Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Special feature: The oral...
 The arts
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00039
 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: May 1983
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: VID00039
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Special feature: The oral tradition
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
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        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    The arts
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
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    Back Cover
        Page 89
        Page 90
Full Text


I -'


JUL 5 1983

* '
^,. -^


Treasures of Jamaican Heritage

lw fare Books
National Library of Jamaica
SA handpainted, undated, anonymous volume
entitled A Collection of Exotics from the
S Island of Antigua by a Lady (the dedication
-o pageand illustrations are shown) is one of the
More enigmatic Rare Books in the National
/.T C .,i \Library's collection.
Various criteria are used to decide on what
Qualifies for the Rare Book category. The
/ most common criterion is the date of public-
ation of the work, e.g. some organizations use
a publication date before the year 1800 as the cut off point.
Limited editions and first editions of books are also included. The
First edition of George Campbell's First Poems published in 1945,
falls into this category as does Jamaica Cookery Book by Caroline
Sullivan, published in 1893. The anonymous book illustrated here
is only one of a number of works from other Caribbean territories.
The Acts of the Legislature of the Island
of Tobago from 1768 1775 inclusive
published in 1776 and Voyage to
Suriname by P.J. Benoit
(1839) are among
the others.



Aside from the criteria listed above, factors such as monetary value,
the special significance of the author, publisher or place of public- i
action, the existence of special features such as an autograph, anno

stations by the author, or hand drawings also determine the rarity of
a book.



Jamaica Journal is published by
the Institute of Jamaica
12-16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica

ISSN:0021 -4124

Publications Committee
Professor Edward Baugh Chairman
Rev. Philip Hart
Professor Gerald Lalor
Leila Thomas
Stephney Ferguson
Dr. Alfred Sangster
Olive Senior

Managing Editor
Olive Senior

Design and Production
Camille Parchment

Assistant Editor
Brenda Campbell

Assistant Editor (Circulation)
Faith Myers

Mechanicals Artist
Clive Phillips

Patsy Smith

INDEX: Articles appearing in Jamaica Journal
are abstracted and indexed in Historical
Abstracts and America: History and Life.
A cumulative author-article index is in
Back Issues: Most back issues are available.
List sent on request. Entire series available on
microfilm from the National Library of
Jamaica, 12 16 East Street, Kingston, or
University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan
48106, U,S,A.

For subscription information, see p.9

Vol. 16 No. 2 Copyright c 1983 by the
Institute of Jamaica. Cover or contents may
not be reproduced in whole or in part without
prior written permission.
Retail single copy price: J$8 (in Jamaica only);
Overseas: U.S.$8 (or equivalent in other
currencies) post paid (surface mail).

COVER: The story telling tradition is kept
alive by older folks such as octogenarian Adina
Henry ('Miss Adina') whose exposure on tele-
vision has helped to rekindle interest in Anansi
Stories. Here in her yard, she is surrounded by
a typical audience of neighbours and relatives
- including her infant great-grand daughter
beside her.
Cover photograph by Andreas Oberli

interviewed by Velma Pollard

by Laura Tanna

by Adina Henry and Thomas Rowe

by A. Michael Auld


by C. S. Reid


37 AN ORCHID PORTFOLIO Watercolours by Helen Wood and H. Q. Levy
Text by Ancile Gloudon

by Peter Bretting

by William L. R. Oliver

by T. H. Farr


by Erika Smilowitz



by Gordon Rohlehr



Reviews by Evelyn O'Callaghan, Mervyn Morris, Barbara Lalla,
Hubert Devonish.

Winston Patrick: Transformations
Reviewed by Gloria Escoffery



Vol. 16 No. 2

Above. The Annotto Bay Baptist Church, regarded as a National Monument. Right. The Rev.
George Liele (1750-1828). This rare woodcut was discovered by the Rev. Lewis G. Jordan while
preparing his book on Negro Baptist History, and is preserved in the archives of the Sunday School
Publishing Board. (Representation by kind courtesy of the Jamaica Baptist Union).



10'u.1 NTOSO I..III
CODl 11 %111 M I SIt OF ONE BLOOD.-
ETHIOI'I i ,ktI h-, g~.1 e
1 C(DT 11 31

Monument erected by emancipated
Memorial Church. Trelawny.


2jJ dirt -

William Knibb

The celebration of baptism by early
Missionaries. Painting attributed to Kidd.


By C.S. Reid


~vw- -~


his year, the Jamaica Baptist
Union has invited all Jamaica to
celebrate with them a significant
anniversary two hundred years of wit-
ness and service by the Baptists in Jam-
aica. It is appropriate that they have so
phrased their invitation, because clearly
the Baptists and their history are a sub-
stantial element of Jamaica's general
British Baptists have had such an
impact on Baptist work in Jamaica that
many people are unaware that they
were not the founders. This celebration
will right the picture. The arrival of the
first set of Baptist preachers in Jamaica
in the 1780s was one of the results of
the defeat of the British by the American
colonists in the American War of In-

Many who fought on the side of
the British, both blacks and whites,
were evacuated to British colonies in the
Caribbean and Jamaica received her
share. They were given land, and many
slaves who had fought on the side of the
Crown were freed. By this means, there
was a minor influx of free blacks to
Jamaica and especially around the
Kingston area in the last two decades
of the 18th century. Some of these
would have been among the first con-
verts to the preaching of the pioneers.
But before long they would have been
far outnumbered by believers who were
slaves. Jamaican baptist history began
with the arrival in the island in 1782-
1783 of black Americans.
The Pioneers
George Liele
George Liele was the father of the
movement. He was born in Virginia to
parents who were slaves and was early
separated from them as was often the
case in a system where slaves were
bought and sold as chattels. Liele even-
tually came into the settled possession
of a Mr. Henry Sharp of Savannah,
Georgia. Here he married, and his wife
eventually bore him three sons and a
daughter. He was converted under the
preaching of the Rev. Matthew Moore
of the Baptist Church in Savannah and
soon began to share his faith with fellow
slaves to good effect. This so impressed
the congregation where he worshipped
that they invited him to preach. He was
ordained a Minister on 20 May 1775.
Later, during the war, when both Liele
and his master fought on the side of the
British, Mr. Sharp gave him his freedom.
Between 1775 and 1782 Liele preached
in many parts of the country and was

responsible for founding at least two
churches, both of which claim to be the
first Black Baptist Church in America!
(The First African Baptist of Savannah,
Georgia, and First Bryan Baptist, also
in Savannah.)
After the American War of Indepen-
dence, relatives of Sharp, the former
owner of Liele, tried to re-enslave him.
It is believed this was partly because of
his pro-British sympathies. However, he
was assisted by a sympathetic Army
officer (Colonel Kirkland) to maintain
his liberty. This officer also lent him the
money to pay the passage of himself
and his wife to Jamaica. He landed at
Kingston in January 1783.
Liele came to Jamaica with a recom-
mendation to the Governor himself,
which secured him a job at the customs
house. Kirkland's trust in Liele was not
misplaced. He soon repaid his debt, and
secured the documents from the local
vestry and from the Governor confirm-
ing that he and his family were free
people. When the governor demitted
office and left the island, he person-
ally provided Liele with a recommend-
Liele's Ministry in Jamaica
As soon as Liele settled himself in
Kingston, he began to study the religious
situation and saw that the slave popu-
lation especially, was in a pitiable spirit-
ual condition and no-one seemed to
care. He began to speak in the open air
at Kingston Race Course and to keep
meetings in a private home. He soon
formed a Church "with four brethren
from America including his wife and
George Gibb who became a preacher at
St. Thomas, St. Mary and the Vale"
[Baptist Quarterly XX, p.344].
From this small beginning, his work
prospered and by 1791 he could report
in a letter to Dr. Rippon of the Baptist
Missionary Society of London, that he
had a membership of 500. In 1789 he
raised the walls of the first Baptist
chapel in Jamaica. In his letter to Dr.
Rippon he reports "We have purchased
a piece of land at the East end of
Kingston containing three acres for the
sum of 145 currency and on it we
have begun a meeting house, fifty seven
feet in length by thirty seven feet in
breadth. We have raised the brick wall
eight feet high from the foundation and
intend to have a gallery."
Liele sought some help from British
congregations since the cost of the build-
ing was mostly on his shoulders, most
of his congregation being poor slaves.

He did receive some help, but it was
not enough. Liele was thrown into
jail for debt on the chapel. He spent
three years, five months and ten days
in prison, and was released on 10 March
1801. He testified that the Anglican
Rector of Kingston, Dr. Rees, did much
to assist him during his imprisonment.
His eldest son and some of his deacons
sought to carry on the work while he
was in prison, but it inevitably suffered
from his absence. However, George
Liele's Windward Road Chapel, "the
first Dissenting Meeting House to be
erected in Jamaica", was to remain a
place of some note for some years yet.
Liele suffered persecution of all sorts
for his preaching activity and was once
imprisoned for sedition for preaching a
sermon on Romans 10:1, expressing a
strong desire for 'freedom' from sin and
its consequences. One story of harass-
ment is worth repeating. Once while the
congregation was preparing for com-
munion, a man rode his horse right into
the church and said "Come on old Liele.
Give my horse the Sacrament." Liele's
quiet reply was "No Sir. You yourself
are not fit to receive it!"

Liele's Methods

It is difficult for Jamaicans at this
point in time to appreciate the extreme
difficulty of such a mission as Liele was
attempting. In a country run by bigoted
slave owners who looked with the gravest
suspicion on anyone or anything profess-
edly in the slaves' interests, a black
American was presuming to preach reli-
gion to slaves and to teach them to read
and write. Without devising ways of
pacifying the authorities and lulling the
suspicions of the general populace, he
had no chance of success. Liele's
methods were as follows:

1. He supported himself by indepen-
dent employment so as not to attract
any suggestion that he was living off
slaves. "My occupation is a farmer, but
as the seasons of this part of the country
are uncertain, I also keep a team of
horses and wagons for carrying of goods
from one place to another, which I
attend myself with the assistance of
my sons, and by this way of life have
gained the good will of the public who
recommended me to the business, and
to some very principal work for the
Regarding the slave members of the
church and their paltry gifts he says,
"Out of so small a sum we cannot ex-
pect anything that can be of service

Relics of engraved communion vessels (in the collection of the Museums Division, Institute of
Jamaica) used by William Knibb and other Baptist ministers.

The Rev. William Knibb (holding the Declar-
ation of the Abolition of Slavery).

from them. If we did it would soon
bring scandal upon religion." The build-
ing and maintenance of the church
therefore devolved upon the ministers
and the few free members.
2. Liele insisted that all slaves
who sought baptism at his church
should have a letter of permission from
their masters. Having given their consent
they could not thereafter accuse him of
subverting their slaves. Thus the harass-
ment he received was not so much from
those whose slaves were converted to
the faith, but from others who were
simply hostile to all such activity.
3. Liele had his Church Covenant
printed and prominently displayed so
that anyone reading could see that their
practices were according to the scriptures
and consonant with decency and good
Because of his practical measures to
accommodate to the system, some
modern students have accused Liele of
conducting a 'Master Church' [cf. Ers-
kine, "Decolonising Theology"]. But
this is to fail to appreciate the existen-
tial circumstances of the man and the
enormous courage and wisdom that
were required to attempt and accom-
plish even what he did.

Moses Baker

The pioneer of Baptist work in the
west of the island was Moses Baker. In
a letter to a friend in Leicestershire,
England, published in the Evangelical
Magazine September 1803, Baker tells
something about himself.

I am from New York in North America,
where my occupation was a barber. I
was married September 4, 1778 to
Susannah Ashton a mantua-maker, a
native of New York, by the Rev. W.
Walters, agreeably to the rites of the
church of England in which denomin-
ation we had been brought up and
had learnt to read the Scriptures, and
to write a little. At the evacuation of
New York in 1783, I was with my
wife and child obliged to come to
the island of Jamaica . as to reli-
gion, when I first came to Jamaica,
mine was that of the world: I was
much given to strong drink and to
many other bad habits.

His conversion began with the re-
buke of an illiterate old African who
chided him when he and his family sat
down to dinner without giving thanks.
It was a long drawn out spiritual struggle
during which he was afflicted with physi-
cal weakness and blindness for a whole
year, On his conversion, he was intro-
duced by the old man to George Liele
in Kingston who later baptized him.
Baker was invited by one Mr. Winn
to come down to his estate (then called
Stretch and Set but afterwards changed
to Adelphi) and arrived there in Feb-
ruary 1788. Mr. Winn gave him full
liberty to instruct his slaves in religion.
He records how in the first few weeks
he could make no progress. Then one
old man showed him the bottles and
horns and other instruments of obeah
in his own house and indicated to Baker
that his gospel was so contrary to the
people's way of life and their wide-
spread practice of obeah, that was why
they resisted although his preaching

was good.
Moses Baker persevered and "in the
course of time I formed a small Society.
We are of the Baptist persuasion because
we believe it agreeable to the Scrip-
tures ...."
By 1816, writing on the death of
missionary John Rowe and conscious
that he himself was then an old man he
says, "Had I full liberty to call all my
congregation together, I speak within
bounds when I say I could call two
thousand all in a state of slavery. And
now if God please to call me away
tomorrow, what is to be done for these
people?" So despite the inauspicious
beginning, Moses Baker's ministry bore
much fruit.
Perhaps he, more than any other, was
responsible for the coming of British
Baptists to Jamaica. He struck up corres-
pondence with friends in England and
with officers of the Baptist Missionary
Society of London (BMS). Like Liele,
he gave extensive information about his
work and urged them to consider send-
ing men to assist in the work of evangel-
Baker's son also spent some time in
England, doing what, it is not quite
clear, but he seemed to have contem-
plated studies, or started studies there.
The minutes of the Baptist Missionary
Society are tantalising on this matter:

Meeting in Birmingham October 15-17,
ITEMS. 8. That Dr. Rylands be authorised
to take steps for the education
of Thomas George Baker (son of

our friend Moses Baker of Jam-
aica) for six months from this
9. That the sum of ten Pounds be
presented to our brother Moses
Baker of Jamaica as a donation
from this Society.
Sequel Meeting at Oxford Dec., 1816
ITEMS. 8. Thomas George Baker having
returned to Jamaica, no further
steps could be taken.
9. Had been complied with.
By this date of course, the BMS had al-
ready opened a mission in Jamaica, an
event of the utmost significance for the
future development of Baptist work and
indeed of the history of the country.
Liele and Baker must be credited, to-
gether with others whose story we do
not have space to record in this brief
summary (Thomas Swiggle and George
Gibb, to name but two) [Clement
Gayle, George Liele p.20ff.] with
developing a substantial Baptist cause in
Jamaica between 1783 and 1814 when
the British Baptists came. They are also
to be credited with having the foresight
and the humility to seek assistance
when they recognized that the challenge
and opportunities of the situation were
beyond their limited resources.
When the first British Baptist mission-
ary landed in Jamaica, there were al-
ready some 8,000 Baptists on record in
the island. The pioneers, despite harass-
ment, imprisonment, poverty and every
kind of disadvantage, had already secure-
ly planted the faith in the island.
The BMS Responds
The Baptist Periodical [1813,vol.v.,]
reports on the commissioning of the
first missionary to work among Jamaican
Baptists. "Mr. (Moses) Baker, being ad-
vanced in years, has written to England
for help; and it is in answer to his re-
quest that our young brother Mr. John
Rowe, a member of the Baptist Church
at Yeovil, in Somersetshire has been in-
duced to go to his assistance."
The instructions given by his superiors
to John Rowe are deserving of a study
on their own as a historical document of
first importance. But some quotations
from it will give us some insight into
the attitude of the BMS and the spirit
in which they entered Jamaica.

First, you are going to unite with an
aged man in the work of instructing
the negroes: a man whose character
and conduct according to all the in-
formation we have been able to obtain,
as well as his years, will entitle him to
your Christian respect. In many things
you may find him your inferior in

knowledge, but never make him feel
himself to be so, and in those things
wherein his age and experience will
naturally give him the precedency,
you will, we trust, as naturally yield
it. Let there be no strife between
you ....
Secondly, you are going among a people
who must of necessity be deficient in
knowledge . it will be necessary to
convince them that you do not despise
them on account of their ignorance,
their colour, their country or their
enslaved condition, but that you love
them as fellow-creatures, pity them as
fellow-sinners, and wish to do them all
the good in your power.
He is also advised to encourage con-
formity to 'the Christian Law of mar-
riage', to be wary of involvement in local
politics, to be cautious about showing
his abhorrence of the slave system, and
to remember that he could insist on his
rights as an Englishman just as St. Paul
made use of his privileges as a Roman
citizen, but that for the gospel's sake
sometimes it was best to forego privilege!
It is a model of enlightenment mode-
rated by practical caution. The 'caution'
element of these BMS instructions would
cause later missionaries such as William
Knibb to chafe with impatience and
sometimes use their own discretion in a
different direction.
One thing is clear. The BMS did not
see themselves as starting a new work.
Nor did they come with any intention
of working in opposition to the pioneers.
They were consciously entering into a
partnership in missions, and they came
by invitation. They were also prepared
to learn as well as to impart their own
The result of that spirit of co-oper-
ative Christian enterprise is undoubtedly
one of the most fruitful and exciting
chapters of modern Christian missions.
That story has been told elsewhere and
could bear re-examination from the per-
spective of 1983, but cannot be detailed
We may note, however, certain im-
portant results of the continuity between
the work of the pioneers and the work
of the British Baptist missionaries.
1. Education and Evangelism were
to go hand in hand as part of the stra-
tegy of the Baptists. George Liele had
organized a feepaying day school, as
well as a free 'Sabbath School' for the
children of slaves and of the very poor.
When John Rowe arrived at Falmouth
in 1814 someone gave him the friendly
advice that this was how he should pro-
ceed. He should open a school and by
this activity establish his character in

the town, and afterwards try preaching.
He did so. The link between mission and
education for the masses has remained
a hall-mark of Jamaican Baptist praxis
to this day.
2. In a day and a country where
slavery was the base of the economic
system and nearly everyone had slaves,
the Baptists kept no slaves. It would
have been an insult to their colleagues in
the gospel, some of whom had, only 'at
great cost', obtained their personal
3. The Baptists assumed a special
mission to the slaves. Whereas, speaking
broadly, the Anglicans catered to the
whites and the planter class and the
Methodists concentrated on the 'free
coloureds', Baptists laboured among
the slaves and, perhaps almost uncon-
sciously in the first place, became their
John Rowe survived but two years
and four months (23 February 1814 -
27 June 1816). But he was followed by
a line of the most remarkable and enter-
prising missionaries to have assembled
on one small island. Names such as
"Lee Compere who began work at East
Queen Street Baptist Church; James
Coultart . Thomas Godden who be-
gan work at Spanish Town; J. M. Phill-
ippo after whom the Phillippo Baptist
Church in Spanish Town is named, and
Thomas Burchell who established
Churches in five parishes in the West"
[Knibb-Sibley] read like a national
honours roll.
We have space here to treat in a little
more detail only with William Knibb,
the most famous of them all. William
was not the first Knibb to come. His
brother Thomas came out as a school
teacher but succumbed to fever within
a few months. William was asked by
the Society if he would consider going
to Jamaica to replace his brother. On
consulting his sick mother, she replied
to the effect that he would be no son of
hers if he failed to answer the call!
So William Knibb came to Jamaica
in 1824 as a teacher. He served in King-
ston and Westmoreland but was to settle
finally in Trelawny where both the
William Knibb Memorial Baptist Church
and the William Knibb Memorial High
School commemorate his work. He had
not been long in the island before he
confessed to "a burning hatred of slavery
which was glutted with crimes against
God and man."
He militantly championed the cause
of the slaves and often came into dis-

wf v


15-- uuuI---

Entrance to the East Queen Street Baptist Church in Kingston, centre of Baptist faith.

pute with slave owners for their ill-
treatment of slaves. He was jealous
to secure to them what little rights they
had in law, and in letters to England he
urged greater speed and urgency to ef-
forts to liquidate the slave system. He
gained the respect and love of the slaves
to such a degree that when in 1831 the
news of the impending slave uprising
came to the attention of the Presbyterian
Minister, Mr. Blyth in Falmouth, he
went in haste to Knibb saying that he
alone could possibly dissuade them by
explaining it was not true that 'free
paper' had been granted by the British
When Sam Sharpe's rebellion broke,
Knibb was one of the first to be arrested
on suspicion of having been an insti-
gator, though in fact he had done his
best to prevent it. In 1832, as soon as
possible after his release, he journeyed
to England and engaged in a vigorous
anti-slavery campaign to alert the
British public and Parliament to the
evils of slavery and the necessity to
abolish it.

Baptist Initiatives
No article on the Baptists in their
200th year in Jamaica could be complete
without listing, however briefly, some
Baptist initiatives which have been fun-
damental to the development of this
I. Education

We have already mentioned that edu-
cation and evangelism went hand in

hand in Baptist strategy. But there is
more to be said.
In 1843 Calabar Theological College
was founded for the training of a
native ministry for the church. For
many years Calabar was the training
institution not only for Baptists but
for persons of other Free Church
denominations. Calabar also for some
time provided training for teachers in
Jamaica. It was one of the founding
institutions of the present United
Theological College of the West
Indies Mona.
The system of Baptist and other
church primary schools throughout the
country formed the backbone of the
national school system which exists
Because of his central role in edu-
cation, the Rev. J.M. Phillippo of Spanish
Town was invited by the Governor to
draw up a proposal for a comprehensive
education system for Jamaica, and in
the early 19th century this visionary
leader included in his proposal, a call for
a university of Jamaica. It took more
than a hundred years before the UCWI
took its first halting footsteps.

II. Anti-Slavery Efforts

Here we can only mention the Sam
Sharpe Rebellion of 1831-1832. It was
not an official Baptist response to the
system. But it was planned by Sam
Sharpe, a deacon in Mr. Burchell's
Church in Montego Bay and its leaders
were Baptist laymen: it was called the

The Rev. James Phillippo after whom the
Phillippo Baptist Church in Spanish Town is

'Baptist War'. It was significant as a
creative and innovative response to the
system. Instead of violent rebellion,
Sharpe proposed a total withdrawal
of slave labour (general strike) fol-
lowed by a negotiated wage settle-
ment. It was a very bold and advanced
plan for its time. Sadly it ended in
incendiarism, violence and bloody retri-
bution on the slaves.
But it hastened the abandonment of
the whole system of slavery, by Act of
Parliament. When Emancipation was
celebrated in Jamaica 1 August 1838,
the greatest jubilation, and the deepest
sense of shared struggle and victory
achieved, was in the massive congre-
gations that assembled in the Baptist
churches up and down the land.
The partnership between the pioneers
and the missionaries had certainly borne
fruit. In numerical terms, when John
Rowe arrived in 1814 there were 8,000
registered with the Baptist churches. At
Emancipation there were 20,000.

///. Rehabilitation of Ex-Slaves
Yet the greatest test of social engineer-
ing in the whole history of Jamaica, was
posed by Emancipation itself. For while
the British Parliament was careful to
vote 20 million in compensation to
slave owners who lost their 'property'
in slaves, they made no provision to en-
able the former slaves to establish them-
selves as free persons. Yet that stroke
of the pen which said they were no
longer the property of their former
owners, by the same token said that the

.... ... .... ---""r- - -_ m~


Salter's Hill Chapel, School House and Mission House, St. James. This church is associated
with the Ministry of Moses Baker.

wife Mary, at the Falmouth church.
wife Mary, at the Falmouth church.

Si: :
Monument in commemoration of the Abolition
of Slavery at William Knibb Memorial Baptist
Church, Falmouth.

houses in which they had lived and the
provision grounds which they formerly
cultivated were no longer theirs. They
must now be tenants at rent, or subject
to eviction. The Act of the Jamaican
Assembly in 1838 ending the Apprentice-
ship System provided that those who
were occupying houses and provision
grounds on estates could keep them for
three months.
Most planters chose not to accept
this as a rent-free period although the
British Solicitor General so interpreted
it. The Jamaican Assembly settled it by
passing an Ejectment and Trespass Act
under which ex-slaves could be thrown
out at a week's notice. There were
problems also as regards wages. Many
planters wanted to pay their new
'workers' only six-pence a day or only
enough to pay the rent they would
charge for use of their premises. Clearly,
these 300,000 new citizens needed lead-
ership and support. It was provided
by the non-conformist missionaries and
preachers, in particular, the Baptists.
In the first place, they argued a
better wage structure for the workers
than the oppressive sixpence.
Secondly, they devised the system of
Free Villages. As early as 1834, Phillippo
had foreseen the coming problem and
secured an estate in the hills above
Spanish Town which he subdivided into
lots and so created Sligoville. This was
the first of the land settlement schemes
by which the Baptists, in the seven years
between 1838-1845 settled 19,000
families on their own parcels of land in
villages with the two indispensable

wi - --

social amenities- a church and a school.
Many of the names of these villages
commemorate the heroes of emanci-
pation or benefactors of the slaves, or
churches from which missionaries had
originated in England: Buxton, Wilber-
force, Kitson Town, Clarksville, Stepney,
Kettering, Mt. Carey, Granville.
The foundation of the sturdy peasant
farming community which has been the
backbone of rural Jamaica was laid by
these remarkable Christian leaders.
This concern for the upliftment of
the poor and a square deal for the 'have-
nots' reflects also in the activities of
men like George William Gordon who
was one of the founders of Jamaica
Mutual Life Insurance Company and of
Paul Bogle whose agitation for justice
precipitated the Morant Bay Rebellion.
Finally, it is consistent with their
tradition that today the Baptists are
busy creating what they call their
"Counselling and Healing Ministry".
What this cumbersome title conceals, is
an island-wide programme of primary
health care on a scale paralleled only
by the Government itself. This island
remains now as in the past, in debt to
the Baptists.


