Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00075
 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: 2004
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: VID00075
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
    Front Matter
        Page 1
    Table of Contents
        Page 2
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    Back Cover
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Full Text



: :

IN.T E R N A T' N A L.

Partners Ltd.
Coke & Associates/EcklerPartners
(Consultants and Actuaries)
:. 18 Trafalgar Road (First Floor)
Kikgston 5, Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: (876) 9274329
.Fax: (809) 927-8366

... | ..

i *^ W

Barbados Halifax Jamaica Montreal Toronto Trinidad & Tobago Vancouver Winnipeg

INSTITUTION was founded in 1879. Its
main function is to foster and encourage the
development of culture, science and history,
in the national interest.
It operates as a statutory body under
the Institute of Jamaica Act 1978 and
falls under the portfolio of the Ministry

Professor Alston "Barry" Chevannes

Executive Director
Vivian Crawford

Central Administration
10-16 East Street, Kingston
Tel: (876) 922-0620-6
Fax: (876) 922-1147
Email: ioj.jam@mail.infochan.com
or info@instituteofjamaica.org.jm

African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/
Jamaica Memory Bank
12 Ocean Boulevard, Kingston Mall
Tel: (876) 922-7415/4793
Fax: (876) 924-9361
Email: acij@angel.com.jm
or acij@instituteofjamaica.org.jm

Jamaica Clearing House Mechanism
Biodiversity Website
Email: chm.nhd@cwjamaica.com

Junior Centre
19 East St, Kingston
Tel: (876) 922-0620-6
Email: jcentre@instituteofjamaica.org.jm

Museums of History & Ethnography
Head Office: 10 East Street
Tel: (876) 922-0620-6
Email: mus.ioj@n5.com.jm or

of Education, Youth and Culture. The
Institute's central decision-making body
is the Council which is appointed by the
The Institute of Jamaica consists of a
central administration and a number of
divisions and associate bodies operating
with varying degrees of autonomy.

* Forces Military Museum
(temporarily closed)
Tel: (876) 922-0620-6

* Fort Charles Museum, Port Royal
Tel: (876) 967-8438

* Museum of St James, Montego Bay
Tel: (876) 971-9417

* People's Museum of
Craft & Technology, Spanish Town
Tel: (876) 907-9322

National Gallery of Jamaica
Roy West Building
12 Ocean Boulevard
Tel: (876) 922-1561/8540
Fax: (876) 922-8544
Email: ngalleryja@cwjamaica.com

Natural History Museum
12-16 East Street
Field stations: Mason River
Reserve & Green Hills
Tel: (876) 922-0620-6
Email: nhd.ioj@cwjamaica.com
or nhd@instituteofjamaica.org.jm

National Library of Jamaica
12 East Street
P.O. Box 823
Tel: (876) 967-1526/2516/2494
Fax: (876) 922-5567
Email: nlj@infochan.com
Website: www.nlj.org.jm

The Institute of Jamaica

Lili.:i ii

From the foreword to
Jamaica journal 1, no. 1
(December 1967)

The Jamaica Journal sets out to act as a
magnet as well as a directional device. It
sets out to provide a 'home' in its pages to
all Jamaicans (and some non-Jamaicans)
who create whether in literature, art,
literary criticism or historical and scientific
thought. Merit, in the areas where such
merit is relevant to our Jamaican scene, is
the basic criterion for inclusion.
The journal will address itself
primarily to Jamaicans .... And we hope
that while, on the one hand, our readers]
shall not feel that [they] are being fed
esoteric and incomprehensible stuff,
[they] should not, on the other, feel able
to dismiss us for not having aimed high
Yet we must make clear that this
journal will not set out to 'impose high
standards' borrowed from other peoples'
achievements. Instead, we hope to explore
new directions of our own, new lines of
thought, to help in the essential task of
groping towards the creation of 'standards'
valid to our own experience.
Last, but by no means least, the
journal sets out to publicise the work
of the Institute, and through articles,
reproductions and photographs to make
widely available to the Jamaican people
one of the few valuable legacies from our
past the wealth of historical and scientific
material collected and preserved at the
Institute of Jamaica.
In a lighter vein, the journal promises
never to take itself too seriously. Human
values are important but not immovable.
We hope that all those who feel excluded
will realise that exclusion is part of the
editor's unfortunate task, that his [or her]
judgement is fallible but all that he [or she]
has to go by, that the rejected manuscript
or drawing forms as much a part of the
process of creation as the accepted one,
and that it is the process of creation as
much as the achieved result that this
journal sets out to encourage.
Finally, we set out to achieve
simplicity, vigour, clarity, relevance,
whether through words or pictures. No
one can give the absolute answer to these
demands, but we hope that all those who
contribute and all those who read will use
these criteria as a rough rule of thumb in
accepting or rejecting what we have to
-Alex Gradussov, editor, 1967


The Wailers: Giving Thanks and Praise

Lady Saw Cuts Loose: Female Fertility Rituals
in the Dancehall

Rebel Voices: Testimonies from the 1831-32
Emancipation War in Jamaica

Kingston's Historic Landmarks
A Mute Witness: The Story of the
Old Half Way Tree Courthouse


Desperately Seeking Africa within Jamaican Art

The Gentle Tutor: Sir Philip's Statue Unveiled
Featuring address by Rex M. Nettleford

Miss Lou: Some Heirs and Successors

Port Royal: Its Geologic Heritage

Black Corals in Jamaica

Duppy Plants Revisited

Natural History in Jamaica:
Reflecting on the Past and Charting the Future



Mad Fish (short story)


Book Reviews

Standing Tall: Affirmations of the Jamaican Male,
by Erna Brodber

Maharani's Misery: Narratives of a Passage
from India to the Caribbean, by Verene Shepherd

New Caribbean Thought: A Reader, edited
by Brian Meeks and Folke Lindahl

Spanish Jamaica, by Francisco Morales Padron;
translated by Patrick Bryan

Sugar Cane, by Alex Morgan


Fellows of the Institute of Jamaica
Citations on Roy Augier, Gerald Lalor,
George Lamming, Louise Bennett-Coverley

Kim Robinson-Walcott
Assistant Editor
Shivaun Hearne
Editorial Assistant
Sheena Johnson
Design and Production
Image Factory Limited
Faith Myers
Advertising and Sales
Colin Neita
Mapco Business Printers Limited
Jamaica journal is published by the Institute of Jamaica
All correspondence and subscription requests should be
addressed to:
Institute of Jamaica
10-16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 922-0620-6
Fax: (876) 922-1147
Email: ioj.jamq(mail.infochan.com
Website: www.instituteofjamaica.org.jm
Back issues
Most back issues are available. List sent on request. Entire
series available on microfilm from:
ProQuest Information and Learning
Periodicals Acquisitions
P.O. Box 1346
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346
Telephone: (734) 761-4700
Individual copies J$600/US$10; a subscription for three
issues is available from the Institute of Jamaica for J$1,530/
US$32.00 including shipping and handling. Cheque or
international money order payable to the Institute of
Articles appearing in Jamaica Journal are abstracted and
indexed in Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life.
Vol. 27 Nos. 2-3
Copyright 0 2004 by the Institute of Jamaica
ISSN 0021-4124
Cover or contents may not be reproduced in whole or
in part without the written permission of the Institute of
Cover photo of Louise Bennett-Coverley by Maria LaYacona

NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS: The previous issue of Jamaica
Journal was erroneously numbered Vol. 28 No. 1 instead
of Vol. 27 No. 2. \. .' for any confusion that this
may have caused. The next issue will be Vol. 28 Nos. 2-3.







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The Wailers



efof the their special area of music, in an effort to
hren to be paint a clear picture of the full impact of
's of music, their amazing body of creative output.
mbals, I have also been influenced to
voice with joy. examine the matter of the Wailers giving
Chronicles 15:16 'thanks and praise' because of the
growing popularity of religious music
stains of the in Jamaica. This increased popularity
of the sons of has resulted basically from the work
of Jeduthan, of two sets of groups/artistes. First
'arps, with there are those who are active church
s. members contributing to worship through
1 Chronicles 25:1 song. The group The Grace Thrillers
is one example. This is consistent with

It is impossible to fully comprehend the
contribution and artistic development
of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny
Wailer without, at the same time,
understanding the impact of the
formative years on each of them as part
of the Wailers. Furthermore, we run the
risk of understating the monumental
contribution to our national heritage of
Jamaican pop music by limiting our focus
to Bob Marley's work, as if it developed
in splendid isolation. Rather, there is
need for much more work to be done
examining the causes for the emergence
of so many musicians and artistes of
international calibre at a particular point
in time and amazingly from a small
geographical location.
When I was researching a paper
which I gave as a lecture on the work of
Peter Tosh,' I spent a great deal of time
listening intensively to his music. In
that paper, a section was dedicated to an
examination of Tosh's songs 'in praise
of Jah'. Once my interest was aroused,
I started reading more deeply on the
subject of religious music, particularly
the Negro spirituals, drawing on some of
the writings of the well-known African-
American theologian James Cone as my
source material. Given that my lecture on
Tosh covered the full body of his works,
I was able to give only partial treatment
to his 'songs of praise'. In this article, I
will look at the contribution of all three
Wailers, individually and collectively, in

developments in the United States with
music used as a medium to spread the
'message' of the Christian faith. The

...the adaptations
represented the
first indication of
creativity which
became so obvious
in the latter stages of
their careers.

second group consists of former reggae
and dancehall entertainers who, having
become devout Christians, have remained
professional musicians but have changed
their lifestyles as well as their repertoire.
They now focus totally on Christian
songs, completely rejecting music from
their previous 'lives'. As such, members
of this latter group now perform before
radically different audiences, in a sense
demonstrating that a fundamental change
has taken place in their own lives. Papa
San, Lt Stitchie, Junior Tucker, Judy
Mowatt and Carlene Davis are examples
of this group.
I identify these two groups, especially
the latter, because for Rastafarian
artistes like the Wailers, despite their
own strong religious convictions, such
an audience differentiation, either
live or via recordings, was not seen as

And David spake to the chii
Levites to appoint their bret
the singers with instrument
psalteries and harps and cyi
sounding, by lifting up the

Moreover David and the cal
host separated to the service
Asaph, and of Heman, and
who should prophesy with h
psalteries, and with cymbal

necessary. The difference in outlook
between artistes who, having been
'converted', have proceeded to draw a
clear line of distinction between both their
compositions/performances and their
audiences before and after conversion,
and others such as the Wailers, who saw
no need to make such a distinction, is
something worthy of closer analysis.
This article has five substantive
sections. In the first I will discuss the
nature of reggae music, highlighting
a special characteristic in terms of the
range of issues covered by artistes in
their compositions and performances.
Next I will turn to the central focus
of this article an examination of the
songs recorded by the Wailers giving
'thanks and praise' to the Almighty. This
begins with a brief review of their cover
versions of long-established hymns and
spirituals, reflecting their early exposure
to Pentecostal churches.
The third section looks at recordings
by the Wailers which were adaptations
of compositions by others or of well-
established songs, whether secular or
spiritual. Apart from being important as
an integral part of their body of works,
these songs are also significant as they
demonstrate the beginnings of the
writers' creative talents as composers.
The creativity evident in this set of
songs is reinforced and magnified
when religious compositions which are
completely theirs begin to emerge. The
two sets, adaptations and early original
compositions, are grouped together, as
it is my contention that the adaptations
represented the first indication of
creativity which became so obvious in the
latter stages of their careers.
The fourth section focuses on their
works 'in praise of Jah'. This set of songs
is of special importance as the lyrics
clearly establish an increasingly radical
stance in their articulation of their views
on religion, challenging many of the
commonly accepted Christian beliefs.
The fifth section explores the topic of the
music as theology. This section examines

in greater detail the 'theology' which
underlies the songs of praise as well as
those which advocate livity (righteous

My interest in the compositions and
performances of the Wailers, in terms
of their songs of thanks and
praise, has been reinforced
by the extent to which
reggae, as a medium, is able
to communicate a range of
messages. As such, a reggae
artiste will, with equal facility
and in the same performance,
provide social commentary
and express normal human
sentiments of envy, jealousy,
love and sexual feelings without
breaking stride. Additionally,
the same idiom was, and is,
utilised to give thanks and
praise to the Almighty, without
finding it necessary to separate
audiences or music into the
secular versus the spiritual. This
characteristic is particularly
appealing to me and I have
sought to explore whether it is
unique to reggae.
Cone argues that this range
is a characteristic of black
(American) music. He states
that "black music is unity music
... black music is functional ...
black music is a living reality
... black music is also social
and political... black music
is also theological". He relates
this wide 'coverage' to the clear
links between black music
in America and its African
heritage. He says: "In Africa
and America, black music was Bob A
not an artistic creation for its
own sake; it was directly related to daily
life, work and play."2 Furthermore, he
asserts: "Song was an expression of the
community's view of the world and its
existence in it."3
If one were to substitute 'reggae'
for 'black' in all of the above quotes, we
would have a perfect characterisation of
our own music. I do not know enough
of the African roots of black American
music, in particular the Negro spiritual,

to comment on the expansive coverage
ascribed to it by Cone. What I do know
is that in terms of black American music,
there still exists a clear distinction a
tension, as it were, between secular and
religious. The absence of this distinction
is an important characteristic of reggae

It is well known that many of
America's prominent black musical
artistes had their early exposure and
training in the church. Aretha Franklin
is one of the most renowned of these
artistes. Her vocal styling as well as her
piano playing reflect the influence of the
black church on her formative years. It
is a fact that although Aretha has done
several gospel renditions, by and large
a clear distinction is made between her

contribution to black music and that of
Mahalia Jackson, who deliberately chose
never to perform secular music. Hence
it is not uncommon for the hypothetical
question to be posed, Would Mahalia
have been a greater jazz singer than
Ella Fitzgerald had she chosen to go the
secular road? The clearest example of this
extreme form of separation of
musical forms is demonstrated
by the treatment of Mahalia
Jackson in the book Jazz by
Ward and Burns.4 It is amazing
that in a book of nearly five
hundred pages Mahalia
receives but one passing
mention, related to Bessie
Smith's acknowledgement
of Mahalia's influence on her
musical development.
The basic point is that,
in general, there is inevitably
a clear distinction between
the religious and the secular
in black American music.
Furthermore, even when the
artiste, like Aretha, attempts
to straddle both areas, there is
an unease, particularly from
the religious audiences, in the
sense that it is felt that there is
the need for total commitment
from the singer if he or she is to
be seen as a 'child of the Lord'.
The same situation holds
when we consider artistes in
Jamaica who have publicly
articulated a commitment
to the Christian faith. There
are strong biblical reasons
for this division between the
two forms of music that
is, between the secular and
the religious. However, this
SROBINSON seeming need to differentiate
between the secular and the religious
is noted and criticised more generally
by Ashley Smiths in a discussion of the
conservatism of the mainline churches
in the Caribbean. He argues that this
tendency to establish a dualism between
the spiritual and the secular (matters
related to economic opportunity,
economic justice, political rights) is rooted
both in self-disparagement and self-

An obvious question is, Why is this
division between secular and religious
not seen as a requirement of Rastafarian
reggae music? I believe the critical point
is that the underlying theology of reggae
music perceives of life and righteous
living (livity) in a comprehensive way. In
such a context, the separation between
the 'religious' and 'secular' has no logical
basis. As such, reggae music provides the
artiste with a medium which speaks to all
aspects of normal human experiences.
So in one session with the Wailers,
we can listen to songs about jealousy
and envy through Bob in "Man to Man"
or Peter in "Jah Jah, Guide Me from My
Friends"; we can listen to songs in praise
of music and dance: Bob with "Trench
Town Rock" and "Them Belly Full",
Bunny with "Ballroom Floor" or "Dance
Rock", or Peter with "Reggaemylitis" and
"Buk-in-hamm Palace". We can listen to
the Wailers in praise of sex as with Bob in
"Stir It Up" or Peter in "Ketchy Shubby"
or all three Wailers in a host of songs
giving social commentary. Finally, we can
listen to the Wailers giving "Thanks and
Praise". It is to this area that we now turn.

The first set of religious songs by the
Wailers which I will examine are versions
of traditional Negro spirituals and hymns.
The lead in these versions is carried
mainly by Bob or Peter, although Bunny
is featured as back-up vocalist and later
on in his classic album Blackheart Man he
does perhaps the best version of "This
I do not know how the songs they
covered were selected, but it is clear
that there is a strong influence of the
Pentecostal church, as is evident in
Bob's version of "Wings of a Dove" and
"Nobody Knows the Troubles I Have
Seen". However, also interesting are the
versions of "The Lord Will Make a Way
Somehow" and "Let the Lord Be Seen in
You". Peter's contribution in this early
period included "Amen" and a strident
version of "Go Tell It on the Mountain".
"This Train" was obviously a
favourite of the group. In addition to the
version done by Bunny on his Blackheart
Man album there are several other
versions with which I am acquainted,

including one recorded by Bob in
Sweden where he accompanied himself
on acoustic guitar. Yet another twist is
added when Bob uses "This Train" as
the take-off point to create "Where Is My
The final song from this grouping
which I will mention is "Sinner Man",
initially recorded by Peter and Bunny.
Over time, this was modified and adapted
by Peter in a way that will be discussed
more fully in the following section. The
changes over time to this song reflected
not only progression in Peter's musical
ability but in his socio-political view
of who was the "Sinner Man", further
illustrating the irrelevance of the secular/
religious dichotomy.

It is not possible for me to speak
definitively of the temporal sequencing of
the various recordings of songs of praise
made by the Wailers. Hence the groupings
I have advanced may not adhere strictly
to the actual temporal sequence in which
the recordings were made. Nonetheless,
one can clearly identify a set of cover
versions as opposed to a collection of
songs which were adapted, secular to
religious and religious to secular, whereby
members of the group modified a basic
melody or set of lyrics for the purpose of
advancing a particular message.
The first example indicates how a
traditional English song, "London Is
Burning", was used by the three members
of the group in two diametrically different
ways. Bob took the melody and added to
it lyrics in praise of marijuana to create
"Kaya". Either the original adaptation or
the updated version on the album of the
same name is a classic.
Interestingly, the same melody was
used by the group, but by drawing on the
concept of the fire 'consuming' London,
a new song was created. There are two
versions. On the first, "Fire, Fire", Peter
takes the lead, and although there is an
implicit reference to a day of reckoning,
it is not clear who stands in judgement.
The second version, "Love Fire", is by
Bunny; in it, he proclaims "Jah love is like
a burning fire." The version by Bunny so
impressed the British group Simply Red
that they demonstrated the most sincere

form of flattery by imitating Bunny,
breath by breath, in their own cover
version. I have often wondered whether
the members of Simply Red know the
origins of the song.

...the way in which
the members of the
group each modified
a song brings into

sharp focus their
common musical
'training' and
socialisation during
their critical formative


So in the case of "London Is Burning"
you have an example of the group
adapting a traditional song in two
diametrically different ways: 'secular'
and 'spiritual'. While to many this is
of significance, perhaps to the Wailers
this division was artificial and it was all
For the Negro spiritual "Sinner Man"
we have another interesting evolution
and adaptation. The first step in the
process was the cover version by Peter
and Bunny. This was followed by the
change when the object of derision and
condemnation was no longer the Sinner
Man but became the Downpresser Man.
The first version of "Downpresser Man"
still made reference to him fleeing from
the Almighty on Judgement Day. The
culmination of the adaptation/conversion
was a version of "Downpresser Man",
which had now become a strident protest
song against oppression on Tosh's Equal
Rights album.
The discussion of the way in
which the members of the group each
modified a song brings into sharp
focus their common musical 'training'
and socialisation during their critical
formative years. Apart from "This Train"
and the varying adaptations of "London
Is Burning", there are many phrases
(several biblical in origin) and ideas
which are common to the lyrics of songs

composed by each following the breakup
of the group. Consider, for example, the
lines, "The lips of the righteous teach
many / But fools die for the want of
wisdom". They first appear in "Wisdom",
a song from their early period with Bob
singing lead, but also feature later in
Bob's "Stiff Necked Fools" and Peter's
"Fools Die", following the break-up of the
The third example of adaptation
mixed with creativity is Bob's version
of the country and western "Crying in
the Chapel", which had been made into
a major hit by Elvis Presley. This song
is converted to "Selassie Is the Chapel".
What is most interesting about Bob's
adaptation of a plaintive love song
into a song of praise to Selassie is that
it represents one of the earliest public
statements of the group's conversion to
the Rastafarian faith. This conversion
was to lead to the blossoming of their
creative talents in general and over time
yielded some of their most impressive
One of the earliest examples of
original creativity in a song of praise by
the Wailers is Bob's "Thank You Lord". It
is a beautiful song in which Bob expresses
thanks to the Almighty for all the simple
blessings of life, and it is an important
development of the music of the Wailers
in terms of original compositions.
The final example of adaptation/
creativity has assumed larger-than-life
proportions, to the point of being named
the song of the twentieth century by the
BBC. I refer to Marley's adaptation of the
Curtis Mayfield hit "People Get Ready",

which became "One Love". Hailed
internationally as an infectious expression
of hope, joy and optimism, the refrain,
repeated over and over again, leaves no
doubt of the basic thrust of this song:
"Give thanks and praise to the Lord and
feel all right."

This section reviews the body of songs
produced by the Wailers, as a group
and individually, reflecting their deep
immersion in the Rastafarian faith and
their proclamation of Haile Selassie as
the Almighty. The songs created in this
period must be seen in a context. The
period, beginning in the early to mid-

This body of work
from the three artistes
was presented
without apology as a
natural part of their
repertoire, both in
recorded music and
in live performances.

1960s, was one during which young
people throughout the world were
challenging the status quo. In both North
America and western Europe, musicians
played a critical role in the challenge. The
part played by singers and musicians
in the American Civil Rights struggle
cannot be underestimated. It is during
this period that Bob Dylan wrote the
everlasting classic "Blowing in the Wind".
Later on, the protests against America's
involvement in the Vietnam War were
given musical expression, such as in John
Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" and his
hauntingly beautiful "Imagine".
The spirit of protest was also alive in
Jamaica and the Wailers were prominent
in questioning, among other aspects of
the status quo, the justice and educational
systems and accepted religious beliefs. A
natural complement was an increasingly
militant pan-Africanist stance, extolling
black pride and dignity. The songs that

demonstrate their commitment to the
faith are among the most impressive in
the extensive body of compositions by the
Wailers. For completeness, "Selassie Is the
Chapel" is included as well as the early
production by Tosh in collaboration with
U Roy, entitled "Earth's Rightful Ruler".
Most of the pieces in this section
are drawn from the period following
the break-up of the original group.
One exception is "Rastaman Chant"
which was included in their second
Island album Burnin'. Subsequently
the compositions are individual pieces,
with Bob and Peter having the greatest
number. It is not possible to review all
the songs individually but there are
many classics contained in this grouping.
From Bob we have "Give Thanks and
Praise", "Forever Loving Jah" and the
musical dismissal of non-believers
who questioned the relevance of the
Rastafarian faith following Selassie's
death: "Jah Live". Finally, the reassurance
to all believers that in the end, Jah will be
waiting: "I Know".
In another publication6 I made
reference to Tosh's religious compositions.
It is not possible to comprehensively
review all of his religious works in praise
of Jah, but worthy of special mention
would be "Igziabeher (Let Jah Be Praise)",
"Jah Guide", "Creation", "Jah Say No"
and "Rastafari Is". Bunny was not as
prolific as either of his two colleagues but
there are significant songs from his body
of work, including "Amagideon", which I
will discuss more fully later on.
This body of work from the three
artistes was presented without apology as
a natural part of their repertoire, both in
recorded music and in live performances.
This is significant for a host of reasons,
one of which is that it is a clear indication
of the extent to which they regarded their
religious belief as an integral part of their
being, and hence their audiences had to
accept them on these terms. This was
evident even from the way in which their
stage performances were initiated with
greetings in the name of "Jah Rastafari,
ever living, ever faithful".
In reflecting on this body of work
and its integration in their performances
and recordings, I would suggest that
they were unique among international
pop artistes. I cannot recall any other

groups or individual artistes who
unapologetically used their performances,
in front of what would be termed secular
audiences, to consistently expound
their religious faith. It may be that
the audiences, particularly those in
Europe or in college towns in North
America, regarded this aspect of their
performances as part of the mysticism
which supposedly characterized
Rastafarian reggae artistes. What is clear
to me is that the message of Rastafari
was being presented and taught by the
Wailers through their music with an
uncompromising sincerity.

We have already made reference to the
importance of the Negro spirituals to the
black church in the United States. For
the Rastafarian faith, the prominent role
of musicians and singers has a clear link
with the Old Testament, as is evidenced
by the epigraphs above. However, the
reggae musicians who embrace the
Rastafarian faith have given music a
position in their religion far more elevated
than any other, perhaps because of the
holistic nature of the faith. Furthermore,
given that the faith has never been
structured on a formal written theology,
the music has played a critical role by
virtue of the fact that the musicians,
through their lyrics, have 'fleshed out'
their beliefs for public examination. I must
emphasise that my attempt to outline the
main principles of the Rastafarian belief
system will be based totally on the lyrics
of various songs by the Wailers. I will not
seek to supplement this 'lyrical theology'
with either the written or spoken word.
My principal interest is the music. As
such, I am not arguing that these lyrics
combine to present a cohesive theological
statement capable of withstanding checks
for internal consistency. Nonetheless,
that caveat having been stated, there is
still a great deal for us, ordinary folk and
theologians, to reflect on.
We begin with examples of two
songs, one by Peter and the other by
Bob, which provide an indication of the
inextricable link between the music and
the belief in the Almighty (Jah). The first
is Tosh's "In My Song". In this he asserts:
"In my song, Jah is the melody / In my

song, he is the symphony." Further he
states that "He is the rhythm and tempo".
In the second, "Chant Down Babylon",
Bob makes it clear that the principal
weapon in the struggle against Babylon is
reggae music. I find this linkage between
music and theology to be particularly
fascinating and I wonder whether in
any other faith, music is accorded such a
pride of place.
Given the common source book of the
Old Testament in Christianity, Judaism
and Rastafarianism, I have sought to
examine points of similarity and contrast
between traditional Christian theology
and the 'theology' expressed through
their music by the Wailers. Beginning
with the similarities, we could look
at the characteristics of the Almighty
God/Jah. There is the issue of the
Almighty being a God of equity, justice
and of righteousness. There is indeed a
consistency in that the Almighty/Jah will
ensure that wrongs are righted and that
in the final accounting, everyone will
receive his just reward. Furthermore, the
righteous will be guided and protected.
In terms of reaping one's just rewards,
Tosh in "Feel No Way" proclaims:

No bother feel no way
It's coming close to payday, I say
No bother feel no way,
Every man will get pay
According to his work, this day

Furthermore, he uses some farming
analogies which illustrate, in the most
unambiguous way, the concept of reaping
what you sow:

Cannot plant peas and reap rice
Cannot plant coco and reap yam
Cannot plant turnip and reap tomato
Cannot plant breadfruit and reap

There is also a common theme of the
Almighty/Jah providing support in times
of trouble. There are numerous examples.
Marley in "Give Thanks and Praises"

If Jah did not love I
Would I be around today?
Would I be around to say?
Give thanks and praises.

Tosh in "Jah Say No" assures us that "He
will never give I and I more than I can

' Peter Tosh

bear / Jah says no, my Father says no".
Similarly, Marley in "So Jah Say" comforts
Rastas with the commitment that

Not one of my sheep
Shall sit on the sidewalk
And beg bread

Furthermore, in "Jah Guide" Tosh states:

Yea though I walk through death's
I will fear no ill
Because Jah guide, Jah guide I
through this valley.

Another similarity relates to the
existence and activities of the Devil/
Lucifer/Satan. There are numerous
references to him in songs by all three
Wailers. However, Bunny's "Amagideon"
is most interesting in that he links the
Devil with all that has gone wrong
since the beginning of time and points
specifically to Lucifer creating problems
by separating himself from the 'I'.

In the beginning, there was but one
And that's the concept of I
Then arose Apollyon, the Devil
Claiming that it's you and I
And from that day on
There's trouble in the world
And the world is gone astray
And the world is gone astray

Tosh, in "Moses, the Prophet", reminds us
that Satan is still active:

Remember Satan, remember Satan
That guy no dead, that guy no dead
That guy a trod earth still

Within that context, we can understand
the rationale for his "Recruiting Soldiers"
to fight against Satan's forces.
While there are many similarities,
there are also very clear distinctions
and contrasts between Christianity and
Rastafarianism, explicitly articulated in
the music of the Wailers. I will focus on
four areas of difference: (1) the institution
of the Christian church and the actions
of the clergy; (2) the Christian concept of
salvation; (3) the concept of Heaven; and
(4) the identity of the Almighty.

The message is

obviously clear:
"If you know what

life is worth, / You

will look for yours

on earth."

In analysing the areas where the
Rastafarian singers expound a theological
viewpoint which differs from that of the
traditional Christian church, we should
bear in mind that, within the church itself,
there are persons who have explicitly
expressed concerns about established
positions. Consider the points advanced
by Smith in advocating the need for a
Caribbean Christian theology. He strongly
criticises the imposition of the European
Christian belief system on societies with
different histories.

God remains what God has
always been and will be, but our
understanding of God, and ways of
talking about God differ according to
where we are, where we are speaking
and the reason for our speaking
at any particular time. Because no
two sets of people have the same
experiences, people cannot have the
same questions, neither can the same
answers suffice.7

Within that context Smith acknowledges
the impact of Rastafarianism on
mainline churches: "Even more than
Pentecostalism, Rastafarianism has forced
the mainline churches to re-examine their
theological claims, their liturgies and

roles vis-a-vis the underlying political
ideologies and economic structures to
which they give legitimacy."8
Tosh's composition "You Can't Fool
Me Again" encapsulates in song the
Rasta's rejection of the status quo, in
terms of not only religious beliefs but
also the educational system. However,
our focus at present is on the theological
question. Listen to Tosh:

First you came and you sold us
But all your members just lust after
Telling them to trust in you faithfully
Not seeing it is the return of slavery

Taught us of heaven way up in the sky
There we can't reach unless we die
But you can't fool me again
You can't fool me again and again
No, you just can't fool me
You can't fool me again

In "Crazy Baldheads", Bob is equally
emphatic in rejecting social conditions,
the educational system and imposed
religious beliefs:

Built your penitentiaries
We built your schools
Brainwashed education
To make us the fools
Hatred, your reward for our love
Telling us of your God above
We're gonna chase those crazy
Chase those crazy baldheads
Out of town

Let us now turn to an assessment
of the clergy and the institution of
the church. In "Mystic Man", Tosh in
specifying his characteristics as a 'mystic
man' lumps together his rejection of
gambling and church attendance as he
tells us, "I man don't play fools games on
Saturday / And I man don't congregate
on Sundays" In "Stand Firm", Tosh
denounces many of the accepted practices
and beliefs of Christians. Starting with
church attendance, he says:

Jacket and tie come tell me say
Clean clothes come tell me say
Me fi come with him
And go to church this Sunday

He then turns to the practice of confession:

Another one come tell I say
If I want to be pure within
I gotta come confess my sin.

After dismissing these practices, he asserts:

All you got to do
Live clean and let your works be seen
Stand firm, or you're gonna feed worm

Bob joins in the denunciation of the
activities of the churches. In "Babylon
System", he condemns the status quo for

Building church and university, o yeah
Deceiving the people continually
Graduating thieves and murderers
Look out now
They're sucking the blood of the
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth

Here Marley denounces both the clergy
and the academicians. As a practising
politician, I have a special appreciation for
this verse as members of the two groups
singled out by Marley too often are
guilty of the 'holier than thou' attitude,
especially to us labouring in the political
Marley returns to the clergy in
"Talking Blues" suggesting their
irrelevance in the fight against social,
political and economic injustice. He says:

Now that we know
That the preacher is lying
Who is gonna stay at home
When the freedom fighters are

However, the most devastating
condemnation of the Christian clergy
comes from Bob and Peter in "Get Up,
Stand Up", when they assert:

Preacher man, don't tell me
Heaven is under the earth
I know you don't know
What life is really worth

I call this devastating because if a
preacher man does not know what life is
really worth, what then is the reason for
his calling?
I now turn to the second major area
of difference: the concept of salvation.
I will not attempt an exposition of the
various denominational variations on the
theme of salvation, but one can identify a

common Christian position which is that
Jesus was crucified, rose from the dead
and proceeded to heaven, and because
of his sacrifice, Christians have the
chance at everlasting life (salvation). This
belief, which ties virtually all Christian
denominations together, is rejected by
Rastafarians, as evidenced by Tosh in
"Stand Firm" and "You Can't Fool Me
Again". He ridicules the pre-condition of
being saved as espoused by Christians:

Another one come tell I say
If you want to be saved, son
You got to go to your grave, son

Rather, he returns to his familiar refrain:

All you got to do is
Live clean and let your works be seen
Stand firm, or you are going to feed

The line between Christianity and
Rastafariansim is clearly demarcated. As
opposed to the concept of being 'saved'
with your reward to be obtained in the
hereafter, the greatest emphasis placed
by the Rastas is on a 'clean' life here on
earth where one sticks by one's principles
("Stand Firm").
The third major area of contrast
relates to the question, "What is heaven?"
Both the traditional Christian church
and the black church, through its Negro
spirituals, have established this 'other
world' where after death those who
endured trouble and pain on this earth
will be compensated. The belief of the
Rastafarians, as reflected in the music
of the Wailers, is diametrically different.
Nowhere is it better articulated than in
"Get Up, Stand Up". The second and third
verses of that song are unambiguously
Most people think, great God will
come from the sky
Take away everything and make
everybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth
You will look for yours on earth
And now you see the light
Stand up for your rights

We're sick and tired of your ism/
schism game
Dying and going to heaven in Jesus
We know and we understand

Almighty God is a living man
You can fool some people sometime
But you can't fool all the people
All the time
So now you see the light
Stand up for your rights

A consistent theme which reappears
in the lyrics of the Wailers, denouncing
the educational system and the European
Christian theology, is the extent to which
we (the people) have been fooled and
the need for the truth to be told. That
is what Tosh's "You Can't Fool Me
Again" is all about. Bob in "Babylon
System" complains of the people being
deceived and pleads: "Tell the children
the truth." Finally, Bunny in his version
of "Get Up, Stand Up" and Peter, in a live
performance of the same song (CD), both
begin by chanting, "We want the truth."
The final area of difference relates
to the question, "Who is God?" For the
Rastas the answer is clear: Haile Selassie,
His Imperial Majesty. In "Get Up, Stand
Up", Marley and Tosh reiterate: "We
know and we understand / Almighty
God is a living man." However, the Rastas
go another step by asserting that the
Almighty, a living man, is black. Tosh in
"Black Dignity" chants: "Live black, love
black, think black / Our God is black."
What is presented simultaneously
in "Get Up, Stand Up" is a rejection of
the accepted belief of Christianity both
in terms of an answer to the questions
"Who is the Almighty?" as well as "What
happens in the afterlife?".
The clear assertion is that
living in this world is
what is of importance, but
furthermore, "Almighty
God is a living man.
It is interesting that
this song has been utilised
worldwide as the rallying
cry of oppressed groups
and for environmental
causes rather than
because of the theological
implications of the
lyrics. Furthermore, it
is not a song of praise
but rather an explicit
theological statement
related to "Who is.__
the Almighty?" and i
"What should man

(and woman) do in living on this earth?".
The message is obviously clear: "If you
know what life is worth, / You will look
for yours on earth."
In summary, what we have is a
theology articulated through music
which, on the one hand, holds many
similarities with Christianity, particularly
those beliefs based on the Old Testament,
but in certain critical areas makes a
significant departure. What is unique
about this alternative belief system is the
extent to which it has been articulated in
song by persons with no formal training
in theology. How did these thoughts
evolve? Were they simply passed on
through verbal exchanges? These are
some important issues which deserve
further examination.

I have sought to review and analyse the
contributions of the Wailers Bob Marley,
Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in terms
of religious music. In so doing, I have
considered their early works the cover
version of hymns and Negro spirituals,
their adaptations of songs and their
own original compositions. Of the latter
grouping, by far the highest percentage
were compositions reflecting their
Rastafarian faith.
In addition to underscoring the
importance of the musical legacy, the
compositions expounding the Rastafarian
faith also play a critical role in articulating
the theological parameters of their belief


system. That this popular musical form
could simultaneously carry multiple
objectives is not surprising, given the
holistic viewpoint of the faith. Nor is it
surprising that the Wailers and similar
artistes refer to themselves as 'messengers'
who have been given the mission to teach
livity throughout the world.
After all is said and done, we are still
talking about a body of beautiful music
dedicated to praising the Almighty. It
is unfortunate that there has been no
greater use or adaptation of their songs of
praise in Christian churches, particularly
where liberation theologians have
influence. Although there have been local
compositions in the region, there has not
been any widespread movement to adapt
and incorporate songs such as Marley's
"Thank You Lord" and "Give Thanks and
Praises", or Tosh's "Creation" and "Jah
Say No", into the worship services of the
mainline churches.
The reason for this may be related
to the fierceness with which the lines of
demarcation have been drawn between
the Rastafarian belief and that of the
traditional churches. I have sought to
illustrate how the compositions of the
Wailers articulated the critique of the
established Christian churches. Hence
it is not altogether surprising that there
would be reluctance on the part of the
traditional churches to embrace the music
of a faith which not only questions some
of their most hallowed traditions but also
seeks to replace the heart of the Christian
belief system the death and resurrection
of Christ with its own, on the grounds
that the Christian 'preacher man' does not
know "what life is really worth".

This article is based on a lecture presented at
the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, 14
February 2001.

1. Omar Davies, Reggae and Our National
Identity: The Forgotten Contribution of Peter

If my postulation is even partially
correct, the reluctance to utilise Rasta
songs of praise is understandable but
still to be regretted. It is to be regretted
as every society needs individuals and
groups who seek to question long-
established viewpoints and values,
forcing the status quo to justify its
positions. Politicians, in and out of power,
are forced to do this and the society
accepts criticism of them (us) as desirable
and as the norm. However, there are
three groups which, while being strong
advocates of such critiques, often become
overly defensive when the spotlight is
focused on them and their own positions.
They are the Christian church, academia
and the media. Members of each of
those groups have perfected their skills
in critiquing politicians and the political
system and also in encouraging others to
do the same. Such criticisms are indeed
desirable as a means of us continuously
reassessing accepted positions. Hence
everyone will nod sagely when Marley in
"Revolution" advises:

Never let a politician
Grant you a favour
He will always want to
Control you forever

However, watch members of the clergy
and academia frown when Marley
in "Babylon System" denounces the
churches and universities for "deceiving
the people continually" or worse yet for
"graduating thieves and murderers".
There is yet another reason for my call
for increased tolerance of the Rasta faith
by the Christian community. As I have
shown, within the church itself there have

Tosh (Mona: Institute of Caribbean Studies,
Reggae Studies Unit, University of the
West Indies, 2000).
2. James H. Cone, The Spirituals and the Blues
(New York: Orbis, 1972), 5-6.
3. Ibid., 30.
4. Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Bums, Jazz:
A History of America's Music (New York:
Knopf, 2000).

always been those who question some of
the doctrines of the status quo. I return to
Ashley Smith. In the chapter "The Church
in the Cultural and Political Process",
his critique of the role of the established
church as an agent of colonialism is
devastating. He points to the use of
the gospel and church in placating the
poor blacks and slaves. He condemns
the way in which pastors advanced the
notion of the afterlife: "A future in which
the victims of today's hardships and
limitations would share the freedoms and
good things of life now enjoyed by the
massas, bosses and missionaries, would
be realized only 'over yonder' after death,
or at the 'coming of the Lord'."9 Is Smith
not echoing Tosh in proclaiming "You
Can't Fool Me Again"? Is this not exactly
the same critique by Marley and Tosh in
"Get Up, Stand Up" when they dismiss
the preacher man's view of heaven and
advocate, "If you know what life is worth
/ You will look for yours on earth"?
All of us, in addition to simply
enjoying the songs of thanks and praise
by the Wailers, should see the music as
a powerful medium to foster positive
change. However, essential for such a
positive change is the need for greater
tolerance of differing views and respect
for each other if we are all genuinely
committed to building one society. As
Tosh says in "One Foundation",

Got to put aside them segregation
Got to put aside them organization
Got to put aside them denomination
Or there will never be
No love at all. .*

5. Ashley Smith, Emerging from Innocence:
Religion, Theology and Development
(Mandeville, Jamaica: Eureka Press, 1991).
6. Davies, Reggae and Our National Identity.
7. Smith, Emerging from Innocence, 10.
8. Ibid., 58
9. Ibid., 54.

