house
and insult me." Muhammed hurried downstairs.
He began working but sleep was heavy on him. His eyelids were
like lead and the hammer seemed to weigh a thousand pounds.
"What ah need is a good bath to wake me up," he thought. He
locked himself in the downstairs room and started to bathe.

He was quiet at first so that Mai wouldn't hear. The water felt
cool and good. It dripped into his face from his hair. It became a cold
and good. It dripped into his face from his hair. It became a cold
worm wriggling down the middle of his back. Suddenly he felt very
happy. He began to sing.
Then he heard Mai shout across, "Miss Mary, you see that husband
ah got? You see he no mean fe fix the fence." Miss Mary shouted some-
thing he could not hear. He hurried into his clothes and returned to
the fence.
The fence was half-way through when he ran out of boards. He
started to look around for boards. The children began to gather. Miss
Mary came out to inspect the work. All of a sudden she let out a
terrible scream.
"Muhammed look whe you do ta me bleeding heart."

Muhammed noticed a piece of timber that he had thrown across
Miss Mary's two favourite bleeding hearts.

"But what a bad-minded man this is. You will punish for it
Muhammed searched vainly around the yard for old boards, while
Miss Mary railed and the children romped and screamed about.
It began to get dark. Muhammed's wife came down to help him.
They led a light downstairs, and Muhammed assisted his wife. They
managed to piece back the fence, but there was still a large hole left in
the fence after they were finished. The hole remained there for months
afterwards. When his friends asked him about it he said, "Is an idea
of mine a convenience feature," saying the words carefully so as to
bring out their importance.

"Without da passage you would to go all the way round ft get
inna the yard."


They sailed unmindful
and in innocence, their thoughts
were not of self, then selfless
disembodied spirits of an afternoon:
adventure scudding on a placid sea.

But words, those beads of barter,
or an ancient navigator's charts
disarming with inaccuracy
scorned the safety of so many ports
and affection like a cancer spread.

Fickle ever (heady winds grew calm)
the crew, sweltering on unmade beds,
felt trapped by their commission
found weevils in their biscuits
and cursed the Captain's enterprise.

And the sea's net tightened
meshing them in mockery
as they prayed for harbour with a crucifix
but whispered barnacle-encrusted
incantations of the wind;

then, slowly, swelled the sails.
Forcing outwards to communion
on foreign, fertile, land
(they never thought to bruise)
and a new world grew.


The Role Of The Modern


ANCIENT civilazations all had their schools of higher education.
eg. India had societies of teachers and students 3,000 years ago. The
Moslem world had its institutions; some of which have survived like
Al-Azhar in Cairo, while the Japanese had established their 'daigaku'
about 700 A.D. Nevertheless, modern universities around the world to-
day are descendants of European Institutions.

The European as well as Asiatic institutions of higher education
v/ere all born of a search for truth and thus knowledge. In its earliest
relationship, the search for and testing of ideas and theories gave rise
to research. As the frontiers of knowledge were pushed back, and as
theorizing sought the aid of experimentation as a means of proof, a
new field called 'science' was initiated. The rapid growth of this new
found science very soon gave birth to technology

Today technology is the dominating factor. It is the 'philosopher's
stone' that is being fully employed by developed nations to further
improve their standards of living while developing nations everywhere
are eagerly seeking to understand and apply technology in an effort to
improve the lot of their people. From this brief outline we can see
that the University may be likened to any biological organism. It is
continually evolving. Thus when we discuss the university, we must
bear in mind that we are dealing with a dynamic process, rather than a
static or near-static situation. At the university we will not find
unitary or one-way tendencies but rather multiple and cross-dimentional
tendencies. Here we are dealing with divergent and conflicting
tendencies in a more or less creative or fruitful tension.

It is this fearless and ceaseless seeking and testing without let or
hindrance that has given the university its special characteristics, and
thus its influence in the world today.

Because of the knowledge explosion, universities today are faced
with a crisis, the modern university is trapped like Prince Hamllet in a
deadly dilemma. It is asked to play an heroic part in ministering to a
disorder from which it is itself a prime sufferer: disunion, denial of
values, fragmentation of knowledge, and a rejection of the need to re-
make the shattered chain of knowledge and give to man a place in which
he can be truly human. The university is asked to show how new knowl-
edge can be affirmed without losing sight of man's destiny and value. Yet
when this affirmation threatens the status quo, there is great upheaval
in the very society.