BLACK, Clinton, The Story of Jamaica,
London: Collins Press, 1958.
BURCHELL, William Fitzer, Memoir of
Thomas Burchell, London: Benjamin
L. Green, 1849.
CLARKE, John, Memorials of Baptist Mission-
aries in Jamaica, London: Yates and
Alexander, Kingston: McCartney and
Wood, 1869.
ERSKINE, Noel, "Decolonising Theology" in
Clement Gayle, George Liele.
GAYLE, Clement, George Liele, Pioneer
Missionary to Jamaica, Kingston: Jam-
aica Baptist Union, 1983.
HINTON, J.H., Memoir of William Knibb,
London: Houlston and Stoneman,
fold, Kingston: Jamaica Baptist Union,
RUSLING, G. Rev., "Note on Early Negro
Baptist History", Baptist Quarterly,
London, 1981.
SIBLEY, Inez Knibb, The Baptists of Jamaica,
Kingston: Jamaica Baptist Union, 1965.

Periodicals and Articles
(Baptist) Evangelical Magazine, 1803.
Baptist Periodical Accounts, 1813ff.
General Baptist Repository, Vol. 1, 1793
(Memoirs of George Liele).
New Baptist Miscellany, 1832.
The Missionary Herald, 1832.



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BUSHA /b6sha/ sb orig dial, now gen colloq;
1790 obisha, 1826 bersheer, 1826-- busha,
1835 busher; 'sources' have been proposed. Apart from
overseer the only word which may possibly have
affected the derivation is caboceer (OED), which
had a form cabosheer, head-man, chief.) Cf
OED 1832--. SC basja.

ABENG /ab6ng/ sb dial; horn, musical instrument, etc.
i. A cow's horn used as a musical instrument
and for signalling, esp among the Maroons; see
1890 Thomas 28, A glass of grog was served out all
round, we gave three cheers, and Nelson produced the
abeng, and with his eyes closed, and his body swaying to
and fro, blew a tremendous triumphal blast which the
north wind must have carried miles away among the
woods and gorges below. 1913 Clerk 23, It is made of
eight or nine inches of the small horn of a cow-sufficient
of the tip is taken off to leave a hole the size of a pea. On
the concave side of the horn and close to the smaller end,
an oblong opening or mouth hole is made..about a
quarter of an inch wide by about an inch long..The lips
arc placed to the oblong opening and the thumb covers
the hole in the tip, the opening and closing of which gives
. variatin tof about a tone.. The Maroons have a regular
naJc I l for the Abcng whlih is never divulged to
i lie! I he.r oIwn people. [Largely from Thomas.) 19 6

about it. It was not degraded in itself,
of course; no language is in itself de-
graded that way: it was simply that it
was economically and socially the
'wrong' language because it belonged
to the populace. But I never was made
to feel that it was bad language in that
sense, and of course I and my brother
and my two sisters all were able to
speak it. We understood it from the
servants when they spoke it, and so
wherever we went we were just bi-

Well, that is a very interesting point you
are making, the question of who bans it
and why. The whole business of social
mobility and that kind of thing ...

Yes but the point is that when I got
away from Jamaica and got the linguistic
training in a course at a university, I
learnt that a language has no limits to
its development except the limits that
are put on it by the kind of use that is
made of it. Any language can grow or
decay any language according to
the use that people want to make of
it. Consequently if the language can
serve adequately all the needs of its
speakers, it is an efficient language,
and the fact that it is not favoured
everywhere equally is nothing against
it as a language. That's the sort of thing
I understood better after I had taken
university studies in linguistics and in
other languages. And I then of course
appreciated much better, the sort of
thing that I had been exposed to in
Jamaica, had picked up, as any child
does . you pick up what's around
you . Then I began to think of it in
those terms, and I said to myself, there
is a very interesting scientific study to
be made here that has hardly ever been
done before. There would be very few
people equipped to do it, but I was one
of those people.

Does this mean then that you went into
language study from your undergraduate

I had always been interested in language
study and every time I studied a new
language, it excited me, and I felt 'This
is fine stuff; this is excellent stuff'. And
I remember getting into Anglo-Saxon,
for example, the earliest phase of the
English language ... I have always loved
the English language, I think it is a
beautiful language and a most expressive
language. I love French, I have enjoyed
German. I have known some Spanish.
Wherever you go if you get the sense of
the ambience of that language, the feel

for it aesthetically . there are lots of
fine things in other languages. I have a
knack for it, I suppose, that was deve-
loped by education. And I began to say
'This Jamaican talk is full of great ex-
pressiveness. I should like to study it,
and I am uniquely equipped to study

So at what stage of your career were
you when you decided to do formal
work in Jamaican Creole?

Well, I had already finished my doctor-
al work at the University of Michigan, in
Ann Arbor, and had got my first teach-
ing position at the University of Wiscon-
sin in Madison. There I did my regular
teaching; lots of it was language work.
But in any case I always in the back of
my head had this idea that I ought to go
back to Jamaica and really study Jamai-
can speech. I went to Wisconsin in 1939
and after I had achieved full professor-
ship, I looked out for a fellowship and
leave of absence from the University to
get away. I got a Fulbright research
grant, which means . that you can do
whatever job of research you want to do.
I didn't have to teach: I was formally at-
tached to the U.C.W.I., as it was in
those days. In 1951 to 1952 I laid the
basis for the whole thing; for my studies
of Jamaican Creole.

The basis then is the basis for both
ARY, or is it?

It is exactly the same basis for both. I
made the studies of books and the stu-
dies out in the countryside. I was the
first person, I think, to carry a tape
recorder all the way round Jamaica,
to every parish, to record the speech
of people there and to get it directly
from the speakers. That is extremely
important because the alternative is to
get it through books or through news-
papers where it has been edited, and
often changed. The editor is always
trying to take what the people actu-
ally say and tidy it up some way, or
pretty it up some way, and that's not
what I wanted at all. I wanted the genu-
ine speech of native Jamaicans.
How did the native Jamaican respond to
you and your tape recorder?

Ha, ha. Well, let me say first that they
were fascinated by the tape recorder.
Tape recorders were not common in the
United States until just before 1950
and this was 1951 in Jamaica, so that
the normal electronic lag was there and
the people looked at this machine as if

Velma Pollard



G. Cassidy


Professor Frederic Gomes Cassidy, educator
and linguist, was born in Kingston in 1907
and attended Jamaica College briefly. He
graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A.
Magnaa cum laude) in 1930, and an M.A. in
1932. In 1938 he gained his PhD from the
University of Michigan. He has taught at
various universities and since 1939 has been
at the University of Wisconsin where he is
Professor of English. He has served as an
editorial consultant to Funk and Wagnalls
Co. and been the recipient of numerous
honours and awards including a Silver Mus-
grave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica
(1962) and the Institute of Jamaica Cen-
tenary Medal (1979). In 1982 he was award-
ed the Doctor of Letters, honors causa, by
Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Professor Cassidy is a Member of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
and a former president of the American
Dialect Society (1959-61), the Society for
Caribbean Linguistics (1972-4), and the
American Name Society, (1980).
Since 1965, Professor Cassidy has been
Director/Editor of the Dictionary of
American Regional English.
His publications have included Place Names
of Dane County (Wisconsin 1974, 1968); A
Method for Collecting Dialect (1953); The
Development of Modern English (new edition,
1954); Jamaica Talk (1961, 1971); Diction-
ary of Jamaican English (1967, rev. ed. 1980).

[Suriname, 1 September 1982]

VP: Professor Cassidy, we are very,
very proud in Jamaica of you as a
Jamaican, and feel that our readers
would, for a start, like to know a
bit more about your Jamaican
childhood and to try to see wheth-
er this in any way influenced
what you ended up doing. How
did this turn you on to linguistics,
to language, to the whole busi-
ness of language study?

FC: Of course it was essential. It was
absolutely essential because the
kind of study that I made in
Jamaica was based upon the fact
that I knew how to speak Jamaican
S. well . ah, you know quashie
talk . whatever you want to call
it. 'Bad English' they used to call
it in my childhood and later too.
In any case what I mean is the
folk speech that you get in the
markets, that you get from the
man who comes to repair your
roof, from the woman who peddles
fish up and down the street or
who did when I was a child in
Kingston and St. Andrew. And
wherever you go in the country-
side you have Jamaican Creole, as
we call it now. That is not the
word generally used in the island,

but the word by which linguists refer to
the language.

Yes. I myself think of it as patois and
still call it patois quite unashamedly.

But you yourself, do you remember any
sort of stigma attached to the use of it,
or do you remember how it was for you
growing up as a middle or upper I
don't know which class Jamaican
with regard to how you related to the
language or how you were expected to
relate to it?

Well, you might say that, again using a
linguistic term, I was bidialectal because
we spoke Standard English in my home.
There was no question about my know-
ing it because that was all that my
parents and family spoke. So I grew up
speaking Standard at home. On the
other hand, I had constant contacts
with my nurse and the other servants
and with all the market people, the ped-
lars who went along the streets and the
man who went along in his cart selling
coconuts, the 'jellidoe man'. I was
exposed to it all the time. For example
when I was at Jamaica College we would
have classes of course taught in Standard
English, in literary English sometimes,
but as soon as we went out to do horse
fights on the grass or the other games
we played, we would simply fall back
into Creole. We spoke Creole or patois
in our games. So I was able to speak
both and to understand both, which is
of course very important when you
start to study the language.

It sounds as if there was no resistance
at home to your learning the language.
In other words, it seems to me you have
dealt with it in a very loving-kind of
way, so there must have been, I think,
some benevolent feeling at home to-
wards this language; which a lot of
middle Jamaica did not get.

I think you would get the attempt to
ban it or the feeling that it was very bad
if the people were moving up socially
from a much lower, let's say a Creole-
speaking class to something better than
that through education or whatever
other means. That's where you would
get this resistance. And of course school
teachers who are expected to teach
Creole-speaking children to speak in
Standard English used to say 'Don't
let me hear you use that word in here
again!' that sort of thing, you see,
banning it and making the children
feel that there was something degraded

BANKRA /bAngkra, b6ngkra/ sb chiefly dial;
1868- bankra, 1877 bunkra, 1895 bancra,
1934 bonkra; 'a wicker-hammock or travelling basket'
A square-cornered basket made of palm
'thatch', with a lid and handle.

COOLER sb. A device used in many Jamaican
houses to keep them cool; it may be a box-like
construction with jalousies built around a
window, or a slatted wooden awning hinged so
that it may be set at various angles to the house.
1952 FGC StAnd, StM, etc.

it were something magical. I took it out
into the country and every time I record-
ed somebody's speech, of course they
wanted me to play it right back again
so that they could hear what they had
said about planting corn or harvesting
pines or fishing. I got all sorts of very
interesting stuff on my tape recorder -
songs and arguments of one sort or
another among people. I just got every-
thing. Drumming . I got that up in
St. Mary too. Wherever I went there was
something very interesting to get and I
recorded a great deal of it... thirty big

Thirty reels! That's a massive amount...

Seven-inch reels. And of course when
eventually I made JAMAICA TALK
and the DICTIONARY, I went through
all those tapes and took out everything
of language interest from them. And
also of course I understood much better
things that I had only heard of or had
half-known before. When I could talk
with a person about some subject and
ask him questions and get it on tape, I
understood so much better! So I laid
the basis for both of those books,
those years . It was really one full
year from July 1951 to the following
July '52. But I should say this, that in
order to do this study properly I was
very keen on getting the people's speech
and I got it but you have to lay a his-
torical basis for this also. So what I did
in my first months was to go down to
the Institute of Jamaica where Mr. [Ber-
nard] Lewis was still the Curator and
Director, and he gave me carte blanche.
I could do anything I wanted with the
things that they had. And there were
some very helpful people. Some of you
may have known Miss Caws, she was
very helpful to me. And I simply went
through everything published in Jamaica
or about Jamaica, beginning in 1655
when the English took the island and
going forward through to . I got into
the early 19th century, taking every
book along the way and looking in
those.books for things that might give
me information on Jamaican language.
Then when I got up to about 1840 or
1850 I began to run out of time. There
were of course many more books all the
time so I had to stop there and read
But just the same I got a very sound
basis in things that had been written and
published about Jamaica in the 17th

18th and early 19th centuries. That made
a big file, and I worked through those
materials and made them the basis of a
questionnaire which I then used through-
out these trips to the countryside. I
would ask people 'what kinds of yams
do you have around here', and they
would give me four or five different
local names for yams, and I would ask
about the different kinds of fish and the
birds and the animals and how they
planted this and how they harvested
that. I recorded it all and then took it
back and wrote the books out of it,
with the historical basis.
In fact what we have in the book and
the dictionary is probably half of what
you found out?

Well, it is a digest of it.

There is so much more information that
you have yourself now ...

Well, yes. But of course the better I
knew it, the better I could condense it
without distorting it. In fact those
books condense a great deal and I think
I have corrected some misconceptions
too, because I had had those misconcep-
tions, having grown up in Jamaica. I still
had those misconceptions and misunder-
standings of things, but I got them
straightened out by talking with people
and I learned a very great deal myself.
I was able to digest that into the

Can you think of any particular small
thing that was cleared up by talking to
the real people?

Well, to put it plainly, I was ignorant
of a lot of things out in the country.
I had had holidays in the country, I had
been up to Mandedille many times, to
Moneague, to various other places. I
knew the roads through Jamaica pretty
thoroughly because my father had
driven the family around a great deal.
But there were lots of things I didn't
understand and as soon as I asked a man
well now, tell me, tell me how you plant
your yams, and he would tell me gradu-
ally. And I would say 'Well now how
long does a yam take to produce the
ripe yam, and why do you plant yams
there and why do you plant peas over
here' and other things like that and I
learnt things about them. And in one
place, it was in Lucea in fact, I had been
asking about Lucea yam and I found a
man who knew all about it and so I got
him to record. But then I said 'Now
look, you told me that when you are


-*'*4t Nr-

JACKASS ROPE sb dial. Locally grown
tobacco, twisted into the form of a long 'rope'
(i-i in. in diameter) which is coiled or tied
in a ball for market. Also euphemistically,
'1803 Dallas I Ito, The cease, uere dried and prepared
or use by the [Maronn men, Iho tested them into
kind of rope..which they r-llcd up In halls, and carried
'ut In the same manner to ,te dltierent ctsuie for sale 1
1943 GL Kgn, Port, StAnn, ISnn, jatkai-rpe, It'ritd
tobacco. 1952 rGC StAnd, SiAnn, StM t}kaas ruop.
twis' tohacco.

YABA, YABBA /yaba, sb chicfly dill; < Tci
(Akan dial) ayawd, earthen vessel, dish. Dial
sp yabba, yabah, yaba.
i. A native-made heavy earthenware vessel of
any size (quite small bowls up to cooking pots
holding several gallons); sometimes the clay
material itself.
1889 Sanguinetti 5o, The familiar 'Yabba' or earthen
vessel. 1929 Beckwath 27, Earthen bowls, hand unmed
and covered with a rude glaze, are always to be had mi the
Kingston market, but they are more rare in the hills where
the old-time 'yabba' is being supplanted by tinware.
1942 Bennett 13, Now we can start fe nyam. Mte gat de
dip-dip yah Tayma Pass de yabah w ld de yam. 1952 FGC
StAnd, StM, Tre, West /yaba' heavy earthenware, any
2. Also attrib.
1954 LcP Kgn, Yabba-pot-cooking pot. 1956 Mc StAnd
/lyba pat-mek out a khl/.

'digging yam holes you get the whole
community together and everybody
does it together, and you sing and have
a man who leads the singing and the
others come in on it, and it keeps the
rhythm. This is very African and I
would like to know something about it.'
So he said, 'Come up to my place to-
morrow night, and I'll get some of the
men together. You bring along your
tape recorder and we will give you some
songs.' And I got them some yam
digging songs and they are fascinating
things. At one time I could sing them
back I've sort of forgotten them
now. There was the man whom they
called the bomma who sang the song
and brought in contemporary things. I
remember one verse said 'aeroplanes
are going overhead, the war is on
and you must collect old iron'. Any-
thing that was relevant to the happen-
ings of the time would be put in there.
There were some amusing bits of scandal
too. There was one in which the doctor
had a mistress, I think. In any case every-
body knew about it, and he made some
allusions to it. Then there was another
person who was buying red cloth be-
cause she had just been widowed and
she wanted to protect herself from dup-
pies. ..

This is the husband's duppy that will
come back ...
The husband's duppy or some other
man's duppy. But at any rate she was
protecting herself from the duppy by
buying red cloth and wearing it. There
are all sorts of little things like that, that
I had vaguely got out of books but had
never had accurate pictures of them or
understood, you might say, sympathetic-
ally. That's what I got from my field
work. As I say, I went all over the island,
to some very remote places. . Land of
Look Behind and others like that. Oh
yes, I got to the Cockpits to some ex-
tent; out in the western end before
Negril was developed the way it is now.
It was a fairly isolated place, only little
villages there and the lighthouse and a
very fine beach not used by tourists.
But I got out there in time to see all
those things in their more or less pris-
tine state ...

The driving must have been difficult
too, because the roads wouldn't have
been of a high standard.

Well, there were some bad spots but I
had no real trouble that way. What I
should also mention, which impressed
me, was that I said that people wanted

to hear themselves played back and I
had to run my machine off automobile
batteries most of the time .. so that I
was always running my batteries down,
playing the things back so that people
could hear how they sounded. But I
felt the person had given me this piece
of information and given it absolutely

free, and he deserved to hear his voice,
he deserved to know how he sounded
on this magical machine. So whenever
it was requested, I played it back.

This was an overwhelmingly positive
response from the people you were
actually recording...

Oh, yes.

What about the powers-that-be, the im-
portant people of the day. How did
they feel about your research and what
you were doing?

Well, I don't think they knew I was
doing it. (Laughter). I stayed away
from anything official . I wanted to
just get people in their normal environ-
ment, doing their normal job, and
record them. On one occasion I had
great luck. I was along the road some-
where in St. Thomas. There was a bunch
of men sitting about in a field, by the
fence, and I stopped my car . I must
say at this point that I had been told
about this by a social worker in St.
Thomas .. .Anyway she brought me out
and introduced me to this bunch of men
and they were just waiting for the pay-
master to come along and give them
their money. So they had time on their
hands, they didn't have anything else
to do and she said 'Ask them to sing',
and I did, and they sang. I recorded
some fine songs, some of which did not
appear in any of the books on Jamaican
folklore already published. I have one
that I have published myself in a Folk-
lore journal for scholars only . I
don't make any money off these things
. . but I published it because it was
such a good song and it's a very typically
Jamaican song, and it has a chorus that
certainly sounds like African language
though I don't know any African lan-
guages. But it is a kind of Anansi story,
with the song. You know, a proper
Anansi story ought to have some singing
in it, the singing is an important part.
And when the singing is either forgotten
or left out, the value of that story is
reduced. But this one had the song in it
and it was a very important part. I wish
I could sing it for you, but I have no
I wanted to ask you about the African

Many Jamaican peasant cottages are ofuattle-and-dab that
is, walls wattled with bamboo or some other wood and daubed
with red clay. When a partition within the house is made ofun-
plastered wattle, it is called a wattle-pane: 'The torchlight glistens
through the wattle-pane,' as McKay writes.

heng-pan-mi sb dial; I. A SIDE-BAG or NAMSACK.
1929 Beckslth 48, The 'hang-'pon-me', also of thatch,
Is a square pocket hung from the neck. 1946 Dunham 93,
1 lat 'han-pon-mes' which are thrown over the right
shoulder to carry food. 1952 FGC Tre /heng-pan-mi,

words. In the narrative about yams, for
example, and now in the singing, did
you find that a number of African
words were still in those songs?

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that.
The percentage of African words, if you
get them all together, the things that
people can remember and that aren't
even perhaps used any more, is quite
small. I would say that the absolute
maximum of that would be four per
cent of the entire vocabulary of words
that are distinctively Jamaican. This
doesn't mean all of the English langu-
age that is used in Jamaica; it means just
Jamaican words, ones identifiable as

Some of these are half-forgotten. I
wouldn't get them unless I spoke to
people perhaps up in Accompong and
they'd say 'Well yes, if you go up in the
hills there you will find an old man who
knows some more'. But obviously they
were relics and, so far as I could find
out, and I did really seek to find out,
there is no articulate complete African
language spoken as a means of commu-
nication by Jamaicans today. There are
recollections of them and especially in
the St. Thomas area there are some reli-
gious ceremonial songs that still are used
in Kumina and other similar cults. There
are those kinds of things but as I say
they are not the kind of language that I
am speaking now that everybody would
understand and that people speak when
they are communicating with each other.
They are relics.

Oh yes, but I was thinking of just words.
For example this word afu one of
our types of yam. Occasionally you
would come upon words like that?

I was very careful to work out the Afri-
can vocabulary because obviously that
was at one time a very important ele-
ment in Jamaican speaking. The older
forms of the Creole certainly have a
higher percentage of African words . .
it still never gets very high; but I was
very keen on doing that because that
was one of the things that people had
neglected. So I must have used 20 differ-
ent African/English,and African/French/
English, African/German/English, and
other dictionaries with multiple langu-
ages in them, to try to track these
African words down. And even so I
missed some of them; I couldn't explain
some. But afu for example just means
'white' Afu yam is white yam. And I
went further than that . I tried to

check on the language from which these
probably African survivals must have
come. The fewer you have, the more
difficult it is to know, but I did come to
the conclusion that the language of the
Gold Coast must have been very im-
portant at the early part. And this
checked against such records as we have
of the source of Jamaican slaves. They
were for the greater part, in the earlier
years, brought from what is now Ghana,
the Gold Coast, the majority of them,
so they were speaking the Twi language.
Afu comes from Twi for example and
some of the other Africanisms many
do come from Twi.

Now it's a different kind of thing
from words like let's say 'yam' itself.
Yam is an African word, yes, but you
can't trace that back to a single language,
because it is used in a great many of the
West African languages. It's used all over
western Africa so how do you know
which one it came fiom? It probably
came from several and they just sort of
fell together in the talk. There are a lot
of other words like that, a word like
okra for example is African; both the
words that are used in Jamaica for pea-
nuts pinda and guba (gooba), much
less used, but I did pick it up (gooba
is used much more in the southern
United States), but anyway pinda, I
remember the pinda man going up with
his little whistle, going up Half Way
Tree, we children running out and get-
ting those little cones that he would
make with newspaper, and fill them not
too full with pinda . .eating those ..
we loved those and we loved the coco-
nut man who would go along singing his
'jellidoe' song.

Then there was the pinda cake; I don't
know if you know that...
Oh yes, pinda cakes, and oh! dozens
of things, dozens of things which . .
are very difficult to get now ...

People have forgotten how to make
those . I don't know ... our children
perhaps don't want to eat pinda cakes
so much again. The peanut man is still
there, the packets are not conical any-
more. They are just wrapped like a mini-
ature sugar packet or whatever. But I
don't see the sweets so much ...

No, the last time I was in Jamaica and
had a little time to do it, I went out
looking for plantain tarts and couldn't
find them. Thank goodness, you can
still get patties...

Now, the DICTIONARY was revised

ANATTA, ANATTO /anata, anito, nita, nito/
sb; 1670 1794 anotto, 1672 anetto, 1696 18oi
arnotto, 1774 1794 anotta, 1854-5 arnatto,
1888 annotto; cf Sp (Peru) anate < Island
Carib onoto, but the derivation in English may
be direct, or multiple, judging by the variations
in early forms. (Cf Santamaria, Friederici.)
OED a 682->.
i. A low, shrubby tree, Bixa orellana (10-12 ft
high), cultivated extensively in Jamaica as
elsewhere in the tropics; once also called
2. The dark orange-red berries (c. j in. diam.)
which fill the pod of this tree.
3. The dye obtained from the waxy red coating
of these berries, used for colouring foodstuffs
and in preparing a cordial.

WATER-WITHE /waata wis/ sb; OED 1866.
The wild grapevine-see quot 1756. (Vitis
tilirefolia.) SC watra-tetii.
ihy9 Sloane 172, Viis, fructu minore..Wild Vine or
Water-\sth. 1756 Browne 178, VITIs. I..The Jamaica
Grape-vine, commonly called Water-withe. The withe of
ilsl craipc-rine, when it grows luxuriant,..s so full of
lul e, that aun bout 3 feet will yield near a pint of
*lear tasteless sater; which has saved the lives (if many
i h) have wandered long in the woods, without anv ohelr
refreshment ofa liquid srt. 1815 I. a '1I Lere s
an-ther 'lr ul.ir pl.nt called the . i i lie stenl
is lull if a tasteless after 1864 (rlisecla. h 78 192f6
S.iaLeltt 74. 1952 1-(G( I re i,tiata-s'i wild ii rape e inc.