Lady Saw Cuts Loose



lyalode Oshun, Goddess of the River,
Daughter of Promise, Mother of the Sweet
It is from your throbbing Womb that the
rhythm of Music springs.
It is from your bouncing Breasts that
Dance is born.1

The flamboyantly exhibitionist DJ Lady
Saw epitomises the sexual liberation of
many African-Jamaican working-class
women from airy-fairy Judaeo-Christian
definitions of appropriate female
behaviour. In a decisive act of feminist
emancipation, Lady Saw cuts loose from
the burdens of moral guardianship. She
embodies the erotic. But one viewer's
erotica is another's pornography. So
Lady Saw is usually censured for being

Lady Saw... embodies
the erotic. But
one viewer's
erotica is another's

far too loose or 'slack', in the Jamaican
vernacular. Or worse, is dismissed as
a mere victim of patriarchy, robbed of
all agency. Marian Hall's spectacular
performance of the role of "Lady Saw" is
not often acknowledged as a calculated
decision by the actress to make the best of
the opportunity to earn a good living in
the theatre of the dancehall.
For example, American
anthropologist Obiagele Lake indicts
Lady Saw in a chapter on "Misogyny
in Caribbean Music" in her book
Rastafari Women: Subordination in the
Midst of Liberation Theology: "Given
Jamaica's patriarchal climate, one
would expect sexist lyrics emanating
from men. Unfortunately, women who
have internalized sexist norms add to
these negative images. Lady Saw is one
such songstress who plays herself and,

by association, all other women. 'Stab
Up [sic] the Meat' is the most graphic
example."2 The title of this raunchy song
is, in fact, "Stab Out the Meat", and in
some variants the definite article 'the'
becomes the possessive 'mi'. I would
concede that, in performance, Lady Saw's
'out' does sound like 'up', especially if
one is predisposed to hear violent abuse
of women in sexist dancehall lyrics.
Furthermore, to some listeners who
are insensitive to the nuances of the
language, there may be no significant
difference between stabbing up and
stabbing out. But the latter is more
allusive than the former. Lake's inaccurate
transcription reinforces her literal-minded
reading of the 'sexist' lyrics of that song
and entirely misses the metaphorical
elements which highlight the intense
pleasure of vigorous, not violent, sex. The
penis here functions as a metaphorical
dagger stabbing pleasure into and out of
the woman. Conventional associations of
orgasm and death in Western culture are
just as applicable to Jamaican dancehall
The startling imagery of stabbing
meat, whether out or up, also underscores
the traditional association between food
and sex in Caribbean culture. The allusion
to stabbing is decidedly not a sign of Lady
Saw's sado-masochism but rather an
accurate image of the way in which meat
is seasoned in Caribbean cookery: it is
literally pricked and the spices inserted.
The metaphor of the woman's genitalia
as meat doubles the pleasure of eating,
though in this song Lady Saw, like most
male DJs, declares that she herself refuses
to eat 'fur burger'. Despite the recurring
protestations in the lyrics of the DJs that
they do not 'bow' that is, engage in oral
sex one instinctively knows that they
are protesting too much. There is a thin
line between pub(l)ic discourse and
private pleasure/ duty.
So what sounds to
Obiagele Lake's

North American ears like abuse of the
female body can be reinterpreted from
a Caribbean perspective as an x-rated
affirmation of the pleasures of heightened
sexual passion: "Mi hear you can grind
good and can f-- straight. Stab out mi
meat, stab out mi meat. The big hood
[penis] you have a mad gal outa street.
Stab out mi meat."3
Obiagele Lake chastises not only
Lady Saw but also those of us fans who
pay careful attention to the full range of
the DJ's lyrics and know that she is not a
one-dimensional artiste who uncritically
reproduces sexist norms. In addition
to the sexually explicit songs for which
she is infamous, Lady Saw's repertoire
includes impeccable hymns, country
and western laments, songs of warning
to women about the wiles of men and
politically 'conscious' lyrics that constitute
hardcore socio-cultural analysis. Failing to
understand the complexity of Lady Saw's
chameleon persona and thus her appeal to
a wide cross-section of intelligent fans, a
perplexed Obiagele Lake totally dismisses
the recuperative
reading of
the body of


- -

*-f ^ "
idia -' -/'


woman in dancehall culture that is offered
by both Inge Blackman and myself in the
1994 Isaac Julien film, The Darker Side of
Black, directed by Lina Gopaul: "[I]t is
perplexing how scholars can honor dance
hall music and dance hall behaviors
that graphically devalue women since
this behavior is nothing more than a
continuation of women's objectification.
Popular culture critic Carolyn Cooper
(1993) condones misogynist lyrics as well
as women's lascivious behaviors on the
dance floor."4
Of course, I do no such thing. I
celebrate Lady Saw's entertaining and
instructive lyrics, which Lake devalues
as "misogynist". I make my own position
absolutely clear in the Julien/Gopaul
film, though Lake's editorial omissions
somewhat garble the text:

I see the dance hall as the female
fertility rite. The female body is the
central figure. Men are very much on
the periphery. They're on the margins
watching women parade.... Some
people see this transgression, women
going outside the bounds of
convention... so this transgressive
projection of the body by women I see
as something positive a way of
African women asserting the beauty
of their bodies in a culture where
Black women's bodies are not

In response, Lake launches an amusing
line of adfeminam attack: "Film director
Inge Blackman expresses similar
sentiments in Gopaul's film. What is
interesting about these views is that it
is very unlikely that either Cooper or
Blackman would ever appear scantily
dressed, performing sexual shows like the
women they describe."6
The pertinence of Lake's assumptions
about my own sartorial preferences
and sexual proclivities entirely escapes
me. Nevertheless, for the record, let
me unashamedly confess that I once
performed in a sexual show even if not
as the primary object/subject on display
- and thoroughly enjoyed myself. A few
years ago I attended a male strip show at
Carlos's Caf6 in Kingston. I was invited
to experience a lap dance with one Mr
Well Hung, whose day job was barbering
in Ocho Rios. He certainly knew how

to cut it. Having teased me in my seat,
the stripper then pulled me on stage
and engaged me in protracted role-play
as we danced rub-a-dub style, much to
the pleasure of the audience. I certainly
know how to distinguish between
entertainment, plain and simple, and

...let me

unashamedly confess

that I once performed
in a sexual show...
and thoroughly
enjoyed myself.

misogyny. Or, in this case, misandry, to
coin a word for the equivalent 'hatred' of
man as expressed in the objectification
of the male body, put on display for the
purely visual pleasure of the female.
Lake concludes her reprimand
thus: "Moreover, Cooper's analysis of
the issue of sexism is extremely narrow
since it does not address the fact that
most people see women only in terms
of their bodies. Behaving in extremely

sexual ways often to attract men- does
nothing to alter this fact."7 I must question
the authority of that all-encompassing
generalisation that'most people' fail
to acknowledge the fact that woman
is more than mere meat. Furthermore,
in this 'screwed-up' reading of gender
politics, sexual attraction between men
and women is constructed as entirely
pathological. Old-fashioned 'sex appeal'
becomes new-fangled neurosis. But,
surely, the pleasure that men and women
share in sexual relationships of mutual
trust can be acknowledged as therapeutic
not exploitative. Self-righteous critics
of the sexualised representation of
women in Jamaican dancehall culture,
who claim to speak unequivocally on
behalf of 'oppressed' women, often
fail to acknowledge the pleasure that
women themselves consciously take in
the salacious lyrics of both male and
female DJs who affirm the sexual power
of women.
I do concede that, as Lake rightly
observes, commercial sex workers
(both male and female) are often
disempowered, caught in a cycle of
exploitation from which escape is
difficult: "Women have been undressing

for men in theaters and bars for centuries
- the more they take off, the more they
shake and gyrate, the more pleasure
men receive. This is not new. Indeed, if
liberation were as simple as disrobing,
exposing yourself in public, and having
public sex, women would have been free
long ago."8 But not all consensual adult
sex in the dancehall can be reduced to the
lowest common commercial denominator.
Indeed, in the film Dancehall Queen, a
pointed contrast is established between
Larry's phallocentric sex shop, where
working women glide up and down a
rigid pole, and the much more fluid space
of the dancehall where 'loose' women
enjoy the pleasures of uninhibited display.
I propose that Lady Saw's erotic
performance in the dancehall can be
recontextualised within a decidedly
African diasporic discourse as a
manifestation of the spirit of female
fertility figures such as the Yoruba
Oshun. In Carnival of the Spirit, Luisah
Teish characterises Oshun thus: "She
is Maiden, Mother, and Queen. Yoruba
folklore attributes many powers to her.
She has numerous lovers and is known
by many praise-names.... She is the
personification of the Erotic in Nature. It
is she who sits as Queen of the Fertility
Feast."9 In Jamaica, Oshun reappears as
the River Mumma of folklore and religion,
both myal and revival.'0 She is described
by Rev. Banbury in his 1894 book,
Jamaican Superstitions, or the Obeah Book,
as "the water spirit the diving duppy"."
He notes the reverential appreciation
of her aquatic fertility: "She is believed
to inhabit every fountainhead of an
inexhaustible and considerable stream
of water in Jamaica. For this reason the
sources of such streams were worshipped,
and sacrifices offered.. ."
Nigerian cultural critic Bibi Bakere-
Yusuf proposes yet another female orisha,
Oya, as a model for the performance
of female sexual identity in the African
diaspora. She suggests the following:

Oya is not only a river goddess as
most female orishas are in that part
of the world, she is also the orisha of
wind, tornado and, for our purpose
(that is the exploration into cultural
practices) the orisha of masquerades
and female power. One of the things
that continues to fascinate me about

women in dancehall culture is their
use of the mask, spectacle and the
assertion of female power in all its
diversities and complexities. Bearing
in mind that in the Yoruba language
the word for Spectacle Iron is the
same for ancestor, the masquerade
is a spectacle that celebrates the
ancestors, the living and the yet to
come. Oya is the deity of the Egun
Egun (ancestral) masquerade, as
well as of spectacle. You can imagine
what a fuller exploration into this
will mean for theorising cultural
expressions such as dancehall and
other African diasporic cultures. Oya
is the orisha that always springs to
mind when I think about dancehall

Both orishas are here invoked to
inform my reading of female agency
in Jamaican dancehall culture. Teish
elaborates Oshun's contradictory moral
qualities in the African diaspora, with
particular reference to Brazil and Cuba.
Her delineation of the Oshun madonna-
whore complex seems entirely relevant
to my analysis of the contradictory
representations of female sexuality in
Jamaican dancehall culture, though I do
question the characterisation of Oshun as
'pagan' with its conventionally negative
associations of heathenism:

In Brazil and Cuba, African religion
merged with Catholicism and the
image of the Goddess was greatly
affected. In this hemisphere She has
been identified with Mary and suffers
from the Madonna-Whore complex.
She is referred to as La Puta Santa
(the Whore Saint) and envisioned as
a prostitute of interracial ancestry.
Or She may be known as Yeye Kari
(Mother of Kindness) and represented
by the statue of the Virgin Mary.
These appellations speak more to the
cultural and political history of these
countries than to the power of the
Goddess. For She is a virgin but not
in the Catholic sense. She is a virgin
in the pagan sense a woman who
belongs to Herself and who is free to
interact with whomever She chooses.
By identifying Her with Mary, 'New
World' devotees became ashamed
of Her promiscuity in folklore and

misunderstood the power of Her
intercourse. She has, in many places,
simply been reduced to a coquette.
But in reality She is Iyalode!"

Furthermore, the respectful salutation
'mumi' (mother) that is routinely given
by Jamaican men even to women who
are clearly their junior, is evidence of the
valorisation of the female as nurturer
- both maternal and erotic. In addition,
the moral censure provoked by those
Jamaican'bad' words that allude to
female genitalia and the bloody specifics
of menstruation suggests the potency
of female sexuality in the culture. The
female aperture, the menstrual blood,
the protective cloths, the birthing canal
that are alluded to in so many Jamaican
'bad' words acknowledge the dread that
the regenerative power of the woman
often provokes. The hole from which the
child comes and to which the man returns
frequently to come and come again this
time from the other end is a potentially
terrifying space. And it is this dread
power that is invoked in the act of voicing
the damning 'bad' word: blood claat
(cloth), raas claat, bumbo claat.

... the brazen use
of feminised 'bad'
words in Jamaican
popular culture

becomes a subversive
reclamation of the

contested power of
the 'bad' and the

The entry on bumbo in the Dictionary
of Jamaican English (DJE) notes that
the word is probablyl] of multiple
derivation" and cites Eric Partridge's 1949
Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional
English: "Bumbo, occasionally] bombo.
.. mid-C 18-18, West Indian; originally]
a negroes' word." The DJE also notes
that "African origin is also claimed in
the earliest quotation] (1774), and cf
[compare] Zulu bumbu, pubic region.
However, there has probably] been

concurrent influence] of English bum and
perhaps] also Amer[ican] Sp[anish] bombo,
both meaning the buttock, rump." The
DJE also defines bumbo as "[t]he female
pudend". That Latin word pudendaa",
meaning "that of which one ought to
be ashamed", intimates that sexuality
is constructed as essentially shameful
in Eurocentric discourses. Conversely,
the brazen use of feminised 'bad' words
in Jamaican popular culture becomes a
subversive reclamation of the contested
power of the 'bad' and the 'vulgar'.

The notorious public

image of defiant

sensuality and raw

slackness masks the

true depth of Lady

Saw's insights.

In Central Africa in the Caribbean:
Transcending Time, Transforming
Cultures, Maureen Warner Lewis reports
her observation of erotic dances in
Guyana that evoke religious ritual:

During a dance performed in my
presence by a women's group in
Berbice, Guyana, the leader of the
dance circle erotically clapped one
hand over her genitals while raising
her other hand to clasp the back of
her neck, an action also portrayed by
some male dancers in the 'winding-
down' session after the performance
of the beele 'play' in Jamaica .... The
leader described her action as part
of a wedding dance that highlighted
the significance of fertility; while
making her gesture she exclaimed
the word bombo, a reference to the
female genitals, a word much used in
Jamaica as an obscenity, and which
has several Central African sources:
the Bembe and Nyanga mbombo
bombo 'anus, arse', the related
Koongo near-synonym bombo
'wetness, clotted matter', Mbundu
bombo 'cavity' and, even more to the
point, Mbundu mbumbu, 'vulva'.'5

Like the dancing female body in
Jamaican popular culture, these cognate
West African words that denote female

fertility have undergone pejoration to
obscenity in the diaspora.
In a 1998 radio interview in the
"Uncensored" series on Jamaica's Fame
FM, promiscuous Lady Saw counters
charges of vulgarity with coquettish

INTERVIEWER: Lady Saw, you do things like,
yu [you] grab yu crotch on stage.
LADY SAW: Uh huh. Michael Jackson did it and
nobody say anything about it.
INTERVIEWER: And you gyrate on the ground.
I mean, do you think this is acceptable for
a woman?
LADY SAW: Yes, darling. For this woman. And
a lot of woman would like to do the same but I
guess they are too shy.

Shyness is not one of Lady Saw's
obvious attributes/limitations. In response
to the question, "Some people are saying
that you are vulgar on stage and your
lyrics are indecent. Do you think they are
justified?", she dismissively asserts: "I
think critics are there to do their job and
I am here to my job ... to entertain and
please my fans." And she discounts those
critics who naively identify her, Marion
Hall, with her stage persona, Lady Saw.
She unambiguously declares, "Lady Saw
is a act." Pure role-play. Distinguishing
between her job and her identity, she
claims a private space that allows her the
freedom to escape her public image: "I'm
a nice girl. When I'm working, you know,
just love it or excuse it."
But many critics find it difficult to
either love Lady Saw's performances
or excuse her transgressions. Most
are caught between self-righteous
condemnation and open-mouthed
fascination. Listen to the ambiguous tone
of enthralled reproof in the words of Papa
Pilgrim, a reggae radio disc jockey in Salt
Lake City, Utah, in his report on the 1993
Reggae Sunsplash "Dancehall Night" in
The Beat magazine:

Then came a performance that was
more vulgar than any I have seen
from anyone anywhere! Her name is
Lady Saw, and as a Jamaican friend
commented, you cannot put enough
Xs in front of her name to adequately
describe what she did. To quote from
the Aug. 3, Gleaner, "She went to the
bottom of the pit and came up with

sheer filth and vulgar lyrics which
made Yellow Man at his worst seem
like a Boy Scout."16

Exponentially x-rated Lady Saw
was not nominated for a Jamaica Music
Award for 1994 on the grounds that she
is consistently slack. But this is not at
all so. The notorious public image of
defiant sensuality and raw slackness
masks the true depth of Lady Saw's
insights which she reveals, when it
suits her, in cutting lyrics that are above
reproach. For example, in the sardonic
tune "What Is Slackness", Lady Saw
interrogates conceptions of slackness
that limit the meaning of the word to
the private domain of individual sexual
transgression. She deconstructs slackness,
offering a provocative redefinition that
expands the denotative range of the word
to include the many failures of the state
to fulfil its obligations to the citizenry.
In this dancehall subversion, slackness
becomes a public matter of communal
accountability and the spotlight of moral
judgment is turned away from the DJ
herself and on to her detractors:

Want to know what slackness is?
I'll be the witness to dat.
Unu come off a mi back.
Nuff more tings out there want deal
An unu naa see dat.
Society a blame Lady Saw fi di system
dem create.
When culture did a clap
Dem never let mi through the gate
As mi say 'sex' dem waan fi jump
pon mi case
But take the beam outa yu eye
Before yu chat inna mi face
Cause Slackness is
When the road waan fi fix
Slackness when government break
them promise
Slackness is when politician issue out
And let the two Party a shot them one
another down.7

Do you want to know what slackness is?
Let me be the witness
You all just get off my back
There are lots of other issues to be dealt

And you all are not . ,.i,, tir
Society is blaming Lady Saw
For the system they have created
When culture was all 'i, i:, .
They wouldn't let me through the gate
I just have to say 'sex'and they want to
jump on my case
But take the beam out of your eye
Before daring to say anthliing to me
Because Slackness is roads needing to be
Slackness is the Government breaking its
Slackness is politicians issuing guns
And letting Party supporters shoot each

In a brilliant riposte to her adversaries
on her exclusion from the 1994 Jamaica
Music Awards competition, Lady Saw
recorded a totally unslack hit about the
act of censureship. She mockingly asserts
that she doesn't need the "award" the
stamp of approval from "certain guys
[who] have big position". She is working
for the far more valuable "reward" of
popularity with her fans. Refusing to
be put on pause, she defiantly declares
"Mi naa lock mi mout" (I won't lock my
mouth). In deference to the children,
though, she carefully edits her lyrics. But
you can just imagine the "breed of things"
she really wanted to tell the Advisory
Committee of the Jamaica Music Awards:

Them ha fi bun mi out fi get mi out
No matter wa dem try, mi naa lock
mi mout
Dem waan mi fi resign

But it's not yet time
Mi gwy bother dem nerves
And pressure them mind.

Verse 1
If it wasn't for the sake of the children
Some breed a tings mi wuda tell them!
But just because of mi commitment
I'm standing firm to please my
Mi tell dem "Slackness" but it seems
dem ears cork
Dem a try and a die fi put mi pon

Verse 2
A no notn if mi no inna dem roll call
Mek dem keep dem award
Mi a wok fi reward
Through certain guys have big position
Dem fling mi out of dem nomination
But that alone can't stop mi from nyam
The more dem fight, the more mi get

They have to burn me out to :, I t..' out
No matter what they try, I'm not going
to shut up
They want me to resign
But it's not yet time
I'm going to bother their nerves
And keep up the pressure

Verse 1
If it wasn't for the children
I would tell them all kinds of things!
But just because of my commitment
I'm -iiili'i: fii in to please my audience.
I gave them "Slackness" but it seems that
their ears are closed

They are trying their hardest to put me
on 'pause'

Verse 2
It's no big deal if I'm not in their roll call
Let them keep their award
I'm working for my reward
Because certain guys are influential
They have flung me out of their nomination
But that alone can't stop me from earning
a living
The more they fight against me, the
stronger I get.

The hotter the battle, the sweeter the
victory. And sanctified Lady Saw knows
her Bible. You had better take the beam
out of your own eye before you start
looking for the mote in hers. In a wicked
reversal of roles the persecuted DJ sings
triumphant praises to God:

When I remember where I'm coming
Through all the trials and tribulation
Yes, the hardship and the sufferation
I have to go on my knees
And sing praises to God
Glory be to God!
Praises to his name!
Thanks for taking me
Out of the bondage and chains.18

Lady Saw proves that she is not
consistently slack. She can be as pious as
pious can be. And, in any case, she knows
that the man from Galilee had a way with
all kinds of ladies. So she has quite a few
songs in her repertoire that are straight
hymns, celebrating divine guidance in
her life. And she is quite pragmatic in
matters of religion. In that "Uncensored"
interview she makes it clear that economic
priorities dictate her lifestyle at present.
But she does not rule out the possibility of
conversion to religious respectability at a
more convenient season. It is this kind of
contradiction that makes Lady Saw such a
fascinating character.
In this same spirit of moral
ambivalence Lady Saw refuses to set up
herself as a role model for young girls
who may not have the fortitude and self-
possession she displays. And, most often,
they are not sophisticated enough to
distinguish between role play and reality:

INTERVIEWER: Lady Saw, you said not so
long ago that you wouldn't want your
daughter to do what you're doing now.

What would you say to a young girl now
out there who wants to be nothing but
just like you?
LADY SAW: I tell them all the time [when]
them come to me with it, "I want to be like
you, Lady Saw." "Like me? You choose
sopn [something] else." I can tek [take] my
consequences dem right now. I don't know
if she strong enough to deal with what I'm
dealing with. So I don't encourage them to be
like Lady Saw. Sometimes they say, "I love all
yu [your] songs." I seh [say], "Yu try listen to
the good ones, not the bad ones."

Undoubtedly, the vast majority
of songs in Lady Saw's repertoire are
decidedly raunchy. There is no denying
it. That is why she is so popular. She is a
woman running neck and neck with the
men, giving as good, or even better, than
she gets. But exclusive focus on those
x-rated lyrics diminishes the range of
her contribution. Consider, for example,
her "Condom" hit which advocates
safe sex. Ironically, Lady Saw is on firm
moral ground here. "Condom" is not at
all slack in the usual hardcore sense of
the word though it does name sexual
acts/positions which are encoded in
metaphor: "banana peel" and "pedal and
wheel". The song warns against sexual
promiscuity and its fatal consequences.
Lady Saw calls attention to the fact
that marriage is no guarantee of sexual
fidelity; and she recognizes the need to
forthrightly negotiate the dangers of
sexual intercourse. Playing shy can be a
deadly game; and looks can be terminally

Can't know the right and do the wrong
(You see weh me a seh?)
This is reaching out to all woman and
You see when having sex
Saw beg you use protection (Safety)

A condom can save your life (men)
Use it all with your wife (yes)
All when she huff and puff
Tell her without the condom you nah
do no wo'k.
Don't bother play shy
Tell the guy, "No bareback ride
No, no, no"
No watch the pretty smile
Remember AIDS will tek you life."'

You can't know what's right and do
(You see what I'm saying?)
This is reaching out to all women and
You see when you're having sex
Saw is begging you to use protection

A condom can save your life (men)
Use it even with your wife (yes)
And even if she huffs and puffs
Tell her you're not performing without
the condom
Don't bother to pretend to be shy
Tell the guy, "No bareback ride
No, no, no"
Don't get taken in by the pretty smile
Remember that AIDS will take your life.

Lady Saw confidently asserts that this
song cannot be banned. Its message is
above reproach:

Them have fe play this one
This one caan get ban
I predict this will be my next number
Reaching out to teenagers, woman
and man
When having sex use protection

They have to play this one
This one can't be banned
I predict that this will be my next number
Reaching out to teenagers, women and
Use protection whenever you have sex

Lady Saw comments on changing
patterns of sexual behaviour which make
new precautions imperative. In a clever
play on words, the precaution of the
condom becomes extended to encompass
all the other precautions that must now
be taken. In the absence of a commitment
to monogamy, sexually active men
and women regardless of social class
- are forced to concede the dangers of

Dem say one man to one woman
That nah gwaan again,
So take precaution

It no matter where you live or who
you are
You could be a millionaire or a
We all are one
Come mek we sit down

They say one man for one woman
Is a thing of the past
So take precautions
It doesn't matter where you live or who
you are
You could be a millionaire or a superstar
We all are one
Come, let's talk about it.

The DJ's precautionary warnings do
not conform to the expectations of what
a promiscuous performer like Lady Saw
is supposed to advocate. Indeed, a song
like "Condom" contests the stereotypes
of the dancehall as a hotbed of sensuality
from which all reason has fled. Lady Saw
challenges her audience to take seriously
her warnings about the dangers of casual
sex. It is no laughing matter:

When I'm talking don't you dare
If them say that Matey a rebel
So check yourself before you wreck
No bother move like Mantel and the
gal Sketel
Safety first and trust go to hell

Don't you dare laugh when I'm talking!
If they say the 'other woman' is rebelling
So check yourself before you wreck
Don't get on like a loose man or woman
Safety first and trust can go to hell

Acknowledging the feelings of
embarrassment that might make
some people shy about openly buying
condoms, Lady Saw wittily contrasts
that instinct for privacy with the public
exposure as on the Oprah Winfrey show
- that is a potential consequence of not
taking precautions:

Instead of saying if you did know
Go pick you condom at the corer

Nobody's business,
The world nah fi know
No make sake a hard ears
You name and face
Gone pon Oprah talk show.

Instead of having to say "if only I'd
Go and select your condoms at the corner
It's nobody's business
The world doesn't have to know
Don't let stubbornness cause
Your name and face
To be exposed on Oprah's talk show

Lady Saw then goes to the meat
of the matter. Naming popular sexual
acts/positions, she pointedly asks if sex is
worth dying for:

How do you feel
When you get you banana peel
The wickedest slam
To make you pedal and wheel
Only to find out that you have AIDS
You no want know, so get you
condom please

How would you feel
When you get your banana peeled
The most exciting sex
That makes you pedal and wheel
Only to find out that you have the
disease, AIDS
You don't want to know, so please get
your condoms

Noting her critics' derogatory
references to the sexy image she has
cultivated, Lady Saw does not give any

1. Luisah Teish, "Daughter of Promise:
Oriki Oshun", Carnival of the Spirit (San
Francisco: Harper, 1994), 75.
2. Obiagele Lake, Rastafari Women:
Subordination in the Midst of Liberation
Theology (Durham: Carolina Academic
Press, 1998), 131.
3. Lake's transcription is inaccurate: "outa
street" (out on the streets) becomes
the nonsensical "out of straight". In
performance, Lady Saw elongates the
vowel so that 'street' does sound like
'straight'. But knowledge of the language
makes the meaning clear.

credence to this stereotype. Instead, she
makes a public declaration of her own
refusal to engage in sex without taking
precautions. She sets up herself as a role
model of responsible sexual behaviour.
And her sense of responsibility extends
beyond safe sex to the advocacy of a
much more generalised programme of
proper health care:

Some critics say that I am a sex
Me no know bout that
This I will reveal
If my man don't put on him rubbers
Him nah be able fi tell the Saw
When it come to me health, I'm
Take me pap smear, mi usual check-
Then everything fall back in line
If him nah wear no condom
Him nah get no bligh.

Some critics say that I'm a sex machine
I don't know about that
But this is what I can tell you
If my man doesn't put on his condom
He won't have the chance to tell the Saw
When it comes to my health, I'm serious
I do my pap smear and get my regular
Then everything falls back into place
If he won't wear a condom
He's not getting any

Lady Saw warns vulnerable young
women about the cunning strategies some
irresponsible men employ to avoid the
use of condoms. She advocates vigilance,

4. Lake, Rastafari Women, 132.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid., 132-33.
9. Teish, "Daughter of Promise", 79.
10. I am indebted to L'Antoinette Stines,
Yoruba priestess and artistic director of the
L'Acadco Dance Company, for this insight.
11. Cited in Frederic G. Cassidy, Jamaica Talk
(Kingston and London: Institute of Jamaica
and Macmillan, 1961), 184.
12. Ibid., 252.
13. Email from Bibi Bakere-Yusuf to the
author, 13 January 2003.

not just in the moment of the sex act, but
more generally as a strategy for exercising
control over one's fate.

No make dem fool you
That when them use it
Them no feel you
That nuh true, girls.
Some wi want bus' it
When dem put it on
So open yu ears an
Watch what a gwaan.

Don't let them fool you into believing
That when they use it
They don't feel you
That's not true, girls.
Some will try to burst it
When they're putting it on
So open your eyes and
Watch out for what's going on.

Lady Saw's brilliant lyrics, reinforced
by her compelling body language,
articulate a potent message about
sexuality, gender politics and the power
struggle for the right to public space in
Jamaica. She is a woman who knows
the power of her own sex appeal. As an
entertainer, she fully understands the
function of performance as a strategy for
masking the self. Indeed, erotic disguise
extends beyond the dress codes and role
play of the celebrants in the dancehall.
It encompasses the cunning strategies
that are employed by outspoken women
like Lady Saw who speak subtle truths
about their society. In the spirit of Oshun,
River Mumma and Oya, Goddess of the
Masquerade, Lady Saw cuts loose from
the boundaries that would contain her.
She is river of sensuality running free. o

14. Teish, "Daughter of Promise", 79-80.
15. Maureen Warner-Lewis, Central Africa
in the Caribbean: Transcending Time and
Transforming Cultures (Kingston: University
of the West Indies Press, 2003), 235-36.
16. Papa Pilgrim, "Reggae Sunsplash'93:
Report from Yard", The Beat 12, no. 5
(1993): 49.
17. Lady Saw, "What Is Slackness", Give Me
the Reason (Diamond Rush, 1996).
18. Lady Saw, "Glory Be to God", Give Me the
Reason (Diamond Rush, 1996).
19. Lady Saw, "Condom", Give Me the Reason
(Diamond Rush, 1996).

Desperately Seeking Africa

within Jamaican Art


I am always intrigued by the peculiar
qualities of Jamaican art. I wonder
why, as islanders, our artists do not
romanticise the sea, or why they
burden images of the past with sombre
tones. Why are landscapes, trees and
tangled roots important motifs in our
art and why is our African heritage and
blackness such an important feature of
our portraiture? Using a range of images
from the self-taught sculptor David
Miller to the sophisticated photographer
Albert Chong, I want to explore how

perceptions of Africa have influenced
Jamaican art, and the way in which our
visual representations of diaspora identity
are shaped by imagery not just from
Africa but also Europe.' I want to show
that Jamaican art's iconography is truly
distinctive a reflection of our complex
cultural perceptions.
We can begin by looking at how
Africa's artistic heritage was undermined
by the New World experience, then
examine how retentions from African
art survived through self-taught artists
whose work we now call 'intuitive'. We
can also look at how a stylish primitivism,
as an aspect of European modernism,
has influenced our expression as artists

and definers of Caribbean culture. In
telling this story, I will refer to a range
of artists, including vanguard pioneers
such as Edna Manley, Albert Huie and
Osmond Watson, but I will also include
younger contemporary artists who
grapple with ideas and images that are
shaping an understanding of slavery
and colonialism and creating a visual
language to articulate our presence in the
New World. This article may be too short
to thoroughly cover so many artists and
ideas, but its handful of images may help

to give a visual sense of the multi-layered
quality of our art.
Diaspora blacks share a strong artistic
heritage rooted in Africa, but slavery
stymied their skills in carving, mask-
making, ceramics and textiles inherited
from West Africa. Strong traditions
survived the Middle Passage, only to be
suppressed in the New World. Europeans
were suspicious of certain practices
carried over from Africa. They considered
African carvings magical fetishes because
they suspected that the ritual practices
in the art-making empowered the slaves
and made them hostile to New World
assimilation. Colonial authorities banned
the use of these carvings under slavery

and severely punished their makers.
Those who knew how to create such
objects and had the spiritual knowledge
that empowered them went underground
or disguised their art in Christian forms
now recognized in Jamaican obeah,
Cuban santeria and Haitian vodou.
Freedom brought a gradual
reawakening of the arts. Sculptures by
two of Jamaica's earliest self-taught
artists, David Miller and his son, show
that African ideas and imagery remained
strong. David Miller Sr's Obi (1920), with

its prominent head, aggressive posture
and compact chest, is a unique example
of how the skill of making power objects
or fetishes was retained, though the
knowledge of rendering the form was
lost. This work and David Miller Jr's
similarly carved Heads were developed
for a fledgling tourist market and
represented an exotic 'native' tradition

David Miller Sr, Obi, c. 1920, National Gallery
of Jamaica
Richmond Barthe, Nude, c. 1933, Whitney
Museum of American Art, New York
Edna Manley, Negro Aroused, 1935, National
Gallery oflamaica
Christopher Gonzalez, Tree of Life, 1971

linked to Africa but considered 'local'.
They anticipated a self-taught tradition
that flourishes today, particularly in the
north coast resort areas.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Jamaica
was not short of tourists, many of
them artists, as the larger Caribbean
region became a vogue muse to Europe.
Europeans came in search of the exotic
and sought out the work of local artists
such as the Millers. Like the avant-garde
artist Paul Gauguin, their aim was
renewal and regeneration, and a simpler


idyllic lifestyle, but their perceptions of
black culture were based on atavistic
In addition to European itinerants,
Jamaica also attracted diaspora artists
such as Edna Manley in Jamaica,
Richmond Barthe in Jamaica and in
Haiti, and Wifredo Lam in Cuba. They
too sought identity in the region, where
they believed they had some cultural

connection, and they also brought their
preconceptions inspired by Picasso's
primitivism and modernism's Africanised
masks. Their art provoked racial
awareness and promoted black imagery.
It also expressed antipathy towards
colonialism and concern for the non-white
world's independence.
Edna Manley's Negro Aroused
(1935) aptly reflects this interest. Hewn
intentionally from dark mahogany, its
naked black torso supports a head thrust
upwards in search of a new dawn. It has

become the iconic image of that era and
its nationalistic thinking.
Cultural nationalism remained the
main philosophical sentiment behind
the Caribbean's artistic movements and
their artistic products up to and beyond
independence. As a result, Jamaican
viewers still warm to such reflections of
themselves, their portraits, market scenes
and landscapes, because they relate them

to their history and to their daily realities.
It is no accident that mainstream artists
such as Barrington Watson enjoy such
popularity because of the overt race
consciousness and nationalism of their
work. This type of genre painting mixes,
sometimes too easily, with a more 'kitsch'
tourist art which plays out the stereotypes
of our island existence. Palm-strewn
beaches, bustling markets and rural areas
populated with sturdy black men and
sinewy women are part of the Jamaica's
iconography in both high and low art
Jamaica's self-taught art has been
more visible since the nationalist 1970s.
Labelled 'intuitive', it maintains links
with African forms of expression. It shows
tendencies to overall patterning, a varied
and integrated use of colour, flatness of
forms reminiscent of textile design and
decoration. The sophistication of imagery
and ideas in intuitive art are remarkable
given their development outside
mainstream thinking.
Intuitive artists such as Everald
Brown, William "Woody" Josephs,
Leonard Daley and Ras Dizzy are
becoming more popular as Jamaicans
learn to accept their history. The National
Gallery of Jamaica's role in nurturing,
promoting and exhibiting the works
of intuitives has been crucial to their
appreciation. Their 'insider' status has
been controversial, however, because
many of Jamaica's middle-class patrons
of the arts are ambivalent about Africa,
blackness, Rastafarianism and other
syncretic religions, which inspire the
imagery in intuitive art. An example of
this ambivalence can be seen with respect
to the enigmatic sculptures of Woody
Josephs keenly purchased during his
lifetime, yet relatively neglected after his
Rastafarianism dominated
Jamaican subculture in the 1960s and
1970s, parallelling and reinterpreting
the African-American Black Power
movement. The wearing of red, green
and gold and characteristic dreadlocks
identified Rastafarians uniquely. Black
Power and Rastafarian imagery had a

Osmond Watson, City Life, 1968, National Gallery
of lamaica
Omari Ra, Estranged Dick, 1993

r;r~ q

significant impact on mainstream artists
during the politically turbulent 1970s and
1980s. Artists such as Osmond Watson,
Eric Cadien and Christopher Gonzalez
were consistent in their use of icons
that referenced Africa and its culture.
There was a moment when mainstream
intuitive and street artists seemed to work
with the same sources and there was a
consistency of imagery referencing the
past that even the
public understood.

