Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 History and life
 Neville Dawes 1926-1984: A...
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00044
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: August-October 1984
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00044
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
    History and life
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    Neville Dawes 1926-1984: A remembrance
        Page 64
    Back Cover
        Page 65
        Page 66
Full Text








~Y' .~
r: *.

Treasures of Jamaican Heritage


Institute of Jamaico

The anti-slavery medallion which became
the seal of the Society for the Gradual
Abolition of Slavery was produced in 1788 by
the first Josiah Wedgwood. Thousands of the
medallions were made and distributed among
the abolitionists.

A reproduction of the medallion appears on
the mug which was presented to the Jamaican
government in 1975 by the chairman and
directors of Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd.
of Borlaston, Staffordshire, England. This
reproduction was hand ornamented onto the
mug of Wedgwood pale blue and jasper
white, as was the Jamaican coat-of-arms. Also
appearing on the mug are the names of five
national heroes of Jamaica inscribed in gold.

Jamaica Journal
is published on behalf of
the Institute of Jamaica
12 -16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica
by Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.

All correspondence should be addressed to
IOJ Publications Ltd.
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone (809) 92-94785/6

Olive Senior

Assistant Editor
Maxine Patricia McDonnough
Design and Production
Camille Parchment
Support Services
Faith Myers
Eton Anderson
Patsy Smith

Back issues: Most back issues are available.
List sent on request. Entire series available
on microfilm from University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, U.S.A.
Subscriptions: J$40 for four issues (in
Jamaica only); U.S.$15, U.K.10.
Retail single copy price: J$12 (in Jamaica
only); overseas U.S.$5 or U.K.3 post paid
surface mail.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in Jamaica
Journal are abstracted and indexed in
Historical Abstracts and America: History
and Life.

Vol.17 No3 Copyright 1984 by Institute
of Jamaica Publications Limited. Cover or
contents may not be reproduced in whole
or in part without prior written permission.

ISSN: 0021-4124

Herbie Gordon
COVER: The work of Afro-Jamaican potter
Ma Lou provides one tangible link with our
ancestral heritage to which we pay special
attention this year during the 150th anniver-
sary of the abolition of slavery.

VOL. 17 No. 3



150th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery 1834 -1984


by Swithin Wilmot


by Olive Lewin
by Adina Henry

by Jacqueline Morgan

by Roderick Ebanks

by Pat Green

by Sylvia Wynter


57 ART Review by Gloria Escoffery
62 BOOKS Review by Edward Baugh





The Ex-Slaves and

150th Anniversary of the Abolition
of Slavery 1834- 1984

Our special issue focuses on the
theme of abolition itself and the
controversial 'apprenticeship' period
in the first two articles. We then
take a more lighthearted look at
two cultural events associated with
the development of the Jamaican
peasantry once slavery ended; first the
introduction of the coin and the word
'quattie' which became so deeply
embedded in our folk consciousness;
secondly, the special acts of celebration
with which the ex-slaves greeted their
new state of freedom, especially
'bruckins' which is still danced today.
The articles on Small Settler Houses
and A fro-Jamaican Pottery examine
two aspects of the material culture
which are expressive of traditions which
evolved from the earliest days of slavery
and continued through the fusion of
cultures over succeeding centuries.
The A frican tradition is strongest in
the case of potter Ma Lou whose style
and techniques have been traced -
unchanged to the West African
village of her ancestors. Finally, the
second part of Sylvia Wynter's article
on Bartolome de Las Casas is a fitting
conclusion to this issue, for it examines
in detail the beginning of it all the
forces which ultimately led to the
introduction of African slaves into
Jamaica and the rest of the New World.

S n 1 August 1834, 311,070
slaves in Jamaica were set free.
However, the ImperialAbolition
Act made provision for a period of ap-
prenticeship which limited this new state
of freedom. This plan of apprenticeship
reflected an attempt at compromise
between the old institution of slavery
and full freedom. Although slavery had
been legally abolished, the ex-slaves
were still considered unfit to enjoy
immediate, unencumbered freedom.
The apprenticeship system was a transi-
tion period which required the Jamaican
apprentice to labour for his former own-
er for 40% hours per week. Praedial
apprentices, that is, ex-slaves who had
been directly involved in production on
the estates, were to be apprenticed for
six years. Non-praedials had to serve for
four years. Only children under six years
old on 1 August 1834 were granted un-
conditional freedom and could only be
employed if their mothers agreed. There
was also the provision for compulsory
manumission which enabled adult
apprentices to purchase their full free-
dom before the four or six years res-
pectively. Moreover, the disciplinary
powers of managers, overseers and book-
keepers were legally reduced to almost
nothing, and a newly created stipendiary
magistracy had exclusive jurisdiction
over disputes at the workplace.
Two contradictory views were pre-
sent at the outset of the apprenticeship
system. The humanitarians conceived
it as a transition period to smooth the
change from slavery to freedom, a period
of training for the slaves to prepare
them for the enjoyment of full and
equal citizenship. On the other hand,
the planters generally viewed the ap-
prenticeship as part of their compen-

station in addition to the -46,149,939
which they had received for the loss of
their property in slaves. The apprentices
had their own views as well. This
article will try to present these views by
looking at the actions of the apprentices
and their articulated positions. It will be
demonstrated that the apprentices were
not happy with the halfway compromise
of the apprenticeship system although
most accepted it generally without open
confrontation. There is evidence that in
two parishes, St. Thomas-in-the-Vale
and St. Ann, some of the apprentices
were insistent on enjoying an unrestrict-
ed measure of freedom and opposed the
introduction of the apprenticeship sys-

Collective Action

Elaborate preparations had been
made in St. Thomas-in-the-Vale to ex-
plain the features of the apprenticeship
system to the labourers. This parish was
near to the island capital of Spanish
Town where Governor Sligo had been
preparing Jamaica for the abolition of
slavery. With the assistance of mission-
aries and stipendiary magistrates, Sligo
had endeavoured to explain to the slaves
the necessity to continue working on
the estates once apprenticeship com-
menced on 1 August 1834. The pro-
prietors and magistrates in St. Thomas-
in-the-Vale supplemented these efforts.
On Wednesday 30 July 1834, they as-
sembled 250 of the 'most influential
slaves' from the several properties in
the parish at the court house at Rodney
Hall. The custos and other magistrates
explained the nature of the apprentice-
ship system and the legal obligation
of the slaves to continue working on


the Apprenticeship System in

Jamaica 1834-1838

By Swithin Wilmot

their respective properties once the
festivities marking the abolition of
slavery were over. The workers were in-
formed that work on the estates would
resume on Monday, 4 August.

However, the apprentices on Ginger
Hall, which was a few miles from Rodney
Hall and about 23 miles from Spanish
Town, were determined not to go along
with the apprenticeship system and the
explicit obligation to continue pro-
viding compulsory labour for their
former master. On 31 July they polite-
ly and resolutely informed Richard
Page, the proprietor of Ginger Hall,
that they would not work after 1 August
unless 'they received wages, to be paid
every evening'. Page tried to explain to
them that he was still entitled to their
labour for part of the week and they
would also be entitled to work for
wages in their free time. Nevertheless,
the workers insisted that . the King
had sent out their free, and they would
have it.'1 As far as the slaves on Ginger
Hall were concerned, freedom on the
first of August could only mean a radi-
cal reversal of the relationship between
them and their owner who now had to
purchase their labour. Clearly, these
workers believed that the apprentice-
ship system was a local 'set up' to pre-
vent them enjoying the full fruits of
their labour.
Once Page was convinced that there
was nothing he could do to impress
upon the workers the true meaning of
the apprenticeship system, he sent for
the stipendiary magistrate for the dis-
trict, James Clinch. Clinch was very
busy on other properties seeing to the
transition and was unable to visit Ginger
Hall before the afternoon of Saturday,


2 August. He met with the workers and
reiterated their obligations under the ap-
prenticeship system to provide their
employer with 40% hours of compul-
sory labour until the system ended in
1838 and 1840 respectively. Further-
more, Clinch warned them that they
would be punished if they persisted in
their 'insubordination'.
The labourers' response reflected the
extent to which they were unimpressed
by Clinch's dire warnings. The account
of an eye-witness tells the story:

They [the ex-slaves] then went up to
him [Clinch], in the most cool and

determined manner, and said they
would not work unless paid, nor would
they be apprentices. Fifteen men, one
after another, made this declaration,
and all would have done the same had
they not been interrupted by Mr.
Clinch. The women then came for-
ward in a body, and one of them made
the same declaration as the men, who
was evidently supported by all the
Indeed, Clinch had to invoke the name
of the King before he was able to restore
order as the workers became increasing-
ly restless at his efforts to ensure that
they agreed to resume compulsory
labour on 4 August. Even one of the
'head people' on the property refused to
be sworn in as a special constable as
Clinch had requested. This final state-
ment from one whom the proprietor
had trusted to influence the other
workers to abide by the terms of ap-
prenticeship, convinced Page and Clinch
that only force could compel the newly
freed workers on Ginger Hall to accept
their status as free men who were bound
to work for their former owner for
40/2 hours per week. Moreover, Clinch
was anxious to deal with what he con-
sidered a dangerously volatile situation
before the other properties resumed
work on Monday, 4 August. He left
Ginger Hall in the late afternoon on
Saturday 2 August, and rode 23 miles to
Spanish Town to inform Governor
Sligo of the determination of the
Ginger Hall workers not to serve their

Sligo all along had been convinced
that the real test for the apprenticeship
system would come on the first day that
the ex-slaves were expected to resume
labour on the estates. He had been im-
pressed by the widespread attendance

at divine services on the first of August,
and the orderly conduct that marked
celebrations after the services. However,
he was wary of what might take place
once the weekend had passed and the
ex-slaves found that the old estate
routine had not changed. If admoni-
tions from missionaries and magistrates
failed to get workers to accept their new
status as apprentices, then the police,
and if necessary, the military, were to
be used to ensure that on 4 August,
the traditional regime of estate labour
commenced. If the ex-slaves found it
difficult to understand the paradox that
freedom meant forced labour for part
of the week, then they would be forced
to accept it.
Thus, as soon as Sligo got word from
Clinch of the happenings on Ginger Hall
in the late afternoon of 2 August, the
governor ordered a reinforcement of
troops and police to march at once to
the property even though it was nearly
10 p.m. before they mustered. Sligo
gave strict orders that the ringleaders
should be surprised in their beds on the
early morning of 3 August, and be ar-
rested, tried and punished on Monday,
4 August.3 Despite his weariness, Clinch
led the reinforcements of police and
soldiers from Spanish Town to the
Hampshire Police Station, where they
linked up with the militia of St. Thomas-
in-the-Vale. There they divided into two
groups and took different routes to
Ginger Hall where they surrounded the
workers' living quarters at around 2.30
a.m. on 3 August. The surprised work-
ers offered no resistance and eight of
the leaders were arrested by the security
forces. One of the leaders of the 'free-
dom' movement on Ginger Hall had
spent the night elsewhere and thus elu-
ded the troops for a time. Undaunted
by the presence of the military and the
police, he tried to broaden support for
his arrested colleagues and fellow work-
ers. The troops soon tracked him down
and arrested him later on in the day at
Mount Pleasant where he was '. . in
the act of exciting the negroes of that
property to follow the example of those
at Ginger Hall'.4
The quick action of Sligo had caught
the potential revolutionaries in their
beds unprepared for the full weight of
the civil and military establishment.
However, the authorities were eager to
make an example of these men who had
refused to go along with apprentice-
ship and had won over the workers on
Ginger Hall and were trying to spread
their movement elsewhere. The nine

ringleaders were held in custody until
the following day, Monday 4 August,
the day that compulsory labour was to
start under apprenticeship. In keep-
ing with Sligo's orders that they be
immediately punished, they were tried
at the Rodney Hall Court House on 4
August. Two were sentenced to40 lashes
each and the other seven to 24 lashes
each. Then they were escorted by the
police and the militia to Ginger Hall
where they were publicly flogged.5
There could no longer be any doubt
in the apprentices' minds that indeed
the 'King's Law' required that they con-
tinue in limited bondage for four or
six years and the executive was deter-
mined to enforce such a law. The light-
ning strike of the security forces in the
early morning of 3 August 1834, abort-
ed whatever plans the workers on Ginger
Hall had had to strike on the following
day. Interestingly, the workers in St.
Thomas-in-the-Vale and the neighbour-
ing parish of St. John, were known for
the rest of apprenticeship for their stout
refusal to offer labour in their free time
for wages that quite often were higher
than what some apprentices had accept-
ed elsewhere. Also, the area experienced
very strained labour relations through-
out the apprenticeship system.6 Con-
fronted by the law and the troops, the
ex-slaves in that area performed their
compulsory labour grudgingly.

The proximity of Ginger Hall to
Spanish Town enabled the authorities
to stifle the workers' resistance to the
apprenticeship system. However, in the
case of the more distant parish of St.
Ann, the apprentices were able to effect
a strike until 9 August, before the arrival
of reinforcements from Spanish Town
coerced the freed workers to accept the
apprenticeship system.7 The most deter-
mined resistance was in the eastern dis-
tricts of the parish. On Monday 4 August,
the workers on Shaw Park, the residence
of Mr. Walker, one of the two parish re-
presentatives in the Assembly, initiated
the strike by demanding wages. When
Walker tried to remonstrate with them
and reminded them of the regulations
insisting on compulsory work under the
law, his workers retorted by threatening
him with their 'own law' and insisted
that they were free. On nearby proper-
ties in the Ocho Rios area, other work-
ers soon joined the strike. According to
a proprietor, the workers 'displayed a
determination not to work and flung
down their hoes and bills'.8
The employers on the affected pro-

perties summoned the police who puni-
shed some of the workers, either by
whipping or confinement. Yet, the
other workers refused to be cowed
back to work and the strike very quick-
ly gathered momentum on 5 and 6
August, spreading to such properties
as Annundale, Murphy Hill, Boyd,
Roaring River, Drax Hall, Seville, and
15 others. The magistrates summon-
ed the military stationed at St. Ann's
Bay and even when they flogged the men
and imprisoned the women, the strikers
refused to budge from their position.
On the afternoon of 6 August 1834, the
proprietor of Roaring River commented
as follows:
I have been harrassingly employed
since Monday evening, in my Magis-
terial duties in visiting the properties in
my immediate neighbourhood, accom-
panied by the Special Magistrate, Police
and Military. There is a complete spirit
of rebellion around me . the people
are extremely obstinate . . All the
people . have solemnly sworn that
they will not work any longer as THEY
This proprietor correctly recorded the
determination of the strikers but failed
to understand their true position. They
were not opposed to labour on the pro-
perties. What they were steadfast about
was that compulsory labour was incom-
patible with freedom. The newly freed
people of St. Ann had expected a more
fundamental change in their labour re-
lations than that which apprentice-
ship implemented. One of the military
who accompanied the magistrates to the
properties more accurately reflected the
position of the workers. While they
were willing to labour as free men for
wages, they swore that '. . they will
have their heads cut off, or be shot,
before they will be bound apprentices
. they were all to be free . and no
longer a slave to be in Jamaica'. Further-
more, they explained that if they ever
consented to be apprentices they would
have been ungrateful to 'good King
William' and to 'Lord Mulgrave', the
previous governor, who had first pro-
claimed the abolition of slavery after
the Imperial Parliament had passed the
Abolition Bill.o1

The workers of St. Ann were ex-
tremely suspicious of the local author-
ities and the new governor, Sligo. This
distrust of the locals and an implicit
faith in the King had emboldened the
actions of the strikers. Their leaders put
the following questions to the civil and
military authorities who visited the pro-
perties to try and enforce the law re-

A pre-1834 cane piece scene such as this did not change materially afterwards since the ex-slaves found that 'freedom' meant continued forced
labour for part of the week.

quiring compulsory labour. First, 'Is
it the King's law?'. Second, 'Would you
swear that the King put his name to it?'.
Third, 'Did not the Jamaica House make
it?'. Fourth, 'Did not Lord Sligo put
his name to it because him have slaves?'.
Fifth, 'Could you swear it is the law of
Jesus Christ?'. The answers of the
authorities were insufficient to convince
the leaders of the strikers. They frankly
told the magistrates that they were part
of a local conspiracy to thwart the
wishes of the King and the Imperial Par-
liament who had granted them free-

Sligo got news of the St. Ann strikes
three days after they had commenced.
In keeping with his policy of quickly
suppressing any dissent as he had shown
in St. Thomas-in-the-Vale, he at once
dispatched two companies of the 37th
Regiment by sea and they arrived at
Ocho Rios on 9 August. The presence of
the King's soldiers surprised the strikers
who after all believed that their actions
were in keeping with the King's decision
to grant them their freedom. Nonethe-
less, they were still resolute in not
acquiescing to apprenticeship and 'vast
numbers of the Negroes' had to be
flogged and imprisoned before the strike
was effectively broken. By 15 August
the reinforcements returned to Spanish
Town and the reports out of the parish

Although flogging of females was expressly
forbidden, this and other forms of torture
continued during apprenticeship.
spoke of a general return to work. How-
ever, the authorities were taking no
chances. They stationed in St. Ann two
Maroon regiments, one from Accom-
pong, and the other from Scotts Hall,
to ensure that there would be no further
Although the strikes failed and the
St. Ann workers were forcibly brought
under the regime of the apprenticeship

system, the workers had exhibited
remarkable discipline and leadership.
Over 24 properties were involved and
despite the provocations of floggings
and incarceration, no violent acts were
perpetrated by the workers. They prac-
tised what the major general of the St.
Ann militia described as 'passive resist-
ance'. Governor Sligo described the
manner in which the workers accepted
their punishment without sacrificing
their dignity or their beliefs. The work-
ers '. . doggedly refused to work, sub-
mitting with the appearance of pleasure
to their punishment, their comrades ex-
horting them to bear it for the sake of
freedom. They all said "King William
had given them free and they would
take it" '.13 This approach could also
have been influenced by suggestions
that the leadership among the workers
was drawn from the 'most influential
men on the different properties' who
were members of non-conformist church-
es. Independently of their ministers who
had tried in vain to explain appren-
ticeship to them, these ex-slaves, influ-
enced by religious precepts and con-
vinced of the righteousness of their
cause, had organized the first strikes in
Free Jamaica.

Individual Reactions

The two instances discussed above re-

Kingston Race Course (now National Heroes Park) was one of the venues for elaborate emancipation festivities in 1838.

present collective action by ex-slaves
against the imposition of the apprentice-
ship system. There were also instances
when individual apprentices reacted
strongly against the new demands of
compulsory labour. The former slave
driver on Mount Goshen in St. Catherine
was imprisoned on 6 August 1834, hav-
ing been found guilty of 'insubordin-
ation and disorderly conduct'. John
Minot, apprentice on Friendship Hall,
St. Andrew, was sentenced to 14 days
hard labour 'for addressing his fellow
apprentices with lawless harrangues'.
John Graskell, apprentice on Mount
Sinai in the same parish, was found
guilty of 'insubordination and trying
to instill into his fellow apprentices the
same'. He received a harsher sentence
of 24 lashes and 14 days hard labour.16
Other unspecified instances of ex-slaves
resisting the introduction of the appren-
ticeship system were firmly dealt with
as well. A letter in the newspaper com-
mended the stipendiary magistrates for
their prompt punishment of acts of in-
subordination. In the early days of

apprenticeship the law was 'crudely' and
'hastily' enforced as the authorities were
eager to brook no opposition. Stipen-
diary magistrates were praised as they
'moved rapidly about from one estate
to another and flogging or sending the
head leaders to the workhouse'. Such
action did not encourage the appren-
tices to develop any confidence in the
men who were supposed to be arbitra-
ting labour disputes. At Leyden in
St. James, the apprentices threw down
their hoes and marched to Montego
Bay to protest against Captain Clarke
whom they described as 'no magistrate'.
Three days after this incident, Clarke
erased any doubt they might have had
when he marched a military force upon
the estate and had the two leaders of
the protest flogged.16

Thus the transition from slavery to
apprenticeship had to be enforced in
parts of Jamaica by very decisive actions
on the part of the governor and the
stipendiary magistrates supported by
the police and the military. Undoubted-

ly, there were many apprentices who al-
though not understanding their para-
doxical situation submitted and decided
to wait patiently for their full enjoy-
ment of unrestricted freedom at the
termination of apprenticeship. But
those who were determined not to con-
tinue in any form of compulsory labour
were either whipped or imprisoned be-
fore they submitted. The troops, the
police and the courts were vital to the
successful implementation of the ap-
prenticeship system in Jamaica in

Other Conflicts
Once compulsory labour under ap-
prenticeship began to settle down, the
employers manipulated the regulations
to their own advantage which under-
mined smooth labour relations. The
organization of the hours of forced
labour was one such source of con-
flict. Within the broad context of the
Abolition Act the employers had dis-
cretionary power over the distribution
of these hours. The few explicit re-

The ex-slaves reserved their outpourings of joy and celebration for the final ending of compulsory labour in 1838. The scene depicted here, with
masters and ex-slaves sitting down to a feast celebrating 'full freedom' took place at Dawkins Caymanas estate.

gulations stipulated that the apprentices
were not to be employed before six o'
clock in the morning and after six o'
clock at night. Nor were the employers
able to compel labouronSunday'except
in Works of Necessity or Domestic
Services, or in the Protection of Pro-
perty, or in the Tending of Cattle'.
Otherwise the Jamaican employers were
permitted to organize their 401/2 hours
of weekly compulsory labour as they
The planters immediately adopted an
eight hour schedule. The apprentices
were to work eight hours daily on Mon-
day to Friday. The working day began
at 7 a.m. and the workers had half-an-
hour's break at breakfast and two hours
at lunch, the day ending at 5:30 p.m.
The apprentices objected to this regime
of labour as it denied them sufficient
time to work on their provision grounds,
some of which were located at distances
ranging from between half-a-mile and
four miles from the cane fields. With
the day's labour ending at 5:30 p.m.,
darkness often overtook them on their
way to the grounds. Moreover, the

apprentices were liable to arrest if
they were found cultivating their
grounds on a Sunday. Thus, under the
eight hour schedule, they had only
Saturday to give sufficient time to
their grounds. But, markets were a
Saturday affair and the distances often
travelled to them required an early
start. The apprentices, confronted by
this handicap to independent earnings,
preferred a nine hour schedule Monday
through Thursday, and half day on Fri-
day. That left them the other half of
Friday to devote more sustained time to
their grounds and to prepare produce
for the market the following day.18
Many planters refused to entertain any
alteration to the eight hour system pre-
cisely because it inconvenienced their
workers and prevented them from pur-
suing alternative occupations to working
on the estates. The apprentices were to
be kept dependent on the estates for
their livelihood so that when full free-
dom came they would have been accus-
tomed to look to the estates for earn-
Conflicts at once developed over the

distribution of the hours of compulsory
labour. Several female apprentices on
Bloxburgh, in the parish of Port Royal,
not only objected to the eight hour
schedule but demanded that they be
given the full day on Fridays so that
they would be better able to tend to
their grounds and prepare for the Satur-
day market. The stipendiary magistrate
tried in vain to dissuade them from their
demands and they refused even to ac-
cept a nine hour schedule which gave
them half-day on Friday. The women
bluntly told the magistrate, 'Yu naa go
make we fool'. Only the summoning of
the police settled the dispute and the
women reluctantly agreed to work on
Friday. Similar disputes led to strikes in
August 1834 at eight estates in the
Blue Mountain Valley area of St.
Thomas-in-the-East. Again, only a strong
police presence some 30 men were
'exercised daily in the use of their arms
and marching' enabled the employers
to exact work on Fridays.19
The conflicts over the hours of work
continued until the first harvest under
apprenticeship when the planters adopt-

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ed the nine hour system as part of
conciliatory tactics to attract extra
labour to take off the crop. But, as soon
as the crop was over, some of the plant-
ers returned to the old eight hour sys-
tem which precipitated conflict. The
differences over the hours of work con-
tinued until near the end of appren-
ticeship when the amended Imperial
Abolition Act in April 1838 empower-
ed the governor to regulate the hours of
labour. Only then was the nine hour sys-
tem uniformly enforced throughout the
The planters also found other loop-
holes in the Abolition Act which en-
abled them to exploit labourers with-
out breaking the law. The apprentices
were entitled to the allowances and in-
dulgences they had been receiving under
the old slave laws. Unfortunately for the
workers, much of what they had received
from their former masters had not been
required by statute regulation but had
been granted by custom over the years.
Proprietors, overseers, managers, and
book-keepers, intent on exacting their
'pound of flesh', withheld allowances
which they were not required by the
Abolition Act to provide. Work gangs
were not only denied the convenience
of water-carriers but were even pre-
vented from getting water themselves.
The practice of cooks preparing food in
the fields was discontinued. Nurseries
were closed and young working mothers
had to make other arrangements for
their younger children. Mothers were
also permitted less time to suckle their
children. Paths leading to provision
grounds were closed off. Work was also
enforced during heavy rainfall.21
Such spiteful and petty behaviour
antagonized the apprentices who felt
that they were now in an inferior posi-
tion as far as fringe benefits were con-
cerned. As slaves, these allowances had
been a regular feature of plantation
work. But now as free apprentices, they
were granted in a very capricious man-
ner. The females were incensed at diffi-
culties put in their way as they tried to
fulfil the required period of forced
labour and to care for their children.
For instance, the police had to be sum-
moned to Albany, in Westmoreland,
where the female apprentices 'wanted
to commit murder . on the book-

Gradually, some of the wiser employ-
ers restored the allowances as it became
clear that the workers were performing
their labour without much enthusiasm

as the first crop under apprentice-
ship approached. Certainly, the appren-
tices had mastered the technique of
'going slow' as slaves and would utilize
that whenever employers adopted nega-
tive tactics. The issue of allowances re-
mained a source of conflict throughout
apprenticeship. It was not until April
1838 that the amended Imperial Aboli-
tion Act finally stipulated that the ap-
prentices were entitled to all allowances
they had hitherto received as slaves.23
But, by that time the conflicts at the
workplace had undermined any noble
intentions that the humanitarians might
have entertained that the apprenticeship
system would have smoothed class re-
lations and helped to prepare the society
for the experience of free wage labour.
If anything, the opposite was the case.
Class relations soured throughout the
apprenticeship system in Jamaica. Con-
centrated attempts were made to trans-
fer to the field those apprentices who
when slaves had been exempt from field
labour. Such persons included the
mothers of six or more children, domes-
tic servants, nurses, field cooks, and
water carriers. Even aged and infirm
ex-slaves were now forced to earn
their keep by working in the cane pieces.
Sligo referred to 'many instances in
which employers had in the harshest
manner, compelled poor helpless males
and females, sometimes with one leg,
and another with but one arm, and all
almost feeble, to work in the fields'.24
Perhaps the most effective tactic
used to maximize the labour force was
the successful thwarting in Jamaica of
those apprentices who wanted to pur-
chase their full freedom before the ter-
mination of apprenticeship. The pro-
vision for compulsory manumission
in the Imperial Abolition Act was meant
to guarantee that once an apprentice
could afford the agreed price, the em-
ployer had to discharge the apprentice.
But, in Jamaica the machinery for estab-
lishing the value of the apprentices im-
peded the process. The value of the ap-
prentice was arrived at by a court com-
posed of a special magistrate, a local jus-
tice of the peace, and another local jus-
tice agreeable to both of them. If there
was disagreement, then the third member
of the court was appointed by the cus-
tos of the relevant parish. In effect two
of the three magistrates hearing the
application for manumission were invari-
ably owners of apprentices. It was in
their interest to agree on excessive valu-
ations. It is therefore not surprising that
the estimates made by the stipendiary

magistrate and the other local justices
rarely coincided. Moreover, the employ-
ers tended to base their calculations on
the higher wages paid to the apprentices
in jobbing gangs and not necessarily on
the value of the particular apprentice
in question. Such vindictive calculations
were a common feature of the Jamaican
valuation courts.25

The general failure on the part of the
Jamaican planters to adopt constructive
and conciliatory policies undercut what-
ever value the apprenticeship system
may have offered in terms of preparing
the society for full freedom. Coercive
policies in Jamaica produced, in general,
a marked reluctance on the part of the
ex-slaves to perform labour beyond the
stipulations of the law. After the initial
confusion died down and the system
was successfully imposed, the appren-
tices' attitude was best summed up by
Governor Sligo as follows: '. . as they
begin to acquire a better knowledge of
the law they appear to become more
resolute in their determination not to
do one particle more of work than they
are forced to by law'.26 On the few
estates where the proprietors offered
fair terms and treated the apprentices
properly, they responded in kind. Henry
Shirley, proprietor of estates in Tre-
lawny, encouraged his apprentices to
fulfil their compulsory services on Mon-
day through Thursday on the basis of
10 hours daily. On Friday, they worked
for wages which were sufficiently high
to compensate for the loss of allowances.
Shirley had withdrawn them so as to
teach the ex-slaves to rely on their own
labour to provide for themselves. All
this was explained to the workers and
they agreed and Shirley's estates were
free from the vexing disputes that tend-
ed to characterize other properties.
Scott, a proprietor in St. Thomas-in-the-
East, was able to employ his apprentices
and others in their free time because he
paid consistent wages and treated his
labourers 'scrupulously'.27 Shirley and
Scott were unusually enlightened em-
ployers who did not view the apprentice-
ship system as their last opportunity to
extract whatever they could from their
former slaves. The general attitude
among the employers of labour which
prevailed throughout the system in
Jamaica was more in keeping with the
adoption of the coercive policies dis-
cussed above. These made a mockery of
a labour system which claimed to be
preparing slaves for freedom.