Illustrations from the National Library
of Jamaica

recently. Would you like to tell us some-
thing about the kinds of revision and
why you decided to revise it now.
Well, the reason we decided to revise it
was that the Cambridge University Press,
which had printed it told us, that is Dr.
LePage and me he was my collabor-
ator . they told us that they had
printed in the first place only a thousand
copies and they had thought at the time
that a thousand copies was an enormous
number and that they would never sell
them all, but actually they had come so
close to running out that they felt we
had better decide whether we wanted a
new edition or not. As it happened most
of those were not sold in Jamaica, they
were sold all over the world; libraries
everywhere got them. So we then deci-
ded that either we would abandon it, or
else revise it and have them print off
another number . I don't know how
many they printed. In any case, we did
revise it, and Dr. LePage had the very
good idea of trying to get our friends
and co-linguists in the other English
speaking places in the Caribbean, such
as Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and
Belize (which was still British Hon-
duras in those days), and various other
places, to look through the first edition
of the DICTIONARY to see which
of those words were used in their
countries and which were not, and
which meanings were different in these
places for those words. And they would
check them through and send them to
us. So that's what we got. We were able
to make little additions into the second
edition which would tell us whether a
word was or was not used in other parts
of the Caribbean.
In other words, the revised version is
perhaps more now a dictionary of Carib-
bean English than just Jamaican, in a

Well, it isn't quite that, but in a way,
yes. The other thing that the revision
did for us was that we had made very
few mistakes . I was rather pleased
with that . but there had been some
things that had puzzled us very much:
we had not been able to work out where
they came from, and no sooner was the
DICTIONARY published than I began
to find . I found three or four solu-
tions to the problems that we had had
the first time round. For example, you
know in Anansi stories you end up . .

Jack Mandora me no choose no more..

That's it . Jack Mandora mi no choose

none. There are a number of different
versions to that, of course. But the Jack
Mandora thing, nobody had explained
that, and I had thought maybe this
could be African, it could be Portu-
guese . it could be a lot of different
things . Anyway it turned out to be
English, just plain English. While I was
in England I heard a radio broadcast
which was introduced with the little
verse, a nursery rhyme which goes some-
thing like this:

I'll tell you a story
And this is how it's begun
I'll tell you another
Of Jack and his brother
And now my story's done.

Jackanory . I'll tell you a story ...
you see Jackanory . and now my
story's done . and the middle part is
dropped out . and you have 'Jack
Mandora ... mi no choose none'. That's
how the thing happened. This and two
or three other things that I had not been
able to solve before, once I did solve
them, I wrote articles and printed them
in scholarly magazines and then we were
able to take those out of there and put
them into the revised version ...

So that the public could be aware of

Yes, it improved the DICTIONARY.

Now, the revised DICTIONARY, we
noted, did not make any mention of
Rasta talk ...
Oh, it made some . not Rasta talk,
that was subsequent . Yes, the I-
Yes, by the time the DICTIONARY
came out I think the I-business was so
much a part of Jamaican language
that ...
Oh yes, in the revision we pay some at-
tention to it, but it had not been deve-
loped even among the Rasta themselves,
it had not been developed to that extent,
and it certainly had not been publici-
zed to the point where a lot of other
people, not Rastas, were imitating it
or at least aware of it. And another
thing that you can mention in that res-
pect is Reggae the music, I mean. The
music was developed after the first
edition of the DICTIONARY came out.

Yes, but in the revision . oh, you
mean the revision was not trying to do
big things, like putting in a whole other
input, for example the I-words...
We did ... we had a little supplement in

the first edition of words that came in
to us just before the DICTIONARY was
published and the thing was all set up,
and we felt those ought to go in so we
had a supplement that was put in then.
Now in the revision, the supplement has
been increased in size by about 2%, 3
times what it was in the first edition,
and it is in that supplement mostly that
you get things like, well, Rasta words.
We don't try to cover the entire Rasta
vocabulary, it would be too much and,
I think, is rather repetitious. But in any
case we did pay some attention to that;
we paid attention to Reggae music and
its origin. We paid attention to music in
the first edition; different kinds of songs
and dances. We put those in. We put in
everything, everything that was identi-
fiably Jamaican.

And something else important I think,
that you mentioned: the 'how' of your
collecting, in terms of the revision. Like
sending out to people who were in the
other territories and, I am sure, sending
out to Jamaican people to get responses.
The way the people in the other islands
would tell you what words were being
used .. In other words, although you
were not in Jamaica again for another
boutof field work, you were in touch...

Well, we had had a number of people in
various parts of Jamaica who had in-
terested themselves in it, who had read
the DICTIONARY, or consulted it, and
who wrote me letters and sent me
information, so of course I worked
those things in. I don't remember for
sure, but I think I may have written a
letter to the Gleaner saying we are going
to have a revision of this DICTIONARY,
if anyone has anything to offer, please
be sure to send it in. And I got some

I believe you did that, now that you
mention it ... I think I was very aware
of that...

(Laughing) I wouldn't put it beyond
me . So that's the sort of thing that
JOHN-CROW gkro, jingkra b;I would say, a corrected -
etym formation frontm its former name (still produced I would say, a corrected -
extant) CARRION CROW, wiich was reduced in though it didn't need much correction -
popular pronunciation to CYANCRO kyangkro
whence by affrtcation of kv- to tv- and but a corrected and improved second
voicing o both common phenomena edition. The only thing wrong with it
the folk speech-the form jangkro'. Concur- only with it
rent influence of such an African word as Ewe is that it is very expensive.
diLsigri, a large kind of fowl with sparse
plumage, is not impossible. The supposed I know, but people are buying it, at
association with the Rev John Crow (quot
1943) is apocryphal. Gardner (Hist Ja 91) least libraries are, and I think a lot more
mentions this clergyman and his unpopular
sermon, but makes no connection with the bird. people know of it this time round than
The sermon took place in November 1689 did the time before.
(Coad 99), but the first record of the bird's
being called 'John-Crow' is from 1826. (It
may be noted that the US Jim Crow was first Well, I think so, because the whole
recorded 182S--cf IDA.) Also attrib. study of Creole languages and pidgin
I. The red-headed turkey-buzzard Cathartes u a
aura. BL N languages has grown up enormously in

the meantime. You see, when the
DICTIONARY was begun, while I was
still making it, Dr. LePage was getting
people to come in and do other studies
of it and he was also getting inter-
national attention paid to it and scholars
from England and the Philippines and
all the other Caribbean areas, the United
States and even Hong Kong there
were various scholars there who had
been studying similar things, and Pro-
fessor LePage he got them in to Jamaica
and we had meetings at Mona. Several
books came out of this and other publi-
cations. So that by the time the second
edition of the DICTIONARY came out,
there were a great many more people
working in this field and that's why
the interest in it has grown steadily.

And JAMAICA TALK has been revised
a number of times too, been re-issued...

That was only once. Just once. I did
make little revisions; there again those
were mostly typographical revisions.
But it has recently been republished.

Is that so? Well, I think by now it has
become a household word almost, at
least among all teachers, the schools,
everybody I think knows about

Very good, very good. So much the
better. Spread the gospel.
And that is not half as expensive as the
DICTIONARY. I mean people can buy

Well, also the DICTIONARY is a fairly
technical thing while JAMAICA TALK
can be read by any literate person who
is interested in the subject. Although in
JAMAICA TALK I pay some attention
to grammar and other things like that,
I pay attention to all the things that I
should think Jamaicans ought to be in-
terested in: Jamaican birds there has
been some fine work on birds done in
Jamaica birds and fish and various
animals and trees, quantities of material
of botanical interest in Jamaica. So that
JAMAICA TALK ought to interest a lot
of people and make them more aware
of the riches of nature that we have in
that wonderful island.
Yes, and it has been doing that I can
assure you. This work that you and Dr.
LePage did, was pioneering work. We
want to know how satisfied you feel
with what has come afterwards. So
much work has developed, I would say,
out of what you have done; I see, for
instance, a Dictionary of Bahamian
English is coming out...

CUSTARD APPLE sb; also attrib; OED
1657-, ODS attrib 1819. The tree Annona
reticulata; its custard-like fruit. BA BL G N T
[1657 Ligon (1673) ii, Every one a dish of fruit..the
first was Millions, Ilantines the second, the third
Bonanos. .the sixth the Custard Apple.] p. 1660 Star: of
Jamaica MS Egerton 2395 489, Soursop%, Custard
Apples..besides plantings Pines &c. 1696 Sloane 205,
Anona maxima.. The Custard Apple-Trce. (Current.)

FAST Ifaas/ adj and vb dial; usually spelt fast,
but also fas, fass, and once fauce in dialect
writing; A. adj: Interfering; meddlesome; presuming
or impudent; quick to intrude in others'
affairs. BA T
1873 Rampini too, He told me..that I was too d--n
fast, and I was too mannish. 191o Anderson-Cundall 28,
John Crow say him a dandy man, but him put on bald
head fe mek fas' s'mody fine fault wid him. 1924 Beck-
with 54, Monkey didn't want Bredder Spider to marry
his daughter as he thought Bredder Spider was too fast
and beneath him. 1933 McK 316, Fass, impudent,
officious. 1943 GL StC, Fauce, inquisitive. 1956 Me
Man /im tu lass/He butts in; StAnd /a no fi yu bizniz-
yo tuu faas/ It's none of your business-you interfere too
anuch !
B. vb intr: To meddle, interfere. N
19oo Murray it, Look, yah boy, I tell you not fe fass
wid my biness. 1954 LeP Kgn, StAnn, StT, Faas, fast,
to meddle or interfere. 1956 Mc Port /yu gwain faas in
dl plipl-dem sese?/ Are you going to interfere in those
people s quarrel?

Captions taken from Cassidy a, LePage,
Dictionary of Jamaican English, 2nd.
ed. 1980 c Press Syndicate of the
University of Cambridge, and Cassidy,
Jamaica Talk, Macmillan, 1971, copy-
rightc Frederic G. Cassidy, 1961.

It is out, now, as of last week.

Yes. Do you feel like a sort of grand-
father almost in terms of Creole in the

(Laughter) That's an interesting idea.
We certainly got out the first seriously
studied, seriously researched and high-
level lexicography in the Caribbean, that
is in the English Language in the Carib-
bean. There are some very good diction-
aries, for example, in Spanish of the
speech of non-literary Spanish, for ex-
ample Santamaria's Diccionario de
Americanismos, which is a very good
piece of work. But what we did was to
take the level which is the highest level
yet attained in lexicography, the level
of the Oxford Dictionary, the big Oxford
Dictionary, the one in thirteen volumes,
and we used that as our model. And
that's why, I think, we were able to
ENGLISH up to a very high level of

quality. So yes, I am very glad to see it
imitated. There is this one that is just
out, as I say, last week, the Dictionary
of Bahamian English. And one person
at this very meeting here in Suriname
is working on a Dictionary of Trinidadian
English. And there is a man who isn't
here this time, he is in the Virgin Islands
and is working on the Creole Language
there. And of course, there are several
other scholars working in Belize and
in Guyana and other places. So that
eventually we will have dictionaries
from all around. And then there is one
general dictionary as you know. Dr.
Allsopp is doing the Dictionary of
Caribbean English Usage. He has taken
on the entire Caribbean; that's a huge
job ...
A very big job....

Very big and very expensive, unfortun-
ately. That is what his trouble is now . .
to get the thing financed, because you
can't do that sort of thing without quite
an outlay of money . and yet we
linguists think that it is eminently worth
doing. You won't understand things
until you understand people's language.

I am glad you said this, because the next
question I was going to ask you is, when
you tell people that you are a linguist,
that is what you do for a living, people
tend to say 'Well, what is there to do
about this? What is this language bit
about? So . perhaps you could tell
me something about how you ration-
alize to yourself the fact that your life
has been spent with words; that it is a
valuable study which is not always
obvious to the man in the street.

Well, it isn't obvious to him, but it should
be, and it would be if he really stopped
to think about how he uses language
and how it would be if he couldn't use
language, if he couldn't communicate.
Ask any person who can't speak what a
tremendous handicap it is. Ask any
person who is really thoroughly deaf
what a tremendous handicap it is. We
use language the way we use the air we
breathe, the way we use our food -
you can't live without it, and be a
human being. In fact, as anthropologists
will tell you, language is the very proof
that we are human. We are all animals,
yes, in one sense, but we have that uni-
que thing that no other form of life has,
and that is articulate speech. And it is
something very profound in us and it
sets us apart from the rest of living
forms. And so as I say it is just so
essential to human life that if people

would only stop and think about it,
they would realize that. If you ever had
to stop breathing you would know what
air is worth. If you had to stop talking
you would certainly find out what
speech is worth, what language is worth
to us and how we couldn't live without it.
And how it has also been raised in many
ways to the level of an art, an art which
expresses the values of human life. We
couldn't get along at a high level, at a
really satisfactory level without poetry.
I mean even such things as the poetry of
folk songs and so forth we couldn't get
along without them. They mean a great
deal to us but . why do I spend my
life doing this sort of thing? Because
that's how I feel about it.

Which is the ultimate answer. That is
what you feel strongly about...

Yes, I also am apparently rather built
for this sort of thing. It comes to me
with ease and with pleasure, and so I
find myself doing it...
And we the receivers, I must say, are
very grateful for the enlightenment . .
we are talking a lot about culture and
our background and all the rest of it and
there is so little that we can find out if
people like you don't take the trouble
to dig in all sorts of ways and bring in-
formation to our attention. Now what
do you do in the United States of
America now, outside of working on
language ... what do you do?

Well, I am nominally retired. I am not
doing any more teaching, but before I
got into the state of nominal retirement
I had begun to make a Dictionary of
American Regional English. That is to
say, it's not slang, it's not merely dia-
lectal differences. Go all over the United
States, including all fifty States and you
will find that the same object is named
in different ways in different parts of
the country. Regional differences have
developed so that a thing is not called
by the same name in the north and the
south or in the east and the west. There
are regions in which it is called one
thing, and regions in which it is called
something else. And to map all of this,
to get a sense of where these differences
lie, seemed to me to be an interesting
way of studying the English language
in America.
Now I am not an inventor of that sort
of thing. There is a whole science of
what is called linguistic geography and
a great deal of linguistic geographical
study has been done in the United States.
The entire eastern coast and some parts

beyond the Mississippi River going west
and all of the west coast, California, and
Oregon and Washington those three
western States have all been studied
in this way. And the thing is that we
find these regional differences popping
up in one place or another. But the
linguistic geographers have been rather
slow about it and in any case their focus
of interest is different. I am a dictionary-
maker so I felt that was the way in
which the material could be made most
accessible. And we are making a big
dictionary, then, it will be in five
volumes and I hope the first volume can
come out in 1983. But that will be only
Volume I and there will be five volumes
before we can cover all this material.

In other words, this is really a continu-
ation, in a kind of way, of your interest
in dictionary-making.

Yes, lexicography means making dic-
tionaries and I am still doing lexico-
graphy and it will be some time before
we finish that fifth volume some
years. But we are well along with it.
Volume I should come out next year,
and then perhaps every second year
after that we can get out another
volume until the lot are done. So, wish
me good health.
Yes, you certainly have our very good
wishes. Now, Professor Cassidy, you
have children?

In terms of your own family, has any-
body decided to take the baton from

Oh, no, no, no. I didn't try to influence
them. You know, it is a surprise when a
professor's child becomes a professor,
it's quite a surprise. I might say it is pro-
bably the same thing with a Minister's
child becoming a clergyman or a clergy-
woman, these days. But my children -
two of them are lawyers, one is a pro-
fessional writer, the other one, the
daughter, is an anthropologist. They
all are interested in language in their
way but none of them has done any-
thing professional about it. But I don't
specially want them to. I want them to
follow their own stars.
But have you found that you have had
students who have become soenthusiastic
that you don't miss the fact that your
own children have not?

Oh, my students have, many of them,
become teachers, professors, and their
language training has done them good.

They have been able to use that -
language and literature, because I have
also taught literature. But in any case
I have had some very good students.
They have gone on to other universities
and done a lot of research and pub-
lication. It is the one way in which a
professor knows that he has done an
effective job.

I didn't realize that you also teach liter-

I taught Anglo-Saxon literature for
years and Middle English literature. I
have taught Old English Beowulf
Chaucer, Milton, the 18th century and
the general courses in English liter-
ature. Oh yes, without that you don't
really know the language.
So it is a very rounded view you have...

Well you see, you have to. If you are
going to know a language you've got
to know everything that is said or
written in that language. You can't
know everything but you can know a
great deal less than you should (Laugh-
ter). If you really get interested in a
language, it doesn't matter what langu-
age it is if you really get drawn into
it, there is a great, great deal to learn.
And you also should learn something
about the science of language or linguis-
tics, as we call it, so that you learn the
techniques of analysing it and of treat-
ing it, dealing with it, understanding it
in an orderly way, a scientific way, in-
stead of just picking up bits and pieces
and ending with a patchwork. That's
not the way to do it. The way to do it is
to do it seriously and put what you
learn together into an orderly kind of
scientific treatment. Well, the more you
do that the better kind of results you
are going to have, the better understand-
ing you'll have of it.

Well, Professor Cassidy, this has all been
about yourself as an academic person.
What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time? Well, right now it is
rather uninteresting. I would say that
my childhood in Jamaica meant a great
deal to me. I enjoyed very much getting
up into the mountains, I enjoyed walk-
ing, I enjoyed swimming and whatever
else there was going on. I wasn't much
of an athlete . I mean I did not play
football for J.C. I didn't win any sprints
for J.C. I was there for only a year and
a half anyway. But in any case the en-
joyment of living in Jamaica was very
great. And I think that I might have had

an interesting enough experience that
way so that some day I might try writing
something and call it A Boyhood in
Jamaica. Certainly I was fascinated by
nature as it appears in Jamaica, even
such things as red ants (Laughter)
you know, just all sorts of things, plants,
fish . going fishing, watching people
stand on the Palisades and throw out a
line and pull in a jack or something.
Very interesting.

And this you think will probably be a
novel or some kind of fiction....

Oh, no. Nothing as pretentious as that.
Not fiction. No, it would just be an ac-
count of what I remember of a boyhood
in Jamaica, which was an exciting ex-
perience as I recall it. And I don't think
I am romanticizing either. I just did en-
joy it very much. I had to leave Jamaica
when I was eleven years old and need-
less to say there has been a lot of home-
sickness connected with it, but I have
become thoroughly adapted to the
United States and very appreciative of
American life as I know it. I gained a
great deal by it. Just the kind of train-
ing I got in language was something that
I probably couldn't, certainly not at
the same time, couldn't have got in
Jamaica, so ...
In any case, Jamaica has always been
accessible to you in a way, so it is not
as if you feel that you could never have
it anymore.

Oh no, I have come back every time I
coutd manage and I would come back
willingly any time that it can be man-
aged, but of course travel has become a
bit expensive these days and besides
I am tied down with my dictionary.
I can't get away as much as I would
like to. Some day I am going to make
the grand tour of Jamaica again ...

And you still have family there, do you?

Not really. No, the last of my family
have left and so I haven't any. I have a
few surviving old friends, but no family

So we would say then that most of your
life now is about lexicography, about
the dictionary. Your spare time is taken
from you in a sense because you are
working so hard at this?

Yes, I put in a full week every week.
And we are working very hard for that
first volume right now so I am probably
putting in between 40 and 50 hours a
week of work at the present time.

Anansi- Jamaica's Trickster Hero

by Laura Tanna


The Jamaican trickster, Anansi, has
developed a reputation far beyond
that of the original character brought
with slavery from West Africa. The
original Akan-Asante name of Kwaku-
Ananse has been shortened to Anansi,
but the word still means 'spider', as in
the original Twi [Cassidy 1961].
According to Asante tradition, Kwaku-
Ananse's wife, Aso, advised her husband
how to capture a Python, a Leopard, a
Fairy and Hornets so that Anansi could
buy the Sky-god's stories. Nyankopon's
stories thus came to be called Anansi
stories [Rattray 1930 pp. 55-59]. This
same spider character is found in folk-
lore of the Hausa and various other
peoples of West Africa.
In Jamaica, the first extensive collect-
ion of Anansi stories was made by an
Englishman, Walter Jekyll, and pub-
lished in 1904 by the Folk-Lore Society.
Jamaican Song and Story was subse-
quently reprinted in 1907 and again in
1966. Curiously, the second major
collection of Jamaican oral narratives,
made by American Martha Warren Beck-
with, is little known in Jamaica. It was
recorded in the 1920s and published in
several volumes by the American Folk-
Lore Society [Beckwith 1924, 1928,
The 1940s saw the first movement
among Jamaicans themselves to publish
folklore and Louise Bennett was in the
forefront. Anancy Stories and Poems in
Dialect was published in 1944. A 1950
volume of Anancy Stories and Dialect
Verse includes 12 Anansi stories by

feathers loaned him by the birds,
Anansi attempts to fly to Bird
Cherry Island. (Illustration by
Susan Judah for Philip Sherlock's
EGGS, a bilingual (Spanish-English)
edition published by Operation
Friendship, Kingston, 1975.)

Louise Bennett in patois, while a 1957
volume, Anancy Stories and Dialect
Verse, includes 14 Anansi stories in
patois and five in standard English.
Louise Bennett's latest book, Anancy
and Miss Lou, came out in 1979 and
contains all of the Anansi stories in the
first collection and all but a few from
the second one, along with five new
stories. Philip Sherlock's Anansi The
Spider Man, appearing in 1956, is
another popular collection of 14 Anansi
stories, which have been retold and writ-
ten in standard English as short stories.
The narratives and information con-
tained in this article are derived from a
study of oral narrative performances,
the field work for which was conducted
in 1973 and 1974. "The Art of Jamaican
Oral Narrative Performance", with 32
narratives in patois, was completed in
1980 and emphasizes the performance
of oral narratives as a dramatic art form.
These narratives include both trickster
and non-trickster themes, but among
Jamaicans, the trickster character and
narratives are by far the more popular.

The Trickster Phenomenon
Trickster is actually an international
phenomenon, a curious creature whose
baffling nature can suggest an unmoti-
vated, undifferentiated, amoral character,
or a culture hero bringing benefits to
mankind. As Trickster, he is "greedy,
selfish, and treacherous; he appears in
comic andoften disgusting situations..."
[Davidson 1968 pp.176-82]. As a
culture hero, "all good and useful things
are either given by him, invented, origin-
ated, or taught by him" [Potter 1950
p.268]. It is this basic ambiguity that
intrigues and confuses people about
Trickster. In every trickster tradition,
his character traits are ambiguous, and
in every culture, his attributes vary. In
Jamaica, the portrait of Anansi, the
spider, is similar to that of his African
ancestor, although his divine association
with the sky god has been forgotten.
Only etiological endings which attribute
certain animal appearances or behaviour
to Anansi give any indication that he
was in Africa a creative culture hero.
Today, he is known in Jamaica
as a trickster par excellence, but a sur-
prisingly benevolent one compared with
others in the world. For instance, Coy-

ote of the southwestern American
Indians can be cruel and conceited,
even though he creates earth and brings
fire and food to his people. Unlike
Coyote, Anansi is usually cheerful in
his dealings with others. He may trick

them, but he is not malevolent.
Most of the tricksters in North Ameri-
can mythology are animal-human be-
ings. Characteristically the trickster is
greedy, erotic, imitative, stupid, pre-
tentious, deceitful; he attempts trick-
ery himself in many forms, but is more
often tricked than otherwise . . The
combined role of creator and trickster
in one character who is portrayed in
one aspect as altruistic and creative, in
another aspect as gross and greedy, is
puzzling to Indian narrators . [Pot-
ter 1950 pp. 1124-1125].
The trickster character is equally import-
ant among Indians of South America
where Fox is the vulgar, boastful trick-
ster of the Chaco, Quechus, and Aymara.
In Mataco and Apinaye folklore, Moon
is a trickster who vainly tries to imitate
sun but dies each time he attempts to
do so. The ambiguity of the trickster
and culture hero is resolved to an ex-
tent in the Amazon area with mythical
twins, each taking one role.
Fox also appears as a major trickster
in the traditions of the Japanese:
The Japanese fox, kitsune, tries to fool
people in many ways. The word bakeru
itself is hard to translate: it implies
transform, deceive, impose, be fraudu-
lent. The bakemono may be a ghost,
spook, apparition, spectre; but it is
principally the "thing", mono, into
which a fox, badger, cat has trans-
formed itself. Bakasu, furthermore,
means to cheat, delude, befool, hoax -
but also to bewitch or cast a spell ....
A most frequent "trick" of the fox
is to take on human shape [Casal 1959
There are several ways in which humans
can detect this fox in human form. One
of Kitsune's traits is reminiscent of the
Jamaican Anansi's speech: the fox,
while he can learn to talk like a human
in a year's time, experiences some diffi-
culty in pronouncing certain words or
Europe is not without its tricksters
and culture heroes. Hermes, the son of
Zeus, was the Greek god with winged
feet who flew to do his father's bidding.
Within the first day of his birth, he stole
Apollo's herds, gaining the title of
Hermes the Thief. Yet this same char-
acter is also the guide of the dead, lead-
ing souls to their last home.
The Scandinavian trickster hero has,
like Hermes, a reputation for being a
thief. Loki plays a part in both the cre-
ation and the destruction of the world,
and is equally at home among gods,
giants, or monsters. His magic powers
allow him to change shape. He is "the
inventor of many useful arts which he
taught to man". A more spectacular
trickster and culture hero is the Poly-

-h- -- ^B = -6B---I __
ANANSI IN ACTION: Illustrations of Anansi and Thunder (top) and Brer Anansi's
Tree (below) are by Michael Jackson in David P. Makhanlall's books, BRER ANANCY
published by Blackie and Son, London.

nesian Maui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga, also
known in Melanesia and Micronesia. A
half-man, half-god, he
ranged over sea, sky, earth, and under-
world, to defy the gods and enrich
mankind. The prankish Maui stole fire,
snared the sun, raised the sky, trapped
winds, fished up land, altered land-
scapes, founded dynasties, made useful
inventions, and killed fabulous mon-
sters who plagued women and terri-
fied strong men [Luomala 1949
pp. 3-4].
Hlakanayana of the Zulu and Xhosa is
sometimes mentioned as a small furry
animal, more often as a tiny old man.
His tricks are the same, whatever his
appearance. Like Anansi, he meets with
both success and failure when he tries
to fool others [Calloway 1868 pp.4-5].
Among the Akan-Asante of West Africa,
Anansi the spider is associated with their
Sky-god but Anansi displays few super-
natural powers in the stories. In fact, he
often plays the role of a farmer seeking
to better himself. Greed is usually the
undoing of this master schemer who is
primarily a mischievous rather than
malicious trickster [Rattray 1930]. Not
all African trickster heroes are as plea-
sant as Anansi. The Dahomean Yo,

whose sister is married to the sky god
of thunder, acts as the king's agent to
exploit the people. He is a spoiler, a
disruptive force of uncontrolled energy.
Unlike the humorous and sympathetic
Anansi, Yo is too evil to be attractive,
but his actions occasionally inadvertent-
ly benefit mankind.