Rastafarian posters
by the popular artist
Ras Daniel Hartman
in the living rooms
of intellectuals who
wanted to prize an
image of race and
cultural consciousness? For those of us
with more sophisticated pretensions,
Gene Pearson's ceramic heads referencing
Baule, Fang and Egyptian art were, and
still are, prized collectibles.
Pseudo-African masks, locks, tangled
roots, lions' heads, snakes and a much-
used shape of the continent in shades of
red, green and gold
stamped this strain
of Jamaican art as
diasporic. It was
consistent with other
works by artists in
the black diaspora
anxious to make
visual links with
the past. This type
of art wore a self-
S consciousness alien
1 to art from Africa.
But there was a logic
to this imagery, often
painfully simplistic
and narrative: roots
stood for roots,
chains represented
enslavement, red
was the blood of our
forebears shed during
slavery, green stood
for the land and gold
for the riches pirated
by Europeans in
colonial Africa.
While many of
us might still long for

this clarity, the Jamaican artists' references
to the past and slavery have become more
obscure, but just as relevant. Feeding off
this black art tradition is a group of young
artists committed to a philosophy of pan-
Africanism. Forerunners in the group are
Nettifnet Maat, Stanford Watson, Kalfani
Ra and Omari Ra. Their imagery reflects
an eclectic mix of stylistic and conceptual
sources. Their local art school training is
subverted by gutsy, raw responses to art-
making, sympathetic to intuitive or self-
taught practices.
Omari Ra is acknowledged as the
chief instigator and philosopher in
the group. His peculiar brand of black
separatism is stridently communicated in
such works as the Dambala series, where
blackness is viewed as an inspiration
rather than a perversion. Another taboo
that Omari Ra confronts is that of black
male sexuality and impotence in the
face of white oppression. In his Moby
Dick series (1993) flaccid penises and
dead whales predominate. The sea is the
source of that impotence, and black men
flounder as a result of the white man's
Omari Ra takes us backwards to
recover a lost heritage. He employs
occult practices and imagery found in
regional and syncretic spiritual groups
such as obeah, santeria and vodou.
He also draws on imagery from ritual
practices that connote the sadistic and
cannibalistic: blood, faces, hair all drip,
sweat and protrude, bringing drama and
a visual impact that leaves some viewers
Like surrealism's fascination with the
occult and alchemy, the imagery of Omari
Ra and his clan is shrouded and layered
with mystery. From their obscure naming
of themselves and their work, their
punning and secret society symbolism,
they suggest that an understanding of
the mystery they create is a remedy and
transformative process of renewal for
black souls.
Of course, there is danger in this
fetishising of our Afrocentric identities.
It can lead to a fixity that celebrates and
romanticises the past, and produces a
kind of separatism akin to fascism. In
this sense, the New World experience
has been a blessing. It provides an
accommodation of other cultures even

within the advocacy of pan-Africanism.
In Jamaica, multiculturalism fashions
our identities. Our history of forced and
voluntary migration brings an acute
sense of being part of a diaspora, in our
relationship to Africa, Asia and Europe,
or more recently in our relationship to
England, Canada and the United States.
We are constantly refining and defining
our relationship to the world. Our
identities are liminal, fluid and negotiable.
In the thirty years since independence,
the cultural nationalism of the pre-
independence era has mutated into a
more palatable discourse that represents
the region's plurality. Globalisation and
its attendant postmodern sentiments
have encouraged the search for a new
language that better suits the region's
diversity and cultural complexity.
This New Worldism is evidenced in
an interest in the region's indigenous
cultures, a more clearly defined
sentiment for Africa, an idealisation
of the Caribbean environment, and an
equally significant acceptance on the
part of its white and brown classes to
call themselves creole, and to identify
with the Americas as home. This cross-
fertilisation is pronounced in the work of
Anna Henriques: her Isabella Boxes (1995)
evoke a sense of nostalgia for Jamaica's
decimated Taino culture and beg a
renewed understanding of her Portuguese
Jewish ancestry.
Recently, I have worked with a
number of artists whose works reflect
this diversity and explore the complex
ways that identities are formed out of
hybridity and a sense of 'in-betweenness'.
The artists' varied attitudes and
backgrounds provide a rich source of
visual exploration. Each has a unique
visual response to identity, and although
they all lay claim to Jamaica, their sense
of Jamaicanness differs. Omari Ra's stark
political imagery, Petrona Morrison's
sculptures that provoke ancestral
memory, Milton George's satirical
renditions and Leonard Daley's hysterical

Anna Henriques, From the Isabella Boxes series
Petrona Morrison, Assemblage, 1993

Ras Dizzy, The Rasta Says, 1987
Albert Chong, Bound Claw, Lock and Tacks, 1989

i ~Yj~5~C~ i

outpourings are all unique responses
coming 'out of Africa' but now relating
to Jamaica. All are Jamaican but, typical
of the Caribbean, their genealogies stem
from the five continents. Their work
reflects these differences while still
making reference to Africa, slavery, and
the impact of colonialism and migration.
The routes artists take to give their
work ethnocentric identities is a central
theme of Jamaica's contemporary art
scene. For some, such as Omari Ra,
Leonard Daley and Ras Dizzy, the links
with Africa are direct and present. For
others, the routes they take are more
The collages in David Boxer's
Memories of Colonisation are more self-
conscious. Fragmented and gauzed
human forms, Tchi Wara masks,
renaissance images and musical notations
are spliced and collaged with personal
and cultural imagery into a European
setting. Memories of Colonisation forms
part of a larger body of work that he
calls the "Middle Passage Series", where
the notion of holocaust is a constant and
reference to slavery's Atlantic Middle
Passage is more specific. In his most
recent work, fragmented forms are
submerged then resurface in washes of
blue, white froth and bloody tissue, which
represent the violence of slavery's Atlantic
crossing. Boxer is one of few artists, along
with Charles Campbell and more recently
Christopher Clare, to deal with the
Middle Passage theme, but it is his way of
dealing with pains of the past.
Alfred Chong's work is similar. Using
photomontage, he seamlessly inserts,
superimposes, juxtaposes and integrates
images from his past into his present-

A version of this article was presented at the
Slave Route Conference, University of the
West Indies, Mona, 24-27 February 1999. It
has also been augmented with ideas presented
at Documenta II's Creoliti and Creolisation
Conference, St Lucia, 2001. I am grateful for the
opportunity to re-present these ideas.

All photos Petrine Archer-Straw.

Archer-Straw, Petrine. "Cultural Nationalism:
Its Development in Jamaica, 1920-1940".
MPhil thesis, University of the West Indies,
Jamaica, 1985.

day reckoning of
personal identity,
but now framed
within the context
of black migration
in the 1960s. Family
photographs and
memorabilia are
fetishised to enhance
the past and offer
interpretations to his
identity as a black
man with Chinese .
Jamaica's !
contemporary -
imagery shows how
the past is a constant touchstone that
provides a sense of place and identity
in the consciousness of many Jamaican
artists. It also stresses the dynamic nature
of that identity in that it is always in the
making, always in the choosing, rooted
in the past but nevertheless forward-
looking. These artists offer a vision of
their world that is fluid, shifting and
peculiarly postmodern. They provide
another chapter in
the black diaspora
saga set in motion by
In all this, Africa
remains an important
touchstone for our
artists, as a source
not of mimicry but
of inspiration. Look
carefully, and you
will see how artists
fill the voids in our
history and our
understanding by

SNew World Imagery. National Touring
Exhibitions. London: Hayward Gallery and
Arts Council Collection, 1995.
Negrophilia: Avant Garde Paris and Black
Culture in the 1920s. London: Thames and
Hudson, 2000.
Balutansky, Kathleen M., and Marie-Agnes
Sourieau, eds. Caribbean Creolization.
Gainesville: University Press of Florida,
Benitez-Rojo, A. The Repeating Island: The
Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective.
Durham: Duke University, 1992.
Boxer, David. Edna Manley: Sculptor. Kingston:
Edna Manley Foundation and National
Gallery of Jamaica, 1990.
Brathwaite, Edward Kamau. The Development of

s ,,

ritualising our culture, mythologising
the past and packaging the horror of
our history in the language and style
of modernism. No doubt much of this
imagery serves to tell a story that can
never be fully known, and artists can
only intuit the savagery of their past
through an exploration of their own
scarred remembrances, dull aches and
contemporary anxieties. .

Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770-1820. Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1971.
Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: \ ..,., 'iti,, ,t
Double Consciousness. London: Verso, 1993.
Hall, Stuart, and Sarat Maharaj. Modernity and
9',it. ,, .,., IN1VA Annotation 6. London:
Institute of International Visual Arts, 2001.
Nettleford, Rex. Caribbean Cultural Identity.
Kingston: Institute of Jamaica Publications,
Poupeye, Veerle. Caribbean Art. London:
Thames and Hudson, 1998.
Shepherd, Verene, and Glen Richards, eds.
Questioning Creole: Creolisation Discourses
in Caribbean Culture. Kingston: Ian Randle
Publishers, 2002.

The Gentle Tutor


On Tuesday 25 February 2003 a statue of Sir
Philip Sherlock, executed by artist Valerie
Bloomfield-Ambrose, was unveiled on the
Mona campus of the University of the West
Indies. Thefollowing are the opening remarks
given on that occasion by Professor the
Honourable Rex Nettleford, vice chancellor of
the University of the West Indies.

Had he lived the man we have come to
honour today would have been 101 years
of age. There were those who during his
lifetime felt that he would live forever. In
a sense he will. And today's exercise is
to ensure that the good the great good
- that he did while he was alive is not
interred with his bones.
Our '..Llr pr. L-1inC
m here in thi place
." i.t_ h_, to la- i. ng

0% L .n, L, rd-_

ol th,.
ot the \\est
). Indie- na- a
one in tending
to age tO thei
te'\w million.;
ol back%, ater

tenant this region that sense of place
and purpose with which the silence of
colonialism, and a historical legacy of
threatened social and cultural death,
had to be confronted not by armed
resistance (forebears had done enough of
that) but by the exercise of intellect and
Philip Manderson Sherlock was
himself the living example of the efficacy
of such agencies of individual growth and
collective development. He was witness
to, if not at the helm of, all the major
transforming initiatives that brought
Jamaica and the rest of the region, which
he saw as a cultural unit, from Crown
colony through self-government to
At an advanced age he carried
the .park ot the idealism of a youthful
'. ion.ar playing mentor, as he had
i11. a l. d..ne, to countless persons who
drei rom him the inspiration and
.-u t nancil- which have guaranteed us
a c. rtain continuity of effort and the
per',itence of a will that, in his favourite
i ord- trom Goethe, "strives to do the
utmo.t attording [us a sure] salvation"
i which hie\ ever elusive, would finally be
in the gra.p of us all as long as one has
:,o %. c in the University of the
\i-;t Indies at Mona, at Cave Hill, at
't AuLgus.tne and throughout the non-
campu. countries which were dear to
the heart of Sir Philip, we meet to
honou r in a very special way this
man who, in the words of Isaiah
SBerlin, "assisted [us all] to
understand [ourselves] and
thus to operate in the open
and not wildly in the dark".
The university wishes
to pay special tribute to Dr
Aaron Matalon, Sir Philip's
close friend of many, many
ears. Dr Matalon had the
idea, lit the spark, made all the
initial arrangements for the
commission of a statue, and

has followed it through, not only with a
major financial contribution but also with
monitoring the progress of the work in
Miami. Others who have played critical
roles have been the Burnett Webster
Foundation; the National Housing Trust;
Air Jamaica, which transported the
statue to Jamaica free of cost; and Mr
John Greaves of Tank-Weld Limited, who
transported this precious cargo from the
airport to the Mona campus, handling the
whole operation personally and with all
the sensitivity that was necessary for such
an exercise.
We pay special tribute to Mr Pat
Stanigar, the architect, who has been the
moving force on the ground, identifying
the most appropriate site, pointing out
the significance of the "twisted trees" that
figured so much in Sir Philip's poetry,
and ensuring that the statue will enjoy a
quiet place in the groves of academe for
students who wish to read, meditate or
just be still in the presence of one of the
most inspired visionaries who made this
university possible.
Last, but certainly not least, we have
to thank the artist, Valerie Bloomfield-
Ambrose, whose heart is so evident
in the work that now forms a part of
the university at Mona. A bust of Sir
Philip will grace the portals of the other
campuses. We have only to look at the
expression on the face, the gesture of the
hands, the detail on the academic gown,
and the sense of purpose that envelops
the work, to understand that the artist
has captured the very essence of this
giant of a man who, with humility but
fired with determination and singleness
of purpose, brought vision, commitment
and dedication to the cause of education
which has transported us all to the place
where we are this morning.


During his first teaching post at Calabar
High School, Philip Sherlock studied for
and obtained a first-class honours degree
from the University of London. From 1933
to 1938, he was headmaster of Wolmer's
Boys' School. He then accepted the post of
secretary of the Institute of Jamaica where
he served from 1939 to 1944. During this
time, the Junior Centre was established.
From 1944 to 1947, he was the education
officer of Jamaica Welfare.
Perhaps his most significant work
was the seminal role he played in arguing
the case in London for a University
College of the West Indies, which came
into being in 1947, and he accepted the

...Sir Philip needed to

penetrate the mystery
of combinations
which make each

one of us unique.

post of director of the Department of
Extra-Mural Studies, which position
he held until 1960. When the institution
achieved university status, he was
appointed pro vice chancellor, and served
as principal of the St Augustine campus.
In 1963 he was named vice chancellor,
serving in this position from 1963 to 1969.
On retiring from the university, Sir
Philip was appointed secretary-general of
the Association of Caribbean Universities
and Research Institutes, where he served
for twenty years, returning to Jamaica in
1989 as consultant to the vice chancellor of
the University of the West Indies, which
position he held until his death. A prolific
writer, his last publication, The Story of
the Jamaican People, co-authored with
Dr Hazel Bennett, was completed in his
ninety-seventh year. He died in December

Valerie Bloomfield-Ambrose
lived in Jamaica for many
years and now lives in South
Florida. She studied art at
the Glasgow School of Art,
Scotland, and the American
University in Washington,
DC. She taught for almost a
decade at the Jamaica School
of Art and currently teaches
art at the South Florida Art
A specialist in portraiture
and figurative sculpture, she
has had many important
commissions in Jamaica, the
United States and Europe,
among them Professor
the Honourable Rex
Nettleford, vice chancellor
of the University of the
West Indies; the Honourable
Michael Manley, former
prime minister of Jamaica;
Sir Florizel Glasspole, former
governor general of Jamaica;
Dr Ida Scudder, first female
graduate of Cornell Medical
School; and Fred Bass,
owner of the famous Strand
Bookstore in New York.
Her work has appeared
in many exhibitions
internationally, and among
her several awards is a silver
medal from the Institute of
worked on the statue of
Sir Philip Sherlock after a
particularly difficult time in
her life. She was recovering
from heart surgery and
unsure of whether or not
she could manage the
commission. The more
she considered the project,
however, the more she
wanted to undertake it. In
her words:

//I became more and more energised as my thoughts
began to evolve. I felt I knew Sir Philip well enough.
I had met him socially several times in the early 1960s; I
had heard him speak on numerous occasions; and I had
felt his living and beloved presence on campus when I
took some courses at the University of the West Indies
in the late 1960s and early 1970s ...
"As a portrait artist, it is important for me to find
the 'likeness' in every part of the body. I wanted no
cliches, generalisations or stylisations. I needed to find
the gesture, slope of shoulders, tilt of head and
expressions specific to Sir Philip. I needed to penetrate
the mystery of combinations which make each one of us
unique. While this uniqueness arises from the sum of all
parts, an artist solves the sum by considering the
relationships ...
"There is a time in a large work, or any work of art,
where the piece begins to take on a life of its own and
dictates all of the subsequent choices which then
become fewer and fewer. Content and form start to
correspond, the basic elements of intellect, emotion,
manual dexterity and natural instincts begin to come
together into a cohesive whole....
"Philip Sherlock opened a gateway for many
promising West Indian minds, people who excel in
all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers,
civil servants, social workers, poets, playwrights and
politicians. It is this aspect of his nature that I have
sought to capture in this work of mine." 4


Fellows of the Institute of Jamaica

Four Caribbean luminaries, in the fields of
culture, science and history, were installed
as fellows of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ)
in 2003.
The induction of fellows of the
Institute of Jamaica is in keeping
with the IOJ's mission, which is the
encouragement of literature, science
and art. The Institute of Jamaica Act of
1978 states: "The Institute may from
time to time elect persons, being persons
appearing to the Institute to have
achieved distinction in Culture, Science or
History (including the training of artists
and education in the Arts), to be Fellows
of the Institute of Jamaica."
According to the act, an honorary
member of the council shall be entitled
to all the rights and privileges of a
member of council. 'Council' refers to the
committee which governs the IOJ, and
this comprises professionals drawn from
the fields of literature, science and art.
The last fellow to be inducted was
Professor the Honourable Rex Nettleford,
OM, in 1989. Professor Nettleford is the
only surviving fellow, as earlier fellows
such as C.L.R. James, noted Caribbean
scholar, the Honourable Edna Manley,
OM, artist, and the Honourable Sir
Philip Sherlock, OM, KBE, who were all

installed in 1980, are now deceased.
On 27 March 2003 Professors
Roy Augier and Gerald Lalor were
installed. The ceremony took place at the
Undercroft, the University of the West
Indies (UWI). St Lucia-born Professor
Sir Roy Augier lectures in West Indian
History, History of Political Thought, and
Development of Civilisation at the UWI.
He is also chairman of the Caribbean
Examinations Council. Sir Roy was
knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain
for his contribution to regional education.
The Honourable Gerald Cecil
Lalor, OJ, CD, scientist and science
administrator, has been instrumental in
raising substantial funding to support
science research and development at
the UWI and played a leading role in
developing the university's Biotechnology
Centre. Professor Lalor's previous
awards include the IOJ's Centenary
Medal, the Award of Excellence conferred
by the Jamaica Society of Scientists and
Technologists, and the Gleaner Award
for service to the UWI Distance Teaching
Experiment (UWIDITE).
On 5 June 2003, at a ceremony which
again took place at the UWI's Undercroft,
the IOJ honour was bestowed upon the
Barbados-born poet and novelist George

Lamming. Among his many works are In
the Castle of My Skin, The Emigrants, Of Age
and Innocence, Season of Adventure, Water
with Berries, Natives of My Person and The
Pleasures of Exile. His awards include the
Guggenheim fellowship, the Somerset
Maugham Award, the Canada Council
fellowship, and a Commonwealth
Foundation grant, as well as an honorary
doctorate from the UWI.
The Honourable Louise Bennett,
OJ, MBE, renowned folklorist, writer
and pioneer in the Jamaican performing
arts, fondly referred to as "Miss Lou",
was inducted as a fellow on 11 August
2003. Among Miss Lou's accolades are
the Silver and Gold Musgrave Medals,
also conferred by the IOJ, as well as the
Norman Manley Award for Excellence in
Folklore and Art. She was awarded the
Doctor of Letters honors causa by the
UWI. Miss Lou's works include Anancy
and Miss Lou, Humour and Verse in Dialect,
Jamaican Verses, and Jamaica Labrish.
Though no longer living in Jamaica, Miss
Lou continues in her role as a cultural
ambassador for Jamaica.
The citations which were read at
the 2003 installation ceremonies are
reproduced below.

Roy Augier was one of the memorable
few who made the Department of History
in the University of the West Indies
(UWI) the flagship entity it became and
remained for a long time in the enterprise
that is the Caribbean academy. He was
one of the department's early architects,
bringing ideal, form and purpose to the
delivery of an academic discipline which
still has justifiable claims to vision and a
particular flexibility which has enabled it
to take on board variegated phenomena
ranging from politics and philosophy,
through social and economic variables
to the more enigmatic factors of arts and
culture. Early UWI students of history

sat at the feet of that young Gamaliel
who helped to prepare them for the
leadership roles which they were being
trained to play as the region moved from
colonialism to independence. He was
later to share his wisdom with students
pursuing government and politics in the
Faculty of Social Sciences and still later
with those in media communication.
The history curriculum, of which he
was one of the main architects, managed
to challenge students to discovery of
self and society, and to paths leading to
self-definition and redefinition as basis
for action in the mobilisation of human
energies for the shaping of political
institutions and social structures. The

young Roy Augier presided over this
curriculum in the company of such
ancestral icons as Elsa Goveia, the
university's first professor of West Indian
history. Roy Augier understood that
the Caribbean economist, sociologist
or political scientist without a sense
of history is likely to be less credibly
endowed to deal with the developmental
issues which challenge the contemporary
Caribbean. It is that 'sense of history'
which he embodied and transmitted to
his students.
His passionate advocacy for
Federation, which failed in the early
1960s, is now proving to have been
well founded, as the need for a regional
approach to West Indian governance
and development is now on the front
burner of all Commonwealth Caribbean
governments. Along with earlier fellows,
such as Sir Philip Sherlock, Roy Augier, a
truly Caribbean man, saw the University
of the West Indies as a "transforming
idea" and a creative response by the West
Indian people to the challenge of change.

Professor the Honourable Gerald Cecil
"Bunny" Lalor, in a career spanning some
fifty years, has to his credit an enviable
record of contributions to service and
institution building in the University of
the West Indies (UWI), Jamaica and the
entire region. He insists that whatever he
has done has been not the product of any

He came from a generation who
served in the Second World War, many of
them visionaries who were to be seized of
the need to self-determine, self-actualise
and self-define on one's own terms, and
to acquire the capabilities to proceed
to action on such definitions. The early
history honours programme at UWI was
imbued with the very spirit that would
guarantee to the region and to graduates
the kind of psychic integration, cultural
confidence, intellectual assurance and the
self-esteem needed to take the region's
capacity 'to be' beyond mere survival.
Teachers of the ilk of Roy Augier
were then able to share their vision
through deceptively conventional
modes of transmission in the academy
as well as through established bodies of
historical knowledge weaned in other
climes and in other cultures, but always
with an unfailing commitment to the
integrity of the specificity and inner logic
of the Caribbean experience. He was
to become a moving spirit behind the
UWI programme of studies designated

driving ambition, but the result of simply
doing what seemed to be the right thing
to do at a particular time.
He was attracted to the sciences from
the earliest days at Suthermere School, a
propensity reinforced by his secondary
schooling on North Street, albeit on the
purple side of the road. Importantly, a
brief stint as a technician in a government
medical laboratory further strengthened
his scientific inclination and, by exposing
him to post-mortems, disabused him of
any notion that a career in medicine might
be appealing.
On completing his first degree in
chemistry, physics and math at the
University College of the West Indies
(UCWI) in 1953, he took the unlikely
course of going to work as a chemist for
the West Indies Chemical Works Limited,
whose major money-making activity was
the export of logwood. He was promoted
to senior chemist in a matter of a year,
as the company recognized his talents
and not only listened to his suggestion
but had the foresight to fully support his
MSc studies on the physical chemistry
of haematoxylin and haematin, the

"Development of Civilisation". And his
innate love of learning as well as his deep
understanding of the intrinsic power that
is knowledge made him the intellectual's
intellectual among academic peers at
home and abroad.
His textual analysis of the great
political thinkers in human history served
to prepare a mental kingdom needed to
emancipate itself from the sort of bondage
that has tended to persist long after the
body has been physically released from
chatteldom. As general editor of the
UNESCO General History of the Caribbean
series, Professor Augier receives a
well-earned acknowledgement of his
iconic presence in the field of historical
scholarship in the Caribbean academy.
For his seminal contribution not only
to the documentation and transmission
of West Indian history but also to the
decolonisation of the West Indian mind
and spirit, the Council of the Institute of
Jamaica is pleased to induct Professor Sir
Fitzroy Augier as a fellow of the Institute
of Jamaica.

colouring principles in logwood. This was
followed by a Leverhulme scholarship in
1957, allowing a stint at the University
of Cambridge where he learned several
experimental techniques which were to
serve him in good stead in his later work.
His investigations in fact contributed
greatly to enhancing the profitability of
the company, opening up a whole new
line of export, and demonstrating that
investing in research to add value to our
products really can work.
Having made his mark, however,
young Lalor grew restless, and soon
left the company, taking a cut in salary
to become an assistant lecturer at the
UWI in 1960. By 1963 he had completed
a PhD degree on metal ion complexes
following on from his MSc work and
was made senior lecturer. After spending
1966 as an honorary research associate
at Harvard on a Carnegie fellowship, he
was promoted to reader in 1968, and to
professor and head of Chemistry in 1969.
Having been thrust into this position of
responsibility, young Lalor recognized the
need to develop a national and regional
perspective on science in particular and

academia in general. In typical style and
fashion, he did just that.
In 1970, he was a Canadian
International Development Agency
(CIDA) visiting fellow at the Chalk River
Nuclear Labs in Canada, and over the
subsequent decade, with the collaboration
of A.Z. Preston, the European Union and
the International Atomic Energy Agency,
acquired a slow-poke nuclear reactor. In
1983, he became director of the precursor
for the present International Centre for
Environment and Nuclear Sciences, where
he is now director general.
In between the extraordinarily
delicate and complex political and
economic negotiations involved in
this acquisition, Professor Lalor was
appointed pro vice chancellor in 1974 and
principal of the Mona campus in 1991. He
initiated in 1978 the experimental use of
satellite communications in education and
public service in the Caribbean. This led
to the establishment of the UWI Distance
Teaching Experiment (UWIDITE) the
system which today, as the UWI Distance
Education Centre (UWIDEC), effectively
links the campus and non-campus centres
of the UWI, and forms the cornerstone

George Lamming was born in 1927 in
Carrington Village, Barbados. He went
to Roebuck Boys' School and from there
won a scholarship to Combermere School.
In the upper forms at Combermere he
met Frank Collymore, English master
and editor of Bim, to whom, as he puts

of the UWI's move to become a mixed-
mode institution. He served as director of
UWIDEC between 1982 and 1996.
He was responsible for the
establishment of the Biotechnology
Centre and steered the acquisition for
the Mona campus of a supercomputer,
and the associated establishment of
the highly successful Mona Informatix
Limited, to commercially exploit the
excess computational capacity of the
machine. He served in 1972 as president
for the Jamaica Association of Science
and Technology, precursor for the
current Jamaica Society of Science and
Technology, in which society he is now
the only extant fellow one of two ever
appointed. He was appointed fellow of
the Third World Academy of Science in
1987 and of the Caribbean Academy of
Science in 1988. He served as chair for the
Scientific Research Council from 1986 to
1994, and made major contributions to the
drafting of the National Science Policy.
His energy, vision and dedication to
the advancement of science in the service
of the society have been acknowledged
by the receipt of the Institute's Centenary
Medal in 1979, the Commander of the

it, he latched on himself and who was
undoubtedly a decisive influence in the
nurture of his talents. From quite early
on Lamming knew what he wanted to
do. He wanted to write books and not
merely study them to acquire the formal
education which for all black West
Indians and particularly Barbadians
provided the surest route to material
prosperity and prestige.
Even today when the trail which
Lamming and others have blazed is
so much clearer, the daring of that
decision still startles, because the whole
purpose of the educational system was to
inculcate conformity, to develop skills of
memory and imitation, and not to foster
reliance on one's roots and the capacity
to innovate. Frank Collymore's library
provided a refuge from the schoolroom.
The rigours of mathematics and the
dullness of geography as taught could
be avoided even at the risk of incurring
the anger of the masters in those subjects
while the imagination roamed through
H.G. Wells's Outline of History and the

Order of Distinction in 1980, the Gleaner's
annual honour award for his work with
UWIDITE in 1984, the Order of Jamaica
in 1990, the Sir Philip Sherlock Award
for Excellence in 1991, a Gold Musgrave
Medal for Science in 1992, induction
in the Hall of Fame of the Professional
Societies Association of Jamaica in
1994, a Pelican Award in 1996, and the
Norman Washington Manley Award for
Excellence in Science and Technology for
Development. He has published some
one hundred papers in scientific journals,
and has trained and inspired countless
For his unwavering and continuing
commitment to keeping Jamaica and
the Caribbean region on the forefront
of modern scientific activity, for his
devotion to the idea that science is an
inextricable component of any nation's
culture, and for his ability to convert these
commitments into tangible achievements,
the Council of the Institute of Jamaica
is pleased to induct Professor the
Honourable Gerald Lalor as a fellow of
the Institute of Jamaica.

fascinating mysteries of The Science of Life
from Collymore's extensive library.
Perhaps the reality of the situation,
perhaps the unconscious conditioning of
the education process itself, which in so
many ways he had successfully resisted,
convinced Lamming that it was not
possible to be a writer while living in the
West Indies. The path of exile led first to
Trinidad. Mittelholzer was already there
working away at his novels and winning
Lamming's admiration for doing what
in middle-class circles may never have
been done before staying home to do
the housework and to write while his
wife went to the office to earn a wage.
This represented a level of commitment to
creative writing to which Lamming could
The few years spent in Trinidad
were not completely wasted. There was
congenial company Cecil Herbert,
Clifford Sealey and others of a group
known as the Readers and Writers
Guild which met monthly to hear work
submitted and read by members, followed

by critical discussion which more often
than not would end up over drinks at a
nightclub in downtown Port of Spain.
In 1950, Lamming set out for England,
seeking that outlet he could not find
at home. He was at that time writing
poetry; his concern was for words, almost
as objects in themselves, and rhythm,
with meaning conveyed by the subtle
structuring of images. There had been
publications in Bim and readings on the
BBC programme Voices of the Caribbean.
It was the beginning of an odyssey of
success. Landing in England unknown
in 1950, he was soon to gain a reputation
there as one of the most accomplished
writers in the English tongue.
His first book of fiction, In the Castle of
My Skin, published in 1953, immediately
became a classic. The poet had turned
novelist and in so doing had created
new perspectives in the use of prose.
Language was fashioned to convey a
sense of movement to suggest a sense of
touch and excite a sense of taste. Objects
of everyday life and ordinary village folk
are presented with a poetic vision, which
enables you to appreciate them in a new
light. There is a description in the novel of
the Bajan staple 'cuckoo' which illustrates
this aptly:

On the plate the cuckoo looked like a
fruit that had been pulped from the
skin and left untouched .... Whether
or not you liked cuckoo it was
something you could took at and feel
a quiet satisfaction from. The colours

were sharp in contrast. Yellow and
pink and the green of sliced ochroes.
When you cut it the steam flew up
so that the colours became indistinct.
The steam rose like a white cloud
over everything and you waited till it
passed and the colours of the cuckoo
came out again.

Exile had, if anything, sharpened the
recollection of the delight of a simple
meal at home and this has been etched
and immortalised, as had been Carrington
Village itself, lifted into a symbol yet
retaining all its warmth and human
This early novel has been well
matched by its successors. All are marked
by originality of structure, and glittering
gems of his poetic prose are there to be
mined The Emigrants in 1954, Of Age
and Innocence in 1958, Season of Adventure
in 1960, Water with Berries in 1971 and
Natives of My Person in 1972 the last
being perhaps the most innovatory in
conception and design.
Although in exile, Lamming never
quite left home. In 1966, he added
sparkle to the independence festivities
by mounting for the Barbados Workers'
Union a programme which celebrated as
well the twenty-fifth anniversary of the
founding of the union. The following year
he was writer in residence at the Mona
campus of the University of the West
Indies. In 1974, he directed the activities
which marked the opening of the Labour
College in St Philip, Barbados.

At one of Louise Bennett's early
performances of her dialect poems, a
voice from the audience enquired, "A dat
yuh modder sen yuh a school fah?"
That that Jamaican self-contempt
- though traces of it linger is less
pervasive than it used to be, owes much
to the life and work of Louise Bennett. She
has taught us pride in Jamaican language,
Jamaican culture. She makes us laugh
at people ashamed of being Jamaican
or ashamed of being black. Through the
laughter she engenders, she is a serious
commentator. Her glance will spot
pretension anywhere.

Significant awards have come
his way, among them a Guggenheim
fellowship to the United States in 1955-56,
the Somerset Maugham Award for
Literature in 1953 and a Canada Council
fellowship in 1962. He has been much in
demand in the United States and Canada
as a lecturer, critic and promoter of what
can be described as black literature.
Lamming has done much to bring
the West Indies to the attention of the
world. But as he says himself, the West
Indian writer, like any other writer, would
like to function in his own country, to
be accorded the simple recognition of
any other professional worker and to be
supported through that recognition by
readers native to that country.
Now he has made the Atlantis Hotel
in Barbados his home, overlooking
the breakers rolling all the way from
Africa. From there he traverses the
Caribbean, a man of letters preaching
Caribbean unity, respect for the Indian
presence, respect for labour. His essay
"Coming, Coming Home" has become
a watershed statement on the role of the
intellectual, and his keynote address to
the First International Conference on
Caribbean Culture in honour of Professor
the Honourable Rex Nettleford, a
The Council of the Institute of
Jamaica is pleased to confer on Mr George
Lamming, Doctor of Letters honors
causa, of the University of the West
Indies, the title of fellow of the Institute of

We defence is not defenceless
For we got we half a brick,
We got we broken bottle
An we coocoomacca stick;

But we willing to put down we arms
In Peace and Freedom's name
An we call upon de nations
Of de world to do the same.

She was born in September 1919 at
40 North Street in Kingston. She attended
Calabar Elementary School, St Simon's
College, Excelsior High School and
Friends' College, Highgate. While still in
school she began to write and perform
dialect poems, "interested in people ...
and the 'now' of their lives". Though she
liked and respected Standard English,

she wondered why more of our writers
were not using Jamaican dialect "instead
of writing in the same old English way
about Autumn and things like that".
Her first book, (Jamaica) Dialect Verses,
came out in 1942. In 1943 the Gleaner
began to publish on Sundays a column
of verse by her. Having demonstrated
promise as an actress, she was awarded
in 1945 a British Council scholarship to
the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in
London. Within months of her arrival
in the United Kingdom, she had a BBC
programme of her own. After graduating
from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art,
she rejected opportunities to remain in
Britain and returned to Jamaica in 1947.
But she went back to England in 1950 to
work for the BBC again and perform with
repertory companies. At the urging of an
aunt, she moved to New York in 1953.
She performed in New York, New Jersey
and Connecticut, did some radio work,
and sang folk songs in Greenwich Village.
She married Eric Coverley in New York
in 1954, and they returned to Jamaica in
1955, where they would live for the next
three decades.
As drama officer for the Jamaica
Social Welfare Commission until 1959,
she had to travel all over the island, and
she was able to continue the study of
Jamaican folklore and oral history she had
begun in the early 1940s. She lectured on
drama and folklore for the
Extra-Mural Department
of the University College
of the West Indies. In 1959
she was on the staff of
the Jamaica Broadcasting
Corporation which began
that year, but she soon
resigned, and has been a
freelancer ever since.
From 1966 until 1982,
often three times a week, she composed
and delivered Miss Lou's Views, topical
four-minute radio monologues. From
1970 until 1982 she hosted Ring Ding,
a weekly television show for children,
in which children performed and were
reminded of various elements in Jamaican
folk culture. She has always thought it
important that "de pickney-dem learn de
sinting dat belong to dem".
She has been a generous resource
person for many scholars of Jamaican

folklore and language, including the
author of Jamaica Talk, Frederic Cassidy,
who has described her work as "true
to the spirit and the letter of the folk
She and her husband Eric migrated
from Jamaica to Fort Lauderdale early in
the 1980s, and moved to Toronto in 1987.
But she insists that her cultural identity
has always travelled with her. "Any
which part mi live Toronto-o! London-o!
Florida-o! a Jamaica mi deh!"
She was for many years a model
professional performer on stage, radio
and television, respected and loved
by the people with whom she has
worked. She helped Jamaicanise the
Little Theatre Movement pantomime,
now only distantly related to its English
antecedents. She wrote some of the
scripts and contributed to others, and
between 1943 and 1975 whenever she
was not abroad she was one the focal
personalities in the annual show.
As a performer she has shown at
least since 1965 at the Commonwealth
Arts Festival in Wales she can
communicate warmly with any audience,
even if her Jamaican language is new
to them. But though her work lends
itself to performance, she has resisted
characterisation as "a performing artist
primarily". She started to write, she said,
before she started to perform.

Her reputation as a writer has grown.
She received early endorsements for her
wit and humour, and for having created
"valid social documents reflecting the
way we think and feel and live". Since the
early 1960s assessments have been more
detailed. There is greater recognition now
of the 'tragi-comic' element in her work.
She tek bad tings mek laugh. "Humour
becomes, as it were, the expression of a
people's will to live." There is discussion
of "her attempt to transfer the dialect

mode of the oral folk tradition to the
written page". Attention has been
directed to her allusions, and to her use
of the dramatic monologue, a form which
encourages irony. In The Hybrid Muse, a
recent book on postcolonial poetry, Jahan
Ramazani deems her "long overdue
for recognition beyond the West Indies
- as master ironist, as master poet, as a
major anglophone poet of our time". In
The Norton Anthology of Modern and
Poetry, which
he helped I,'
to edit, she is
represented not only
by poems but also (in the
section called "Poetics") by her
Aunty Roachy monologue on
"Jamaica Language".
To the literature of the
Caribbean her contribution has been
crucial. As noted in a recent study
of poetry and the West Indies: "More
than any other single writer, Louise
Bennett brought local language into the
foreground of West Indian cultural life."
She is admired, and acknowledged with
gratitude, by many Caribbean writers.
She is the author of many books,
including Jamaica Labrish, Selected
Poems, My Aunty Roachy Seh, and
Anancy and Miss Lou. Among her
audio recordings are Yes M'Dear and
Lawd... Di Riddim
Sweet. Videos with her "
in performance include
Miss Lou and Friends
and Visiting with Miss
For her excellence
as a writer and as a
performer; for her role in
S institution building; for
,MARK WEINBERGER her lifelong commitment
to Jamaican language and culture; for the
knowledge she has so generously shared;
for the fact that, for nearly seventy years,
her uncommon talent has been a source of
enlightenment, pleasure and affirmation;
the Council of the Institute of Jamaica
is pleased to confer on the Honourable
Louise Bennett-Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE,
Hon DLitt, the title of fellow of the
Institute of Jamaica. o*


/34~ (d
Llrlr -L ~

An' me fling back me remembrance
To ole-time days gawn by
W'en me teck kin-teet keiba
Fe dry cry outa me y'eye

For Jamma2 talk was less-counted
Low-rated, poppishow
But now, Jamma talk tun "Culture"
An' Jamma Culture dah flow

SIB "Any part a worl' we go!" An ambassador
for our culture, Miss Lou has performed
to great acclaim in many countries;
and, since 1945 when she was studying
in England, has often resided abroad.
Though she and her husband Eric
Coverley migrated from Jamaica in
the early 1980s, they have remained
resolutely Jamaican. As she put it, in
performance, "Any which part mi live
Toronto-o! London-o! Florida-o! a
Jamaica mi deh!"4
She is a writer of international
significance. A recent book on
postcolonial poetry considers her "a
major anglophone poet of our time".5
To the literature of our particular
S' region her contribution has been
crucial. There is surely no West
Indian author, living or dead,
more often credited with having
cleared a way. Edward Chamberlin

Miss Lou

In 1990 when
she was honoured
for a career of over fifty
years on stage, Louise
Bennett noted the increased
acknowledgement of Jamaican


has observed: "More than any other
single writer, Louise Bennett brought
local language into the foreground of
West Indian cultural life."6 She is the
earliest of our authors to have produced a
substantial body of work in a West Indian
vernacular. She began publishing books
in Jamaica Creole in the early 1940s, and
continued into the 1990s. Some of her
work has also been made available on
audio and video recordings.
Her influence is acknowledged by
various Caribbean artists. In Touch Mi,
Tell Mi8 Valerie Bloom, a strong performer
in the tradition of Miss Lou, published
poems modelled on Louise Bennett's.
Like Louise Bennett, the Trinidadian
writer-performer Paul Keens-Douglas
- another admirer of her work seeks to
keep folk heritage alive, writes vernacular
commentary that shifts between satire
and the greater tolerance of comedy, and
in live performances regularly achieves
a remarkable level of interaction with his
Many of the 'dub poets'9 give thanks
for the influence of Miss Lou. "The
mother of it all is Louise Bennett," said
Mikey Smith.10 Yasus Afari's "Patois
Talking" begins: "Miss Lou a de mother
fi patois."" A poem by Lillian Allen
distinguishes "a flicker / a light / a
path / a Miss Lou".12 Linton Johnson
has remarked: "There wouldn't be a
Linton Kwesi Johnson without a Louise
Bennett."" A praise-poem by Mutabaruka
includes the lines: "miss lou miss lou / /
yuh heavy fi true / mi seh wi love wey
yuh seh wen yuh seh wey yuh seh".'4 In
the main, these writers thank Miss Lou for
valorising folk/African culture in Jamaica
and for showing the world that Jamaican
Creole can be a legitimate language of
literary art.

loan Andrea Hutchinson
The sensibility of dub poets is,
however, in general very different from
Louise Bennett's. The dub poets are not
often ironic (which is the norm in Louise
Bennett), they are not often humorous.
Except for Mikey Smith's (which often
alludes to proverbs, ring games, nursery
rhymes and so on), their work is not often
rich in cultural detail beyond repeated
images of exploitation, poverty and
violence. They often foreground political
positions, whereas Louise Bennett's must
usually be inferred. When Dennis Scott
asked "Is your work 'angry'?" Miss Lou
replied: "Not obviously. Not obviously
angry."1 Most dub poets want their
militant anger apparent, their targets
immediately recognisable.
In the prose monologues of Amina
Blackwood Meeks there is an insistent
political clarity, such as is often evident in
dub poetry. But there is also humour and
a steady concern with cultural heritage
which puts her close to the Bennett
sensibility, especially as displayed in
"Miss Lou's Views".'1 Amina who,
like Paul Keens-Douglas, bills herself
as "a storyteller" believes that stories
should teach.1 She has not yet published
a collection of her pieces, but she has
performed her material especially in
Jamaica, where she was born in 1953,
and in Antigua where she was resident
between 1986 and 1997. There are audio
cassettes of some of her work: ... in the

tropics, Once Upon a Time ... Is Now,
and Invocation.1
For Invocation (as staged) she has
written links between stories. The show,
first performed in Jamaica late in 1999,
has been a resounding success, admired
inter alia for Amina's fine control of
voice and gesture, her well-judged use
of ritual, the interactive skill with which,
like Louise Bennett, she persuades her
audience to participate, and the music
by Tommy Ricketts helping to establish
In "Goin Bananas", Miss Jing Bang
is appointed to a committee to talk
about globalisation. With globe and slide
projector and pictures she tries to show
that globalisation, stage by stage, tends
to frustrate poor people and drive them
to self-destructive action. The striking
performance rhythm is based on "This Is
the House That Jack Built".

