wu WANT OUR PEOPLE TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES AR VBF
VoL I No. 10 April 5,1969
WHO WAS A DRUM
What can we do
in this agony.
In this waiting silence
this tight beginning
for another generation
What but Love
and to love is a violence.
Love is a violent understanding.
You heard -
and your birthright of terror -
and you named the names
of love, involvement, of commitment
from the chaos.
You, shaped love
with both hands
black, and white
a violent love of understanding.
of a tom spirit
and always the quick shy laughter
the gaiety of being
the explosion of angered loving.
Love, to be a drum,
and love, is a violent dying.
With a mouth
in its beginnings
its trembling certainty,
a mouth that stamped you man
in this three-fingered world
a mouth that stamped you black
in the divisions
in the shattered concepts of your
accident of birth,
from the grey schizoid murder.
"1 have left love
a white woman understanding,
my wife, my woman
A curly-headed mile-like elfin child.
Will THEY find hope?
In this three-fingered existence.
I have left
and the uncertainties,
the certain tendrils
of men, capable of loving.
Walk Good -
In peace. In Love
In the drum track of Hope."
THERE IS NO
But my people
that the hot
day will he over
that the star
the flamboyant car
ias that rots
in the road
in the gutter
in the butter-
flies of a new
that whip rope
laih, brave boast
like the bare
of this cold
and alien morning
from the trees
in the dawn
in the morn-
opens a crack
Shatter the door
in the morning
of the future to come?
k L Brathwai-e
from fpilogue o Rights of Passage
emPenim r lis Irot er
nimbh ^i4s 3$ntl4rr
II I -rL ,, I
I I II '-
S.. AS I KNEW HIM
certainn questions naurnlly arose in our marriage
I am white. Denis wan nearly white. Our daughter
is blond and blue eyed Yet Denis worked for Abeng.
and I helped him
The other night at an Abeng Assembly. Denis got
up to speak nod vices said. "Who is he to call us
Brother and Sinters'' Other voices said "'I not
uhite or black. is white minded or black minded."
Thi rs one answer, hut there are other les comfort
mng ansm er which Denis had to face. Suppose it
turned out to be actually whether you are white
C(ecn brown) or black Suppose the Jamacan black
people, angry at substantial white ownership of a
,ubstntially black society, rejected this ownership
a biing )et another manifestation of white racism
and answered with black racism, what then" Would
Denis withdraw from such a nmwement since after
all, when the dan came, hi' neck would get chopped
along with mine" No. he would not withdraw. He
felt that here s a stage people have to go through
If the stage includes a black racism to answer white
racism then that's the way it has to be He always
said there are two things anyone can do in thi situa-
tion supprrs blacks by force. like during the Paul
Bogle rebellion. that i submerge their hate witi fear.
this will last for some time, then there will be a
resurgence of hate. If you feel brutal suppression is
unjust then whatever colour toupre you must look
for another answer whikh includes bringing the reality
of hate into the open. airing the issues and proceed-
ing from there If push come to shove and it needed
'black ranim to release the energy that would purge
white racism then he wouldn't shrink And if that
imnoled loning his own head because he looked white
then he wouldn't shrink either The thing that he felt
must come at any cost was radical change. If black
railm %an the only wa) to change, then so be it he
would haie to walk that road.