At present, universities are once again at the loom of history. They
have become key instruments in a continual adjustment of the society

to its environment. Can the university meet this challenge of trans-
formation? If the university isolates itself from society as is required
in the 'classical sense', then it may develop solitude and selfishness in
the Individual or it may adapt him to the ways of life, the schemes and
outmoded traditions of the intellectual caste. On the other hand, it
may take part in the world's movement as a mere slave of its vogues
and impulses, or what Newman called "a sort of bazaar or pantechnicon
in which wares of all kinds are heaped together for sale in stalls in-
dependent of each other."

The Function of the University.
The function of the university is different. It must take hold of
reality and pass it to the greatest number of men, in order that they
may retain their autonomy and fully assume their role in society.

In a rapidly moving world, the university must keep in step. It is
no longer enough to pass on the inheritance of past generations. We
are no longer helping to integrate man into a world that he knows but
into a world that is continually emerging. The university must there-
fore urge the student to maintain his control over the world. It must
orientate him towards the future, as this is the only way to help him
discover an ethic and dynamism that will equip him to meet the
challenge of this time.

Much has been written in recent years about the changes taking
place in the university, quite often lamenting these developments to the
degree that they have made the classical type of university inoperative.
We should rather see the university confronting a new opportunity to
redefine its objectives and restructure its life so that it can become a
decisive instrument of humanization, and a stimulus to the renewal of
other institutions in the type of world in which we are destined to live.

The Aims of the University Today.
The modern university under the impact of the technological revolu-
tion, pursues consciously or unconsciously the following aims:
1. To control nature and to harness natural resources in order that a
richer measure of material goods may be available to all men.
S To understand and develop the social existence and organization of
man in order to support the establishment of a society of freedom
and order in accordance with the needs of all its members.

3. To enable man to live in the fullness of his humanity.

These aims describe man seeking to relate to nature in order to
receive the good things of life on this earth, seeking to relate to his
fellowmen in order to find community in this world, and seeking to
know and be himself at the height of his humanity. These are not the
aims as stated in their charters, but the aims which they actually

Universities in Developing Countries.
Universities established in the developing countries have been insti-
tuted mainly by foreign powers. The purpose of the alien power was not
to conserve and foster and study the indigenous culture but to displace it
by a new one. Thus on the whole the type of education given was unsuit-
able to the region. However, even on recognition of this fact, any attempt
to change it has met with much opposition from both within and without
the university. It would seem that the maintenance of "status" as it
exists in foreign universities is more important than the fulfilment of
national requirements, e.g. a curriculum that meets the requirements
of a foreign institution membership instead of a curriculum to meet
the needs and philosophical outlook in the context of development of
the area.

Thus the traditional concept of an imported university will never
adequately meet the needs of a developing nation.

The university in a developing country must be comprehensive. This
means that it must provide education, training, and, in a large sense,
opportunity related to every aspect of national life and human activity.
This comprehensiveness should permit it to develop programs which
do not necessarily fit into standard university curricula but will help
to supply development needs. It must also live in the future as well
as the present. It should support continuing enquiry and research in
the economic, social and human problems in the world of tomorrow as
a basis for planning and revision of its programs of study. It should
not feel obligated to restrict its research activities to the subjects of
its curriculum nor vice versa, to restrict its teachings to the fields in
which it conducts research.

The university in a developing country must act as a single, cohesive,
multipurpose agency, fully related to those aspects of the national
development plan which require expertise, or the recruitment and
development of trained manpower at all levels.

In terms of its broad mission the university must promote social
mobility by enlarging the base of intermediate-level education upon
which effective higher education must rest. This must include the
establishment or support of programs of technical and vocational
education, teacher training and adult education, including basic general
education and inservice occupational training.

Every new nation is entering a world in which technology is not
only advanced, but still advancing. Thus the universities in these
countries must not only teach basic sciences, but must also be concerned
with the understanding and application of technology.

The university must also possess resources that can be applied to
the identification and initial development of marketable ideas and pro-
ducts which in a more highly developed economy would have been the
concern of a foundation or private enterprise. The university must
develop its program in harmony with the requirements of its nation.