The trickster hero is thus represented
in many ways throughout the world. No
two tricksters are ever quite the same.
As Malinowski says, "myth comes into
play when rite, ceremony, or a social
or moral rule demands justification,
warrant of antiquity, reality, and sanc-
tity". He also shows that precisely be-
cause myth has this functional, cul-
tural, and pragmatic aspect, it is con-
tinually subject to change in response
to changes in human behaviour. It is
this principle that explains the differ-
en' roles which the trickster plays in
different mythologies [Brown 1947
p.46] .

The Role of Trickster

Trickster's ambiguity has long intri-
gued scholars and performers who ques-
tion whether he is a fallen god reduced
to the level of comic entertainment or a
trickster who developed into a culture

hero. Of greater interest is the fact that
this character, in both his beneficial and
destructive roles, occurs worldwide, ob-
viously expressing something very basic
to mankind.
Psychologically, the role of the trickster
seems to be that of projecting the in-
sufficiencies of man in his universe
onto a smaller creature who, in besting
his larger adversaries, permits the satis-
factions of an obvious identification to
those who recount or listen to these
tales [Potter 1950 p. 1123].
Common sense suggests that this argu-
ment must provide a partial explanation
for Trickster's widespread popularity,
since so many tricksters are small in
stature. But this does not explain why
so many are disruptive, even malicious
at times. Why should apparently evil
actions be glorified in narrative perform-
Jung diagnosed Trickster as represent-
ing all the inferior traits of character in
The so-called civilized man has forgot-
ten the trickster. He remembers him
only figuratively and metaphorically,
when, irritated by his own ineptitude,
he speaks of fate playing tricks on him
or of things being bewitched. He never
suspects that his own hidden and ap-
parently harmless shadow has quali-
ties whose dangerousness exceeds his
wildest dreams. As soon as people get
together in masses and submerge the
individual, the shadow is mobilized,
and as history shows, may even be
personified and incarnated [1956,
At the time he wrote this, Jung was un-
doubtedly referring to Hitler, but recent
history has provided other trickster
incarnations. Jung sees trickster mytho-
logy as a means of reminding civilized
man of the need for controlling destruc-
tive elements in himself: "The conscious
mind is able to free itself from the fas-
cination of evil and is no longer obliged
to live it compulsively."
Kerenyi shares the concept that
trickster narratives serve a therapeutic
function, but explains in a more positive
way the necessity of depicting selfish
and violent actions:
Disorder belongs to the totality of life,
and the spirit of this disorder is the
trickster. His function in an archaic
society, or rather the function of his
mythology, of the tales told about him,
is to add disorder to order and so make
a whole, to render possible, within the
fixed bounds of what is permitted, an
experience of what is not permitted
S1956 p.185].
Ruth Finnegan's discussion of the
therapeutic powers of trickster tales is
even more positive. She observes:
Not only does the trickster figure stand

for what is feared, his representation in
literature also helps to deal with these
fears. In the first place, he is represented
in animal guise which allows narrator
and listener to stand back, as it were
and contemplate the type in tranquility.
Further, by portraying him in stories,
people can show the trickster as him-
self outwitted and overreached, often
enough by his own wife. Again, by
exaggerating and caricaturing him to
the point of absurdity, they, in a sense,
'tame him' [1970 pp.352-531 .
A less clinical interpretation does not
stress so heavily the negative aspects of
the trickster hero. Levi-Strauss suggests,
for example, that he is a mediator. His
erratic and ambiguous behaviour can be
explained by the necessity of maintain-
ing a balance between two opposition.
Ultimately, the trickster hero emerges
as a mythological mediator between life
and death [1976 pp. 220-24]. This
analysis takes the trickster hero out of
the realm of morality, away from judge:
ments of good and evil, and places him
in the continuum of mythological
thought. Once man is aware of the con-
tradiction between life and death, he
resolves it in his mind by creating a
trickster hero who can mediate and
cope with both aspects of existence.
Similarly, Joseph Campbell expresses
the concept of the trickster hero in
terms of a natural process and not one
to be viewed within a conventional
framework of morality. He suggests that
Trickster is the uncontrolled but ulti-
mately creative life force. Trickster re-
. the chaos principle, the principle
of disorder, the force careless of taboos
and shattering bounds. But from the
point of view of the deeper realms of
being from which the energies of life
ultimately spring, this principle is not
to be despised [1968 p274].
In understanding the apparent ambiguity
of the trickster hero whose actions are
both creative and destructive, it is essen-
tial that he not be taken literally. Con-
ventional, particularly Western, concepts
of good and evil do not apply to what is
a symbolic representation of reality:
Primitive man did not imagine a crea-
tor of supreme goodness, for he knew
well enough that nature showed him a
double face and that in man himself
the same conflict was to be felt [de
Vries 1933 p.262].
The trickster narratives represent man's
existence in this natural state between
the two extremes of life and death.
Symbolically, Trickster's natural world
is peopled with plants, animals, and ob-
jects, not with human beings. He is a
creature conscious only of survival.
More often than not, he is unconscious

that his own actions can be either des-
tructive or creative, and so is amoral.
The trickster narratives are an artistic
expression of the world as it is, not as it
ought to be. The world as it ought to
be is the domain of non-trickster narra-
tives where the hero deals with other
human beings within a moral frame-
work. He may use the same tools and
tricks as Trickster, but his degree of
consciousness sets him apart from
Trickster. No longer is he undifferenti-
ated energy; no longer is he symbolic of
the uncontrolled life force. Where the
trickster spreads disorder, the hero seeks
to establish it. Together, they represent
the many faces of man.

How Spider Obtained the Sky-God's Stories

w akt A ,s he spldct. once wentr to ankonpon. the skyv-gd.
K n order de l\, s th sk\ I h o s rrnsi [Ihe skL -gi s-id. \\hat makes
yo ou carl n oo ahs I, hi thlldr aIns trl d m, .l id. "I kLno I
shall i able Therm thsie L -.-d sl. ( ,n and l IerflI to ns like
Kokolfu. PcLsal \ .tIlll .e.l. oi ,c t th t stre i unable to purchase
them., and sc -an u thare hr i nt itttrt r stt1 ttn ,, sat \ u t \u lll I
The spider said. "\\ tht e pr .1 tp,- i s, re The skvl-gd said.
"They cannot he Il. ICght fir .nMslthIni LLL pr (Onini. the pvthon. Os(lt. the
leopard, \lM ,n la e I n r .tr i in l n1 r. lhi lth rne rs. n I'hc spider said, "I
il hnng sa nc of all the e lnn i. andl, hat snre. I'll add m\ old neither.
Nsa,. the snxth child. hr K .l 1i,
The sLk-gao said. "( anld brlin th en t n 'he spider caie back. and
told his mother all aluntt rt. .-ir ng I sh I.- hu\ the torlsc of the sky-god.
and the sky ge l od st I 1isur laritn ()inll. the ptrhi n., (sll. the leopard,
\moat he fal r,. ald \ ,,s lesr .. l h IIrnt -dt. snr lls d I oraldadatd tu
to the Ihr and g-t I r, ht L -th e the ydpler It.s...llt.l hl -f ife.
Ao,. salng. \\ hat s 11 I dlr1 that nc ll5jy et ()nlon. the j\hnn' A~.so
said to hit. g Iu ao ff and ut a ranch ,f a palm tree. and ,it --tss ,rlng-
creelpr as nell. and bring them \nd the s1der car n back s irh then \nd
X. said. "Take them to the snream S~o \nansn t,.,k thcn, and. aa he ua
going alng. he said. "I's longer than he a. Its not so long as he, yoau lr. It'
longer than he

This excerpt from an Ashanti tale gives the
origin of the Anansi stories (from AFRICAN
(ed.), Pantheon Books, 1952.)

Characteristics of Anansi
Frequently, man is interpreted through
the use of animal characters. The physical
appearance of most animals in folklore
contains an ambiguity, for the physical
appearance of animals is merged in the
minds of the audience with human
forms. For instance, the Jamaican Anansi
still has the appearance of a spider, and
various natural features are incorporated
into Anansi's actions, but he also has
mannerisms which are completely hu-
man. He often carries a bag in which to
put his stolen treasures of rice, cherries,
yams, and fish; performers liken this to
the white egg sac which appears on
spiders. Spiders frequently inhabit roof-
tops or ceilings; performers explain that
Anansi does so because that vantage
point once saved his life.

The duality of the insect/human
character causes no confusion in the
minds of Jamaicans. Both audience and
performer know they are dealing with
basic human behaviour in these narra-
tives, but maintain the pretence of por-
traying and observing animal behaviour.
Occasionally, the mask slips in per-
formance, and the performer openly
acknowledges that Anansi is human,
as when a performer begins with the
words, "Anansi was a hunta man", or
when another states, "dis gentleman
were like a king he framed law in de
country but Anansi is a man who like
to heat what he got."
Performers will occasionally refer to
Anansi as a short, small man; certainly,
his most important physical similarity
with a spider is his tiny size. Anansi is a
trickster precisely because he is too
small and weak to take the things he
craves by force, and is too lazy to work
for them. Only his superior intelligence
compensates for his small stature. Over
and over, the two dominant ideas which
keep recurring when performers describe
Anansi are his intelligence and his greed.
All the miseries Anansi undergoes in his
battle with Dryhead in "Bredda Nansi
an Dryhead" stem from his exagger-
ated love of food. Anansi becomes a
prisoner of his most treacherous ene-
my in this narrative which is clearly
intent upon dramatizing the conse-
quences of outrageous greed.
Only the excesses of lust are never
indulged in Anansi's voracious desire for
the good things in life. The fact that
overt sexuality never occurs in the
Anansi narratives reflects the tradition's
primary orientation towards the edu-
cation and entertainment of children. In
Jamaica, overt sexual humour is chan-
nelled instead into 'Big Boy' stories.
The excesses for which Anansi is
punished are generally those of greed
and vanity, but his cunning usually gets
him out of difficult situations. Perform-
ers reiterate this point: "Im have a lot
of tactics in im", and "Bredda Anansi
is a man dat im is very smart, an im
neva get in no trouble, because im
use im brains". Anansi is best known for
the way in which he uses his brains to
ensure that his victims fall into the trick
he has prepared for them. He may use
some form of psychology on his victim,
forbidding him to do a thing, thus en-
suring that the victim will want to do it.
This works in "Docta Anansi an de Pig",
when he forbids his wife to go for the
doctor. Anansi may indulge in flattery,
as he does when he convinces Monkey

Anansi and his band set off for the
palace in "Yung-Kyung-Pyung",
one of the best-known Anansi tales.
(Illustration by Marcia Brown in
Philip M. Sherlock, N.Y.: Thomas Y.
Crowell, 1954.)

to wear the tell-tale sheepskin suit in
"Nansi Steals Backra Sheep".
Anansi may appeal to his victim's
greed, as he does in "Anansi Cycle 1",
when he persuades Tiger to put a bar-
rel of soft ashes under him to catch all
his grease when he falls. Or Anansi
may simply arouse his victim's curios-
ity, as when he digs into pure rock-
stone in "Pa John Tricks Anansi".
These are not in themselves tricks,
but rather ingenious techniques of per-
suasion which give Anansi a reputation
for being smarter than anyone else.
Anansi sometimes uses supernatural
powers to achieve his ends, as in "Nana,
Hana, Reece", in which the performer
exclaims: "Anansi a sharpenin powa
pon dem". This 'sharpenin powa' of
Anansi's is a reference to
Psychic or spiritual power believed to
be possessed by individuals; it fluctu-
ates in degree; when it is high (cf phr
'in the power') it may manifest itself
through unusual ability to speak (elo-
quence, 'cutting unknown tongue',
etc.) and through increased influence
upon others, e.g., to heal . . 1950
Pioneer 31 ,Wen degal dem hear Anancy
song de whole a dem run out an crowd
roun' him. Anancy was eena powah
[Cassidy and LePage 1967].
Anansi's musical ability, to sing and to
play the fiddle, does seem almost magi-
cal. He cunningly capitalizes upon the
way music can change mood and emo-
tion to the point that it affects behaviour,
as when he seduces the lady through his
musical artistry in "De Missus Fe Me".
Anansi uses music to send messages
in songs in "Nansi Steals Backra Sheep",
or to distract his victims in "Fee Fee".
This use of music to influence behaviour
is not peculiar to Anansi, but seems
rather to be a general character trait of
trickster figures; even the boy in "Muma

Bury Guinea, Ma", plays a flute to dis-
tract the old woman before he kills her.
Anansi can usually rely upon his glib
speech to extricate himself from diffi-
culties. Ranny Williams's version of "Me
Fada's Bes Ridin Haws", reveals Anansi's
eloquence. Takuma appeals to Anansi,
I can't talk much [he's, yu know, a
man of slow speech], and yu is a talk-
ify man, so suppose yu could go wid
me and de two a we can talk to de
young ladies and yu can put in a word
fe me when I can't say sometin.
Anansi uses this vocal mastery to imitate
other voices, frequently deceiving victims
by pretending to be someone else, as in
"Nana, Hana, Reece".
His talent as an actor is evidenced
by his success in duping victims. Even
his own wife is deceived when he poses
as a doctor, prescribing her hog as his
medicine in "Dr. Anansi an de Pig".
His skills in both verbal mimicry and act-
ing are significant, because they help
Anansi to transform himself into other
characters in order to dupe his victims.
Much of Anansi's charm lies in his
nonchalant attitude towards authority.
He addresses the king in "Bredda Nansi
an Dryhead" with a breezy, 'Mawnin
Bredda King'and a lighthearted,'Howdy
do, Kinci' in "Garshani". When subjected
to the superior physical power of Dry-
head, however, Anansi is forced to be
So Bredda Dryhead sight im an say
[shouts): "Bredda Nansi."
Im say [obsequiously] : "Hee, hee,
yes Bra Dryhead, yes suh."
Say [shouts commandingly] :
An im come man!
Anansi is forced to play a subservient
smile-and-shuffle role with Whiteman,
even though the threat to him is only

implied in "Nansi Steals Backra Sheep":
"Well, I'll give yu a chance Mista Anansi
fe dis time, but de next time it so happens
yu cannot get no chance."
Im say [cheerfully] : "Awright, Backra
In both instances, his toadying attitude
towards force pays off because it gives
him time to devise schemes to overcome
the physically superior foe.

The 'Bungo' Element

The most distinctive physical char-
acteristic of Anansi besides his small size
is his lisp. He sounds comical because he
cannot pronounce his 'r's' and 's's'
correctly: 'All right' become 'ah yite',
'see' becomes 'shee', and so on. Cassidy
explains the linguistic background to
this lisp:

The combination of tr- (or str- or thr-,
both of which would normally be redu-
ced by the folk to tr-) and of dr-appear
to cause trouble for many speakers,
especially those whose speech is in
other ways old-fashioned. They substi-
tute /ch/ and /j/ respectively: tree
therefore becomes /chii/ (or /tyii/),
stringhalt becomes /chinghaalt/, drink
becomes /jink/ (or /dyink/), draw and
dry become /jaal and /jai/. Now this is
just the kind of substitution that Anan-
cy the spider makes when that hero
of the folk tales speaks: Jekyll has
him saying yaddy, fooyish, byute,
yitty, for ready, foolish, brute, little. In
explanation he is said to be tongue-
tied, but it is really something else:
'Bungo talk'. When we consider that
in the Twi language, for example, there
is no r sound, but that the other two
sounds are common enough, it seems
very likely that this feature is a relic
of Africanism [1961 pp. 41-42] .
The history of this 'Bungo talk' is rele-
vant because it explains Jamaica's
attitude towards its most popular folk
character. Cassidy and LePage [1967]

trace the word 'bungo' to the Hausa
word bungu, "A nincompoop, country
bumpkin . Often also applied to one
of unprepossessing appearance". They
further trace the origin of the Hausa
Possibly both this and the Jamaican
word have a common origin with one
or more of the tribal names for the
Bantu, Semi-Bantu, or Pigmy peoples
between the Niger Delta and the Congo,
the negroes of this area being held in
contempt by the more north-westerly
nations. (Cf., CONGO, CONGO-MAN
as opprobrious epithets.) Among the
Semi-Bantu of the Cross River area are
the Baboungo; among the Pigmies of
the Congo are the Bongo, and Bongo is
also frequent as a tribal name in the
region of the Nile-Congo-Niger water-
shed. (See Baumann & Westermann,
Les Peuples et les Civilizations de
L'Afrique, 1948 pp. 289-95.).
Taking into account that the Hausa
are themselves of mixed ethnic origin,
falling into the Hamitic or Afro-Asiatic
linguistic groupings and therefore non-
Bantu, it would seem that the pejorative
bungu of the Hausa has racial overtones,
as is borne out by the oral traditions of
the Twi-speaking people. It is ironic that
this African prejudice of one people
against another should not only travel
to the New World, but then take on
even wider racial overtones in the British
colony, coming to encompass all African
people: "Bungo . 1. In Jamaica an in-
sulting term meaning very black; ugly;
stupid; a country bumpkin; 'African';
etc." [Cassidy and LePage 1967].
People laugh at Anansi's lisp because he
sounds odd and childlike. But associated
with the lisp is the underlying conno-
tation that Anansi is a Bungo, i.e., a
black African peasant, until recently the
object of ridicule. Involved in this are
the ambiguous attitudes which Jamaicans

have towards their trickster hero. Anan-
si operates on two levels in the Jamaican
consciousness. On one level, he is the
comic trickster who amuses us by using
his wits and charm to survive. His small
stature sets him apart from other crea-
tures so that he appeals to our desire to
see the underdog triumph. Anansi also
operates on a more specific level within
Jamaica. When he speaks in 'Bungo talk',
he assumes the role of the black country
peasant poor, uneducated, and lower
class, i.e. the ghost of an African slave
past. None of this is ever stated in the
narrative, but it underlies the society,
as Rex Nettleford notes in his preface to
Jamaican Song and Story:
In Jamaica this descendant of the
West African semideity seems to take
on special significance in a society
which has its roots in a system of slavery
a system which pitted the weak
against the strong in daily confront-
ations too well-known to be narrated.
It is as though every slave strove to be
Annancy and he who achieved the
Spider-form became a kind of hero.
People like Jekyll sensed this in the
hero's descendants the Negroes for
whom, he says, "language... is ... the
art of disguising thought" (p.53). And
as if to be more positive, Jekyll notes
also that "straightforwardness is a
quality which the Negro absolutely
lacks". Annancy's admirers will prob-
ably reply that in order to cope with
an unstraight and crooked world one
needs unstraight and crooked paths.

Perceptions of Anansi

How Jamaicans react to Anansi de-
pends upon who they are, what their
position in society is, and how they
view themselves, not that the specific
application of Anansi need always be
associated with colour or class. A wealthy
businessman who outsmarts the tax
collector or customs officer may liken

himself to Anansi with pride. It is a
question of who is doing the deceiving
to get something for nothing and who
is being deceived. Since the middle
and upper classes have more to lose,
they tend to disparage Anansi the most,
and use him as a symbol for much that is
wrong with Jamaican society. Most
Jamaicans, however acknowledge Anansi
as a symbol used creatively for social,
political, educational, and entertain-
ment purposes, an idea which is re-
inforced by the appraisals of different
performers. Ranny Williams [in a per-
sonal interview conducted 22 Septem-
ber 1977] commented:
What a lot of people in Jamaica do not
realize is that most ordinary Jamaicans
who hear Anansi stories told, put
Anansi in a certain class, a person who
is just not the right type to emulate.
There is nochanceatall of the Jamaican
trying to be like Anansi, you know the
bulk of people. They regard him either
as stupid, as a funny person, or they re-
gard him as a bad type. So I mean the
few people you may meet who tell you
this nonsense about Anansi sets a bad
example for people, they're talking
nonsense, because people don't think
in that way at all . You just might
as well say you get the devil out of the
Bible. Hear what I mean. They know
the devil for the devil and they don't
try to emulate the devil. Well it's the
same situation.
In an interview, D.F. Shalland declared:
Up to now when people want to tell
that you're smarter, say you're Anansi.
Tanna: But then how do you feel about
teaching children about all these tricks
and getting away with them? Do you
think this is a good idea?
Shalland: No, no, I don't think it's a
bad idea. Definitely, it's not a bad idea.
You see there are some of these stories
have a lot of morals in them, while
some jus only go by de way, as a joke.
But there are some dem tell you, has a

Anansi and Bees. (Illustration by
Joan Kiddell-Munroe in WEST
Sherlock, Oxford University Press,

lot of moral in them an are very intere-
sting to anybody, even to children.
In effect, Shalland sums up the role
Anansi the trickster plays in the lives of
Jamaicans. Whatever his actions, inter-
preted variously as educational or enter-
taining, Anansi is respected for being
smarter than anyone else.
Secondary Characters
Anansi is not the only narrative char-
acter to have survived the middle pas-
sage, but he is the only one to have as-
sumed an identity outside the actual
narratives. The other characters in
Jamaican oral narratives are insignifi-
cant beside Anansi and appear primarily
as dupes for his tricks. Takuma and Tiger
are his standard victims. The name
Takuma comes from the Twi word
"ntikuma, son of Anansi". Most Jam-
aican performers are unaware that
Takuma is Anansi's son in African
narratives. Jamaicans describe him sim-
ply as a friend. Their ignorance of his
spider identity explains why Jamaican
performers cannot give a physical des-
cription of Takuma. Today, many per-
formers use Tiger and Takuma inter-
changeably. Monkey and Dog are also
Anansi's frequent dupes. Although Rat,
Bug, Donkey, Puss, Lizard, Cunk, and
Goat all fall victims to Anansi's tricks,
they sometimes trick him in return. Alli-
gator, Fish, Shark, and Turtle are all crea-
tures of the deep, used interchange-
ably as stupid victims. They are always
dupes and never appear in any other
role. In contrast, creatures of the air,
such as Bird, Dove, Peeny-wally or
Candlefly (a firefly or lightning bug),
Peafowl or Guinea Hen, Rat Bat, Pigeon
or Chicken Hawk, are more intelligent
and ethical than Anansi, and never fall
victim to his tricks. Characters include
those living in water, who are mindless,
inferior; those living on earth, who have
all the foibles of human beings; and
those living in the air, who are more
intelligent and ethically superior to
One category of animals falls outside
this general hierarchy. They function
simply as objects of Trickster's desire,
and include Hog, Pig, Cow, and the
Lady or Princess. The only other hu-
man characters to appear, King, Busha,
and his wife, are impartial authority
figures who occasionally provide moti-
vation for Anansi's tricks by offering re-
wards. The one character in the nar-
ratives who is not animal, fish, or fowl,
emerges as Anansi's implacable enemy:
Bredda Dryhead, a character never

, ,L ,L

clearly delineated, but dangerous, hav-
ing magical powers (he is hard to get
rid of), and prob to be visualized as
skull-like. . 1942 HPJ, Dry head -
dry kull dryskull a mythological
character (Death?). 1950 Pioneer 86,
[Anancy] heard something drop like a
cocoa-nut off a tree. .. It was no fruit
Anancy saw but Bredda Dry Head on
theground [Cassidy and LePage 1967].
Performers describe Dryhead as a man
who knows 'science' or black magic -
what Jamaicans call obeah. His most
effective weapon is an ability to make
fire blaze from a person's mouth, or
more commonly, from his anus. Rather
than dupe the trickster as other char-
acters occasionally do, Dryhead forces
Anansi to do his bidding through a com-
bination of bullying, pain, and fear.