tr the same time he worked until four o'clock
eier morning for Abeng. because he felt that it was
the best hope for averting chaos Mans middle class
men in Jamaica know that something urgent has to
he done. but the solutions they usually support are
compromise solution that are not effective They
plain ball with this or that 'ested interest and this
qualifies their commitment waters it down so that
the solutions proposed are not solutions Thev have
this or that marginal effect but change nothing central
Iems was absolutely committed He was aware that
Abeng sometimes sounded racist but felt that this
reflected a mood in the country, and that this mood
had to be expressed and directed towards larger more
relevant ends-the liberation of a black country from
white power e o r w as not a racist, but as impatient
with the man uho would see black racism and be
blind o the white racism that provoked it. The words
'black and 'white kept coming up with him because
he rejected the argument that the ownership pattern
in Jamaica had nothing to do with colour. Bv and
... AS A LAWYER
Denis Slol. the Lawyer, had a
deliberate and emphatic way of
;peaking. but when he spoke he left
to doubt about what he was saying
His manner of speaking characteri-
.d the thoroughness and energy he
Brought to his work. his passion for
details and his anxiety to get to the
substance of the problems which
When Denis began his practice as
i Barrister in Jamaica he occupied
the room next to mine and I got to
understand his perception of the
function of the Law in a society
such as our is He was one of the
fe practising Lawyers who accept-
ed the notion that a lawyer's respon-
sibilities were not merely to his
clients but that he owed a larger
obligation to the society as a whole
He undetrusod and accepted that
part of hn responsibility was to pur
we juattce. equality and dignity fur
all human being, and it ua, his
acceptance of this responibility
which guided his work as a founding
member and Secretary fd the lam-
s (Counoil for Human Rights
But Denis came to understaica
the limitations of the Law in the TO ABENG SUNDAY
pursuit of justice and it was this March 30,1969.
understanding of the difference bet- Profound shock at our los
ween legal and social justice that of Denis STOP You all know
deepened his interest in politics. ho td h
Indeed it was only the day before h temy dedicted he as
he died that we discussed together to the struggle to return our
the extent to which the ideals and country from the hands of for-
moral values of the Law are being eign white capitalists to owner-
viol 1.t ,d ship and control by our own
If he had lived he would have people STOP In my view he
continued to work for a more just was one of the most dedicated of
and human social and legal order
The legal profession will miss him generation of men t that
for his fearlessness in all the task case to undo the sell out of our
he undertook and in particular the country by past and passing
defenceof the poor and dispossessed t generations of our political
He will be missed for his thorough- leaders STOP The movement can
ness, determination and the cheer hardly affod to lose Ga with
fulness of his relationship with his
colleagues. We will long remember such-eer brilliance nd
his sincerity and integrity. tapacty for hard work STOP
The young man with that lively Pass regrets to Cherry I feel sure
bounce in his walk and ahat large she is capable af withstanding
canvas bag full of papers and file this terrible blow STOP Will
made his mark on the practice of lrturn oon,
. Uaw in Jam.ica GEORGE BECDFORO
Part of Spain, Trinidad
il it.ll 11s t1
"This wa Felon: a mano thought and t Mn
of action. A ane of action anid a man of faith
one who truntendidd at one, like an inptufart
rush forward, the antimonies of the mndwe n
world in which so many are engulfed. There
are livne with qatlitute appeals to live- ."
large, big money in this country bauxite, tourism.
aigar. banking, insurance is owned by expatriates
and local whites.
But apart from all historical considerations, Denis
felt chat in a world where colour is an important
factor, white ownership of a black society is ludicrous
and psychologically damaging. It results in an inferior
ity that can only be changed by ownership They
must be owners. not merely overseer However in
the 20th Century it is in practice impo'rible for black
individuals or groups to find the money to take over
bauxite, sugar, or tourism. no this must be done by
the country as a whole, and to do this the anti-black
pwchology which teaches that anything blacks touch
will crash must be destroyed
This is the destructivelconstructive task that Abeng
has set itself. Denis felt that this paper could become
an important force in Jamaica, uniting all men in pur-
suit of black emancipation.
But there are of course penalties in working for
Abeng, and in our society you have to think twice
before blowing this particular horn. Probably the
central question that people like Denis face, is the
conflict of fear (plus family loyalty) and conscience.
The feeling of many middle class people is that they
are not oppressed, and it's the people who are oppress-
ed who must fight. Denis rejected thi. He felt no fear
and committed his life.
Other problems, of course, then ane. You face. for
example, the need to do your job as a Lawyer, as well
as your job for your country, and the only answer is
to work day and night. Denis went to work every
dav. then did work for the Jamaica Council for Human
Rights and made whatever trips were necessary to the
Abeng office, to deal with a hundred-and-one things-
the finances, the cartoons, the weekly press of dead-
lines. delivering the paper. What happened in fact was
thathewas working until four o'clock in the morning.
and it made him irritable, and often hard to live wit'l.