Furthermore, the experiences of ap-

prentices in the Jamaican workhouses
and prisons destroyed any possibility
that apprenticeship could rise above
the coercion of slavery. The houses of
correction in each of the island's parish-
es were under the administrative control
of the custos and the local magistrates.
From among themselves they appointed
a managing committee which was
responsible for the selection of prison
officers and the framing of regulations.
The executive and the stipendiary
magistrates had no control over these
institutions. Despite the explicit pro-
hibition of flogging of females, this
practice was common in Jamaican pri-
sons. As the apprenticeship progressed,
horror stories revealed that instruments
of torture, chains, bilboes, and badly
constructed treadmills, on which even
pregnant women were whipped, were a
common feature of discipline in these
institutions.28 Many of the supervisors
were violent men and their assistants
were often convicted criminals serving
long sentences. The deputy of the St.
Ann workhouse, the scene of some of
the most gruesome stories of spiteful
punishment, informed Joseph Sturge
on a visit there in 1837, that flogging
for the apprentices on the treadmills
was necessary 'to touch them up'. No
wonder that 'not only was the floor
sprinkled and the steps stained, but
the very drum of the mill was spot-
ted with blood' in this workhouse.2
Coercive and oppressive experiences
in the cane pieces and legalized torture
in the prisons sum up the working of the
apprenticeship system in Jamaica. A
rather unusual form of freedom had
been granted on 1 August 1834. Itshould
come as no surprise then that the ex-
slaves reserved their outpourings of joy
and celebrations for the final ending of
compulsory labour in 1838. Symbols of
slavery, chains, handcuffs, iron collars,
and whips, were buried in ceremonies all
over the island. For instance, at the
Salter's Hill Baptist Church in St. James,
one such burial took place:
A hymn being sung, preparations were
made for the burial of slavery. The
whip, the chain, and the shackle, were
separately produced, and the question
asked, what is to be done with the old
slave whip? 'Cut it up', was the reply.
It was done. What with the chain?
'Break it'. This was also done. What
with the shackle? 'to be destroyed'.
After each was exhibited, three enthu-
siastic cheers were given, that they
were no longer to be liable to the evils of
slavery, but released from its terrors.3

Moreover, if one looks at speeches

and letters of ex-slaves, it becomes very
apparent that as far as they were con-
cerned the real emancipation worth
celebrating was their 'full free' in 1838
and not the modified slavery which
apprenticeship imposed on them in
1834. The following extracts are from
speeches delivered at a public meeting
in Falmouth on 1 August 1838. The
speakers were ex-slaves. Mr. William
Kerr spoke as follows:

... We bless God, we bless the Queen,
we bless the Governor, we bless the
people of England for the joy we have.
Let we remember that we been on
Sugar Estate from sunrise a-morning
till eight o'clock at night: the rain fall-
ing, the sun shining, we was in it all.
Many of we own colour behind we,
and many before; we get whip, our
wives get beat like a dog, before we
face, and if we speak we get the same;
they put we in shackle; but thank
our heavenly Father we not slave
again (Cheers)

William Gibson was not only content to
rejoice in his full freedom. He demon-
strated an internationalist outlook. He
urged his audience, . Let us pray
that our brothers and sisters in other
lands may be made free'. Edward Bar-
rett, a former apprentice on Oxford,
in Trelawny, made it abundantly clear
that in his opinion, the apprenticeship
which was instituted under the reign
of William IV, had not differed much
from slavery. It had to be left to human-
itarian agitators such as Joseph Sturge
and Thomas Harvey, to press for full
freedom in the reign of Queen Victoria.
Barrett spoke as follows:

We have been made to stand up and see
our wives flogged and we could not
help them; the people of England did
not see us, but God see us, and God
stir up their hearts to get us freedom,
and now we are all free people (Cheers,)
What shall we say? Let us lift our
hearts and bless God, let us bless
Queen Victoria, (hear, hear) yes, Kings
did sit on the throne, but Kings could
not do it, Victoria did. (Tremendous
cheering) . .Another thing I have to
say is that not long ago there were
two particular gentlemen who came
to see how the apprenticeship work,
(he meant Messrs. Sturge and Harvey)
they laid out so much money to buy
we free, and they came themselves to
see us, whether we free or no. (Hear.)
They came out to see what them
Magistrates doing that they send out;
they reported the wicked ones; some
of them very good Magistrates, and
some of them very devils. (Loud laugh-
ter) ....

Thomas Gardner summarized the senti-
ments of the other speeches very well

.........: ....... ... ... ... ...
...................... :: :::: :::::...
.-.-.-..-.*..-..-.-.-..-..*............. .. .*.*.* ..*.....






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KGN. TEL: 922-5751
73-75 H.W.T. RD., KGN. 10,
TEL: 926-4630
KGN. 6 TEL: 927-7228

TEL: 984-2629
TEL: 986-2250.

and provides us with a clear statement
that real freedom commenced on 1
August 1838:

. We know truly that once there was
a time when we expected this good to
come; we were not certain sure of it;
but God has brought it to pass .. ..I
rejoice I am slave no more, and you are
slaves no more, Jamaica is slave no
more. Amen! (Cheers)31

Messrs. Kerr, Gibson, Barrett, and Gard-
ner had been born in Jamaica and were
'descendants of Africans'. Their first
taste of full freedom was on the first of
August 1838. They obviously relished
the novel experience. However, Robert
Peart, who was 90 years old in 1838,
had been a slave for 70 years, having
been brought to Jamaica from Africa
when he was 20 years old. He had
known freedom and fortunately had
survived to experience it again. From
the parish of Manchester he wrote
to Sir Lionel Smith, the governor of

I, Robert Peart, baptized in that name
in Jamaica, but in my country I was
named Mahomod Cover; I was born at
Bucka. For myself, my Countrymen
and my Countrywomen who may be
alive in Jamaica, return thanks to
Almighty God, and next to the English
nation, whose laws have relieved us
from the bondage in which we have
been held. God bless and grant long
life to our Queen Victoria, and repose
to the soul of her uncle King William
the Fourth, in whose good reign was
passed the law which this day has made
us free people. God bless Sir Lionel
Smith, our governor, father, and friend,
whom we all love and will obey. 32

If our history is truly to guide us
in the present, then we ought to give
serious considerations to what these
ex-slaves believed. Their experiences
under apprenticeship certainly con-
vinced them that the 'full free', as
they called it, came in August 1838. If
we must note the abolition of slavery
150 years ago, then we must be sure to
emphasize that the ex-slaves had to
wait four more years before they were
able to enjoy the fruits of freedom.


1. Kingston Chronicle, 16 August 1834.

2. Ibid.

3. Colonial Office Document (C.O.) 137/
192, Sligo to Spring-Rice, 5 August

4. Kingston Chronicle, 15 and 16 August
5. Ibid.

6. D.G. Hall, 'The Apprenticeship System
in Jamaica,1834-1838', Apprenticeship
and Emancipation (Dept. of Extra
Mural Studies, U.W.I.), p.10, W.L.
Burn, Emancipation and Apprentice-
ship in the British West Indies (London,
1937), p.251.

7. C.O. 137/192, Sligo to Spring-Rice, 13
August 1834.
8. Kingston Chronicle, 8 August 1834.

9. Ibid, 11 August 1834.

10. St. Jago de la Vega Gazette, 9 August
11. Ibid.
12. C.O. 137/182, Sligo to Spring-Rice,
13 August 1834.

13. C.O. 137/192, Sligo to Spring-Rice,
16 August 1834.

14. Kingston Chronicle, 15 August 1834.

15. Kingston Chronicle, 7 and 14 August
16. Burn, op. cit., p.180.
17. Abolition Act.

18. C.O. 137/197, Sligo to Charles Grey,
7 June 1835.

19. Kingston Chronicle, 11 and 14 August

20. D.G. Hall, op. cit., pp.15-16; Burn, op.
cit., pp. 355-358.

21. C.O. 137/192, Sligo to Spring-Rice, 13
August 1834.
22. Kingston Chronicle, 16 August 1834.
23. Burn, op. cit., p.355.
24. C.O. 137/202, Sligo to Glenelg, 7
September 1835.

25. Burn, op. cit., pp. 275-279.

26. C.O. 137/193, Sligo to Spring-Rice, 12
October 1834.

27. 1836 Select Committee on the Ap-
prenticeship, Henry Shirley's evidence;
Burn, op. cit., p.270.

28. C.O. 137/228, Smith to Glenelg, 15
May 1838.

29. J. Sturge and T. Harvey, The West
Indies in 1837 (London, 1838), p.189.
30. Freedom In Jamaica (London, 1838)
pp.3, 14-16.

31. Falmouth Post, 15 August 1838 ....

32. C.O. 137/229, Smith to Glenelg, 13
August 1838, Enclosure 3. The letter
was written by Peart in Arabic char-
acters and translated before it was
sent to the Colonial Office.

I-*::"*::***::"*::"**-: . *:*:*:*:*:*:**:*:":*:**:*:*:*"*::*:*:*:*:*:*:.-*
.. ..... ..*.. .....*.......... ..... ... . ....
.......... ...
. . . . . . . . ... . :.. . . . . . . . . . .

The Sligo Papers

An Official View

Excerpts From The Letter Books of Howe Peter Browne,
2nd Marquis of Sligo
Governor of Jamaica
April 1834 August 1836
From the Manuscript Collection of The National Library of Jamaica

King's House
10 May 1834

To the Secretary of State for the Colonies
(E.G. Stanley).
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Des-
patch of 20 March last numbered to enclosing two Orders of
His Majesty in Council passed on the 19th of that month one
confirming an Act passed by the late Governor, Council and
Assembly of the Island of Jamaica for the Abolition of
Slavery in that Colony, and the other declaring that adequate
and satisfactory provision hath been made by Law in the said
Island, for giving effect to the British Act of Parliament, by

such further and supplementary enactments as are therein
I immediately ordered the confirmation of the Jamaica
Act for the Abolition of Slavery to be entered on the margin
of the Record in the Secretary's Office, and due publicity
given thereto, and I issued a Proclamation of which a copy is
herewith enclosed, embodying the Order declaring that ade-
quate and satisfactory provision had been made by Law in
this Island for giving effect to the British Act of Parliament
by such further and supplementary Enactments as are therein
This course I pursued from my construction of the 23rd
and 44th clauses of the Act of the Imperial Parliament in
which I was supported by the opinion of my Council.


To His Majesty, King William the Fourth
The King's House,
St. Jago de La Vega,
August 10th, 1834.

His Most Excellent Majesty the King,

In obedience to the orders which Your Majesty was pleased
to give to me, personally, when taking leave at Brighton,
previous to my embarkation for this Island, I have the honour
of addressing you, for the purpose of communicating to you,
the happy manner in which the transition from Slavery to
Apprenticeship has been effected. Yesterday's post brought
me the official reports from all parts of the Island, and it is
with the greatest gratification, that I have to announce, that
with the exception of one part of the Parish of St. Anns and
two estates in St. Thomas-in-the-Vale, about twenty miles
from this town it has not been reported to me, that any-
where has the slightest symptom of insubordination been ex-
hibited. I think I am justified in stating that a decidedly dif-
ferent disposition has been evinced in all directions. A re-
markable feature in the transaction was, the crowded atten-
dance in the different places of worship. In many of the
Sectarian Chapels the service was performed several times on
the first of August, to different congregations, until all who
presented themselves had an opportunity of offering up their
Thanksgivings for the boon they had received. The second of
August was more devoted to rejoicings, not however without
a due proportion of attention to business. I allude to the
market by the word business. They were perfectly aware that
the abolition of Sunday Markets was to commence the next
day, and the immeasurable parties of John Canoe men par-
aded the streets all day, there was in almost every town that
I have heard from, an extraordinary full market. On Sunday
the 3rd the abolition of the market appeared to have been
most fully carried into effect, and that without the slightest
difficulty in full accordance with the wishes of the Negroes,
as not a basket of fruit was exhibited for sale anywhere. I
think that were that market now rendered legal there would
be considerable difficulty in reestablishing it. The places of
worship were again crowded to excess. The unwillingness to
work on the two estates near here, was put an end to by the
summary punishment of a few of the ringleaders, after ex-
postulation, and explanation had been tried with the greatest
patience, but quite unsuccessfully, by the two special magis-
trates whom I sent up there. In St. Anns however matters
assumed a more serious aspect. During Lord Mulgrave's
administration of affairs in this Island. the proprietors there
set their slaves a bad example by adopting a system of passive
resistance, as they termed it, to his efforts to ameliorate the
condition of the slaves. It has been remarked by most people
here, that the day of retribution has now come, as the ap-
prentices oppose precisely the same system to all their
master's attempts to make them work. They have committed
no overt act whatever but doggedly refuse to work, submit-
ting with an appearance of pleasure, to their punishment,
their comrades exhorting them to bear it for the sake of free-

dom. They all have said "that King William had given them
free and they would take it". Fearing that this might spread
if not put an end to at once, the moment I received the noti-
fication of this state of affairs, I sent off Colonel MacLeod
with two companies of the 37th Reg't in the Rhadamanthus
to Ocho Rios, in the immediate neighbourhood of which,
this insubordination was reported to exist. I have no doubt
but that my report will announce its being entirely at an
end. In fact I will before I close this letter, add to it a post-
script informing Your Majesty of the result.
I have much pleasure in assuring Your Majesty of the
loyalty of all your subjects in this Island. Amongst the
Negroes the effect of Your Majesty's name, which I have fre-
quently used is most remarkable. In St. Anns alone has it not
had the effect of quieting the people, I believe that the
reason is that they consider themselves deluded and that
your feelings and intentions have been misrepresented to
Your Majesty is seldom addressed without some call being
made on your gracious condescension, this letter will not be
an exception, and the good effect which I am confident will
be produced, by what I am about to ask emboldens me to en-
treat Your Majesty to bestow to the Colony your full length
portrait together with one of Her Majesty. The portraits of
your august parents occupy one end of the great Ballroom in
this house, I would be anxious to place those which I pray
Your Majesty to bestow on the Colony, at the corresponding
places at the other end of the room. The consideration that
Your Majesty is the only King of England who has ever visit-
ed the Colony, and the respect with which your name is al-
ways mentioned, together with the general loyal feeling of
the Island makes me think that the present would be most
gratifying to the proprietary. To the coloured and Black
population the Image of the Personage, under whose reign
and auspices so inestimable a blessing, as the Abolition of
Slavery has been conferred, would not be an inappropriate
gift. As a colonist myself I pray that this favour may be con-
ferred on my Island; as Your Majesty's Representative I en-
treat your compliance with the colonist's request. Tho' I fear
I may be trespassing too much on Your Majesty's patience, I
feel myself bound to inform you further, that I have met
with the most gratifying cooperation with every class of
Your Majesty's subjects in this Island. Much of the difficulty
of my task has thereby been removed and I am happy at
being able to assure you, that both among the mercantile
people, and a great many proprietors the opinion that the
value of property in the Island has increased 25 percent high-
er than it was a month ago, is generally maintained.

16th August.

I am happy at being enabled to inform Your Majesty that
Colonel MacLeod has returned after having restored by his
presence, accompanied by the troops, all that district to sub-
ordination. One extra company however, which I moved up
from the Moneague I have left there for a short time, and re-
inforced that post by a company from here. I trust that in

about a fortnight, that force may be withdrawn. The Special
Magistrates' reports of the past week however mention several
gross instances of oppression and it's judged as such as illegal
severity on the part of the overseers, managers and even the
proprietors themselves of two or three of the districts. These
have occasioned some slight discontent, but the prompt
punishment by the Magistrates of these offenders, will, I
trust put an end to these abuses, and the consequent in-
subordination of the Negroes. Several cases on points of law
have been referred to me, I have procured the Attorney
General's opinion and caused it to be lythographed for
general circulation by post this evening. The proprietors have
been endeavouring to withdraw from the Negroes all the in-
dulgencies, such as cooks, nurses which they had previously
enjoyed and which custom has almost given the Negroes a
right to. I hope by some one means or other, to prevail on
the people to leave their apprentices in possession of these
advantages and if they do I am confident that all will go on
well. If they however persist in showing their present spitefull
system, it is impossible for me to be responsible for the con-
tinuance of tranquility here.

I have the honour to transcribe myself,
Your Majesty,
Most attached, devoted and obedient subject,

To the Secretary of State for the Colonies
(Thomas Spring-Rice)

13th August 1834


I have the happiness to inform you that the reports which
I have received from all quarters of the state of the Island
have been most satisfactory.
You will have ere this reaches you, I trust received my
short note, sent via New York communicating to you the
tranquil state of this immediate neighbourhood, it was writ-
ten on the 4th and sent by the Renown Schooner. I am now
happy to be able to confirm that report, and to add that in
all parts of the Island, with the exception alone of Saint
Anns Parish, the transition from slavery to Apprenticeship
has been effected in the most satisfactory manner. It is a re-
markable feature in the progress of that transition that the
1st of August was devoted in most parts of the Island to
devotional exercises. In the Sectarian Chapels the service was
performed several times in the course of the day, in fact as
long as a fresh succession of Auditors presented themselves,
it has been generally remarked that hardly a drunken man
was seen in the streets on that day; the Saturday was divided
betwixt business and pleasure; they were fully aware that the
next day's market would be abolished, and in consequence of
this being an holiday besides, the Markets on that day have
been remarked everywhere to have been unusually large. To-
wards evening the streets were crowded with parties of

John Canoe men, and their usual noisy accompaniments; at
night in some of the towns there were Fancy Balls, in which
the Authorities of the Island past and present were represent-
ed. Several individuals in the towns had given dinners to
their new Apprentices on the previous day and on very many
of the Estates steers were killed by the Proprietors and given
to the Negroes, besides their usual holiday allowances of
Sugar, Rum and saltfish so that within the country and the
towns the Apprentices had their due share of amusement. On
Sunday the places of Worship were again unusually crowded,
and the day passed over in the most quiet and orderly
manner. My reports from all parts of the Island, with the
exception of Saint Ann alone, state that on Monday the
Apprentices turned out to their work with even more than
usual readiness, in some places with alacrity, and all with
good humour.

On Thursday morning the 7th I received a letter by ex-
press from Mr. Walker the member for Saint Ann's residing at
Shaw Park in that Parish to say that the Apprentices on his
estate and those around him had refused to work without
payment; had threatened him with their own Law, and
shown the most insubordinate spirit. The post arriving the
same morning and bringing me several letters from the neigh-
bourhood all to the same effect, I found that this system had
extended over a great part of the east side of the parish and
felt that unless a stop was promptly put to this sort of refrac-
tory conduct, it might spread all over the Island and create
considerable embarrassment; in order to check it, I deter-
mined on sending off Colonel MacLeod the Deputy Adjut-
ant General with two companies of the 37th in the Rhada-
manthus to Ocho Rios, close to Shaw Park Mr. Walker's
place. They accordingly embarked that night and proceeded
to sea the next morning; they reached Ocho Rios on the 9th
before daylight, and were instantly landed, the effect pro-
duced by their sudden apparition was very great, but strange
to say even with that effect it become necessary to punish a
vast number of the Negroes, as well by flogging, as confine-
ment in the workhouse; when asked to work they uniformly
refused, saying that it was not Lord Mulgrave's Law, that
Lord Mulgrave had told them they were to be free, and that
we were concealing that Law. This idea I find is universally
prevalent in the Island among the Negroes. The addresses of
the Magistrates however backed by the presence of the
Troops, at last restored good order, and Colonel MacLeod re-
turned here yesterday in the Rhadamanthus, with his men. I
have however directed one company more than usual, to be
quartered there till further orders. The Maroons from Ac-
compong and Scots Hall, I have directed to remain there also
under the orders of Mr. Connor who is directed to send them
home the moment that all is quite right there. From what
Colonel MacLeod has informed me, I am confident that as
soon as the misunderstanding as to Lord Mulgrave's meaning
is got rid of, they will be quiet unless forced into Rebellion
by the tyrannical conduct of the Overseers, and I am sorry
to say many of the Masters and Managing Attorneys. My
letters by yesterday's post have confirmed this opinion, as
there have been several petty disturbances attended with
cases of punishment in Saint James, Westmoreland and Saint
Elizabeth in almost every instance caused either by the in-

Top L-R, Richard Barrett and Duncan Robertson. Bottom L-R, Bishop Christopher Lipscomb and King William IV.

temperate conduct of the Overseers or the exaction by the
Proprietors or Managers of the pound of flesh. The cruelties
reported to me by the Magistrates to have taken place since
the first of August are past all idea. If anything occasions a
disturbance here it will be the abominable and I may term it,
mad conduct of some of these Managers and Overseers. The
Mothers have been refused time to suckle their children;the
usual old women, as nurses have been withdrawn; the paths
leading from their huts to their provision grounds have been
stopped, all of these I cannot term other than illegal outrages.
Many instances of discontent for similar causes have been
reported to me from Saint Thomas-in-the-East; but except
in those Parishes above named, nothing can equal the good
temper and tranquility with which all is going on. I again
repeat that in my opinion nothing but the exactions of the
Masters will cause anything like disturbance.
The transactions of the last few days have shown me that
my opinion as to the necessity of more Magistrates, I mean
Special Justices was well founded. I must endeavour to find
out some persons unconnected with Apprentice property to
nominate as such without salary. If I find them, which is
doubtful, they may act for a few weeks, but I fear they will
not move about as Special Justices ought in fact as they are
not paid for so doing it is hard to expect that they should,
and thus the business will, I fear, not be done. I must how-
ever do the best I can till I receive further instructions from

King's House
August 16 1834

To the Hon. Duncan Robertson (Custos of St. Elizabeth,
planter and Member of the Assembly).

My dear Sir,

I hope you will exert yourself to prevail on the proprietors
of your parish to follow something of an uniform system
with the Negroes, and to give way a little to them. I am not
aware whether this advice is particularly appropriate in your
parish but I feel that the past weeks' discontents must have
had some cause besides the folly of the Negroes. The aboli-
tion act is a remedial act, and therefore cannot place the ap-
prentices in a worse condition, than they were, while slaves.
I have taken the opinion of the Law Officers here, and have
embodied the result in the form of a circular to the Special
Magistrates, you will of course see it. I hope to be able to
send a second Magistrate to your parish soon, as it is too
extensive to be compassed by one. I am sorry to say that in
St. James's several overseers have been fined by the Magistrates
for cruelty and oppression. It surely would be wisdom at this
momentous crisis, to give way a little, rather than press
the point of one's rights against the Negroes.

My dear Sir
Very truly yours

Ocho Rios Bay, as portrayed by J.B. Kidd (1834-40), witnessed the
arrival of the Rhadamanthus carrying two companies of the 37th
regiment on 9 August 1834; dispatched by Governor Sligo in an at-
tempt to quell the protest of the apprentices on the Shaw Park Estate.

King's House
August 23 1834

To the Hon. Richard Barrett (owner of considerable property
in St. James and St. Ann; represented the Jamaican Legis-
lature before the British Parliament during the Emancipation

My dear Sir,

I did think that you would not have waited for my giving
you an opportunity to address me upon any matter connect-
ed with the Island. We might agree on the points or we might
not, but you might depend upon my receiving any communi-
cation from you regarding it, with the respect which I feel it
to deserve. My directions to the Magistrates in every letter
are to recollect their position, and to conduct themselves
with the utmost respect towards the gentlemen of the
country. If such expressions have been used as you have
heard "Proud beggars" it is as improper a thing as could be
imagined. I have directed Doyle to enquire into it from them.
I trust that they will do their duty impartially and preserve
a steady demeanour, but really when they were treated as Mr.
Hill has been by Mr. Sharpe, I have a right to make some allow-
ances for his feelings. The reason why I imagined the Negroes
were dissatisfied in the neighbourhood of Montego Bay was,
that the number of cases tried and the causes of complaint,
are more numerous than in any other part of the Island. I
have returns of every case tried by each of the Magistrates
each week, and examine them closely. It does appear to me
that there have been more grievances proved there than in
any other part of the Island and unless the report is unfairly
made to me the facts have in few cases been disputed. I have

4 n7-~F
5 u~ ~c G

no doubt however but that this will die off and that after a
few more weeks each party will better understand their
respective rights, angry feelings on both sides will subside
and things will get on better. At all events I will see and
moderate things as much as I can. I have been suffering much
from the want of Magistrates and I have come to the resolu-
tion of making as many as I can find fitted for the office
who may be willing to act without salary, and who are not
connected with apprentice property and whom after mature
examination I think may be fitted for it. I have begun with
some of the officers. St. John acts as such at least only
as far as sitting for two days a week in an office as Special
Justice. Not being able to offer them salaries I cannot ask
them to ride about. Some more officers in command of
Out Posts are to be consulted on the plan by this night's
post. I find that the Police business is sadly neglected by the
3 county inspectors devoting their whole time to magisterial
business there therefore given them their choice which they
will resign . I am sorry that your people have refused to
work for wages, that is not a general complaint, everywhere
else they have only asked for wages. At least such are my
official reports. Things I again repeat will soon find their own
level. But after all, recollect our time was come, the torment
no matter from whence it sprung, was irresistible and surely
as it was to take place we have reason to be thankful that all
has passed off so wonderfully well. Gladstone commenced
with his properties in St. Elizabeth and St. Georges, on 1st of
July and things have gone on extraordinarily well. He now
only pays the best men.