The Mechanism of the Trick

These characters are united in trick-
ster narratives through the mechanism
of the trick. By its nature, a trickster
narrative is composed of at least one
trick, a trickster who performs the trick,
and a dupe who is the victim of the
trick. The trick is a device or stratagem
perpetrated by one character with the
intention of deceiving another. It is the
performer's task to make the success or
failure of the deceit an entertaining ex-
perience for the audience. He begins by

Anansi, Tiger and Monkey
set off, Anansi carrying the
lunch box. (Illustration by
Marcia Brown in ANANSI
Philip M. Sherlock, N.Y.:
Thomas Y. Crowell, 1954.)

creating a pattern, giving the narration
an incipient form which is completed
when the pattern recurs. The perform-
er introduces a model, a set of images,
which is established through repetition
[Scheub 1975 pp. 353-77]. As members
of the audience begin to understand the
pattern of repetition well enough to
anticipate it, they become emotionally
involved in the images. The first part of
the trick is the model: Trickster demon-
strates an action or describes it, convin-
cing his intended victim to imitate it. If
deception or illusion were not involved,
then the dupe would repeat the identi-
cal model. No change would take place;
no trick would occur. However, in the
repetition of the model some change is
included so that it is impossible to re-
create the original model. The trick is
rhythmic in the sense that it is com-
posed of two parts which are almost the
same, but not quite. The mechanism of
the trick resembles the mechanism of
metaphor because repetition and vari-
ation are built into the trickster pattern.
The first part of a trick, which is the
trickster's demonstration model, is not
in fact what it appears to be. For in-
stance, in "Tishiki", Anansi verbally sets
up the model for his trick:
Me a go in a de oven and yu lock de
door, an when de oven a get hot, I wi


bawl out say: "tishiki" an yu open it,
let me come out.
When Anansi enters the oven and calls
"Tishiki", the monkeys let him out, as
in the verbal model he described to
them. If the identical pattern were re-
peated in the second part of the trick,
there would be no change in the narra-
tive. Instead of duplicating the game
exactly, however, Anansi deceives the
monkeys and refuses to let them out. It
is in this shift in the juxtaposition of
two images almost identical, but not
quite -that the dramatic point is made.
In this case, the monkeys are baked in
the oven.
When the original trick is repeated in
reverse, as subsequently occurs in "Tishi-
ki", a mirrored patterned image-set is
formed. We see here how the pattern of
trickster narratives controls the char-
acters. Even though Anansi was the ori-
ginal instigator of the trick and logically
should know better, when the monkeys
go into the oven first, he releases them.
The first part of a trick always proceeds
smoothly to provide an ideal model.
Now when he enters the oven, the mon-
keys refuse to release him. The shift
occurs to ensure that the two parts of
the trick are not identical. In the shift,
Anansi is transformed from trickster to
dupe, and the monkeys bake him. The
poetic justice of the narrative emerges
when the two patterned image-sets are
themselves juxtaposed, so that the initial
predator is seen to suffer the fate of his
original victims.
The first part of the trick is either a
lie or an illusion effected through dis-
guise or substitution. The trick is possible
only because deception, disguise, or sub-
stitution allow an action to be repeated
with a variation. By substituting a stone
for his knife, Anansi creates the illu-
sion of throwing his knife into the water
in "Bredda Nansi an de Melon Field".
The dupe imitates what he erroneously
perceives as Anansi's actions (the illusion-
ary model), and throws his own knife
into the water. The trick occurs because
the victim acts on the illusion of Anansi's
action and not the actual occurrence. If
the victim also threw a stone into the
water and kept his own knife, there
would be no trick. There would only
be true repetition. Both Anansi and his
victim would still have their knives. The
action is patterned by rhythmic repeti-
tion, and when the real and illusionary
actions are compared, the trick is clear.
The dupe, however, is never allowed to
compare the two different actions. For
the trick to succeed, he must believe

Spider ties up Leopard in
preparation for a frightful
tornado. (Illustration by
Gerald Sichel in CUNNIE
by Florence M. Cronsie and
Henry Ward, E.P. Dutton,

that he has repeated the action exactly.
The performer allows members of the
audience to see the difference between
the real and illusionary action so that
they can participate in the enjoyment of
the success of the trick.
Repetition is inherent in the action
of one character playing two roles.
When a trickster disguises himself to de-
ceive his victim, the character is repeating
himself with a variation. The victim be-
lieves the one character to be two differ-
ent characters. For the trick to be suc-
cessful, the victim must not see the
real character behind the disguise. Only
the audience can be aware of and thus
compare the two roles. If even one
other character within the narrative can
see the trickster beneath his disguise,
the trickster's deceit is bound to fail.
In "Nana Hana Reece", [p.32] Anansi
stumbles across a ready-made model for
a trick which he can manipulate to his
advantage only by disguising himself as
Sista Goat. The model which lends itself
to the trickster's manipulation is actually
a stratagem Sista Goat has devised to
protect her three kids from Anansi. A
single expansible image forms the basic
narrative structure. A song is repeated
whenever Sista Goat wants her three
children to lower or raise the rope ladder,
her only access to their treetop refuge.

Rhythmic repetition allows the per-
former to organize the different ele-
ments of performance. The tune of the
song is always the same, but the words
vary, depending upon the message to be
conveyed. The first half of each line ex-
presses the action of the narrative, so
the words change whenever the action
changes. The message is either 'Let me
down', 'Sen de rope', or 'Pull me up'.
The model upon which Anansi will base
his trick is first demonstrated by Sista
Goat. She sings the song three times so
that the pattern for lifting or lowering
the rope is well established.
Anansi now tries to repeat the real
action of Sista Goat visiting her kids; he
wishes to duplicate her model, substitu-
ting himself for her. The trick will work
only if Anansi can succeed in transform-
ing himself into Sista Goat to deceive
her children. He disguises his voice to
sound like Sista Goat. The audience
knows what he is doing. It has seen
the original model, the first half of the
trick, and it now sees that he is substi-
tuting himself for the mother. But the
kids do not see that. They are deceived
by his disguise, and accept the illusion
which he creates. With each recurrence
of the song, with each repetition of the
clapping that accompanies the song, the
members of the audience have learned

ANANSI STORIES still have the power to delight, especially if the storyteller is 'Miss Adina' (Adina Henry of August Town, St. Andrew) shown
here with her great-grandson Jeffrey MacGregor (at left) and neighbours Fiona Beckford (standing) and Lavern Simpson.

that the rope will go up or come down.
They know that the rope must come
down now, bringing the kids within
Anansi's grasp, but it is not clear that
Anansi will succeed. The audience is,
therefore, in a state of emotional anx-
iety, anticipating the worst, hoping it
will not happen.
It is towards this climax that the per-
former has been steadily guiding her
audience. Initially, the performer turns
them against Anansi through her verbal
introduction she introduces Sista
Goat and her 'three lovely kiddies',
'de tree beautiful kiddies', and the
villain Anansi 'like a ravin shark ova
dem'. She has also created in the audi-
ence a desire for change by skilfully
manipulating reiteration in combination
with recurrence. The words in the first
half of each line of the song change with
each repetition, i.e. they recur. At the
same time, the words in the second half
of each line remain the same and so are
repeated over and over, i.e. they are re-
iterated. This repetition and variation
create a strong rhythm, and, by the
tenth time members of the audience
have heard the refrain, "Nana Hana

Reece", there is the danger that they
might become bored with it. The iden-
tical repetition of verbal, vocal, and
nonverbal elements of performance be-
comes repetitious. But the performer
ties this repetitious refrain to changing
verbal elements, thereby preventing the
entire song from becoming boring. With
each recurrence of the song, different
verbal images are created, Sista Goat
coming and going from her kids, Anansi
attempting to do so as well. This vari-
ation enables the audience to feel a
sense of narrative movement. Simulta-
neously, the reiteration of the refrain.
with the same rhythm, the same tune,
creates in the audience a desire for
change. It is at this moment that the
mother arrives. The verbal elements are
altered to create a new action designed
to protect the kids. She sings: 'Cut de
rope'. Instead of remaining constant,
the other elements also alter. The steady,
even rhythm of the song picks up, the
tone becomes frantic. The regular clap-
ping becomes continuous and urgent,
communicating to the audience the
mother's fearful rush to save her chil-
dren. Onomatopoeia completes the image

of Anansi's downfall as he drops to his
end BOP accompanied by one last,
loud clap. The abrupt breaking of the
verbal, vocal, and nonverbal rhythm re-
leases tension in the audience; the result
is a feeling of relief for the safety of
the kids.
Had the real mother not interfered to
expose Anansi's disguise and reveal that
one character was playing two roles, the
trick would have succeeded. The audi-
ence has from the beginning seen the
difference between the real action and
the illusionary one. When the children
are brought to see it, the trick fails. The
audience enjoys the failure of Anansi
partly because of the verbal introduction
with which Miss Adina, the narrator,
began her performance. She empha-
sizes what a good character Sista Goat
has, and how fortunate she is to have
both Brotha Tiga and Brotha Spider
willing to protect her; and conversely,
what an evil, dangerous character Anan-
si has for trying to harm the kids. Miss
Adina usually describes her characters
and provides motivations for their
actions before patterning the narrative
imagery. This is one of the ways she

shapes the narratives to suit her purposes,
particularly when performing for her
ten grandchildren. She ensures that her
audience will identify only with those
characters she intends them to. Her nar-
ratives are often didactic in nature,
many having as their theme the import-
ance of mother-love and the responsi-
bility of motherhood. But these themes
are not inherent in the trickster nar-
ratives, nor do they necessarily arise out
of the comparison of different images.
In this case, there is a verbal description
of theme, a mother's concern for her
children, which is then illustrated by a
In juxtaposing the image of Anansi
falling from the treetop house with the
image of Sista Goat being lifted to the
house, it is clear that the images are not
really different. The central action, lift-
ing or lowering a character to or from
the house, is still the same; only the
characters change. The comparison of
these repeated images reveals the skele-
ton of the metaphoric process which is
fully developed in more complex narra-
tives. A strong, rhythmic repetition of
the central song creates a pattern, organ-
izing a series of images, each of which is
slightly different from the others. This
moves the narrative chronologically. In
this narrative, only the first part of the
metaphoric process takes place. The
final comparison which reveals that one
character is unsuccessfully substituted
for another, simply illustrates the
mother's vigilance in protecting her
young. No synthesis occurs in the jux-
taposition of images which reveals a new
action, thought, or underlying theme.
The potential for metaphor is contained
in the comparative pattern created by
the performer, but that potential is
never realized in this trickster narrative.

This potential for metaphor in trick-
ster narratives varies from those in which
rhythm is created by the simple repeti-
tion of words, characters, and roles to
those in which repeated sets of images
are compared. "Whitebelly Mek Brer
Nansi Kill Im Mada" [see story on
p. 34], comes closer to metaphor than
any of the other trickster narratives in
my collection. It actually compares two
different images as its conclusion. It
bears a marked resemblance structurally
to "Tishiki", the first trickster narrative
cited in this article, but disguise and
diverse imagery develop "Whitebelly"
into a more interesting narrative thema-

The model for the first trick is estab-
lished verbally. We do not see Anansi
himself breaking the ears off his own
baby corn. The performer only tells
us that Whitebelly should do it. His
promise that 'Yu get big yellow corn',
is a deception. Whitebelly imitates the
illusionary action, and destroys his
entire crop. The performer does not
allow us to see the first half of the trick,
so, like the victim, we cannot compare
the reality with the illusion. After the
corn dies, it is clear both to Whitebelly
and the audience that Anansi never
really broke the ears off his own corn.
Only then can the reality be compared
with the illusion to reveal that Anansi
has successfully tricked Whitebelly. The
trick is better understood only after it
can be compared with the second pat-
terned image-set.
In contrast to the first trick, narra-
tor Thomas Rowe allows the audience
to watch the developing details of the
second one. The audience is watching a
play within a play, and can predict and
anticipate the dupe's behaviour. The
audience knows what Whitebelly's real
actions have been, but Anansi does not.
The second half of the trick is funny be-
cause Whitebelly does not need to per-
suade Anansi to imitate his model. Both
the audience and Whitebelly know An-
ansi's greed is so great that he will do
anything if he thinks it will make him
rich. And so he goes home and kills his
own mother, only to find at the funeral
that she does not give him riches.
In trickster narratives, if there is no
reason for a victim to suffer, the audi-
ence tends to sympathize with the dupe
and not the trickster. For instance, in
"Bredda Nansi, Bod and Hole", a series
of innocent victims falls into Anansi's
trap. The repetition of their victimi-
zation serves to build antagonism
towards the trickster. When he himself
finally suffers the same fate as his vic-
tims, the audience feels a sense of vin-
dication. In "Whitebelly", there is no-
thing inherently amusing or enjoyable
about Anansi being tricked into killing
his own mother, but his actions become
amusing because his motivation is so
base: "Yu riches give. Dead yu bute,
dead an yu riches gi me". Anansi's greed
is so overwhelming that the audience
cannot help but feel that he gets the
riches he deserves.
Moreover, the audience enjoys Anan-
si's downfall because he is being paid
back for the first trick. The first pattern-
ed image-set, composed of the two parts
of the trick which destroys Whitebelly's

corn crop, is balanced now by the second
patterned image-set, composed of the
two parts of the trick which destroys
Anansi's mother. The two different
patterned image-sets are juxtaposed.
The outcome of the first trick is the
destruction of Whitebelly's corn. The
outcome of the second trick is the des-
truction of Anansi's mother. Until the
connection between the two different
sets of images is understood, the audi-
ence does not fully appreciate how well
the narrative is balanced. Only when
Anansi comes for a meal and discovers
Whitebelly's mother alive and cooking
in the kitchen does he discover that he
has been tricked. Only when members
of the audience make the underlying
connection, between Whitebelly's corn
and Anansi's mother, do they realize
that both are sources of food. In juxta-
posing the apparently different images,
the audience realizes that, in manipul-
ating the killing of Anansi's mother,
Whitebelly has destroyed Anansi's source
of food, just as Anansi destroyed White-
belly's food when he caused the killing
of corn. Together, the apparently differ-
ent parts of the narrative form a struc-
tural and thematic whole.
The closer narratives approach meta-
phor, the less obvious repetition be-
comes. The rhythm, the repetition and
variation, in a simple narrative like
"Nana, Hana Reece" is easy to observe.
The rhythm in a narrative like "White-
belly", is less obvious. In "Whitebelly",
there are no songs, no repeated sayings
or words, and no repeated nonverbal
actions. Repetition extends from the
physically overt rhythm of song, gesture,
and word, to the mental rhythm of
comparing different images. Apparent-
ly different ideas are rhythmically pat-
terned in metaphorical relationships. It
requires a degree of mental concen-
tration by members of the audience to
discover repetition inherent in the differ-
ent images. When the repetition which
creates an underlying relationship bet-
ween different images is understood,
narrative theme is revealed. This use of
metaphor to pattern oral narratives oc-
curs more often in non-trickster nar-
ratives than in trickster ones, which
tend to be dominated by the action of
the trick and the characteristics of the

Fears are often expressed about the
future of Anansi stories and other as-
pects of Jamaica's folklore in a rapidly
changing world.

There need be no fear that Anansi
will disappear, for he has emerged as a
folk hero and symbol, independent of
the actual narratives in which he ap-
pears, assuring his acceptance into the
mainstream of modern Jamaica. The
oral narratives, however, do face an un-
certain future in a changing culture. The
electronic age, with its radio, juke
box and television which remove enter-
tainment and education from the realm
of active performance or participation
to passive reaction to imported acti-
vities, threatens to erode traditional oral
art forms.
The oral traditions are still alive, even
in urban areas, but they are frequently
found in pockets of poverty, existing
only where older performers live and
where electrification has not yet reached
or cannot be afforded. Fewer children
are learning the old-time ways and as
the older performers die, their know-
ledge and talent are lost to Jamaica.
However, rapid modernization need not
necessarily be the enemy of oral tradi-
tions; if utilized properly, it can provide
the most honest and accurate means of
recording a nation's culture. The advent
of photography, tape recorders, and
video machines provides the means of
capturing cultural traditions without ex-
cessive expense. Organization, some capi-
tal investment and hard work are necess-
ary to seize the initiative to put these
tools to work now, while oral traditions
are vibrant.


/ Folklore
BECKWITH, Martha Warren, Black Roadways,
1929; reprinted New York: Negro Uni-
versities Press, 1969.
Jamaica Anansi Stories, New York:
G.E. Stechert and Co., 1924.
Jamaica Folk-Lore, The American Folk-
Lore Society, XXI. New York: G.E.
Stechert and Co., 1928.
BENNETT, Louise, Anancy and Miss Lou,
Kingston: Sangster's Book Stores Ltd.,
Anancy Stories and Dialect Verse,
Kingston: Pioneer Press, 1957.
"Miss Lou introducing Bredda Anancy",
Skywritings Magazine, 1, No. 16 (Dec.
1977), 15-16.
CLARKE, Dorothy, WILSON, Una and
others, Anancy Stories and Dialect
Verse, Kingston: Pioneer Press, 1950.
BURKE, Eddie and GARSIDE, Anne, Water
in the Gourd and Other Jamaican Folk
Stories, London: Oxford University
Press, 1975.

BURKE, Edmund Newton, Stories Told by
Uncle Newton, Kingston: Jamaica Wel-
fare Ltd., 1943.

CAMPBELL, Peggy and STERLING, Monica,
Lover's Leap and Other Folk Stories,
Kingston: Jamal Foundation, 1976.
CLARKE, Dorothy, The Adventures of Brer
Nancy, Kingston: Jamaica Social Wel-
fare Commission, 194- n.d.)
GRADUSSOV, Alex. (ed.) Anancy In Love,
Kingston: Jamaica Publishing House
Ltd., 1971.

JEFFREY-SMITH, Una [Wona], A Selection
of Anancy Stories, Kingston: Aston W.
Gardner and Co., 1899.

JEKYLL, Walter, (ed.) Jamaican Song and
Story, 1907; reprinted New York:
Dover, 1966.

LEWIS, Matthew Gregory, Journal of a West
India Proprietor 1815-17, 1834; Lon-
don: George Routledge and Sons Ltd.,
LOPEZ, Vernon, "Two Folk Tales", Jamaica
Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2, June 1972.

MAKHANLALL, David P., Brer Anansi Strikes
Again, London: Blackie and Son, 1976.
The Invincible Brer Anansi, London:
Blackie and Son, 1974.

MILNE-HOME, Mary Pamela, Mamma's Black
Nurse Stories, Edinburgh and London:
William Blackwood and Sons, 1890.
MURRAY, Henry G., Manners and Customs
of the Country A Generation Ago,
Tom Kittle's Wake, Kingston: E. Jor-
dan, 1877.

MUSGRAVE, W.S.A., "Ananci Stories", Folk-
Lore Record. 3, Part I (1880), 53-54.
SHAW, Marie, "The Woman Who Married A
Bull Cow", Col. by Jeanette Grant.
Music Trans. by Olive Lewin. Jamaica
Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 1968.
SHERLOCK, Philip M., Anansi and The Alli-
gator Eggs, Kingston: Operation Friend-
ship, 1975.
,Anansi The Spider Man, London:
Macmillan and Co., 1956.
The Man In The Web and Other Folk
Tales, London: Longmans, Green and
Co. Ltd., 1959.
Three Finger Jack's Treasure, Hong
Kong: Jamaica Publishing House, Ltd.,
West Indian Folk-Tales, London: Ox-
ford University Press, 1966.
SMITH, Pamela Colman, "Two Negro Stories
From Jamaica", Journal of American
Folk-Lore, IX, No. XXXV (Oct. -
Dec. 1896).
Annancy Stories, New York: R.H.
Russell, 1899.
TANNA, Laura, "The Art of Jamaican Oral
Narrative Performance". Ann Arbor
and London: University Microfilms
International, 1980.

TROWBRIDGE, Ada Wilson, "Negro Customs
and Folk-Stories of Jamaica", Journal
of American Folk-Lore, IX, No. XXXV

II Other works cited
BROWN, Norman G., Hermes the Thief,
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press,
CAMPBELL, Joseph, The Masks of God: Pri-
mitive Mythology, New York: The
Viking Press, 1968.
CASAL, U.A., "The Goblin Fox and Badger
and Other Witch Animals of Japan",
Folklore Studies, XVIII 1959.
CASSIDY, Frederic G., Jamaica Talk, London:
Macmillan, 1961.
and LePAGE, R.B., (eds.) Dictionary
of Jamaican English, Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1967.
DAVIDSON, H.R. Ellis, Gods and Myths of
Northern Europe, Baltimore: Penguin,
DE VRIES, Jan., The Problem of Loki, Hel-
sinki: Finnish Folklore Communi-
cations No. 110, 1933.
ELLIS, A.B., The Tshi-Speaking Peoples of
the Gold Coast of West Africa, London:
Chapman and Hall, 1887.
FINNEGIN, Ruth, Oral Literature in Africa,
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.
HAMILTON, Edith, Mythology, Boston: Little
Brown and Co., 1942.
JOHNSTON, H.A.S., A Selection of Hausa
Stories, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966.
JUNG, C.G., "On the Psychology of the
Trickster Figure" in Paul Radin (ed.),
The Trickster: A Study in American
Indian Mythology, London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1956.
KERENYI, Karl, "The Trickster in Relation
to Greek Mythology", in Paul Radin
(ed.), The Trickster: A Study in Ameri-
can Indian Mythology, London: Rout-
ledge and Kegan Paul, 1956.
KRAPPE, Alexander Haggarty, The Science
of Folklore, London: Methuen and
Co., 1930.
LEVI-STRAUSS, Claude, Structural Anthro-
pology (trans. Monique Layton), Vol.
II, New York: Basic Books, 1976.
LUOMALA, Katharine, Maui-of-a-Thousand
Tricks: His Oceanic and European Bio-
graphers, Honolulu: Bernic P. Bishop
Museum Bulletin 198, 1949.
POTTER, Charles Francis, The Standard Dic-
tionary of Folklore, Mythology and
Legend, Maria Leach (ed.), New York:
Funk and Wagnall, 1950.
RATTRAY, R.S. (ed.), Akan-Ashanti Folk-
Tales, Oxford: The Clarendon Press,

SCHEUB, Harold, "Oral Narrative Process
and the Use of Models", New Literary
History, VI, No. 2, 1975.

".. the book is undoubtedly informative and demon-
strates the result of a great deal of research ....
.... .a book into which the casual
reader may dip and find something of
considerable interest."
" ... To those who love to learn ofJamaica's history
this book will be a tremendous mental treat."
- Sir Florizel Glasspole, Governor General of Jamaica

All books available at

12-16 East Street, Kingston
Telephone: 92-20620

A Novel by Neville Dawes

"INTERIM is a well written
book, well worth reading...
... one must credit the author with providing us with
an exciting story and coming out on top with his fine
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"Few books can delight as INTERIM in its exhilar-
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Yet the book is not all fun and games, the city is
waiting and so is Politics.
INTERIM is a well-written and intricately structured
work... it unemphatically explores three attitudes
to the universe: 'Christian, Existentialist and Marxist'.
To me it seems one of the finest of Jamaican novels."
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the theme of a Jamaican people struggling for an
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Sfor the Jamaican, it is equally so,
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feeling .... The author of
LEOPARD has done his
-Z country and his countrymen
distinguished service." -The BAJAN,
January 1979
Little is known outside of the Caribbean of
the part played by the Jamaican guerilla Juan de
Bolas in the adventure which established the English
in Jamaica. THE JAMAICANS is the great novel
which provides a magnificent tale of these times.

in Jamaica only

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t V..