Universities in developing nations must exert far greater influence
on the development processes of their nation. Unfortunately, neither
the universities themselves nor the political leadership of these nations
have shown understanding of the contributions which universities can
make in the process. This is due to the fact that national development
is a political problem, and hence the role of the university must be
determined by its political interaction with the national leadership.
This political interaction has been limited by a conception that the
university exists to make its contribution to national progress only by
training the senior cadres of the nations.

The effectiveness of universities in new and developing countries
will be fostered by the existence of an informed and favourable public
opinion. Such public opinion will be enjoyed only to the extent that
it serves national progress and welfare. Academic freedom which is
indispensable to universities depends upon public opinion, and is a
necessary condition for effective teaching and research. Except under
dictatorial conditions, the probability of academic freedom of universities
is enhanced by the quality of its intellectual performance. It is there-
fore necessary that universities exert their influence on public opinion
by development of effective public relations.

The very idea that the universities should participate directly in
reshaping of society violates many of our customary conceptions of the
university. It carries with it the danger that the end result will be the
complete negation of the three-fold function of the university: the
teaching and research functions may become wholly subordinated to
the service function. This itself could easily be narrowed down to
short sighted profit making schemes which may appear very complex
and sophisticated on the surface.

The university has a primary responsibility to understand what
happens around it, and a unique opportunity to initiate action towards
more equitable and dynamic human relationships in society. It must
avoid both removal from and absorption by society, but remaining
always in tension and dialogue with it. Otherwise, it will discover that
radical socio-economic changes have permeated its life, and irretrievably
altered its character, role and ultimate significance.

The central question confronting it is: should it forego over-
involvement in direct social service, confining itself to its more tradi-
tional role and leaving the social service function to independent and
government agencies; or should it reorganise itself by systematically
incorporating the emerging social service functions outside its scope,
determined at the same time to retain control over its own integrity
and quality?

In the year 2000, in any society, the role of the intellectual com-
munities will be extremely important both in the cool-headed work of
processing information and in the more heated operation of decision-
making. The life and work of university people will be of utmost
significance, both in meeting the heightened academic challenges of


tomorrow and in the search for a new style of being genuinely human
in the complex technopolls to come.



Bernard Ducret & Rafe-uz-Zaman, editors.
"The University today, its role and place in society. An international study," 1960.
World University Service, Switzerland.

2. Jean Joussellin, "A New University for a New World, 1967. World Alliance of

C. A. van Peursen, "The Future of the University," 1968. Student World, Vol. LXI,
No. 1, Serial No. 239, p. 2.

4. Eric Ashby, "The Future of the Nineteenth Century Idea of a University," 1967.
Minerva, Vol. VI, No. 1, p. 3.

5. The Second Conference of the Maarn Group on, "The role of Universities in Develop-
ment Assistance," 1967. Higher Education and Research in the Netherlands, Vol. XI,
No. 2.

6. J. F. Holleman, H. G. Quik, and G. Van der Steenhoven, "The University and the
developing countries. Some observations on the changing function of the university,"
1967. Higher Education and Research in the Netherlands, Vol. XI, No. 3, p. 21.

Book Reviews

Lerol Jones: Black Music (William Morrow & Company, Inc.) 221 pp.
$5.00 U.S.

HOW OFTEN do we stop to reflect that Jazz is one of the most
remarkable musical phenomena of our time? We live in a century that
has witnessed a cultural disintegration in which the musician, having
no national, literary or religious movement to follow, has been forced
to pursue his own private language, often to the point of incompre-
hensibility; jazz is the one music to have been inspired by a
corporate philosophy and a racial aspiration and to have been accepted
in almost every corner of the globe.

It abounds in ironies and paradoxes. The music of an alienated
race, it was born out of isolation and oppression only to be adopted as
a national music by the very people responsible for the conditions that
gave it birth. Its influence has been felt in almost every type of music,
both classical and popular, everywhere in the world; yet for all that,
in its authentic form it remains a minority taste and a specialised
language of expression.

The story is without parallel in the history of Western music.

During the three centuries preceding the abolition of slavery, more
than ten million Negroes were shipped out of Africa. All background
was blotted out, all ties were severed; nor did Emancipation remove a
legacy of isolation, poverty and neglect.