My dear Sir
Very truly yours

The King's House
August 20th 1834

To Christopher Lipscomb (first Bishop of Jamaica 1825-1843).

My dear Lord
It has been represented to me, but in such a manner, that
I cannot vouch for the truth of it that one of your rectors
has since the first of August executed a considerable sum for
christening the children of apprentices on the ground of their
being now free. Now tho' the act which increased the salary
of the clergy here (as I am informed) was passed with the ex-
press object that all attendances on slaves should be given
gratis, not wishing to raise any question on this matter, I
have made no enquiries as to the facts either of the charges
made which were asserted to be 30/- for a christening or as
to the Law being what I am told it is. If the Law is as report-
ed to me, I think that the attendance on apprentices or their
children ought to be continued as they were, or some change
made in the Law as to the payment of the Rectors. Now this
latter is not a pleasant thing to propose and therefore I have
thought fit to communicate partly what I have heard without
waiting to hear whether it be true or not, in order that you
may take any steps which you may please in the matter. You

are at liberty to state that a report having reached my ears I
communicated it to you for enquiry.

My dear Lord
Very faithfully yours

Sligo's Speech to the New Apprentices of Jamaica
from The Parliamentary Papers on the Abolition of Slavery,
Part I Jamaica 1833-1835

To the Newly Made Apprentices of Jamaica

The 1st of August has passed over, and you are no longer
slaves. You have been raised by the generosity and human-
ity of the British nation, and of those who had power over
you from a state of slavery to that of apprenticeship. On
yourselves alone it now depends, under the blessing of Divine
Providence, whether you pass a happy and short period of
apprenticeship, and then become entire masters of your own
time, or whether you are continued, in consequence of your
own misconduct, some time longer without that great bless-
ing. If you misbehave, you will see your friends who are
around you, and who have conducted themselves faithfully
and well, their own masters, and working for the benefit
of their own families; while you will still be apprentices,
and forced by the Law to work for your master's advantage.
I am sure that you will not be so foolish as to postpone, by
your own conduct, the enjoyment of perfect freedom.

You who are what is called non-predial apprentices, that is
house servants, and such others as will be pointed out by the
special magistrates, will cease to be apprentices in four years
time, that is on the 1st of August 1838, unless by your own
misconduct you delay it longer. You will be released from
your apprenticeships two years sooner than the predial or
plantation apprentices; but in return for this advantage, you
must, while you are apprentices, give your master the whole
of your time, just as any hired servant does. If you absent
yourselves from his service, though your master cannot
punish you now himself as he was empowered to do when
you were slaves, you will be liable to be punished by the
order of a special magistrate. I advise you therefore to pay
the most diligent attention to your duties, serve your masters
with cheerfulness, and with the gratitude which they deserve.
By doing so you will in a few short years enjoy every privilege
which any other persons in this Island being British subjects,
possess. You who are predial apprentices, or those employed
on the estates in the cultivation of the soil, or the manu-
facture of the produce, have six years to serve; but then you
have the great advantage of having but a small portion of
your time to give your masters. Your master cannot claim
more than 402 hours of your time in each week except in
two cases; but then he has a right to divide this 401 hours in
such reasonable manner as he pleases, between the first
five days of the week, beginning with Monday, so however
that he does not compel you to work more than nine hours
each day, except in cases of hurricane, tempest, earthquake,
flood, fire, or other misfortune the Act of God.

The two occasions on which your master can require more
than 40% hours each week are, first, in cases of hurricane,
tempest, earthquake, flood, fire, or other misfortune the Act
of God, when he may employ you during the emergency:
second, at such period of the year as your masters may deem
it necessary for the cultivation of the estate or plantation.
The gathering in of the crop, or its manufacture, he may call
on you to work the 4% hours additional per week, but then
he must repay you that time at a convenient period of the
year, and not at the rate of more than three days together
at one time.
I recommend to your masters to settle that you should
work eight hours a day each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
and Thursday, and 81/2 hours each Friday. The Saturday and
Sunday in all cases you will have to yourselves, besides all
the hours of rest which you get each day. There are 168
hours in each week, out of which you will have to give to
your masters only 401/2 hours, and have 1272 hours at your
own disposal. Your master must give you clothes, provision
grounds, and medical attendance if you are sick. I hope that
you will give him cheerfully and willingly the very small por-
tion of your time which he is entitled to .
It is provided by Law, that you who are predial unattach-
ed, or jobbers, shall still continue to work in the same manner,
namely as jobbers; but you are entitled to the same privileges
as those who are settled on an estate, in point of hours of
labour, and to the same supplies of clothing and medicines,
besides sufficient provision grounds or provisions.
Neither your master, your overseer, your bookkeeper,
your driver nor any other person can strike you, or put you
into the stocks, nor can you be punished at all except by the
order of a special magistrate. If any person, without such
authority, shall raise a handtoyou, or put you into the stocks,

he will be liable to be severely punished himself. If you be-
have badly, your master or any special constable may put
you into a cell or place of confinement but not for more
than 24 hours; and if a special magistrate shall not have visit-
ed such estate before those 24 hours shall have expired he
must release you, but he must bring forward his complaint
against you the first time that a magistrate does visit the pro-
perty; thus, though you may be released, you will still be
liable to be punished for any misconduct; and your master
also will be liable to be punished if he shall have improperly
confined you.
I am your sincere well wisher; I have been sent out by
your King to see that justice is done to all parties. When you
are in the right you will be protected, whoever is in the wrong
will be punished. I advise you, as the best way to ensure your
happiness, to make your masters your first friends. By follow-
ing their advice, you will be most likely to act as you ought.
Should you, however, be oppressed by any one, go at once to
a special magistrate and he will redress any wrong you may
have sustained.
Before I conclude I wish to say one word to such of you
as have been selected by your masters to be plantation con-
stables; to have been chosen by them on this occasion is
strong proof of the good opinion they entertain of you; I
hope you will not betray their confidence, but will by your
zealous and honest conduct, show that you are worthy of
the distinction which you have received. In after life the
character you will then have acquired, will most probably be
of the greatest benefit to you.

I am your sincere

New and Forthcoming

No. 1 Jamaica 21 Anthology Series
Jamaican Folk Tales and
Oral Histories
by Laura Tanna
Songs Rhymes Riddles Proverbs
Historical Narratives iLying Stories
Parson Stories Duppy Stories *Anansi Stories
Trickster Narratives
Covers the range of
Jamaica's Oral Art Forms
Over 50 narratives
Written down exactly as told.
Introduction: How the Stories were Collected;
How the Stories were Written Down
Chapter I: Background to Jamaican Folk Tales
Chapter II: Storytelling as a Performing Art
Chapter III: Jamaican Oral Art Forms

Chapter IV: Jamaican Trickster Narratives
Chapter V: Other Old Time Stories

The historical, cultural and linguistic background which
gave rise to the oral narrative tradition in Jamaica is
explained and put into the context of the present situation.
Although the emphasis is on the stories, an effort is made to
examine storytelling as a dramatic art form so as to convey
to the reader some of the dynamic vitality of performance
which keeps the tradition of folk tales alive and enduring.
Published on behalf of
The Office of the Prime Minister
For free brochures on this and other publications on
Jamaican culture please write to us:

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica, Telephone: 92-94785/6

Bruckins party dancers


Songs and Festivities

By Olive Lewin

Get you horse and saddle it me dandy
(rep. 2)
Get you horse and saddle
Malatta Queen free has come
Malatta bend comb is going to bend
Malatta you crinoline is going to shake
Get you horse and saddle it me dandy
Get you horse and saddle.

The song above refers to the Jam-

aican First of August emanci-
pation celebration described with
enthusiasm in 1984 by 79-year-old Mrs.
Doris Innis of Hanover. She tells how
some 67 years before, her grandparents
had told her about slavery and how
'Queen Free' came to put an end to the
misery. She remembers well how on
each First of August, residents of her
village met all day to sing, dance and
feast in celebration, sometimes at a
house, at other times, even 'in the
bushes'. This was preceded by a pro-
cession of costumed men and women,
all on horseback, led by the King or
Queen for the day. Crinolines were
much in evidence, but there were also
bright robes with 'gold or diamonds ...
to show its freedom, and they might
have their drums . for happy days
are here again'.
Music and activities associated with
emancipation have fallen into three
broad categories:
1. Informal and village festivities;
2. Traditional celebrations, e.g. Jon-
konnu and Kumina, adapted for
the occasion;
3. Bruckins party.

This article will deal with the subject
under these broad headings, with musical
examples and texts.

Informal and Village Festivities

It is clear from a wide sampling of
interviews and music that in the minds
of our senior citizens, Queen Victoria
has been closely associated with free-
dom. The word 'abolition' does not
occur in any of the conversations or
accounts of elderly informants. None
knew or seemed to care who was on the
British throne in 1834 when the Aboli-
tion Act was actually passed. A Tambo
informant in Trelawny, 1968, in ex-
plaining the meaning of a song, stated
that the years before emancipation saw
things getting 'real hot'. His grandparents
who had been slaves told him that the
masters 'kept back freedom'. The ad-
ded frustration and straining at the leash
led to widespread burning of cane fields,

Tell you neighbour mind them goat
Browns Town inna fire
Saddle the ram goat make me ride
Browns Town inna fire
(Source: Mr. Benjie Reid, Trelawny)

Eventually 'Missis Queen' gave them
their freedom in 1838.

In modern Jamaica, the achieve-
ment of political Independence in 1962
is celebrated on the first Monday of
August. For many thousands of Jam-
aicans, however, the added significance
of 1 August as Emancipation Day
remains deep rooted. This day, which
until Independence was observed as a
public holiday, saw many villagers cele-
brating with fairs or 'picnics' in school
yards, on ball grounds or at any other
suitable venue.
Children and adults alike dressed in
their Sunday best, but it was the older
folk who stole the show: heads held
high with stiffly starched bandana head-
kerchiefs, flounced skirts swaying in
time with their stately walk, giving a
glimpse here and there of elaborate
petticoats neatly tucked and edged with
beautiful 'tarshan lace'. Later, they
might entertain with lancers and quad-
rille, dancing stylishly to the music of
banjo, fiddle, guitar, saxophone or fife
and a one to three stringed double
bass. Children seemed to play games end-
lessly but for them the main attraction
was the merry-go-round. This might
have quite simple seats or gaily painted
animals to whose necks the little ones
would cling, as man, mule and donkey

took turns to operate the lever which
kept the 'go round' turning. Vendors
did a lively trade in boiled sweets, giza-
das, jackass corn, asham and ice cream.
Thirst was constantly quenched by
snow-ball, sugar and water, ginger beer
and cane liquor.
Beckwith [1928] says:

The Christmas and New Year holi-
days, Emancipation Day on August
1st (since 1838) . are the times
especially devoted to social game
playing. During the holiday season,
all day picnics and all night 'tea meet-
ings' are held for young and old alike
.... Assembled on some green, they
keep up festivities all day long with
much grace and spirit ....

Traditional Celebrations

In recent years some Kumina bands
have held rituals through the night of
31 July into August morning. Although
Kumina, an ancestor worship cult, came
to Jamaica after emancipation, this has
been their way of honouring the 'old ar-
rivants'. It is difficult for outsiders to
know if and how the drum rhythms and
the songs in Congolese relate to this
particular occasion, but there are fre-

night. At midnight there is a blood sac-
rifice. At dawn, a feast.
It is interesting to note similarities
of mode and melody between the tune
of "Get you horse and saddle it me
dandy" and a Kumina tune from Georgia,
St. Thomas. The one is used in the
extreme west of the island for secular
purposes, the other in the extreme east
for serious rituals. (Tunes 1 and 2).
Village festivities and Kumina are off
the beaten track. Jonkonnu seeks the
limelight. It had been used by the slaves
and plantation workers as much needed
respite from their distressingly drab
and difficult lives. Epstein [1977]
states that 'an exotic custom brought
from Jamaica (where it still continues)
or perhaps from Africa was the John
Canoe festival, part of the Christmas
celebration in sections of North Caro-
lina before the Civil War'. Long [1774]
writes thus of Jamaica:
In the towns during Christmas holi-
days, they have several tall robust fel-
lows dressed up in grotesque habits and
a pair of ox horns on their head sprout-
ing from the top of a horrid sort of
visor or mask, which about the mouth

Tune No.1
Get you horse and saddle

S- -d -a.


" "


quent references to emancipation at the
ritual. While there is an aura of rejoicing,
there is no doubt that ancestors are being
revered as those whose sacrifice made it
possible for Kumina adherents, as well
as most of the rest of us, to be here.
Singing, dancing, invocations and excit-
ing drumming continue through the

is rendered very terrific with large boar
tusks .. he dances at every door bel-
lowing out John Canoel with great
Beckwith, as a result of research studies
here in 1920-21, tells us that 'during
the late 18th and early 19th centuries,
their "Christmas mummings" consisted

of an elaborate parade . practically
the whole black and coloured popu-
lation took part in the festivities and
the whites were no less enthusiastic
partisans of the particular companies
who appeared under their patronage'.
In living memory, long before Christ-
mas breeze began to blow, drums, fife
and singers would be heard practising
and preparing for the end-of-year festi-
vities. In areas where Buru and Horse
Head were strong, e.g. Clarendon and
St. Catherine, emphasis would be on
the lyrics of praise and derision songs
relating to notable local events, inclu-
ding misdemeanours considered worthy
of comment, e.g.

Dung tun gal no ha' no water
Fe wash dem face
Keep dem clean
(Vere, Clarendon, edited version)
The typical rhythmic accompaniment
was provided by bass, fundeh and re-
peater drums. In parishes where music
was provided by side drum and fiddle,
e.g. Westmoreland, St. Ann, Portland,
St. Thomas, more emphasis was placed
on preparation of masks and costumes,
horse head, hobby horse, pitchy patchy,
devil, sailor boy and belly woman,
doctor, bride, etc. Musicians and mas-
queraders led processions of prancing
revellers along main roads and through
winding rustic walk ways. Money raised
along the route was used to defray ex-
penses and to finance feasting.
These Jonkonnu practices were trans-
ferred to August morning as part of
the emancipation celebrations. Words of
songs were occasionally adapted, but
only in passing. A south Clarendon song

Scenes of 19th century West Indian life and
verses in creole decorate these saucers which
are a selection of the original Chinaware which
was sold by the Society for the Gradual Aboli-
tion of Slavery to raise funds and elicit sym-
pathy for the anti-slavery campaign. The sau-
cers shown on these two pages are in the
collection of the Museums Division of the
Institute of Jamaica.

as -

heard at Christmas and New Year

Wheel oh wheel oh
What a botheration
Wheel oh wheel oh
Wheel oh wheel oh
What a celebration,
Wheel oh wheel oh
You walk a the hall
An' you walk a the room oh
Wheel oh Wheel oh

might be heard on August first as
Wheel oh wheel oh
What a botheration
Wheel oh wheel oh
Wheel oh wheel oh
What a celebration
For we greeting
the August morning again oh
Wheel oh wheel oh.

Early reports of Jonkonnu in St.
Ann, for instance, tell of rival sets. A
description by Stewart [1808] says:

On Christmas and New Years Day it
was customary for the Negro girls of
the town to exhibit themselves in all
the pride of gaudy splendour under the
determination of 'blues' and 'reds' ..
they paraded through the streets two
and two in the most exact order, uni-
form in their dress and nearly all of the
same stature and age.

Stewart also mentions a 'Queen' as the
leader of each set. Each set declared
allegiance to either the English (Reds)
or Scottish (Blue) naval personnel.
Lewis [1834] informs us that 'English
and Scots planters and their wives etc.
vied in rivalry, the wives lending jewel-

lery and helping with the finery of the
different sets and being fiercely parti-
san'. According to Sylvia Wynter,
'Belisario tells us that the concept of
the competing Sets and Set girls was
brought to Jamaica from Haiti by the
French refugees and their slaves and
servants when the Haitian War of In-
dependence began'. It can hardly be
coincidental that in Bruckins party, the
action centres on two groups of dancers,
one dressed entirely in blue, the other in

Bruckins Party

Bruckins was exposed to the country
at large through the annual national
festival of arts and the work of devoted
social workers in the sixties. One re-
members the energetic dancing of Miss
Mary Turner and her group from Ken-
sington in Portland. Some members
were over 80 years of age, but they
never accepted a chair between dances.
They watched and listened attentively
as the music dictated the sequence of
dances even if it was not their turn to
take the floor. According to the song
now Kings and Queens only, now
blues, then everyone or reds alone.

De Queen a Come In
De Queen a come in
De Queen a come in
De Queen a come in
Oh yes a beautiful sight

Red Queen a come in
Red Queen a come in
Red Queen a come in
Oh yes a beautiful sight

Red and Blue Queens Bruckins party

Blue Queen a come in
Blue Queen a come in
Blue Queen a come in
Oh yes a beautiful sight

De Dress De Queen A Go Wear

De dress de Queen a go wear
She no barra none
Oh de dress de Queen a go wear
She no barra none
Oh she buy, she no barra none
She no barra none.

They impressed locals and visitors alike
with their strong movements, their flexi-
bility and the characteristic exaggerated
posturing with swords to the music of a
small band of singers and drummers.
Unlike Jonkonnu, Horse Head and
Buru, which express the spirit of re-
joicing in songs and sounds similar to
those used at Christmas time, and Ku-
mina which concentrates on the sacri-
fices and continuing interest of ances-
tors, Bruckins songs are explicit in their
reference to emancipation. Modern Jam-
aica may not totally agree with some of
their emphases, but these must be res-
pected as the concepts of the people
who actually experienced or were told
at first hand of that momentous event.

Tune No. 2

i ,11 "M f 1 f 1.

Noble Queen
(Tune No. 3)
God bless the noble Queen Victoria
who set Jamaica free
God bless the noble Queen Victoria
who set Jamaica free
You no heary weh me say
You no heary ban' a play
Deestant (decent) marching around the
You no heary weh me say
You no heary ban' a play
Deestant marching around the booth.

Noble Queen Tune No. 3

n-l 010I 0
q1~~~ 0


Jubalee, jubalee dis is de year of jubalee
Queen Victoria gi me free, Queen
Victoria gi me free
Queen Victoria gi me free dis is de year
of jubalee
Jubalee jubalee jubalee jubalee
Jubalee, jubalee dis is de year of jubalee
August morning come again, August
morning come again
August morning come again, dis is de
year of jubalee
Jubalee jubalee jubalee jubalee

Bruckins was more than just music
and dance. It was a night long competition
of skill and endurance. It started with
each set, royalty and courtiers, led by
King and Queen parading/bragging to
the chosen venue and round the booth.

(Tune No. 4)

Recreation around' da booth
Recreation around' da booth
Oh recreation, recreation around' da
Oh mi noble chairman
Come sit at me lady feet
Oh mi noble chairman
Come sit at me lady feet
Oh mi noble chairman
Recreation around' da booth.

Mango Blassom
Mango deh blassom, mango blassom
Mango deh blassom, mango blassom
June an' July, mango blassom
June an' July, mango blassom
Mango deh blassom, mango blassom
Mango deh blassom, mango blassom
Come we deh go a hill, mango blassom
See mango blassom, mango blassom
June an' July, mango blassom
June an' July, mango blassom
Young girl a blassom, mango blassom
Ackee deh blassom, mango blassom
June an' July, mango blassom
June an' July, mango blassom

The groups, blues and reds then vied for
the championship, crowned royalty,
gloved sword-bearing courtiers and veil-

Recreation Tune No. 4


Br~tt^ 'l~ P^-4


In 1930 when an enterprising Jamaican, Cecil Boswell Facey
turned his family business into a public company, the seed
was planted that has grown, with your support and patronage,
into one of the largest distributive businesses in Jamaica.
From the beginning, as now, we operated as distributors of
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pride ourselves on distributing only the very best quality products.
For a short period, the Company was acquired by
Centenary Distillers Limited, trading company for the
Seagrams Group of Companies, but continued to operate
much as before.
In 1962 a dynamic public company, Industrial Commercial
Developments Limited, was formed and this company
purchased C.B. Facey Limited from Centenary Distillers Limited.
The operation of C.B. Facey Limited was expanded
even further when the company purchased the Food,
Hardware and Export Divisions of Commodity Service
Company (Jamaica) Limited on June 1,1966.
The name of the company was then changed to
Facey Commodity Company Limited.

By 1969 we had grown even more, contributing to
and serving all aspects of Jamaican life.
We served doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and their
customers with pharmaceuticals.
We served grocery shops, supermarkets and consumers
with the finest brands of packaged foods
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As we served and grew, in order to serve you even better
we decentralized our operations into three divisions :
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our Pharmaceutical and Administrative Divisions at
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We stand by our people because they are committed.
We stand by our products because their quality is high.
We stand by our service because we believe in serving you.

At Facey Commodity Company Limited,
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Merchandise-HardwareuPhurnmaceuticalBuilding Products and Administrative Divisions

Head Office: 7-9 Harbour Street, Kingston.

ed women adding considerably to the
parodying of British pomp and pagean-
try. Money for costumes, showbread
and other expenses were raised by an
auction in the Tea Meeting section of
the party. Items included songs such as
the following:

Money Come Back

Queen jus' arrive carry money come
Show money show like de Queen bank
a short
Let me show money like de Queen
bank a show

Kneel Down
(Tune No. 5)

Kneel down, bow down
Bow a little longer (rep.)
Him gawn away to a foreign lan'

Where mus' I go to go find my noble
Where mus' I go to go find my noble
Where mus' I go to go find my noble
Him gawn away to a foreign lan'

Solicitor Ambassador where mus' I
find dem
Solicitor Ambassador where mus' I find
Solicitor Ambassador where mus' I
find dem
Gawn away to a foreign lan'

Augus' Morn
(Tune No. 6)

One Augus' morn
I went for a walk
I met my love
Wid a bunch of rose

I ask for one
An' she gave me two
By this I know that the
girl was mine

Dahlin' dahlin come mek
me tell yu
Sweetest story, loving Corina Jones
Love you so well.

Kneel Down Tune No. 5

"p I I I 1 1 I I | | j I i T l i

Augus' Morn Tune No. 6

I / '> ^ g ^ I |--- ^--------------7-----
'4~t J.-J Z I I I | F I

I d Ir " I i

Alphabet Rhyme

A for Asoonu, him big like a what
B stand for bammie, what nice like a that
C stands for puss, dem call him Maria
D stand for duppy, eye shine like fire
E stand for eel, him live dung a ferry
F stand for fiddle, it play very merry
G stand for governor, him live a Kings
H for Dry Harbour, poor no Church
I is for I, gentleman well bred
J is for John Crow, him have a peel head
K is for Callaloo, nice when it boil
L is for Lizard, what a way him tail 'spoil
M is for monkey look pon him face
N is for Nana, him hat trim with lace
O is for oliphant, him have a long snout
P is for patoo, night time him come out
Q is for quattie, I beg you one please
R is for ratta, him nyam too much cheese
S is for seenake, him live inna grass
T is for tix, him 'tick very fast
U is for Uncle, him telling yu howdy
V is for vervain, it make very good tea
W is for ooman, follow him you fret
X, Y & Z I really forget.

An entrance fee might also be charged
at gates manned by strict costumed mar-
shalls. The audience egged on perform-
ers by their applause which was used to
decide who had won.
Today, youth from Portland still
carry on the Bruckins dancing, thanks
to committed teachers and community
leaders. It will be interesting to see how
many features of the original they re-
tain and for how long they will re-
member its historical significance.

It is important for us to note how
Bruckins party, the only elaborate Jam-
aican celebration specifically associated
with slavery, was perceived by the
people close to slavery and the plant-
ation system in time and in emotion,
who created it. The air was undoubtedly
festive. The celebrations at all times
courtly and dignified.


BECKWITH, Martha, Folk Games of Jamaica,
Publication of the Folklore Found-
ation, No. 1,1922.

CASSIDY, F.G., Jamaica Talk, London: Mac-
millan, 1961.

EPSTEIN, Dena, Sinful Tunes and Spirituals,
Urbana: University of Illinois Press,

LEWIN, Olive, "Spotlight on Music," Daily
Gleaner 27 July 1980, 9 August 1981.

LEWIS, M.G., Journal of a West India Propri-
etor, London, 1834.

Memory Bank Recording and Documentation
Project, Kingston, 1984: Field research

WYNTER, Sylvia, "Jonkunnu in Jamaica",
Jamaica Journal Vol. 4 No. 2.

New and Forthcoming

Edited by D. B. Stewart

PHILIP HENRY GOSSE (1810 -1888) was one of
the great descriptive naturalists who worked in and
around the British Museum in the mid-19th cen-
tury, a contemporary of Lyell, Darwin, Huxley and
Kingsley. Gosse visited Jamaica for 18 months in
1844-45 and worked mainly in the Bluefields area
on the south-west coast. He was then at the peak
of his powers, and his writings reflect 'the unwear-
ing delight of those months that I spent in beauteous

The Birds of Jamaica was published in 1847,
Illustrations to the Birds of Jamaica in 1849
and A Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica in 1851.
None of these has ever been reprinted.

Gosse's Jamaica contains the most interesting parts
of the Birds as well as portions of the Sojourn
which deal with birds and their habitats and also
those which give a picture of Jamaica as Gosse saw
it and which reveal the personality of the man him-
self. The Editor has added information on Gosse
and his collaborators.

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16 pages of Gosse's original
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J$70 or U.S. $25 (Hard cover)

Bruckins Party

By Adina Henry

Collected and transcribed
by Laura Tanna
From Laura Tanna, Anthology of Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral
Histories, Jamaica 21 Anthology series No. 1,1984. Published on
behalf of the Office of the Prime Minister by Institute of Jamaica
Publications Limited

or many years after slavery ended, a freedom cele-

bration or bruckins was held to commemorate the
event. Eighty-six-year-old Adina Henry describes in
her own words the celebration she witnessed as a child. Each
year it was held in her district, organized by Mother Harbine,
an African woman.

They have a thing they call, dey call it drumming. And
dey use grata and cymbal an drum an picolo. And dey march
out, an h'after marchin out, dey set up all night, the eve of
... first of h'August an then first of h'August morning
at six dey march out on the road, an dey give a three miles
procession, followed by a multitude of people as well-wishers.
And h'after they reach home now they leave de folks at
home to do de cooking, feast start.

And h'afta de cooking dey reach home, den de feas day
have de direct drummin and de women an men, dey dance,
but what really happen is: dey practice udda people dat
isn't h'African to de way to dance an yu know, not with her
family alone, wid other outsiders dat practice and know de
dance, they h'all join in an dance. Den now it just mek a
beautiful show, h'even on der road while they are wlkin -
going on de road yu want to see the people dem r at isn't
h'Africans yu want to see them on the road, jump .p dey
call it. An dey jump up for tree miles h'out from deir home
an den dey jump up back to deir home.