Isi Stories


Performed by Adina Henry
Collected and transcribed by Laura Tanna
!Musical transcription by Vibart Seaforth


J -.
'ib di

S ista Goat have two lovely have three lovely kiddies.
Name dem One was Nana. One was Hana, an de
udda were Reece. So de tree beautiful kiddies goin
up and down wid Sista Goat. Brotha Nansi was like a ravin
shark ova dem. Everywhere she can go wid de kids he was
around her, have something to say to her uh about de
beautiful kiddies. But one of de times Brotha Nansi approach
er uh -it was Brotha uh Brotha Tiga said to er:
"You know what, Sista Goat? You betta watch yuself
an dem tree pickney wi you have. Cause Bredda Anansi is
sharpenin powa pon dem."
She say:
"Yes ah know. An is dat mek me all confuse. A cyaan get
nowhere to live. Fe everywhere a go a believe a fin Bredda
Anansi hidin an dodgin all about de place."
Bredda Tiga said to er:
"A know a friend. Im have space dat would be safe."
Well she says dat she not going to worry wid is safety. She
goin to seek er h'own. Well anyhow [opens her eyes wide]
she were goin along an while goin along she meet Brotha
Spida. An Brotha Spida said to er:
"Sista Goat [aside] (Spida an Anansi were cousins.) Sista
Goat, Anansi a me cousin an doh we bredda, mek me tell yu
Anansi is sharpenin powa pon yu tree kids today."
She said:
"Yes Brotha Spida, a know. But a cyaan get [shakes her
head] somewhere safe to leave dem."
He said:
"Folla me. A goin to get a place [points] fe-yu, yu will
An im carry er, which is he in person tek de chance before
im meet er, an carry er now, an show er a place where es goin
put er. And de place is like [unintelligible because of back-
ground noise] an e works fast on is face an e web backward
an forward until e got a lovely strong rope leading to de
cotton tree where de limbs branch off [spreads arms open] an
leave a bed inside. So Bredda Anansi h'everwhere e [Sista
Goat] were to live Bredda Anansi folla er so e lose sight of
er. Afta, Bredda Spida took er up [pushes hands up] dere
she went fe her children an dey go h'up an afta dey went up,
Brotha Spida tek away de rope bridge dat e mek fe dem. An
den now she en er children [pushes forward with both
hands] up dere in safety.

While she were dere now, she show de tree little darlins
how to go up an come down [pushes down]. So she went
in now an she said to de children when she want to come
down, tie a long rope round er waist [sings]:

sJ tIoll I I \'
Let me dung Na- na Ha- na Reece Let me dung

S- L m n i' f I nI R t m i
Oh Let me dung Na- na Ha- nalReece Let me dung
Ir I l
It, . I," I "" '" '


Let me ng Ha- na Reece Se-
Let medung Ha- na Reece Se-

Dat time she reach, when she says [sings] : Sering.

Dat time is de word she reach on. And she gone. De children
haul up back de h'empty rope. And Anansi [unintelligible]
an watch er until e found out where she live and afta
finding out where she live, he try to find out [finger to eye
and then points away] how she lift up and e did, fur he went
dere one h'evenin when she came home from work. An e
listen to er and she said to de children [sings] :

[waves hand], not very long before, an e said to de children
[sings in same voice as mother]:

Sen de rope Na- na Ha- na Reece Sen de rope

Oh Sen de rope Na- na Ha-na Reece Sen de rope


De children sen down [points around and down] de rope to
him. E tie de rope around is wais. And e said to dem- now
[sings in same voice as mother]:

--- -- i

Pull me up Na- na Ha- na Reece Pull me up
l&- i

Ii -

Pull me up Na- na Ha- na Reece Pull me up

Oh Pull me up

na Ha- na Reece Sen de rope

I I I I I I v I/ I
Sen de rope Na- na Ha- na Reece Sen de rope

Sen de rope Ha-na Reece Se- ring.

An de children lower [downward motion] de rope to er
an she tie h'it around er wais. She said to dem now [sings]:

Pull me up Na- na Ha- na Reece Pull me up
IA- -

*P Ie u N Ree P- I
Pull me up Na- na Ha- na Reece Pull me up

Oh- Pull me up Ha- na Reece Se- ring

An she reach up [motions upwards, coughs].
De nex evening Anansi decide an e reaches dere before er

And as e said [sings]:
Pull me up [eyes wide],
Sista Goat come in an saw im almost up in de cotton tree.
Sista Goat said [sings in fast, frantic voice, clapping loudly]:

Cut de rope Na- na Ha- na Reece Cut de rope
P -r Na n0 If

Oh- Cut de rope Na- naHa-naReece cut de rope
1 'N i. t I

Oh -

Cut de rope Ha- na Reece Se-

[Claps continuously on last line.]

Anansi drop off on de earth [claps hands down] BOP an
dat was de end of Mr. Anansi -
[Woman from audience: "Oh nice."]

- an Mada Goat an er tree kiddies live appily fe days afta
de death of Mr. Anansi. [Laughter from everyone.]

I v I -
Sen de rope Na-


I- -

ADINA HENRY is an 85-year-old oral narrative performer who was born in Glengoffe, St. Catherine. She has worked as a 'jippy jappa' weaver
and domestic helper. While in Gloria Lannaman's employ, her talents as a performer inspired the radio series, "A Time to Remember" in which
Mrs. Lannaman modelled the role of 'Sta Bea' after 'Miss Adina'. She also appeared in the film, "Cedric and His Grandmother" and occasionally
performs Anansi stories on television.


Performed by Thomas Rowe
Collected and transcribed by Laura Tanna

nce upon a time Brer Nansi an um [Asks someone
in audience and they remind him "Bredda Whitebelly"]
an Bredda Whitebelly, de two a dem go out an dem cut
a portion a lan to plant corn. An dem plant corn but White-
belly corn strive an bear more dan Brer Anani. One day
Anansi go an say:
"Bra Whitebelly, yu shee dat likkle shooting a de shide
deh. Yu bruk dem out, yu-know, yu get big yellow corn."
An Whitebelly no go tru an im bruk out all de corn baby
an waiting fe get bigga ear a corn. An instead a bigga ear a
corn all de corn tree dry up. Whitebelly say [puzzled voice]:
"What I mus do now?"
And im go and im tell i to im friends-dem. An dem plan.
An what im do, im go to im friends an neighbas an im
borrow up a whole heap a money an cry out say mada de
dead. An im get men an dem buil a coffin an dem bore
holes undaneat de bottom. An dey trow all dose money now
inna de coffin an de day when dem go fe bury, when every-
ting finish, de las ting now is fe put de de de body inna
de grave, Whitebelly say, say:
"Ma, what yu got fe gi me, gi me. Mek everybody see it."
And he spread out one white sheet down deh-so an im
pull de cork out undaneat de bottom a de coffin an money
pour out pon de sheet, money pour out pon de sheet. Brer
Anansi see dat. Anansi say:
"Eh, yu mean to shay Brer Whitebelly dead yeh yeh-

yeh Brer Whitebelly mada dead an yet im sho rich?"
[Laughter from audience at stuttering.]
An im go home now. An when im go home de mada -im
mada was sick. But anyway she neva lie bed. She was in de
kitchen. An im go inna de kitchen an im pawn de mo morta
tick an im lick im inna de head an im say:
"Dead yu if yu dead." [Laughter and giggles.] "She die.
Whitebelly mada dead. Yu riches give. Dead yu, bute, dead
an yu riches gi me."
An de mada dead. [Much laughter.] Im call out say
mada say:
"Ma dead."
An de people-dem gada roun an dey help im, dey help
im an dem dig de grave an dem mek de coffin. But he neva
know Whitebelly tactics. When dem go a grave an when every-
ting was done, im say:
"Ma, all what yu got, yu gi me. Gi me mek everybody
An dey shake, an dey shake, an dey shake an nuttin
come from de coffin. He say:
"What a ting, eh? A how me poor bwoy deh go manage?"
An dem go home. A couple days run out. Whitebelly invite
im to a dinna a home. When im go an when dem a eat de
dinna, dinna sweet im. He hear pot knock inna kitchen. He
"Brer Whitebelly, a who dat kitchen?"
He say:
"No ma?"
An when Anansi im say:
"No! Yu ma no dead yong time."
Im say:
"No, ma inna de kitchen. If yu tink a lie come look."
An Anansi an Whitebelly get up an when dem go a kitchen
an im go see Whitebelly mada no dead, Anansi meks so
WHOPS [claps hands] an nobody see im again. Jack Mandora
said it.

Whitebelly "White-Belly Rat sb. 1. The cane rat . 2.
Transf. A deceitful or hypocritical person." DJE, p.470.
Bute, i.e, brute.

THOMAS ROWE, a farmer in his fifties, is a Maroon from Accompong,
St. Elizabeth. He is a nephew of the acclaimed oral narrative performer,
Baba Rowe, who was featured in R.B. LePage and David De Camp's
"Jamaican Creole", Creole Language Studies I.

Illustrations by June Bellew

- 0 0


Anansi is fascinating not only to story-
tellers but to artists who continually
struggle to create graphic images of the
spider-man. Some of these artistic per-
ceptions of Anansi were shown on the
preceding pages.
Michael Auld, a Jamaican now resident
in Washington D.C. is the only artist so
far as we know who has illustrated and
published a comic strip based on the
Anansi character. Samples of the
strip, published in Jamaica's afternoon
paper the Star in the late 1960s, are
shown on these pages. Mr. Auld has also
designed a soft sculpture (toy) of the
Anansi character and written and
illustrated a children's book, How
Anansi Came to the New World now
awaiting publication.
In order to explore the creative process
behind the artistic conception ofAnansi,
we asked Mr. Auld to tell us how he
arrived at his particular visualization:

I first developed my Anansi char-
acter in 1966 while I was an under-
graduate student in the Department
of Art at Howard University. I took a
course in book illustration and was
asked by the professor to illustrate a
child's book as a class assignment. I
chose to develop my own version of
Anansi the spider for one of the stories
from Martha Warren Beckwith's]amaican
Annancy Stories, and researched those
human and insect characteristics that
could be combined to portray my
interpretation of this folkloric hero.
In my mind,as in the original African
conceptualization, Anansi was a true
spider/human and not just an insect
with human-like qualities. In other
words, Anansi was not just a spider
that mimicked human behaviour,
he was a combination of both species
that resulted in a being able to com-
municate with the Supreme Being
(Nyame the Sky God also known as
Nyankopon who is similar to Jehovah),
humans, and other animals. I there-
fore researched the anatomical
structureof spiders and the artistic
renderings by Africans of the human
Anansi, the spider, was from Ashanti,

By A. Michael Auld

- 1 L i r -i

Ghana, and if I were to develop a true
African visual concept of a spider-man I
had to go to the source. The Ashanti
version of human representation in their
artwork was, in my estimation, not car-
toon-like so I took artistic licence and
borrowed from the style of 15th and
16th century Benin (Nigeria) bronze
plaques. Making Anansi part Yoruba
in facial features was allowable since
Jamaica has a large group of Yoruba
descendants. However, in order to make
Anansi's face more spider-like I elimin-
ated the distinctively Yoruba nose that
I continue to use in other cartoon ren-
derings of humans. Anansi's large round
eyes were based on a simplified version
of a spider's compound eyes.
As a child, I remember Anansi's
voice narrated with a speech impedi-
ment (e.g. 'yikie' for 'little', etc.)
Illustrating protruding front teeth was
one way to visually represent this
speech impediment.
Anansi's body is based on the struc-
ture of a spider in which the head is
fused to the thorax (chest). The legs
and abdomen are also attached to the
thorax. Spiders have eight legs but more
than four legs is difficult to illustrate
in cartooning so I converted two upper
legs into arms, eliminated two more
legs, and kept four lower legs on which
Anansi could walk upright. The above
mentioned process is one of the ap-
proaches to character development in
cartooning, film animation or story
My Anansi stories have always been
basedin researchinto our Afro-Caribbean
past. We in Jamaica have lost a lot of
traditional names from the original
stories told in Twi (one of the languages
spoken by Akan peoples to which
Anansi and the Ashanti belong). Anansi
the spider is Kweku Anansi, Kweku is
the male name of one of the days of the
week after which some Akan children
are named (Anansi's first name is similar
to "Thursday's child" in some Western
cultures). Jamaica's Brother Takooma is
Intekuma, one of Kweku Anansi's sons.
Osebo the leopard became Brother Tiger
in the translation from Twi to Jamaican
English.Some names for other characters
in Akan tales are Odenkyem the croco-
dile, Lufwelema the chamelion, and
Owo the python. These are just a few
of the traditional concepts that I tried
to reintroduce to the Jamaican reader
through my ANANSESEM comic strip.
ANANSESEM, by the way, is an Ashanti
word for Anansi stories. All stories, the
Akan tale goes, belong to Anansi since

T 1' F-V7 -'- l-rr

they were given to him one day in a
competition held by Nyame, the great
sky god. From that day on all stories
were called "Anansesem" in Anansi's
I chose the route of writing and illus-

Rnarna~e em

treating a newspaper comic strip using
the popular folkloric hero, Anansi,
because of the power of those media
to easily communicate to a wider num-
ber of people parts of their tradition
that were ignored by formal education.

by Mike Auld

F MAN. Eri&

fynan*, m

I I I_

by Mike Auld

An Orchid Portfolio
Watercolours by Helen Adelaide Wood and H.Q. Levy
(Courtesy of the Natural History Division, Institute of Jamaica)
Text by Ancile Gloudon
Colour transparencies by Keith Morrison, Institute photographer


according to C.D. Adams (Flowering Plants of Jamaica)
Jamaica has about 220 orchid species, of which 33 are
endemic (i.e. found only here).
While the word 'orchid' to the uninitiated immediately
conjures up the hothouse vandas and cattleyas of orchid
corsages, most of Jamaica's species are small-flowered, i.e.
with sizes of less than /2 inch, and they are not really bright-
ly coloured. Their beauty is subtle, rather than showy, and
they sometimes demand close scrutiny to reveal the fascin-
ating structures and colour combinations, which these draw-
ings show. Because many orchids are easily hybridized,
knowledgeable orchid growers have over the years been able
to create interesting combinations of these species. What is

(The orchids described below are shown on
the following two pages)

Bletia florida, Bletia purpurea
These two orchids can be found flowering
January-April along the banksides of many
country roads over 1000' in elevation. They
are true terrestrials, i.e. growing in the ground.
The long palm-like thick-veined leaves all arise
from the top of a flattened bulb. The flowers
grow on a spike up to 3' tall which arises
from the side of the bulb; up to a dozen
flowers will be found on a spike.
Bletia florida is the smaller of the two species.
It bears reddish-purple flowers, while those of
B. purpurea are a lighter purple to pink. How-
ever, the main difference is in the lip that
of B. florida has 5 white crests, 3 of which
reach down to the edge of the lip, while B.
purpurea has 7, 4 of which do not reach the
edge of the lip. Bletia florida is also found in
Cuba, while B. purpurea is more widely dis-
tributed and occurs in Florida, Central
America to Venezuela, Bahamas, Cuba, His-
paniola and Barbados.

Brassia caudata, Brassia maculata
'Spider Orchids'

These are easily recognized from the spidery
appearance of the flowers, which bloom main-
ly June to September. These two species of
Brassia are found in forest areas above 2000'
and resemble each other, though they are not
normally found growing together. Brassia
caudata is rather more widespread. The main
difference between the two species is that
B. maculata is larger in all parts, is lighter
green, almost yellowish, in leaves and bulbs,
while B. caudata is dark green. This difference
in coloration goes for the flowers as well.

surprising about orchids in general, and many of the orchids
illustrated here, is that some might be considered 'giants'
among flowers, e.g. the flower stalks might be up to 3' tall.
Illustrated here are those regarded as among the most
common of Jamaica's orchids; no illustration could be found
among these watercolour collections of Epidendrum verru-
cosum, but a description is included because it is so widely
Five of these orchids are among the endemics and the rest
occur naturally here, except for Phaius tancarvilleae which
was introduced. But it has adapted so well to its new home

that it too must
common orchids.

Both have brown spots against a greenish
background in the case of B. caudata, and on
a creamy background in B. maculata. These
Spider Orchids are epiphytic (i.e. grow on
trees), although they might also be found
growing in leaf mould on the forest floor.
The flower stalk is up to 12" long and bears
up to eight spider-like flowers which are
about 5" overall in length. Brassia caudata
also occurs in Cuba, Hispaniola and Trinidad
and B. maculata in Guatemala, Honduras
and Cuba.

Brassavola cordata
'Lady of the Night'
The beautiful fragrance arising from this
flower at night has given it its popular name.
This orchid is found almost all around the
island, especially on old guango and mango
trees. It is also found at elevations up to
2000' near the coastal areas. Each stem of
this plant carries one pencil-shaped leaf which
varies in length from 4-15", depending on
variety. The flower spike arises at the juncture
of the leaf and stem and is about 6" long,
carrying from 5-12 flowers. These flowers
have overall dimensions of from 2-3%". The
sepals and petals are narrow ribbons that are
quite thick, while the lip is cordate i.e.
heart-shaped. The overall colour is greenish
white to light creamy yellow. The plant forms
a thick matting of a rhizome interlaced heavily
with roots that often have a reddish purple
tinge to them. Brassavola cordata flowers year-
round with a peak September-July. The plants
in the western end of the island are much
more upright, having larger leaves and larger
but much fewer flowers. Brassavola Cordata is
native to Jamaica. Brassavola nodosa, which
is also illustrated,originates in Central America
and Aruba.

now be counted among Jamaica's most

Broughtonia negrilensis
(formerly B. domingensis)
One of Jamaica's unique orchids, this is found
nowhere else in the world. What is more, it
occurs in a limited section of the island -
from St. Elizabeth to Negril in Westmoreland.
It flowers year-round, with a peak from
November to March. The flower stalk which
grows up to 2' long bears several pinkish-
mauve flowers, usually at the tip. The flowers
tend not to open fully, and are somewhat
tulip-like in appearance. They will grow up
to 2/" long and 1/2 2" wide. An albaa"
(white) form is also illustrated. An epiphytic
plant, Broughtonia is also found growing on
tree trunks and branches and in leaf mould
on the forest floor.
Broughtonia negrilensis is characterized by
flattish bulbs which grow in clusters, the leaves
arising from the tops of each.

Broughtonia sanguine
Another endemic, this closely resembles B.
negrilensis but is much more widespread
throughout the island, especially in coastal
areas, though numbers diminish somewhat
near the Negril area where B. negrilensis pre-
dominates. The flowers of B. sanguinea are
smaller and the colours are pink or red. As in
B. negrilensis, albaa" (white) and "aurea"
(yellow) forms are known, but these colour
varieties are extremely rare. Broughtonia san-
guinea flowers year-round, with a peak
April-September. It is one of the best-known
of the Jamaican orchids, and has in recent
years become prominent among professional
orchid-growers because of its ability to form
hybrids with Cattleya orchids, giving "Cattley-
tonias" which are usually of intense color-
ation, medium size, producing flowers more

. ..... .. Bletia purpurea

r7e, I|..-U!,Hf
Brassia caudata, Brassia maculata
'Spider Orchids'

/ /

Brassavola cordata
'Lady of the Night'

Broughtonia negrilensis
(formerly B. domingensis)

Broughtonia sanguinea


Bletia florida

Epidendrum cochleatum
'Brown Cockle-shell

,, ... ., ,._ Eidendrum fragrans
...:-: 'White Cockle-shell'

*.J. ~

lonoposis utricularioides

'Dancing Lady'

Oncidium tetrapetalum

Phaius tancarvilleae
'Nun Orchid'

*- T

than once per year. Quite often, the flower
spike branches after the original flowers have
died, and more flowers are produced. There is
a natural hybrid between both species of

Epidendrum cochleatum
'Brown Cockle-shell'

One of the most widespread of Jamaican
orchids, being found in the lowlands as well
as the higher mountains up to 4000' in places
like Clydesdale. An epiphyte, it is also found
growing on rocks, banksides, on leaf mould.
It flowers year-round, the inflorescence bear-
ing many flowers which open susccessively
over a long period. The flowers are upside
down, i.e. lip uppermost, almost entirely
brownish-purple, though some have a yellow
coloration near the tip of the lip. The sepals
and petals are light greenish yellow ribbons.
The overall size of the flower is about 2%/"
across. (Found also Florida to Venezuela,
Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Dominica).
(N.B. not shown natural size in our illus-

Epidendrum fragrans
'White Cockle-shell'
Another epiphyte. Not as widespread as E.
cochleatum but often found growing along-
side it, but does not usually occur at ele-
vations above 3500'. This has a creamy-
white flower, with the lip uppermost. The
petals and sepals are much wider than those
of E. cochleatum, thus giving the flower a
much rounder appearance. It flowers year-
round with a peak from April to September.
As its name implies, the flowers are very fra-
grant in the daytime. This occurs on the
American mainland from Mexico to Vene-
zuela and in the West Indies, including Cuba,
Hispaniola, Dominica, Grenada and Trinidad
and Tobago.

Epidendrum verrucosum
(Not illustrated)

Rather widespread throughout the island,
occurring at elevations from 1000-4000'. An
epiphyte, it grows on rocks, trees, or in leaf
mould. The plant will grow quite tall up to
8' and has thick stems which bear leaves
about 4" long and 2%" wide. The stem is
covered with several brown, warty blotches
which are rough to the touch. The flower
spike is up to 12" tall, lightly branched, and
bears several white or creamy-yellow flowers
about %" long and somewhat 'human-like' in
shape. It flowers January-April. Occurs on the
American mainland, from Mexico to Colombia,
and in Cuba.

lonopsis utricularioides
An epiphyte, it is found in several parts of
Jamaica, especially on old citrus, ficus, and
calabash trees at elevations from 500 to 2000'.
The flowers are borne in branches on a single
stalk up to 18" long. Each flower is about %"
overall length. The flower spikes usually
branch after the initial flowering, giving fresh
flowers. The plant flowers year-round, with a
peak from July to October. This orchid is
found from Mexico to Venezuela, and in the

West Indies, the variety in Suriname being
more pink than blue.

Oncidium pulchellum
'Dancing Lady'

The resemblance of its lavender-pink flowers
to big-skirted dancing ladies gives this orchid
its popular name. An endemic, it occurs in the
western-central part of the island near
Browns Town, as far south as Mandeville,
commonly in the Cockpit Country. Plants are
often found in old citrus groves. This miniature
orchid has no pseudobulbs and the leaves have
a fan-shaped appearance. The flower stalk is
up to 15" long, and is occasionally branched.
The flowers are light to dark pink, about one
inch wide, with a skirted lip. Flowering time
is April to June.

Oncidium tetrapetalum
Like 0. pulchellum, it is endemic to Jamaica.
These species are similar but 0. tetrapetalum
is much more widespread, occurring at ele-
vations 0-2500', quite often in conjunction
with 0. pulchellum, with which it forms a
natural hybrid. Both plants are also used by
growers for hybridization. There is a slight

difference in the structure of the flower
between the two the side lobes of the lip of
O. tetrapetalum are very small and do not
overlap with the main lobe of the lip as does
O. pulchellum. The leaves of 0. tetrapetalum
are also narrower. Some varieties of this plant
are fragrant. It flowers year round, with a
peak April-September.

Phaius tancarvilleae
'Nun Orchid'

A terrestrial which is widespread in the cool
hillsides throughout Jamaica, especially in
moist areas at elevations above 1000'. The
leaves are palmlike, up to 2' long, and 5"
wide. The large inflorescence arises from the
apex of the bulb and grows up to 3' tall, bear-
ing several long-lasting flowers 21/ -3" wide
that appear March-May. They are pale tan on
the outside and reddish-purple on the inside.
Phaius is a native of East Asia, and there is
some speculation as to how it was introduced.
One version holds that the plant might have
been introduced by an enthusiastic govern-
ment botanist. Another that the seeds were
unwittingly brought by Indian indentured
labourers in their jute bags.

The Watercolourists

Most of these illustrations are by Helen Adelaide Wood
(d.1927). They are among hundreds that she did of Jamaican
flora during the course of a career as a botanical artist which
started with the Botanical Department (forerunner of the
Agricultural Department) in May 1897. Little is known of
Helen Wood, except that she remained at the Botanical
Department until 1912 when it was reorganised. In July
1912 she joined the Institute of Jamaica as Museum Assist-
ant and remained at the Institute until June 1927 when she
resigned as Superintendent of the Museum because of ill-
health. She died shortly after. Many of her botanical draw-
ings (including some in this portfolio) were used by Fawcett
and Rendle in their Flora of Jamaica. Helen Wood presented
to the Institute of Jamaica all her botanical drawings of
orchids, 192 sheets in all, which she had made during the
period of her services on the staff of the Botanical Depart-
ment at Hope Gardens.
H.Q. Levy (whose illustrations of 0. tetrapetalum, I. utri-
cularioides and 0. pulchellum are used) was born in Browns
Town, St. Ann in the 1870s and lived there until his death
in August 1957. A mechanical and structural engineer by
training, he was also a pen keeper and civic leader. He was a
leading orchid grower and did numerous water colour illus-
trations of orchids as well as other flora and fruit. An exhibit-
ion of his drawings was mounted by the Institute of Jamaica
in December 1957. Part of his collection, from which these
illustrations are taken, is in the possession of the Institute.

Please note that the colours of some of the watercolours have
faded, and therefore might not be exactly as found in nature.

S -.

The National Library

of Jamaica

Storehouse of the nations memory



Z7- D

Rare Book Collection: At right, an autographed page
of Garvey and Garveyism by Amy Jacques Garvey,
and above, the earliest book published by a resident
in Jamaica under British rule, 1720.