If you told him no man could keep on at this pitch,
he'd say that if Abeng failed, the chance it is giving
Jamaica wouldn't come again in fifteen or twenty
What chance is it giving Jamaica? Some people say
it distorts news. gives it a racial slant. There was that
picture of a black man carrying a fat white tourist
on his shoulder. Wasn't this running down tourism
which provides us with a livelihood? Denis argued that
Abeng isn't against a tourist industry, but such an
industry should not be run in a manner which involves
It was not Denis' belief, or Abeng's belief, that
there should be a racist revolution. (This m ight simply
end up in a black dictator acting as overseer to invis-
ible white interests. ) Abeng, by reflecting and defniing
black anger, is more likely to heal than to harm. If
this anger is not expressed, not defined not explained-
this is the real danger. And he worked against it every
hour ofhislife. CiLRRY
". And if you knew him you would know
why we must honour him; Malcolm was our
manhood, our living, black manhood! This was
his meaning to his people. And, in honoring
him, we honour the best in ourselves. .And
we will know him then for what he was and
is a Prince our own black shining Prince! -
who didn't hesitate to die, because he loved u$
so." OSSIE DAVIS
... AS A FIGHTER FOR RIGHTS
On Sunday morning at about 9:30 my telephone
rang. It was Denis Sloly. "I don't suppose I need to
remind you of the meeting this morning?" he asked.
I told him no and we arranged to meet at the Extra-
Mural Centre at 10:15 for the meeting which was
scheduled for 10:30.
I arrived at the Centre about 3 minutes before
Denis and was still in my car when he drove up. "Why
have you removed your Abeng sticker" he enquired.
(The sticker on my left rear window had been torn
offby my young son.) I knew why he asked the ques-
tion and explained how it came to be removed, at the
same time pointing out that the sticker on the right
window was still intact.
We went into the Centre, Denis, Cherrie, his wife,
and I. He left to collect some papers at his office.
It was then that it happened.
DenisSloly was flrst and last, a truly decent human
being. A sensitive, compassionate person, he was
deeply moved by- human suffering and angered by
man's injustice to man. He was one of the main
organisers on the Steering Committee which planned
and established the Jamaica Council for Human Rights
and, in December 1967 when the Council was launch-
ed after 3 months of preparation, Denis accepted the
onerous position of Secretary. Immediately he flung
himself into the task with the real and sincerity that
can only be appreciated by those of us who have had
the privilege to work with him.
He was the very heart of the organisation and it
is to his untiring and dedicated work that the Council
has managed to grow and thrive. With a meticulous
eye for organisational detail and a severe self-discip-
line Denis Sloly performed, often singlehandedly,
the tedious but essential tasks of peparing notices
of meetings, contacting members, handling corres
pondehce, drafting stencilling and circulating minutes
etc. Along with this and a growing practice at the Bar,
Sloly was involved in the work of each of the four
subcommittees of the Council, including the drafting
of .statements, fund-raising and investigating and
receiving reports of individual cases of infringements
of Human Rights,
His energy seemed inexhaustable and he was never
too burdened or busy to tackle some new task or
assume additional responsibility.
It would be a mistake to conclude, however, that
Denis Sloly's contribution to Human Rights in Jam-
aica was in any way tied to the energy and efficiency
with which he carried out his functions as Secretary
of the Council for Human Rights. His real contribution
in my view, was in the sort of person he was and the
things he stood for. Denis was one of those rare
persons for whom there were no social or racial
Born in privileged circumstances he moved as
freely and uninhibitedly with his black brothers and
'sufferer' friends as with his privileged friends and
acquaintances. It was impossible to pin on Sloly any
sort of ideological label. The source of his commit-
ment was his profound involvement in mankind and
his respect for the individual person. His sincerity was
immediately and instinctively recognised by sufferers
and privileged alike.
Denis was accepted as a brother by all the black
sufferers who knew him and by this fact demonstrated
that social barriers only exist for those who make
them. Equally significant he demonstrated that the
racial prejudices which exist in this country are the
creation of the white and light-skinned privileged
classes. The realization of this fact deepened and re-
enforced Denis' commitment to the task of creating
a just and equal social order.