An h'after de feas now, if it's a big cow, h'after de feas,
dey decide now, an yu know, people to whom they know an
use to, they cut a piece of beef an send for dose at deir home
dat wasn't at de feas. First of August night dey have
dance night. Other half Africans as they call them from
h'outside come, an join an everybody now Den de big
dance an de big dark print dresses with the whole heap a frill,
yu wan [voice builds with enthusiasm] to see dem wheelin
an dancin an de men-dem, de men dey feather up demselves,
yu know, have feather down de side of deir pant an a big ting
across like all some dose dat dey call de chief, have -
like the h'lndians, an dey dance. An the next day now, all
feathers, yu know, all feathers an dey call it ahm -
decoration. All feathers an all decoration go on back at one
spot and dey go an sprinkle frankincense an myrrh. And -a
forget what the ting name on it again an dey take dat

Octagenarian Miss Maria Neufville, noted Bruckins performer
of Manchioneal.

an burn it. Dey burn de decoration, an afta dey burn de
decoration, dey burn it on a sheet a ting like zinc, but when,
after as time runs on an the zinc sheet they call it got bad,
dey build a concreted place like a small barbecue an sweep
it out clean, an burn it in de barbecue an den they sweep up
de h'ashes. An as the African, as the African customs, they
take it, a little h'ashes, in a paper bag they, meself help to
make paper bags some of the time, little paper bag Yu
get a paper bag. Yu get a paper bag of ashes yu know. An
everybody get a little paper bag of ashes for what occasion
poor me couldn't tell. [Laughs.] But all I know, I tek a paper
bag too, for what I don't know.
And h'after doing dat, den now the follering day now, it's
pure rum an wine drinking, rum an wine an um dey give
first wine an unlaven bread they call it. De wine an unlaven
bread, yu see, an h'after giving dat, after dey give dat wine an
unlaven bread, yu see, dey take it an what h'ever is the
amount of bread, yu know crumbs of the bread that leave,
dey jus gather dem up, gather h'up hall together an burn it
- in a pan.
Yes, an Mother Harbine tek that burn thing an carry it
inside her house an she have likkle box against the wall she
call it er medicine chest she tek it an put it in the medicine
chest. But for what I don't know, yu see. And dey continue
dat way now until de second at six o'clock, de second of
h'August, everting complete, yu know. De just everything jus
die out. No more drummin. De drum jus bu dudududu du
du du, jus so dey beat de drum, bu dududu du du du bu
dudu du du du da BOOM. Dey just close right down no
more, notin at all, that is connected to it again.


From Slave to Wage Earner

The Advent of the

Christian Quattie

By Jacqueline Morgan

Of all the coins used in Jamaica over the years, per-
haps none is quite so interesting as the locally named
'Christian quattie', the British three-half-pence-coin,
or the penny-ha'-penny as we know it, which was first intro-
duced into the island in 1834. The 'quattie' is one of the best
reminders that the story of money is interwoven with the
story of mankind, and is an integral aspect of the cultural,
social and economic development of human society.

A Brief History of Currency in Jamaica
Jamaica was not settled by the Spaniards until 1509. As
very little attempt was made to develop the country's natural
resources, it was always poor, and was used mainly as an agri-
cultural supplier. Most of the circulating coinage on the is-
land at this time was made of copper. No silver or gold coin
from this period has ever been found.
The British took the island in 1655, and colonization was
accompanied by difficulties in finding sufficient currency for
the needs of settlers, merchants and government. In theory,

currency followed the flag, but it was only the denomination
that went with the flag, not the coin. As a result, the currency
used in the island consisted of a hodge-podge of Spanish,
Mexican and Portuguese money along with some French
By the 18th century, Jamaica had become the bullion
centre of the British possessions in the new world. Commer-
cially, it was the most prosperous West Indian colony. The
naval and military forces had their headquarters here and it
was also the home-base of the buccaneers. For these reasons,
Jamaica was constantly receiving fresh supplies of coin and
therefore enjoyed a metallic currency. The coins in circulation
consisted of a mixture of denominations, the chief of which
were those coins struck in Spain and the Spanish American
mints. They were generally of good quality, universally ac-
cepted and readily available. They therefore became the most
important circulating coins in the island.
The basic Spanish silver monetary unit was the real,which,
multiplied eight times gave us the dollar or eight reales,

Christian quatties on display in the Bank of Jamaica Coin and Note Museum. In the background is a silver plate from the Kingston Parish Church.
The two larger coins are half reales.

which we might know better as a piece of eight. The Spanish
gold currency was based on a unit known as the escudo
with its multiples the pistole, double pistole and the doubloon.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the real or bit as it was
known colloquially, was valued at 71/d sterling, the dollar at
6/8, the pistole 1.6.8 and the doubloon 5.6.8.
The Mexican Revolutionary War at the start of the 19th
century, was to bring about great changes in the supply of
currency to Jamaica. Because of the war, the bullion trade
which normally kept Jamaica supplied with coin was stopped
and the island was reduced to'a circulating medium composed
mainly of small Mexican silver coins'.
But this was not the only reason for Jamaica's lack of
large denomination coins. The Jamaicans, then as now,
contrived to export money from the island. The Agent for
Jamaica, writing in 1817 had this to say:
Ever since the great increase in the value of bullion in Great
Britain, the small silver coins have composed nearly the entire
circulating species in the island (say 200,000), the gold coins
and dollars having nearly all got out of circulation being re-
mitted to England, and a neighboring island for commercial
purposes .... In commerce, dollars are purchased in Jamaica to
the extent of millions per annum as bullion and exported ....
J. Stewart, in A view of the past and present state of the
island of Jamaica [1823] noted that 'In return for its com-
modities, Jamaica receives from Great Britain, an annual
supply of almost all her manufactures ... A portion of the
goods received from Great Britain is for the supply of the
Spanish American settlements . the return was chiefly in
bullion which was remitted by the merchants here to their
consignees in Great Britain ....'

By 1822, for the first time since the island had become a
British colony, the requirements of trade could not be met
by the metallic currency of the island. As Stewart was to say,
'. the quantity of coin in circulation is by no means suffi-
cient for the purposes of commerce ...

The First British Coinage

By this time, Britain's colonial empire had increased con-
siderably and the problem of currency was becoming more
complicated. In 1816, the imperial government surveyed the
colonies on particulars of their currency systems. From the
replies, it seemed that most colonies favoured the silver
Spanish dollar as the standard.
Britain ordered that silver coins in %, 1/8, 1/16 parts of
the dollar were to be struck for use in the West Indies. These
coins became known as 'Anchor Money' because of the
design of the anchor on the reverse. But they were not really
needed in Jamaica. As the governor was forced to point out,
'. .. there is . the greatest abundance of this description
under the denominations of "maccaronies" (viz. 20d pieces,
10d pieces and 5d pieces), and almost all payments which
are not of magnitude are paid in such coins.. .' Maccaronies
was the name given by the Black population to Mexican
quarter dollars.
In 1825, the British government made its greatest attempt
to introduce British silver and copper coins into circulation
throughout the colonies. 'The shilling was to circulate where-
ever the British drum was heard.' Between 1825-28 some
35,000 of British copper and silver coinage was imported
into Jamaica. Before this, no coins of a metal baser than
silver had been used here. The Blacks disliked the copper

coins and this aversion was to have far-reaching implications
for Jamaica's coinage. Because they were at the lower end of
the social scale, Afro-Jamaicans were the principal users of
small denomination coins. But because they objected to the
copper coins there was little demand for them. This led to the
'profitable export by speculators of the consignments [of
copper coins] of 1825 and later years'. As coins were scarce
in the island, the shilling passed from the planters to the
Negroes not at its proclaimed rate of 1s.6.47d currency,
but, by common consent, as a quarter dollar or 1/8 currency.
It must be remembered that at this time both English coins
and Spanish currency were in circulation. So, in 1832, taking
advantage of this over-rating of the shilling, thelocal authorities
established the supremacy of sterling in the island by obtain-
ing the imperial loan for this year in British silver.
By 1834 it was anticipated that the problem of the lack of
small denomination coins would become more acute.
Scheduled to go into operation in August was the apprentice-
ship system which was intended to provide an easy and peace-
ful transition from slavery to freedom. It was expected that
during this time the apprentices would learn the responsibil-
ities of freedom, especially in working regularly for wages.
Apprentices would be free to seek work for wages after com-
pleting 40% hours free labour each week for their former
There were over 300,000 slaves in Jamaica in 1834, and
the members of the House of Assembly, realising that there
would be insufficient coins of small denomination to pay
these new wage earners, passed the following resolution
on Friday 4 July 1834:

That it be recommended ... to direct the Receiver General out
of the funds now in his hands to remit ... to the island Agent
in England, Government or other bills of exchange... to the
amount of ten thousand pounds, for the purpose of being
converted into small coin and returned to the island for cir-
culation, one half of which amount to be in silver coin of
the intrinsic value of 3d sterling and the other moiety to be
in silver coin, of the intrinsic value of 1%d sterling....

The silver 3d and 11/d pieces were first approved for Jamaica
by Treasury Letter dated 12 September 1834.
It had always been thought that the Jamaican authorities
asked for the introduction of the small denomination silver
coins to assist with paying the wages of the apprentices.
However, Robert Chalmers in his History of Currency in the
British Colonies [1893], gives a new twist:
S. in 1834 a proposal was nearly adopted to coin token frac-
tions of a dollar (quarters, eighths and sixteenths) to replace the
cut money of the West Indies and to provide the greater volume
of small currency there required for the payment of wages to
emancipated slaves.
This proposal was abandoned when it was found that Jamaica
and other islands had rated the shilling and sixpence as quarters
and eighths of the dollar respectively; and that it was in further-
ance of the same scheme that Jamaica had obtained 10,000
worth of 3d and 11/d pieces from England.
Whatever the reason for their importation, silver 3d and
11/2d pieces must have been some of the coins in the first
wages earned by the newly freed slaves. That they didn't
earn much, is also common knowledge. Joseph Sturge, writ-
ing about the slaves on the Wallen and Rose Hall Estates said,
'. .the Negroes work on a 8 hour system out of crop. In
crop they work 11 hours a day for five days, being 15 hours
extra per week, for which they receive 2/1 . . [i.e. two
shillings and a penny].

The 'Christian quattie'

The advent of the silver 1%d which was equivalent to the
Spanish quarter real, proved to be a very popular coin among
the Black population. They had no objections to this coin
since it was made of silver. They called it a 'quattie'. If we
accept that a 6d was the equivalent of one real, then we can
easily see how the 11/2d or quarter real became known as

But how did the name 'Christian quattie' come to be at-
tached to this coin? By the time it was introduced into the
island in 1834, many of the Black population had become
Christian. The missionary work among them by the Baptists
and the Moravians in particular is well known. The Blacks
were regular churchgoers, and James Kelly writes of seeing in
1825, 'churches filled with free browns and well dressed
slaves of every grade of colour'. Clinton Black also tells us
that on the morning of 1 August 1834, 'The majority [of
slaves] welcomed the new day in churches and chapels, giving
thanks for their deliverance'.
The Black population rejected the British copper coins
introduced in 1825, considering them inappropriate to be
offered for collection in church. But most could not afford
the higher denomination silver coins. For this reason, they
welcomed the 'quattie' as they now had a silver coin which
they could afford to offer for collection. Because of the
specific need which they filled, these coins became known as
'Christian quatties'.
The name quattie is peculiar to Jamaica, and came about
because of the local currency ratings then in existence on the
island. Whereas the Jamaican authorities had specifically re-
quested these coins, and the newly freed population wel-


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comed them, Trinidad, on the other side of the Caribbean,
did not. Like all the neighboring colonies, Trinidad in 1834
was suffering from a dearth of small silver. The local authorities
suggested that a local coinage be struck to relieve the situation.
Instead, the British government sent a supply of sterling 3d
and 11/d pieces. Trinidad declined to accept them, shipping
them back as being 'unsuitable and not what is required'.
Another colony, Sierra Leone, in 1835 asked for a supply of
the new silver 3d and 11/d pieces, receiving 1000 worth in
1836. The government considered the smaller silver coins as
'best calculated to benefit the liberated African population'.
But the coins proved to be unpopular with both merchants
and the Africans and so were forced back on the govern-
With the advent of the quattie also came a new way of life
in Jamaica. All slaves finally received their freedom in 1838.
Emancipation meant that all adults could now be wage earn-
ers, and in this year there was a heavy demand for money. In
fact, the governor wrote in July 1838, 'we are .. in a state
of bankruptcy'. The currency of British silver coins, the
only metallic circulating coins remaining, and the bankruptcy
of the local government, led to urgent appeals for currency
reform. So in 1839, Jamaica passed an Act stating that as
from 31 December 1840, the currency of the United Kingdom
should be that of Jamaica. With this Act, the reign of the
Spanish dollar was over, and Jamaica came to form a part of
the rapidly broadening 'currency area' of Great Britain.
With Emancipation, the formerly enslaved now had to be
paid for services rendered and even though wages were low,
many employers either lacked the funds or were short of
money in the small denominations. By the 1840s a field
labourer was paid just over 1/- per day though those who
worked in the skilled trades could earn up to 6/- a day. But
the largest numbers of ex-slaves worked on their own plots
of land, earning cash from the sale of produce.

The lack of small denominations is the reason why in
1842, currency was formally given to the British copper
coin, within the limit of 1/- legal tender. In the previous
year, 1841, the legal tender of British silver coins smaller
than the 6d, 'to wit, four-penny, three-penny, two-penny and
penny-half-penny pieces' was limited to 40/-.
These silver 3d and 1%d pieces were struck each year from
1834 through 1843. Each subsequent order had to receive
separate approval. Jamaica seems to have been the only
country which totally accepted these silver coins. Perhaps
this was so because the other colonies were already using the
British low denomination copper coins first introduced in
Between 1843 and 1860 no silver 3d and 11/d coins were
struck. The lack of new mintages reflected the gradual decline
of the plantocracy. During these years many plantations were
abandoned because they were so in debt and others were cut-
up and sold to the Black peasants. Although some benefitted
by being able to buy property, others were affected by the
collapse of the estates. Large numbers of persons who work-
ed on the plantations found themselves jobless. Those that
were kept on, were paid starvation wages.
The next mintages were in 1860 (1000), and 1862
(1600). The entire amounts were sent to Jamaica. By this
time, conditions had deteriorated considerably. Local diffi-
culties compounded by worsening world conditions presented
problems for the local authorities which they clearly couldn't

solve. Low wages, irregular payment and heavy taxation was
the order of the day, as 'events moved steadily towards the
tragedy of the Morant Bay Rebellion'.
By the end of the 1860s it was obvious that there was a
need for denominations smaller than the 11/2d. The copper
and bronze coins of the British imperial coinage were far
from popular in the island, unaccustomed as the islanders
were to any metal baser than silver. An acceptable metal
had to be found for coins of these denominations. Cupro-
nickel which was just gaining popularity as a metal for coin-
age provided the answer. It looked similar to silver and proved
to be acceptable.
By an Order in Council of 11 November 1869, and by the
local laws, the penny and half-penny were authorized to be
struck for Jamaica. They weighed the same as the British
bronze coins of similar value. It is interesting to note that the
Governor of Jamaica had suggested that a %d piece be issued.
He felt that there was justification for this denomination as a
half of the quattie, but the Royal Mint and the Treasury
were against the idea so he dropped it.
Although there was no longer a 11d coin, the 'quattie'
was still used as a measure of value and became embedded in
the language.
If the Black population in 1825 had accepted regular
British pennies, half-pennies and farthings, it is unlikely that
the silver 3d and 1Y2d pieces would have been minted, or that
Jamaica would have had its first truly Jamaican coins so early
on. Thus the 'Christian quattie' became indigenous to Jamaica.

In 1834 a quattie could buy 3/2 Ibs. of sugar. One hundred
years later, in 1934, it would get you a copy of the Daily
Gleaner. By 1959, you could get six 'Bustas' [a confection]
for one quattie. Could it buy anything today?


ATKINS, James, The coins and tokens of the possessions and colonies
of the British Empire, London, 1889.
BLACK, Clinton, The story of Jamaica, London, 1965.
BURN, W.L., Emancipation and apprenticeship in the British West
Indies, London, 1937.
BYRNE, Ray and REMICK, Jerome, The coinage of Jamaica, San
Antonio, Texas, 1966.
CALDECOTT, James, "The Spanish dollar as adopted for currency
in the West Indies," British Numismatic Journal, Vol. 1, 1904.
CHALMERS, Robert, A history of currency in the British colonies,
London, 1892.
DEERR, Noel, The history of sugar, London, 1949.
HUTTON, J.E., A history of Moravian missions, London, 1922.
KELLY, James, Jamaica in 1831, being a narrative of 16 years resi-
dence in that island, Belfast, 1838.
PARRY, J.A. and SHERLOCK, P., A short history of the West Indies,
London, 1956.
PRIDMORE, Fred, The coins of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Part 3. Bermuda, British Guiana, British Honduras, and the British
West Indies, London 1965.
STEWART, J., A view of the past and present state of the island of
Jamaica, London, 1823.
WILLIAMS, Eric, Capitalism and Slavery, Chapel Hill, N.C. 1944.

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Ma Lou

and the

Afro- Jamaican

Archaeological and ethnographic
research has revealed that the
Jamaican ceramic heritage has
four distinct components.
The Arawak c. 500 1600
The European c. 1500- present
The African c.1600 present
The Syncretic, or a combination of
European and African c.1655 present

The Arawak tradition died out a long
time ago. Each of the other three has
exhibited changes over the 300 years of
its existence here. However, they retain
enough of their historic elements for
them to be classifiably discrete cultural
components. They can therefore be
grouped according to continental deri-
Details of the differences between
the four traditions have been presented
elsewhere [see Ebanks 1983, 1984] and
will not be discussed here. This article
will document the life and craft tech-
niques of Mrs Louisa Jones, potter in
the Afro-Jamaican tradition.

Her life

Mrs Louisa Jones, popularly known
as Mama or Ma Lou, lives in Job Lane,
Spanish Town. She was born about
1913 in the Wynters Pen district of
Spanish Town to Fanny Johnson, and
was one of twins. Her father went to
Cuba shortly after her birth and she
remembers nothing about him.
Fanny Johnson was a potter, as was
her mother before her. The yard in which
Ma Lou was born contained a large ex-
tended family of maternal aunts and
their children. All of these aunts made
pots, and almost every yard in the dis-
trict was occupied by a family of pot-
ters. By the time Ma Lou was nine, she
and her many female cousins had begun
to learn pottery from her mother, three
aunts and an uncle's wife.
At this time she began going to school.
Her mother's poverty and the family's
needs, made herattendance very irregular.
When she was 13, and after finishing



By Roderick Ebanks
only the first book, she left school per-
manently. Her grandmother died during
this period, being in Ma Lou'sestimation
at least 100 years old. From then on Ma
Lou worked full time as a potter, first

as her

'Ma Lou' (Mrs Louisa Jones).
mother's apprentice, then on her

Ma Lou does not recall exactly when
her mother died. She remembers that
it was after she had had her first son
after the age of 28, and that her mother
was then between 40-50 years old. This
makes it some time between 1930-1941.
Ma Lou continued to perfect herskills
until the end of the 1940s, when the
introduction of the aluminium pot all
but destroyed the potting industry,
which appears to have relied heavily
on cooking pot sales to sustain it. The
fifties were very rough for Ma Lou who
made pots irregularly, stopping com-
pletely for three years between 1954-

During this time she tried numerous
other occupations. She worked as a
domestic helper, as a carrier of sand
dredged from a reservoir adjoining
her district, and as a baby-sitter. She
also moved out of Wynters Pen to St.
Johns Road, an adjoining community,
which also was a district of pot makers.
Ma Lou's return to pottery was the
result of a vision which she had. As she
relates in an interview [Ebanks 1977]:
I was wondering what to mek a living
with. Yu know. Talk to meself, what
mus I take an mek a living. An I don't
know if is mi mother or who but, one
night I was at a big home and ah have a
broom was sweeping up the home, an it
come to me like say the home was
dirty, an a big yard too, some big place
like where we were living in Wynters
Pen. A have de broom sweeping di
place an a see a bar a dirt prepare up.
Dat mean say a must go back to it. A
bar a dirt prepare up like how I have
dat under the tree dere, now ready fe
mek an can't mek it sake a de rain,
and tru dat ah start, but ah wasn't
living here when ah start.

This took place at St. Johns Road, and
shortly after, in 1958, she moved to her
present residence on family land in Job
Lane. From then until now, Ma Lou has
continued making pots, although she
has often had to mix it with other acti-
vities such as chicken raising, to survive.
She is married and has severalchildren,
including sets of twins. Several of her
children reside with her. Three of her
female children have learnt pottery,
although its present limited economic
viability makes it more of a task between
other occupations than a permanent
full-time one.
The economic crisis of recent years,
compounded by the rapid proliferation
of cheap, readily available pots and
plates, has led to the almost total extinc-
tion of the Afro-Jamaican ceramic in
Jamaica. Most potters have'died or have
given up potting. Out of three sizeable
communities in which most yards made
pots for markets as far as 50-60 miles
away, there are now only three practi-
sing potters.
The upsurge of nationalism in colonial
territories which created the movements

for political independence, also fostered
a new awareness of and interest in in-
digenous cultures. This attitude has
prompted a cultural resurgence in the
many new nations of the ex-colonial
world, especially of the arts and crafts.
This cultural renaissance has often been
instigated and usually aided by the
governments of the new nations, thus
strengthening and deepening its course
and structural impact.

Jamaica has proven to be no ex-
ception to this. The craft programme of
the Jamaican government via its Bumper
Hall Project and Cottage Crafts Ltd.,
and the encouragement of crafts by
private and other public institutions,
have combined to promote this resur-
gence. One important aspect of the pro-
gramme has been the fostering of a
clientele, both local and international.
As a result, tremendous interest is being
shown in Ma Lou, enabling her to be
again wholly employed in her trade.

Recently, she journeyed to the
U.S.A. where she gave a series of demon-
strations. She has also trained a number
of other persons. The ultimate goal:
the strengthening, preservation and con-
servation of the national culture, is being
achieved in a balanced manner.

Over the past three years Ma Lou has
been honoured for her importance to
Jamaica's heritage both at the com-
munity (via Festival) and national levels.
However, she still regards pottery as a
primarily economic activity. In attempt-
ing to make a living via her craft during
many years of deprivation, Ma Lou
demonstrates what is probably the most
important attribute of Jamaican culture
- the tenacious will to survive,

Ma Lou appreciates the recent awards,
recognition, and new interest in her pot-
tery skills, even if she might not be fully
aware of the total implications of her
work to the nation's cultural life, his-
tory and identity. For in a real and very
frightening way, Ma Lou has stood, a
lone figure, between the total extinction
and the continuity of a major element
of Jamaica's cultural history.
Though she is excited by the inter-
national interest and looks forward to
the opportunities afforded to share her
experience, her life style has notchanged
much from that of her forebears, or of
even 50 years ago. Mrs Jones is still very
much Ma Lou, the master potter and
national treasure.

Arawak boat-shaped cooking, serving, eating
and burial bowl, AD 800-1500. Height 5".
(White Marl Collection).

11-1 111

Earthenware jug. European 1700-1800. Glazed
on the inside. Height 10". (Port Royal Archae-
ology Collection).

Clay stove. Afro-Jamaican earthenware 1900 -
1950. This kind of stove was made in Africa
before 1500 and provided the model for the
iron coal stove used in later times. (Jamaica
Peoples Museum Collection).

Chamber pot. Syncretic 1900-1950. Glazed
inside and out. Height 8". (Jamaica Peoples
Museum Collection).

The Making of Afro-Jamaican Pottery

The technology of the Afro-Jamaican
potting heritage has been traced with
exactitude to the west coast of Africa.
The manufacturing process can be
divided into six stages which are exem-
plified in the pottery of Ma Lou.

Stage 1: Obtaining the clay

The clay is dug in the immediate
vicinity of the potter, often in her back-
yard. The entire plain on which Spanish
Town is built consists of clay suitable
for the purpose. Clay suitability, how-
ever, varies from place to place. Seven
years ago Ma Lou collected her clay
about a mile or two from her residence,
at a place which time had proven to
yield clay of good quality. However,
problems with the property owner, and
growing age, have forced her to seek sup-
plies closer to home. This new clay, al-
though sound, has certain problems,
especially for the drying and firing stages,
as it has a lot of carbonaceous material.

The top two feet of soil are first re-
moved, by using a pick or fork. The clay
pits are small and usually become water-
soaked. The clay is dug out using the
hand, loaded into a basin 'pan' or small
bucket and carried, on the head, to the
working ground, which presently is only
a hundred yards away, in Ma Lou's front
yard. The work area is immediately in
front of Ma Lou's house, under a sprawl-
ing mango tree, which acts as a shelter
from sun and rain. The work area can
be divided into five distinct sections.

1. The clay ageing and soaking de-
2. The 'keke' or tournet storage area
3. The kneading and pot building
4. The pot storage sheds.
5. The firing area

Stage 2: Processing the Clay

The clay is collected whenever need-
ed. At the work area it is turned out
into a slight depression in the ground
where it is allowed to stand for a few
days. If it rains it is left uncovered. If
not, it is regularly dampened by sprink-
ling water on it and covering it with old
'crocus' bags made from jute fibres.
After a few days curing, it is kneaded.
Kneading takes place on Monday and
Tuesday mornings.

This can be called the 'primary'

kneading and is done by dividing the
clay into several large lumps. Each lump
is thoroughly kneaded, baker style. This
process does three things: it allows the
potter to extract any large inclusions
e.g. stones, twigs, which might be in the
clay which will cause 'shooting' and
cracking in firing; it removes air pockets
which also cause cracking in firing; it
turns the clay into the right consistency.
Kneading is done as much by rolling the
clay as by throwing it sharply on the
ground to burst the air bubbles. After
this, the 'secondary' kneading com-
mences. This involves carefully measur-
ing fine, coarse-grained, river sand, into
each lump. Ma Lou goes to great lengths
and trouble to find sand that is the cor-
rect texture and size. She assesses it by
looking at the sand and feeling it between
her fingers. Sand with dirt in it is re-
jected, as is sand with large grains, even
though she ultimately sieves it. The at-
tention to this detail suggests the import-
ant role sand plays in the success of
the Afro-Jamaican pot-making process.
The sand usually comes from river beds.
Many of her favourite collection areas
have in recent times been destroyed, a
result of commercial quarrying of river
sand for construction sites. It is now as
difficult to find good sand as it is to
find good clay.
The sand is usually kept in a cooking
pot nearby and taken out as needed.