Music became a much-needed solace: the Spiritual in the religious
world, the Blues in the secular. And one of the most remarkable
features of the Spiritual and the Blues was the almost total absence
of resentment and vindictiveness against the white race. The Blues
spelt nostalgia, loneliness, sorrow; it represented a kind of detachment
from the outside world, a looking inwards, an obsession with a situation
into which one was born and from which one would be released only
by death.

Ragtime and Jazz were the instrumental developments of the
Spiritual and the Blues; and from 1915 onwards jazz, with its charac-
teristic form and style, became an established part of the Negro culture.

One of the unique things about Jazz was the bond of sympathy that
united the performer and the listener. Jazz, played by Negroes for
Negroes, expressed the mystique of the black man and his fierce com-
pulsion to affirm his identity in a society that sought to deny it. In an
all-night session in a back-street bar, a player could sob out his frustra-
tion in a language all his own and know that he would be understood.

A music as powerful as this could not long remain unknown. White
musicians were attracted by the instrumentation, the rhythm, the words,
the peculiar African "blues" flavour; but while many imitated and

others exploited it, none could ever surpass the Negro performing his
own music. (Ironically, many white musicians make their fortunes out
of it; most of the Negro exponents died in heartbreaking poverty and

As T-Bone Walker said: "The blues? Man, I didn't start playing
the Blues, ever. That was in me before I was born, and I've been play-
ing and living the Blues ever since. That's the way you've gotta play
them. You've got to live the blues blues is all in the way you
feel It." *

And herein lies the crux of Leroi Jones' Black Music. To Jones,
the only person who has been able to preserve jazz from "slipping
sterilely into the echo chambers of middle-brow American culture" i.
the Negro musician totally aware of his identity as a black man, and.
as such, the only person capable of expressing himself in "blues" and
therefore true Jazz idiom.

Furthermore Jones claims that, in the past, jazz has suffered rather
than benefited from its critics because so many of them were incapable
of understanding Black Music. Many critics were white and judged
jazz according to European values and "good taste"; others were Negro
but of the privileged black middle class to whom "jazz was collected
among the numerous skeletons kept locked in the closet of (their)
psyche, along with watermelons and gin.

For Jones, in assessing Jazz, it is the understanding of the attitude
behind the music that matters, not the way the music is made:

Ornette Coleman's screams and rants are only musical once
one understands the music his emotional attitude seeks to create.
This attitude is real, and perhaps the most singularly important
aspect of his music.

The notes mean something: and the something is, regardless
of the stylistic consideration, part of the black psyche as it
dictates the various forms of Negro culture.

It is the purity of jazz that Jones is most concerned with the
black purity that exists in the Blues, the only true Afro-American
music. In the past, swing, West Coast Jazz and hard-bop traditionalism
merely neutralised the African elements; it was left to be-bop and the
avant-garde represented by such names as Coltrane, Coleman and
Parker to show a new path and to preserve an uncompromising in-
tegrity towards the music. Making a living out of it was a secondary
Should we wish to see the result of Jones' insistence that an under-
standing of the attitude must precede an understanding of the music,
we have but to read his own writings on Jazz. Of a session in a cellar
in Newark: "(It makes) the heaviest emotional indentation be-
cause this music is closest to the actual soul-juice, cultural genius of

The Story of Jazz. Shapiro and Hentotl.

the new black feeling." Or: "In the beautiful writhe of the black
spirit-energy of sound the whole cellar was possessed and re-animated."

The book is a compilation of essays, reviews, interviews and gramo-
phone sleeve notes written by Jones between 1959 and 1967. Much of
it is now only of marginal interest, as much of it is of players who for
one reason and another just did not make the grade. Even so, it is a
living eight-year history of Jazz in America during a certain period; and
a living eight-year history of Jones' thinking, and his growing in-
tolerance of humbug, both black and white. As we reach the end of
the book the style becomes more elliptical, the vocabulary more intense
until the black consciousness becomes almost palpable in the exhaustive
final essay "The Changing Same (R & B and New Black Music)" written
in 1966.