His life, so tragically short, enriched the lives of
all it touched. His death creates a void that will not
easily be filled; but filled it must be by those of us
who are committed to the same ideals.
The struele against Colonialism
is nothing if not comprehensive
her are no clearly marked lines
of battle It is as much a struggle
against organized repressive violence.
organized exploitation, the organize
ed creation of mental disorders, as it
is against organized neglect. The
brother who internalizes his prob
lem into an ulcer of his entrails,
the sister who suffers a miscarriage
because of poor pre-natal care, the
accident which occurs because clear
white lines are not drawn, and
corners remain blind, are the daily
anguish of the sufferers In the
struggle of liberation the neglect of
people is as much the enemy as
anything else. Thus it must be that
the scream of the nightmare, the
hunger pang, the zing of the machete
merge with the staccato chorus of
the machine gun and the punctuat-
ing boom of Imperialism's cannon.
The battle is everywhere. When
a brother dies in his land at a time
when foreign troops. foreign bases
and foreign capitalists are there he
has not died in a tourist's paradise
(Come to Jamaica and see the
natives. The crunch of steel, the
scream of tyres and the smell of
burning rubber herald a sacrifice to
organized neglect And if this does
nor lift the level of consciousness
then the sacrifice would have been
in vain! The brother would not
have passed on his weapons of
moments of remembrance let us
with optimism in the future,
optimism in the final victory of
say to Che and to the heroes
Died with him: Even onward
of the next Lumumba. There is in
rented by certain men. It is this
rialism, which is at issue. Let us be
,9 m alt i
Pd9 a< *.Cff/
Denis Sloly was a "white man"
from St. Andrew who found hs way
into activity through which hevould
ground with black people in Jamaica.
The ABENG newspaper was the
bridge which made this possible.
Like so many other St. Andrew
people who have attended privileged
schoolsand Universities which teach
racialism, he was at first genuinely
afraid of the blacks and was aware
of the social explosion presently
On Wednesday night, March 26,
an ABENG Assembly was held to
discuss the paper. Rastafarians, you-
th, some of whom would face
"Judge Dread" in court the next
day, had come. They had developed
a very keen sense of security from
their everyday experience and knew
when a man was with them, whe-
ther he was a security man or a
policeman in plain clothes; and the
reaction to any discovery of this
nature was violent. They shouted
ata black man whom they recogniz-
ed as a security agent to get out.
This has a lot to do with Sloly.
He is seen in this society as a Jam-
aica white man, yet he was very
intimately involved with a black
man's newspaper. The night of the
ABENG Assembly at the Extra-
Mural Centre Sloly got up to talk
before an audience which could
wreck him if they ever misunder-
stood what he was contributing to
this new experience. When Sloly
was introduced one felt many people
saving, "look how red man capture
everything." He had expected this.
Nevertheless he wouldn't apologize
for it but got up and addressed the
brothers and sisters as brotherr and
sisters" and there was a ripple of
ridicule at this Jamaica white man
calling them brothers and sisters.
He went on to tell them about a
most important aspect of the news-
paper, that of distribution. By the
activity he was engaged in and his
public identification with it he was
accepted on faith by the black
brothers and sisters. This, too was
his own faith, faith in all black
S!oly was a St..Andrew man who did and proved the possibility of
turning toward the creativity that the forces of suffering can
He did not explain away suffering to himself and set his sights on
Stony Hill. In hus activity he saw that though powerful forces main-
tained oppression, in the final analysis these conditions were man-
made and therefore subject to reversal by human determination
And quite apart from his sensitivity to suffering thus was wha
distinguished Sloly from his class and even from uis colleagues ;,
Abeng-his understanding that human determination expressed m
minute attention to organizational detail not consciousness nor
commitments alone-could move the society forward.
Even to build a small paper meant the performance of several
tasks by a few men. Ihji ou!i r: a ,!; I, i om men oulJ --ld
called upon to do things the\ did not pit iarl hike doin. i li-
meant that though each man had a rak iint division of labour lad
to be an aid and not a brake on etticiencs So that if for some reason
aman did not do his parult 1i1) -i u TI 1- i l have to help, in. :,.