Dese are de bananas we cud nat sell
to get de money we had hoped to get
to pay de bills to prevent de tacks
from juk de people who set de fire to
de tyre dat bun de hole dat cause de
touris to fraid fe de roads dat we buil.
Ah hear about a village where yu
fine de place, wto [WTO], where dem
park de boat dat wudden teck de
bananas we cud nat sell to get money
we had hoped to get to pay de bills to
avoid de tacks fram juk de people dat
set fire to de tyre dat burn de hole dat
cause de touris to fraid an run lef him
Den she produce some quality
pictcha wid people a trow stone an
bakkle after cricket umpire, man a run
naked from mob inna port au prince,
motorcade a meck nize pass Sunday
mawnin church service, people a
marvel how rice truck know fe tun
ova by itself right by fe dem gate ...
an she gi out:
Dere are more people all ova de
globe who goin bananas trying to fine
a way to stap dose tings dat cause de
touris fe fraid fe walk pan de road dat
we bull.
An den she bow. An dat, ladies an
genklmen is globalisation.19

Amina describes Invocation as "a
call for a return to old time values. It is",
she writes, "about reconnecting with

and honouring the heritage of Ancestral
Wisdom in simple, practical ways which
will help us to halt the spiritual decline
and rescue us from becoming more of
others and less of self." The statement
accords with the Bennett agenda, and
there is specific acknowledgement of
Miss Lou in a piece called "Flight of
Fantasy". On this plane journey people
get punished for fraudulence.

Well de first trap door fly afta
midnight. As de light come back awn
Miss Lou start to give greetings an
salutations an a sing some sinting
bout wan bright mawnin wha an wha
she ago do. An chu a Miss Lou now
everybaddi clap. Well Jing Bang stan
up yu see an pint out de man who
was clappin de loudes [-] de same
man who did fire de receptionist over
har inability to keep har haitches
which part dem belong. But now
ketch him a sip juice an clap fe Miss
An de trap door fly.

The message is foregrounded, the critical
attack direct. Louise Bennett, promoting
similar values, tends to be oblique.
Consider these two passages
attacking self-contempt. First, Amina in

Amina Blackwood Meeks

A powder yu know. Bout six layers of
pink powder pan de homan face an
de sinting go crack. De magnifying
glass reveal dat de smaddy undaneat
it was black. Suspicion start dat de
yeye colour and de bland hair was
also artificially inseminated agony.
Ascardin to how my likkle mackerel
brain get it, blue contact lens plus
bland hair wedda by wig or by
bleachin plus pink powder pan
black smaddy is into de zone of
cultural anorexia. It spreads with
alarm. Overnight entire families have
been known to disappear.

And here is Louise Bennett, in "Problem":

Is no use, when stranger come,
Fi sen yuh black gramma go hide,
An show-off all yuh white granpuppa
Photograph wid pride!

For de ole oman cyaan hide weh;
An, no matter what yuh do,
Dem woman see her eena parlour
But dem see her eena yuh!2"

Responding to Amina it hardly ever
happens that, admiring the skills on show,
we defer for a moment consideration of
the message. In Louise Bennett there often
seems to be a delight in language itself
and the games it allows us to play (as
in that rhyme that is the sting in the tail
- "no matter what yuh do, / Dem woman
see her eena parlour / But dem see her
eena yuh!").
In the work of Joan Andrea
Hutchinson, as in Louise Bennett's,
there are standards asserted or implied,
but sometimes we hardly notice till the
laughter has died down. Hilarity seems
paramount. Following close on our initial
response, however, is recognition of the
values promoted.
Born in Jamaica in 1963, Joan Andrea
Hutchinson has worked in media, often as
a radio newsreader. Like Louise Bennett
and Amina Blackwood Meeks, she is
also a skilful actress not only one of
the scriptwriters but also a performer
in Laugh Jamaica, adjudged the best
Jamaican revue of 1999.21 Some of her
work is available on cassette (Dat Bumpy
Head Gal, Jamaica Kin Teet, and Everyting
Jamaican) and/or on CD (Jamaica Ridim
& Ryme and Wild About Jamaica)." She
has a collection, prepared for print but not

yet published, called "Howdy an Tenky"23
- most of it verse, some of it prose. She
performs frequently most often in
Jamaica, the United States, Canada or the
United Kingdom.
Major factors in her performance
success are the well projected clarity of
her diction and her astonishing facility
with various Jamaican accents. A superb
mimic, she can convincingly impersonate,
for example, a Jamaican man posturing
as macho as in "Rampuss"24 (on Jamaica
Kin Teet). Some of her best-known pieces,
like some of Louise Bennett's, target
pretentious language. In one, a tour guide
with a bizarrely affected accent leads
her clients around the Rose Hall Great
House ("Falla back a me!"), telling them
stories of Annie Palmer, "Dat White Witch
Called Henny". In another, a traveller's
goods have been damaged, though clearly
labelled "FRAGGLE". In "Di Market and
Miss Ting", a Jamaican putting on airs has
her humble origins exposed, like Louise
Bennett's "Dry-foot Bwoy".25 In
"Spokin",26 a monologue in prose,
the persona notes: "nutten eena
di world nuh sweet like when
fi mi Jamaican dem go fi
Like Louise Bennett,
Joan Andrea sometimes
seems to present a middle-
class perspective when, as
in "Bleach It Lickle More", she
makes fun of overzealous helpers
or, in "Domestic Engineer", pillories
an outrageous applicant for a live-in job:
"Den a mi dem waan fi come yah come
get whitlow finger a scrub dem dutty
clothes. Dem kyan tan deh, dem know
how much mi spen pan my mandicure
a week time, look pan how my nail
dem pretty ...." The perspective is
not unlike the one that prevails
in "Seeking a Job" (by Louise

Ah cook an wash, but sake ,
o' me nails
Ah doan clean floor again
But a can get a gal fe do :
Dat fe yuh now-an-
den.27 \- ~

Sometimes, like Louise
Bennett, she seems
sympathetic to the rascal

anatomized such as "Madda Lumba",
an obeah woman going global.

Yuh bank a collapse, yuh fortunes tun
Yuh back deh against di wall
If yuh waan a quick fix den Madda
Is di name yuh haffi call

An mi a nuh nuh lickle pyaw pyaw
obeah ooman
Mi is very modernize
Travel first class, an have business
Mi fully computerize

Yuh can reach me pan lan phone,
cellular, e-mail
Yuh does not haffi fret
An WWW Madda Lumba dot com
... mi dat
For mi on di internet




\ \

.:' ~:" _0{

Although she has constructed
various personalities, Joan Andrea, like
Louise Bennett,28 will sometimes blur
the distinction between a persona and
the poet as in "Dat Bumpy Head Gal",
about hostile responses to her having
appeared on television wearing Nubian
knots, and in "Mad Oman in Beijing",
about having money and her passport
stolen "far way from home".
Like many of Louise Bennett's,
some of Joan Andrea's poems are about
specific public events. Miss Lou has
written about football matches, the visits
of important foreigners, the arrival of a
new governor, for example. Joan Andrea
celebrates Secretaries' Day, Teachers' Day,
and Common Entrance exam results.
Each also writes graceful tributes the
Hutchinson honours list including Miss
Lou (twice), Jamaica (more than twice),
God, women, secretaries, teachers,

1. "teck kin-teet keiba heart-bu'n" -
smile to conceal unhappiness (take skin-
teeth [showing of the teeth] to cover heart-
2. (i) Abbreviation of Jamaica. But also
see Dictionary of Jamaica English, ed.
F.G. Cassidy and R.B. Le Page (London:
Cambridge University Press, 1967) (ii) "a
digging implement, especially one adapted
to digging yams" and (iii) "a folk song,
in Jamaica sung primarily to accompany
communal field-digging (e.g. when
planting yams), secondarily to accompany
dancing and games at wakes, etc.".
3. Louise Bennett, "Tengad!" (in celebration
of fifty years of professional performing),
typescript, courtesy of Joan Andrea
4. Wherever I live Toronto, London,
Florida I am in Jamaica. Miss Lou and
Friends, videotaped 27 March 1990.
(Distributed by Reckord Films Limited, 4
Coolshade Drive, Kingston 19, Jamaica.)
5. Jahan Ramazani, The Hybrid Muse:
Postcolonial Poetry in English (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2001), 140.
6. J. Edward Chamberlin, Come Back to Me
My Language: Poetry and the West Indies
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993;
Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2000),
7. Miss Lou and Friends, video. Audio
cassettes or CDs include Miss Lou's Views
(Syncona LBC 001, P.O. Box 865, Adelaide
5 St Stn, Toronto, Ontario, Canada MC5 2K1)
and Bre' Anancy and Miss Lou (Syncona,
SLBC 002), which are reissues of material
from Jamaican LPs; Yes M'Dear: Miss Lou

Jamaica's World Cup soccer team, the
DJ Tiger, Merlene Ottey and Jamaica's
bobsled team.
Joan Andrea Hutchinson has a talent
strong enough to create a recognisably
individual voice, even when she and
Louise Bennett have tackled similar
topics. "King Street Palava" seems aware
of Louise Bennett's "Candy Seller"29 and
"South Parade Peddler"3" (in which a
vendor cajoles or tells off passersby) but
the Hutchinson poem, which vividly
updates the situation, has a persuasive life
of its own.

Hi dere dawlin, nice lady
Over yahso yuh fi stop
Ebry farrin tingsbweh yuh waan
Ebry ting wi got

Baby doll dress, kitchen fork, bicycle
Irish mash, half slip

Live, at a 1983 performance in London
(Island Records); and Lawd ... Di Riddim
Sweet (Kingston: Sangster's Book Stores,
8. Valerie Bloom, Touch Mi, Tell Mi
(London: Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications,
9. See Mervyn Morris, "Dub Poetry?"
in "Is English We Speaking" and Other Essays
(Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1999),
10. See Mervyn Morris, "People Speech", in
Reggae International, ed. Stephen Davis
and Peter Simon (New York: Rogner and
Bernard, 1982), 189.
11. Yasus Afari, Dancehall Baptism (Kingston,
12. Lillian Allen, "Tribute to Miss Lou", in
Women Do This Every Day: Selected Poems
of Lillian Allen (Toronto: Women's Press,
1993), 46.
13. In an eightieth birthday radio tribute
to Miss Lou: "Nationwide", Hot 102,
Kingston, 7 September 1999.
14. Mutabaruka, "Miss Lou", Melanin Man
(Shanachie 45013, 1994).
15. "Bennett on Bennett", Louise Bennett
interviewed by Dennis Scott, Caribbean
Quarterly 14, nos. 1 and 2 (March-June
1968): 101.
16. For a selection of pieces from "Miss Lou's
Views", see Louise Bennett, Aunty Roachy
Seh (Kingston: Sangster's Book Stores,
17. Amina Blackwood Meeks, interviewed by
Mervyn Morris, 16 August 2000.
18. ... in the tropics (St John's, Antigua:
Sunburst Productions, 1994); Once Upon
a Time... Is Now (St John's, Antigua:

Farrin onion, raincoat, folder leaf
Rice, kyar part an zip

Den Gracie, ketch dah weave head deh
Kuh pan di poor gyal face
It glitta glitta an full a meck up like
Dem man from outa space

Coca-cola backle shape come yahso no
Matie bag and cut up jeans
Guway sketel, yuh ole an tired like
Kuh how yuh headback lean

Pencil an cooking ile married, ten dalla
Condense milk, pants lent
Don man mi have di good Prance-up
Fi help bill up yuh strent

Joan Andrea Hutchinson and Amina
Blackwood Meeks, distinctly talented
writers and precisely effective performers,
have absorbed and, in their differing
ways, have begun to extend the creative
legacy of Louise Bennett. o

Sunburst Productions, 1995); Invocation
(Kingston: Ricketts Productions, 1999).
19. Amina Blackwood Meeks, "Invocation:
A One Woman Storytelling Show"
(typescript). Subsequent quotations are
from the typescript.
20. Louise Bennett, Selected Poems (Kingston:
Sangster's Book Stores, 1982), 93.
21. One of the annual awards determined
by a panel for the International Theatre
Institute. There is a video: Laugh Jamaica
(Kingston: Laugh Jamaica and Vidquip,
1999 [2000]).
22. Dat Bumpy Head Gal (Kingston: JAHRRO
Productions, 1997); Jamaica Kin Teet
(Kingston: Jahro Productions, [1997]);
Everything Jamaican (Kingston: Joan Andrea
Hutchinson, 1997); Jamaica Ridim & Ryme
(Kingston: Joan Andrea Hutchinson, 2003);
Wild About Jamaica (Kingston: Joan Andrea
Hutchinson, 2003).
23. Joan Andrea Hutchinson, "Jamaica Howdy
an Tenky" (typescript). Subsequent
quotations are from the typescript.
24. Titled "All Girl Mus Come a Me" in the
25. Bennett, Selected Poems, 1-2.
26. Titled "Speakin an Spokin" in the
27. Louise Bennett, Jamaica Labrish (1966;
Kingston: Sangster's Book Stores, 1975).
28. As in "Bans a Killin" or "Walk Bout",
Bennett, Selected Poems, 4-5, 4143.
29. Bennett, Jamaica Labrish, 28-29.
30. Bennett, Selected Poems, 83-84; Bennett,
Jamaica Labrish, 27-28.

Port Royal



My fascination with the town of
Port Royal, at the western end of the
Palisadoes spit, goes back some fifty years
and seems to know no limits. Perhaps
it was the tales I heard about events
associated with the great earthquake of
1692. Or maybe it was the spectacle of
seeing in the early 1950s a few buildings
still jutting out into Kingston Harbour
(but which have since collapsed) these
being a stark reminder of the effects of
another severe earthquake that occurred
in 1907. But whatever the real reason, I
have remained magnetically attracted
ever since. In fact, so much so, that
notwithstanding the previous official
excavations of Edwin Link (1959), Robert
Marx (1966-68), Phillip Mayes (1969-70),
Anthony Priddy (1971-74) and Professor
Hamilton of Texas A & M (1981-90), I
have attempted in a private capacity to
try and find the answers to some puzzling
questions not addressed by any of these
previous submarine and land surface
As many readers know, the history
of Port Royal (once described as being
the 'richest' and wickedestt' city in the
Western Hemisphere) has been the
subject of numerous books,' television
documentaries, journal papers and
newspaper articles. But very little has
been published about the types of
material used in the construction of the
town. In some institutions of higher
learning this field of research comes
under 'industrial archaeology', but,
because of the uniqueness of Port Royal,
such a study might also be included in
the emerging field of heritage geology.
No matter what one chooses to call it, the
fact is that the full story of Port Royal's
built history has not yet been told. The
question is, why? I would venture to say
that, up to now, the study of Port Royal
has been undertaken largely by naval
explorers, marine archaeologists, land-
based archaeologists and historians, with

little input from specialists in the field of
earth science or geology.

A spit is a finger-like expanse of land
composed of sand and/or gravel
extending from the shore into a body of
water (Figure 1). Geologically speaking,
the origin of the Palisadoes spit is quite
complex, but research carried out by
various workers suggests that it goes
back to a time during the Pleistocene

epoch when the sea level was some 130
feet (40 metres) lower than today. At that
time huge volumes of rock were eroded
by the Hope River and other streams,
and laid down in fan-shaped deposits at
the foot of the mountains, giving rise to
what are known today as the Liguanea
Plains. Subsequent changes in geological
conditions resulted in a diversion of the
Hope River to its present course past
August Town to Harbour View. With this
shift a new delta was formed at Harbour

View, and much of the smaller silt-, sand-
and gravel-sized fragments were carried
out into the sea where they were then
retransported in a westerly direction by
currents and wave action (Figure 2).Thus,
the present Palisadoes spit is the product
of a long period of erosion and deposition
(of chiefly sand and gravel) on the
surface of a number of former banks, cays
and coral reefs. As it grew westwards,
incorporating several other pre-existing
islands, it acted to some extent as a barrier
to the silt brought down by the Rio Cobre,
Fresh River and gullies draining the
Liguanea Plains.
In 1655, when the British captured
Jamaica from the Spanish, Port Royal
was an island, which they called Cagway
Point. Port Royal would remain an
island for another hundred years, until
deposition of sand and gravel connected
the island to the rest of the Palisadoes
Spit. In 1960 a bore hole sunk at Port
Royal passed through gravel, sand and
silt deposits before encountering coralline
limestone at 140 feet (43 metres), thereby
proving that the town was built on poorly
consolidated sediments. Notwithstanding
the absence of clay and outcrops of rock,
there is no other place of comparable
size in Jamaica where one can find the
diversity of building stones such as exists
at Port Royal. For in addition to the
three major classes of rocks igneous,
sedimentary and metamorphic there is
a variety of man-made bricks and mortar.
This mix of material in such a small
area has never ceased to amaze and
fascinate the many visitors, both local and
from overseas, that I have accompanied
around Port Royal the most commonly
asked question being: Where did all these
stones come from? For, except for the sand
and gravel, every other building material
has been imported including the lime
and white limestone blocks but from
where? Initially, lime and limestone were
transported by boat to Cagway Point from
Port Henderson Hills, while bricks were
manufactured both overseas and locally,
probably at Spanish Town. A preliminary
investigation of the fossil content of some
of the blocks suggests that the Hellshire
S Hills also referred to as Healthshire
on early maps might also be another
source. And, during the early nineteenth
century, there is also mention of limestone

being available from Port
Antonio, but this has not yet been
substantiated. However, since the
limestone from these two areas is
quite different, both lithologically
and palaeontologically, it is hoped
that geological investigations
currently in progress will provide
some answers to these and other

Following the capture of Jamaica
from the Spanish in 1655, the
British set about fortifying Port
Royal and rebuilding Spanish
Town. As noted previously,
building bricks were manufactured
locally, but when demand
exceeded supply, the ships coming
to Jamaica were ordered to be
ballasted with bricks. Portland
cement, as we know it today,
was not invented until 1824, so
the early builders used a type
of mortar consisting chiefly of
lime (or calcium oxide, which is
derived from burning limestone)
together with sand and water, and
occasionally other substances, such
as molasses, and even fragments of
pre-existing bricks. Such a mixture
is extremely cohesive and very


durable and can bind bricks and other
materials together for hundreds of years.
A close examination of the bricks
at Port Royal reveals that they are
predominantly red in colour. But some
are deep purple to grey-black, and glassy.
Such bricks are the result of overheating,
and many were deliberately made in this
manner, and strategically placed in the
walling to obtain various patterns (for
example, chequered). However, many
were overcooked in error and poorly
made. Another type has a characteristic
yellow-brown colour and strongly

MW -.


Figure 3

Figure 5BOND


resembles the stock bricks from London.
Texturally speaking, some bricks
are uniformly fine-grained while others
are very coarse, with large pebble-sized
fragments. Another important feature
is the method used for laying bricks. In
general, they are placed in horizontal
layers, called courses, and bound together
with mortar. The bricks are also arranged
in patterns called bonds, that is, they
are laid with either their short or long
ends exposed. The wall of the old Naval
Dockyard is an excellent example of a
red-brick structure in which each course is




made up of alternating short ends (called
headers) and long ends (called stretchers).
This type of bond (or pattern) is known
as a Flemish bond (Figures 3 and 4).
Another pattern, which can be seen on
other structures, is called the English
bond, in which there are alternating
courses of stretchers and headers (Figure
5). In addition, the capping on some walls

consists of bricks placed lengthwise at an
angle of 45 degrees; and in some places,
such as along the Town Line east of Fort
Charles, one can still see bricks with a
curved outer surface. During the 1969-70
excavations, Mayes also recovered, from
the site of a pre-1692 church, bricks
glazed at one end as well as ceramic tiles.
Generally speaking, most bricks still to be
seen at Port Royal measure
9 x 4 x 2.5 inches (23 x 10 x 6
centimetres), but variations
do occur.

But what about the very
S large, pale golden-brown,
coarse-grained sandstone
slabs, measuring up to 7
feet (2.13 metres) in length
S (Figure 6), and the very
coarse-grained granite slabs,
measuring up to 6 feet (1.82
metres), that are to be found
S as part of the sea wall (on
the Kingston Harbour side)
at the old Naval Hospital?2
Clearly, these were
imported, but when, and
from where? The former is
reminiscent of sandstone
within the Millstone Grit

j ec -

Series from various localities in England
and south Wales, whereas the latter
is probably from south-west England
(although similar granite occurs near
Aberdeen, Scotland). It is believed that
both these stone types were shipped to
Jamaica sometime between the late 1790s
and early 1800s. Another imported stone
that is an integral part of the old cast iron
Naval Hospital building is a fine-grained,
pale green-grey to brown sandstone, that
splits uniformly along very thin strata
called bedding planes (Figure 7). This
variety of stone is commonly used for
paving purposes and commercially is
known as flagstone.
In the continuing effort to research the
records and match the various imported
rock types to known producing quarries,
one in particular the major floor stone
at Fort Charles had challenged me until
recently. These are large thick slabs of
a light buff to pale grey-brown, highly
fossiliferous limestone composed of a very
rich assemblage of tightly packed fresh
water shells and shell fragments, which
bears a strong resemblance to the Purbeck
Limestone from Dorset in England (Figure
8). This beautiful stone, which comes
from Swanage Quarry, is to be found in
many buildings throughout southern
England, perhaps the most famous of
which is Westminster Abbey. On the basis


.- --

-' --

Figure 8-
-- *. -*
Fi. ..... ........ . ........
7r-~~--- ---`--~~-----

of this preliminary identification, some
intriguing questions now arise.
First, is this the same material referred
to by Rowland Powell in his letter to
Coventry?3 The letter reads:

Since the French alarmed this place
the Inhabitants have laboured att
the Fortificacons, they have layd the
Free stone for Platforms w'ch the
King sent to His Excellency, and are
now raising of a Line with a Batterie
of 12 Demicanon behind the old
Church, w'ch will much strengthen
the Harbour. This comes by the
way of Bristoll, other shipps being
in readiness within few days for

A few days later Powell writes: "At the
Point wee have made a good Platforme
in Fort James with the Free stone the
King was pleased to send, when I came
over, and now they are att work on a
Breastwork behind the old church in the
cod of the Bay .. .." (Note: geologically
speaking, 'freestone' is defined as "any
fine-grained stone, especially thick-
bedded limestone and sandstone, that
breaks freely and which can easily be

cut and dressed in any direction without
In addition to Fort James, two other
fortifications sank in 1692, namely, Fort
Carlisle and Fort Rupert. In 1968, a
section of Fort Rupert was rediscovered
in the shallow lagoon due east of
Morgan's Harbour Hotel. Perhaps future
investigations will reveal if the same type
of free stone was used in its construction.
Another part of the geological puzzle that
requires an answer is: Does the fossil-rich
floor stone we see today at Fort Charles
date back to pre-1692? Or was this
limestone subsequently brought here for
the restoration work that was carried out
in 1692-99?
Other notable rock types to be seen at
Port Royal (see table below) include the
white and pale blue-grey marble tiles on
the floor of St Peter's Church (which date
back to at least 1725), the white Italian
(Carrara) marble monuments on the wall,
and the grey-green and purplish roofing
slate (imported in the early 1800s), which
can still be seen on some of the ancillary
buildings at the old Naval Hospital.
Geologically speaking, the slates that
are to be found here (and elsewhere in

Jamaica) range in age from three hundred
to five hundred million years. These are
probably the oldest type of rock imported
for building purposes some coming
from the Penrhyn Quarry in Wales, and
some from other quarry sites, yet to be
determined, in England. Large, grey
rectangular slabs of slate measuring
up to 7 feet (2.13 metres) in length and
1 inch (2.54 cm) thick and containing
scattered pseudo-hexagonal pale green
patches (called megacrysts) have also
been observed in a section of the old
Naval Dockyard. Fragments of chert and
flint, both of which are very hard forms
of silicon dioxide, although not much
used as a building material, have also
been found, but the exact source of this
material has not yet been ascertained.

Another little known or appreciated
feature of Port Royal is the extensive
tract of land that has been built up by
deposition since the great earthquake of
1692. According to a historical source,
at the time of the earthquake the town
occupied an area of about 60 acres (24
hectares), but much of this sank, leaving


1) Bricks



Red, yellow-brown, and grey to black
varieties; coarse to finely textured.

2) Limestone Walls Jamaica Chiefy the Newport Formation, of Lower White; massive and compact to finely
Miocene age (23 to 15 million years old). crystalline with a few fossils.
Flooring UK (Dorset, England) Purbeck Formation either Upper Jurassic Buff to pale grey; fresh-water limestone
or Lower Cretaceous in age (about 140 packed with the remains of gastropod
million years old). shells.
3) Marble Flooring, wall Italy (Northern Tuscany) Pure white marble (of Triassic age) used Floor tiles are mottled or veined and
plaques, and for monuments and wall plaques is from vary from white to blue-grey in colour.
monuments Carrara in Italy.
4) Granite Flooring UK (Cornwall or Devon, Probably Carboniferous in age (350 to Large rectangular crystals of white
England) 285 million years old). feldspar visible.
5) Sandstone Copings UK (possible localities Millstone Grit Series Medium to coarse grained; straw to
(wall cappings) include Derbyshire and (Carboniferous Namurian) honey-coloured; layering (bedding)
South Wales) prominent.
6) Flagstone Flooring UK (various localities) From the Old Red Sandstone (of Devonian Grey-green to greenish grey; orange-red;
age) to the New Red Sandstone (Permian). pale yellow-brown.
7) Slate Roofing UK (North Wales) Purplish variety from the Penhryn quarry is Large slabs with greenish metacrysts
(see also remarks Cambrian in age (500 million years old); the (also called porphyroblasts) or 'eyes' of
column) uniformly blue-grey type is probably from new minerals have been found at some
the Ffestiniog Belt and is Ordovician. localities.
UK (England) Greenish variety may be from the Delabole This material was most likely used as
quarry in Cornwall, or the Cumbria Region flooring or for tombstones.
of Lake District.
8) Mortar Binding agent Jamaica Composed of lime mixed with sand or
gravel and water.

only about 25 acres (10 hectares) of dry
surface area. One of the consequences of
this was the further isolation of the Port
Royal Cay, as a large gap of shallow water
(several hundred metres wide) separated
the surviving town from the rest of the

Palisadoes spit. With the passage of time,
however, the gap slowly began to fill in
from the natural deposition of sand and
gravel. But according to the records, this
process was aided by the residents of
Port Royal, who sank old naval vessels
'--- .

and boats (loaded with stones) in the
gap, to speed up the process of accretion.
Surviving maps show that the island
remained unconnected at surface (that is,
sea level) until about the mid-1750s. Since
then, deposition of sand and gravel has
been rapidly transforming the southern
and eastern sides of the coastline, while
on the Kingston Harbour side, very little
has changed.
The most dramatic effect of this
depositional activity is illustrated by the
present position of Fort Charles, which
in 1692 was situated between the sea and
Chocolata Hole, with the waves probably
lapping at or near the base of the outer
wall facing Gun Cay. Today, Fort Charles
is stranded inland, with the coastline now
lying approximately 1,000 feet (about
300 metres) to the southeast. In contrast,
the gap between Port Royal and Gun
Cay has narrowed considerably and in
time probably in another four hundred
years Gun Cay and other coral banks
could be joined to the mainland. This
assumes, however, that neither climatic
changes (such as an increase in water

Note: Present-day
coastline and points of
interest taken from aerial
photographs by Spartan
1968, NASA 1971 and
the author 2001. Earlier
coastline positions,
surveyed areas and
physical features taken
from a map of Port Royal
surveyed in June 1827 by
Phillip A. Morris, Crown
surveyor; and from maps
of Port Royal and Kingston
Harbour surveyed by the
British between 1873 and
1914 and produced by
the Hydrographic Office,

temperature), nor human nature (such as
dredging) intervenes.
Another interesting spin-off of these
physical processes is the sociological
impact they have had on the development
of Port Royal since 1692. The map of Port
Royal (Figure 10) shows the position of
the coastline pre-1692 and at various
intervals since then up to the present day.
It is estimated that between 1692 and
2002 a period of 310 years more than
95 acres (38 hectares) have been built
up, in the region extending south and
south-westwards from the lagoon, to the
coastline near the coast guard base.

In the early 1880s, plans to further
strengthen the defences of Port Royal
were implemented. These included the
Rocky Point Fort (to the east of the Naval
Cemetery) and the Prince Albert and
Victoria Batteries. The latter, including
the Royal Artillery Store, gun pit and
concrete parapet wall, were then sited
close to the shoreline, which extended
southeastwards to more than 300 feet (91
metres) from the front of Fort Charles (see
Figure 10). At that time there was no road
along the Palisadoes spit to Port Royal. In
fact, the road was not opened until 1936.
So, the British installed a light rail
system (see alignment on Figure 10) to
move the huge coastal guns, ammunition,
men and building materials from the
shoreline inland, over the unconsolidated

beach sand and gravel deposits. In 1907
the rail system was damaged by the same
earthquake that triggered the liquefaction
of the sand that caused the Giddy House
to tilt at an angle of approximately 17
degrees from the vertical (Figure 9).
Today, not much remains of the line,
but the suggestion has been made, by
at least one historian, that if Port Royal
should ever be restored and marketed
as a historic attraction, then another rail
system could be included as part of the
tourism package (as is done in many
theme parks worldwide).
Since the 1960s, part of the land east
of St Peter's Church has been used for
housing, thereby satisfying an immediate
social need. Unfortunately, this area is
totally unprotected from heavy winds,
storm surges (caused by tropical storms
and hurricanes) and tsunamis (great sea
waves caused by submarine earthquakes
or volcanic activity).

Once ranked among the western world's
richest and wickedest cities, Port Royal
is today a shadow of its former self. Yet
it still possesses some intact and some
ruined (but not obliterated) man-made
treasures, which in combination with its
geologic setting are a potential tourism
gold mine. Until a programme is put in
place and a commitment made by the
government and people of Jamaica to
clean up, manage and protect this fragile

town, it will not be possible to have it
listed as a World Heritage Site. Only
then will Port Royal be able to achieve
its full potential as a foreign exchange
earner. Today, Fort Charles is the only
historic building open to the public on
a daily basis. But there are many other
points of interest that could be part of a
guided walking tour around Port Royal.
On 13 April 2002, Dr Tom Stemann of the
Department of Geology of the University
of the West Indies and myself conducted
such a tour, lasting about four hours.
Our main objectives were twofold:
first, to expose interested persons to the
geological history of Port Royal, and,
second, to identify and source the various
imported and local building stones used
since 1655. The positive response to the
tour underscored the potential demand
for such organised activities.
Unfortunately, although much
has been written about the intriguing
history of Port Royal, there is need for
an attractive, moderately priced, yet
accurate and informative illustrated
guidebook covering other areas such
as its archaeology, biology, built history
and geology. Perhaps this should be an
objective of the government for 2005, the
three hundred and fiftieth anniversary
of the birth of Port Royal as we know it
today. In the interim, it is hoped that this
article will provide a useful reference for
those who may wish to explore on their
own.4 4

A part of this article originally appeared in
the Gleaner as "Port Royal: Unravelling Its
Geological Heritage", in three parts, 6 June, 20
June, 4 July 2002.
The author wishes to extend his sincere
appreciation to the following persons: Rosie
Ridgeway and Rona Wade of Port Royal;
Roderick Ebanks and Evelyn Thompson
of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust;
Tom Stemann; Stephen Porter; and the late
Raymond Brandon, who was both a friend and
touring companion and a tremendous source
of information and inspiration. His knowledge
of Jamaican history and willingness to share it
will be sorely missed.

All photos @Anthony R.D. Porter.

1. See, especially, M. Pawson and D.
Buisseret, Port Royal, Jamaica (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1975; reprint,
Kingston: University of the West Indies
Press, 2000); C.V. Black, Port Royal: A
History and Guide (Kingston: Institute of
Jamaica Publications, 1988); and J. Cox
and 0. Cox, Naval Hospitals of Port Royal
Jamaica, Architectural Monograph Series,
no. 1 (Kingston: University of Technology,
Jamaica, 1999).
2. A.R.D. Porter, "Imported and Local
Stone Use in Pre-1900 Jamaica", Jamaican
Historical Society Bulletin 11, nos. 8 and 9
(2001): 232-56.
3. Rowland Powell, Letters to William
Coventry dated 26 July 1679 and 30 July 1679

(Coventry Papers, Volume 75, page 322,
323, 324. Microfilm, Longleat House near
Warminster, Wiltshire, England).
4. In addition to the works cited above,
see also T.F. Goreau, and K.C. Burke,
"Pleistocene and Holocene Geology
of the Island Shelf Near Kingston,
Jamaica", Marine Geology 4 (1966): 207-25;
P. Mayes, Port Royal, Jamaica: Excavations
1969-70 (Kingston: Jamaica National Trust
Commission, 1972); and "The Port Royal
Project", Jamaica Journal 4, no. 2 (1970):
2-12; Geological Society of Jamaica,
http: //isis.uwimona.edu.jm/-FPAS/

Black Corals in Jamaica


Corals belong to the phylum Cnidaria,
comprising jellyfish, sea anemones and
their relations. Cnidarians are simple
animals, characterized by having
bodies made of only two layers of cells,
although they often have a substantial
jelly layer in between, allowing some
species to become quite bulky. The basic
body form is that of a 'polyp', with a
mouth surrounded by tentacles at one
end. In jellyfish, the other end forms the
swimming bell, whereas in sea anemones
it forms the base, fixing the animal to
the substrate. These polyps may occur
singly or in interconnected groups, in
which case each group is said to be a
'colonial' or 'modular animal'. Another
important characteristic of cnidarians is
the possession of stinging cells (cnidae)
that can fire out a fine, penetrating thread,
often with barbs, to inject poison into their
prey. This is how many cnidarians feed,
and this is the reason that we get stung
when we brush against fire coral.
Corals themselves are related to sea
anemones rather than to jellyfish. They
are usually colonial, but their main feature
is that they all possess a hard skeleton.
Stony corals, or Scleractinia, have calcium
carbonate (limestone) skeletons, and are
the corals that build coral reefs. They
occur in a range of shapes from delicate
branches, to flattened plates, to massive,
rounded lumps 1 metre or more across,
supporting thousands of polyps. The

skeletal material is secreted slowly but
more or less continuously from the bases
of the polyps; it provides them with a
firm footing and enables them to grow
up into the water column where they can
exploit richer food resources. A coral reef
is formed by the accumulation of dead
coral skeletons, infilled with sediment and
cemented together; the live corals live on
top of this consolidated pile of skeletons.
Non-stony corals usually grow as
branched colonies, having a single hard
but flexible skeleton running through
the entire colony, like the wood through
a tree. These are the sea fans and sea
whips; most of the common ones living
in the Caribbean belong to the order
Gorgonacea. Here the skeleton is made
of 'gorgonin', a toughened, fibrous,
brown protein.' Unlike stony corals,
gorgonians bend to and fro as waves pass
overhead, looking more like seaweeds
than animals. They are attached to the
substrate by a flattened 'holdfast' which
does as its name suggests, resisting the
drag of all but the strongest waves. Black
corals, or Antipatharia, are a different
and much less species-rich group of non-
stony corals;2 they superficially resemble
gorgonians but have a simpler polyp and
a different toughened protein (antipathin)
making up the skeleton.3 Antipathin is
rich translucent brown in thin sections,
but pieces thicker than about half a
millimetre appear black and shiny. This
is the feature that makes black coral

commercially important since, unlike
stony corals and gorgonians, black coral
skeleton is sufficiently hard and dense
to take a high polish. Branches that are
thick enough can be shaped, carved and
polished into jewellery and ornaments.
Black coral is therefore a 'precious' coral,
like the otherwise only distantly related
pink coral of the Pacific and red coral of
the Mediterranean.