An Introduction to the Library
students and scholars from all over
the world are among the regular
clients of the National Library of
Jamaica. They visit, telephone or write
to the library in order to study, learn or
conduct research from the wealth of
material on Jamaica and the West Indies
which makes up its holdings. The need
for information can be pressing not just
for scholars and students, but for mem-
bers of the general public and for insti-
tutions both in the public and private
sectors. From these, the library receives
every day requests for information on a
wide variety of topics. Preserving and
making available the resources necessary
for the research and information needs
of the society are central to the opera-
tions of the National Library of Jamaica.
Established in 1979 under the Insti-
tute of Jamaica Law of 1978, the
National Library was based on the
collection of an older library, the
West India Reference Library (WIRL)
of the Institute of Jamaica founded in
1879. The WIRL grew from a humble
beginning as a collection of books on
Jamaica and the West Indies in the Insti-
tute's public library into one of the
most comprehensive collections of its
kind on the West Indies. This was largely
due to the foresight and determination
of Frank Cundall, the Secretary/Librarian
of the Institute from 1891 until his
death in 1937. In spite of opposition
and with very little funds, he dedicated
his life to the building of a collection
designed to preserve the recorded heri-
tage of the country. Jamaica was indeed
fortunate to have had a library like this
to form the nucleus of its national coll-
With the increased emphasis being
placed today on our cultural and his-
torical heritage, it is not surprising that
a large percentage of the library's users
are students from secondary and ter-
tiary institutions, chiefly those located

EU .eno
i cr.~ea4 VdI, r r3b


V~ardtia) N.nes %lnW 5dL 4

- -M -.

in Kingston. They are primarily interest-
ed in using the printed material in the li-
brary, as many of the standard works on
West Indian scholarship are out of print
and often unavailable elsewhere. Even
when they are available they are very
expensive and with the limited or non
existent library resources at many edu-
cational institutions, it is not surprising
that students come to the National
Library for information.
However, as Jamaica is a small market
for publishers, material on local topics
in book form is relatively limited. The
student or researcher will also need to
seek information from a variety of other
sources such as newspapers, pamphlets,
and magazines. Here the library's coll-
ection of clippings files which date back
many years and cover a broad range of
subjects on Jamaica and the West Indies,
come in useful. The files contain clip-
pings from both local and overseas news-
papers and magazines as well as miscell-
aneous items such as brochures and leaf-
One does not have to be a scholar
or student to make use of the library's
resources. Many library patrons simply
require answers to particular questions.
Very often these enquiries come by the
telephone and when immediate answers
cannot be provided, the person is called
later and the answer supplied. Some
questions sound intriguingly simple but
somehow elude a quick answer. A recent
enquiry, for instance, on the date May
Pen became the capital of Clarendon,
necessitated checks being made in a
number of sources of information such
as the Handbook of Jamaica, a history
of Clarendon and the Jamaica Gazettes
before the information was found in
the 1948 Laws of Jamaica. Often the
information being sought is not avail-
able as, for example, the date of con-
struction of many Jamaican great houses
or the date of birth of National Heroes
Sam Sharpe and George William Gordon.


which all leave their impress,


A Research Officer assists a member of the public.

For the advanced scholar, the library
has a wealth of material which includes
most of the important and significant
works on the West Indies from the
early historical and descriptive accounts
in the 17th century to the present day.
Of particular value and interest are works
either printed in Jamaica or associated
with persons living here.
The library also has publications
which are unique. Two such works are
A letter from Don Bias de Lezo, the
Spanish Admiral at Carthagene, to
Don Geraldino . and A letter from
Don Thomas Geraldino in answer to
Don Bias de Lezo at Carthagene. They
were printed in Jamaica in 1740, by the
same family which introduced printing
to the island in 1718, and the library's
copies are the only ones known to have
The contents of the library's rare
books are often of interest not only to
the scholar but to the general public.
For instance, information on spices,
in 17th and 18th century published
material, was recently supplied to an
English film company working in asso-
ciation with a Jamaican government
agency, on the production of a tele-
vision series. On arrival in the island,
they filmed illustrations of Jamaican
history and social life as well as the
development of the spice trade from a
wide range of rare historic publications.
The important book collection is
only one category of the library's coll-
ection of printed material. The news-
paper library with copies of over 100
titles of Jamaican newspapers from 1718
to the present day is the most compre-
hensive collection of its kind in exist-
ence. The unique nature of some of
these holdings is very often discovered
by researchers during the course of their
work. For example, a post-graduate
student working on a biography of the
Jamaican 19th century patriot Robert
Love, found that the library's copies of

trick Telegraph as a medium of communication
with remote places. By means of this instrument,
the voice may be distinctly heard at long dii-
tances, connected only by a wire or a comiu on
piece of string. Messages inmy be 1nit frio< one
rocm to another room, or il m oine ;hosiet to )Onilth'r
house by this Telephone, without any other
person being able to hear, other than the two par-
ties in actual communication. In Box complete .4s,
or post free to any part of the island, t,- tli, r with
printed instructions, on receipt of 4s 6d in Postage
Stamps. DECO1tDOVA & (GALL, Sole Agents.
Th o War ,itiin.tinn .qt, (n '!l1ur'r
Newspapers are interesting not only for their news
items but also for their advertisements, such as this
one for the telephone, The Greatest Wonder of the
Day' in the well known Jamaican newspaper Gall's
Newsletter, 21 May 1878. At right, the front page
of Marcus Garvey's newspaper The Blackman, 20
July 1929.

Man's Place In The World.
TheNegrom asas Mch Right as Anyone Else
Marcus Garvey Points The Way
S T Possession.
AH Pic arc Equal I The Creation.

... KCA .l..t lUMICS GB~

Research being done trom a bound set of the Gleaner.

his newspaper The Jamaica Advocate
published between 1894 and 1905 was
the most complete set in existence. This
newspaper, along with the other early
ones, has been microfilmed by the li-
brary as a part of its general conserv-
ation programme.
Newspapers are heavily used as they
provide a wide range of information of
an economic, social and political nature
not found elsewhere. For instance, a
researcher doing a history of the Jamai-
can theatre has relied heavily on the
newspapers for information on per-
formances, reviews, names of casts,
etc. By going through the papers, he
has also been able to get an understand-
ing of the period which is important if
the cultural events are to be looked at
in the context of their time.
Of great value to him also has been
the library's collection of theatre pro-
grammes, an early example of which is
Sollas's Theatrical Souvenir Programme
of a performance at the Theatre Royal
in January 1897. If a library is aiming to
collect comprehensively on the society
it cannot afford to obtain items only
available through the commercial book
trade. Materials such as programmes of
cultural, educational and sports events,
posters and broadsheets provide a great
deal of information on people and
events. Often they are illustrated, and
so provide a good pictorial record.
Material on the Jamaican theatre is
also to be found in the manuscript coll-
ection, where, among estate journals,
diaries, scrapbooks, private letters and
other papers is a 'list of Entertainment'
at the Ward Theatre from 1912 to 1932.
From the document we learn that the
Ward Theatre was handed over to the
Mayor and Council of Kingston on
16 December 1912 at 4:30 p.m. by
Colonel Ward. The first performance
at the theatre was Gilbert and Sullivan's
operatta Pirates of Penzance which was
performed two days later, on Wednes-
day 18 December 1912.

The Ward Theatre was built on the
site of a previous theatre called the
Theatre Royal and photographs of it are
to be found in the library's photograph
collection. If we do further research we
discover that a theatre has been in the
Parade for a long time, as before the
Theatre Royal, there was the Kingston
Theatre, a print of which the library
also has. The reproduction of this print
has been used a great deal to illustrate
the cultural aspects of life in Jamaica in
the 19th century. In this way, some of
the prints are well known and they are
certainly the most visible section of
the collection. The most familiar prints
are the ones of Jonkannu figures by
Belisario, scenes by Duperly, Hakewill's
illustrations of Jamaican estates and
Kidd's views of Jamaica, as they have
been reproduced extensively in books
and journals as well as on christmas
cards and calendars.
These materials have not only an
esthetic value, but are useful in recon-
structing historical events. An example
of this is the lithograph of A View of
Montego Bay from Reading Hill by
Adolphe Duperly, from the library's
collection, which has been reproduced
on the cover of Vol. XIII of the Jamai-
can Historical Review, the Sam Sharpe
Rebellion 150th anniversary issue. A
dramatic portrayal of one of the high-
lights of the rebellion, it shows the
Reading Wharf in flames.
A number of archaeological projects
at former slave settlements have been
undertaken in recent years in an attempt
to arrive at a better understanding of
the slavery period. Before the excavation
work could begin, a great deal of work
had to be done in locating and identi-
fying likely sites, as most traces of these
settlements have long disappeared. Maps
and plans are essential for this exercise.
One of the reasons why Drax Hall in St.
Ann was chosen in 1980 as a site for
excavation was due to the wealth of
documentary material on the estate,

chiefly in the form of plans which exist
in the library. The location of the slave
huts on these cadastral maps made it
possible to identify the areas to exca-
vate. The artifacts found are still being
analysed and examined and should re-
veal valuable information on slave
Research Service
The resources of the library, parti-
cularly its illustrative materials, are
used frequently by government depart-
ments and agencies. This is especially
true of agencies responsible for culture,
public education, and information. The
library tries to help these organizations
as much as possible to identify and lo-
cate needed materials.
Many of the library's clients make
use of the library's resources by corres-
pondence. Most of them are abroad and
these mail contacts span the globe.
Within the past few months letters have
been received from Turkey, New Zea-
land, Jersey, Barbados, Spain and Suri-
name as well as from North America
and the United Kingdom which remain
the most popular addresses. Very often
research enquiries are referred to the
library by other government agencies,
particularly those abroad. Some of the
letters are from Jamaican students study-
ing overseas who require information or
just advice while others are from foreign-
ers trying to unravel a Jamaican con-
An American journalist interested in
buccaneers and other 18th century sea-
farers and adventurers wrote recently
requesting information on Jack Rack-
ham, alias Calico Jack. He had written
articles for local newspapers and was
now working on a book for which he
needed the records of Jack Rackham's
trial in 1720. He had tried to locate
these in the United States, but failed.
Could the National Library of Jamaica
help? Fortunately it could, and he was
informed that the library had a photo-
copy of the original document which


. A T THE . .
Warbh Clyratre, Kingtontt

fritlag. 19th lirrmbrr. 1924

Fine preed Iu Id
Kiwn 1-i.., BW.l,
S.rdy, Mi.h 14th. 1936
i. oa wk6- -h. Audhor

Paul Robeson

ialni 0/ .ouI.

BOOK OF WORDS WITH ANNOTATIONS ,,,,1, P.1a,, 01 ) -. ...
PRICE SIXPrENE C T ar weoe donations of sh m ,
From the Programme Collection. The National Library welcomes donations of such material, which

helps to provide a comprehensive record of our ti

is in the Public Record Office in the
United Kingdom. This document, in-
cidentally, has its own interesting story,
being one of the earliest works printed
in Jamaica (1721). Governor Lawes
sent copies to England, where it was
kept in obscurity until the 1930s, when
an English magazine, The Sphere, had it
photographed and publicized. In addi-
tion to Calico Jack's sorry ending, it
also describes the trials of his female
companions, Anne Bonny and Mary
Read, now known to most Jamaicans
as the "Pirate Princesses", thanks to the
recent LTM Pantomime.
By far the most common type of en-
quiry received from abroad deals with
genealogy. Family histories are fascin-
ating to people all over the world. So
many families in the United Kingdom
and North America especially, have
Jamaican connections, it is not surprising
that the library receives many letters
seeking assistance in tracing some an-
Recently, one correspondent was
particularly persistent. He kept writing
back asking for ever more detailed in-
formation and suggesting different ap-
proaches to the problem of locating the
still missing pieces of information. He
was obviously pleased with the assistance
he got because he recommended the
library's service to a relative, who was
researching another branch of the family.
One day the research officer handling
this request discovered by chance that a
person by the same surname as the one
she was researching was in the reading
room. A conversation revealed that this
person very likely was related to the
correspondents . . And yes, he was
willing to give the family his address
and to help them in any way he could.
Research is conducted by the staff
not only in response to requests for

information but also for the library's
own programmes such as exhibitions.
These are important means by which
the general public can be made aware of
some of the library's resources. For in-
stance, two major exhibitions were re-
searched and mounted by the library
during 1982. The first one in April,
mounted in conjunction with the Muse-
ums Division of the Institute of Jamaica,
was to commemorate the 150th anni-
versary of the 1831 Slave Rebellion and
the death of National Hero Sam Sharpe.
The exhibition was mounted simultan-
eously at the National Library and in
Montego Bay and printed posters made
from the materials were circulated all
around the island. The second exhibition
traced the development of dance in
Jamaica and was entitled Our Heritage
in Dance. After this exhibition closed at
the library in November, a scaled-down
version of it was made available to the
Jamaica Library Service for circulation
to their branches.

The establishment of the
National Library of Jamaica

Collecting materials and making in-
formation available whether by tele-
phone, mail, or personally in the reading
rooms and the mounting of exhibitions
are activities that were carried on for a
long time by the West India Reference
Library. Why then was it necessary to
transform this library into the National
Library of Jamaica?

Development of national libraries

The concept of a national library is
a well established one and dates back to
at least the 18th century. The original
national libraries, in essence if not always
in name, developed from" the large li-
braries of Europe, many of which had
their origins as royal libraries. Their pre-

Sketch of Maroon Town in Jamaica Taken in
I / >/ .kw'.,,/,

April 1842. It was found in a bank safety
deposit box in Northern Ireland in the 1970s
and presented to the library in 1980.

eminent collections gave them national
status and their growth was aided by
laws and regulations which made it com-
pulsory for copies of books printed in
the country to be deposited with them.
In the 19th century, national libraries
were established in more than 20 coun-
tries and the process continued in this
century, especially in the newly indepen-
dent nations created since the end of
world war II. In some cases, older exist-
ing libraries such as the library of the
British Museum, assumed some of the
functions of a national library. (In
1973 this library along with four other
institutions were merged to form the
British Library, the national library of
the United Kingdom). The functions of
these national libraries are not all the
same, as they differ from country to
country. However, there is general
agreement on the basic functions to
be performed by a national library, in-
cluding The National Libary of Jamaica.

Legal Deposit
One of the essential functions of these

libraries is to collect and preserve copies
of all publications produced in their
respective countries. National libraries
are normally assisted in this task by
legislation which makes it compulsory
for a copy of all materials produced -
whether books, pamphlets, brochures,
maps, plans, film, phonograph records,
etc., to be lodged in the library. A legal
deposit law for Jamaica has been draft-
ed and when it is passed it will give the
National Library the legal responsibility
for collecting and preserving copies of
all materials produced in the country.
The former WIRL attempted to collect
as much as it could, but it had neither
the legal obligation to collect compre-
hensively on Jamaica nor the resources
to do so.

The library is paying special atten-
tion to the acquisition of locally produ-
ced audio-visual materials such as still
photographs, slides, phonograph records,
films, video cassette tapes and audio-
tapes. Some of these categories were
collected by the WIRL but more em-
phasis is going to be paid to them,
especially the ones not previously coll-
ected. The National Library in co-
operation with other relevant govern-
ment departments and agencies is com-
mitted to the establishment of a Nation-
al Audio-Visual Collection. The first
step will be to create an inventory of
audio-visual material of a historical
nature in government agencies. The
eventual aim is to bring all these mate-
rials of archival value together in one
place with proper storage and retrieval
As our society is essentially an oral
one, greater emphasis is being placed on
the collection of oral history. This is
essential if we are to preserve the heri-
tage of our people handed down through
the generations. The library is partici-
pating in the Memory Bank Project
being coordinated by the Cultural
Division of the Office of the Prime
Minister, and will be the main deposi-
tory of the material collected. This pro-
ject is designed to capture on tape the
recollections and reminiscences of the
older members of the community and
is the first step in the creation of a
national culture bank. "An old man dies
. .a book is lost" is the slogan of the
project, and underlines the urgen-
cy of the work to be done.
A great deal of the valuable material
now in the library, particularly in the
manuscript collection was obtained as

gifts from individuals and institutions.
The National Library is encouraging
more people and institutions to deposit
their records in the national collection
for preservation and research purposes.
Recent gifts include the literary papers
of the late historian S.A.G. Taylor (who
left them to the library in his will), the
manuscripts of the author and journalist
Fitzroy Frazer, and a collection of
papers, letters, books and photographs
of the late J.E. Clare McFarlane, the
founder of the Poetry League of Jam-
aica and Tom Redcam's successor as
Poet Laureate.

Jamaican material produced
The legal deposit law cannot cover
materials on Jamaica published overseas.
The library however, tries to acquire all
of this kind of material by purchase, gift
or exchange. It also acquires material
on Jamaican and West Indian commu-
nities abroad as well as all works by
Jamaicans published abroad whether
or not they deal with West Indian topics.

West Indian Material
Although the collecting emphasis is
on Jamaica, this does not mean that
material on the West Indies is being
ignored. The library is continuing the
regional coverage it inherited, parti-
cularly on the other territories of the
Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
and on relations of the region with
other areas of the world. It also coll-
ects material on subjects of special
interest or concern to developing
countries, or as they are commonly
called, countries of the Third World.
This includes matters such as relations
between the African, Caribbean and
Pacific countries (ACP) and the coun-
tries of the European Economic
Community (EEC), the North-South
Dialogue and the Non-Aligned Move-

General Reference Collection
In addition to the above, the library
is maintaining and expanding a general
reference collection to serve the needs
not only of its users, but of other
libraries in the national information
system. The library is a depository for
United Nations publications. These docu-
ments contain not only valuable inform-
ation on contemporary issues but also
statistics and important data, chiefly of
a socio-economic nature. Unesco has
also recently approved the library's

request to become a depository for cer-
tain categories of their publications.
Jamaican National Bibliography
A national library should not only
collect copies of all materials produced
in its country, but should make the
knowledge of what has been produced
available both nationally and inter-
nationally. This is a part of the con-
cept of universal bibliographic control
(UBC) which is being actively promoted
by international organizations such as
Unesco and the International Federation
of Library Associations (IFLA). It
means that every nation should be res-
ponsible for recording the literary out-
put within its territorial boundaries and
so establish some kind of 'control'
over the flood of information pour-
ing out from the nations of the world.
The National Library produces quart-
erly the Jamaican National Bibliography
which had been started by the WIRL. It
aims not only at listing all materials,
both print and non-print, produced in
Jamaica but about Jamaica and by
Jamaicans published abroad. Its use-
fulness will be greatly enhanced after
the enactment of the legal deposit legis-
lation when it will become compulsory
for copies of all local publications to
be deposited in the National Library,
and, as a corollary of this, listed in the
bibliography. A number of the leading
libraries around the world subscribe to
the bibliography which they use as a
selection tool for acquiring Jamaican

National Information System
A national library has some responsi-
bility towards other libraries in the
nation and the information system as a
whole. Both the degree and kind of res-
ponsibility will be dependent on the
needs of the society and the general
state of library development in the
country. In Jamaica, for example, there
is a well developed public library system
so there is no need for the National
Library to be involved in the provision
of general reading material. This is un-
like some other national libraries -
such as the Guyana National Library -
which also functions as a public library.

Co-ordination of System
In Jamaica the urgent need was to
coordinate the information services of
the nation in order to achieve greater
efficiency and the most economical
use of limited resources. This was recog-
nized by the government which in 1973

Conservation of library material is an activity which calls for a high degree of skill and
precision. With an invaluable collection such as that possessed by the National Library,
the art of conservation is integral to its operations. Here, conservators are at work res-
toring primary material from the collection.

appointed the National Council on
Libraries, Archives and Documentation
Services (NACOLADS) to advise it on
how this should be done. In 1977 the
Council produced a plan for a national
information system for Jamaica which
was accepted in principle by the govern-
ment. The National Library which
had not yet been established was
placed at the focal point of that system
with the responsibility for organizing it,
and for providing 'rapidly on request
the location of needed materials'.
Development of Networks
The NACOLADS plan, which was
published in 1978 under the title,
Plan for a National Documentation
Information and Library System for
Jamaica, proposed the creation of a
number of networks to form the in-
formation system. Each network would
comprise libraries of similar discipline or
subject interest with the most developed
library being the focal point. In belong-
ing to a network, a library would not
give up any of its autonomy or func-
tions. It would make available the
knowledge of its holdings to the focal
point and would supply material on
interlibrary loan or provide photocopies
of it on request. It would also participate
in whatever joint projects or programmes
were being devised to make the services
more efficient, and to reduce unnecess-
ary duplication of library materials.
The National Library in conjunction
with NACOLADS has been actively in-
volved in the development of these net-
works. The Social and Economic Net-
work (SECIN), comprising over 30 li-
braries in the area of social and economic
activity is the most advanced one to
be developed. Its focal point is at the
National Planning Agency where a
Documentation Centre has just been

established. Other networks being deve-
loped at the moment are the ones for
Science and Technology (STIN) and
Law with the focal points at the Scien-
tific Research Council and the Supreme
Court respectively.
Library Development Team
Many libraries, especially those in
government departments and agencies,
are unable to participate in the nation-
al information system because their
collections are poorly organized due to
the lack of professional staff. A special
team of four librarians from the Nation-
al Library has been assigned the task of
assisting these departmental libraries to
organize their collections and to train
staff. This team has assisted approxi-
mately 40 private and public sector
libraries and their work has included
cataloguing and classifying materials, in-
troducing new services to library users,
and training staff to carry on the work.
The Library Development Team will
shortly form the nucleus of the Library
Extension Services Department of the
National Library of Jamaica. In addi-
tion to organizing materials and train-
ing staff, the department will be exam-
ining ways in which these libraries can
cooperate with each other to provide
more efficient services and to reduce
unnecessary duplication of material and
effort. The National Library is assisting
in this by building up a collection of
bibliographic and reference works to be
used by these libraries, especially the
smaller ones which would be unable to
afford them on their own.
National Referral Service
The operation of a referral service is
an essential part of the national inform-
ation system. It was decided that the
National Library should not wait until

the networks were in place before it
introduced this important service. A
start was made with those libraries which
were sufficiently well organized to both
contribute to the service and to derive
some benefit from it. Thirty-one libraries
having information in pure and applied
sciences, agriculture and medicine were
invited to participate in the pilot pro-
ject phase of the service. However,
many other libraries are now being in-
corporated into the system.
These participating libraries agree to
let the National Library compile a list
describing the subjects covered in their
collections. If a particular library is un-
able to satisfy the requests of any of its
users, it contacts the Referral Centre at
the National Library for assistance.
There the subject files are searched and
suitable sources of information identi-
fied and the appropriate libraries con-
tacted. The information found is passed
to the library making the request and
it can then make arrangements to either
borrow or photocopy the item required.
As the name suggests, the service being
offered by the National Library is one
of referral and once the information
has been located, it is up to the indivi-
dual libraries to follow up the matter.
As the networks develop, the referral
service will play a more active role as it
will be coordinating the networks and
maintaining a union catalogue of the
holdings of the libraries in the networks.
Future Functions of the National
The National Library hopes to move
into other areas of activities in due
course. While they are not regarded as
essential functions of national libraries,
they are in keeping with such a library's
leading role within the national inform-
ation system. These functions are in the

I- k

Libraries need increasingly sophisticated equipment to extract and store information, and the National Library of Jamaica is no exception.
Computer diskettes are one means of storage; in the photograph at left, information is being keyed in for storage and retrieval purposes, using this
method. At right, information is being typed on a card, the traditional method of cataloguing. Microfilming is another method used to preserve
the information content of the valuable material which the library holds. In photograph at centre, a researcher uses a microfilm reader.

area of common services to other li-
Inter-library Loans
The library will first of all act as the
centre for inter-library loans. At the
moment each library has to make its
own arrangements if it has to borrow
a book or obtain a photocopy of it from
another library within the country. It
would be more efficient if this service
could be performed by the National
Library. As a follow up on this, the li-
brary could become the centre for the
international interlending of public-
ations. This would become necessary
if an item of information were needed
which could not be obtained locally.
Attempts would have to be made to ob-
tain it from abroad, a task which could
be performed by the national library.
Clearing House and Storage for
little used material and gifts

In time, the library hopes to become
a clearing house for little used material
within the nation's libraries, by obtain-
ing for storage and redistribution dupli-
cate items and materials not needed by
some libraries. It will also serve as a
clearing house for information on gifts
and exchange materials from abroad.
Automation and the National
Library users are all familiar with the
traditional card catalogues which re-
cord the information resources contain-
ed in a library. However, this form of a
catalogue is going to disappear one day
in the steady advance of modern auto-
mated methods of information retrieval.
As in other aspects of life, the influence
of the computer has been strongly felt
in libraries and the National Library is
no exception to this. It has been ex-
perimenting with the use of computers

and is gradually introducing automation
into various aspects of its operations
in order to make them more efficient.
In 1975 the WIRL started to create
a data bank, the first of its kind in the
Caribbean, based on a computerized
index to the Daily Gleaner. Prior to
this, the newspaper was indexed manu-
ally on cards and this was not only very
time consuming but costly in terms of
filing cabinets to store the large amount
of cards generated. This computerized
index has continued and there are plans
to extend it to other Jamaican news-
The Library has revived a project,
which was begun in the 1960s but later
abandoned, of indexing non current
newspapers in the collection. During
the first phase, material for the period
1938 to 1962 will be indexed. After
that the project will be extended to
cover other newspapers and period-
icals. This project will be completely
automated and researchers will be able
to conduct on line searching to identify
articles relevant to their areas of research.