It is a book that can be read on many levels. As jazz criticism it
is brilliant. Surely no one has better or more vividly described John
Coltrane's "Sheets of Sound" technique; and like all good criticism it
makes you want to rush to hear the music itself, with fresh ears. As
a catalyst to thinking, it is equally brilliant; for in describing the effect
of Black Music on the black man Leroi Jones has articulated the black
consciousness, exultantly. To many this will come as a sharp biting
shock to some bringing hope, to others dismay.

Not the least interesting is the way it introduces individuals who
represent a number of black attitudes: Sun-Ra the mystic; Don
Cherry, the dedicated artist; Archie Shepp, the liberal; Roy Haynes, the
conservative; Coltrane and Parker, who never say anything, except
through their music, but who personify the essence of black awareness.

But what is most significant of all is the way it brings to life the
single-mindedness and the disinterestedness in anything other than
pure expression that has informed so much of -this music and the people
who make it. Black Music never lets us forget that the Negro musician-
mystic personifies in his very disponibilitW much of the integrity that
the lesser jazz musician, both black and white, has so often sacrificed
tc greed and materialism.


Ghetto '68 Edited by Sol Battle. $2.30 U.S.A. Panther House, N.Y.C.
95 pages. Illustrated.

THERE ARE LIMITS to the importance of art or rather, there
are times when art is irrelevant. One does not dismiss an intended
suicide note because it is in bad prose. One only hopes it Is not too late.

The negro living in the middle of the 20th century approaches the
writings of other negroes in a state of urgency. This is so no matter


the difference in circumstances of writer and reader. All that is neces-
sary is that both be negroes.

In what follows I am not primarily concerned with discussing
whether the verse, prose and drawings that comprise "Ghetto '68" are
good in terms of aesthetic achievement. With the exception of the draw-
ings by Miguel Guzman, I do not think they are. But I am concerned
with reacting to this book as a negro and a West Indian (the two are
not synonymous) as much as with understanding both the failures and
the partial success it contains.

In a short introduction to "Ghetto '68", the editor/contributor,
whose name, Sol Battle, is as flamboyant as his episodic sketches,
writes with barely concealed pride: "The boundary between idea and
action is very finely drawn; the writer is a man of ideas and words
swept into a fast moving world in which the dominant theme is re-
bellion: rebellious ideas, rebellious acts. Several members of the Work-
shop were jailed during this year for their protests against the inhuman
acts of this society. The summer-still very hot-will undoubted be-
come a long hot winter in which the unrest of the times will ,continue."
This introduction to a book compiled from the work of the Workshop
sets its tone.

All the contributors share at least four experiences. They are
young, adolescent (the youngest is fifteen); they are "ghetto cats";
they are American negroes, which is 'almost the same thing; and they
are writers. These are four distinct kinds of suffering, and in the
writers of "Ghetto '68" they meet and heighten one another. These
are categories which, though autonomous, have a lot in common. To
begin with, the pain of adolescent doubt is not physical, and there-
fore 'tends to be overlooked. It is nonetheless very real. Being a writer
carries its own peculiar cross; and to be an Afro-American (far less
to live in a ghetto) is to be a sufferer. So the dominant experience
that the book offers is an unusual degree of pain.

But there is also an impetuousity. Any writer worth the name
takes chances. Much of his work is intuitive, and to follow one's in-
tuition in the 20th century (rather than one's reason). is automatically
to take a chance. The Afro-American and the ghetto dweller cannot but
take chances. They have nothing really to lose, and nothing to be
gained without risks. And taking chances is a vital part of adolescent
education. So the impetuousity of expression that characterises much
of the book would be misunderstood and underestimated if it were
judged to be due merely to the technical incompetence of the writers.
To say that a poem which ends "Now is the time to vomit/
is technically incompetent is to pass an equally incompetent and ludi-
crous judgement. The poem is out of control and the pressures that make
it "bolt" may well have been four strong. (In this case what is being

vomited is the poison of "whitey" but in other cases where a writer has
similarly panicked it would be a mistake to stress the racial impetus
behind its gesture to the exclusion of the others; try for example to
imagine an adult negro of Cleaver's age, even as militant as Cleaver,
writing those lines.) Suffering and a quality of recklessness: out of
these, separate or combined, released or refined and processed into
stances, come the poems and episodic sketches of "Ghetto '68"

So far my purpose has been chiefly to draw attention to the ex-
periences other than racial that modify and intensify the book's central
concern. But it must not be forgotten that this concern is with the
condition of the Afro-American. The book is in fact at one level a
testimonial, and at another a protracted metaphor for that condition.