Black corals grow in a range of shapes
including unbranched whips, extensively
branched bushes, flat fans and more
complex fans and bushes with feather-like
or bottlebrush-like branches;4 at least eight
species occur on Jamaican coral reefs.
In all cases the skeletons are elongated
and more or less branched, with the
branches ranging from the thickness of
a finger to the fineness of a hair. Another
characteristic of the skeletons is that they
possess tiny spines growing in rows along
the stems and branches (Figure 1). The
characteristics of the skeleton and spines
are the main features used to distinguish
the different species. In life, black corals
do not generally appear black since the

FIGURE 1. Electron micrographs of black coral
skeleton (Stichopathes sp.). (1) size variation of
spines and alignment of spines in rows and spirals
(scale bar = 0.5 millimetres); (2) details of tubercles
on spines (scale bar = 0.1 millimetres). Maximum
lengths of spines, spine arrangements and the
presence, absence and arrangement of tubercles are
among the features used to distinguish species.


tissues are often coloured: whitish, green-
brown or reddish. The polyps differ in
size among the various species but appear
much the same in overall morphology.
Each polyp has only six simple tentacles
(Figure 4), contrasting with gorgonians,
which have eight branched tentacles,
and stony corals, which usually have
numerous tentacles. Like other cnidarians,
black coral tentacles are studded with
batteries of stinging cells, but these are
not powerful enough to pierce human
skin. Black corals feed on planktonic
organisms caught with the stinging cells
and transferred into the mouths of the
polyps by the tentacles.
Black corals grow attached by a
holdhast to hard substrates in water
deeper than about 25 metres. This is
below the optimal depth of most reef-
building stony corals, and means that
black corals live in dim light and hardly
experience the to-and-fro movement
caused by the waves overhead. In
Jamaica, they are found at the bases of
reefs, especially on steep slopes, cliffs and
overhangs where they extend down to
100 metres or more. Those who scuba-
dive in Jamaica will certainly have seen
black corals since a few species are quite
common. The commonest of all are the
long, unbranched sea whips or wire
corals, Stichopathes spp. (Figure 2). Wire
coral colonies can grow up to 5 metres
in length but are more commonly about
1 metre long. The axis of the skeleton is
only a few millimetres in diameter and
feels like a wire. The polyps are relatively
large (5-10 millimetres) and occur in a
variety of colours. It seems likely that
these colour variations represent more
than one species since two new species
were recognized, but not named, by
Goenaga in Puerto Rico, partly on the
basis of colour differences." Both of these
unnamed species, occur commonly in
Jamaica; in one the tissues are opaque
pale yellow-green, while in the other
the tissues are transparent in shades of
grey, green or orange (Figure 3). Both
project from holdfasts often located in
crevices and then grow more or less
straight out away from the substrate. In
contrast, the ends of colonies of the better
known Caribbean wire coral Stichopathes
lutkeni, which also occurs in Jamaica, are
thrown into loose spirals (Figure 2). A
feature of black corals, shown by most

species including wire corals, is that the
polyps are borne on one side only of the
skeleton, and are associated with longer
spines (Figure 1), which perhaps serve to
support them.
The next most common form of black
coral in Jamaica is the fan, found in two
species, Antipathes atlantica and A. gracilis.
These both grow as delicate, flat colonies,
rarely reaching more than 40 centimetres
across and composed of many fine
branches forming a slightly dish-shaped
fan projecting at right angles from the
substrate. The fans are orientated across
the prevailing direction of current flow
with the concave side of the fan facing
the flow and all the polyps on the other
side where they experience downstream
eddies. This implies a unidirectional
current, such as the oceanic current
flowing east to west past Jamaica, or local
currents flowing down the gullies and
sand chutes which dissect many coral
reefs from reef crest to ocean. The function
of this shape, orientation and downstream
placement of polyps is to facilitate feeding
on the planktonic organisms carried in the
current. A fan at right angles to the flow is
optimal for intercepting water, the slight

dish-shape improves filtering efficiency
and several lines of evidence point to
more efficient capture of particles on the
downstream side of objects in flow.6 This
may be the reason that, at least in these
species, polyps are only found on one side

FIGURE 5. Fine outer branches of a colony of the
commercial black coral Antipathes caribbeana.
FicuRE 6. Colony ofAntipathes rubusiformis n. sp.
scrambling over sponges beneath an overhang.
-' SYI~:~ I~,** ~ m

of the skeleton. A. atlantica and A. gracilis
polyps (Figure 4) are much smaller (2-3
millimetres) than those of Stichopathes
spp. and are very similar in both species.
Indeed, it is not easy to tell these two
fan species apart. They differ in details
of branching and sometimes in colour
- greyish and reddish, respectively.7
The commercial black coral species in
Jamaica grows in the form of a loose bush.
It can grow quite large, up to 2 metres

in height from the substrate, but most of
these large colonies have been harvested
for making jewellery so that a typical size
today is less than 1 metre. They occur
infrequently on steep drop-offs where
they make a beautiful sight, the fine, hair-
like ends of the branches glowing white or
green depending on the angle of the light
filtering down from the surface (Figure
5). An indication of the lack of scientific
study of black corals in the Caribbean
(and elsewhere) is that this previously
common and conspicuous species was
first described scientifically in 1996; it was
given the name Antipathes caribbeana.8 It is
an interesting question whether the open
selling of black coral jewellery ceased
in Jamaica because it became difficult to
find large enough colonies or because
of national and international legislation.
So-called black coral jewellery (not always
made from black coral) is still available
in many Caribbean islands for sale to
tourists, despite international legislation
banning its export or import without a
licence. The Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
legislation includes all black corals,
giving the impression that all species
are endangered whereas in reality most
species of black corals are not at risk
because they are unsuitable (too small)
for making jewellery. However, in the
case of A. caribbeana, over-collection has
certainly robbed the deep reefs of some
of their beauty. This is also the case with
the other commercial Caribbean species,
Antipathes pennacea, always uncommon in
Jamaica, but previously quite common in
the southern and eastern Caribbean. This

1. W.M. Goldberg, "Comparative Study of
the Chemistry and Structure of Gorgonian
and Antipatharian Coral Skeletons",
Marine Biology 35 (1976): 253-67.
2. P. Humann, Reef Coral Identification: Florida,
Caribbean, Bahamas (Jacksonville, Fla.: New
World Publications, 1998).
3. Goldberg, "Comparative Study".
4. Humann, Reef Coral Identification.
5. C. Goenaga, "Two New Species of
Stichopathes (Zoantharia: Antipatharia)
with Observations on Their Biology" (MSc
thesis, University of Puerto Rico, 1977).

species can also form large bushy colonies,
but unlike A. caribbeana the final branches
are pinnate, like feathers, and the branches
may be spread in a rough fan. There are at
least four branching bottlebrush species in
the Caribbean,9 but as far as is now known
they are uncommon (or possibly absent)
in Jamaica.
An unusual new species is relatively
common on cliffs and overhangs on
some of Jamaica's spectacular deep-reef
drop-offs.10 This species is unusual in
that it has multiple holdfasts while all
other described species of black corals
have just one holdfast per colony.
Another unusual feature, which fits with
its multiple holdfasts, is that instead of
extending out into the water, it spreads
sideways over the adjacent rock. It lives
under overhangs on steep cliffs, and its
branches, first extending sideways, soon
curve back towards the rock. Where
they touch, another holdfast develops.
The colony therefore forms a sprawling
tangle of branches clinging upside down
under the overhang (Figure 6). The
branches are fine and the polyps are small
and opaque yellow-green. Because of
its growth habit, like that of a bramble
bush on land, it will be named Antipathes
rubusiformis since Rubus is the botanical
name of the bramble. (There are five
species of bramble in Jamaica, including
the cheesberry, Rubus ellipticus, common
on Blue Mountain.) Somewhat similar to
A. rubusiformis n. sp., but with only one
holdfast, thicker branches and longer
spines, is a species called Antipathes
umbratica, first described in 1996 from the
Bahamas and Honduras." This species

6. J.S. Ryland and G.E Warner, "Growth
and Form in Modular Animals: Ideas on
the Size and Arrangement of Zooids",
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society,
London: Biological Sciences 313 (1986): 53-76.
7. G.E Warner, "Species Descriptions and
Ecological Observations of Black Corals
(Antipatharia) from Trinidad", Bulletin of
Marine Science 31 (1981): 147-63.
8. D.M. Opresko, "New Species of Black
Coral (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Antipatharia)
from the Caribbean", Bulletin of Marine
Science 58 (1996): 289-300.

lives in caves or clefts in the reef and has
been found in Jamaica at Discovery Bay.
Research on black corals is currently
being carried out in Jamaica from the
Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory,
University of the West Indies. As may
be judged from this brief article, there
are more species to describe and to
name, but the basic biology of black
corals is also poorly known. We need to
understand their reproduction, growth
rate and ecology in order to adequately
conserve them. Studies have shown
that the commercial species of black
coral in Hawaii grow slowly at about 3
to 6 centimetres per year, and may take
decades to reach a size that is worth
harvesting for jewellery.12 In Jamaica,
we need to understand the distribution
of the species around the island, their
abundance in different habitats and
their relationships with other members
of the living community both attached
to the substrate (stony corals, sponges,
calcareous algae and so on) and moving
freely over the substrate and through
the water (fish, shrimps, snails and so
on) which may have symbiotic, parasitic
or predator/prey relations with black
corals. It is as important to understand the
reproduction and growth of black corals
as it is to know what damages or kills
To a scuba-diver on a coral reef, black
corals are an indicator that the water is
getting deep; to the scientist looking for
something new, they are beautiful and
fascinating animals that present numerous
unsolved puzzles.

9. Warner, "Species Descriptions".
10. G.E Warner and D.M. Opresko, "A New
Black Coral (Anthozoa: Antipatharia) from
a Reef Wall Environment in Jamaica",
Bulletin of Marine Science (forthcoming).
11. Opresko, "New Species".
12. R.W. Grigg, "Distribution and Abundance
of Precious Corals in Hawaii", Proceedings
of the Second International Coral Reef
Symposium 2 (1974): 235-40. Great Barrier
Reef Committee, Brisbane.

Duppy Plants Revisited


Duppies, as is well known, are
mischievous ghosts or spirits of the
dead. Plants, like much else in Jamaican
society, have acquired their fair share
of duppy counterparts. Thus we have
plants widely known as Duppy Flytrap,
Duppy Machete and Duppy Weed, plus
several others. These are not the shadowy,
disembodied creations that might be
inferred from their common names but
sturdy living plants that have somehow

become allied with the supernatural.
Certain plants and their organs do partly
resemble the foods and artifices used by
the living in everyday life. But, because of
irreconcilable differences such as minute
size, distorted shape, wrong colour,
toxicity, unpleasant odour and so on,
these botanical lookalikes are considered
to be associated with the spirit world
and are consequently labelled by the
prefix 'Duppy'. Others, including the

giant cotton (Ceiba pentandra) and almond
(Terminalia catappa) trees, are reckoned
to be favourite haunts of the weightless
folk. Trees like these, however, do not
form part of this article, which is limited
to plants that have the name 'Duppy' in
common. Following is a short, illustrated
tour to explore eight members of this
enduringly interesting group of plants;
they are presented alphabetically by
common name.

sport a twisty tendril up to 30 centimetres
long, and at times the flowers emit an
odour foul enough to earn the species the
common name of Poisoned Hog Meat. A
third species, A. ringens, is better known
as Dutchman's Pipe.

AT -r

This is a Brazilian vine, long escaped
from local gardens and now naturalised
in rough pastures, thickets and areas
that were once cultivated. The slender,
climbing stems bear alternate heart-
shaped leaves, unusual flowers and fruit
that eventually resemble diminutive
baskets. Each complicated S-shaped
flower terminates in a 6- to 10-centimetre-
wide circular corolla, patterned purple
and white. Small insects attracted to the
solid colour and sour smell at the centre
of the blooms become trapped inside for
sufficient time to pollinate the flowers.
Hence the plant's alternative local name,
Duppy Flytrap. The cylindrical, 5-
centimetre-long ribbed fruit mature into
six-lobed, brown, hanging containers,
the Duppy Baskets. They each contain
a host of flattened seeds. Both Duppy
epithets apply more so to the larger A.
grandiflora. Its double-sized blooms each

These shrubs or trees are native to the
Caribbean and tropical America. Their
vivid, dark green foliage and attractive,
creamy blossom make the plants highly
visible in our coastal thickets and
roadside vegetation. Butterflies and
other insects regularly visit the clusters
of small, scented, cup-shaped flowers.
The resulting bunches of white, non-
poisonous, oblong berries are the Duppy
Cherries. Youngsters shun the ripe, but
somewhat unearthly looking, translucent
fruit, but will munch on the scarcely more
edible red ones borne by the Clammy
Cherry tree, C. collococca. Birds will feast
on both kinds of fruit.

Duppy Cho Chos or

S eye-catching shrubs or
trees that grow commonly
around the sandy, arid
coasts of Jamaica. They are natives of
Africa and Asia. Mature plants are
about 2 metres tall and bear particularly
large, paired, grey-green leaves. These
emerge with a waxy, white sheen and
then grow rapidly up to 30 centimetres
long. Voracious black, yellow and white-
banded caterpillars of the Monarch
butterfly feed and pupate on the toxic,
latex-filled leaves. Birds and other
predators do not touch the poisonous
larval beauties. Young C. procera plants
quickly acquire an attractive, streaked,
cream-yellow bark and later bear stalked

FIGURE 1. Aristolochia elegans, flower and dry fruit
FicURE 2. Cordia dentata, cluster of blossom
FIcURE 3. Calotropis procera, (a) inflorescence and
young fruit, (b) seed dispersal

heads of stiff, purple and white flowers.
A few blooms develop into unusual fruits
that show an amusing resemblance to
the popular Cho Cho, Sechium edule. But,
whereas the familiar vegetable is solid,
pear-shaped and hangs from a vine, the
Duppy Cho Cho is a soft, sac-like object
that is supported horizontally. When
mature, the squashy Duppy Cho Cho
fruit unzip beneath, each revealing an
exotic green interior in which hangs
a plump crescent of numerous brown
seeds nestling on tightly packed silken
parachutes. These long fibres, the origin
of two additional names, Duppy Cotton
and French Cotton, were once used to
decorate small craft items. Duppy Cho
Cho plants are not loved. Many Jamaicans
are cautious about the clouds of travelling
seeds and some fear assault by the
duppies that are reputed to live under the
larger plants.

Duppy Guns are normally anonymous,
tropical weeds that are present in
almost any stretch of cleared ground.
Periodically, however, they can burst
into delightful prominence, as happens
when rainfall triggers mass flowering.
Then each hairy, pint-sized plant sprouts
unexpectedly large, trumpet-shaped
blooms. These are of a beautiful bluish-
purple colour or, rarely, white. The fragile
flowers swiftly fade, to be replaced by
small, spindle-shaped seedpods. Duppy
Guns are not favoured in gardens
largely because the plants are irritatingly
apomictic (able to set fruit for extended
periods without first flowering). Wetting
the ripe pods causes them to crack open
explosively (Duppy Gun shots) and
scatter their seeds. Children experience
this by putting the pods into their mouths.
These Ruellia plants are remarkably
persistent because their fleshy tuberous
roots resist drought, mowing, hoeing and
other forms of control.

Duppy Machete, alias Spanish Machete
and Cutlass Bush, is frequently seen as
slender, worn, live fence posts. The plants
also exist as large trees several metres
tall whose thick trunks are enclosed
by a pale, ropey bark. Shrubs and trees
bear triplet leaflets and small, cone-
shaped inflorescences. Each amazing
flower seems to be a miniature machete
apparently suited only to the labours of
a ghost. The narrow, blood-red blade, 6
to 7 centimetres in length, is formed by
the folded standard petal while the calyx,
hidden keel and wing petals constitute
the tiny, 1-centimetre-long brown handle.
These blooms are made more conspicuous
by appearing in spring after most of
the foliage has been shed. Erythrina
corallodendrum trees are closely related to
the fabulous, orange-flowered Immortelle,
E. poeppigiana and the popular, garden
plant E. parcelli that has striking yellow-
green, variegated leaves. The buds and
flowers of both the latter plants are
somewhat dagger- or claw-shaped. All
Erythrina plants bear bean-type pods
whose seeds are poisonous.

These common yellow rattle weeds are
found at roadsides and waste places. The
plants grow to about 1 metre tall and
all year round they produce attractive,
yellow-red, pea-type flowers and the
resulting short, chubby seedpods. The
same is true of C. verrucosa (illustrated),
blue rattle weed, which bears bluish-

purple flowers. This one is a vigorous,
branching, vine-like plant that can create
huge mounds of scrambling, strangling
vegetation. A rattling noise can be
produced by shaking bunches of mature,
seed-containing pods of either plant. As
all parts of these plants are fiercely toxic
if eaten, they might well be regarded as
potential duppy makers!

Duppy Soursop plants, or Noni to a wider
audience, are sprawling, glossy shrubs
and trees that grow naturally along
coastal areas. They are native to India,
the South Pacific Islands and Australia.
Throughout the year the plants bear
small, green, bumpy nodules that sprout
a succession of fragrant white tubular
blooms. Each conglomerate matures
into an irregularly shaped, fist-sized
fruit whose smooth skin is patterned
and marked with 'eyes' like those of
soursops and pineapples. These Duppy
Soursop fruits bear a flush of other
colourful, common names: Hog Apple
and Duckfeed in Jamaica, and Monkey or
Dog Dumpling in Barbados. Noni fruits
soften as they ripen to a translucent light
yellow, and they develop an awful odour.
Nevertheless, the fruits and other parts
of the Morinda plant have had a long
history of traditional use. In Jamaica the
large leaves are used externally for pain
relief and the fermented juice of the fruits
is drunk as a vitamin supplement. The
bottled juice (largely from foreign sources)
has recently rocketed to international
fame as a herbal cure-all. Among the fifty
or so claims to the virtues of Noni juice,
its anti-cancer, antiseptic and analgesic
properties seem medically promising.

FIGURE 4. Ruellia tuberosa, flowers and fruit
FIGURE 5. Erythrina corallodendrum, flowers and buds
FIGURE 6. Crotalaria verrucosa, flowers and pods
FIGURE 7. Morinda citrifolia, flowers and fruit

Pc ii,. Ii ialli, ,i i also called Gully Root
and Stink Weed is a common, pungent,
tropical weed that is reputed to work
as a charm against duppies! The plants
flourish in undergrowth, waysides and
other semi-shaded situations where
their thin, sinewy stems can grow up
to 150 centimetres tall. Duppy Weed's
garlic odour becomes pronounced only

All photos Monica F Warner
Adams, C.D. Fi.:.. ,,,,. Plants of Jamaica. Kingston:
University of the West Indies, 1972.
Hawkes, A.D., and B.C. Sutton. Wild Flowers of
Jamaica. London: Collins, Sangster, 1974.


when the plants are cut or damaged.
Unfortunately, any cattle that graze on
them are liable to produce tainted milk
and meat. These weeds bear simple,
alternating wavy-edged leaves and a
succession of tiny white starry flowers
along the arching, terminal inflorescences.
The resulting small, hooked fruit easily
become attached to other substrates such
as skin, hair, fur and clothing. The plants
are also variously known as Guinea

Johnson, L.B., L.A.D. Williams and E.V Roberts.
"An Insecticidal and Acaricidal Polysulphide
Metabolite from the Roots of Petiveria
alliacea". Pesticide Science 50 (1997): 228-32.
Lowe, Henry, et al. Jamaica's Ethnomedicine.
Kingston: Canoe Press, 2000.
Perkins, Lily G. "Duppy Plants in Jamaica".

Hen Weed, Guinea Hen Leaf and Strong
Man's Weed, although I have noticed
neither hens nor strong men racing to
collect the harvest. Nevertheless, Duppy
Weeds are included in local herbal
practices. Preparations are used to calm
nerves, treat diarrhea, rheumatic pain,
ringworm, bladder inflammation and a
wide variety of other ailments. Crushed
leaves are also employed to soothe
headaches, and a tincture of root in rum
is applied to toothache. The plant is a
tea bush. In tropical Central and South
America particularly, P. alliacea has a huge
reputation as a traditional medicine plant.
Research carried out at the University
of the West Indies has confirmed that
plant extracts can be both insecticidal and
acaricidal, while other studies indicate the
presence of active immunomodulatory
compounds. These are only a few of the
thirty or so documented properties of this
remarkable weed.
There were probably once many
more 'Duppy' items in the Jamaican
flora. The eight species described above
now constitute about half the pool of
remembered 'Duppy' plants. Those
remaining include Duppy Coconut
(Barringtonia asiatica); Duppy Needle
(Bidens spp.); the prickly but edible
Duppy Calaloo (Amaranthus spinosus);
Duppy Cucumber (Cucumis anguria),
whose egg-sized fruits were gathered
for making pickles; the endemic Duppy
Pumpkin 'L.. ..1.I, *\. ti,'",' ,-' and the
poisonous Duppy Tomato or Cockroach
Poison (Solaiumn ciliatum). 9

FicURE 8. Petiveria alliacea, ii.. ....L stems

Jamaica Journal 3, no. 1(1969): 17-21.
Williams, L.A.D., et al. "Immunomodulatory
Activities of Petiveria alliacea". Phytotherapy
Research 11 (1997): 251-53.

Natural History in Jamaica


What is 'natural history'? The dictionary
gives us several meanings for the word
'history', but the most useful is that it
means a systematic account, a narrative or
record of some thing; when we join that to
the adjective we find that 'natural history'
means a systematic account of natural
phenomena. Broadly speaking, we are
talking about the study and record of
all natural phenomena including plants,
animals and minerals. Passing over the
work of early Greek philosophers such
as Aristotle and Hippocrates, we find
that in the recent past it was physicians
and anatomists in the medical schools
of Europe who provided much of the
early insight into the study of plants and
animals. Physicians were interested in
the use of plants for treating illnesses
- and that study continues today at a
more sophisticated level by the large drug
companies now combing the world's
biodiversity for active compounds
which can have medicinal uses. These
companies are hemmed in by regulators,
but the early practitioners were subject
to no such controls, and one can only
wonder how much suffering or even

death may have occurred in the course
of their well-intentioned experiments. Sir
Hans Sloane, nevertheless, did express a
concern that he might kill someone rather
than cure them. One of his treatments
involved taking fifty millipedes in a glass
of water twice daily, and his standard
treatment for rheumatism was an infusion
of a plant called Prunell to which had
been added some crab's eyes. Perhaps
after contemplating that, the reader will
bless the modem drug companies rather
than complain about the size of the
pharmacy bill.

Although the earliest studies and
treatises on natural history were the
province of medical men, there was a
sudden burgeoning of amateur interest
in nineteenth-century Britain and North
America. This development can largely
be traced to the affluence of Victorian
middle-class England when families
had sufficient wealth to employ a large
domestic staff of maidservants, children's
nannies, governesses and private tutors;
this in turn gave parents and
older children a great deal
of leisure and freedom from
household chores, so much
so that they were in danger of
becoming bored. Relief from
this was found in making
collections collections of
flowers, of ferns, of minerals,
of sea shells and of birds'
eggs. All of these items had to
be identified and displayed
for their friends to admire. In
this way, the educated middle
classes of England acquired
a profound knowledge of
the natural history of that

Professor Ivan Coodbody, Professor
*., Emeritus, Department of Life
Sciences, University of the West

country, and a culture developed in which
it was taken for granted as part of one's
education to know about the plants and
animals in one's environment. In my
own education this was very important.
I grew up in a very privileged family
living in a semi-rural suburb of Dublin
city. There was a family governess who
taught me and my siblings. An important
part of the process was lessons in nature
study which included walking in the
surrounding farmland, learning about the
trees, picking wild flowers, and learning
the names of the birds and butterflies.
From there I went to nursery school
or kindergarten where again nature
study lessons were a regular part of our

Middle-Class Living in Rural
Returning to the English middle classes,
it was primarily among people who had
ease of access to the country that the
study of natural history flourished; village
parsons and those who owned country
estates were leaders in the field. Charles
Darwin, one of the greatest naturalists of
all time, was the son of a wealthy doctor
in Shrewsbury in the English Midlands.
When reaching maturity, he pondered
deeply on what he should do with his life
because he had already become absorbed
in the study of natural history and wished
to ensure that he could continue to pursue
this interest. He finally decided he should
study for the Church and obtain a post
as a country parson as this would afford
him the opportunities and leisure to
pursue his beloved natural history. In the
end he went to Edinburgh as a medical
student and came in contact with eminent
physicians, from whom he learned much
about plants, and anatomists, from whom
he learned much about animals. Needless
to say, he never became either a doctor or
a parson but because of his independent
wealth, obtained from his doting father,
he bought a country mansion in Kent and
indulged his passion there.

One of the important outcomes of
burgeoning amateur interest in natural
history was the growth of natural history
societies; these afforded people an
opportunity to come together to show
off their collections, exchange ideas on
the names of specimens and help one
another to learn more. The important
events in such societies included evening
gatherings, called Conversaziones,
where naturalists brought specimens
and obtained opinions on them from
others. Other events of importance were
regular outings usually led by someone
knowledgeable in a particular field who
could teach others, particularly younger
people. Returning to my own younger
days, this was an important activity in the
Dublin Field Naturalists Club and almost
every weekend there would be an outing
to some place of interest when one could
learn a great deal from older naturalists.
These were a very mixed group of people.
My mentors in the study of birds
included two retired army officers and
a Jesuit priest; our mentors in the study
of wild flowers were a chemist from
Guinness's brewery and a tax collector.
My mentor for insects was the director
of Ireland's National Museum of Natural
History, a very kindly man who never
grudged a second of his time if a young
person came to him for advice. This
constant passing on of knowledge and
experience on a voluntary basis from one
generation to another was very important,
so that by 1950 Ireland had a remarkable
cadre of well-informed naturalists, and
this may be responsible for the fact that
today it has one of the best conservation
strategies in western Europe.

While the main theme of this paper is
to report on natural history in Jamaica,
it is nevertheless relevant to recall the
development of the natural history
culture in Britain because inevitably
some of it filtered down to this country.
A glance at the list of founding members
of the Natural History Society of Jamaica
reveals the names of several school
teachers who in their day may have had
part of their own education in England.

Richard Hill, one of our best 5
home-bred naturalists, was sent
to England when he was only 0
five years old and did not return
home until he was eighteen. In
his schooling in England he must
have come in contact with that
country's natural history culture.
Also, he must have learned that
one of the things which every
young naturalist must know is
that it is an exercise in futility
if one merely goes out and
observes plants and animals. One
must record one's observations
in a field notebook and then
transcribe the field notes into
a journal for later reference by
oneself or others. As we shall
see in subsequent paragraphs,
we owe a debt of gratitude to
early naturalists in Jamaica who
preceded us and left a voluminous
record of their observations.

It is time, then, that we turn our attention
to the written record of Jamaica's natural
history. In this respect the names of
several men stand out and tower above
all others. These are Sir Hans Sloane,
a private physician to the duke of
Albermarle when he was governor of
Jamaica. Sloane arrived in Jamaica in
December 1687 and remained here until
May 1689, living most of that time in
Spanish Town, from where he had ease
of access to a great deal of the country
and its flora and fauna. John Taylor was
a trained surveyor who made an error
of several per cent in calculating the
height of the Blue Mountain Peak to be
6 miles (9.6 kilometres) high instead of
7,400 feet (2,256 metres). He was here for
only a few months at the very end of the
seventeenth century. Patrick Browne was
another visiting physician living here
in the middle of the eighteenth century.
Finally, there is Phillip Gosse, an English
naturalist who lived in Bluefields House
for a year in the middle of the nineteenth

Sir Hans Sloane
Sir Hans Sloane was a highly respected
London physician who during his lifetime
amassed a great collection of manuscripts

Sir Hans Sloane
and artefacts. In his will he left all these
collections to the British government
for the purpose of founding a national
museum; this was conditional on the
government paying a sum of 20,000 to
his executors. It required a special act
of Parliament to accept this condition,
thereby founding the British Museum in
London. These collections included many
specimens collected by Sloane during his
sojourn in Jamaica, so that we can feel
that Jamaica had an important role to play
in founding the British Museum.
Sloane was an Irishman born in
County Down. In the period of 1707 to
1725 he published a huge tome entitled
A Voyage to the Islands Madera, Barbados,
Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica, which
includes several sections a long and
rather tedious preface, an equally long
introduction, an account of his actual
voyage, followed by a large section on the
natural history of Jamaica which includes
many engravings, mostly of plants. Sloane
and his contemporaries had the time and
leisure to write at great length, and this is
not for bedside reading; it weighs several
kilograms and requires concentrated
work to study it properly, but it is full of
interesting observations and remarks on
the medicinal properties of plants.

John Taylor
John Taylor was born in the Isle of Wight
in 1664 and was educated in mathematics
by a private tutor. He joined the army at
the time of the Monmouth Rebellion and
later left the army intending to pursue
science and surveying. After a quarrel
with his father-in-law, he determined to
leave England, and set sail for Jamaica,
where he arrived on 1 January 1687.
Taylor seems to have taken a job as a
bookkeeper on an estate in Clarendon but
did not remain very long, embarking on
a British warship in May 1687 to return
to England. His sojourn on the warship
Falcon where he worked as clerk also gave
him opportunities to visit other parts of
Central America.
Taylor's journal of his travels fills
three large volumes and includes an
account of the capture of Jamaica by the
British and a description of the island
and its plants, animals and birds. The
manuscript of this journal is in the
National Library of Jamaica, and plans are
now in hand for it to be published so that
comparisons can be made with the work
of Browne, Sloane and the present time.
Dr David Buisseret, former professor
of history at the University of the West
Indies, has done a great deal of research
on the manuscript so that it can be edited
and prepared for publication. Hopefully
this will soon be accomplished and make
the work available to Jamaican scholars.
Portions of the manuscript which I have
seen are indeed interesting and include
a mouthwatering description of the
fishes around Port Royal, an abundance
of snapper and yellowtails, porgies and
Having said this, we must note that
Taylor's descriptions are not always
accurate. James Robertson, of the
Department of History at the University
of the West Indies, has written an
interesting critique of the manuscript
entitled "An Untimely Victory: Re-
inventing the English Conquest of
Jamaica", in which he points out that
Taylor's account of Venables's capture
of St Jago de la Vega and the surrender
of the city by a woman governor named
Guzman is purely imaginary. I note
further that after reading the section on
birds, at Professor Buisseret's request,
and long before I had seen Robertson's

critique, I wrote (on 23 February
1995): "Taylor must have had a good
imagination and perhaps wrote some of
his accounts on the basis of reports he
received from others." All of this is a great
pity, because as Buisseret points out, the
account was written before much of the
natural environment was severely altered
by the development of the plantation
system and if accurate would have
given us a source from which to make
comparisons with the present day.

Patrick Browne
Patrick Browne was another Irishman
hailing from County Mayo in the west.
He trained in Leyden as a physician and
came to Jamaica in the mid-eighteenth
century, occupying himself entirely in
collecting information about the minerals,
plants and animals. In 1756 he published
a large tome entitled The Civil and Natural
History of Jamaica, with a large number
of engravings and a map of the island.
There is a second edition of this book
published in 1769, which does not have
the engravings as the original copper
plates for these were destroyed in a fire
in London in 1765, so one must be careful
which edition one consults if one needs
more than the text. Like Sloane's work,
Browne's Natural History is a mine of
information about the plants and animals
he found in Jamaica and, like Sloane, he
dwells much on the medicinal properties
of many plants including some things
we may not be familiar with today:
for instance, that bananas are good for
treating worms in children. We cannot
dwell here on any of the details in this
book, but we need to be aware of the
quantity of information on which Browne

Gosse and Hill
The writings of Browne, Sloane and
Taylor provide us with an interesting
insight into the natural history of Jamaica
in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, but we must move on and
remember the great nineteenth-century
naturalists Phillip Gosse and Richard
Hill. Most of us are familiar with Gosse
through David Stewart's book Gosse's
Jamaica 1844-45. Gosse lived in Bluefields
and made many observations on birds
and other aspects of natural history,

which he published in two separate
books, Birds of Jamaica and A Naturalist's
Sojourn in Jamaica.
While Gosse frequently introduces
us to the habits of birds, he also describes
them carefully. Jeremy Woodley quotes
Dr David Lack, one of the foremost of
twentieth-century ornithologists, as
stating: "Gosse's Birds of Jamaica was far
ahead of its time and remained one of
the best bird books on any part of the
world for at least half a century." What
was special about Gosse's books was his
dedication to the idea that natural history
should be much more than a science of
dead things but should investigate and
record living things in a state of nature.
Woodley also draws attention to the fact
that Gosse's writings about Jamaica were
complemented by many contributions
from his modest friend Richard Hill of
Spanish Town, with whom he maintained
regular correspondence.

The Importance of Studying Living
The preceding paragraphs provide a
synopsis of what went on in the field of
natural history in Jamaica through the
seventeenth, eighteenth and much of the
nineteenth centuries, effectively covering
the period from Sloane's arrival in 1687
to the departure of Gosse two hundred
years later. A great compendium of
knowledge was amassed in that time, but
to the present-day student it makes heavy
From what I have related so far we
can draw a comparison between Gosse
and the earlier writers Browne, Sloane
and Taylor. These earlier naturalists were
concentrating on the dead things and did
not have the same bent for studying the
habits or behaviour of what they saw. But
there is a lesson here for all of us: mere
compendia of the names of plants and
animals is not real natural history; we
need to be trying to understand why a
particular organism lives where it does
and not somewhere else and how it
relates to the rest of the biota around it. At
the same time we must have the material
knowledge which enables us to identify
what we see.


SU4 I* r


The next advance came when
W Sir Anthony Musgrave, a
* nineteenth-century colonial
governor, founded the Institute
of Jamaica in 1879. The institute
was founded as a cultural
focus for the arts, literature
and science, and it later set up
a Science Division which was
the forerunner of the present
Natural History Division. The
SScience Division provided a
reference point for visiting
naturalists and in due course
began to publish materials
about Jamaica's natural history.
The important outputs from
this division have included
the Annals, the first issue of
which was a paper by Mary
Rathbun on a checklist of
Jamaican Decapod Crustacea.
The Annals gave way to
the Bulletin of the Institute of
Jamaica, Science Series, which
in turn was superseded by a
more formal journal, Sloanea.
Between the Bulletin and
Sloanea a great many useful
papers on Jamaican natural
history have been published,
including many papers on
ferns and flowering plants
by Dr George Proctor, Tom
Farr's papers on robber flies,
Garth Underwood's paper on
the anoline lizards of Jamaica
and Gardner Lynn's work on
Jamaican amphibia.

Tot, D CGeorge Proctoir plant
taxonomist at the Institute otf amaica
and renowned specialist on lamalcan
tfms and Caribbean flora.
S MIDDLE' Dr Thomas Farr, loimer
entomologist at the Institute of Jamaica
and regular contributor to the Natural
History Notes with articles about

BOrTTOi: Bernard Lewis, wounding
member of the Natural History Society
of lamaica and former director of the
Institute of lamaica.

One of the earliest people to work in
the Science Division was J.E. Duerden, a
marine biologist who studied Jamaican
sea anemones and corals. Duerden gives
us another link to Ireland, because he
chose to publish some of his Jamaican
work in the Transactions of the Royal
Dublin Society, an institution very similar
to the Institute of Jamaica, devoted to
arts, science and literature. Today it is
better known for its major agricultural
show in springtime and an international
horse show in August, but it still has an
excellent library, exhibition halls and
lecture room.
A further upthrust in the fortunes of
natural history in Jamaica came when,
shortly before the Second World War,
Bernard Lewis was appointed director
of the Institute of Jamaica. Bernard was
an excellent naturalist and took a keen
interest in the natural history division
and in fostering the study of plants and
animals. I suspect that he was very much
the catalyst which encouraged a number
of people to found the Natural History
Society of Jamaica in 1940. Bernard
Lewis used his leverage as director
of the institute to sponsor a field trip
to Clydesdale in the Blue Mountains
for school teachers teaching science.
This seems to have been remarkably
successful, so much so that it was decided
in the same year to found a Natural
History Society, and a second field trip
was organised to Munro College in early
1941 when the inaugural meeting of the
society took place. There were twenty
foundation members, and the objectives
of the society were stated to be "the
encouragement and advancement of
the study of natural history in Jamaica".
By 1949 there were over one hundred
In 1941 the Society also commenced a
regular publication, Natural History Notes,
and also commenced a series of regular
radio broadcasts on natural history.
Natural History Notes was produced on
stencil and duplicated, a process which
was very tedious and dirty. Those of
us who have access to modern desktop
publishing techniques should remember
the dedication which must have gone into
this production by the staff of the Natural
History Division who had to do the


work. Natural History Notes was a highly
successful endeavour and continued to be
produced up to 1955; it was restarted in
1977 but died again in 1988. A great deal
of interesting and important information
is published in the pages of Notes, and it
is a great pity that we let it lapse. If one
just examines the titles on the contents
page of a single volume, one can only be
impressed by what was taking place and
what we may now be losing.
Taking an issue at random, the
contents page of issue number sixty-
seven, July 1954, reads as follows:

1. News of Members of the Society
2. The Cockpit Country
3. Papilio marcellinus
4. Ornithological Progress in Jamaica
5. Robber Flies
6. Pond Turtles in Jamaica
7. Cannibalism in Lizards
8. Everglades Natural History
9. Distribution of Antillean Reptiles
10. Introduction to the Study of Jamaican

Other issues have a series of
papers by Arthur Fontaine on Jamaican
echinoderms, which I found most useful
when I first came to Jamaica and had to
identify marine animals for students;
elsewhere we find A.J. Thomas writing
about the hog-nosed mullet and someone
else writing about seining for fishes along
Earlier I have pointed out the
importance of naturalists recording what
they see; and when Natural History Notes
died there was virtually nowhere else
where local naturalists, or visitors for that
matter, could pass on their observations
to others.

Recent Publications
The last few decades have seen the
publication of a great deal of information
about Jamaica's plants and animals, much
of which is not widely known because
it is published in international scientific
journals and not locally referenced.
Works which are widely known and used
include Downer and Sutton's book Birds
of Jamaica (1990), Brown and Heineman's
book Jamaica and Its Butterflies (1972) and
C.D. Adams's book The Flowering Plants
of Jamaica (1972).

We have reflected for long enough
on the past and it is time to look at
the future. What do we see as our
mission or responsibility for the coming
century? My own perception is that
we must concentrate on completing
the documentation and inventory
of Jamaica's biodiversity so that we
know what it is we have and where it
is to be found, what is common, what
is rare, what is endangered. Such an
inventory must include not only the
plants and animals but also the habitats
in which they occur. The emphasis will
be on biological diversity, as rocks and
minerals are already well documented by
If we accept that as our initial
mission, what is it that we need to put
in place to fulfil our goal? First, we
must have people, trained naturalists,
and they must be sufficiently well
trained as naturalists that we can rely
on the veracity of their observations
and records. Who is going to instil into
young people the enthusiasm to learn
and participate in this endeavour? This is
particularly difficult when so much of the
population lives in urban surroundings
and not directly in contact with nature.
What is needed are dedicated and
enthusiastic teachers in the schools who
will do for this generation what was done
for my generation and the one before.
Get them young and they will propel
themselves after that. I am reminded
here of the story of Captain Scott of
the Antarctic. He was the first British
explorer to reach the South Pole, but on
the return journey to base camp the team
was overtaken by a blizzard. Eventually
matters became so desperate that they
had no hope for survival and Scott wrote
a last letter to his wife. Scott advised his
wife to take care of their only child, Peter,
and get him interested in natural history
- "It is better than playing games," he
said. The advice was taken and Peter
became one of the twentieth century's
greatest naturalists, and was a co-founder
of the World Wildlife Fund, now the
Worldwide Fund for Nature, to which
we owe many a debt for assistance in this
part of the world.

Educating Children
I am well aware that there are many
educational outreach programmes for
schools run by the Institute of Jamaica and
various non-governmental organizations.
Some of these were organised in a gush
of enthusiasm at the peak of concern
for environmental protection and
maybe aimed more at environmental
management than at nature study. One
of my concerns about this is that we
must be careful that, in our enthusiasm
for teaching about the environment, we
often fail to teach children what it is they
are protecting and what is the difference
between one tree and another. We need to
make sure that those who preach or teach
about the environment can identify its
components themselves.

The Need for Publications
Once we have a trained cadre of
naturalists, we have to make it possible
for them to report on their observations,
and this is where the publication of
the old Natural History Notes was so
important. For birds, this niche is being
filled today by the Broadsheet published by
Bird Life Jamaica. Sadly, the publication
Jamaica Naturalist is not filling the role
we need. It appears too irregularly, is too
grandiose and too expensive to produce.
We need a publication for general natural
history, similar to the Broadsheet, where
people can record their observations
and know that they will be published
quickly and that they will have been peer
reviewed by more experienced people,
and a place where they can read of what
sort of thing is being done by other

An Electronic Database
The third thing we need to have in
place is a good electronic database on
Jamaica's biodiversity, a site where
information on each plant and animal can
be stored and is accessible to accredited
naturalists. Jamaica is a signatory to the
International Biodiversity Convention
and, in agreement with the secretariat
for that convention, the Institute of
Jamaica Natural History Division is the
focal point for all matters to do with the
convention and in consequence is the
proper repository for any such database.
The division has already made a start

in creating a database, but it probably
needs to cast its net much wider to
capture information from less well-
known scientific publications. We need
to take steps to ensure that the division
is given sufficient resources to fulfil this
objective and create a first-class database.
This should become a truly national
facility managed in such a manner as to
respond first and foremost to the needs
of all naturalists in Jamaica. Furthermore,
the managers of the database should be
appraised of and have access to any other
smaller or narrowly focused databases
relating to Jamaica's biodiversity.