So that he was in collage iof risiti inoncy l e dii nt, it.
task. Yet because of lls peiirlloine, Abeng is now ;-it ui
Jamaica. At the same time he told men what the Law was and what
could and could not go in the paper. This too was not pleasant for
he recognised that sometimes telling the truth was in the last analysis
more important than breaking the Law. But not at this stage the
main thing was for the paper to survive against enemies who Iboked
for every opportunity to strike it down. The same man emptied
office waste after our meetings and sought out his brothers to disc;:
politics and the place of an individual such as himself in a pap,
which must sink its roots among the black masses but as an org,,
ization man he set the pace for the brothers. He held ne line in .
own boisterous well-meaning way against complacency. It was not
enough to decide generally that a thing must be done. Who would do
it? When? How? Are you sure?
These were Sloly's questions. The man proved that though social
conditions make men,it is possible lor men to break away to hchave
in a way which must inevitably manslr social conditions.
s a man who was blessed
rgy, silly like many of us,
most of us His integrity
his devotion to his work
rebuke to those whose
to carp, complain and wait
I better times."
ncnonpc I AuiMura
ol N 10 April 1
Vol. 1 No.10 April5,1968
From a long period of little or no activity we arise
again with determination to place ourselves in politics
and commerce, in arts and science. We want our people
to think for themselves. JUST HERE WE MUSTBEGIN.
Nobody can do our thinking for us. Other peoples think
for us and WE WORK FOR THEM. WE ARE EXPLOIT-
ED. This must cease. Let us pause and assimilate this.
Let us think for ourselves and work for ourselves. In no
other way can we be self-respecting and respected.
This attitude does not deny the rights and privileges of
others, it only claims our own. We naturally want to
HAVE things but we must BE before we can have. We
hope, then, to be worthy and so to have and to enjoy
liberty and luxuries equally with other peoples. We bear no enmity
but brook no interference in working out a policy which is found
good enough for other peoples and groups.
"A new day has arrived for our people in Jamaica, in the
West Indies, in West Africa, in every place where we dwell by our-
selves or with other communities. No longer do we mourn in sorrow,
the grave is empty and we have arisen to a new life. Forgetting
things behind, one thing we do, we press forward to our place of
honour and dignity among the. nations regardless of what others
"Let Easter impress our people with hope, faith, triumph
and victory. Let us go forward to our resurrection glory more
eductaion, more knowledge, more money; more wealth, more refine-
ment. Laying aside the grave-clothes of ignorance, indolence, super
stition and cringing fear let us arise into the new life to which we are
called. OUR EASTER HAS COME
"The Blackrma '
Saturda). March 30, 1929 IS t i r
"We have FOUND OURSELVES at last. and at last have
decided to be masters of our fate, and our fate shall lead nowhere
but to Africa's Redemption and an Emancipated Race "
Sunday, March 24, 1929
(Names and addresses given in the 1 l
original report have been omitted.) JlRE P
To: ABENG Distribution Committee
Report re MoBay Distribution Issue No. 8 21/3/69
400 copies taken 222 distributed, 178 returned.
Names and addresses of contacts given by Committee all followed up.
Contact made with the following:-
I. D.R. (for address and information about how to find house see
A good contact young, intelligent seems committed and willing
to do a lot of work Informs me that he has formed a "group". Gave
him names and addresses of other distribution contacts in MoBay
and asked him to cooperate with them. Also gave him R's address
and 'phone number and D. Sloly's address and 'phone number.
He is expecting more copies next week and if none arrive by
Saturday he will start phoning Kingston!
Virtually no feed back because he had seen only about 2 of the
previous issues. Gave him I copy of each because of extraordinary
interest and enthusiasm shown.
Gave him 30 copies only of No. 8 (quantity suggested by him.)
2 AB. (o/ C). Proprietor of a shop at "Y" Street.
'Y" Street starts at North Gully. First part is recognizable part
ol iity sizeable buildings on both 'ides Market place or Taxi
si:lnd or Bus Terminus in middle (didn't observe closely). C.B. lives
ni an extension of this which is haralt uersrving o in e ut Iret
it is in fact a reasonably wide gutter with shacks on either side a .;rY
depressing slum a stone's throw from the heart of MoBay's tourist
Yiung men in area-(many wearing black power necklaces) all
ser,-.. tough. bitter, angry ony ceased to be hostile when discover-
ed we distributing Abeng One of boys offered to be our distributor
in a., called "Don" I told him to take some from B.
b. .as only decent building in area. 2 storeys shop (grocery) at
bottom also mattres making business .