The amount of sand used is measured in
a half-pint aluminium or calabash cup,
and then poured through a sieve onto
the dry ground which has been previous-
ly swept to clear it of loose pebbles. The
potter spreads the sand thinly, then re-
commences kneading smaller lumps, one
at a time on top of the sand, adding
more sand if and when necessary. When
satisfied that the sand is evenly distri-
buted in the clay, she does another
lump. Each one is treated in this way.
At the end of the process, each lump of
clay resembles a thick short sausage, ap-
proximately six inches in diameter, one-
and-a-half feet long. A crocus bag is
placed over the completed pile of the
clay 'sausages' to prevent hardening
from moisture loss.

Stage 3: Creating the form

Forms are made on Mondays and
Tuesday after the clay has been pre-
pared. All forms begin the same way.
The kneaded 'sausages' are piled in front
of the potter, who sits on a bag on the
ground. Taking a piece of the clay with
the right hand, she deftly rolls it into a
coil between her thumb and forefinger
and using a circular, anti-clockwise
motion, presses it into the spread palm
of the left hand, rapidly creating the
base of the vessel. Having created a shal-
low disc-like form of about six inches
diameter, she transfers this, first to the

ground where coils are added to it to
make it about 3-4 inches high, then to a
'keke' or tournet. Several of these bases
are made before the bodies are added
which means that some drying out takes
place before further coils are added.
The 'keke' is the bottom of an old
disused or broken pot and serves two
purposes. First, it allows the potter to
maintain a consistency of base form vis-
a-vis roundness. Secondly, it allows the
potter to turn the vessel easily when
building the body of the vessel.
To build the body, clay is coiled, and
using the same hand set, with the left
hand turning the pot on the 'keke' and
acting as a brace, the clay is added in a
spiralling motion, to form the wall. As
the walls get higher the potter uses her
crooked right forefinger in diagonal
motions on the inside and outside to
close the coil fractures, and to give the
surfaces a preliminary smoothing. A
pot with water is kept nearby since, to
form efficiently, the fingers have to be
constantly wet.
Once the vessel reaches the required
height, the outside is smoothed using
the hand and a smoothing stick. At this
time any pebbles left in the clay are
taken out and the holes filled. If the coil-
ing has left deep depressions, these are
filled in by the potter using small
amounts of clay. The inside is further
smoothed and correct vessel wall thick-
ness obtained by scraping the inside
with a calabash scraper. At the same
time, for those vessels which need to be

Photographs by Roderick Ebanks

Ma Lou first kneads clay 'sausages' (stacked in
front of her at left). Next she presses the sau-
sage to make the pot base (bottom left).
Note base form in 'keke' in the background.
Below, she rolls a coil.

'bellied' or 'gimed', such as the yabbah
or cooking pot, pressure is placed on the
inside using the calabash scraping spoon,
with one hand on the outside as a brace.
The vessel wall is gradually pressed out
to the appropriate form and dimension.
The rim is then formed. If the lip is
out-turned, one row of coils is added.
If not, the edge of the wall is turned
into a rim. The final process is the same.
The thumb and forefinger of the right
hand is set in a pinching stance and
moved on the edge in such a way as to
pinch or trim off the excess clay and to
create a flattened, square edge. A piece

: j .


of wet cloth is then placed over the
edge and moved along to give a finish-
ed smoothness.
Flower pots are often given linear
or incised decorations which are placed
at this stage, using the end of the
smoothing stick. No other pieces are
decorated although on the shoulder of
the cooking pot a maker's mark often
occurs. Ma Lou's mark consists of four
circular shallow impressions, in a hori-
zontal line on the pot shoulder 1-2
inches from the rim. One of her daugh-
ter's marks consists of five impressions,
four on top and one below. In pre-
vious years a greater amount of decor-
ation used to be placed on flower pots,
including a variety of impressions and
incisions and often a certain amount
of moulding of leaves and fruits. This
has, however, now almost completely
died out. It should be mentioned here
that the pot holders i.e. strips of clay
placed on the side of pots and 'yabbahs'
to assist in the easy holding of the pot,
are placed in such a way as to become
part of the decorative aspect of the pot.
Often the rim of flower pots is carin-
Up to this point the vessel has been
made in one stage and no appreciable
time has elapsed between the various
activities. In fact the potter regards these
actions ascomprising one process. Techni-

Spanish Town area showing Job Lane.
Approximate location of Ma Lou's house is
cally, if too much time is allowed to
elapse between them, the succeeding
stages might encounter serious problems,
resulting from the excessive drying out
of the clay. Thus at the end of these
processes all the basic work has been
done, including the smoothing of the
vessel walls and rims.
Stage 4: Completing the pot form and
The cooking pots and yabbahs, which
are spherical and the cooling jars and
flower pots which are flat-bottomed, are
left in a drying shed for a day or two
and then lifted out of the 'keke', turned
over on the top and the base finished.
This is done by using a metal loop, four
inches in diameter and less than 1/16"
thick, to scrape off the excess clay. A
paddle or 'clapper' board, 15" x 4" x
3/4" is used to paddle the bottom into
the required shape.
By now there is usually no sign of
the coiling process. The potter in fact
takes pains, as is evidenced in her atten-
tion to these areas, to thoroughly smooth
the coil depressions. The pots are then
stored for approximately two weeks in a
pot shed to ensure slow but thorough
The next stage depends on the type
of vessel. For instance, the everted edge

Further techniques used by Ma Lou: She adds
coils to complete a wall (top left);then 'gimes'
the pot belly. The pot shown at left is begin-
ning to bulge. She forms the rim using the
'pinch' technique (below left) and then
smooths the rim with a cloth.

cooking pot and flower pots are not
processed any further. A number of
other pots, e.g. the inverted rim cook-
ing pot and the yabbah bowl, undergo
other surface finishing before firing.

Stage 5: 'Gilting and burnishing'

The final process, done on the day
before and of firing, is the slipping or
'gilting' and burnishing of wares. The
usual types burnished are the yabbah
bowls and cooking pots.
A very red bauxite dirt slip is pre-
pared by collecting dirt from special
areas, and dissolving it in water. This is
wiped over the surface of the pot using
a rag. Immediately after accomplishing
this the potter burnishes it.
Burnishing is done by rubbing vigor-
ously with a specially selected river
stone, usually white in colour, often
brown. Over time the stone used to rub
the pots wears down and assumes a
jewel-like surface. The clays used by
Ma Lou obtain a high lustre, even though
the strokes are often not uniformly ap-
plied, leaving the surface slightly streak-
ed. Basically, however, the surface pre-
paration is very even, thus assisting in
the production of a high sheen.

Decoration on flower pots before firing.

Stage 6: Firing the pots

The next stage is the firing of the pots.
This is done when Ma Lou has a load.
Firing depends on the climate, on wheth-
er it is in the rainy season when little
work can be done, or whether there are
special orders which she wants to fill
quickly. It usually includes most types
of vessels.
Ma Lou's firing ground is now in the
front of her yard, about 20 yards from
her making ground. It is a circular patch
of burnt, ash-grey earth, approximately
15 feet in diameter. Since even the
broken pots are removed after firing,
relatively little evidence is left to indi-
cate that the spot might be used as a
pottery firing area. Ma Lou reports that
even in the days when several potters
resided in one yard, there were indivi-
dual, as opposed to collective, firings.
Originally, Ma Lou used dry wood
which she gathered and chopped up.
The scarcity of wood has forced her to
resort to nearby small lumber yards.
Their wood, however, tends to be green
and does not burn with the intensity
of heat of former years.
On firing day a wood bed is made by
simply laying wood onthe ground,length-
wise beside each other. The bed is mea-
sured to suit the intended size of the
firing and can vary from 4-20 feet in
diameter. When this is done the pieces
are brought out, larger ones first,smaller
ones last.
The large flower and cooking pots
and cooling jars are laid first, large end
out, then smallest pots are put in place.
Then the yabbahs and flower pot saucers
are leaned against the sides and on top
of the pile.

When Ma Lou is satisfied that the
pile is stable, she places wood upright
against and around the pile. One layer
of wood is all that is necessary but she
ensures that the wood covers the pot-
tery totally so that none can be seen.
Wood is then placed on top of the heap.
After this, coconut fronds are placed
around and on top.
Ma Lou then goes to her kitchen and
draws from her fire a portion of live
coals that can circle the outer base of
the kiln totally. She then walks around
the kiln, sprinkling the coal into the
wood at the base and allowing it to
catch slowly. As tedious as this pro-
cess might seem, it has its merits, in that
it allows for the very gradual lighting of
the kiln and therefore drying off of what-
ever moisture still remains in the clay.
This minimizes the possibilities of
breakage through the too rapid escape
of water vapour.
The firing lasts approximately two-
and-a-half hours: half an hour to catch,
one hour for blazing; and one for smoul-
dering. During the blazing period, Ma
Lou periodically piles dry grass and
coconut fronds on top of the pile, to
increase the intensity of the blaze
for short periods. In days past, rice
grass was used, but this is difficult to
obtain now and ordinary grass is used.

Ma Lou inspects the kiln regularly
to ensure that firing is progressing satis-
factorily. By experience she knows that
the wares first turn black, then a bright
red. The placing of dry grass and fronds
is important to this process and she uses
them to keep the fire above a certain
pitch until the colour of the vessels as-
sures her that they are properly fired.
The pots are removed from the hot kiln

Unfired pots are stacked on the wood firing bed (left) and firewood is placed around them (centre), before the pots are baked (right).

area by a long wooden pole. When they
are cooled enough to handle, they are
returned to the pottery shed to await
As has been implied above, potters
follow a general schedule, which is flex-
ible, and double layered. Clay is dug as
required. Kneading, however, is perform-
ed on Monday and Tuesday mornings
and pot forming takes place on Monday,
Tuesday, sometimes on Wednesday.
Wednesday is usually devoted to clean-
ing the pot and burnishing and polish-
ing; Thursday or Friday to firing. Fri-
day evening and Saturday to marketing.
However, a firing is not performed every
week. Nowadays, it takes Ma Lou three
weeks before a worthwhile firing load
accumulates. Sunday are usually left
The Potter's tools

A number of simply created or easily
obtained tools are used by Ma Lou,
These include:
1. A fork, mattock and basin, to dig
and carry the clay.
2. A sieve and aluminium mug to
sieve and measure sand.
3. A 'keke', or broken pot bottom to
help create the base form and pro-
vide a turning base.
4. Calabash spoons to gim or belly
the pot.
5. A smooth piece of hardwood stick
to smooth the walls.
6. A scraping loop made of metal, to
scrape the bottom.

Ma Lou's tools are of the simplest. Note the
broken pot base used as a 'keke'.

7. A piece of cotton rag, to smooth
the rim.
8. A cooking pot to store sand and
mix gilting slip.
9. Wooden paddle, to shape bottom
of pot.
10. A river stone, to burnish the pot.

The potter's forms
There are no potters who special-
ize in one particular type of pottery,
although there are potters who are
more adept than others at making one
type. The single possible exception to
this rule is the Monkey Jar. Although
Ma Lou makes them, she has never
been able to master the art of the curved
handle, which continually kept breaking
upon lifting. A Mrs Johnson, who lived
about a mile away, became quite well
known for her Monkey Jars and was ap-
parently exceptionally skilled in this

area, so much so that she became quite
famous as a Monkey Jar maker. How-
ever, Ma Lou recalls that most other
potters at one time or other made every-
Ma Lou makes a large variety of ves-
sel types. These include:

Cooking pots
(a) Restricted surface polished and slip-
ped on surface, of all sizes from
one six inches high, to huge three-
feet-high types.

(b) A vertical lipped pot, not burnished
but slipped. Not many of type (b)
are now made, people preferring
to buy the burnished one because
of its attractive colour and finish.


(a) Unrestricted orifice eating vessel,
often with a flat bottom for rest-
ing on a flat surface, usually no
wider than one foot in diameter.

(b) Flour and cake mixing or dishwashing
vessels. Large versions of (a) with
a rounder bottom.

Cooling Jars
(a) Monkey Jars.
(b) A spherical bodied jar, the origins of
which are obscure. Maybe a res-
ponse to a specific recent request.

Coal stoves
Identical to the iron coal stoves.

The dance takes its name from two of the major traditional rites practised in Jamaica -
gerreh in Hanover and dinki-mini which uses the musical instrument the benta, in St. Mary.
The dance evokes the ceremonies carried over from Africa from whence the vast majority of
Jamaicans originally came and which lives today in several forms among rural Jamaicans
who invoke the spirits of ancestors for a variety of purposes. Also utilised in the dance are
the Horsehead character from Jonkonnu as a symbol of fertility and the Yoruba-derived
shawling-dance called ettu.

Commissioned by
Eagle Merchant Bank
of Jamaica Limited
TEL: 926-5335, 929-3017

Cooking pots (Louisa Jones 1983). Height: 7". (Jamaica Peoples Museum Collect-
ion). Note that the form on the right is the historically older of the two and
enters the archaeological record in 1655. The form on the left is not found in the
archaeological record and enters the material culture after 1850.

Yabbah (Louisa Jones 1983). Height 12". (Jamaica People's Museum Collection).

(L-R): Cooling Jar (Louisa Jones 1979). Height 20". (Jamaica Peoples Museum
Collection); Monkey Jar (1900-1940). Height: 16". (Jamaica Peoples Museum

(L-R): Clay Vase (Louisa Jones 1978). Height 14"; Three foot cooking pot
(Louisa Jones 1978). Height 6".

Flower pots

Of many sizes and often decorated
with undulating edges.


Ma Lou has over the years experi-
mented with many new types and shapes,
building some through orders, others to
test the market. Some last longer than
others. Most die swiftly. These have in-
cluded handled cups, glass shaped cups,
copies of iron cooking-pots.

Two that are no longer made are:

(a) A huge spherical water pot, identi-
cal to the cooking pot, but some
four to five feet tall. Ma Lou
made them but as the demand for
water storage vessels lessened, they
went out of use.

(b) A boat shaped pot.


Ma Lou represents the contemporary
end of a heritage that stretches over
many centuries, continents and con-
siderable distances. The stability and
simplicity of that heritage have now
been all but totally destroyed by the
rapid changes arising over the past 100
years. Yet, phoenix-like, this heritage
persists, reminding us of that self-reliant,
highly adaptive part of ourselves which
refuses to be finally overwhelmed.
Ma Lou's ultimate testimony must be
her resilience and ability to survive. It
is this collective attitude within the
national identity that probably urges
us more than anything else as Jamaicans,
to ensure the continuing survival of our
heritage. It is also that which makes
Mrs Louisa Jones a priceless national


EBANKS, R.C., "An assessment of cultural
development theories in the light of
cultural remains An exploration of
methodology and results". Paper pre-
sented in ACIJ Seminar series, 21
February 1984.
S"The African presence in the Jamaican
Material Culture", Paper presented at
Cultural Heritage of Jamaica 21st Anni-
versary Symposium sponsored by the
ACIJ and the Folklore Studies Com-
mittee (UWI), 10-14 October 1983.
Interview with Ma Lou, 1977.


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For uou.


'Small Settler' Houses

in Chapelton:

Microcosm of the Jamaican Vernacular
By Pat Green

any elements in a building
combine to give us a total image,
so as to make it recognizable
and identifiable as being of a particular
type, style or period. In the past, only
certain types of buildings have been
considered worthy of study as archi-
tecture. However, within our cities and
small towns across the island are a num-
ber of small domestic cottages and
shops possessing elements which identify
them as part of our architectural heritage.

In the rural context, the cottages are
usually nestled among the trees, perched
on steep hillsides or in the valleys. They
exhibit a peculiar charm; they are loved

and praised by some, but by others
might not be considered worthy of
merit. Yet these smaller domestic build-
ings are expressions of a language of
architecture and form the basis of a
style which is distinctly Jamaican, epito-
mising what can be termed the 'Jamaican
vernacular'. As a group, they possess
the elements so often admired in the
great houses and civic buildings. They
are the intuitive products of skilled
Jamaican craftsmen who have a long
tradition reaching back to the earliest
days of slavery. Many of these structures
are small, possessing only three rooms.
Others are larger in scale and often or-
nate. Some have been added to over
the years as income and the family

_\ W --_v __


pp p p j





*I IL *J I

The evolution from the Georgian to the Jam-
aican vernacular is revealed in the sketch plans
showing (this page) the typical Georgian plan
(top) which evolved into the Jamaican
Georgian (right) and finally into the Jamaican
vernacular (facing page). The basic pitched
roof of the house in the photograph was not
only the most simple design to construct but
provided the most functional slope to keep
out the weather and to prevent uplift in

grew. Sadly, many have been allowed
to deteriorate or have been vandalized.
Fortunately there are enough remaining
to allow for study.
This article will make only a prelim-

inary attempt to suggest some of the
elements which have gone into the evo-
lution of this vernacular style and the
respective influences on its development
by the European and African elements
in our culture. What is required is a fuller
study of our architectural heritage,
particularly of the small, truly Jamaican
structures such as those pictured here.
The structures illustrated are all lo-
cated in the town of Chapelton in the
upper Clarendon region. They are main-
ly the products of the group of people
defined as 'small settlers'. The small set-
tlers emerged as an important force
after the abolition of slavery when
many of the ex-slaves chose self-employ-
ment on their own small plots of land
over labour on the estates. They devoted
themselves to cultivating mainly cash
crops for sale in the markets. These
independent peasant cultivators are re-
garded as forming the backbone of rural
Jamaica. Most of the structures pictured
here date from the late 19th into the
early 20th century. Although mainly
Victorian in style, these buildings take
their inspiration from earlier times.
They are an eclectic blend of Georgian
proportions and scale and African tech-
nology and decoration. An attempt will
be made to trace some of the elements
of the Jamaican vernacular which are
apparent in these structures.
The prevalence of these houses in
Chapelton are a reflection of the former
prosperity of the town and surrounding
areas in the parish of Clarendon, espe-
cially the upper Clarendon region. Claren-
don provided the physical link between
the parishes of St. Ann and St. Catherine
which held the early seats of political
authority. A major trail running from



7 m


Discovery Bay to Spanish Town was
heavily used by the Spaniards and later
settlers and followed the original Ara-
wak trail across Clarendon which link-
ed these towns.
As the Rio Minho wound its way
through the upper region, it created
rounded hillsides and very fertile val-
leys which were cultivated intensively
during the early periods of English occu-
pation. Sir Henry Morgan the famous
buccaneer and later lieutenant governor
of Jamaica was one of many historical
figures who had a plantation in this
region. In the post emancipation period,
the area became heavily settled by small
farmers, becoming known as 'the bread-
basket of Jarrraica': in 1910, at a meet-
ing in Chapelton to discuss the intro-
duction of the railway into the area,
there were over 6,000 small settlers pre-
sent. In fact, so important was the area
that the railway line for the region was
first mooted in the House of Assembly
as early as 1846, only 12 years after the
abolition of slavery. An extension of the
line from May Pen to Chapelton was
eventually opened in 1913, with con-
venient connections for Montego Bay
and Port Antonio.
The influence and examples pro-
vided by the sugar plantations and great
houses in the region, such as Danks, Sut-
tons, and Kellits, combined with the
creativity and ambition of the peasantry,
and the communication linkages, nur-
tured the ideal environment for the
development of the architectural lan-
guage known as the Jamaican vernacular,
collective examples of which can be
seen not only in Chapelton but around
the island.
The Georgian

The period of intense sugar culti-
vation, settlement and construction
by the English in Jamaica, coincided
with the development in Europe during
the 18th century of the Georgian archi-
tectural style, so named after the reign-
ing English monarch. Lasting for over a
century in Britain, the Georgian formed
the basis for the style of buildings in
the colonies. It was sent out by way of
pattern books which were produced to
expound the style, giving correct scales,
proportions, materials and detailing for
proper execution of these buildings.
Architects, engineers and craftsmen were
brought into the region from Europe,
and became responsible for erecting
the structures which began to emerge in
more permanent forms, as religious,

Front (top) and rear views of a Chapelton
house reveal several features of the verna-
cular derived from the Georgian. Projected
steps ascend in a formal manner to the el-
evated rooms. Balustrades would have been
in these steps. Note that each facade or ele-
vation was treated as an independent entity,
but all four combined to create the whole.

military, government, and domestic
buildings. These included the sugar
works and great houses.
The buildings erected in the early
part of the 18th century were exact
copies of the European models. How-
ever, as the settlers became more familiar
with the nature of the tropics, an in-
digenous response was developed in an
attempt to resolve and to counter the
effects of the climate, sun, hurricane
and earthquake. This did not take place

in isolation. It must be remembered that
it was the slaves of African ancestry
who did the actual construction of build-
ings, both public and domestic and
they themselves brought to bear their
own knowledge of construction which
increasingly influenced the development
of a local architectural style.

Slaves on a plantation were divided
into different categories according to
their skills. One of these functional
groupings was termed 'mechanics', into
which fell carpenters, coopers and
masons, among others working in the
area of construction. These skilled
workers were very highly valued by
their masters, and if sold, commanded
excellent prices. Master mechanics such
as carpenters and masons were allowed
the greatest freedom on the estates,
some were encouraged to hire out their
skills, paying their owners a weekly
sum. Brathwaite [1971] credits these
professionals with being the most

Kitchen and ablution areas were tradition-
ally built detached from the main house and
linked with a covered walkway such as that
shown in photograph above. The main street
of Chapelton (right) today reminds us of the
former prosperity of the town and surround-
ing areas. The buildings with the steepest slop-
ing roofs are some of the oldest in the town.

important slaves in 'contributing to the
development of creolization', a state-
ment which is well borne out in the
architectural heritage.

Construction skills were not limited
to the slave population among the
Blacks. Many free coloureds were also
involved in the industry:
More typical, perhaps, were the . .
coloured (and black) master work-
men like Daniel Saa of Spanish Town
who started work as a mason on the
rectory there in 1809 and by 1833
was rich enough to buy it; Hardy a
brown-skin mason of Kingston built
the Presbyterian Kirk, and his darker
son who built the Methodist Chapel.
As a group, these coloured and blacks
were steadily taking the place of the
lower and middle class whites in the
towns and the mechanical trades
[Brathwaite 1971].

Such skilled workmen were much
sought after and moved around the
island to execute their work:

.--- =l] =, ._

WANTED TO HIRE, to work at an
estate in ST. MARY's, for any time not
exceeding six months, six or more
agement will be given, on application
to JOHN COSENS, Esq. St. Mary's, or
to the Subscribers in this town.
(Royal Gazette, Kingston,8 July 1779).

The tradition of itinerant tradesmen
continued over a long period of time.
For instance, the houses of the small
settlers in Chapelton bear a striking
similarity to the domestic structures in
Spanish Town, the capital of the island
until 1872 when it was transferred to
Kingston. This likeness suggests that
there must have been movement of the
craftsmen from one area to the other,
carrying their construction skills.

'Jamaican Georgian'

By the middle of the 18th century
into the early half of the 19th century,
the buildings which were being erected
by the second and third generation
of Europeans and Africans had become
a creation which was truly Jamaican.
The Europeans maintained the Georgian
style, the Africans added the technology,
the result: a Jamaican Georgian.
The most important aspects of the
Georgian influence are the scale and the
proportions. In Britain, the designs were
based on the Palladian concept. Andrea
Palladio was an Italian architect who
was greatly influenced by the architec-
ture of ancient Rome and devised guide-
lines for its interpretation as a part of
the classical revival.
The houses of the planters were
similar in style to English country villas.
The most important rooms were on the
first floor, with the principal room
being the hall. All rooms opened onto
it, as well as into each other. Another
characteristic feature was the ornate
staircase which led to the hall, as well as
a lesser one for use by the servants. Pal-
ladio was a proponent of the loggia or
gallery as an integral part of the house.
In the Jamaican Georgian, the plan-
ning concept was maintained; however,
the loggia, or gallery assumed other im-
portance. The main structure of the
house was made of either limestone
block or brick or a combination of
both. The gallery was designed to sur-
round this main structure in the form
of a light timber louvred screen around
the principal rooms, onto which all the
doors and windows opened, thus pro-

-' -'

testing them all from direct contact
with the sun. This area also functioned
as an extension of the habitable rooms
and, in practice, was mostly used by the
occupants. If the house was a double
storey structure, then the gallery on the
first floor had a corresponding piazza on
the ground floor. This piazza was some-
times arcaded.
The plan of the main structure which
maintained the strict requirements of
the Georgian was usually square or rect-
angular, with two or three rooms built
around the hall. If the building had

Detailing in timber reveal a knowledge of
wood for structure and for decorative work, a
knowledge developed by the early Africans
who knew the forests well.


more than one storey, then this layout
was repeated on both floors. Kitchens
and ablution areas were always built
detached from the main house and link-
ed with a covered walkway.
Symmetry was dominant in both the
plan and elevation of the house. This was
emphasized on the plan through the
placing of the rooms, and on the ele-
vation by the relationship of the win-
dows to the doors and the placing of the
columns to all. Those openings which
were not protected by the gallery were
often individually enclosed by a project-
ing boxed louvred screen called a 'cooler'.
In the Georgian, each facade or elevation
was treated as an independent entity.
The art was in combining all four to
create the whole.
Because of the importance of the ele-
vated rooms, it was usual for project-
ing steps to ascend in a formal manner
to these. The most important elevation
had exterior steps, sometimes arcaded,
double hung or curved, with balus-
trades emphasizing the ascent. The top
landing of these usually had a portico
which was crowned by a pediment -
the triangular area between the top of the
columns and the roof. Roofs were gene-
rally monolithic and steep pitched, des-
cending from a ridge in hip fashion, for
each elevation. It usually became less
steep over the gallery. In some cases it
projected beyond the gallery to create
the pediment over the portico.
Possibly the most important feature
contributed by the Africans to this very
formal style was the resilience of the
structure. The Europeans noted that the
humble dwellings of the Negroes were
able to withstand the tremors of the

Details of decoration and furnishings ex-
press the essence of the vernacular style.
The ornate showcase (bottom right) graces
a Chapelton shop.

earthquakes. Dunn wrote of the earth-
quake in 1692 that the entire town of
Port Royal was levelled, all except the
humble slave huts, which escaped des-
truction because of their resilient stick
and thatch construction. He went on to
describe how the survivors ejected the
Negroes from their huts and moved
into them.

In examining the roofs of the Jam-
aican Georgian buildings, it is interest-
ing to note that they were mostly steep-
ly sloping and constructed of wooden
shingles, reminiscent of the thatched
ones on the Negro cottages. This basic
pitch was not only the most simple design
to construct, but it provided the most
functional slope to keep out the weather
and to prevent uplift in the storms. The
Jamaican African also knew the forests,
what timber was suitable for structural
members, for decorative work or for
furniture. No doubt the early slaves
brought to Jamaica by the Spaniards
had learned a great deal from the abori-
ginal Arawak population about the suit-
ability of indigenous trees for con-
struction, as well as the technique of
curing the wood by smoking. It is
likely that these early slaves would have
passed on the information gleaned to
the later arrivants.

Jamaican Vernacular

Towards the end of the 19th century,
the strict requirements of the Georgian
style began to evolve into a more ex-
pressive form. Although the plan-
ning remained consistent, the roofs
began to relate more directly with the
rooms below as opposed to the entire
house, as before. The main structure

Further examples of houses in Chapelton
which testify to an architectural language
which can be described as truly Jamaican.