Reference Collections
In addition to a biodiversity database,
we need good reference collections of
specimens in museums or herbaria
for plants. Such collections make it
possible for naturalists to check their
identifications of any specimens they may
have collected in order to ensure that their
identifications are correct.
The Institute of Jamaica Act places
on the institute the responsibility of
being the national repository for all such
reference collections of Jamaican flora

This article is modified from an address given
in March 2000 to the Natural History Society
of Jamaica on the sixtieth anniversary of the
founding of the society.
A large number of people have provided
me with information and assistance during
the preparation of this paper and the original
address to the Natural History Society. I am
grateful to all of them for their assistance,
especially Dr Eric Garraway for providing
background information on the Natural
History Society, and also for providing, along
with Mrs Tracey Commock, assistance in
locating illustrative material for the paper.
I thank Mr Samuel Bandara and Mrs Joan
Vacianna for assistance in locating source
material in the library of the University of the
West Indies at Mona, Mr John Aarons and
Mrs Eppie Edwards at the National Library of
Jamaica for providing information about the
Taylor Manuscript, which is in the possession
of the National Library, and Mrs Valerie Facey
who kindly loaned me documents from her
own personal library. David Buisseret and
James Robertson both provided additional
information about John Taylor. In addition,
I express my gratitude to my wife, Charlotte
Goodbody, who diligently assisted in the
editing and processing of the final manuscript.

and fauna, and once again we must use
our influence to ensure that the institute
is given the resources to fulfil such a
mandate and can employ scientists
and specialists to manage the existing
collections and add to them as may seem
necessary. At the same time, we should
pursue the notion and pressure the
relevant ministry to have the status of
the Natural History Division upgraded
to that of a National Museum of Natural
History. If given, that status will make
it easier for scientists or naturalists in
other countries to understand what sort
of institution they are dealing with when
it comes to exchange of information or

Bibliography on CD-ROM
There is one final thing we need to
meet our main objective of creating an
inventory of our biota. We need a good
bibliography of literature relevant to
our fauna and flora. It needs to be in
electronic form, preferably available in
CD-ROM form, and providing listings
according to taxa, localities and perhaps
biology or habits, and so on. This would
be an expensive project, for which

Adams, C.D. Flowering Plants of Jamaica.
Kingston: University of the West Indies,
Barber, Lynn. The Heyday of Natural History
1820-1870. London: Jonathan Cape, 1980.
Brown, F.M., and B. Heineman. Jamaica and Its
Butterflies. London: E.W. Classey, 1972.
Browne, Patrick. The Civil and Natural History of
Jamaica. 2nd edition. London: B. White and
Son, 1789.
Directory of National Biography 1917, vol. 3.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917.
Downer, A., and R. Sutton. Birds of Jamaica:
A Photographic Field Guide. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Gosse, PH. The Birds of Jamaica. London: Van
Voorst, 1847.
A Naturalists' Sojourn in Jamaica.
London: Longmans, 1851.
Lack, David. Island Biology: Illustrated by the
Land Birds of Jamaica. Oxford: Blackwell
Scientific Publications, 1976.
Robertson, J. "Re-inventing the English
Conquest of Jamaica in the late Seventeenth
Century". English Historical Review 117
(2002): 813-39.
Sloane, Sir Hans. A Voyage to the Islands Madera,
Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica,
with the natural history of the herbs and trees,

external funding would have to be
sought, but would, when completed, be a
priceless asset and save researchers from
wasting time doing literature searches.

In concluding I will quote from what Sir
Roy Augier once said to the Historical
Society. I cannot quote him verbatim,
but can only recall the main substance
of his remark, that history is not just the
province of academic scholars, but there
are many amateurs interested in the
subject, who can and do contribute to the
sum of information.
Similarly in natural history, the
documentation of biodiversity is not just
the province of professional biologists,
but the amateur naturalist has much
to contribute. We need the Natural
History Society, which has contributed
significantly over the past sixty years to
the sum total of information. We must
set the tone for the future so that in the
year 2060 people can again look back and
say, "Well done, your achievements are
notable." 46

four-footed beasts,fishes, birds, insects reptiles
etc of the last of those islands to which is prefixed
an introduction wherein is an account of the
inhabitants, air, waters, diseases, trade etc of
that place, with some relations concerning the
neighboring continent and islands of America.
Illustrated with figures of the things described
which have not been heretofore. Engraved in
copper plates as big as life. 2 volumes. London:
Printed by BM for the author, 1707-25.
Sloanea. Occasional papers of the Natural
History Division of the Institute of Jamaica.
Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, 1977.
Stewart, D.B. Gosse's Jamaica 1844-45. Kingston:
Institute of Jamaica Publications, 1984.
Taylor, John. Multum in parvo or Taylor's historic
of his life and travels in America. 3 volumes.
Woodley, J.D. "Philip Gosse". Jamaica Journal 19
(1985): 29-31.

Rebel Voices




History evinces, that, in all ages, there has
been one set of persons uniting its efforts
to enslave mankind; and another set, to
oppose such attempts, and vindicate the
cause of freedom.

Edward Long, The History of Jamaica

This year marks the one hundred and
seventy-third anniversary of the outbreak
of arguably the most important anti-
slavery war in the British Caribbean. This
emancipation war, variously known
in Caribbean history as the "Christmas
Rebellion", the "Baptist War" or the "Sam
Sharpe Rebellion", was significant as it
represented the last of a long period of
enslaved opposition to the oppressive and
repressive system of slavery in Jamaica.
Enslaved radicalism was immanent on
plantations, pens, other rural properties
and urban locations in the British-
colonised Caribbean from the inception
of the slave mode of production in the
seventeenth century to the abolition
of slavery in 1834. The magnitude of
the 1831-32 rebellion in Jamaica was
reflected in the petitions and speeches
of several inhabitants of the island at the
time. For example, a petition of "certain
magistrates, &c of St George's" presented
to the Jamaica House of Assembly in
1832 described the rebellion as one
"unparalleled in the history of the colony,
whether for depth of design or the extent
of misery and ruin which it has entailed
on the inhabitants".' Indeed, it was one
of the two great enslaved-led rebellions
that occurred in the Caribbean in the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the
other was the Sainte Domingue revolt
of 1791 that led to the overthrow of the
plantation system and the subsequent
independence of Haiti in 1804.
The significance of such anti-slavery
activism in ending the system of slavery
is now widely acknowledged within the
historiography. From the perspective of

most scholars of slave resistance studies,
the enslaved people played a fundamental
role in effecting their own liberation from
the brutal, white European-imposed
slave system in the Caribbean.2 Within
this context, the 1831-32 emancipation
war in Jamaica is regarded as the event
that forced the legislative machinery
in Britain to call a halt to the system of
slavery. The economic damage and social
instability caused by the anti-slavery
actions of the enslaved, combined with
the humanitarian struggle and the
impact of the free trade lobby within
the context of a declining Caribbean
plantation economy and an
industrialising Britain, are y
now acknowledged as
powerful factors
in the passing /
of the .

Emancipation Act by the British
government in 1833. The enslaved in
Jamaica sent a final signal in 1831-32 that
if emancipation would not come from
above, it would come from below. The
British government responded to this
Therefore, even though some
historians, such as Mary Turner, refer to
the 1831-32 emancipation war in Jamaica
as "unsuccessful" and a "failure",4
perhaps because it did not achieve the
specific and short-term objectives of the
rebels, it can still be said to have achieved
some level of success as it had an
impact on the economics
of slavery in


hastened emancipation. With an
estimated one thousand enslaved men
and women killed during and after the
rebellion, the island lost a large number
of valuable labourers. This was at a time
when the natural increase of the enslaved
population was minimal and further
importations illegal. With a declining
labour force and the threat of more social
instability if slavery were not abolished,
the rebellion represented a warning to
British legislators that they would fail to
act at their peril. Linton, an enslaved man
involved in the rebellion, had warned
from his prison cell in Savanna-la-Mar:
"I tell you again, if the gentlemen do not
keep a good look out, the Negroes will
begin this business in three or four years,
for they think the Lord and the King have
given them the gift, and because those
who were joined in this business [the
rebellion] were all sworn."5
Several scholars have already devoted
their research efforts to the detailed study
of the causes, course and consequences of
the 1831-32 emancipation war in Jamaica,
and this article does not intend to repeat
those ample studies,6 though we have
made use of them as we rehearse and
summarise the main outlines of the event
in an attempt to set the context for the
voices to be included here. The article's
main rationale is that while published
accounts of the rebellion have made use
of the available testimonies and trial
evidence of those who participated in
the rebellion, whether as rebels or as
repressors, such 'voices' have appeared
mainly in summary form. This article,
the first in a series, wishes to present
the entire testimonies and trial evidence
available in order to hear from the rebels
and other participants themselves,
thus giving readers a source that can
supplement the edited accounts of
In so doing, the article hopes to
expose some of the more unfamiliar
voices of the rebellion; for while we
know a lot about Samuel Sharpe, the
acknowledged 'hero' of the rebellion, the
voices of the other leaders who assisted
Sharpe in the planning and execution
of the rebellion (some of whom should
also be accorded the role of heroes)
and the rank-and-file rebels are rarely
heard in the published accounts of the

rebellion. This is in keeping with the
trend in the Americas to link slave revolts
with an individual hero, giving rise to
the designations 'Bussa's Rebellion' in
Barbados, 'Tacky's Rebellion' in Jamaica
and 'Kofi's Rebellion' in Guyana.
Similarly, in the United States, Gabriel
Prosser, Nat Turner and Denmark Vessey
have been identified as heroes of three
nineteenth-century revolts.
This article does not set out to
contest or destabilise Sam Sharpe's role
as the principal conceptualiser of the
emancipation war in Jamaica. It seems
clear from all the documentation on
the event that Samuel Sharpe (1801-32)
was the main leader. This is despite the
important leadership roles played by
men such as George Taylor, who the
condemned prisoner Robert Morris
swore was "a greater man than Gardner,
Dove and M'Cail" and the one who
"recommended 'the thing', fighting for
The newspaper advertisement
announcing a reward for the capture
of Sharpe, along with Dove, Gardner
and Robert Johnson, described Sharpe
as "General Ruler Samuel Sharpe ...
alias Daddie Ruler Sharpe ... director
of the whole and styled also, Preacher
to the rebels".' The article's standpoint,
however, is that this revolt like all the
others noted in Caribbean history could
not have proceeded without Sharpe's
co-conspirators and the rank-and-file
men and women who died in the cause
of Caribbean freedom. Their voices and
stories need to be told.
The confessions, testimonies and trial
evidence presented here are not of course
unaffected by the intervention of scribes
missionary, military or court personnel
who may be said to have ventriloquised
the voices of those giving testimony. The
problems and pitfalls of ventriloquising
the black experience have, of course, been
widely discussed. Nevertheless, sceptical
as we may be about their authenticity
and the source of their authority, these
ventriloquised 'voices' may allow us to
make some progress towards discovering
what the enslaved thought about their
conditions and about their participation
in this revolt, the organisational
leadership and the suppression, slavery
as an institution, their own enslavement,

slave society in general, the behaviour
of their enslavers, and the project of
Another drawback of the voices
presented here, especially from the
perspective of those interested in
recovering enslaved women's voices, is
that they are overwhelmingly male.10 This
is despite what we know about women's
participation in this particular revolt. For
example, Bernard Senior has provided
ample evidence of 'rebel women' in his
account of the course of the 1831-32
rebellion." The punishment list for the
parish of St Elizabeth alone, representing
the court martial trials, indicates that
twenty-five women were tried, of whom
three were punished by deportation
("transportation for life").12 Michael
Craton has also noted that on an all-island
level, seventy-five females, two of whom
were executed, were tried in civil courts
or courts martial in 1832."But this relative
absence of women's voices reflects the
general trend in the published accounts
labelled 'slave narratives'. Apart from the
contested narrative of Mary Prince," and
the letters of Dolly Newton and Jenny
Lane," few other 'first-person' accounts of
enslaved women have been uncovered for
the British-colonised Caribbean.'6
The benefit of these 'voices' also
is that they will add to the already
vast literature about enslaved people's
participation in all forms of resistance,
armed revolts as well as day-to-day
non-violent acts of non-cooperation.17
They are even more valuable as finding
enslaved men's and women's own
(written) views about slavery is a difficult
task. Admittedly, we have available to
us texts generated by enslaved peoples
in the Caribbean; for the enslaved
not only fought back but wrote and
spoke back as part of an ontological
positioning with colonialism that placed
slavery under their literary gaze, thus
contributing greatly to the broad-based
Atlantic anti-slavery literature. The
enslaved understood and critiqued
the dominant European scientific and
intellectual dogma on the subject of
race and slavery and contributed to
a counter-discourse that defeated the
enslavers' claim that they were beneath
and indifferent to the intellectual
discourses that surrounded them.

Despite the endemic anti-intellectual
culture bred by slavery, many Africans
wrote important treatises, dictated
autobiographical accounts, presented
critical oral testimony to commissions of
inquiry, and made arrangements for the
recording and publication of a wide body
of opinions which form an important
part of the Caribbean literary tradition.
Their views on slavery, for the most part,
offer a counter-discourse to the racist and
sexist assumptions of male writers such
as Thomas Thistlewood, Edward Long,
Thomas Atwood and Cynric Williams,
and the racist, elitist representations of
women such as Maria Nugent and A.C.
Carmichael. "

The 1831-32 rebellion of enslaved people
and their free supporters in Jamaica,
arguably the largest of its kind in the
British-colonised Caribbean, started on
the night of Tuesday 27 December 1831,
"at the close of the Christmas holidays ...
which afterwards extended to portions of
the adjoining parishes; and in other parts
of the island alarming symptoms of
disorder also appeared", according to the
governor.9 On that night, an enslaved
man, John Dunbar, set fire to Kensington
Pen in the parish of St James. The torching
of this property, situated at a high
elevation, was intended to send a signal
to rebels on other properties to join the
protest. Indeed, from the data available, it
would seem that the chief organizers had
numbered these properties in the order in
which fires of rebellion were to be lit.
Thus Kensington was number one, Blue
Hole Estate, two and Leogan, three. The
proprietor of Kensington, John Henry
Morris, also a lieutenant in the troop of
the parish of St James, barely escaped the
This extract from the testimony of
William Binham indicates the enslaved's
reasons for revolt: "The Baptists all
believe that they are to be freed; they
say the Lord and the King have given
them free, but the white gentlemen in
Jamaica keep it back; they said if they
did not fight for freedom they would
never get it. I heard them all say this."20
John Henry Morris echoed this reason
when questioned after the suppression:

"My opinion of the cause of the rebellion
is, that it proceeded from the mistaken
idea of the slaves that they were free,
and from the proceedings of the British
Sharpe's chief co-conspirators in this
emancipation war were George Taylor,
John Tharpe, Thomas Dove, Robert
Gardner, George Guthrie, Ramsay, Robert
Johnston (of Reading Pen), Johnson (of
Retrieve Estate), M'Lennan, Plummer
and Campbell. Some accounts also list
'Captain' Duhaney and Angus M'Cail
among the main leaders. These men,
virtually themselves leaders of particular
revolutionary zones or 'cells', were
not 'ordinary' enslaved men either,
but members of what historians have
termed the 'slave elite'. The governor of
Jamaica confirmed this when he told the
members of the council and assembly on
Wednesday 28 February 1832 that

it is a remarkable feature in these
transactions, and worthy of particular
and attentive consideration, that the
leaders and chief promoters of this
insurrection appear to have been
almost exclusively composed of
persons employed in confidential
situations on the properties to which
they belonged, and no doubt can
remain that, by their influence and
example, the slaves were encouraged
to perpetrate the crimes in which they
have been so involved.22

For example, George Taylor was a
head saddler in Montego Bay belonging
to one William Boyd; Gardner was the
head waggoner at Greenwich Estate;
Campbell was a carpenter on York Estate;
and John Tharpe a "doctor man" at
Membership in this 'elite', along
with Christianity, learned and practised
in the Baptist churches in St James,
Westmoreland and Hanover, united them
ideologically. Sharpe had no large base of
supporters, as Cooper's Hill was a small
property of about ten enslaved people,
so he had to recruit widely and appoint
sub-leaders in different cells in western
Jamaica. Taylor, for example, is said to
have had leadership of the people in
cell 12, comprising people at Hermitage,
Belvedere and other contiguous
properties; Tharpe operated out of

Hazelymph; Gardner made Greenwich
his operational headquarters; and Dove
was based at Belvidere. The enslaved
man called Plummer was head of cell 18.24
Other groups are said to have operated
out of Chestercastle, York and Ducketts.
Each leader had a particular responsibility
and a different area of expertise. Senior
claims that Gardner took charge of the
military side of things while Sharpe
focused on morale building and religious
encouragement in the camp at Greenwich
- Gardner's hideout. He bound his
'leaders', 'colonels', 'lieutenant colonels'
and 'captains' to secrecy and support by
letting them swear an oath on the Bible.
The revolutionary plan laid down
by Sharpe and his assistant leaders was
that after the Christmas holidays, when
the call for work resumption came, the
enslaved were to demand the rights of
free workers wages and to strike
en masse if the enslavers refused their
demand. This was a legitimate strategy
given the declining slave population, the
end of the slave trade and the declining
plantation economy. But they also had a
back-up plan for armed revolt if there was
any attempt by the plantocracy to force
blacks back to work as enslaved people
after the Christmas holidays.
When the rumour came that the
whites were planning to break the
strike on the Salt Spring Estate in St
James, the plan to bur the properties
was set in motion. It was swift and
uncompromising. The Rev. Hope
Waddell, writing about the burning of
the estates a few years later, stated that
most nights, "the sky towards the interior
was illumined by unwonted glares ...
as the fires rose here and there in rapid
succession. Soon the reflections were
in clusters, [and] then the sky became a
sheet of flame, as if the whole country had
become a vast furnace."25 In the end, the
torching of the estates set off the rebellion
prematurely before the mass strike action
could take effect.
The rebellion lasted from 27
December 1831 to the end of January 1832,
involved close to sixty thousand men
and women, the majority enslaved, from
three hundred plantations, pens, rural
settlements and urban holdings, and not
only engulfed the parish of St James but
also spread to Trelawny, Westmoreland,

Hanover, Manchester, St Elizabeth and as
far away from the centre of the rebellion
as Portland, St Thomas-in-the-Vale and
St Thomas-in-the-East.2' Once started, the
rebellion continued on its violent path
until more violently suppressed by the
British military forces.
The majority of those on the front
lines were male, but the unwavering
support of enslaved women was no
less evident. Bernard Senior, himself a
soldier during the rebellion, recounted
the many instances when the militia
encountered women who were acting
as decoys, lookouts, cooks or water
carriers.2 Implied in Senior's accounts
is the fundamental point that enslaved
women, like their menfolk, formed the
core of resistance activities in the 1832
uprising an important point that is

often neglected by contemporary studies
on the Christmas Rebellion which
ascribes footnote treatment to women's

When it was all over, the cost in lives and
property was horrendous, and so was the
brutality of the suppression. Damage to
property (which was calculated to include
the loss of enslaved people through
death, imprisonment or transportation)
was estimated at over 1,154,589. The
damage totalled 425,818.15 in St James,
47,092.0 in Westmoreland, 22,146.9.7
in St Elizabeth, 4,960.7.6 in Trelawny,
46,270.0 in Manchester, 772.10.0 in
Portland and 1,280.0 in St Thomas-in-
the-East.2 Most of the 'losses' suffered
by proprietors in the latter parish was

due to the loss of twelve valuable slaves
who died in the rebellion. Friendship
Estate was the only property to suffer
damage the trash house having been
torched. The extent of the damage to
landed property reflected the fact that the
enslaved targeted the most prosperous
part of the island, bringing great damage
to the sugar industry in particular, the
raison d'itre of slavery in Jamaica.29
Barry Higman has shown that while
the majority of enslaved people did not
labour on the sugar estates in the 1830s,
sugar and its by-products accounted for
76 per cent of Jamaica's exports in 1832.?
The punishment of the rebels was
savage. The colonial army and the
paramilitary forces unleashed a 'reign
of terror' on the rebels. The arbitrary
hanging of enslaved people, mostly men,
and the burning of their property were
wide-scale. There was no mechanism
in place to distinguish insurgents from
'law-abiding slaves' caught up in the war;
and execution was based on phenotype
affinity. The local militia groups shot
many of the rebels on sight before the
authorities could even institute the trials.
Based on the official estimates (it
could be more based on the actions of the
local regiments) some 619 rebels were
killed 307 in open rebellion and some
312 executed by the slave courts and the
courts martial." Kamau Brathwaite puts
the figure killed in open rebellion even
higher, estimating that over one thousand
enslaved people had been shot or killed
by other means during the rebellion.32 By
contrast, only fourteen whites were killed,
with twelve having been wounded.3
The official records also indicate that
three free coloured men were killed and
two wounded in the armed struggle.
Fourteen free people were also tried
and convicted for their role in the revolt
(including a white man, a Mr Ellery,
and persons described as 'brown').3
According to Craton's account, of those
executed, 28 per cent were shot and 72 per
cent hanged. Others were transported,
whipped and/or imprisoned, and some
must have died from their wounds.
Governor Belmore was quite aware that
the punishments for many were out of
proportion to the'crimes' committed, but
he defended the horrendous punishments
ordered thus:

I regret to state, that in suppressing
this most calamitous rebellion many
slaves have perished in the field, and
numbers have been executed after
trial, but the audacity of the rebels
was so great, that striking examples
were found indispensably necessary,
for mistaken lenity [leniency] would
have only operated as an indirect
encouragement to the disaffected to
persevere in their lawless designs."3

A significant number of confessions, trial
evidence and interviews of those who
were involved in one way or another in
the events of 1831-32 in Jamaica have
survived.36 In this article, we feature
the voices of some of those who were
identified as the 'leaders' of the rebellion
and some of those who, while not among
the principal leaders, were caught up in
the rebellion for one reason or another:
Samuel Cunningham, Edward Morrice,
Charles Haughton, Thomas Dove, Robert
Gardner, Daniel Malcolm, Richard
Lewis and Linton. Their confessions,
depositions/testimonies are important:
not only do they give a glimpse into
the role these men played (wittingly or
unwittingly) in the rebellion but they
provide key evidence relating to the
names of the leaders and captains, the
'elite' status of the planners, the role of the

Native Baptist Church in providing the
rebels with a ideology of liberation, the
status and colour of the rebels and their
supporters, and the property affiliation
of the rebels. Clearly, coffee estates and
pens were as involved as sugar estates.
These confessions and testimonies also
provide evidence into the organisation of
the rebellion, the chain of command and
the link between local and metropolitan
anti-slavery activities. Above all, the
majority of these testimonies reinforce
the huge role that both Sharpe and
George Taylor played in the rebellion.
The trial testimonies of those who gave
evidence against Samuel Sharpe and the
voices of other rebels will be featured in
subsequent articles.

APRIL 1832

January 1832
1: Confession of Samuel Cunningham, a
Baptist Deacon, under Sentence of Death, 5
January 1832 [to Rev. John M'Intyre who
indicated that "these are, as nearly as possible,
the words used by the prisoner in answer to
the questions written"].

Q: The extent of the conspiracy?
A: Believes it to be confined to this parish;
but remarks, liberty is sweet, and if the
rebellion is not speedily checked it will

Q: How long organised?
A: Has heard of it for a long time; cannot
say how long. Heard that the King would
give them their freedom at the New Year;
was told by some of his people that a
white man, bookkeeper, had read this
to them; but does not believe that it was
a bookkeeper; cannot tell who it was.
Baptist people on the mountains said
when Mr Burchell went off that he had
gone to procure their freedom; cannot
tell who told them so; never heard Mr
Burchell himself say so; has often heard
Mr Burchell say he was sorry there was
slavery in the country, as slaves could
not come and serve God as they wished,
but instead, must go and work for their
masters. Never heard of their going to
get freedom till a short time before Mr
Burchell left the country, but has heard
much of it since, as it was generally said
he had gone to get it for them.
Q: Names of their rulers or captains?
A: Has heard one of them named
Johnson, belonging to Retrieve, has been
killed at Montpelier. Another is named
Robert Gardner, a Baptist leader; can read;
belongs to Greenwich. Another is named
Robert Johnston; belongs to Reading
Pen; is a Baptist. These are captains or
Q: Their ultimate object?
A: Thinks there is no occasion for any one
to ask that question; thinks it sufficiently
shown by their destroying their masters'


10h. j14, I.,

property and houses, and taking so
much care of their own.
Q: What other object should they have but
to take the country to themselves?
A: Has frequently heard Robert
Gardner say, "They must fight for their

Considers their greatest strength to be in the
neighbourhood of Hazelymph, Putney, Seven
Rivers, Belvidere, Greenwich.

February 1832
2: Confession of Edward Morrice, Prisoner
in the Savanna-la-Mar Gaol, 1 February
1832 [to Rev. Thomas Stewart and Samuel

I know George Taylor; he lives at
Montego Bay, is a saddler, and a
head leader in the Baptist church.
He baptised me and John Davis. He
baptised my brother Robert Morrice
before he baptised me. Whenever
Colonel Gardner is going to do any
thing, he goes or sends to consult
George Taylor. Gardner does not do
any thing without consulting George
Taylor. I heard Colonel Gardner and my
brother Robert Morrice very often say that
Daddy George Taylor set them on in the
rebellion, and told them what they were
to do, but I never had an opportunity to
hear Taylor say so himself. We always
call Taylor and Gardner Daddy Taylor
and Daddy Gardner. Whenever anything
was to be done in our side, Daddy
Taylor always first sent word to Colonel
Gardner, then Gardner would tell Angus
M'Cail, who would tell my brother Robert
to see it done. I consider Daddy Taylor
the ruler and head man. I was left alone
with my mother and sister, and Charles
Morrice during the war, by my master's
people. My brother, John Davis, Edmund
Spence, and others, notwithstanding all
my advice, never came near master's
property, but kept themselves the whole
time with Captain Angus M'Cail's party.

3: Charles Haughton, Prisoner, 1 February
1832 [to Samuel Spence and Rev. Thomas

... also says that George Taylor is the
head leader. Whenever Colonel Gardner
wants to do anything, he goes and asks
George Taylor. Gardner is under Taylor.

Head Quarters, Montego Bay,
"January 2, 1832.
Negroes I
"You have taken up arms against your masters,
and have burnt and plundered their dwellings. Some
wicked persons have told you that the King has
made you free, and that your masters withhold your
freedom from you. In the name of the King, I
come among you, to tell you that you have been
misled. I bring with me numerous forces to punish
the guilty, and all, who are found with the rebels,
shall be put to death without mercy. You cannot
resist the King's troops. Surrender yourselves and beg
that your crimes may be pardoned. All who yield
themselves up at any military post immediately, pro-
vided they are not principals and chiefs in the
burnings that have been committed, will receive His
Majesty's gracious pardon; all who hold out will meet
with certain death.
"Major-General Conmanding.'

During this servile campaign, the negroes
manifested a degree of military science that
was, in many instances, surprising. Ambus-
cades were not unfrequently laid-bridges
broken down-and roads rendered impassable,
by dhatis and trenches, to prevent pursuit, or
to destroy (onMuunicatioln blet\vcrn the dillerent
divisions of the armyn Tlihen -'\ m of warlifre

John Davies and Edward Morris know
about Taylor, if they would speak.

4: Confession of Thomas Dove, Prisoner in
the Savanna-la-Mar Gaol, 11 February 1832
[to Rev. Daniel Fidler and repeated in the
presence of Rev. Thomas Stewart].

[Confessed] that Samuel Sharpe was
leader of the whole of the negroes at the
commencement of the rebellion, and the
only instigator, as far as he knows. Samuel
Sharpe told the negroes that their freedom
was given them since last March, that he
(Sharpe) had read it so in the newspapers;
but that unless they fought for it they
would not get it. The negroes believed all
that Samuel Sharpe said to them, because
he, being born and brought up on the
Bay, was intelligent and could read; and
besides was head leader at the Baptist
Church, and always attended there,
and the negroes considered that what
Sharpe told them when he came to the
mountains must be true, as it came from
their church. The negroes were always
led to believe that the King would give
no assistance to the white people, if they
(the negroes) fought for their freedom.
When the prisoner went to Montego Bay

Sir Willoughby C. Cotton, Proclamation in
1832 Rebellion. Source: National Library of

on Christmas Day, he asked George
Taylor if the report was true, that they
(negroes) were going to fight for their
freedom? George Taylor said that he
had heard so from Samuel Sharpe
but he (Taylor) was of the opinion
they should wait; but, he added,
Sharpe says we must not wait, as
all the negroes are put on their oath.
This oath obliges them to rebel, and
not to flinch till they had succeeded
in getting their freedom. George
Taylor was the last of the Baptist
leaders who came up to Belvidere.
George Guthrie, of Barneyside, was
the second in advice. After service
at the Baptist chapel on Christmas
Day, George Guthrie, Robert Gardner,
James Gardner, Thomas Goodin,
of Greenwich, William James, of
Duckett's, and Charles Campbell,
of York, met together at Guthrie's
house to dine. Before dinner they took
some wine, when Guthrie said "I hope we
shall overcome Little Breeches" (meaning
Colonel Grignon) "for he has said that
before Jamaica shall be free, he (Colonel
Grignon) will lose every drop of his
blood." John Tharp, of Hazelymph, told
Thomas Dove, the prisoner, that he got his
gun and pistol from a white man at Lethe,
who had shewed them how to make ball-
The prisoner was at the fight at
Montpelier, but at no other; he had
then a machete. Johnson, the captain,
belonging to Retrieve, was killed on the
spot; Charles Campbell, of York, next in
command, died of his wounds next day,
three others were wounded.
The prisoner states that he was never
punished in his life, had nothing to make
him unhappy, and was entirely led away
by the Baptist leaders.

5: Confession of Robert Gardner, alias Colonel
Gardner, in the Savanna-la-Mar Gaol, 11
February 1832 [to Rev. Thomas Stewart].

The whole business of the rebellion was
settled upon in Montego Bay. I have
often heard the thing spoken of in a

casual manner before Christmas, but
I never placed "much heeding to it."
- The first time I heard that the time
was fixed, and the thing determined
upon, was in Christmas at Montego Bay.
It was determined upon after we had
been to morning prayers at our chapel
(Baptist) there. General Samuel Sharpe,
belonging to Mr Gray; Taylor, to Mr Boyd,
the saddler; Johnston, to Retrieve, who
was afterwards killed in the battle at
Montpelier; Guthrie, to Colonel Grignon.
Dove, to Belvidere; Tharp, to
Hazelymph; myself, and some others of
the head people were present; General
Sharpe spoke first. He said, the thing
is now determined upon, no time is to
be lost, the King of England and "the
Parliament" have given Jamaica freedom,
and as it is held back by the whites we
must at once take it. The King sent the
law since March last, and it has been held
back by the whites; rise at once and take
it. Sharpe kept on talking in this way,
which roused us, and made us nearly
mad. At last he stopped; and I said,
Sharpe, I do not like this business at all,
let us "done away with it". Sharpe then
became very furious, and said, what is to
become of all the men I have sworn then,
"they might as well obey me, as to die
from not doing so". George Duncan also
said he did not like the business. Guthrie
then said the thing must be done, and was
very violent.
Guthrie then invited us to take
"potluck" with him at three o'clock at his
room in Montego Bay. We went, Guthrie
then commenced talking of the thing
again. He asked us what we would drink?
We said wine; he filled our glasses, and
then took up his and said, "In a few days
may we get our rights, and may 'Little
Breeches' (that being the name Colonel
Grignon was called by amongst us), and
the other gentlemen who oppose us, lay
under our feet." I would not drink the
toast, and declared that I would have
nothing to say to it, which Duncan, an
old carpenter belonging to Hazelymph,
can prove. They then laughed at me and
drank the toast. Taylor also said, "let us
not spill a drop of blood; if we do, it will
bring a prosecution upon our church (the
Baptist)." Guthrie then said, "I will be
up on Tuesday to Bameyside, and I will
be on your side on Wednesday, meaning

Portrait of Sir Willoughby Cotton, January 1842

Greenwich, &c.; I will put the first ball
in the man (meaning Colonel Grignon).
The matter was then talked over again.
- Sharpe was the head planner, and
mentioned how every thing was to be
done, and that he had sworn all the
people under him. We then separated; I
went home to Greenwich.
A few days previous to Christmas
had been sent with a cart from Greenwich
by my overseer to a neighboring estate
to bring over a puncheon of rum for the
negroes at Christmas. When I came home,
Dehany told me that General Sharpe
had sent a person to me, who was very
anxious to see me. I heard no more of
Sharpe until we all met on Christmas Day
at chapel in Montego Bay. After we all
separated on Christmas Day at George
Guthrie's I returned, as I before said, to
my own home, Greenwich.
On Tuesday night after Christmas
Day Sharpe sent a great number of men
for me to command, and to urge the
others in the neighbourhood to join.
I heard the "multitude" coming, and
although at supper I got up and slipped
out at my back door, because I knew what
they were coming for, and wished to have
nothing to do with it. I waited concealed a
long time, but being hungry, and finding
that the men would not go away without
seeing me I returned into my house. They
then all surrounded me, and said that
Sharpe had sent them to me to command,
that I was to take them and all the people

fir, N:
- JU

in that district as "a force" to go against
Westmoreland and Hanover. They said
that Sharpe desired them to tell me, that
he had "a multitude" of people under his
command: that they consisted of all the
people in St James's and part of Trelawny,
extending up to Chesterfield, Ginger-Hill,
&c.; that he would command in person;
that the thing was determined upon, and
that it must be begun at once.
I was overruled and went to
Hazelymph, I heard General Sharpe's
army coming; they were wild, furious,
blowing shells, and making a very great
shouting. That night the business was all
talked over there. It was then determined
to commence at once by setting fire
to Hazelymph: the trash-house was
accordingly set on fire, but being very
wet the trash would not bum; it was fired
three times, but would not catch. A man
named Blake, belonging to the property,
made a great resistance to the place being
set on fire, but he was soon compelled
to be quiet; when it was found that they
could not set the trash-house on fire, a
regiment of Sharpe's, under the command
of Captain Johnston, rushed immediately
to Belvidere, and I presently saw it in
flames. Different regiments were then
detached to different places, and the work
began everywhere.
I declare, however, that I entreated
them to burn no place; I told them the best
way to do would be this; on Wednesday,
the day the negroes were expected to
turn out to their work, they should every
one go peaceably into the high road near
Montpelier (Gravel-Hill), and wait there
until they should see some respectable
gentleman travelling by; they should then
ask if it was really true that they were
freed from Christmas; if the gentleman
should say no, they were to return to their
work, if he said yes, they were of course
to do no work. This was my advice, for
we heard so much from newspapers and
people talking that we did not know what
to believe or do. The negroes, however,
would not take my advice, but said if
they went into the road as I told them the
white people would come and slaughter
Oh, sir, if I had any good friend to
tell me the real truth as I now find it to
be, I never would have been brought to
this; I feel that I deserve all that I now

suffer, and I feel it more from the kind
manner in which all the white gentlemen
have treated me since I gave myself up. I
particularly ordered the negroes to take
no man's life. I was at Cow Park, on the
hill, when the militia surprised us. I was
tired and hungry, and had fallen asleep,
when I was wakened towards morning
by the firing of the militia. I fled. We left
some of our arms behind us. I did not go
into the cave. From that time we never
tallied. The men were scattered, and are
now wandering about in small parties. I
saw from a hill to which I retreated after
the Cow Park business that the negroes
were returning to their duty, and at work
on the estates. I saw therefore that it was
quite useless to remain out any longer.
I would then have come in, but I was
afraid to do so. I would have come in ten
days before I did if I had not been afraid
to do so. A few days before I gave myself
up I fell in with Dove, who had been
separated from me. We both thought it
better to come in, as it was quite useless
to stay in the woods and starve. Dehany
fell in by accident with us in the woods,
and told us that the militia officer, M'Neil,
commanding at Greenwich, appeared
to be treating those who came in very
mildly. I told him we wished to deliver
ourselves up. He said we had better do
so. We agreed at once to go in, and asked
if he would take us to M'Neil. He said he
would. Accordingly we went at once with
him. When we got as near to M'Neil's
camp as a little more than the length of
this gaol-yard, but which we could not
see, because of a turning between us and
the camp, Dehany said "I will leave you
here, and go and call M'Neil." Shortly
after M'Neil came up to us, he offered us
his hand, and by his own offer we walked
arm and arm with him.
I never sent to make any agreement
with M'Neil as to what was to be done
with Dove and myself. I never sent to
tell him to come unarmed to us. We gave
ourselves up of our own accord, because
we could not stay out any longer in the

Rev. Thomas Stewart's Cross-Examination of
Colonel Gardner, 11 February 1832:

Q: Were you sworn to secrecy in this business,
and if so, by whom?

A: Samuel Sharpe swore every man all
round, from the parish of St James, part of
Trelawny, part of St Elizabeth, Hanover,
and the upper part of Westmoreland. I
was not sworn, neither was Dove. The
oath was, that every man should fight and
do his utmost to drive the white and free
people out of Jamaica; if they succeeded,
a governor was to be appointed to each
Q: Was Samuel Sharpe the only ruler; if so,
how did he get that appointment?
A: At first, Samuel Sharpe was the only
ruler. He was in the habit of going two
or three times a week to Montego Bay,
and must have got his appointment
there. He can read, and used to read
the newspapers, and hear the people
talk at the Bay, he would then bring up
all the news, and spread it among the
negroes; sometimes he would bring the
newspapers from the Bay, and read them
to the negroes. There is a man named
Tharp, belonging to Hazelymph, who is
a great ruler; he is a very dangerous man
to this country if the white gentlemen
want to keep peace. George Guthrie is
also another; they should both be taken at
once. There is another named Ramsay.
Q: Were there no whites or free people
concerned in the rebellion?
A: Excepting Alfred Smith, I know of no
other; there may be and perhaps there
are, but I cannot speak from my own
knowledge. I heard Tharp, of Hazelymph,
say that a white man at Lethe taught the
negroes how to cut the road, and to make
Q: Are the leaders of the several Baptist
classes the head engaged among the slaves in
the rebellion?
A: The most of the captains are leaders of
classes in our church; the duty of leaders
is to go round to the estates belonging to
our church, and to see how the negroes
are getting on, and to report the same to
the minister.
Q: If you were not directed by some white
or other person besides Samuel Sharpe,
what encouraged you to listen to this
A: I declare upon my dying words
that I firmly believed that the negroes
were free by order of the King and the
Parliament (those are the words used by
Gardner himself); I heard that the order

came out in March last. I believed that
we were freed, because I have read in
the newspapers, and heard other people
read, that the people in England wished
it, and were on our side. Samuel Sharpe
read a newspaper to me and to several
others, in which it said that the people
in England met together to make us free,
and that they said we must fight for it,
and they would stand by and help us
on. After this Samuel Sharpe brought
another newspaper, in which we read
that the gentlemen in Parliament were
speaking on our side, and saying that we
ought to be set free at once. This gave us
great encouragement, especially when
we saw that neither the King nor any one
in the Parliament said no it was not to be
given to us. We went down to Montego
Bay and heard the same thing there. Our
chief place for meeting and consulting
was always Montego Bay. We did not
think that the King's soldiers or sailors
would fight against us. I even heard that
the King had taken away the governor
some weeks ago, and that the country
was left to ourselves; and that Colonel
Williams, who is master of plenty of
slaves, was joining in keeping back our
freedom, and to get himself made the
governor down this side. I also thought
that other gentlemen who were in other
parts, and had plenty of slaves, were
doing as Colonel Williams was trying to
do. Samuel Sharpe often told us that God
never intended us to be slaves; that we
had but one master, Jesus Christ, to obey,
and that we could not serve Christ and
our master at the same time.
I have always been treated by the
different overseers and attorneys of
Greenwich, to which I belong, with great
confidence. Until this business I never
had a charge laid against me. If Dove and
I were to be stripped, our skins would be
found as smooth as any white man's, for
we have never been flogged.