He returned 88 copies of aIue No. I and 98 copies of Issue No. 2.
He was very vague about it but seems to have been given 200 of each
Issue and sold virtually none-the extra 100 of each Issue were sent
to "Don" (he says) and he doesn't believe that more than 8 or so
have been sold up there.
Part of his feeble explanation for thi was that he had been given
no information about commission (or anything definite) and there
fore did not feel he could ask the young men to sell it.
I told him to take 25% commission and gave hin 30 copies of
Issue No. 8 and told him not to return any unsold. B didn't want
back copies at all. He is expecting someone next week.
Introduced to Abeng by me. Very keen. entertainer by profession
therefore works at nights and has much time during day.
"R.S." is in his group. "M" took only 10 copies (quantity suggest-
ed by me) Issue No. 8. Showed so much interest I gave him a copy
of each of the previous issues.
4. N.P., L.P.
No contact made with either but left 150 copies at home. Middle-
class house-friends of R..Also left I copy of each of the previous
Contact made with N's wife-left her with list of names and add-
resses of other distribution contacts in MoBay and asked her to telI
"N" to make contact with them.
If all else fails, copies can be sent to "L" each week by plane
early Friday morning and "N" or "L" can pass on to other distribut-
ors, collect money and send to us by Registered post along with a
written report. N's house hard to find. I had to get coude map from
L's friend at airport. Can only remember that it is a new house over-
looking the Housing Scheme. Am also told that house is near Radio
or TV relay station-if that is any help, I believe if you follow the
main road and then go towards the Housing Scheme but keep left
instead of turning into the Scheme you will come to the house. It is
one of two built close together and is on a hill side-houses lower
Student- given copies of Issues 3 & 4 by "Scree" and of Issues I,
2. 5 and 6 by me. None of No. 8 left when he came.
Contact made at Abeng office in Kingston.
Gave him names and addresses of other MoBay contacts-and
told him to cooperate with them.
He is now on vacation and will be coming into Kingston each
week. For the time being he can do the MoBay route IF he proves
reliable and IF it can be arranged. He seemed reluctant to give me
his MoBay address- just said he would be back next week and could
be contacted at...
No contact made with L.C.-S.T tells me "C" lives at. .in
MoBay. "C" I discovered, now works with. .but was not there
when 1 went. I told them to tell him I had called about "ABENG"
they knew the name! Didn't think wise to leave copies there.
My cousin "M". who took me around to all these places has
offered to help show the distribution man how to find them next
week. "M" works with .in MoBay. He is not exactly "committed"
tin fact called the paper "stupid" and gave out very reactionary
sounds) but after we had finished making the rounds he asked for
a copy of each of the back issues. He seems to know almost everyone
in MoBay. .
He seems willing to help. I leave it to the distribution men to
decide whether to follow it up.
K.L,, X Street- not found. Address unknown.
We know that he is black but some of us do not believe so.
They do not think because he has come from the oppressive
society that he would be able to shoulder the responsibility of
playing an important part in the struggle. However I personally
believe that those calculations are wrong but one could not say
that a sufferer who speaks a style against these individuals
should never do so. They should only study to find the reasons
why they speak like that.
If they take it into consideration and try to find the reason.
the persons who also have been criticised would have to give
and take with the individual who has carried out these jeerings.
On the other hand the system of slavery, colonialism, and
now neocolonialism are three of the same kind of system
which really oppress the people and keep them in that degraded
So even if one has come from the oppressor class and is
willing to offer any form of assistance, for the sufferers at
that time may not have the necessary ability, we have to take
into consideration the building of the struggle.
Now that Brother Sloly has met in such a tragedy from the
suffering ranks who come to criticise, there is not one who can
come to fulfil his duty and this is what is important. The man
who can fulfi his duty you have to give him a chance. And
the chance to give him is to keenly observe is activity.