Photographs and sketches by Pat Green

was being constructed of more indigen-
ous materials, of timber frames which
were infilled with brick and lime mor-
tar and, much later, around the turn
of the century, concrete and other
mixes. Timber was also increasingly
used as a cladding with the traditional
'sand dash' protection applied to the
wood; that is, the mixing of sea-sand
when applying the paint, which helped
with water proofing. The gallery also be-
came a purely decorative feature, as op-
posed to a functional element as before.
Galleries began to be opened up, thus
showing off the main structure. In some
cases, the openings between the columns
which were previously filled with the
fixed louvred screen, were fitted with
shifting venetian blinds. The vernacular
was born.
It should be remembered that the
decoration of the Jamaican Georgian
was based on classical principles. There-
fore the embellishment was classical.
Columns to entry porticos and galleries
were usually of the doric order. Rooms
were wainscotted in the classical styles
and doorways and arches were framed
in one of the classical orders, sometimes
with fluted pilasters. Floors were usual-
ly timber, of highly polished mahog-
any, with moulded skirting and dados.
Ceilings were either of timber, usually
painted white, or plastered and decor-
ated and trimmed with a cornice and
sometimes a decorated frieze.
By the latter half of the 19th century,
however, the classical decorations were
being combined with other patterns
which were often ornate and which
could possibly have evolved out of

the African tradition. These later addi-
tions to the decoration and embellish-
ment in some cases have distinct African
connections. They were generally ex-
pressed in the fretwork of the roof
eaves, the barge boards, and in the
fan lights over the doorways. Colour
also became a very important element
and was often used to define the struc-
ture in addition to decorating the build-
ing. This style was used not only for the
buildings of the small settlers but also
spread to the buildings of the emergent
middle class as well as the hotels which
were erected at that time. This style be-
came not only a rural but also an urban
form. An attempt has been made to
highlight many of the characteristics of
the vernacular touched on here, in the
photographs of Chapelton structures.

Examination of our architectural
heritage would reveal more clearly the
combination and fusion of technology,
styles, craftsmanship, cultures, and
traditions. It would also show the evo-
lution of a language the vernacular -
of one of our cultural forms. It would
show that the techniques of construction
which became the standard, practiced
by all sectors of the society, grew out of
a utilization of available materials and
labour, and how the European and Afri-
can traditions fused to create this form.
It might enlighten us to an awareness
and appreciation of these very special
buildings as a part of our architectural
heritage, including those which accom-
modate the domestic along with com-
mercial activities. All testify to a ver-
nacular, a language, which now can
only be described as being truly Jam-


BRATHWAITE, Edward, The Development
of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770-
1820, OUP, 1971.
London: The Art of Georgian Build-
ing, London: The Architectural Press
Limited, 1977.
DUNN, Richard S., Sugar and Slaves: Rise of
the Planter Class in the English West
Indies, 1624-1713, London: 1973.
LONG, Edward, The History of Jamaica,
Vol. 1-3, London, 1774.
PALLADIO, Andrea, The Four Books of
Architecture (with a new introduction
by Adolf K. Placzek), New York:
Dover Publications, 1965.
TAYLOR, S.A.G., A Short History of Claren-
don, Kingston: Ministry of Education
Publications Branch, 1976.

New Seville

and the Conversion Experience of

Bartolome de Las Casas
By Sylvia Wynter

/ put forward and proved many propositions that no one
before me had touched upon nor written about, and one of
them was that it was not against law and natural reason to
offer men as a sacrifice to God, assuming their false god to be
the true one.
(Las Casas, commenting upon the Valladolid Dispute)

In another treatise written in Latin Las Casas declared
that all men and things are free 'if the contrary is not shown.
The liberty of man is a natural attribute. It could only be lost
per accident, by circumstantial causes, and not by Nature as
Sepulveda sustained.
(Juan Freide)

The first part of this article told of the parallel conversion
experiences of Bartolome'de Las Casas, and of his friend and partner,
Pablo De La Renteria. Both of these experiences had taken place in
mid-1514, that of Las Cases at their newly acquired estate near the
town of Espiritu Santo, Cuba, that of his partner at the Franciscan
monastery in the town of New Seville, Jamaica. De La Renteria had
gone to New Seville from Cuba, on a business trip to bring back
livestock for their estate, and a shipload of provisions to feed
themselves and the group of Arawak Indians who had been allotted
to them in the context of a compulsory work system known as the
encomienda system. The shipload of provisions, and the livestock,
was intended to tide them over whilst they laid the basis for the rapid

Tith De La Renterra now in Cuba,the two friends
translated their transformed mode of perception
into practical action. They agreed that Las Casas
should travel to Castile to petition the King in both their
names, the one for the abolition of the encomienda and the
Indian slave trade, the other for permission to set up a school
in Cuba for the children of the Indians. In order to find suffi-
cient money to pay the expenses of Las Casas' passage, as well
as to 'enable him to remain at Court all the time necessary to
find a remedy for the plight of these peoples' (Las Casas), the
two men also agreed that they would pool the money that
they had available and add to this whatever sums they could
get from the sale of the shipload of livestock and provisions
that De La Renteria had brought from New Seville.
Amongst these provisions, Las Casas tells us, were many
pigs and much cassava bread and maize and other things, all
of which were worth a great deal. For it was a seller's market
in Cuba where the settlers' gold fever had drawn the majority
of the Indians away from the food production which was

development of domestic food productionon their own estate.
Their conversion experiences were to entirely divert them from
this goal. Las Cases, after his own experience which had been
triggered off by a verse from Ecclesiastes Stained is the offering
which is wrongfully gotten was to devote the rest of his life (from
1514 to 1566); after first giving up his own encomienda group of
Indians, in a prolonged struggle not only to secure the abolition of
the encomienda system as well as of the outright slave-trading in
Indians which had also sprung up, but also to get the Spanish settlers
to make direct financial restitution to the Indians for all that (from
his post-conversion new way of seeing) they had 'wrongfully gotten'
as Christians from the original new world peoples.

their forte and which had become central to the daily life
of the goldless Jamaica to the search for and washing and
extraction of gold.

Las Casas was therefore able to finance the first two years
of his lifelong mission in a great part with the proceeds from
the sale of the livestock and provisions from New Seville.
And, as a later letter from Pedro de Mazuelo who had arrived
in New Seville towards the end of 1514, newly appointed as
treasurer and royal business manager suggests with a fine
historical irony, the shipload of livestock and provisions,
taken on credit from the royal estates at Pimienta and
Melilla by one Salvador De La Renteria, Pablo's brother who
had later died in Santo Domingo, had not been repaid.
Yet from the perspective of contemporary Jamaica, and
of our 'individual national' history, the episode of the ship-
load of provisions from Seville, linked to the dual conver-
sion experiences of the two friends, was to be involved in
greater and more far-reaching historical paradox. As the his-

torian Peter Jones points out, the history of all post-
Columbian new world societies can no longer be grasped as a
'mere extension of European culture' but rather as part of
a complex process in which whilst 'European armies,
European technologies and ideas and European diseases dis-
rupted and sometimes destroyed traditional cultures . .
[and] . almost annihilated native populations' as they
attempted to impose 'a European way of life', after the con-
quest was over and settlement began, something else

Once settlement was stabilized, it was not always clear who
had conquered whom, and culture assimilated to each other in
areas where the numerical advantage was not too heavily in
favour of the invaders. Out of this cauldron of change, a
variety of independent nations eventually emerged . .as dis-
tinct from each other as Haiti is from Uruguay, the United
States from Bolivia, or Canada from Brazil .... [Their] indivi-
dual national histories . have been moulded by particular
geographic, climatic, and locational differences, by whatever
existing native cultures were already there, and by the particular
type, source and timing of the European invasion [Peter Jones].

Labour Supply

Arriving in Spain in 1515 Las Casas had managed to
secure an audience with the King in December. He had per-
suasively put the entire matter of the abuses inflicted on the
Indians and of their rapidly increasing death rate and possible
extinction, to King Ferdinand in the context of a matter
which needed to be dealt with if the royal conscience were to
be absolved. After hearing the case put forward by Las Casas,
the King arranged to see him again so that the issue could be
dealt with in depth. However, the King, already ill at the
time of the December meeting, died on 25 January 1516
before the second meeting could take place. He was succeeded
by his grandson Charles, the son of Isabel and Ferdinand's
daughter Juana and her husband Prince Philip of Burgundy.
Charles remained for a while still in the Low Countries and
during his absence Spain was ruled by two co-regents, one,
the cardinal of Spain, Ximenez de Cisneros, the other, sent
by Charles from the Low Countries, a Flemish councillor of
his, Adrian, the dean of the University of Louvain.

Las Casas obta ned an interview with the co-regents. Both
men, deeply shocked at what they had heard, asked him to
prepare a written proposal, putting forward his ideas on what
measures could be taken so as to remedy the situation and to
stop the rapid rate of extinction of the Arawaks.
Las Casas presented his first memorial to the co-regents in
1516. The plan proposed measures by which to convert the
Indians from their status as encomienda serfs and slave
labour into that of free tribute-paying vassals, eventually the
co-equal subjects, with the Spanish settlers, of the Crown.
The basic problem that had to be solved by the project was
the provision of alternative mechanisms by which the follow-
ing three key functions played by the encomienda system
could continue to be implemented.

1. The ensuring of a steady labour supply for the Spanish
Christian settlers.

2. The ensuring that the Indies venture yield rapid and
regular revenues for the Spanish monarchy already em-
barked on a policy of imperial expansion in Europe.

Christopher Columbus

3. The ensuring of a regular extraction of gold, the regular
provision of food supply products, in the context of
the trading network of Seville's Atlantic 1.
To lay the basis for the abolition of the encomienda as
the chief source of labour, Las Casas proposed in his 1516
plan that White and Black slaves be brought from Castile
'to keep herds and build sugar mills, wash gold, and engage
in other things which they know about and in which they
can be occupied'.
Two key points need to be noted here. The first is that
slavery as it was then practised in Spain, and in the rest of
the Mediterranean world was credally rather than racially
defined, i.e. based on a religious system of categorization.
Slaves in Spain were of all races. And this credal system was
at the basis of another crucial concept, that of slaves won in
a just war, or bought with 'just title' as contrasted with those
who were not.
The second point to be noted is therefore linked to the
first: Las Casas is not here proposing the substitution of
White and Black slaves for Indian slaves per se, but instead
the substitution of enslaved men and women who can be
categorized as 'justly enslaved' within the system of classi-
fication legitimate by Catholic Christian doctrine, for a
group of enslaved men and women who cannot be so classi-
Las Casas proposed that 'communities' consisting of a
Spanish town and a group of annexed Indian villages be set
up. The Indians, freed from the encomienda system should
first be allowed to 'rest and replenish their energies'; then
they were to be organized into a common pool with the
Spaniards being assigned a certain number of Indians but

no particular ones [Wagner and Parish 1967].
In this transitional arrangement, the Indians were to live
in large new settlements of a thousand souls each, near the
mines and the Spanish town. Whilst they would still provide
a labour pool for both, strict rules and regulations limited
the hours to be worked, with ample leisure and vacation
times enabling a work rhythm far closer to that to which the
Arawak was culturally accustomed. The settlers were to be
shareholders in the overall 'company' and to receive a share
in the profits. In exchange for this they would surrender to
the community company 'suitable lands, livestock and farm-
ing tools' [Wagner and Parish 1967].
A single administrator was to oversee 'a complete staff of
Spanish officials and artisans' all of whom were to be employ-
ed in the enskilling and the instruction of the Indians.
Among this group of teachers and trainers were to be in-
cluded 'priests, to minister to their religious requirement, and
even a bachelor of letters (bachiller de gramatica) to teach
reading and writing and Spanish' [Wagner and Parish 1967].
Both the priests and the bachelor, one supposes, from a
memorial that Las Casas wrote to the Pope in 1565, a year
before his death would, in order to teach the Indians, have to
learn the latter's languages (the Pope, Las Casas would write
then, should order all Bishops to learn the language of the
Indians, and not to display the contempt for these languages
that they so often did).
Wagner suggests that Las Casas had most likely seen
the post of administrator as one for which he would have
been more than suitable. And there is little reason to doubt
that the proposed bachelor of letters for the first community

Marginal notes in Columbus' hand in his copy of Marco Polo's

school would have been De La Renterda; or at least that his
idea of a school for the Indians, born out of his conversion
experience, was here being incorporated into the overall plan.

The radical nature of Las Casas' proposal to provide large
scale training in new agricultural and artisan skills as well as
the making literate of large sectors of the Indian population
along with their conversion to Christianity, in order to social-
ize them as free subjects, can be grasped if we observe the
parallel 'native' model that had been put in place in Granada,
Spain. After the Spanish Christians reconquered the last
holdout of the Spanish Moors, whose Islamic ancestors had
conquered and occupied Spain from the eighth century on-
wards, Spanish Muslims were forced to convert to Christian-
ity, and were subjected to a deliberate policy of what might
be called 'nativization'.
Las Casas' counter-native model failed. The memorial was
submitted to a junta, but the advice of the junta was for re-
form rather than for the radical organization that Las Casas
had proposed. The regents decided to send out a group of
Heironymite friars as commissioners-at-large to oversee the
government of the islands, and to reform conditions on the
spot. Las Casas was also appointed as protector of the
Indians, and sent out as a special witness to give the com-
missioners suitable aid and counsel. But the fine title could
not hide the fact that the first memorial that had arisen
directly out of the vividness of his and De La Renterfa's
transformed perceptions, had been rejected in favour of a
'common sense' reform approach.
The Gouvenot Asiento, New Seville
The Sugar-Mill and the 'Negro'

The common sense reform approach failed to stop the in-
creasing mortality rate of the Indians and the abuse to which
they were subjected by the settlers in the frontier situation.
Las Casas came into sharp conflict with the commissioners
who had begun to listen to the settlers' angry diatribes against
him, and had begun to compromise with their powerful
vested interests. By 1518 he was back in Spain to press for
the abolition of the encomienda on the basis of a new
scheme, which being of a more pragmatic nature, might find
greater support in court circles.
The new scheme proposed that the type of settlers in the
new world be changed. Spanish peasants and day labourers,
accustomed to a degree of steady disciplined labour, and hav-
ing no social aspirations which caused them to reject manual
labour as did the bulk of the settlers already there, should be
strongly encouraged to emigrate. The encomienda system
should be abolished and the new type of settler should set
the model for the Indians, teaching them the new skills and
techniques of the Spanish system of agriculture.
To compensate the settlers who were already there for the
loss of their encomiendas, each settler should be allowed a
licence to import from Spain two Christianized Black Ladino
slaves each, to help them with their urgent needs. Incentives
should be offered to the peasant settler both to get him to
settle in the Indies and to stimulate him to grow crops for
food and export. One incentive was that any peasant who
built a sugar mill should be allowed a licence to import 20
Black slaves directly from Africa as the labour complement
of the mill.

This plan for the peasant migration was adopted and a
royal decree issued. For various reasons, the plan as a plan

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Ptolemy's conception of the world influenced Columbus and other explorers until the 16th century.

was to fail. Three of its components, however, i.e. the idea of
incentives for the growing of sugar and building of sugar
mills, the idea of the importation of Black slaves directly
from Africa into the Indies, and the justifying rationale that
Black slaves should be imported in order to liberate the
Indians, took on a historical dynamic of their own, going far
beyond and in quite other directions to what Las Casas had
Thus in 1518, as a direct result of his proposals, the
Spanish Crown granted a licence to a Flemish courtier,
Gouvenot, which gave him permission to import 4000
African slaves (trade names negros and negras) into the
Indies. Since this licence was also a form of negotiable
currency, Gouvenot at once sold off a part of it to some
Genoese merchants in Seville who were linked to the slave-
trading houses in the Cape Verde islands off the Guinea
Whilst the Flemish faction at court who strongly backed
Las Casas had no vested interest in the new world encomienda
and intra-Caribbean slave trading system as did the Spanish
councillors, Flemish capital had just begun to be invested
in the slave trade out of Guinea, with the Portuguese supply-
ing manpower and ships. In other words, at wider levels,
historical processes were already at work in whose context,
instead of the strictly regulated individual licences to be
awarded to those peasant settlers who built sugar mills, the
large scale importation of negros bozales directly from Africa
had been set in motion.1 Las Casas' protest at this distortion
of his original intention was unavailing:
I asked for and got permission from his Majesty [for the im-
portation of African slaves into the New World] but I did

not do so for them to be sold to the Genoese or to court
favourites, but in order that they could be allotted to the
new settlers.

Opponents of Las Casas have attacked him for, among
other charges, having been responsible for the introduction
of African chattel slavery into the Americas, with the impli-
cation that he saw the Africans as 'lesser beings' than the
Other historians, not so much defending Las Casas as set-
ting the record straight, have pointed to the historical con-
juncture by which, just as the source of White slaves was
drying up from the Black Sea, with the Turkish capture of
Constantinople, the source of Black slaves from the Guinea
coast was opening up in the context of a general European
expansion in which Black slavery and the agro-industry of
the sugar cane were to be irrevocably connected from early
in the 15th century.
The Portuguese arrived off the Guinea coast in 1441 and
in 1470 had discovered the uninhabited island of Sgo Tome
off the African coast. The island, rapidly settled by Portu-
guese traders and exiled Jews, soon developed a sugar plant-
ation system based on African slave labour, much of it
drawn from the Congo. Sao Tome'was an instant success, due
not only to its soil and climate but also to the rapidly in-
creasing European demand for sugar and the wholesale in-
tensive use of slave labour. As Mellafe [1975] points out, in
Sao Tome' sugar production increased 30 fold in 20 years
(1530-1550) from 62.5 to 1,875 short tons a year.

The sugar cane plant had been taken to the Caribbean is-
lands on the second voyage of settlement (1494). The first

The Emperor Augustus holds an
orb which shows an 'O-T' map -
a sphere divided by a T or cross
showing the three divisions of
the known inhabited world:
Europe, Asia and Africa (Libya).
This medieval Euro-Christian
conception of the world was to be
challenged by Columbus' epic

Mansa Muse (portrayed on a 1375 map) Emperor of Mali, whose
wealth helped to inspire Portuguese interest in the African continent.

It was for the Caribbean ancestors of this contemporary Arawak wo-
man (photographed in South America) that Las Cases engaged in his
theological and philosophical debates with the Spanish-Catholic estab-
lishment, a debate which led to the introduction of African slaves into
the new world.

sugar mill was built in Espaiola (Cuba) in 1506. In 1510,
the rising price of sugar on the emerging world market led
to two others being built. By 1516, Francisco de Garay had
built a sugar mill in New Seville, Jamaica, and would soon
start another.2 By 1520 some six mills had been built in
Espaiola and by 1521 sugar had begun to be exported in
small quantities.
Indian slaves had at first been used for sugar production.
For instance, in New Seville Francisco de Garay, in partner-
ship with King Ferdinand, had from 1515 exported food
provisions to the settlers on the mainland in exchange for the
Indian slaves that these settlers raided and captured. When
these Indian slaves were sent to New Seville, Garay used
some for his mill, but reshipped the majority for sale in
Santo Domingo.
From 1518, with the arrival of the first batch of African
slaves resulting from the Gouvenot asiento, the settlers began
to turn more and more to sugar and to clamour for permission
to import more and more negros bozales. And since some of
the slaves from the Gouvenot asiento fell to the lot of
Jamaica, the two mills of Garay in New Seville would most
probably have used some African slave labour after 1518.

As the dynamic of sugar production began to displace the
gold-washing complex in the islands, the compulsory work
system based on African slavery began to gradually displace
the slave trade in Indians, obeying increasingly a purely mer-
cantile and commercial logic that from the 15th century
(with the breakdown of the Catholic Church's prohibition
against usury that is against what an English contemporary
of Las Casas called 'making the loan of money a merchandise,')

had begun to displace the Catholic Christian ethic as the
organizing principle of secular life.
By another stroke of historical irony, New Seville as a
capital town indeed even as a town had come to an end,
partly due to the dynamic of the new commercial logic
which linked the destiny of the Caribbean islands to sugar
and African new world slavery, and partly due to those
aspects of Las Casas' proposals which could be placed at the
service of the new mercantile dynamic.
For in 1534, the treasurer Pedro de Mazuelo obtained
royal permission to shift the capital town from the north
to the south coast. And the main reason for this granting
of royal permission was Mazuelo's plan to build the new
town about the site of a sugar mill which he had already
built there, and his plans to develop the new town around
the sugar industry. To do this he also asked for and got
permission for the incentive proposed by Las Casas, i.e. a
licence to import 25 negros bozales as the labour comple-
ment for a sugar mill which he had begun to build on the
south coast near to his estate at Maymona. Mazuelo had also
been granted permission to arrange for the emigration of
30 Portuguese peasants from the Azores who were know-
ledgable in the making of sugar. But they were not to be the
yeomen farmers of Las Casas' proposal. Rather they were
part of an agro-business complex owned and organized by
Mazuelo; part then of a settler economy rather than of the
peasant model of development (Spanish and Indian) dreamt
of by Las Casas.

The town was shifted in 1534. New Seville would dis-
appear from history, and with it the memory of the Francis-

can monastery and of De La Renterfa's experience there, of
his plans for a school to instruct the Indians in Christian
doctrine, making them literate in order to do so. The Ara-
wak Indians too began to disappear from memory. For
whilst sugar and the slave trade out of Africa would gradu-
ally displace the slave trade in Indians (by 1542 the Indians
had been declared free men de jure) it did not secure the
abolition of the encomienda (the latter was to be simply, in
time, shifted to the hacienda system) nor stop the extinction
the rationale of all Las Casas' proposals of the Arawaks
as a cultural-biological entity.

The Paradox of the Just Title

Las Casas had retired to the Dominican monastery at
Puerto Plata in Santo Domingo after the defeat of his third
scheme, i.e. his project for the peaceful conversion of the
mainland Indians on the Paria coast. The intensive slave raid-
ing and slave trading carried out on the coast by the settlers
had so enraged the Indians that they had risen up and wiped
out the settlement, killing all the friars during the brief
absence of Las Casas. He had remained silent in the monastery
until 1531 when the accelerated rate of Arawak mortality led
to another memorial that year in which he urgently asked
that the Arawaks be withdrawn from all forms of labour and
that they be allowed to 'rest and replenish themselves'.
Except this were done the islands would be depopulated of
their presence. To replace their labour he again proposed
that some 500 or 600 slaves imported from Africa should be
allotted to the settlers in the different islands.
But the importation of Black slaves had already begun to
respond to the economic dynamic of the expansion both of
the slave trade itself and of the sugar industry rather than to
what Las Casas saw as the categorical imperative of the
Spanish presence in the Indies, i.e. that of the peaceful con-
version mission on the model of the original Apostles. For
Las Casas the importation of African slaves was intended
to facilitate that Christian mission doing all that I ought
to as a Christian as he had pledged to the head of the
Dominicans before he left for Spain. However, the dynamic
of a secular commercial-economic rationale that had begun
to use spiritual ends only as a means to the securing of tem-
poral interests was becoming increasingly determinant. And
Las Casas had begun to sense this when he charged in his
History of the Indies that the settlers and their ideologues
had 'inverted the spiritual end of this whole affair by mak-
ing it the means; and the means that is to say, temporal
and profane things . have come to constitute the end
of this Christian exercise'.
This inversion of the spiritual for purely temporal ends
was linked to the fact that increasingly Charles V came to
depend on the revenues from the Indies and the slave trade
the royal treasury received so many ducats a head for each
pieza imported as well as the purchase prices of the asiento
to repay the exorbitant rates of interest of moneylending
groups like the Fuggers with which he had financed both his
election as Holy Roman Emperor (1519) and his policy of
imperial expansion in Europe. This was to underlie the first
documented appearance of the major African (in its cultural/
biological definition) component in the contemporary Jam-
aican ethos.
By 1520 the audiencia of Santo Domingo had seized on
the rationale provided both by the Heironymite commission

and by Las Casas that African slaves should be imported to
replace the Indians and had asked for a licence to introduce
more negros bozales into the island. They argued that 'they
would not be able to give full freedom to the Indians, nor to
establish them in towns (as free tribute paying vassals)' with-
out African slaves as a substitute source of labour. By 1536
the documented presence in Jamaica of some 38 Africans
listed as piezas (23 men and 15 women, some with infant
children) attest to the rapidity with which the Christian
theological rationale of the substitution of slaves-with-a-just-
title for those unjustly enslaved, had taken on a purely secu-
lar dynamic.
Of the 38 men and women listed by their Catholic
Christian names as having been tallied at Pedro de Mazuelo's
south coast estate at Maymona, some 11 were auctioned off
at the first documented auction which took place in the
new south coast town that was transitionally called Seville
on the River Caguaya. The prices were high. One African, the
settlers wrote the Crown, was worth the labour of four
Indians. The genetically tough and culturally flexible and
adaptable rice farmers from the relatively harsher low lying
swamplands, i.e. the cultural-agricultural bulom complex of
the Upper Guinea coast [Walter Rodney 1970] would, as a
group, survive the rigorous intensive labour of a commercial
mode of mass production, where the Arawaks would not.
The Arawak mode of the human developed on the basis of
the domestication of cassava (manioc) whose higher yield of
starch per acre, higher than maize and potatoes, even wheat
and barley, as well as its easy propagation, gave the opport-
unity for the creation of a leisure civilization whose relative
grace, gentleness and conviviality struck the more perceptive
of their conquerors. It would disappear under the pressures
of their abrupt acculturation to the cultural system of the
highly aggressive mode of the human which had evolved in
the geohistorical trajectory of the Mediterranean clash and
conflict of multiple civilizations, empires, and of fiercely ex-
clusive monotheistic creeds.3

It was not until 10 years after the auction in Seville on the
River Caguaya, that is, about 1546 at a conference on slavery
held in Mexico, that Las Casas began to question his own
position as he began to receive verified information that the
assumptions on which he had based the justifying rationale
for his proposal, i.e. that the African slaves had been justly
captured in war those who had become Muslims and
justly bought and traded, was a false assumption.
What one might call a second conversion experience of
Las Casas begins after 1546 with this realization. For once
he knows of the 'unjust methods by which the majority of
the Africans too have been enslaved', his entire rationale
for the substitution of one people by another falls to the
ground. Las Casas now 'sees' his former position as a result
of his own blindness, and he implores God's forgiveness,
since he considers that he himself has been guilty of compli-
city in 'all the sins committed by the Portuguese on the
Africans, not to mention our own sin of buying the slaves'.
For 'the reduction of the Africans to slavery', he would write
at this moment of awareness, 'was as unjust and as tyrannical
as the reduction to slavery of the Indians'. He had now to
confront the possibility that in the face of the consequences
of his proposal, not even the original purity of his motive nor
his ignorance of the 'unjust methods used' would sufficiently
absolve him on that day of judgement when he found him-
self before the divine judge. Without such absolution, he

would find himself excluded from the body of the spiritual
elect, and would have failed to 'have done all that he ought
to as a Christian'.
Yet the paradox here was that the 'error' in which Las
Casas had been involved went beyond his ignorance of the
unjust methods used by the Portuguese to a more far reach-
ing 'error' central to the symbolic logic of Catholic Christian-
ity itself, and to the paradoxical nature of the just/unjust
title distinction. For as J.W. Maxwell has pointed out, the
institution of slavery was approved doctrinally by the Catholic
Church for some 1400 years until 1965 when it was officially
corrected by the Second Vatican Council.
And in the 16th century, with the shift from a traditional
Mediterranean system of slavery in whose geohistorical en-
vironment the just/unjust title distinction had been meaning-
ful to the new purely secular mode of the mass-commercial
slavery of the transatlantic trade, the paradox had become a
truly tragic one.
For the just/unjust distinction in the context of a now
utterly changed geo-historical environment would gradually
come to serve as the enabling rationalization of the trans-
atlantic slave trade; and the Catholic Church thus become the
non-conscious yet tacitly very real accomplice for some three
and a half centuries, of the new world system of plantation
slavery. And the paradox of the just/unjust title distinction
and its consequences in history were only to be explained and
absolved by the daring conceptual leap 'I put forward pro-
positions no one had touched upon' made by Las Casas
with respect to errors which had their origins in natural
reason, in his historic dispute with Juan Gines de Sepulveda,
at Valladolid.