Stewart: Upon questioning Gardner again
respecting Smith, the impression on my mind
was that Tharp had forcibly detained him,
and compelled him to make cartridges, &c.
Gardner's words were, "Tharp told me he
had taken up a white man at Lethe." I said,
"Tharp, if you have, you have done a very bad

March 1832
6: Deposition of Daniel Malcolm, Ramble Pen,
Hanover, March 1832.

When we were sworn in at Haughton
Grove gate pasture, Richard Trail was
there from Shuttlewood; he had a gun,
and said if we did not take the oath he
would shoot us; Thomas Haughton,
belonging to Shuttlewood, was there, and
had a large Bible, both acted as headmen;
Andrew Llewellin, from Silver Grove,
was there, and John Martin also, both had

7: Deposition of Richard Lewis, Ramble Pen,
Hanover, March 1832.

[Says that] Richard Trail and Thomas
Haughton, slaves belonging to
Shuttlewood, mustered a large body of
negroes by Haughton Grove Cattle-pen;
a good many
negroes from
Ramble Pen, all
men; a great many
from Alexandria,
all men; nearly the
whole of Silver-
Grove, negro men;
Richard Trail had
a gun and Thomas
Haughton a large
Bible; the negroes o,
were drawn up i
in a line, which
extended from
Haughton Grove
Cattle-pen to the
farm; Thomas
Haughton administered an oath to each
man on the Bible, that they would fight
against the white people as long as there
was one of them left in the country;
Richard Trail accompanied Haughton
along the line with his musket cocked,
and swore that if any man refused to take
the oath he would blow his brains out.

8: Confession of Linton, Prisoner in Savanna-
la-Mar Gaol, under Sentence of Death, March
1832 (to Rev. Thomas Stewart).

I have been led into this business. I
thought it was a good business from what
I was told, and I put my hand and heart
to it. Besides, if I had not joined in the
business with a willing mind, the others
would have been "more than me", and

forced me, for what can a man do against
"a multitude". You, sir, M'Kinley, and I
are shut up in this room if we two chose
it, could we not this minute take your
life; and if we were to do it, we could not
suffer more for it than we are now going
to do. No, sir; bad advice bad advice!
This business has been providing
for more than two or three years, even
as far back as the Argyle war. Every year
since, at Christmas or October, we were to
begin, but were afraid "to jump off" until
this year. We were very near beginning
it either in last March or in last October.
There are a great many people concerned
in this business; but I will not speak of
the chief heads, excepting Gardner and
Sharpe. If I chose, I could tell a great deal
about this business; but as I am going to
die, let it all go with me. I do not like to
speak of "Gardner's friend's Trumps".

"Attack of the Rebels on the Old Works of the
Montpelier Estate". Lithograph by Adolph Duperly,
Kingston, Jamaica, 1833.

If he and they escape justice here, they
cannot escape it in the day of judgment.
If I had been sentenced to transportation
or flogging, perhaps I might have told
more than what people think for; but if
I do so now, people will say that I did so
because I was afraid to die, and because
I knew that I could not be present [alive]
to prove it. I will tell this only. We were
all sworn upon the Bible to do our best
to drive the white and free people out
of this country. The head people among
all of us negroes were then to divide the
states among us, and to work them with
the common negroes, who were not to get

their freedom, but work as they do now. I
might as well tell the truth, though. They
would have had bad treatment from us.
We could not treat them as white people
now treat them. We would have been
obliged to rule them hard to keep them
But this is nothing. We all believed
this freedom business from what we
were told, and from what we heard in the
newspapers that the people in England
were speaking up very bold for us. We
all thought the King was upon our side.
Gardner constantly kept telling us that
he and the other head people had been
told that the King had given orders to
his soldiers here not to fight against us,
and that he was sending out powder and
arms, and that the governor was to go
away and leave the country to us.
In about three or four years the
negroes will break
out again, for they
can't help believing
that the King has
given them freedom,
especially as they
hear so much about
it from newspapers.
Those who can't
read always give a
five pence to anyone
who can to read
the papers to them
when they hear they
contain good news
for them. Besides
this, our religion
says we can't serve
two masters, but must only serve Jesus
Christ. I tell you again, if the gentlemen
don't keep a good look-out, the negroes
will begin this business in three or four
years, for they think the Lord and the
King have given them the gift, and
because those who were joined in this
business are all sworn. I will not tell any
more. If you wish to know, go and ask
Gardner and his friends that advise him.
You can't do anything to us, sir; therefore
please to order our feet back in irons. I
have been very happy, and now look at
what I am come to. +

To be continued in the next volume of Jamaica

This article is an initiative of the Text and
Testimony Collective (TTC), a project
associated with the Institute of Caribbean
Studies, University of the West Indies, Mona,
the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the
African Diaspora, York University, Canada
and the Principal's Office, University of the
West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. Professor
Shepherd is the coordinator of the TTC. Ahmed
Reid is a research assistant with the TTC.

All illustrations courtesy of the National Library
of Jamaica.

1. Jamaica Archives, Jamaica House of
Assembly Votes, 2 March 1832, 15.
2. See Michael Craton, Testing the Chains:
Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982);
Michael Craton, "Proto-Peasant Revolts?
The Late Slave Rebellions in the British
West Indies, 1816-32", Past and Present
85 (1979): 99-125; Michael Craton, "Slave
Culture, Resistance and the Achievement
of Emancipation in the British West Indies,
1783-1838", in Slavery and British Society,
1776-1846, ed. James Walvin (London:
Palgrave Macmillan, 1982), 100-122;
Hilary Beckles, "The 200 Years War: Slave
Resistance in the British West Indies: An
Overview of the Historiography", Jamaica
Historical Review 12 (1982): 1-10; Hilary
Beckles, "Caribbean Anti-Slavery: The
Self-Liberation Ethos of Enslaved Blacks",
in Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World,
ed. Verene Shepherd and Hilary Beckles
(Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2000),
869-78; Hilary Beckles, "Emancipation
by War or Law? Wilberforce and the 1816
Barbados Slave Rebellion", in Abolition
and Its Aftermath: The Historical Context,
1790-1916, ed. David Richardson (London:
Frank Cass, 1985), 80-105; Richard Hart,
Slaves Who Abolished Slavery, vol. 1, Blacks
in Bondage (Kingston: Institute of Social
and Economic Research, 1980) and vol. 2,
Blacks in Rebellion (Kingston: Institute of
Social and Economic Research, 1985).
3. See Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, 1944), 208.
4. Mary Turner, Slaves and Missionaries: The
Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society,
1787-1834 (Kingston: The Press, University
of the West Indies, 1998), 148.
5. CO 137/185, "Voluntary Confession of
Linton, a prisoner in Savanna-la-Mar gaol,
under sentence of death", March 1832.
Thomas Stewart, Rector of Westmoreland
recorded the evidence.
6. These include Beckles, "The 200 Years
War"; Craton, Testing the Chains; Hart,
Slaves Who Abolished Slavery, vols. 1 and
2; C.S. Reid, Samuel Sharpe: From Slave
to National Hero (Kingston: Bustamante
Institute of Public and International
Affairs, 1988); Turner, Slaves and
Missionaries; and Kamau Brathwaite,
Wars of Respect: Nanny, Sam Sharpe and the
Struggle for People's Liberation (Kingston:
Agency for Public Information, 1977).
7. Jamaica Journal will publish these

testimonies over the next six issues.
8. CO 137/185, confession of Robert Morris, 1
February 1832.
9. Reid, Samuel Sharpe, 54.
10. See, for example, Paul Edwards (ed.),
The Life of Olaudah Equiano (London:
Longmans, 1988); Esteban Montejo,
The Autobiography of a Runaway Slave,
ed. Miguel Barnet (London: Macmillan
Caribbean, 1993). For a discussion of some
of these texts, see Shepherd and Beckles,
Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World,
11. Bernard Senior, Jamaica As It Was, As It Is
and As It May Be (London: T. Hurst, 1835),
12. CO 137/185, Courts Martial, St Elizabeth,
Folios 629-30.
13. Craton, Testing the Chains, 315.
14. For a discussion of this narrative, see Mary
Prince, The History of Mary Prince: A West
Indian Slave Related by Herself, ed. Moira
Ferguson (1831; London: Pandora Press,
15. See Hilary Beckles, Natural Rebels: A Social
History of Enslaved Black Women in Barbados
(London: Zed Books, 1989).
16. We have more access to the voices of the
other major group of exploited female
labourers in the Caribbean, indentured
Indian women (also part of the focus of the
Text and Testimony Collective), through
their letters and reports to commissions
of enquiry. See, for example, Verene A.
Shepherd, "Poverty, Exploitation and
Agency among Indian Settlers in Jamaica:
evidence from Twentieth-Century Letters",
Journal of Caribbean Studies 14, nos. 1 and
2 (1999-2000): 93-115; and Verene A.
Shepherd, Maharani's Misery: Narratives
of a Passage from India to the Caribbean
(Kingston: University of the West Indies
Press, 2002).
17. For evidence of enslaved women's anti-
slavery activities see Lucille Mathurin
Mair, The Rebel Woman in the British West
Indies during Slavery (Kingston: Institute of
Jamaica, 1975); Hilary Beckles, Centering
Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean
Slave Society (Kingston: Ian Randle
Publishers, 1999); Beckles, Natural Rebels;
Barbara Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean
Society, 1650-1832 (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1989); Verene A.
Shepherd, Bridget Brereton and Barbara
Bailey (eds.), Engendering History: Caribbean
Women in Historical Perspective (Kingston:
Ian Randle Publishers, 1995); and Verene
A. Shepherd (ed. and comp.), Women in
Caribbean History (Kingston: Ian Randle
Publishers, 1999).
18. The Journals of Thomas Thistlewood,
Lincolnshire Record Office, England;
Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, 3
vols. (London, 1774); Thomas Atwood, The
History of the Island of Dominica, containing
a Description of its Situation, Extent, Climate,
Mountains, Rivers, Natural Productions,
etc. (London: Frank Cass, 1971); Cynric
Williams, A Tour Through the Island of
Jamaica: from the western to the eastern
end, in the year 1823 (London: Printed for
Hunt and Clarke by C.H. Reynell, 1826);
Maria Nugent, Lady Nugent's Journal of
her Residence in Jamaica from 1801 to 1805,

ed. Philip Wright (Kingston: University
of the West Indies Press, 2002); and A.C.
Carmichael, Domestic Manners and Social
Conditions of the White, Coloured and Negro
Population of the West Indies, 2 vols. (New
York: Negro University Press, 1969).
19. Jamaica Archives, 21/3/179, Jamaica
House of Assembly Votes, February-April
1832, 2.
20. CO 137/185, "Confession of William
Binham, a prisoner under sentence of
death", 19 January 1832.
21. Jamaica House of Assembly Votes,
February-April 1832.
22. Ibid.
23. CO 137/185, "Confession of William
24. CO 137/185, "Declaration of James Fray,
prisoner in the Savanna-la-Mar gaol", 1
February 1832.
25. Quoted in Craton, Testing the Chains, 303.
26. Ibid., 291. See also CO 137/185.
27. Senior, Jamaica As It Was, 210-17.
28. Jamaica Archives, Document 21/3 (194),
Appendix 18, "Returns of Losses Sustained
by the Rebellion", Jamaica House of
Assembly Votes, 1832.
29. Richard Sheridan "The West Indies Sugar
Crisis and British Slave Emancipation",
Journal of Economic History 21 (1961):
30. B.W. Higman, Slave Population and Economy
in Jamaica, 1807-1834 (Kingston: The Press,
University of the West Indies, 1995), 12-13.
31. Turner, Slaves and Missionaries, 161.
32. Brathwaite, Wars of Respect, 28.
33. CO 137/185, "A return of the number of
white persons wounded and killed in the
late revolt in Jamaica".
34. CO 137/185, "A return of every freeman
tried and convicted, thereof, distinguishing
in separate columns".
35. Jamaica House of Assembly Votes, 28
February 1832, 3.
36. These are taken from Jamaica House
of Assembly Votes, 1832; CO 137/181,
"Papers Relating to Slave Insurrection,
Jamaica"; and CO 137/182, "The King
Against Sam Sharpe".

Kingston's Historic Landmarks

A Mute Witness



The greatest glory of a building ...
is in its Age, and in that deeper sense
of voicefulness, of stern watching,
of mysterious sympathy, nay, even
of approval or condemnation, which
we feel in walls that have long since
been washed by the passing waves of
humanity. It is in their lasting witness
against men, in their quiet contrast
with the transitional character of all
things, in the strength which, through
the lapse of seasons and times, and
the decline and birth of dynasties,
and the changing face of the earth,
and of the limits of the sea, maintains
its sculptural shapeliness for a time
insuperable, connects forgotten and
following ages with each other, and
half constitutes the identity, as it
concentrates the sympathy, of nations:
it is in that golden stain of time, that
we are to look for the real light, and
colour, and preciousness of architecture

The old Half Way Tree Courthouse holds
a prominent position at one of Kingston's
busiest intersections. It is also a classic
example of Georgian architecture that has
survived in the face of rapid commercial
development and modem architectural
movements. The courthouse is a unique
structure that has withstood the ravages
of time, the elements and socio-political
change, and it survives today as a witness
to almost two centuries of Kingston's
The intrinsic value of the courthouse,
however, is found both in the quality and
style of its architecture and in the historic
importance attached to it as testimony of
Jamaica's colonial past. The prominent
position held by this building in Jamaica's
history has earned it recognition as a
national monument.
The structure now referred to as
the old Half Way Tree Courthouse is
located beside the St Andrew Parish

completed either in 1807 or January 1808.
Its earliest recorded mention is found in
minutes of the Vestry (parish committee)
that, in January 1808, appointed a
committee to inspect the newly completed
structure. Here it is important to note that
the new courthouse apparently replaced
an older structure, the actual location of
which has been reported as having been
"in fairly close proximity to the parish
church".' An earlier Vestry committee had
recommended, in February 1806, that a
new building be constructed.
The records of the Vestry committee
in 1808 show that the construction of
the courthouse had been "executed in a
workmanlike manner and according to
agreement"2 and, further, that "a window
on the north wall was to be closed up
and two doors were to be added, one
being originally another window".3 The
committee later recommended that "the
lower piazza of the New Court House be

The first full detailed description of
the new structure in the Vestry minutes

the body of the house built of brick
... forty feet long by twenty-two feet
in the clear with a piazza all round
ten feet wide upon wooden columns.
The foundation ... two bricks and a
half thick, and raised two feet above
the ground: the walls of the lower
storey ... two bricks thick, and eleven
feet high, and the upper storey ...
twelve feet in height and one brick
and a half thick.5

With the construction of the new
building, the older structure was disposed
of, and in 1810 the Vestry "ordered that
the old courthouse be sold at public
outcry ... and the materials to be
removed by the purchaser".' Interestingly
enough, the structure was sold to "the
highest and best bidder", who turned out
to be none other than the commissioner
of the courthouse, for a princely sum of
Ever since its construction, the
building has undergone several
alterations, the result of a series of
natural disasters. It has also suffered the
recurring problem of a lack of adequate
maintenance, an all too familiar scenario
visited upon Jamaica's public buildings.
In October 1815, it suffered from
storm damage that had been widespread
throughout the parish, and by 1834 it had
fallen into disrepair. The Vestry appointed
another committee to "examine the
court house and appraise a person
to draw up specifications and
advertise for tender"." In 1837,
SI 20 was allocated for the

purpose of fitting up the room below
the courthouse,' and later 27 for sundry
carpenters, masons and painters for work
The upstairs courtrooms were
renovated in 1854 at a time when the
Courts of Quarter Sessions had ceased
to function. Agreement was also reached
on planned changes to improve the
ventilation at Petty Sessions. The changes
included the installation of a substitute
platform and the removal of the jury box.
The western side of the courthouse had
also been boarded up "so as to prevent
the flooring from being destroyed by the
Four years later, in 1858, a decision
was reached that the eastern and south
sides of the courthouse should be
enclosed as was the western side. The
proposed work included the removal of
one pair of sash windows (containing
twelve panes of glass) and four spaces of
blinds between columns and pilasters,
a cornice, the portico over the landing-
steps, and two turned columns. Other
changes included the cutting out of one of
the window frames and the installation of
an arch to correspond with the one on the
eastern side. The roof was to be covered
with galvanised iron (under shingle) and
tin gutters were also to be installed.12
The Parish Vestry met at the Half Way
Tree Courthouse until 2 April 1867, when
it was succeeded by the new Municipal
Board which first sat in June of that year.
However, the courthouse remained
the venue for the Municipal Board's
Reform of the island's administrative
and judicial services, prompted by
Governor Sir John Peter Grant (Laws
35-39 of 1867), made provision for the
"establishment of District Courts with
courts in the parish of St Andrew falling
under the jurisdiction of the Kingston
District Court".' Accordingly, the
physical infrastructure of the courthouse
underwent repairs between 1869 and 1870
at a cost of 55. In 1880 a storm tore the
roof off the courthouse and some 60 was
spent on those repairs in 1882. Thomas
Carpenter Smith, while on his trek in
Jamaica in 1901, provided a brief but rare
outsider's comment on the state of the
structure when he wrote in his journal,
quaintly titled Three Weeks in Jamaica or

What I Don't Know About The Tropics, that
"the Court House ... is not changed and
was draped in black for the Queen as
indeed were all the public buildings in
Incredibly, after suffering repeatedly
from storm damage, the courthouse
withstood the massive 14 January
1907 earthquake that did considerable
damage to Kingston and St Andrew. On
1 February 1907, at a special meeting
of the Municipal Board (held under the
chairmanship of the Honourable
J. Robert Love), the director of public
works certified the building as being
"perfectly safe for occupation".
Changes in the use and function
of the courthouse were as eventful as
the changes inside the building. As
the courthouse underwent physical
transformation, so too did the activities
that were conducted within its
walls. Apart from Governor Grant's
administrative and judicial reforms, court
cases were transferred to the Kingston
Courthouse between 1880 and 1882, and
by 1883 court hearings and Petty Sessions
were being held at the Half Way Tree
Courthouse. Freed blacks and coloureds
went to the courthouse to secure
certificates of freedom, realized through
their manumission, while certificates of
relief of taxes could be acquired there as
well. The building also served as a venue
for meetings, and in 1839 the Vestry gave
permission to the Agricultural Society to
use the lower courthouse for its meetings.
All court sessions ceased in the Half
Way Tree Courthouse when in 1920
the Resident Magistrates Court was
constructed on Maxfield Avenue, and
other changes came in the use of the
building. In the early years of the Second
World War, the building was used by the
imperial censors, and on 12 December
1941 the Institute of Jamaica established
its second Junior Centre there (paying a
token rental amounting to one shilling per
year). The Junior Centre was a haven for
children and young adults who received
skills training (knitting and sewing) and
were sensitised to the arts through music,
drama and dance classes. Unfortunately,
the Junior Centre eventually closed its
doors in 1985 because the old courthouse
had fallen into a state of disrepair.
Nonetheless, like the phoenix, the Junior

Centre reopened on 3 December 2002.
The acclaimed National Dance
Theatre Company, under the
stewardship of Rex Nettleford, also
held classes at the courthouse for
several years. And, although
it seemed to be becoming a
centre for creative and artistic
expression, the courthouse
still carried on a weekly
juvenile court.
For almost two
hundred years, the
courthouse has been
a silent witness to
the interaction
of a colonised

1?' "

and the laws of the coloniser. As it
weathered time, it witnessed the
development of an ever more expressive
and assertive culture, evident in the
emergence of such controversial figures
as the charismatic Alexander Bedward,
whose religious doctrine was viewed by
the authorities as seditious and who was
tried at the Half Way Tree Courthouse.
The courthouse was cited for
preservation and restoration in 1957 and
it was listed by the Jamaica National
Heritage Trust Commission, now the
Jamaica National Heritage Trust, as a
historic monument.'4 Interestingly, at that
time the cost of restoration work was
estimated at J$15,000 and funds seemed
to have been hard to come by, as major
renovation work on the building could
only begin three years after, in 1960.
Although official recognition
had been given to the building,
it was not until 1985, a time
when the courthouse suffered
its worst period of disrepair,
that it was "published as
a National Monument
in the Jamaica Gazette"
on 14 November.' The
structure continued to
suffer from neglect
and vandalism and,
in the process,
its roof fell in,
marking its final
stages of decay.

Recognising the urgent need to
restore the building, the St Andrew
Parish Church petitioned for and
eventually, in an agreement reached with
the Jamaica National Heritage Trust,
assumed responsibility for the building.
In 1991 restoration work on the building
commenced once more. It was overseen
by the newly created Jamaica Historic
Buildings Trust Limited, which had as
its main aim the preservation of "fine
old buildings which might otherwise be
The 1991 restoration project is
the most significant and costly of the
courthouse's long history. Work was
undertaken after consultation among
the major stakeholders, including the
St Andrew Parish Church, the Jamaica
National Heritage Trust, the Ministry
of Education, Youth and Culture, and
the Office of the Prime Minister. The
restoration project also benefited from
the granting of tax-deductible status
facilitated by the Office of the Prime
Minister. This greatly assisted with the
overall financing of the restoration,
together with a successful appeal to
the public and from requests lodged to
individuals and interest groups.
The restoration project also benefited
from the assistance of professionals who
offered their services free of charge.
Notable among these are architects Ann
Hodges and David Harrison (former
head of the School of Architecture at
the University of Technology). It was at
Mr Harrison's request that students of
the School of Architecture undertook to
produce drawings of the building.
Other persons who were intimately
involved with the restoration project
include Mr John Redwood, John
Redwood and Co.; Mr Errol Alberga,
Alberga Graham Jamaica; Dr Vin
Lawrence, jentech; Mr Maurice Stoppi,
Stoppi, Cairney, Bloomfield; and Miss
Sonia Jones, honourable secretary of the
Jamaica Bar Association. Later, corporate
entities such as Esso Standard Oil, the
then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation
and even the army became involved with
the restoration project. Mr Hugh Dunphy
of the Bolivar Art Gallery in Kingston
coordinated the restoration. Interestingly,
it was Mr Dunphy who contacted artist
Heather Sutherland-Wade to produce

drawings of the courthouse. These
drawings were featured prominently in
publications generated by the project
committee, including the pamphlet An
Appeal to Save a Major Piece of Jamaica's
History and the poster "The Old Court
House, Half Way Tree: A Landmark for
Yet raising money for the restoration
of the old, dilapidated building was no
easy task: worsening economic times,
creeping inflation and a weakening in
the value of the local currency affected
restoration costs, which were estimated
to be in the region of J$1,000,000'7 in 1988
and which soon skyrocketed. Indeed, it
is reported that by 1994 some J$2,000,000
had been spent on repairs with remaining
costs estimated at some J$120,000.' The
problem with gaining adequate financing
is underscored by the length of time that
eventually spanned the period trom the
initial conception of the renovation work
in 1988 to its completion in 1994.
Marcia Bowen, writing in the Sunday
Gleaner, spoke to the restoration stating,

After several years of a painstaking
process, the lower storey of the
beautifully imposing colonial
courthouse, situated in Half Way
Tree, has been restored to its former
glory.... New bathrooms have been
installed, the staircase rebuilt, the
lower flooring has been restained and
banister rails and windows have been
replaced. The exterior walls have been

This is the first in a series of articles on
Kingston's historic landmarks, launched to
commemorate te two-hundredth anniversary
of the birth of the city of Kingston.
The Jamaica Journal invites submissions
to this series on Kingston and to our broader
series on Jamaicas historic landmarks.

All photos Mark Steven Weinberger.

1. Extracted from M. Curtin, "The Half Way-
Tree Court House", part 1, 26 January 1987,
1. Curtin's research centred on extracts
from the St Andrew Vestry Minutes
1801-31. The research complemented an
initiative to restore the Half Way Tree
Courthouse in 1991.
2. St Andrew Vestry Minutes 1801-31, folios
38 and 39.

re-painted and grained with a special kind
of sand obtained from Lime Cay with the
permission and assistance of the Jamaica
Defence Force."

Further work was completed by March 1994,
including the complete repair of the roof and
the rebuilding of the main staircase.
Today, the old Half Way Tree Courthouse
stands, though not so splendid as its
history. Its stance masks a sometimes
turbulent and eventful past. When
next you see it, take a long
look at a structure that has
witnessed almost two
centuries of Kingston
life. o+

3. Curtin, "The Half Way-Tree Court House", 1.
4. St Andrew Vestry Minutes 1801-31, folio 35.
5. Ibid., folio 20.
6. Ibid., folio 59.
7. Ibid., folio 60.
8. St Andrew Vestry Minutes 1832-38, folio
9. Ibid., folio 235.
10. Ibid., folio 265.
11. Ibid., folio 132.
12. St Andrew Vestry Minutes 1856-64, folio
13. Curtin, "The Halfway-Tree Court House",

part 3, 1.
14. See Laws of Jamaica no. 72, 1958.
15. Marcia Bowen, "A National Monument:
Old HWT Courthouse Shines Again",
Sunday Gleaner, 20 March 1994.
16. An Appeal to Save a Major Piece of Jamaica's
History [pamphlet] (Kingston: Halfway
Tree Court House Restoration Committee,
17. "Church or Court", Sunday Gleaner, 17 July
18. Bowen, "A National Monument".
19. Ibid.

Mad Fish

This really happened, I swear. I was
right there when Radio came rushing
up the hill from the fishing beach all
out of breath. Radio is our messenger
and he likes to be first with the news.
But everyone called him Radio not for
that reason but because of his serious
speech defect which made it difficult
to understand him at the best of times,

almost impossible when he was excited,
which was when he had fresh news to tell.
This caused him endless frustration for
by the time he'd calmed down enough to
make sense to Jeremy who was one of the
few persons who could understand him,
someone with a more agile tongue would
have arrived to reel off a version of the
story and cheat him out of the novelty of
telling. Not this time though. Jeremy and
I were about to have our first cup of coffee
when Radio burst into the dining room,
so excited he couldn't even get out words
that sounded like language, just strange

inhuman water-filled noises which were
wheezing out of him like a drowning
accordion. The only word we could make
out sounded like 'Fish'. He said that word
over and over, and he wanted us to come,
pointing to the beach. Why should a fish
on a fishing beach cause excitement? But
Radio was so urgent and insistent that we
left our coffee untouched and followed
him down the hill and across the road.
As we approached, everything on
the beach looked so normal, I started to
mentally curse Radio for pulling one of
his jokes on us, as he liked to do from


time to time, for Radio is sort of simple,
or so I used to think, though Jeremy
never agreed and now I'm not so sure. We
could see the fishermen and the higglers
standing about in little groups. There
were the usual idlers and mangy dogs
lurking and the old men sitting under the
Sea Almond where they played dominoes
all day. But as we got closer we realized
something was not right. The whole scene
was like a stage set with knots of people
standing around in tableaux, waiting for
the curtain to go up. Nobody was making
a sound and those who moved did so in
slow-motion as if in a dream. It was as
if each one had just received news that
a beloved person had died and was still
too shocked to take it in. Jeremy and I
walked up to the largest group which
was by the boats and nobody paid us
the slightest attention, amazingly, since
Jeremy is sort of the village squire and
people are always quick to greet him.
Now they were behaving as if we weren't
there, but not in a rude way; it was as if
they were too preoccupied with more
important business. But something made
us bite our tongues and say nothing too,
as if we had also fallen under a spell that
had gripped the entire beach for even the
sky which hadn't shown a cloud in nearly
a year of drought was suddenly turning
black and shadows were beginning to fall
on the white sand. I actually shivered.
Without exchanging a word between us
or with anyone else, Jeremy and I turned
and went home without a clue as to what
had happened. Once inside our house,
everything seemed so normal we went
back to having our breakfast, each of us
confident that others would arrive with
the tale before long.
But amazingly, no one came forward
to speak of what happened, that day or
any other. And when fragments of the
story did surface to corroborate what
Radio eventually told us, it was not at
all like the stories these people liked to
tell, augmented and ornamented and
embellished, built of up of versions over
time. This was utterly downplayed,
individual elements singled out and
spoken about only in terms of 'signs',
'tokens' and 'miracles' as if people were
not so much interested in the story as
narrative as in teasing out all the possible
permutations of meaning.

Still, those who were there might
eventually have come around to talking
and laughing about the episode, as these
people tend to do with everything else,
except for one or two elements. From
our fishing beach that day, four men in a
car with a fantastic fish had disappeared
not only around the bend in the road but
totally off the face of the earth. From the
minute they drove off, nothing was ever
seen or heard of them again. We know
this for a fact, for Jeremy's police friends
had also heard the story and could verify
that a lot of people had come looking for
the men, including their relatives. The
police would have been happy to find
them too, for other reasons, and set out to
do so. But all investigations had proven
fruitless. As soon as they drove off, the
men, the car, and the fish, had simply
There were other repercussions. Big
Jake, our most popular fisherman, never
went to sea again and spent his days
playing dominoes and drinking himself
into idiocy. Some said he had lost his
nerve, afraid of what he might catch,
IamL _

others that from the day he raised his
hand against his brothers, they had taken
over the boat and banished him from it.
It is also a fact that on the day of the so-
called Mad Fish the year-long drought
broke, though the day had dawned with
a cloudless sky and so people said for
I wasn't keeping count I was so sick of it
after a while rain fell for forty days and
forty nights.
But the most miraculous thing of all
is that after we returned home that day,
ate our breakfast, fed Radio and calmed

him down to that point where his speech
though rough would begin to make sense,
to our astonishment and without any
warning, he began to speak beautifully
and clearly, as if he had swallowed
mercury, and he has continued to speak
so ever since.
You won't believe what a change
these things have wrought around here,
everyone suddenly so sober and serious.
People have put all these happenings
together and taken them for signs and
wonders -'tokens' they call them of the
end of the world and such millennarian
rubbish. Radio is giving himself airs,
refusing to answer to 'Radio' and insisting
on being called by his rightful name of
Joshua. He's been given a message, he
says, a big announcement to make, but
he's being coy; he won't tell us what it is
until the time is ripe. Needless to say, we
are still waiting. A lot of people are taking
him seriously though. Now instead of
running our errands and helping around
the yard, he spends his time riding his
bicycle up and down and ringing his
bell, making himself all biblical and
apocalyptic, condescending to pop in
from time to time to regale us with the
latest news interspersed with wild talk
about Leviathans and fishing for souls.
I keep telling Jeremy it's time to get
rid of him, he's got perfectly useless,
but of course Jeremy won't hear of it.
He and Radio have been together since
they were boys and Jeremy, I suspect, has
always found him kind of amusing, as if
he provides the yeast for Jeremy's rather
dull soul. Plus, Jeremy is ever faithful and
loyal. That's the trouble with this country,
people ignore the big things and make
such a fuss over the little. I don't want to
think this, but I believe even Jeremy in his
heart of hearts is beginning to believe that
something world-shattering happened
that day. I keep my mouth shut, for
whenever I say anything, he rubs it in that
I'm not from here so I can't understand
the culture. What culture? I keep asking
myself. After fifteen years I should have
seen signs of it by now. I certainly don't
see any of it in Jeremy's other planter
friends and policeman drinking buddies
or the fishermen and higglers down
on the beach. Well, you can judge, for
here's the story as told by our little silver-
tongued Radio, a.k.a. Joshua, all acted

out, with many dramatic flourishes, if
you please (though for your sake I have
taken some care to render it into a closer
approximation of the English language
than Radio so far uses. I've also taken
some liberties to explain certain things in
a more sophisticated way than he did. But
I've tried to retain some of the colour and
flavour of how he told it, for that you'll
find amusing).

Picture this, says he. The fishing boat is
pulling up on the beach. Big Jake and
his brothers and all the little hangers-on
hauling on the net, fish spilling out like
quicksilver, leaping and spinning, one
last jerk and they lying unconscious and
silent, as fish suppose to be. But what's
this commotion over here? Something
jumping and moving as if a big animal
just leap off the boat. The first person to
get a good look scream and the next one
too, and after that, everybody dashing
around like mad-ants shrieking and
pointing. First the boys helping to pull in
the net, then the higglers waiting for the
catch. What a commotion! Big Jake and
the crew haul in this huge fish that is like
nothing nobody ever seen before. Gold
on top, silver on the bottom and all the
colours of the rainbow in-between.
Big Jake and the other fishermen stop
what they doing to get a good look at
the fish which by this time launch itself
out of the net and dancing around on
the ground. Everybody waiting to hear
the fishermen pronounce the name of
this fish, for they suppose to know every
creature in the sea. But when Big Jake
and the rest stand there for a long time
just scratching their heads and looking
like they lost, and people figure out that
even they don't know, the wailing and
the shrieking break out fresh again. You
have to understand, is not just the looks
of the fish for is not a bad-looking fish
at that. The problem is that the fish is
not behaving like how fish out of water
should behave. This fish not just moving,
it dancing. A-wiggling and a-moving its
tail and spinning and turning and wining,
its big body glistening and flashing in the
After a while, everybody quieten
down, we just standing there watching
this fish. Is like everybody suddenly
feeling fraid in the presence of this

mysterious creature that land up on our
beach. For who can tell if is call somebody
call it up, for it have people in these parts
can do them kind of thing. Then a man in
the crowd call out:
"Wait! Is a Dancehall Queen this."
Everybody laugh, like we get relief,
for that's just how the fish stay, like a
dancehall girl in her fancy dress and her
tight fish-tail sequins like scales, moving
her body to the latest wine. So little by
little people stop feeling frighten and start
making joke.
"Well," one man proclaim, "the only
fish I ever see live this long out of water is
Mud Fish."
"Is not Mud Fish this," another one
shout, "is Mad Fish!"
And is true, the fish acting like
it crazy; not like a lunatic but happy
and don't-care mad, like it drunk. And
somebody actually say the word 'drunk'
"the fish look like it drunk" and is
like the word set off something running
through people mind, for suddenly,
everything change, is like a cloud passing
over the sun, for somebody, I don't know
who, whisper the word, 'cocaine'. And
the word pass from mouth to ear until
everybody taking it up like a chorus. "The
fish drunk with the coke." Everybody
know what that mean.
"Coke!" Quick as a flash, the word
like a sword slashing at all of us. That
word making people jumpy for the whole
coast awash with story bout small plane
a drop parcel into sea so boat can pick it
up. That is okay, people don't business
with that. Is just that sometime the parcel
fall into the wrong place and end up
in the wrong hand and this is what
everybody getting excited bout. For
it come like a lottery now. Everybody
dreaming bout finding parcel and getting
rich overnight. Everybody know is dead
them dead if certain people find out. Up
and down the coast they hanging out
all kind of rumour on their clothes line.
Which fisherman can suddenly buy new
boat. Which boat disappear after the crew
pick up something. Which old lady find
parcel wash up on a beach and hide it
in her three-foot iron pot, till her house
suddenly burn down with her and her
three grandchildren lock up inside and no
sign of the iron pot in the ashes. Suddenly,
fishing taking on a whole new meaning;

fisherman dreaming of a different catch.
Well, Big Jake is one of them alright
for though up to now he in the middle
of the crowd laughing and joking bout
the fish (that still dancing like crazy), the
minute he hear the word 'coke', is like he
turn a different man. Quick as a snake,
Big Jake reach into the boat and haul out
him machete and start to lash out with it,
as if he suddenly gone crazier than the
"Stan back, all a unno from mi fish.
Stan back," he start shout.
But people already backing away for
his two eye looking wild and he leaping
about and swinging his machete left
and right. Everybody looking at him in
shock for never mind his size, Big Jake is
normally the most peaceful man around.
By now, is like Big Jake and the fish
together in a ring, surrounded by the
crowd, with all eyes on Big Jake. But is
like I can't take my eyes off the fish, for
I seeing it quietly moving round in the
circle till it come right to where I standing
and it stop, just like that, and it lift up its
head and it look straight at me. I swear.
I can see that it not looking too well just
now, tired like, as if the life draining out
of it, the colours fading away. And is like
the fish calling to me, calling me without
voice as if is the two of us alone in the
whole wide world. Like it pulling me
down towards it. And I can't help myself,
I feeling sorrowful for the fish that just
sitting there on the sand for I feeling the
life going out of it as if is a part of myself
leaving me. I bend down and reach out
my hand to touch the scales and as I
bending down, a drop of my sweat fall
right on top of the fish and I swear, is like
electricity, the fish jump as if it suddenly
get life all over again and it look at me,
directly at me, and is like it sucking me
in I swear I black-out for a minute there
for I don't remember nothing more. When
I come back to myself I see the fish reach
clear to the other side of the circle, leaping
and jumping and dancing, its colours
bright and dazzling like it just come out
of the water.
All this happen so fast that nobody
notice; everybody still watching Big Jake.
But I feel my finger tingling and when
I look I see a little drop of blood, as if I
prick myself on the fish, and I don't even
think, I put the finger in my mouth. I

don't have time to worry about doing
something like that after I touch the mad
fish, for Big Jake brethren Ernie and Ray
take up their machete too and the three
of them circling one another with their
weapon now, arguing over is who own
the fish. You see my trial? The three of
them fishing together from the same boat
from them born, it belong to their father
before he die, and never an argument
about who own what fish till somebody
mention coke. This is where it reach: the
three of them circling one other, getting
more and more rile up, and people just
watching and nobody doing or saying
nothing. The whole thing looking so
serious to me, that is when I decide to
come and get you, Mass Jeremy, to see
if you can talk sense into these people,
otherwise is wholesale murder going to
happen right here in Whitesands Bay.
So I start push my way out of the
circle of people to reach the road and
by now, the crowd so big those at the
back don't even know what causing
the commotion up front, though plenty
rumour flying. You know how people
like to go on? One lot of people saying:
"Three fisherman drown." A woman
swearing: "Is whale them catch." Another
one say that fishing boat come back
with one missing at sea. A set of little
children jumping up and down saying
is a mermaid. One boy telling his friend
them that they catch a big fish that vomit
up dead body that starting to come back
to life and another saying no, what they
bring back is a fish that join together like
is Siamese twin. But all the way too, like
is a snake sliding underneath the joking
and the 1 i-1.;,- you could hear the
buzz, "Them catch the fish that swallow
the coke."
And just as I manage to reach
the road, laughing to myself at all the
foolishness people talking, this big black
car flash by with all the windows dark
and roll up so you can't see who inside.
Then, as the driver see the crowd, him
draw brake and stop, and back back right
down to where I standing. Ehh-he now, I
say to myself. Every window roll down
same time. Four of them in the car. Black
dark glasses. Nobody smiling. The people
standing by the road who see the play
pretend they don't see nothing but same
time you see them start to move, away

from the road and back to the sea,
and you can tell the word travelling.
The driver come out of the car and he
slam the door so he can lean against
it and fold him two arm across him
chest. "What a gwan?" he ask and you
can see him scanning everything with
him eyes. But everybody suddenly
turn dumb. Not a soul saying nothing
till the silence getting dangerous. "Is
something them catch, sar," one little
boy finally squeeze out, and you can
hear the shaking in him voice. Him
mother cuff him same time she drag
him in to hold him close to her body.
One of the men in the back seat of
the car lean out the window and take
him finger call to a young girl who
standing with a set of young girls who
can't stop look at the car.
"Nice Queen, what a go on?" he
ask her in this sweet-sweet voice. Well,
this little pikni so thrill to have a Don
calling to her she just forget herself
and make her mouth run weh. "Dem
find a fish that swallow coke. It don't
stop dance yet. Dem seh is Dancehall
Poppyshow! Is how this pikni stay
clear back here and know all that? By
this time she dying with laugh and
trying to step boldly to the car while
h : friendd them holding on to her skirt
to drag her back.
Well! You'd think these fellows
drill like soldier every day. For is like
with one movement, the three in the
car come out and slam the doors with
one slam: "Blam." The driver fall
in beside them. Four of them dress
in black from head to toe. Then like
they practise every move, the four of
them straighten them black suit and
them gold chain and them shades,
then line up two by two and step off
down the beach. The crowd part in
front of them like the Red Sea part
before Moses. People didn't even turn
to look, they just sense a deadly force
rolling towards them and they move
out of the way. I couldn't let this pass,
so I fall in behind the men to see the
They look neither to the right nor
to the left; they just march forward
through the parting crowd till they
reach the circle round the fishermen

who still quarrelling and making pass
with their machete. The four men just
stand there, arm fold across them chest,
just taking in the scene, not saying a
word. It take a little while for the brothers
to realise something happening, and as
each one of them turn and see the men
in black, his face change as if he seeing
duppy and everything just drain out of
him. Big Jake and his brothers just drop
their machete and freeze. Nobody move.
People look as if they not even breathing
as they watch the four men turn to study
the fish. They stand there looking at it for
a good long while, then they turn to look
at the one that is the big Don and he give
a little nod and the four of them bend
down one time to take hold of the fish.
Well, me not lying, is like the fish that
never stop moving from it come off the
boat been waiting for something like this,
for the four men don't have to struggle
with it too hard, is like the fish allowing
them to pick it up, for they manage
to hold on to it and lift it without any
trouble; the fish suddenly keeping quiet
except for a little trembling that running
through its body now and then.
Still without saying one word, the
four men carrying the fish march back the
way they come, straight to their car, the
silent crowd parting to let them through,
everybody pretending like they not seeing
nothing. I still following right behind
them, so I see when one of them drop his
side of the fish long enough to open the
trunk, and then the four of them struggle
to lift up the fish and throw it in. Then
they slam the trunk shut, dust off their
hands, straighten their clothes, get into
the car and drive away.