It is impossible to imagine a collection of creative writing, compiled
from any other group of similar age in the Western World, where the
over-riding experience of young life has been so consistently and
stultifyingly painful. There is one conscious difference in the book,
and that is between the reactions of the young male land female writers
to life, but in both cases their responses are almost exclusively differ-
ent kinds of adaptation to suffering.

The young men respond predominantly with rage:


It can be more incoherent and despairing than that, too. "Oh trait-
ors, haters, you rats! You rats!/ You rats! You rats! You RATS !

It can topple further, to nihilism and emptiness:

Ha! Ha! Ha! Laugh now world!/ Life is a laugh/ a futile laugh,
for soon our sides are aching.

Or, controlled, turn into savage satire:

Her diet/ of western bowel movements has stripped/ her soul of
meaning-meaning to be white/ she plays the jive party scene
until the/ Bougaloo bacardi leaves her legs at right/ angles in the
back seat of Pachecos car/ contemplating the half-ASS orgasm/
She smells each finger, looking for a clue/ as she rides the subway
back to the/ root of the Problem.

It reappears as assertion rather than rejection in the worship of
Afro-American heroes and music:

Malcolm lives the positive image piercing BLACK BLOWS
So call me a slave of swinging jive/ it's my bread, it keeps
me alive

And the only poem about an animal (there is a conspicuous and loaded
absence of "nature and animal" poems in the anthology) is about a
panther, and ends, "Panther, panther, prince of terror/ proudest life
beneath the blue/ dashing freely through the jungle/ WHO can make
a slave of you?"

The young women and girls, on the other hand, react in a charac-
teristically feminine way. Hatred is not an emotion that comes easily
to the mothers of the race. But its absence leaves them unprotected,
and some give themselves over to gloom, and the deathwish:

Oh cry once more that God may hear of the pain/ that's in my
heart/ and as an act of mercy this hell/ he'll have me part.

Others surrender to an inertia that is not far removed from this.

Man is a beast, the/ world his jaws and/ women his meat. I sit
ready and silent/ waiting to be devoured.

And yet it is three poems, all by girls, that make the book finally
unforgettable. Blind hatred is isolationist by nature. No matter how
much one may identify with the "hater", thel effect of his hatred Is to
exclude you. This is particularly true if it is expressed in writing and
there is no chance of a personal relationship between writer and reader.
By the mere fact of not acknowledging that there Is anything or any-
one worthwhile around, the "hater" has dismissed you. Also, as a
West Indian, one has had far less of the kind of experience that make
the writers of "Ghetto '68" 'blow their cool' The imagination reaches
towards, but cannot sustain, that kind of rage, and the emotions,
retreating, end in a state of disbelief.

It is the innocence of three poems (wholly startling by comparison
with the violent mood of the book) too precise to be called naive that
slams into focus the horror that the book is undoubtedly meant to
convey. All are written by girls.

He is beautiful and I do love him
and feel as close to him as the
earth is to the sea

It is these lines (and a few others) that, surrounded like a sandspit
by a violent sea of rage, sparkle suddenly with humanity. It is they
that lay the book, and the Afro-American scene it encapsulates, open
to tragedy. Purity, idealism, love. The best of youth. These are what
are at stake. These the Negro American male has already had (at least
temporarily) to abandon, to "meet fire with fire". The real danger of

white racism is the reciprocal toll of the human spirit it will eventually

One's final response on putting down "Ghetto '68" is of yes,
rage. For this the editor must thank his least militant contributors.
Nellie Holloway's poem, "A Place" is worth quoting in full:

The silence of the beach swept on
on the shoreline.

And I sat there thinking if I
could find a place,

But my thoughts were cut short
when some children
ran along the beach, crying

"Get off our beach,

How abruptly this poem has been strangled! It does not end. It has
been stopped.

But a poem is a last resort. And the beach is the end of the land.
And when both are denied to a child, it is getting very late.


Ted Joans: Black Pow-Wow Published Hill and Wang, New York,
$1.95 U.S. 130 pp.