New and Forthcoming


of Jamaica
Edited by
D.A. Thompson, Peter Bretting, Marjorie Humphries
A definitive statement
on the Forests of Jamaica in the 1980s
International and regional environmentalists working
in the disciplines of Botany, Forestry and Conser-
vation contribute to a unique work describing one
type of eco-system on a tropical island.
Papers by regional and international experts on all
aspects of the forest reserves of Jamaica, their
management and use.
Based on a seminar held at the University of the West
Indies, Mona, Kingston, Jamaica 2-5 September 1983.

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica,
Telephone: 92-94785/6

The Valladolid Debate: Sepulveda vs Las Casas

Juan Gine's de Sepulveda, a humanist scholar and a trans-
lator of Aristotle as well as official royal historian wrote a
treatise in the form of a Latin dialogue in 1545, putting for-
ward a closely reasoned defence of what he saw as the 'just
causes' which the Spaniards had for making war on the
American Indians; and for the Spanish Crown to establish
its sovereignty over the new world peoples by forcible con-
Las Casas, on hearing of the treatise which was then cir-
culating in manuscript form, promptly made moves to have
its publication blocked on his return from the Indies. A
struggle then began between the two men which came to a
climax in a special junta called officially by the Crown to
hear their opposing arguments with respect to the legality or
illegality of all Spanish conquests in the new world.
The formal debate was held in Valladolid between 1550
and 1551. It dealt with the debating topic in the context of a
more far reaching question: what kind of relation hier-
archical or reciprocal was to be established between the
two modes of the human, one agro-artefactual, the other
neolithic, that now confronted each other on the Caribbean
islands and mainland territories.
Logically linked to this question was another. Now that
Columbus' discovery that the western antipodes hitherto
classified as non-inhabitable in the medieval Euro-Christian
episteme, were in fact inhabited, and by a people that quite
clearly had never been reached by the original Christian
gospel, what new system of classification was to be adopted
for these people whose existence now placed in question
the very universality of the Euro-Christian figural scheme.
Following upon Spain's incorporation of these new peoples
and of their lands into a new Euro-American entity, was the
system of classification to be that of an Empire [Sepulveda] ?
Or was it to shift from that of a particularistic Euro-
Christianity to that of a universal-Christian civilization [Las

Summary of Major Implications

At Valladolid, Sepu'lveda used a long established doctrinal
teaching of the Church which laid down that those who were
'incapable' should be ruled for their own good, to give a
general ideological validity to a new thesis which went far
beyond the original intention of the original thesis and to
legitimate the Euro-Mediterranean mode of the human over,
eventually, all other modes of the human. This new (in scale
and intention) essentially secular system of classification
based on a represented essential difference between modes
of the human, displaced the concept of the papal donation
and the traditional just/unjust distinction with what may be
called a natural law charter.
Not long after, Sepulveda was to use this same natural
law representation to legitimate the Portuguese Christians'
capture and enslavement of Black Africans. The latter, he
would write, were 'disobedient by nature' and had as a con-
sequence to be subjected to paternal rulership [Maxwell
At Valladolid therefore, Sep6lveda made use of the very
real geohistorically evolved differences between the neolithic
mode of the human as embodied in the American Indians

and the agro-artefactual/mode of the human as embodied in
the Spaniards, to represent an inherent and a natural system
of difference between the two peoples.
Since, as Stephen J. Gould [1983] argues, 'historical
changes in classification are the fossilized indicators of con-
ceptual revolutions', the debate at Valladolid can be seen as
the official occasion of the conceptual revolution that form-
ally ushered in the modern world. It was a debate which
Sepulveda as the Spanish nationalist won (as O'Gorman
argues, according to Phelan) precisely because his mode of
reasoning corresponded to the great changes that were tak-
ing place in Europe, ushered in by the commercial revolution
both before and after 1492. These changes were to lead to
the organization of human life on secular rather than on
religious terms. Sepulveda, in spite of his still hybrid use of
religious terminology and concepts, can be said to have
provided the first secular operational self-definition of the
human subject, one whose universally applicable verbal sym-
bol was that of natural law rather than that of the Christian
God, even where still couched in terms of the latter. In doing
this he spoke to the reality of his times and to the rise of the
nation-state and its reasons-of-state rather than the Christian
Church as the regulatory system of an emerging world system
at the level of everyday existence.

Las Casas, on the other hand, lost that debate because he
was at once behind his time and ahead of his time. Yet the
conceptual leap that he made from the very contradiction of
his position, is a leap now resonantly in tune with our own,
also transitional, times. For in providing a conceptual challenge
to the new system of classification being put in place by

The Editor welcomes letters from readers which relate directly to
articles appearing in JAMAICA JOURNAL.

Female Jonkonnus

Cheryl Ryman's article, "Jonkonnu: a Neo-
African Form" pt. 1 [17:1, February 1984]
surprised me with the information that Jonkonnu
bands included female participants. Let me imme-
diately disclaim any scholarly knowledge about
Jonkonnu: my interest is merely that of the
Nowadays in residential St. Andrew where Jon-
konnu bands appear around Christmas, I've never
seen one female. Indeed, the role of Pregnant
Woman which many of these bands today include
is played by a male who adopts a squeaky, female
voice. I've assumed this character mocks one of
the society's dilemmas.
In my rural childhood, Jonkonnu band leaders
commenced preparations immediately after August
First holiday ended. There was the collection of
funds, making of costumes, practising. This was
taken very seriously and to be included in a Jon-
konnu band considered an honour.

Sepulveda, the system that still provides the epistemic laws
for our contemporary human system in its global dimen-
sion, Las Casas opened the way towards the evolution of a
genuine science of human systems, in very much the same
way as a science of natural systems followed in the wake of
Columbus' challenge to the Mediterranean-centric classi-
fication of the earth's geography, and of Copernicus to the
geocentric system of classification of the universe.
Columbus with his empirical voyage made possible a
science of geography based on a purely encyclopaedic know-
ledge of the earth. Las Casas at Valladolid made the same
leap (not to be followable up until our own century) with
respect to the possibility of a science of human systems
based on the encyclopaedic knowledge of their laws of
He did this in the context of what O'Gorman [1951] calls
the 'providential design'. In this he refused to accept Columbus'
discovery that the new world and all the earth was habit-
able and that therefore there were peoples in the world still
unreached by the gospel as a contradiction to the univer-
sality of the Christian figural schema. He saw it, rather, as a
providential design of God which had appointed Spain and
her clergy to fulfil now, that as yet unfulfilled universality by
evangelizing the new peoples; to make the Christian model of
identity the unifying model for all the peoples of the earth,
from whom in time, God would select the body of his spirit-
ual elect.
Over against Sepdlveda's natural law thesis with its new
secular concept of the Spaniards as constituting a natural
body of the elect, Las Casas, both at Valladolid and in his

Jonkonnu and "Coolie Housey" [Hosay] were
the highlights of rural entertainment. That I don't
recall East Indians participating in Jonkonnu, or
Negroes in "Coolie Housey", is interesting from
the racial aspect. For both Negroes and East Indians
did the same work on plantations, occupied similar
quarters and so far as I observed our labourers,
they got along well together.
I have some vague thought that both Jonkonnu
and "Coolie Housey" were banned by the colonial
authorities, in the same way that I think carnival
in Trinidad was suppressed. These restrictions -
again I'm uncertain of the facts were imposed
about the time there was a crackdown on obeah
so might have been part of official policy to sup-
press, or rather to eliminate memories of home-
lands, religions andoverall culture. These restrictions
seem to have fallen into disuse: a legal friend says
they remain on the statute books in some states
but aren't imposed ...

Aimee Webster DeLisser

"Hi roc,"
34 East Oakridge,
Kingston 8, Jamaica.

Apologetica Historia defined the human as being the same
(per esse) everywhere even and because of the fact that they
were geohistorically different (per accident).
Las Casas, as Phelan notes, was the first person to write
comparative world history. Using the Christian schema of a
single origin for humans, then tracing their separation and
later isolation from each other, he argued that in this iso-
lation, all groups of men and there were never anywhere
any race of monstrously deformed men had lived accord-
ing to what they held to be a system of virtues and vices. The
practice of human sacrifice was only carried out because it
seemed to some a virtue, because this was the offering to
God that seemed to them an offering of the very best that
they possessed in other words because to them human sac-
rifice appeared positively as a rational act. As such, therefore,
it was an error of natural reason and not its lack, since, as he
later developed more fully in the Ciceronian definition of his
book the Apologetica Historia, all the peoples of the world
are men: and all men are rational. It was their rationality
which defined them.

From the 'Unseen Planets' to the Representation Which
Have Woven Us

Las Casas at Valladolid, in putting forward propositions
that no one had put forward before, by introducing the novel
conception that there was no inherent difference of rational
substance between the Spaniards and the Indians since the
practices such as human sacrifice seen as rational by the
Indians were an 'error which had its origin in natural reason',
made possible a science of human systems, as Columbus
made possible a science of geography (by positing and pro-
ving that there was no difference of zonal substance, that the
earth was the same everywhere, habitable in all five zones
and in the western antipodes as well as in Jerusalem); and as
Copernicus, Galileo then Newton made possible a science of
natural systems. For if Copernicus, as Hans Jonas [1979]
points out, made thinkable the quite novel conception that
since the earth was a star and the planets 'earths' there was
no difference between celestial and terrestrial substance as
had been laid down in the geocentric Greek-Christian Ptole-
maic view of the universe, then it meant that nature was the
same everywhere and homogenous in substance.
This novel conception and its implication had then made
possible Newton's new way of seeing ortheoria [Bohm 1980]
in which both earth and planets could be seen in the con-
text of a universally applicable law of gravitation.
In this new way of seeing, Newton was now able to con-
ceive of the planets no longer in the Greek-Christian terms of
their orbital circular (formal/spiritual) perfection, but rather
in new terms in that of 'the rates of fall of all matter
towards various centres'. This new way of seeing then en-
abled prediction and conscious human control of natural
forces, that would lead eventually to the splitting of the
atom, ushering in a new era of human history. For when in
this new way of seeing, Bohm points out, 'something was
seen not to be accounted for in this way, one looked for and
then discovered new and as yet unseen planets towards
which celestial objects were falling'.
Las Casas at Valladolid, given his a priori conviction of
a universal and potentially realizable system of human co-
identification, in other words, the universal-Christian, and
thereby refusing to accept 'human sacrifice' or even cannibal-

istic rites as proof of a naturally determined difference in
human rational substance, by a great conceptual leap made
thinkable the possibility of a universally applicable law of
human identification, in whose context the 'errors' of
specific forms of reason and of behaviours are lawlike and
For if, in doing 'all that he ought to as a Christian' Las
Casas continued to see as 'rational', not the call for the
abolition of slavery per se (that would be for another epis-
teme, in another time, 150 years ago) but rather that slaves
acquired with a 'just title' should be substituted for slaves
not so acquired, so, quite clearly, did the Aztec mode of the
human see human sacrifice as supremely rational, doing all
that he ought to as an Aztec.
And since in order to re-present itself each mode of the
human must conceive itself in that specific mode and this
is the moment of human freedom, its discontinuity with the
other natural species, its unique function as the medium
through which consciousness enters the life of the planet -
then the form of reason or episteme must as its primary
function ensure the incorporation of the group as this
specific group entity, by stabilizing and disseminating this
shared self-conception.
For we think in the mode of the symbolical self-represent-
ation. As we act upon the world in the mode of our hands.
And both the insights and the oversights Las Casas' errors
are always governed by our historically relative systems of
The decoding of the 'errors' of natural reason of Las
Casas, of the Portuguese, of their African partners, of the
Catholic Church, of the Protestant sects and others which
made the 'time on the cross' of our 'unique individual
history' the dually tragic/creative origins of our history
possible, would seem to make our putting in place of a
science of human systems, by which we would make our-
selves the paradoxical heirs to Las Casas' great argument at
Valladolid, the fitting conclusion to a historical process that
began with two conversion experiences and a shipload of pro-
visions from New Seville.
It is not man, to paraphrase Ricoeur, but his systems of
representations that should be accused. We truly absolve Las
Casas then, when putting an end to the pre-history of the
human, we take as the object of our metadisciplinary inquiry
(because the present separation between the natural and the
social sciences is itself a culture specific representation) the
thousand representations out of which the Human has woven
itself and its Others.


1. Bozales: the term for the lineage-cultural African slaves imported
directly from Africa as distinct from the Christian-cultural Black
slaves (Ladinos) born in Spain.
2. The remains of one of these mills has been excavated at the New
Seville site.
3. Colin Turnbull [1978] notes the interrelation between the cul-
tural systems or modes of the human and the physical environ-
ment in the case of Africa. Where the environment is abundant
and the climate moderate, he notes it has never been necessary
for a complex industrial technology to develop. Rather the
African physical environment had demanded an 'economic ade-
quacy' which everywhere 'depends upon a sympathetic, adapt-
ive response from the human population that must under these

conditions function with the totality of fauna and flora as part
of a natural world .... Whereas other cultures for various reasons
have had to develop an industrial technology and have sought in-
creasingly to dominate the environment and control it, the
African throughout the continent sees himself a part of the
natural world, and adapts himself and his culture . to its
varied demands. This leads to ... as many cultural types as there
are environmental types . . The same correlation is highly
significant also in any consideration of physical types.


The references to the early history of New Seville are taken mainly
from a series of documents relating to early Spanish Jamaica. They
were transcribed by the historian Irene Wright who was commissioned
by the Institute of Jamaica to do so and are now in the National
Library of Jamaica.
The greatest insights into the daily life of New Seville during the
period are given by a hitherto unpublished document, located by the
Government's Research Mission to Spain in the summer of 1982. The
document found bound in with some others relating to the early
history of Cuba is labelled as Accounts for the island of Santiago from
it was settled until the year 1536, Contaduria section No. 1174,
Archives of Seville, Spain.

BALANDIER, George S., Daily Life in the Kingdom of the Kongo
from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century (Trans. H.
Weaver) New York, Pantheon Books, 1966.
BOHM, David,Wholeness and the implicate order, London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1980.
BRAUDEL, Ferdinand, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean
World in the age of Philip II, Vol. 1, N.Y., Harper and Row,
CHAUNU, Huguette and Pierre, Seville at I'Atlantique, 1504-1560,
8 vols. in 12. Paris: A coling, S.E.V.P.E.N., 1955-59.
ELLIOTT, J.H., Imperial Spain: 1469-1716, London: Edward Arnold,
FREIDE, Juan, Bartolome'de las Cases: Precurso de le Anti-Colonial-
ismo Su Lucha y Derrota, Mexico: Siglo ventiuno. n.d.
,and KEEN, Benjamin, (eds.) Bartolome/de las Cases in History:
Towards an Understanding of the Man and his Work, Illinois:
Northern Illinois University Press, 1971.
GOULD, Stephen J., Hen's Teeth and Horses' Toes, New York:
Norton and Company, 1983.
HIRSCHFELD, Gerald, "Introduction" to Warren Wagar (ed.),
History and the Idea of Mankind, The Council for the Study
of Mankind. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico
Press, 1971.
HANKE, Lewis, All Mankind is One: A Study of the Disputation
between Bartolome/de Las Casas and Juan Gines de Septlveda
in 1550 on the Intellectual and Religious Capacity of the
American Indians, Northern Illinois University Press, 1974.
JONAS, Hans, The Phenomenon of Life: Towards a Philosophical
Biology, Greenwood, 1979.
LANDSTROM, Bjorn, Columbus: The Story of Don Cristobal Colon,
New York: Macmillan, 1967.
LAS CASAS, Bartolome'de, The History of the Indies, (Trans. by
Andree M. Collard), Harper and Row, 1971.
Obras Escogidas de Bartolome de las Casas. Historia de ls Indies
I, Madrid: B.A.E. XCV, 1957.
-, Brevissima Relacion de la Destruccion de las Indias, Barcelona:
Edicion Fontanmara, 1979.
/ /
La Large Marcha de las Cases: Seleccion y Presentacion de
Textos, Lima: Centro de Estudios y Publicaciones, 1974.'

MAXWELL, J.F., Slavery and the Catholic Church: The History of
Catholic Teaching Concerning the Moral Legitimacy of the
Institution of Slavery, Chichester and London: Barry Rose
Publishers, 1975.
MOYA PONS, Manual deHistoria Dominicana, Republica Dominicana,
U.C.,M.M. 1984.
MELLAFE, Rolando, Negro Slavery in Latin America, (trans. J. Judge)
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.
O'GORMAN, Edmundo. La Idea del Descubrimiento de America:
Historia de esa Interpretacion, Mexico: Centro de Estudios
Filosoficos, 1951.
RODNEY, Walter, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast 1545-1800.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.
TAVIANI, Paolo Emilio, Cristobal Colon: Genesis del gran descubri-
miento, Barcelona: Editorial Tiede, 1974. Vols. 1 and II.
WAGNER, H.R. with PARISH, H., The LifeandWritings ofBartolome
de las Cases, Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico
Press, 1967.
WILLIAMS, Eric, Capitalism and Slavery, Russell, 1961.

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Bankra Baskets with Wrapped Heads. 1979, Mixed media on paper. 22 x 16". Collection: Sonia Jones.

By Gloria Escoffery


T he munificent Eugene Hyde Re-
trospective which for several
months of 1984 filled every area
of the National Gallery except the rooms
reserved for the permanent collection,
has left an after image which will not
rapidly fade. This is not to say that the
residual effect was gloomy or the show
oppressive though it certainly was a
demanding experience which required
of the critic more than a single day's
concentrated attention. For some time
these walls will appear to be bereft of
meaning unless the National Gallery
curators can replace the Hyde oeuvre
with canvases not merely large in phy-
sical scale but grand in a visionary way,
challenging the spirit with the conviction
that there is more to life than the daily
hassle for bread.
In his 20 years of professional life
after he returned to Jamaica from the
U.S.A. in 1961, Hyde produced a stu-
pendous body of work. It is to the credit
of Rosalie McCrea, assistant curator of
the National Gallery, that she managed
to mount a representative selection
which, arranged chronologically, gave a
satisfactory overview of his- develop-
ment. Starting with a room devoted
to the 'apprentice' years 1953 to
1960 the viewer could follow Hyde's
development right up to the "Casualty"
and "Post Casualty" works produced in
the last few years before his untimely
death. A really useful guide to the show
was provided by a handsome catalogue
with colour as well as black and white
illustrations. The well researched and
carefully documented essay by Rosalie
McCrea is well worth reading.
The most plangent impact on the

Portrait of Mavis Lai. c. 1963/66. Mixed me-
dia on paper. 27% x 19". Collection: Mr. and
Mrs. Marvin Goodman.

sensibilities in this show came from the
"Croton" series, which anyone who as-
cended to the mezzanine could not
possibly pass by without a second ap-
praisal. It was perhaps appropriate that
these were more accessible for middle
distance as well as distant and close up
viewing than the later and perhaps more
significant large works of the "Casualty"
series. The latter demand more of the
viewer, and may be considered by the
art lover in search of sensuous pleasure
more appealing than the almost but not
quite abstract representation of such
themes as Isolation, The Dispossessed
and Religious Repression. Even more
alienating for the conservative viewer
just beginning to concede that there is
something to be said for modern art are
later works in the "Bankra" series which
seem to be a deliberate slap in the face
for conventional notions of painterly
values. Paradoxically, such a viewer
is more likely to take on trust purely
abstract works, especially if they have a

title to which he can respond by weav-
ing a fanciful interpretation of his own,
than paintings which (like Apples and
Bananas for instance), combine 'real-
ism' with distortion, or, like Miss
Jamaica 1979, and Rejection, take
objects which could have inspired a
painterly still life, and treat them as if
the artist disdained to show them in all
their beauty .
Hyde was a mass communicator
who was fully aware of the power of
the visual symbol; combined with words,
painted images hit the viewer between
the eyes and raise questions about the
validity of satire in art if it denies the
visible world. He uses colour discord in
these last works with a deliberate will to
produce images which alienate. Titles
such as Landing of the Advisers drive
home a message which is clearly related
to the almost paranoid obsession with
which he regarded himself, towards
the end of his life, as engaged in a sort
of dangerous crusade against the politic-
al directorate of the time.1 One won-
ders, fruitlessly of course, whether Hyde
might in time have come out of this
disturbed phase and found a greater
serenity in later middle age. What must
be acknowledged is that these heavily
symbolic works have a meaning which is
derived from a painful dogged engage-
ment with the environment and the pro-
blems of a particular time and place.
How did this artist, starting from the
base of the slick studies for advertising
design which constitute exhibit one,
arrive at the point where, in Heliconia,
the last item in the show, he seemed to
be taking solace from the harsh pre-
occupations of 1977-79 in a "Post
Casualty" return to the 'beauty' of

In spite of the evidence of constant
experimentation with different media
and different styles, what comes across
to me is the extraordinary consistency
with which Hyde pursued certain artis-
tic objectives, trying one tactic after
another, as he approached the core pro-

MD E%7

blems of his artistic life from different
angles. His reputation in Jamaica stands
too high at the moment for denigration,
but one can imagine a superficial over-
view of his work in which some critic,
failing to read Rosalie McCrea's article
with due care, may dismiss him as yet
another of the Caribbean's 'mimic
men'2 swept off his feet by the influ-
ence of one Rico Lebrun, a distant dis-
ciple of Francis Bacon. Hyde (according
to such a thesis) returned home to show
off his virtuosity, flirted with abstract
expressionism for a while and then re-
turned to the flock, rejoining the 'new
imagists'3 because he had run out of
ideas of his own. This is a ridiculously
simplistic scenario of course; but per-
haps it is valuable to get it out of the
way once and for all and assert that
Hyde was no weak-kneed plagiarist.
What he did was use the idiom of his
time, as all major artists do, as a spring-
board from which he developed an
iconography of his own. Here was an
artist so driven, so possessed by his craft
and calling that we inevitably seek some
explanation, pouncing with relief on the
record of recurrent premonition that he
would not live to see his fifties.

To understand the integrity of the
essential Hyde we need to hold on to a
picture of the young man coming fresh
to the advertising world from his back-
ground in Portland later Spanish
Town. He was that precious pheno-
menon, a self-discovered intellectual
thrown up by a society of Philistines.
Thoroughly Jamaican in the machismo
that perhaps prompted him to take up
weight lifting as an early hobby, Hyde
also had a yearning for a world in which
ideas matter. How inevitable it was that,
having via commercial art school in Los
Angeles discovered such an ambience,
he should wholeheartedly adopt the
ideas which gave meaning to the work
of Rico Lebrun, an artist a further step
along in development at that stage and
possessed with the same humanistic
ideals. What, in truth, could be more
urgent, more attractive than the idea

Beth. c. 1964-5. Mixed media on paper. 35 x
24". Collection: Beth Hyde.

of helping to restore to man a sense
of wholeness, an aim which could be
pursued in art by redefining his image
in ways which stress intuitive modes of
being? That skeletal frame with its
vulnerable sutured cranium and its
cage of a thorax provided to guard him
as he continues to breathe had not gua-
ranteed man's survival or well being in a
universe conceived in mechanistic terms.
No wonder that Hyde, excited by the
new world of vision opened up to him,
brought to bear on those disciplined
anatomical studies made while he was a
student, a vision which went beneath
appearances and sought clues to the
essential meaning of manhood and
Hyde was, however, no babe in the
woods. Thoroughly pragmatic in his life
style, he put survival first. After sur-
vival is ensured comes the freedom to
achieve really profound changes in hu-

man consciousness. When he returned to
Jamaica in 1961 to take up the post of
art director with an advertising agency,
Hyde must have realized that there is a
fundamental conflict of aims between
free expression and the commercial-
ized approach to merchandising, pole-
mics of propaganda. The impulse to
seek one's own inner depth is, inevitably,
smothered by the injunction to pro-
duce images which convince people to
buy this or that brand of soap or bread
or to vote for this or that political
candidate. Hyde's actions reveal a con-
stant campaign to throw off controls
which may have threatened his expres-
sive freedom. With like-minded artists
of the avant-garde, he brought into
being the Contemporary Artists Asso-
ciation, which ran a gallery liberated
from the pressures of external com-
mercial control; later he established his
own gallery and, too, his own advertising
It would be interesting to know if
Hyde felt threatened personally by the
pressures of the advertising world. Did
he talk to his close friends and express
views on that subject, one wonders.
What he did was apply the techniques
learned in that sophisticated world of
mass communication to convey the
'spiritual' realities which he considered
important. Of course all art conveys a
message and is to some degree based on
the strong wish to communicate, or
propagandize; but in the art of Hyde
the didactic aspect of communication,
and the use of multiple message tech-
niques codified in graphics courses
designed for future advertising artists
and executives, are plainly to be seen;
this element is more apparent in some
phases than others. In the "Casualty"
series what emerged very strongly was
a sense of moral responsibility which
impelled him to return from the pure
estheticism of the "Croton" series to
the more distinctly polemical aim of
'making a statement' about the human
In the course of explaining the back-

ground to the ideas of the new imagists,
Rosalie McCrea refers to T.S. Eliot.
This reference prompted me to reflect
that Hyde, though steeped in twentieth
century angst and needing only to look
around him in order to discover real life
images that harrow the conscience, was
essentially a new world personality, that
is he was at heart not concerned with
the break up of old cultures, but rather,
pinned his hopes on the possibility of
new beginnings. The writer who comes
to my mind is the prototype of a second
chance intellectual emigre, a powerful
moralist not usually associated with
modernism; I am referring to Joseph
Conrad, whose values were modelled
on virtues which he thought he per-
ceived in the ethos of his adopted
nation. Hyde was by reason of his con-
temporary conditioning grounded in the
complexities of modern vision, with its
full awareness of human ambivalence, of
the overwhelming sense of the relativity
of every possible system of value, and
the consequent resort to irony as the
only valid mode of perception. Never-
theless, there is something straight-
forward and moralistic about him that
suggests the existence within his core
personality of an extremely simple, black
and white code of right and wrong.4
Hyde, especially in the last phase, scat-
tered broadsides which he intended to
hit home. If we look, for instance, at
the untitled abstraction, number 134,
in the "Bankra" series, we instantly
respond to the split-level motifs land-
scape/human profile/boat (?)/hooded
eye/hand gun, but this is more than an
exercise in mass communication by a
tyro of the advertising world. There is
far more to the work than an instant
intellectual analysis can convey.
The works of the apprenticeship
period, which came to an end when
Hyde returned home in 1961, show the
determination of a young graphic artist
to master just about every medium (ex-
cept sculpture) even including ceramics.
Drawing, etching, lithography, mural
design appear to have been approached
as what may be pedantically described

Bankra 1975. (From the Greenhouse Series).
Pencil and wash on paper. 20 x 30". Collection:
Sonia Jones.

as 'a learning experience'. The greatest
personal commitment appears in the
studies from life in a variety of media;
The Sleeping Boy stands out as going
far ahead of the more academic studies,
transcending mere virtuosity in the way
it reaches out in the direction of a later;
more intuitive type of drawing, which
conveys a sense of the inner being of
the model.
It is interesting to see how, at this
stage, Hyde anticipates and tackles the
problems of a would-be muralist. As
early as 1956 he produces the study for
a mural executed in four enamel panels.
He also tries out 'architectural ceramic'.
Ultimately he faces the problems which
confront the muralist when he moves
from sketches to the thing itself. The
Bunch Fruit mural of 1959-60 shows
him rather unsatisfactorily trying to
cope with deep recession and hectic
movement. One can understand why in


the later (1960) Colonization mural he
produces an almost static two dimen-
sional work in which surface tension is
maintained by a series of interesting
light shapes dispersed across an almost
uniformly dark background. Several
steps further on in his experimentation
with murals, in 1976 he competently
holds in place the complex interplay of
form and colour which has the title
Maskin-Acom, 1938. In the interim
came the colour liberation of the
"Croton" series and the Tribute to
Parboosingh mural, and he now in the
Maskin-Acom plays with a more com-
plex, clearly very systematic colour idea
- one in which each area has a precinct
of specific colour dominance, with the
central area being dedicated to the
'drama of green'.
The pitfalls in the way of a young
artist like Hyde who exudes self-con-
fidence and attracts mural commissions
before he is perhaps ready for major ex-
posure are manifold. At this stage
Jamaican patrons would have been little
interested in Hyde's 'new imagist' icono-
graphy. What they wanted was colour-
ful and attractive works illustrating
ideas which were vaguely progressive
but sufficiently cliche-ridden to be
easily read. In Colonization II Hyde dis-
tanced himself from realism and moved
into an area of abstraction where no
ready-made images could be imposed on

The appeal of folk life as a fruitful
source of human motifs was obvious,
and around the time he produced The
Bunch Fruit mural he used the medium
of etching to develop compositions
based on individual figures. There is a
sinister undertone which is not at first
evident in these apparently lyrical,
doodle enveloped figures which re-
call the work of Paul Klee. It is evident
that Hyde was feeling his way towards
something more profound. There is
something rather forced about the
response than suggestions of mutilation
in the Food Vendor, for instance. Were
these figures based on memories and in-

ventions, one wonders, or on life studies?
Set against the "Bankra" series of the
late seventies, these essays in folk con-
sciousness appear superficial. It would
take some time for a genuinely tragic
sense of life to develop.
In the mid-sixties itseems that Hyde
hit on two ways in which he could buy
time to purge himself of cliches. One
was the respite offered by a period of
abstract expressionism. The other was
to commit himself emotionally as a
student in the school of domestic life.
One gave him the opportunity to get
into the use of pigment, that is oils,
acrylics or some 'mixed media' which
offered tremendous textural possibili-
ties and enabled him to exercise his
virile haptic sensibility. The other took
him in the opposite direction of fluidity,
developing the sensitive, lyrical, almost
feminine side of himself which respond-
ed to people as individuals; not only
to people, also to nature, insects and
everything organic thus directing his
attention outward into the 'decorative'
phase of the "Croton" series.