This is the end of Radio's narrative and
that is the last anyone ever saw of the car,
the men, or the fish, though people swear
that even before they moved off, the car
had started rocking from some mighty
power like thunder rolling around inside
the trunk.

Well, there you have it. Make of it what
vou will. Maybe you can even find some
Culture in it. All 1 know is, from the day
the Mad Fish came, Radio got voice and
attitude and it rained for a long, long
time. o


Thefollowing poems have been excerpted from
Everton Sylvester's collection Backyard in
Bed-Stuy (Portland, Oregon: First Books,
2002), with the author's permission.


Rental on mi tux
set me back big bucks but
it was Wendell wedding
Wendell is mi bonified brethren


It was a man voice


Mi blazing black patents
making hurried click-clicks
pon First Avenue payment

Sir, please

I thief a one glance
over mi right shoulder
to see who was sir-ing who
And mi eyes make four
with his two blue


The poem I'm about to read is still untitled
I hate titles
I wrote this poem when ...
Well, back then I used to have these
I was always being stifled
by a soft, perfumed hand
But I don't think the poem's really about that
And, anyway, me and my shrink have done
a lot of exploration into that issue
See, my father loved fishing
Went almost every weekend
Took my mother now and then
At least he used to
But that was before my cousin Bill
moved up from Arkansas to live with us
Actually, Bill had nothing to do with it
Mom just never enjoyed these damned
fishing expeditions


Him was shortish, kinda
Blue jacket collar
a slice the fat of the reddish neck
And to tell you truth
whenever man in a suit
call me "sir"
him is usually trying
to sell me something

Sir, please don't

The signal said DON'T WALK
So I figure him can go on talk
till the light change
But him face contort with contrition
Nervous right hand
a twist the left one

Sir, Sir please don't take it

Only thing I did want take
was a cab cross town to the church
And everyone know that a tuxedo
don't guarantee a black man a taxicab

They were just another of the sacrifices
she made
for the sake of marriage
Also, it was a sad period in my life
I was very attached to my dog Othello
When Othello ran away
my world pretty much crashed
Anyway, when my cousin appeared on our
-not that we were not expecting him-
it was still a very vexing thing
for me, an only child, seven years old
to have to share my room, my remote control
See, I'd never met Bill before
Grandfather left Little Rock in 1934
started a new family up here
had gone back only twice
As a result, my father grew up without
any real feelings of connection with
the South
And I grew up a Yankee

The light change WALK
And I a get ready to step

Don't take it how it's not intended, Sir
Please don't be offended
but I locked the keys in my car

Well I never did have time
to wait till him come out with it
So I start rummage through mi rented pocket
Poor guy just did need a quarter
to call a locksmith

No no, Sir
it's not money that I need
but could you show me
how to get into my car
so I can get the keys
please, Sir

with only a hazy awareness of smiling relatives
who live on old, black-and-white photographs
Now this might be taking you too deep
into my actual writing process
but this poem started out
as a soliloquy in a screenplay I was writing
And, as I was saying
back then I used to dream a lot
about suffocating
Would wake up sweating
heart pounding, hot
But I think I'm beginning to stray
So, anyway, the poem's quite short:

Fish is fish, whether caught or bought
That is what my mother thought


I rise each day
to yet another shock
from dis alarm-clock culture
And I miss di sound
of mi big red cock
as him beat him chest
and crow welcome song
to di sun
from di fowl-shit-covered
guava tree pon de hillside

And di snooze button allow me five minute
more to dream bout ackee and breadfruit
Den I get up and eat a bagel
and worry bout mi love handle

Six layers a clothes
and termal drawers
and I still cold
Another bridge mean more toll
And di golden rule
is alternate-side parking

But as de belly get fat
many tings bout Yard dat
used to be just a mere inconvenience
start to look like major incompetence


The taunt that haunts between mi ears
You shouldn't did take it
shouldn't did take it
did take it, take it
has not taken one day off since 1992
Friday, 13th November
the day I became a citizen
of the United States of America

After I gave correct answers
to her first seven rapid-fire questions
What are the three branches of government?
What's the Bill of Rights?
Who wrote Star-Spangled Banner-stuff
like that-
the INS officer said my final act
before being granted citizenship
was to write a sentence in English

Postage stamp-sized picture of Old Glory
rippled in the wind
on the side of the blue ballpoint pen
she handed me
I wrote Today is Friday

Unscheduled power cut
Water lock off
Bank pon short staff
cause the morning was a little bit rainy?

Few telephones
dat's just how it is
Yet everyone know
everyone else business

Well I live in mi building for five years now
and mi neighbours dem still don't know me
But solace come from anonymity
And every time I bite di apple
di apple swallow me

So dem force me to buy
a piece of the FBI-
CIA investment pie
And dem give me a W2
form in lieu
of a receipt
So now I'm funding a plot
to get God shot
or something like dat

She looked at mi sentence
then back at me
-You said you're a teacher?
-English teacher at that.
-And this is your best?
-It's complete. Has a subject, a predicate
a verb that agrees with the...

De Korean polish him apples dem clean
and arrange dem in stacks of red, gold
and green
Say him want Rasta to feel welcome, seen?

Still I yearn for di breeze
from di Natty Bay sea
as it cool down di sweat pon mi back
Long to feed dry coc'nut to mi cock

So I dilly
and I dally
and I wonder how much longer
I can philander
Cause each time I bite di apple
it swallow a piece of me
Still it hard to love di fruit
if I never did climb di tree

She gouged a ballpoint line through mi sentence
Stabbed the air in front of mi face
-Not good enough, I will tell you what to write
Write: I love the American way of life.

I looked at her suspended pen like, You can't force me to do that
She looked back like, Wanna become an American or not?
And I looked back like, Don't even try, I know my rights
Her eyes hissed, Try me

She shortened the distance between us
by leaning her chest against her side of the desk
top buttons on her too-tight uniform blouse
strained to stay attached
Against pressure from her double-Ds
Old Glory still aimed at mi left eye

I took the pen 0.

Book Reviews

By Erna Brodber
Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and
Economic Studies, 2003; Paperback, J$1,200,

Reviewed by Joe Pereira
There are times when delays in
publishing a manuscript help to distil
the value of it, separating out what
is ephemeral from what has lasting
significance. Erna Brodber's work has
undoubtedly stood the test of time.
Indeed, it has become even richer with
time by giving us research done a quarter-
century ago, enhancing the historical
value of the data since it brings to light
information and human dimensions that
go back fully a century.
Standing Tall: Affirmations of the
Jamaican Male adds to the all-too-meagre
body of knowledge of the realities of
Jamaican males. In his foreword to the
work, Barry Chevannes underscores the
difficulties in dismantling the stereotypes
S of the worthless and irresponsible male
in our society, pointing to the persistence
of the easy and negative assumptions
despite the empirical evidence of
researchers that contradicts that notion of
worthlessness of the male. Erna Brodber's

publication, consisting of twenty-four
testimonies of Jamaican males as told
to sensitive interviewers, reveals the
resourcefulness, commitment and
decency of the majority of the subjects of
that research project. It also gives a broad
representative geographic coverage across
the island, rural and urban, while the
variety of occupations and experiences
enriches the portrait of the society of that
now gone generation.
It may be argued that the interviewers
approached the task with a deliberate
slant that would affect the direction of
responses. Brodber advises that one of
the primary aims was "to look at what
Jamaicans in the past had considered to
be crucial problems and how they had
surmounted them". Clearly, questions
were asked that would help to focus
memory on areas of particular interest to
the researchers: for example, questions
on church, on family, on travel, on Africa.
The views of the interviewees were as
important as the actions they took to
transcend the limits that their society
sought to impose on them. As the title
sets out, the result is a series of actions
and a way of thinking that underscore
affirmation: affirmation of the human,
affirmation of the spirit to strive and
succeed, affirmation of self-worth.
The manuscript is sufficiently old
to benefit from a fine introduction by
the late economist George Beckford,
who speaks of the "economic warriors"
that the text portrays, and gives a
succinct socio-economic context to
these lives pitted against plantation
and colonial Jamaica. He foregrounds
the way in which these testimonies
reflect a struggle to secure resources, to
develop a socio-cultural space, many
times against significant odds. Beckford
appreciates that the economic struggle for
development needs also the psychological
sense of self, a spiritual solidity almost,
and analyses the way in which these
testimonies project that. He sees them
as evidence of the "remarkable struggle

for change and adaptation", and praises
the resourcefulness and technological
innovativeness that these males reflect.
He also recognizes their sense of
responsibility and community, manifest
in both the rural and the urban males.
But he also indicates the ways in which
post-plantation society undermines the
stability and social cohesiveness that is
the basis for a more cooperative economy
and culture.
There is a wealth of historical
information and insights here, as one
would expect from oral histories. The
interviewers have been able to elicit
insights into family life in particular,
where the male is unequivocally
concerned with his parental (and at times
filial) responsibility. There is the case of
Man-Boy with his twenty-one children
by two wives as well as his other natural
children, all of whom he can account
for, having taken responsibility for
them. There is also much information on
occupations, on housing, on daily life, on
issues of race and race relations that will
feed into our understanding of Jamaican
social history. It is clear that these men
saw themselves as providers and strove
to fulfil that role. Such gender roles are
revealed from time to time, with the
woman staying in the home while the
men work. In fact, one narrative speaks of
how a woman working in the field would
be considered a joke. While assistant
teachers were female, the head-teacher
was shown to be male.
In their search for material
advancement, it is remarkable how many
of these males migrated, whether from
one part of the island to another or to
other countries. Their chief destination
outside of Jamaica was Cuba, and there
are several interesting narratives of their
stay there. Not only do we get a sense of
work on the sugar estates, and of social
life, but we also get glimpses of the
influence of Marcus Garvey among the
migrant workers (for example, pp. 181-82).
We see how language differences did

not hold back these Jamaicans, just as
more recent ICIs (informal commercial
importers) have been able to traverse the
linguistic zones of the region to advance
themselves. These informants, of course,
returned to Jamaica, in many cases
bringing the benefit of that exposure to
other experiences.
Brodber has also been able to
record views of Africa and the days
of enslavement, for many were
received by the oral transmissions
from the respondents' parents or their
grandparents, whose memories would
certainly have stretched back to the first
half of the nineteenth century. Mass Levi,
speaking of what his grandparents used
to tell him of that past, laughs ironically at
the punishments including death. When
asked how he used to feel when he heard
those things, his response summarises
how an entire people cope with such
trauma and degradation: "Hi! How? You
no feel a bitter way for you consider it
all, till it wear out again" (p. 94). There
is also a recall of indentured African
grandparents in one account.


Maharani's Misery
Narratives of a Passage from India
to the Caribbean

k. '"" ~

By Verene Shepherd
University of the West Indies Press, 2003;
Paperback, J$850, 208pp.

As is to be expected, there is some
nostalgia for aspects of the past, not the
least of which is the sense of discipline.
Many a subject speaks of the harsh
measures taken by parents and adults
in general towards training the young,
and laments the current generation of
youngsters who to the old generation
seem out of control. However, one
informant philosophises: "My dear, as
an old man I have to mesh in with these
times, because I am sufficiently sensible
to know that great change has come, but
other than that it is a pain for really to fit
in this generation" (p. 99). Man-Boy, who
is speaking here, recognizes, like several
other informants, that material conditions
such as housing, clothing, daily work
and so on have improved, but the social
fabric is perceived as less cohesive in
contemporary Jamaica.
The language of some of the
narratives is a rich reflection of nation
language. Mass Levi's testimony is
perhaps the best gem of all in this regard,
not only in his fluency with the Jamaican
language but in his flair for humour.

Reviewed by Patrick Bryan
If we look at Maharani's Misery as a short
story, the plot is simple enough. A young
Indian girl, named Maharani, embarks
on the ship Allanshazo, one of 660 Indians
on their way to Guyana as indentured
workers. Maharani was one of twelve
passengers who never reached Guyana,
because sometime before the ship got
to the island of St Helena, Maharani
died, probably from the shock arising
from sexual assault by two members of
the crew. (The other deaths arose from
cerebro-spinal disorders.)
It is an unsolved mystery that
introduces several issues relating to
gender relations, sexuality, race and
ethnicity, the law, and justice. Above
all, it is a tragic comment on the human
condition. Such is the unchanging human
condition that although over one hundred
years separate us from the time that
Maharani boarded the Allanshaw, the
context within which she functioned has
not changed in a fundamental way.

Such is the level of Jamaican used that
the editors saw fit to translate four of
the accounts into Standard English as an
appendix. It reflects the way in which the
subjects are comfortable and eloquent in
their language, with full and unapologetic
self-acceptance as a measure of the
cultural certainty they live.
These accounts bear witness to
dignified lives, proud of their efforts
over the years to carve out a space
for themselves, denying the myths of
worthlessness and affirming the many
ways in which they would assert their
sense of self and manhood. Consider
Mass Levi's assertion: "We no have deh
as much fi do it so. We do it how we
can manage fi do it" (p. 93). Brodber's
work underscores the indomitability
of the Jamaican spirit, echoed in the
present by the current Wayne Marshall
hit, "Overcome". It is the richest
documentation to date of Jamaican male
struggles. What a loss it would have been
had not the research been undertaken
in the 1970s, had not the author seen it
through to publication. o

It is the business of the historian to
ask why these things happened, to seek
for the deep-seated causes of what, on
the surface of it, may seem to be a small
episode in the life of humanity. The broad
context in which the author places the
episode is the demand by the Caribbean
sugar plantations for cheap labour a
demand fed for over three centuries by
the African continent. With the victory
of the abolitionist movement by 1838 the
planters turned towards Asia towards
India and China. But the motivation
was the same: to continue to feed the
insatiable Atlantic economy.
Shepherd does not dwell on
the well-known economic reasons
for indentureship, but discusses the
movement of Indians to the Caribbean
within a historiographical context, and
within the context of gender. In the
historiographical context some authors
have viewed the Indian passage as
sufficiently reminiscent of the African
Middle Passage to dub indentureship

neo-slavery. Others have viewed
indentureship as a means of improvement
for thousands of the indentured people.
Shepherd correctly sees Maharani's Misery
as a contribution to that debate, though
the tone of the book I think leans strongly
towards the neo-slavery thesis.
In my view, Maharani's story is an
aspect of the marauding activities of
Europeans starting from the fifteenth
century, euphemistically called the
expansion of Europe, or the triumph
of Europe. That expansion brought in
its wake racial assumptions about non-
Europeans, assumptions that became
entrenched in Western philosophy.
Captain Wilson, Dr Hardwicke, the
able seamen who gave evidence at
both enquiries, the Indian witnesses,
the sirdars or sentinels, were all an
innocent part of a genocidal racism that
crossed the Atlantic consistently after the
sixteenth century. The assumption was
that civilisation rested in Europe, and the
Africans no less than the Chinese and
Indians fell short in that interpretation
- of civilised.
It is important to note that by the time
the Allanshaw sailed in 1885 there had
been important ideological adjustments
in Europe. For one thing, the abolitionists,
having secured their victory over African
slavery, found themselves out-flanked
by the newer imperialists who were
now ideologically buttressed by social
Darwinism, positivism and pseudo-
scientific racism.
In addition, the Indian Mutiny of
1847, the dimensions of which never
matched the horrors of European genocide
against coloured peoples, helped to
provoke new and vicious streaks in
imperialism. Maharani would not have
been in a position to understand that there
were linkages among the Indian Mutiny,
the Morant Bay Massacre in Jamaica, the
genocide against native Americans, and
her own hope for self-improvement by
crossing the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
Shepherd is conscious of the broader
economic issues, particularly the need
for labour for the plantations. These
plantations were but simple units in a
broader framework that made exploitation
of people on the basis of their race, and
their sex, a possibility. The author is aware
of the universalist implications of sexism.

However much the imperial agenda may
have facilitated it, sexism and sexual abuse
were universal phenomena that affected
women of all races. In the context of the
racial contract, however, coloured women
faced double jeopardy, the jeopardy of
being coloured and the jeopardy of being
The gender dimensions of the
Maharani story may well have been
affected by myths about Indian women's
sexuality and by myths about female
sexuality in general. There was an
assumption that membership of a 'lower
caste' or 'lower class' meant promiscuity,
and clear parallels can be drawn with
respect to the experiences of African
women on slave ships and on plantations.
What the author seeks to do is to provide
"empirical evidence from the passage
from India that should certainly form a
part of the ongoing interpretive debate.
Its point of entry is at the level of gender-
specific exploitation... on emigrant
ships" (p. xix). The author notes that there
was some concern about sexual abuse of
Indian women, and regulations were put
in place to reduce, if possible, that kind of
abuse, in order to prevent attacks from the
anti-slavery and anti-emigration lobbies.
And due credit must be paid to these
humanitarian efforts.
It is clear that the regulations on
board ship, including Captain Wilson's
ship, were put in place to reduce contact
between the male crew and the women
aboard. Indeed, one witness suggested
that part of the discontent of the crew was
the limited access they had to the women,
a comment that confirms Shepherd's
general view on the widespread nature
of sexual abuse (p. 23). (And Shepherd is
careful to note that abuse is not only inter-
ethnic but intra-ethnic as well, giving
strength to the universality of abuse.) It is
clear, however, that on this voyage those
regulations were evaded, because there is
other evidence of sexual activities, which
led to the contraction of syphilis.
Although, in his evidence, the captain
did his best to downplay the difficulties
of the voyage, there is little reason to
disbelieve his statement that the voyage
did not fall much outside his routine
voyages. Eleven persons died on the
voyage, but their deaths had routine
medical explanations. At first it was

Marahani's death, not her rape, that was
an issue. Probably, because of Marahani's
own silence, the knowledge of her rape
would never have become known had
she not died. It was the investigation into
the circumstances surrounding her death
that brought up the question of rape, and
despite limited physical evidence the
enquiries did establish a high probability
of rape.
It is not only the tragedy of Maharani
that makes this story such a depressing
one. It is also that Maharani's story is but
one of thousands experienced by women
- whether from India or Africa who
had to endure sexual abuse and male
violence while crossing the Atlantic and
after the crossing was complete. Implicit
in the author's analysis is the view
that transatlantic rape was part of the
continuing saga of male abuse of females.
Worst of all is Maharani's silence,
broken only to reveal to two of her friends
what her experience had been, but not
kept up long enough to voice formally her
case. Her death removed any possibility
of exposing her attackers. Maharani
seems to have regarded her rape as a
private matter to be revealed only to
her friends. In consequence most of the
evidence was 'hearsay'. At the moment
of the sexual "connexion" her sari was
used to suffocate any cry that she might
have wished to make. The law never
envisaged this. The law assumed that a
woman under attack would cry out and
would therefore be heard by potential
rescuers. The sheer helplessness and
silence of Maharani is a tragedy in itself.
Maharani is a victim, but her silence was
what ensured above all that her attackers
would face no penalty.
Maharani was faced with a dilemma.
To report that she had been raped was to
increase her pain, humiliation and shame,
without any guarantee that justice would
be done. And from what the author points
out, men tended to get away with these
assaults. Not to report the assault was to
let her attackers off the hook. Maharani
chooses silence and perhaps death.
If it is a story about the silence of the
victim, it is also a story about fear which
itself induces silence. The druggist on
board makes it abundantly clear that his
reticence resulted from the fear of losing
his job. Captain Wilson also fears for his

own security. He has, after all, to maintain
his reputation as a good ship's captain.
Captain Wilson in his evidence, and in
denial of what had actually been logged,
tries to play down the difficulties of the
voyage. There is evidence enough that
this was not a smooth voyage, because
mutinous sailors had disrupted it. The
captain had himself been assaulted.
The evidence as to how many men
were involved in the assault of Maharani
is contradictory. The concentration was
on the tattooed black American named
Ipson. Ipson was black, and had a passion
for red shirts, and was also highly visible
because of his bad behaviour aboard ship.
But Maharani's account to her two friends
mentioned two men. The question arises
as to why the other shadowy individual
was not investigated, or any real effort

Edited by Brian Meeks and Folke Lindahl
University of the West Indies Press, 2001;
Paperback, J$2,000, 564pp.

Reviewed by Balford Henry
In his introduction to this book, Brian
Meeks, professor in the Department of
Government, University of the West
Indies, Mona, returns to October 1983
when Maurice Bishop was shot to
death, "along with some of his closest
comrades", in Grenada. "At the other

made to identify him. Was it for fear that
Ipson would have revealed the whole
truth? Only the minority report of Dr
Grieve addresses the issue. The book in
fact reveals how elite men stopped just
short of pre-judging Maharani; and, as
the author notes, the "racist and sexist
traditions of the society had their impact
on the legal system in the Caribbean" (p. 77).
To silence and fear can be added the
problem of justice. For various reasons,
which the author has noted, there was a
genuine effort to regulate these voyages,
and there are even suggestions in the
evidence given that Captain Wilson had
been particularly rigorous in enforcing a
separation of the crew from the women
on board. Ultimately, however, the system
of justice in its attempt to ensure fair play
could not hold anybody accountable

end of the Soviet-built AK47 automatic
rifles were soldiers of the People's
Revolutionary Army, of which Bishop,
only days before, had been the respected
commander in chief," Meeks recalls.
The incident still haunts the English-
speaking Caribbean. This cluster of
small islands had never before known
genuinely violent revolutions. No wonder
Paul Bogle's march from St Thomas to
St Catherine, which resulted only in
his being turned away by the English
governor without being seen and forced
to walk back home empty-handed,
remains one of the great revolutionary
high points of Jamaican history.
But Grenada changed all that. For the
first time, apart from the still intermittent
events in Trinidad and Tobago over the
last forty years, this was real revolution.
To ensure that the occasion would not
pass without some international flavour,
the American cowboy Ronald Reagan,
searching for a military mission that
would recharge his country's fighting
batteries, invaded the island. Americans
were not sure whether the island was
Gre-nah-da or Gre-nay-da or even where
it was located, but they were happy to see
their soldiers on top for a change, after
Vietnam and Cambodia.

because there was too much'reasonable
doubt'. The ship's doctor clearly did
not carry out the autopsy with the
thoroughness that was required. Later in
the book Shepherd notes that the ship's
doctor, Hardwicke, had a reputation for
womanising on board. Justice seems to
have involved a considerable cover-up, as
each person tried to defend his turf. Some
witnesses report a moonlit night, others a
foggy one.
The book is a useful addition to our
knowledge about Indian indentureship,
gender relations, Caribbean systems of
justice, ethnic prejudices. By reproducing
several of the documents relating to
the Maharani incident, the publication
enables students to grasp more easily
the difficulty that historians have in the
interpretation of evidence. 4o

The incident was to influence the
future of Caribbean thought more than
anything since political independence. It
has become the basis on which younger
generations of West Indians have assessed
their political maturity until now. And so
the dawn of the new millennium, as this
book suggests, offers a grand opportunity,
"for the people of the Caribbean to take
stock of the entire experience of the past
forty years since the ending of direct
The interdisciplinary collection
addresses some very important questions
facing the Caribbean today or, to be more
direct, the CARICOM region now on the
verge of reassessing the important issues
such as Federation.The recent meeting
of CARICOM heads in Montego Bay
has relit the flame of integration, raising
some serious questions about how the
region proposes to face the future, united
or individually. Meeks and his co-editor,
Folke Lindahl, an associate professor of
political theory at James Madison College,
Michigan, have produced a timely
compilation of interesting articles which
should help to raise the debate far beyond
what obtained forty or fifty years ago.
Some of the most thought-provoking
articles include: Rupert Lewis's

"Reconsidering the Role of the Middle
Class in Caribbean Politics", Obika
Gray's "Rethinking Power: Political
Subordination in Jamaica" and Clive
Thomas's "On Reconstructing a Political
Economy of the Caribbean".

By Francisco Morales Padron; translated by
Patrick Bryan
lan Randle Publishers, 2003; Paperback,
J$1,500, 400pp.

Reviewed by Shirley J. Robertson
Very little has recently been published in
the English language on Spanish Jamaica,
which begins with the discovery of the
island by Don Christopher Columbus.
Certainly this book, originally published
in Spanish fifty years ago and now
reissued in translation, is one of its kind
and serves as a reference for research on
the relatively unknown sixteenth- and
seventeenth-century Jamaica.
The book, written by Francisco
Morales Padron from primary sources,
texts, notes and documents, addresses
all aspects of Spanish occupation and
penetration beginning with Christopher
Columbus and his four voyages.
Columbus's first encounter with the
native Jamaicans and his expressions of
awe at the beauty of the island are vividly
Morales Padron, clearly a Spanish
nationalist, criticises the Spanish

These articles originated from a series
of encounters that took place between
1993 and 1997 at annual Caribbean
Studies Association conferences;
and, as Meeks suggests, the aim is to
extend "open, plural and unfettered

government for not sufficiently valuing
Jamaica's economic potential. The
disappointment at not finding sufficient
gold and metals led to a failure to
realise the value of the agricultural and
cattle industries, which resulted in a
restricted focus on the island as the future
launching pad for the later conquest of the
mainland. Again, Morales Padron points
out that while fully comprehending the
geographical importance of Jamaica, the
Spanish government failed to fortify and
properly defend the island.
In chapter three, Morales Padron
discusses how the Crown steadily
stripped the Columbus family of
the privileges once given to the first
Columbus, as the Crown opted for more
direct control of the newly 'discovered'
lands. It must be noted here that
Christopher Columbus was given the
island by Spain, and as such it remained
in his ownership until the capture by
the English in 1655. The weaknesses
and strengths of Spanish governance are
clearly seen here. Morales Padron notes
that the possession of Jamaica by the
Columbus family was a key factor in its
poor defence, making it easy prey for the
English in 1655.
He next discusses the rivalry between
Spain and her European neighbours,
and how that rivalry affected Spanish
Jamaica. The Caribbean Sea in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was
the scene of continual battles as European
nations fought for control of the sea. In
the same way that the Dutch, English,
French and Spanish vied with each other
for territories in Europe, they vied for
territories in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Morales Padron critiques Spanish policy
for not paying sufficient attention to
the military and political intervention
necessary for the security of the country,

conversation" beyond the academy to the
wider Caribbean. New Caribbean Thought
has achieved this ambition. 4

and not appreciating the importance
of the structure of the empire of the
Mediterranean Seas, Central America, the
Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
The third and fourth chapters
deal with organisational foundations,
governance and governors. This section
is significantly important to students
of Spanish policy and government, its
weaknesses and strengths. It helps to
illuminate the political and economic
contexts and the structural factors which
affected the development of settlement
patterns within the Caribbean.
The book offers a description of
the Spanish mercantile system, the
institutional framework at the Casa de
la Contratacion, and its accompanying
fleet system. Morales Padron insists
that the mercantile policy had the effect
of reducing economic and commercial
growth. At the same time, the Spanish
settlers began routinely to trade with
Spain's rivals. It was the only way to
receive European goods. Illegal trade was
to be followed by invasion, piracy and
attacks on the island.
Thus began the notorious times of
the island. It would appear that Jamaica,
along with the Windward and Leeward
Islands, was to boost contraband and
piracy as illegal traders were encouraged,
even as the fleets and galleons faced
disruption from these threats.
Morales Padron's discussion of the
Church demonstrates the importance
of the Roman Catholic Church in the
administration of the Spanish-American
Empire, the conflict between Church
and State, and the conflict within the
ecclesiastical establishment itself.
The work informs us about labour
systems in Jamaica, and how following
the decimation of the indigenous
population African slaves were

introduced. The author notes, however,
that Spain never committed itself to
wholesale importation of African slaves,
without which given the paucity of the
Spanish population the agricultural and
pastoral industries could not develop.
Morales Padron, in fact, laments that the
Spaniards lost the opportunity to do what
the English would later do when they
settled Jamaica.
There was no denying that the
indigenous population suffered cruel
treatment as evinced by Las Casas.
Morales Padron argues that the
decimation of the native population took
place due to the King-Garay exploitation.
While under pressure to produce
maximum yields, the settlers had not
forgotten the ideology of colonisation;
on the contrary, indoctrination of the
native population was still of primary
importance. Attempts to distribute the
natives led to the indigenous population

By Alex Morgan
LMH Publishing, 2002; Paperback, J$695,

Reviewed by Balford Henry
West Kingston is well known for singers,
songwriters, dancers, musicians, actors
and even cult leaders such as the late
Mallica "Kapo" Reynolds, not to mention
the famous rude boys dating back to
Wappy King. But writers!

fleeing in confusion and taking refuge in
the mountainous territory. Attempts were
made to identify the existing number of
natives, but interestingly there does not
exist any record speaking to this.
The British invasion would appear
to have severely affected the situation
of the slaves, as some remained loyal
to the Spaniards and others took
refuge in the mountains and grouped
themselves behind barricades. This was
the beginning of the Maroons. It would
appear, therefore, that while the blacks
remained loyal to the Spanish they had a
chance against the English, but with their
defection to the British all was lost.
British expansionism and the Western
Design are carefully analysed, and the
English occupation of Jamaica under
Penn and Venables marked the beginning
of this era in the island. The struggle for
the island went through many phases.
Morales Padron, through references

That tradition, however, has not
deterred Alex Morgan, who was born in
the inner-city hub of Tivoli Gardens and
has made his debut as a writer with the
novel Sugar Cane. And that should not
be surprising. Mr Morgan seems to have
as much a passion for success as he has
a flair for writing. A perfect role model
for the much maligned youths of his
hometown, he escaped the ostracism to
qualify as a lawyer at the University of
London, an achievement which probably
offered that cushion writers need to
be able to sit down and write without
In Sugar Cane, he recaptures the
constituents of his past to recreate a story
of passion and ambition which makes
the book hard to put down once you
have started reading. Hector White, a
teacher, and his woman, Sharon Gordon,
a nurse who has left behind her parents
in London to return home, rent a home
in rural Brown's Hall, with the intention
of saving towards purchasing a home
of their own. But things sour when the
owner of the rural house, Paul Frater,
allows a dreadlock reggae optimist to live
there as well.

to primary documentation, guides us
through a step-by-step journey. For a
while the Spanish and English jointly
occupied the island after the attack on
Port Royal and La Vega. The struggle
continued until 1670 when the treaty
ceding Jamaica to the English was signed
and Morgan left for Panama.
Spanish Jamaica is an invaluable source
on the Spanish occupation, settlement,
trade and systems of government. It
is significant that the book has finally
been translated into English and made
available to the general public. Patrick
Bryan, as translator, has done a credible
job of this mammoth task. The translation
is easily read, well constructed and
interesting. It should be of pertinent
interest to students of sixteenth- and
seventeenth-century Spanish political,
economic and social history and to
professionals and academics, as it dispels
many myths of early settlement and rule. *

Hector and Sharon are having
personal problems, mainly due to their
inability to produce a child. This creates
the perfect environment for the dread,
Sugar Cane, to enter and sow his seed of
discontent, as he exposes his vocal and
physical talents to a frustrated Sharon.
He has a habit, for example, of bathing
naked at the standpipe in the yard and
thereby exposing his powerful physique
to everyone.
But Sugar Cane is not all music and
muscles. The dread is also an A-level high
school graduate and this allows the story
to develop intellectually, as the battle
intensifies for Sharon's heart and soul.
The novel also gives the reader an
insight into how the local recording
industry works, as Sugar Cane fights on
in an attempt to achieve his real goal of
becoming a successful reggae singer.
Alex Morgan may have been cautious
in this debut not to overstep the limits of
his inexperience as a novelist. But there
are indications of his talent. It is obvious
that he has a lot more to express than
what he has shown in Sugar Cane, and we
certainly look forward to his next novel to
see where he is really headed. o.


PETRINE ARCHER-STRAW is an art historian
and curator. She has written and lectured
internationally on various aspects of modem
art and culture. She is the co-author of Jamaican
Art (Kingston Publishers, 1990), editor of Fifty
Years Fifty Artists (Ian Randle Publishers,
2000), and the author of Negrophilia: Avant
Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s
(Thames and Hudson, 2000).

DAVID BROWN is Senior Research Fellow at
the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/
Jamaica Memory Bank, where he is currently
Acting Director. His particular interest is
heritage architecture, and his MA Heritage
Studies thesis focused on the Half Way
Tree Courthouse as a space of our collective

PATRICK BRYAN is Douglas Hall Professor
of History in the Department of History
and Archaeology, University of the West
Indies, Mona. He has published nine books
and several articles on social history. He is
President of the Jamaica Historical Society and
Chairman of the Museums Advisory Board of
the Institute of Jamaica.

CAROLYN COOPER is Professor of Literary and
Cultural Studies at the University of the
West Indies, Mona, where she teaches in the
Department of Literatures in English and
coordinates the Reggae Studies Unit. Her
book Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture
at Large will be published in 2004 by Palgrave
Macmillan in New York.

OMAR DAVIES collects a wide range of music but
with a special focus on Jamaican pop, which he
has studied for over thirty years. He ranks the
Wailers (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer)
among the pre-eminent pop artistes of the
latter half of the twentieth century. He has been
Jamaica's Minister of Finance for over a decade.

IVAN GOODBODY, born and educated in Ireland,
joined the staff of the University College of
the West Indies in 1955 and was appointed
Professor of Zoology at the University of the
West Indies in 1964. He was Deputy Chairman
of the Institute of Jamaica from 1997 to 2000.
His interests are in marine biology and
ornithology. He has published papers on bird
biology in Britain and numerous papers on
marine invertebrates.

BALFORD HENRY is a journalist who currently
works as a parliamentary and entertainment
reporter for the Jamaica Observer.

MERVYN MORRIs is Professor Emeritus,
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

A Silver Musgrave medallist whose books
of poetry include The Pond, Shadowboxing,
Examination Centre and On Holy Week, he is the
author of "Is English We Speaking" and Other
Essays (Ian Randle Publishers, 1999).

REX M. NETTLEFORD is Vice Chancellor of the
University of the West Indies. He is the founder
of the National Dance Theatre Company of
Jamaica, and a noted Caribbean and Rhodes
scholar whose publications include Mirror
Mirror: Race and Protest in Jamaica (1970; LMH
Publishing, 2001), Caribbean Cultural Identity
(1978; Ian Randle Publishers, 2003) and The
University of the West Indies -A Caribbean
Response to the Challenge of Change (co-authored
with Philip Sherlock; Macmillan, 1990).

JOE PEREIRA is Deputy Principal at the
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
His research interest is in the literature of Cuba
and the wider Caribbean. He coordinates the
postgraduate programme in cultural studies at
the University of the West Indies, Mona.

ANTHONY R.D. PORTER is a freelance geologist.
He previously worked with Alcan for twenty-
seven years as an exploration geologist, and has
travelled all over the world on assignments. He
remains an avid explorer and researcher. His
published works include two books and
numerous articles on Jamaican geology. He
received the Gleaner Company's Honour
Award for Science and Technology in 2001.

AHMED REID is a graduate of the University
of the West Indies, Mona, and is currently
enrolled in the PhD programme at the
University of Hull, England.

SHIRLEY ROBERTSON is Senior Research Officer at
the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, a position
she has held for ten years. She was head of the
museums section of the Institute of Jamaica
for seven years, then a research fellow in social
history at the University of the West Indies.

OLIVE SENIOR is the author of several books of
poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Her Encyclopedia
of Jamaican Heritage has just been published
(Twin Guinep, 2003). She received the Norman
Manley Award for Excellence in 2003 for her
contribution to the preservation of cultural
heritage. For more information, go to www.

VERENE SHEPHERD is Professor of Social
History in the Department of History at the
University of the West Indies, Mona. She is a
vice-president of the Jamaica Historical Society
and a board member of the Jamaica National
Heritage Trust.

EVERTON SYLVESTER teaches at City University of
New York. He is lead poet with bands Brooklyn
Funk Essentials and Searching for Banjo. He is
a 1993 James Michener fellow and a 1997 and
1998 Sundance Screenwriters fellow. His poetry
collection Backyard in Bed-Stuy was published
in 2002 by First Books Library. For more
information, go to www.wnyc.org/shows/

(University of the West Indies), is a marine
biologist and currently Director of the Centre
for Marine Sciences at the University of the
West Indies, Mona. He has published over
sixty scientific articles and two books: The
Biology of Crabs (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1997)
and Diving and Marine Biology (Cambridge
University Press, 1983).

MONICA E WARNER (Williamson), BSc
(University of the West Indies), is a retired high
school science teacher with a longstanding
interest in Jamaica's plants. Her book Flowers of
Jamaica will be published in 2004 by Macmillan.

KIM ROBINSON-WALCOTT is the editor of the
new Jamaica Journal. She holds a BA in English
(McGill University), an MPhil in Town
Planning (University College London) and a
PhD in English (University of the West Indies).
She has worked in publishing for twenty
years, and is currently editor of books and
monographs at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute
of Social and Economic Studies, University of
the West Indies, Mona. She is the author and
illustrator of the children's book Dale's Mango
Tree (Kingston Publishers, 1992) and the co-
author of Jamaican Art (Kingston Publishers,
1990) and The How to Be Jamaican Handbook
(Jamrite Publications, 1987). Her critical essays,
poems and short stories have appeared in a
number of anthologies and journals.

The Jamaica Journal invites submissions of
articles on Jamaica's culture, history and
environment. All articles are peer-reviewed.
Articles of length 2,000-6,000 words should
be submitted in triplicate, double-spaced, as
well as in electronic form (as an MS Word
document), using the Chicago Manual's style of
referencing, with numbered endnotes. Authors
are responsible for providing illustrative
material (originals or high-resolution scans
no less than 300 DPI) which must be clearly
captioned and credited, and for obtaining
reproduction permissions for such material as

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