IN THE WEST INDIES now-certainly here on the Mona campus-
fundamental questions are being asked about the kind and degree of
commitment each person owes. The questions underlie recent dis-
cussions in the Arts. The author who claims to have any feeling for
the underprivileged is invited to use his talents for social or political
polemic, for "revolutionary art". In such a context the artist who
chooses primarily to explore the personal consciousness is seen as self-
indulgent, as irrelevant or worse; unless that journey into the self
produces material which will also serve propagandist purposes. In the
developing orthodoxy the black writer is required to wipe out from
his consciousness the white models of his largely European education,
and to turn directly to The People for his language and his form. The
obliquities of subtle intelligence must be replaced by a new directness,
by perceptions obvious enough to be immediately and widely shared.

Against this background it is fascinating to read a book of jazz
poems by a black American, Ted Joans. Black poets, he tells us, no
longer "write in code or metaphor"; and Joans sees poetry as a kind
of weapon.

some of THEM fear Black poetswords now that Blackpoets
don't write in code or metaphor
Blackpoets who imitated whitepoets from SHAKESPEARE to
thus deny their own Blackfolklore
now the whites have reason to get UPTIGHT and some of
when a BLACKPOET screams or whispers those TWO
beautiful words BLACKPOWER !

Ted Joans' jazz poems are written to a propagandist two-part
programme. He recognizes that cursing whites is not enough ("all that
wont stop a Honky heart"); it is necessary also to praise blacks:

We must write poems black brothers about our own black relations
We must fall in love and glorify our beautiful black nation
We must create black images give the world
a black education

His "black education" will not even claim to foster an impartial critical
intelligence or teach sensitive awareness of all experience; his "black
education" will teach black people to be proud of being black.

Something of the kind is not only useful but necessary in the West
Indies as in the U.S.A. We need to eradicate black self-contempt.
But a propagandist programme-of whatever kind, of whatever
usefulness-weakens the possible impact of art by making it predict-
able once the programme is known. Basically, Joans' verse does not
discover, it illustrates; it is craft in the service of blackthink. The
poems are undoubtedly useful: like good posters or a sound-address
system, they amplify The Message (down for whites, up for blacks,
we dig women and jazz) Although Joans can write:

They ask: what is Africa like? I tell them: Africa is like me!
Black/Big/Complex/creative / magic / undeveloped wealth / and not
yet free

he does not allow himself to probe what it may mean to be "complex",
he does not worry that part of the reason he is "not yet free" is that
his art is imprisoned in a propagandist programme. Yet if we are
(in another poem) to

be natural
stay natural swing natural think natural
and for black god's sake act natural

then, presumably, poems will get produced which complicate or reject
black party-line in the personal process of acting natural. A few
surrealist and a few sexual poems seem the limit of Joans' self-in-

dulgence. To concentrate on the personal and the complexities of
the individual consciousness would be, in Joans' apparent scheme, to
direct to the human condition attention disloyally diverted from the
black or Third World struggle:

this poem is
not sitting on whitey's knee or an individual fence.

To whom or what does the individual owe primary commitment?
Not, in Joans' view, to the truth as he sees it, not to his personal
vision. He must never rock the boat-not the black boat:


Apply that attitude to the artist, and in a society in which white
people may read his work he must never seem to criticise black wrongs.

Joans' commitment to the black struggle seems at times soft-headed
He writes, for example, of his white friends:


(And who will recognize his friends?) There is no clue to intentional
irony. Joans seems not to have recognized that some of his individual
affections are in necessary conflict with the programme to which he
is committed.

Most of the persons in Black Pow-Wow are worth hearing. Hearing,
for mostly they seem to be written for that; and Joans "has recited
his poems in Greenwich Village coffee houses and in the middle of
the Sahara Desert". In spite of the emphatic typographical variety,
few of the poems repay repeated close attention, though some of them
are set out to suggest the movement of jazz rhythms. (One example


a poem that works on the page would be "Passed on Blues: Homage to
a Poet", where the language is packed tight.) Throughout the book Joans
offers a compelling flow of black humour. We can hear the performing
voice cracking its half-serious jokes:

Eeny Meeny Minee Mo
Catch Whitey By His Throat
If He Says Nigger CUT IT!!