Hyde's studies from life probably
went on without interruption through-
out the sixties and early seventies. The
Retrospective makes us aware of how he
singled them out for exposure as things
apart, titling them as series, witness
"Images", "Drawings, Yesterday, Today
and Tomorrow", "The Children series"
and 'Green House series". These deserve
a review all to themselves. Suffice it to
comment here on the emotional warmth
which comes across despite a certain ob-
jectivity which enabled him to convey
the essence of the individual portrayed,
as in the fairly early Mavis Lai portraits
and the later drawings of his children.
There is a tendency to pass from the in-
dividual to general ideas of movement
and the bodies are choreographed as
decorative units in a thematic mural
type frieze, sometimes with a flat ultra-
marine background. To me, Hyde seems
to attain in these works a peak of
serenity and classical harmony to which
he never returned, perhaps because

Green Croton (the Croton Series) 1973.
Acrylic on canvas. 72 x 45". Collection: Bank
of Jamaica.

fundamentally this was contrary to his
restless nature. Among the most beauti-
ful of the 'intimate' works are his Por-
trait of Beth, 1964-65 and, moving into
the later, more mythologized realm of
the mid-seventies, that dramatic evo-
cation of The Feud. One should not
omit mention of two exquisite studies
from the "Greenhouse" series which
show how tenderly Hyde regarded
nature the Plant Study (number 95)
and Bankra, both of 1975. Without this
close up emotional contact with people
and plants, Hyde would have failed to
grow. Fortunately he continued to look
out upon the world with the keenest
human sympathy. Turning from the
home to a world in which light-enfolded
shacks and mysterious people seem,
equally, enveloped in a sort of dawn
light, he gave us those profound works
of the pre-Casualty series, notably the
Untitled figure 1977 (number 107), Re-
clining Nude and Prelude to Casualty
Series with landscape.

It is time to say something of the
'abstract expressionist' phase. Perhaps
this is a misnomer, for Hyde never really
turned away from humanistic conno-
tations. Although the emphasis is on im-
pulsive brush strokes and dramatic con-
trasts, there is fluidity which suggests
light and turns many of the ostensibly
non-objective works into landscapes.
The masculine, dramatic aspect of Hyde's
temperament, which I have referred to
above as showing some affinity with the
vision of Conrad, is given full scope in
these works which, mainly, suggest
some sort of cosmic conflict within
nature or between man and nature. The
heroic grandeur in the sweep of land-
scape which presented itself to the eye
from A.D. Scott's house on Skyline
Drive, was just the sort of stimulus which
aroused Hyde's interest at that time.
Number 44, though untitled, cannot,
I think, fail to evoke a brooding en-

counter in which littered shore line,
tempestuous sea and flanking mountain
each play their part. Of course these
works are not unrelated to experiments
with human forms which also are on a
heroic scale, and show Hyde's faculty
for using unusual means in order to cre-
ate a personal iconography of almost
overwhelming intensity. Outstanding
examples are the tonal exercises, Black
on Black, Female Figure and Earth
Mother/Woman on Bended Knee (c.
1968) from the series "The Model and
the Artist".

The seemingly abrupt transitions and
strong contrasts by which Hyde propel-
led himself ever forward in a quest for
self-fulfilment are never more evident
than if one moves from the works men-
tioned above to the "Croton" series.
But in fact there is a logical progression
with waves of new ideas ever developing
momentum and waiting their turn to
break and flood the foreground of his
consciousness. Thus chronologically one
may leaf back through the pages of the
catalogue and note how the crotons
were preceded (across the trough of the
heroic studies of the model and intimate

studies of his children,) by the earlier,
more realistic sunflower studies of 1967.
At that time an approach through tex-
tures and pigment as a means of arriving
at the essence of things carried him for-
ward. Moving from the sombre earth-
bound studies of the model, one can, in
hindsight, see the rationale of the pas-
sionate love affair with colour which
produced the "Croton" series. Where
but in the garden could one find such
exhilarating, brilliant hues? This flight
from earth consciousness is a decorator's
dream. The canvases are identified not
as species (this would have been totally
contrary to Hyde's mode of seeing life)
or as emotional states (more likely) but
as abstract colour dramas. What we see
here are the inspired five finger exer-
cises of a dedicated professional who
felt that it was time that he came to
terms with the full resources of the
spectrum. Blue is included in the series,
compliments of Hyde's esthetic pro-
gramme; how could it be left out? Usu-
ally he maintains the surface tension of
the picture plane, and this is the really
difficult part of the exercise. Only once,
I think in the orange croton, did I find
myself disturbed by the development
of architectural caves and tents of form
which disturb the surface.
The strong point of Hyde as a colour-
ist is his ability to achieve brilliance and
luminosity. This is done by restricting
himself to subtle transitions and shifts
from one 'neighbour' in the colourcircle
to the next. This is the technique brilli-
antly explored in the Tribute to Parboo-
singh mural, in which there are no dis-
cordant notes. How far this is from the
deliberately jarring chucking around and
mauling of the colours of the spectrum
in the late work titled Nucleus of a New
Rainbow. One's instinctive comment at
the latter is, 'New, yes, but not better',
and I think that some such reaction was
in keeping with the satirical motivation
underlying his political polemics of the
late seventies.
Having burst on the Jamaican art
public in 1973 with his "Croton" series,

-. -- _

The Higgler (Post Casualty). 1978. Mixed
media on canvas. 31% x 28%4". Collection:
Beth Hyde.

Hyde was acclaimed a top ranking
colourist. However, to my mind he was
not, like Rodney, for instance, a born
colourist. Rather he was a committed
professional who was determined to
master every aspect of his profession.
There is, in fact, evidence to indicate
that at this time he was sufficiently dis-
satisfied with what he had achieved
to remark to a friend that 'he was not
able to use colour'.5 As a matter of fact
he then intuitively found the cleverest
of solutions to play down colour, de-
moting it so that it would subtly com-
plement but in no way undercut the
expressiveness of his drawing.

A most interesting work to anyone
interested in noting the intelligence
which Hyde brought to bear on his artis-
tic problem of finding the right role for
colour is the Good Friday canvas in the
"Casualty" series. Here he makes use of

the traditional symbolism of gold in reli-
gious works by the Old Masters but
significantly avoids maintaining the flat
gold background. Instead, the yellow
gold of the central panel thins and seeps
down into the lower reaches of the cruci-
form 'upright' where, paradoxically,
it functions as a contrapuntal counter-
weight to the strong dark tones in the
bottom left section. Also it suffuses the
other light areas, asserting its presence
in tints which hint at its complementary.
This introduces an element of sensuous-
ness in an otherwise starkly colour de-
prived painting.

Taking one's bearings from this work,
which happily has been acquired for the
National Gallery collection, it is easier
to find one's way to the heart of mys-
tery in the other "Casualty" works. Hyde
may have adopted various 'space frames'
mannerisms of the 'new imagist' paint-
ers:6 I am convinced that the use of
colour as a boundary or barrier, some-
times a mere thread which functions as
effectively as a wall with its injunction
'so far and no further' resulted from
psychic imperatives within Hyde much
more profound than any social message
he consciously set out to deliver. Hyde
had the sort of mind which fed on re-
flection on such things as the symbolic
potential of the colours of the Jamaican
flag, the Cuban flag, perhaps also the
Rastafarian colours and the orange and
green associated with ourpolitical parties.
But beyond this, it seems to me that
what troubled him were profound meta-
physical questions about the nature of
reality, and the meanings, we ascribe to
objects (love objects?) and to persons
as entities recognized and described by
their exteriors. Significantly he titled
one exhibition "Colour is a Personal
Thing". Which is more 'real' the con-
vincingly painted basket of fruit or
those unknown and ultimately unknow-
able higglers who, in the last works,
represent all of humanity, all that is
mysterious and, to a large extent re-
jected in contrast with the up front
wares they offer for sale. And even

these fruit may be seen as rejected sym-
bols of an inner value too potent for
us to face. What we do is wrap reality
in plastics, put bars in front of it or
plaster it with glaring green as if to
cover up its true essence.
These last paintings of the "Bankra"
series are by no means reassuring works;
if we expect art to be full of harmony,
resolution and 'beauty' they may even
be regarded as ugly. But we cannot
ignore them. The fact that we cannot
definitively elucidate the meaning should
not put us off looking at them and
speculating on the conclusions towards
which Hyde appeared to be groping.
Artistic communication at the deep-
est level asserts the existence of huge
areas of privacy the domain of
Leonardo da Vinci's stain on the wall in
the process of transformation within the
imagination of the viewer.7 Hyde seems
to be in the last stage rejecting the sham
perfection of the realized painted object
and drawing us back to these areas of
mystery, which, to him, flowed more
naturally through the draughtsman's
hand than through the brush of the
painter. His life work carries the mes-
sage of discipline and professionalism as,
paradoxically, the way by which any
artist, perhaps any human being, can
ultimately get in touch with the life
force transcending individual conscious-

1. See National Gallery catalogue, p.45:
"I am sure they are going to lock me
up one of these days ..."
2. The theme of cultural insecurity and
crisis of identity in the English-speaking
Caribbean has been explored in many
works of fiction and non-fiction, one
of the most interesting instances being
V.S. Naipaul's novel, The Mimic Men.
3. David Boxer's appellation. See National
Gallery catalogue, p. 25, footnote 6.
4. F.R. Leavis in The Great Tradition
places Conrad among the luminaries
of British fiction writing largely on
the strength and consistency of his
moral outlook on life.

5. See Rosalie McCrea's essay, National
Gallery catalogue, p.18.
6. Rosalie McCrea, p. 23.
7. Leonardo da Vinci advocated the use
of such fortuitous stains as a stimulus
to the imagination. The interpretation
of abstractions is, of course, a familiar
modern diagnostic technique, e.g. the
famous Rorschach ink blots.

GLORIA ESCOFFERY, O.D., is artist, poet,
journalist and head of the English Department
at Browns Town Community College.

6 1

By Edward Baugh
A.L. Hendriks, The Islanders and other
poems, Mona: Savacou Co-operative,

T he Islanders is A.L. Hendriks'
fifth collection of verse, mark-
ing for the most part a further
stage in the evolution of a prolific and
seasoned practitioner. The book is also
another heartening product of local
publishing and printing, well designed
and meticulously presented.
Hendriks was always a quiet poet,
unhurried, not given to grand gestures;
a careful, precise observer of the small
phenomena of the world, one who listen-
ed for the immanence of Spirit in the
voices of silence. His poems do not
come at you; they wait on you, in the
title words of a well-nigh perfect piece
in the new collection, 'not impatiently,
but confidently'.
That poem describes stabled horses
in a misty dawn anticipating, 'not im-
patiently, but confidently', their 'belly-
filling breakfast'. The poem quivers with
an assured excitement of anticipation:

Great almond eyes
Shine steadfastly
On the door they know
Will open;
Quivering velvet ears
Tune accurately
To the latch they know
Will snick.

And with that snick the poem ends and,
like the horses' day, begins. The piece is
a small marvel of descriptive and nar-
rative writing, of a stripped-down, sinewy
quality, a concentratedness, a deftness
and precision of placing and pacing which
Hendriks has been refining over the
years. Ultimately, the sheer authority
and stress of the literal assume symbolic
resonance. The poem is about the nature,
the elated expectancy of openings,
beginnings, dawns. It is a symbol and
enactment of its own method and mode
of being, a living symbol of the ways of
imagination and craft.
Right beside "Not Impatiently, But
Confidently" is another poem about
horses, "Cave at Lascaux", which in
some ways highlights by contrast the
particular quality of the former. "Las-
caux", which ironically exposes man's
inhumanity to animals and, consequent-
ly, the (in)human will to repress and re-
strain and 'break' all heaven-delighting
energy, represents a mode for which
Hendriks also has a particular fondness.
Now, what compels attention is not the
finely chiselled image obliquely pointed
with meaning; the technique now is one
by which rhyme and metre impose a
sort of easy, almost laconic lilt which
conveys a wry, Audenesque sententious-
ness. At its most facile this mode can
seem like the concert pianist practising
his scales before the audience, as in
"The Villanelle of the Kiss". However,
more often than not, what we have is a
kind of aphoristic rhyming verse, with a
wry observation of human frailty, which
is well exemplified in a poem like "I'm
Going As Slow As I Can":

Because we're taught we ought to
come first
To play to win and carry off the prize
We make the sinew-stretching burst
That breasts the tape, and glads old
champions' eyes.

Then, coming slowly to our senses,
We grasp at last we're all the same
And learn what all our future tense is,
The final naming of the game ...

Hendriks has a strong tendency to-
wards a poetry of ideas, however lyrical
the form. By this I mean that often the
poem's centre of being is not in the
emotion which it recollects, but in some
idea that attaches to that emotion. If a
poem like "No Answer" is essentially
the record of a mood and a feeling, evo-
king a poignant sense of absence, loss,
dispersal, of being 'alone in the night'
all this succintly caught in the image
of a telephone suddenly ringing in the
dimly-lighted and desolate telephone
kiosk in a strange, dark, sleeping village
on a rainy night then most of the
other poems define themselves by the
extent to which, in this respect, they di-
verge from "No Answer".
The two 'verse sequences' which make
up most of the volume move into the
area of metaphysical speculation:

Forever some are asking
Where is the place we come from?
Why are we on the island?
Is there elsewhere we shall go?
Others concern themselves,
Are we certain that we are?
These questions, from the title-poem,
"The Islanders", are also central, as its
title indicates, in "D'Ou Venons Nous?
Que Sommes Nous? Ou Allons Nous?"
(Where do we come from? What are we?
Where are we going?) In this latter se-
quence a theological concern is even
more evident than in "The Islanders",
and one or two movements recall the
Eliot of "Ash Wednesday" and Four

In this regard it is perhaps signifi-
cant that section V was first published
as long ago as June 1954 (Bim, no. 20,
pp291-292), under the title "Domine,
Non Sum Dignus". The mysteries of
being and nothingness, the meaning of
life, the 'appearance of probability',
the difficult contract between body
and soul (see also "The Affront" and
"Irretrievable Breakdown") these are
among the questions which fascinate

From "The Islanders" we must not
expect sentimental, picture-postcard
views of a tropical paradise, nor a nos-
talgic threnody on the straitened cir-
cumstances and dispossession of dis-
persed peoples. What Hendriks nego-
tiates is a symbolism that is both sophis-
ticated and elemental: island, tree, bird,
mountain, wind, ship. "Island" is a state
of mind, an interior landscape, a dialectic
of actuality and dream, finely realized in
images and rhythms which ask us to
allow them to infuse their presence into
our minds 'not impatiently, but con-

The dream of islanders
Is ships
Birds White and silver wings
Messages World lost
Found world
The half-remembered voyage
Lengths of wood not altogether burned.

We came upon the island
Gold fruit
A wind so pure and naked
It pressed our bodies like a smooth-
limbed child.

There is no doubt that Hendriks'
sophisticated exploration of the island
symbol has its roots in his feeling for
These Green Islands (Kingston: Bolivar,
1971), and one of the delights of this
tastefully produced book is that it can
entertain as comfortable neighbours a
peom written in French, "St Paul de
Vence" (the English version is also given),
which celebrates a moment in European
art (Eurocentricl Eurocentric!), and the
confident down-to-earthiness of the Jam-
aican creole with which the book opens
("A West Indian, to His Heir"):

Think a' him, son-son,
When you start swagger into town
Fe' take up you' waters
An' go look woman,
Think a' him when you flash
You own poem...

Edward Baugh is Professor of English at the
University of the West Indies, Mona.

Swithin Wilmot is a lecturer in the
Department of History, University of
the West Indies, Mona. He specializes
in the society and politics of the post-
emancipation period.

Olive Lewin is the Director of Art and
Culture in the Office of the Prime
Minister. She is a pioneer in the field of
folk music research and has written ex-
tensively on the subject. She is the
founder/director of the Jamaican Folk
Singers, chairman of the National Youth
Orchestra and chairman of the Memory
Bank Project.

Jacqueline Morgan is the curator of the
Coin and Note Museum of the Bank of
Jamaica and is interested in all aspects
of West Indiana. Her article on the
'History of Jamaican Currency' was
serialized in the Sunday Gleaner in

Roderick Ebanks is the curator of the
Museums Division of the Institute of
Jamaica. His special interest in Afro-
Jamaican traditions has led him to
carry out extensive research into the
history of Jamaican ceramics. In 1976
his research brought him in contact with
Mrs. Louisa Jones with whom he has
worked since in an effort to revive the
Jamaican potting tradition.

Pat Green, a graduate of the Architec-
tural Association School of Architec-
ture, is currently employed with the ARP
Unit of the Ministry of Construction as
a project architect. She is a member of
the Historical Society of Jamaica and
has special interest in the island's his-
toric buildings.

Sylvia Wynter, professor of Spanish
and Afro-American Studies at Stanford
University, California, is currently work-
ing in Jamaica as research consultant to
the New Seville Restoration Project.
Professor Wynter was a lecturer in the
Department of Spanish, University of
the West Indies, Mona, 1963-1974.

In the headline on p.42 of 17: 2 for
1935-1983 read 1935- 1984.

- Excerpt from the Remembrance by Professor
the Hon. Rex Nettleford, O.M. at the University
Chapel, 20 May 1984.
It was at the Institute of Jamaica
which he later served as executive
director between 1973 and 1981
that I grew to know Neville very well. I
had known of him as a scholar, poet and
novelist. His short stories and first novel
The Last Enchantment had earned their
place among the vibrant body of works
from the Caribbean which helped to re-
vitalize English literature in the post-
war period. I had also met him a couple
of times in Ghana in the early sixties
where he enjoyed a high reputation not
only as an intellectual but as a progres-
sive and committed visionary who shared
the dreams of, as well as actively worked
for, an independent, self-reliant and
free Africa south of the Sahara where
political, economic, social and cultural
power would become the possession of
the Africans as of right. He had the dis-
tinction of being one of the vibrant
active minds that were at the beginning
ofwhat Kwame Nkrumah,Julius Nyerere,
Jomo Kenyatta, Amande Azikiwi all
struggled for an independent voice for

'Pimento Season'

I can remember most vividly, the
mornings were misty and cool and
at midday a warm haze covered the vil-
lage. Then the sun stood straight up and
burned the leaves. In the afternoon a
stealthy breeze lifted the dust on the
marl roads, and the nights were warm
and expectant.
The fruit trees in Nesfield property,
especially the hog-plum trees, were alive
with angry squadrons of pitcharies that
flew out to attack the swooping hawks.
And the weather was perfumed with
the three odours of pimento the biting
tang of the green leaves, the lingering
decay of the over-ripe berries, and the
harsh peppery assault of the dried ber-
ries, hard and black in the sun, waiting
for the crocus bags and Chen's Chevrolet
truck that took the bags to Brown's
Town and St. Ann's Bay. Nothing, not
even the rain, could change the odours
of the pimento weather. When it rained
in the sunny spangled afternoons and
the spray was bright as angels' wings,

Neville Dawes

Former Executive Director,
Institute of Jamaica

the millions who had been for a century
and more the victims of spiritual deni-
gration and material dispossession.
He understood, as a result of his uni-
que position as a Caribbean man born
and working in West Africa, the force
and strength of culture in the liberation
process and his proven artistic gifts and
intellectual ability made him eminently
qualified for the tasks which awaited
him at the Institute of Jamaica which
was seen as an instrument for cultural
development in a society that had to
make serious sense of the new arrange-
ments that went by the name of In-
dependence. Neville brought to the job
his characteristic 'cool', great common-
sense, the wisdom of experience (for he

the steam that rose from the pimento
drying on the barbecues was a mixture
of all three aromas.
The geography of the village was told
in the smell and taste and touch of each
harvesting season. There was the corn
season with slightly sweetened corn-dust
in the cellars and the callouses that
bloomed on our thumbs when we shel-
led the corn and the undersong of bowls
of cornmeal porridge that, at night, ac-
companied the shelling. But thepimento
season was softer with its characteristic
undersong of roasted yellow-heart bread-
fruit and salty shad. Our bare feet learn-

had been through the traumas of post-
colonial contradictions before), and a
healthy cynicism which no doubt made
some people just a bit uncomfortable.

As executive director of the Institute
he had responsibility for a wide range of
cultural concerns including those of the
newly established National Gallery, the
African-Caribbean Institute and the Cul-
tural Training Centre comprising four
national Schools of Art, Music, Drama
and Dance. He actually chaired the joint
academic board of those schools and
personally guided, in its early years, the
African-Caribbean Institute which spoke
to the need for serious and sustained
investigation into the history and cul-
tural realities of the mass of the Jamaican
population whom Neville passionately
believed deserved far more of the
nation's attention and respect. He was
crucial to the restructuring of the Insti-
tute of Jamaica during the seventies
and contributed not a little in winning
the international respect Jamaica enjoys
for its efforts in the fields of cultural
administration and cultural develop-

ed the season when the black hardened
berries lodged between our toes as we
turned the pimento to the sun.
And there was the miracle of pimento.
All the other harvesting were hard and
tough, a struggle with the soil and the
weather the yams that might blight
this year, the banana trees a hurricane
might flatten so that Christmas was
sometimes a barren, almost cheerless
festival. But when August blazed and
the school children were wild in their
gay release, we saw the fabulous sudden
wealth of pimento in the nightly-flow
of rum in Chen's bar and in the bright-
er beads and dresses that the women
wore. And as September ended, there
were scattered all over the village the
hopeful, patient, half-built houses, be-
gun in the intoxication of the season,
that would have to endure another year
of the cancer of poverty that ate into
the uprights and dug ugly holes in the
mortared walls until the next pimento
season brought the money to complete
The opening paragraphs of Neville Dawes'
Interim, Institute of Jamaica, 1978.

Historic Structures


Baptist Church
Spanish Town

The Phillippo Baptist Church in Span-
ish Town was one of those which in
1834 witnessed large gatherings of ex-
slaves offering thanksgivings for the
advent of freedom. A tablet in the
churchyard marks one of the historic
graves in which the black congrega-
tion on achievement of their full free-
dom in 1838 buried the instruments of
their torture.
James Phillippo after whom the
church was named, served as pastor
for 50 years until his death in 1879.
One of the outstanding Baptist mis-
sionaries, he guided his congregation
through the latter years of slavery and
fought unceasingly for their emancipa-
tion. Once this was achieved, he chan-
nelled his energies into the establish-
ment of 'free villages' in which the
Negroes could settle independent of
the estates.

The church which stands as a tribute
to the memory of this great man and
the hundreds of slaves who fought
alongside him, is one of the oldest
Baptist chapels in the island. The pres-
ent church, built to replace an earlier
one which had been destroyed by fire,
was begun in 1819 and finally com-
pleted in 1827. This building was
severely damaged in the 1951 hurri-
cane and was restored during the min-
istry of the Rev. Dr. J. Carter-Henry with
some assistance from the Historic
Monuments Committee. It was rededi-
cated in 1968 on the 150th anniversary
of the church.
Among the more interesting features
of this well proportioned structure are
the beautifully worked banisters of the
staircases which lead to the choir loft
and pulpit. The pattern is repeated in
the balustrades adorning the balcony

which is supported on stately columns
over 150 years old. The domed ceiling
of the choir loft is of highly polished
wood and lends an air of old world
charm to this area which is the focal
point of the building.
Designated a National Monument by
the Jamaica National Trust Commis-
sion, Phillippo Baptist Church is a per-
manent reminder of and tribute to the
indomitable will of our ancestors.





9? I~p

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