The existence at the National Library
of equipment which would facilitate
automated storage and retrieval of
information means that other activities
now being done manually can be com-
puterized. These include cataloguing,
the compilation of the National Biblio-
graphy, the acquisition of material and
inventory control.
For the National Information System
to become a reality, all the major sub-
ject areas or information units will have
to be linked to the main focal point
which is the National Library. This can
only be done effectively by the con-
version of information presently on
cards into a data base and the computer-
ization of the entire system. A National

Union Catalogue of the holdings of all
the libraries in Jamaica will also have to
be created.


The National Library of Jamaica in a
short period has managed to continue
and expand the services formerly carried
out by the WIRL and to begin new pro-
grammes in keeping with its status as
the National Library of Jamaica. This
has been done with limited profession-
al staff and resources. It has been for-
tunate in being able to attract funding
from international organizations, fund-
ing which, incidentally, would not have
been forthcoming to a library with no
national obligations and clearly defined
The library places great store on con-
tinuing and improving on what it has
started. It not only wants to ensure
that it achieves its stated objective of
serving as the 'storehouse of the nation's
memory' but that the information col-
lected is disseminated to those who
need it. The availability of inform-
ation is crucial to our future develop-
ment and the National Library has an
important role to play in this.
For the National Library to achieve
all of its objectives, it needs the support
not only of the government, but of the
society as a whole, and there are many
ways in which individuals can assist.
They can, for instance, help to ensure
that the library contains a comprehen-
sive record of our time by donating
materials that might not otherwise
come to it through the usual channels.
These include manuscript material and
miscellaneous items such as program-
mes, postcards, and items of a similar
nature. We need to ensure that all the
records of our generation are acquired
and preserved for the ones to come.


/so Library
.School of nt.Soc
Education Econ. Res.
Doc. Centre Library
University of the Medici
West Indies Librar
Main Library Other Oept
Mona b t
i Libe-
Norman Manley
Law School

SKno Lib.
Town Planning College
Dept. Library Library Exed
c. College of Arts Library
Science & Tech.

Co Brown's Public
Town Coll eg Library
Cultural Teach,
Training Colleg
Centre Librari
MediaService SLib


National Planning
Agency Library

Plan for a National Documentation, Information and Library System for Jamaica, Kingston,

An illustration of Gordon Town in 1891 from the Valdes Photograph

Written by the National Library Staff and produced by Institute of Jamaica Publications. Jamaica Journal, May 1983.

National Library of Jamaica
P.O. Box 823
12 East Street
Telephone: 92-20620
Director: Stephney Ferguson

Reading Room Opening Hours:
Monday Thursday 9a.m. 5 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. -4 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Reference, Research and Bibliographic

Photo Duplication Services: Photocopies, Micro-
film Printouts, Photographs.
Lunch Hour Concerts: Last Thursday in every
month admission Free

Displays and Exhibitions: Monthly displays in
the Reading Room; at least two major exhi-
bitions per year.

Publications: Jamaican National Bibliography,
Quarterly with annual cumulations

AIRS index to the Gleaner, Quarterly

Occasional Bibliographies

Reproduction of Brunias Prints (set of 4

Jamaica's Flowering Plants:

Endemic Genera Revisited
By Peter Bretting
Soon after finishing my recent article for Jamaica
Journal [16:1 1983], Dr. George Proctor, Botanist
at the Institute of Jamaica for many years and now
in the Dominican Republic, sent me a reprint of his "More
Additions to the Flora of Jamaica" [Proctor, 1982]. This
scholarly work by Jamaica's indefatigable plant collector
adds 2 families, 14 genera, 115 species and 6 varieties to the
183 families, 996 genera, and 2888 species listed by Adams
Among the additions are a new species, Jacaima parvifolia,
and a new variety, Jacaima costata var. goodfriendii, of the
endemic asclepiadaceous genus Jacaima. Both new taxa were
collected at the border of St. Ann and Clarendon in moist
woods on limestone at an elevation of ca 2000'. As Dr.
Proctor indicates, this finding considerably broadens the
known geographical and ecological range of Jacaima, which
previously had been seen only in the arid coastal thickets of
St. Andrew and St. Catherine. Jacaima has also proven genetic-
ally diverse, as J. costata var. goodfriendii differs from var.
costata by several leaf and floral characters, whereas J. par-
vifolia differs from J. costata by its maroon tinged flowers,
smaller leaves, and other more technical characters.
Dr. Proctor also drew attention to Dr. B. Nordenstam's
recognition [1978] of two new angiosperm genera found
only in Jamaica. These plants previously had been contained
in the huge genus Senecio (with several thousand species!)
or in the related Gynoxys, both of the Asteraceae.
For Gynoxys incana, Nordenstam established the new
genus Jacmaia whose name, like that of Jacaima, is a com-
memorative anagram of 'Jamaica'. The similarity of their
names will undoubtedly cause these genera to be confused
with each other. Jacmaia incana is a shrub 6-12 feet high
with lance- or spoon-shaped leaves that may stretch a foot
in length. Its bark is light tan and somewhat ridged, its
flowers yellow and ca. % inch long and its fruit tiny (shorter
than % inch) with abundant fluffy hairs. It grows in seaside
thickets and up to 3000' in wet woodlands on limestone-
derived soil in St. Ann, St. Mary, St. Thomas, and Portland.
The second new genus, Odontocline, is the largest endemic
angiosperm genus for Jamaica. Either sprawling shrubs, vines
or small trees, its flowers are yellow to orange and fragrant,
and its fruits are ca. 1/4 inch long, ribbed, and topped by a
white to tawny tuft of hairs. Nordenstam maintains the
following species but stresses that Odontocline requires much
more study:
1) 0. glabra: a small tree from limestone woodlands
at 1000-3000' in Westmoreland, Hanover, St.
James, St. Ann, and Trelawny;
2) 0. hollickii: a vine from woodlands and wood-
land margins on dogtoothh' limestone at 1500-
3000' in Clarendon, Trelawny and St. Ann;
3) 0. tercentenarieae: a shrub from wet mossy wood-
lands at 1500-2000' on the limestone scarp com-
posing the John Crow Mountains, Portland;
4) 0. fadyenii: a shrub of moist shady woods at
2000-6000' in St. Andrew, St. Thomas, and

5) 0. dolicantha: a shrub of montane forest at
4000-5500' in the shale-derived soil of the Blue
Mountains, St. Andrew and Portland;
6) 0. laciniata: a small tree of montane mossy forest
at Blue Mountain Peak (7000-7300'), St. Thomas
and Portland.
Jacmaia incana, the new species and variety of Jacaima,
and three species of Odontocline grow in native woodlands
upon limestone, and thus fit the distributional pattern for
generic endemism noted previously [Bretting, 1983 and
references therein]. The three other species of Odontocline
are found in the native woodlands of the Blue Mountains,
which also contain many endemic plants. The ecogeographical
distribution of Odontocline is very interesting to me because
other angiosperm groups such as Bumelia (Sapotaceae:
'bullet'), the Eupatorium parviflorum complex (Asteraceae),
and Eugenia (Myrtaceae: 'rodwood') show almost the same
pattern of one endemic species or form from the John Crow
Mountains, one from the upper Blue Mountains, one or more
from limestone woodlands in the western and central parishes,
and one to several widespread types that range from sea level
to middle elevations throughout the island.
Congruence of ecogeographical distribution in such dis-
tantly-related plants suggests that similar forces have shaped
their evolution. Do their similar distributional patterns reflect
adaptation to common pollinators or herbivores, similar cli-
mates and soils, or a combination of these variables? This
represents an exciting and challenging problem for students
of evolution in Jamaica.


ADAMS, C.D., Flowering Plants of Jamaica, Mona, Jamaica : Univer-
sity of the West Indies, 1972.
BRETTING, P.K., "Jamaica's Flowering Plants: The Five Endemic
Genera", Jamaica Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, February 1983.
NORDENSTAM, B. "Taxonomic studies in the tribe Senecioneae
(Compositae)", Op. Bot. 44: 1-83,1978.
PROCTOR, G.R., "More Additions to the flora of Jamaica", J. Am.
Arb.63: 199-315,1982.

Note For those interested in the nomenclature, Dr. Proctor and Dr.
Nordenstam's work necessitates the following changes and additions:
Jacaima parvifolia Proctor, new species.
Jacaima costata (Urb.) Rendle var. goodfriendii Proctor,
new variety.
Gynoxys incana (Sw.) Less =
Jacmaia incana (Sw.) B. Nord.
Senecio swartzii DC. =
Odontocline glabra (Sw.) B. Nord.
Senecio hollickii Britt. ex Greenm. =
Odontocline hollickii
(Britt. ex Greenm.) B. Nord.
Senecio tercentenariae Proctor =
Odontocline tercentenariae
(Proctor) B. Nord.
Senecio fadyenii Griseb. =
Odontocline fadyenii (Griseb.) B. Nord.
Senecio dolicanthus (Krug & Urb.) S. Moore
(under S. fadyenii in Adams, 1972) =
Odontocline dolicantha (Krug & Urb.) B. Nord.
Senecio laciniatus (Sw.) DC.
(under S. swartzianus Bueck in Adams, 1972) =
Odontocline laciniata (Sw.) B. Nord.

Looking for Conies

By William L.R. Oliver

-~ -7

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It was a hot day in early April in
Engine Head Bay, Hellshire Hills.
We sat uncomfortably on rocks
of honeycomb limestone in the meagre
shade of harsh scrub vegetation. It was
a bizarre landscape, dominated by
dildo cactus; both hostile and beauti-
ful. It seemed such a waste and so utter-
ly inappropriate that they were soon to
turn this place into a drive-in movie
theatre. Apart from anything else
it is, after all, the only place in the
world where the Jamaican Hutia or
Indian Coney Geocapromys brownii
also comes down to the beach. They
were living in the rocks around us; albeit
some of them only as refugees from the
first of the low-cost housing estates over
the rise. My guide on this occasion was
a Rastafarian fisherman, goat-breeder
and hog-hunter of the most forbidding
aspect. His appearance, however, belied
a gentle philosophy and a rather endear-
ing, if somewhat irritating, habit of
wanting to sit and commune with God
and Nature for extended periods. He
puffed on a reefer, whilst I sucked a
grapefruit rather noisily. It was almost
the end of a long visit and it was time to
take stock.
Mostly in the company of various
and diverse guides, foresters, hunters,
chance acquaintances and even mildly
eccentric friends, I had found a good
many coney holes and an awful lot of
coney droppings over the past ten or
eleven weeks. We had found them at
2000 feet in the John Crow Mountains
and at sea-level in Hellshire. We had in-
terviewed coney-hunters in places as dis-
tant as Hog Meat Bottom in Portland,
on Mammee Hill and in Hayes Corn-

piece in Clarendon. We had met country-
men with such wonderfully absurd
names as Alphonse Easy, Rodica Falloon,
Lorenzo Gilzene and Uriah Blake; and
others more easily known as Cobbler,
Bungo, Strength and Dennis the Indian.
We had gone endlessly up and down and
down and up the limestone domes of
the Cockpit Country, to be finally re-
warded with half a dozen coney drop-
pings from the area known as Me No
Sen You No Come. We had become
puffy and irritable from the undesir-
able attentions of mosquitoes around
Salt Island Lagoon, and lacerated by
spiny plants and sharp rocks in the
Braziletto Mountains. We had found
conies in a few areas where they had
never been previously reported or
where they had not been recorded for
many years, and we had traced the
approximate distribution of all the
known coney populations in the red
hills of St. Catherine, in Hellshire
and in the mountains of Portland and
St. Thomas.

The Importance of Coney

All this to-ing and fro-ing, of course,
begs the question of why look for conies
anyway? It may seem an odd thingto do,
but then like all things one has to know
a bit about conies to appreciate them.
Conies are undoubtedly special animals.
This is particularly true in Jamaican
terms since, apart from a handful of
bats, they are now Jamaica's only native
land mammal; the only other native
mammal, the Rice Rat Oryzomys
antillarum, having been exterminated by
about 1880. Although the Jamaican
coney is only found in Jamaica, there

are a few other conies in the Greater
Antilles and one other in the Bahamas.
Around 20 species have so far been
described, most of them from Hispaniola
and Cuba. They are therefore one of the
very few mammalian groups to have
naturally colonized the West Indies, and
they accordingly present us with a nice
example of the evolutionary principles
of adaptive radiation and speciation.
Unfortunately, however, they also pre-
sent us with a classic example of man's
devastating effect on fragile insular com-
munities of plants and animals. Of the
20 or so species, at least half are now
extinct and most of the rest are serious-
ly endangered.
Most of these extinctions have oc-
curred in the post-Columbian times,
though the rot seems to have started
with the Arawaks and other Amerindian
groups if we are to judge from the abun-
dant sub-fossil remains of these animals
in kitchen-midden deposits. Sadly, how-
ever, the process of extinction continues.
The closest relative of the Jamaican
form, the Little Swan Island Hutia,
Geocapromys thoracatus, was declared
extinct in the early 1970s, presumably
as a result of pet cats being dumped on
the island when a radio station closed
down on the neighboring Great Swan
Island. Even more unfortunate is the
recent extinction of the Little Earth
Hutia, Capromys sanfelipensis, from
Juan Garcia Cay off southern Cuba.
This species was not even discovered
until 1970, and practically nothing is
known about it apart from a few
museum specimens to show it existed.
It is too late now, as scientists who
visited the area last year could find no

Engine Head Bay, Hellshire, probably the
only place in the world where conies come
down to the beach. Hellshire is undoubtedly
one of the best coney areas in Jamaica. There
is relatively high density of these animals
throughout the area scheduled for urban

CONEY KIN. Close relatives of
the Jamaican Hutia (opposite
page) are the Haitian Hutia (top)
and the Cuban Hutia (shown
below). The Haitian Hutia
(Plagiodontia aedium) now
seriously endangered, is the only
species of coney now surviving in
Hispaniola; at least six other
species have been exterminated
by human activities in this area
alone. The Cuban Hutia
(Capromys pilorides) is probably
the commonest surviving species
of coney and is still occasionally
kept in a state of semi-
domestication in Cuba. All other
surviving Cuban species are
endangered, and at least two
others are now extinct.

trace of it and were forced to conclude
that it had been hunted-out by visiting
Available evidence had also suggested
that the Jamaican coney was in poor
shape, and concerns had been expressed
about its chances of survival. The ob-
jective, therefore, was to determine as
much as possible about its biology, its
distribution and, most importantly, its
present status and the reasons for its
evident decline. This work was under-
taken in close association with-the ap-
propriate authorities, i.e. the excellent
Natural Resources Conservation Depart-
ment of the Ministry of Mining and
Natural Resources. They had long nur-
tured the intention of conducting their
own surveys of this species, but they
had been consistently stymied by being
permanently understaffed and by re-
peated cuts in their budget. I, on the
other hand, had been summarily des-
patched to Jamaica for this very pur-
pose by the Jersey Wildlife Preservation

Trust; a charitable organization which,
amongst other things, had been success-
fully breeding Jamaican conies in cap-
tivity for a number of years.
This breeding programme had been
initiated because of the concerns re-
lating to the survival of these animals,
but it had also provided an opportunity
to collect a great deal of new inform-
ation on their behaviour and reproduc-
tive biology. Observations made there,
for instance, reveal that conies are high-
ly social and that they reinforce their
intra-group relationships with mutual
grooming, frequent bouts of play (box-
ing, wrestling and chasing), and almost
continuous 'soft-squeak' and 'burbling'
vocalizations which, presumably, also
serve to maintain group cohesion in the
wild state. During inactive, or at least
non-locomotory phases of their be-
haviour, conies also spend a great deal
of their time in close physical contact.
They will often rest in a heap and even
when feeding they have an enchanting

habit of shuffling up to one another and
pivoting so that they face in opposite
directions for privacy whilst keeping
their bottoms firmly pressed together.
From captive animals, we also know
that. young conies grow extremely
quickly, but do not reach sexual matur-
ity until at least eight months of age
(males probably rather longer), and that
they are remarkably long-lived (e.g.,
young animals originally acquired by
the Jersey Trust in 1972 are still living,
and breeding, in the collection). In com-
parison with other rodents, conies also
have an exceptionally long gestation
period, i.e. about 123 days, although
they will often manage to produce two
litters a year. Their litters, however,
are of very small size, i.e. usually one or
two young, very occasionally three, but
these are born in an extremely advanced
state of development. At birth, young
conies are fully furred, their eyes are
open, and within a few hours they can
run, jump and protest vigorously and

Hutia or Indian Coney
(Geocapromys brownii) photo-
graphed at the Jersey Wildlife
Preservation Trust.

vociferously if picked up. By the fol-
lowing day, they will readily bite a pro-
ferred finger and are already nibbling
at solid foods, although they continue
to nurse for several weeks; the females
having two pairs of nipples curiously,
but conveniently, positioned on their
Such studies, of course, reveal many
facets of their behavioural-biology which
would be quite impossible to determine
in the field. Indeed, conies maintain a
naturally low profile and are all but
impossible to observe directly in the
wild state as we found to our cost. You
tend to get disenchanted, having sat in
front of a coney hole, hardly daring to
draw breath and hoping the wind won't
change, for several hours in the middle
of the night to no useful purpose. For
this reason, there are very few people
who can reliably claim that they have
ever seen a live Jamaican coney under
natural circumstances.
Not only are they strictly noc-
turnal, but they live only amongst
the broken and eroded rocks of forested
hillsides where an abundance of fissures
and small sink-holes offer security and
endless cover. They only emerge from
these holes, or 'rock-warrens', well after
dusk to disperse along discernible trails
to forage on leaves and shoots, the
fruits of ground-flowering plants andthe
bark of woody stems. Their feeding
preferences can be interpreted from
coney damage', i.e. the tooth-marks
left on forage plants, but not by the
examination of their droppings, or
scatss', which are randomly scattered
and too finely processed for the iden-
tification of constituent particles. Conies
also leave 'scent-marks' which are usually
found in the immediate vicinity of occu-

pied holes and are formed by the deposit
of a trail of urine, which dries to a dis-
tinctive white stain on the rocks, on
hard-packed earth and on exposed roots.
These scent marks are actually messages
with such social implications as the
declaration of the reproductive status of
the marking individual, as well as the
occupation of a particular area by a
particular group of animals.
From such evidence, or 'coney-sign',
one can therefore begin to build up a
profile of their natural behaviour and
ecology, even though one is forced to
resort to the study of animals in captivity
for more direct and detailed information.
In practice, therefore, both elements are
necessary and complementary. Captive
research provides a degree of intimacy
which is unobtainable by hanging about
outside coney holes in the dead of
night, whilst field study provides con-
textual information and, hence, an in-
terpretive framework and perspective
for captive studies. It follows, of course,
that information which is only obtain-
able from captive stock needs to be in-
terpreted with some caution, since
animals in captivity are, to a greater
or lesser extent, divorced from the
environmental realities which have
shaped the behaviour of the wild popu-
lations. Some aspects, such as the small
size of their litters and the precocial
development of the young, are unlikely
to be greatly influenced by the captive
condition. Other aspects, however, such
as the fact that conies in captivity do
not seem to have a fixed breeding season,
are more open to question; although
in this case it is convenient to mention
that coney-hunters also report that
'kittens' may be caught all year round.
The implied normality of the size of

social groups in captivity is also of some
interest in this context. Thus conies in
captivity will live quite happily in
groups of eight to ten animals, i.e. a
breeding pair and their sibling progeny
of successive parturitions; although the
oldest young are liable to be evicted
from the family groups in the fullness
of time. This seems to directly contra-
dict most previous reports that have sug-
gested that conies live singly, in pairs,
or mothers with young. These reports
have all been based on the first-hand
experience of coney-hunters who, if
asked the question: "How many conies
do you usually catch from a single hole?"
- will answer as stated. However, these
reports also have to be interpreted with
care since the alternative question:
"What is the largest number of conies
you have ever caught from a single hole?"
will elicit a quite different response, i.e.
usually six or seven and occasionally
up to ten. One hunter even adamantly
asserted that he had once got no less
than fourteen conies from a single hole,
although he admitted that that was
quite exceptional in his experience.
These reports are of particular interest
since, in the absence of direct sightings,
they are the only available evidence for
the normal social structure of coney
populations. The apparent contradictions
are also easily explained in that the
reported size of social groups reflects
hunting pressure and, more particularly,
the various methods which are adopted
for hunting these animals.
The commonest method is to hunt
them with dogs which are often trained
for the purpose. Usually two or more
men with up to six dogs will commence
hunting a few hours after dusk, by
which time the conies are foraging and


E Ov :

THE HABITAT: Photograph above shows
typical coney habitat amongst the broken
and eroded limestone escarpments of forested
hillside, where an abundanceof natural fissures
and small sink holes offer secure refuge and
endless cover. A typical coney hole photo-
graphed in the Hellshire Hills is shown

away from their holes. As the dogs roam
the woods they pick up their scent and
chase the conies to their holes or other
temporary cover. In the latter event,
they are easily dug out and quickly des-
patched, or the holes are enlarged suffi-
ciently for the dogs to reach them. The
hunters always recognize two sorts of
coney holes, i.e. 'good' holes and 'bad'
holes, though the difference is entirely
relative. Good holes are simply holes
which can be dug out easily, whilst bad
holes are particularly deep or narrow
or both. If they are surrounded by solid
rock they are 'very bad' holes and cannot
be dug out at all. Hunters using only
dogs will soon abandon bad holes, but
other hunters use 'pot-traps' (i.e. live-
traps) which are placed in one of the
main entrance holes; any other access
holes being stopped-up with rocks. This
method is especially inhumane, as the
traps are seldom checked every day, and
are especially wasteful, as few hunters
bother to unblock the holes when they

have eventually finished with a parti-
cular warren. It is also a testament to
the short-sightedness of these hunters
who will therefore have to travel further
and further to find occupied coney
holes. Other methods also include minor
variations of the above, or occasionally,
'pole-traps' (i.e. snares) placed on coney
trails, or even bags which are inserted
into entrance holes in order to entrap
any animals returning to their holes
when flushed by dogs subsequently
released into the woods.
Whatever method is used it naturally
follows that most conies are caught in
'good' holes (read in reverse from the
conies' view of things), and that these
holes will therefore tend to be occupied
by socially displaced individuals, nuclear
families (i.e. newly-established pairs
with few or no progeny), or temporarily
dispersed individuals (of possibly much
larger social groups) seeking the nearest
available cover. Similarly, 'bad' holes
(again, read in reverse) will tend to con-

tain more conies as they will be hunted-
out less frequently, if at all, and larger
social groups will be established.
Unfortunately, even bad holes will
not necessarily be safe from hunters
using pot-traps (the aforementioned
group of fourteen individuals were, for
example, caught over a period of several
days using this method reputedly,
from a 'bad, bad hole'). On the other
hand, hunters using dogs generally en-
joy a higher rate of success for less
effort (since they do not have to return
at regular intervals to inspect their
traps) and, on the whole, tend to do less
permanent damage to the coney popu-
lations of any given area. Indeed, there
are several areas where conies still sur-
vive despite having been hunted for
several generations by this method.
This, of course, is not intended to legiti-
mize their activities, since coney-hunt-
ing is quite rightly illegal, but merely
serves to emphasize that coney-hunters
who use pot-traps are an absolute


F,~"~1 l

scourge. If killing conies is illegal, these
people are the real criminal element as
they not only destroy entire social
breeding groups, but they also, by stop-
ping-up the coney holes, preclude the
possibility of these holes being re-colon-
ized, and they thereby systematically
eliminate these animals over entire
In fairness to these hunters, it is per-
haps necessary to point out that many
of them were unaware that conies are
protected by law in Jamaica; although
the few that do know, do still hunt.
Indeed, they see no harm in it and are
never troubled by the authorities. Most
of them are also very helpful and will
gladly tell you all they know about
conies, how they hunt them, how often
they hunt them, how many they catch
and how many other people are hunting
them in the same area, etc. Most hunters,
it appears, only go hunting when the
mood takes them, which may be quite
infrequently, and most only catch a
sufficient number to meet their domestic
requirements. A few sell any surplus if
their hunting has been particularly suc-
cessful, although we didn't meet any-
one who actually made a living out of
it. Nonetheless, conies are still in-
tensively hunted over large areas, and

UNDER SIEGE: Conies are widely, albeit illegally, hunted in several areas, most commonly (as
shown above) with dogs that are trained for the purpose. Conies are also commonly hunted with
'pot-traps' (live traps) although this method is wasteful, inhumane, and extremely destructive to
coney populations. Live traps are inserted into coney holes (as illustrated, left); other holes being
blocked off with rocks. Unfortunately, few hunters bother to check their traps every day or to
unblock the coney holes when they have finished with a particular 'warren'.

they are undoubtedly threatened by the
activities of these people in some places.
Coney-hunters, of course, are also
the best source of information about
the present distribution of conies. A
good hunter will not only know where
conies are, or are not, to be found in
any given area, but most will willingly
accompany you to chosen sites. This
obviously saves an enormous amount
of time and will thereby enable you to
cover a much larger area than would
otherwise be possible. The knowledge
of most hunters is usually very localized,
but one hunter generally knows the
whereabouts of another hunter, and so
on down the line. By this means we
were able to map the approximate over-
all distribution of conies in several of
the most important areas, and even to
'discover' coney populations in one or
two areas where they had never been
previously reported.
However, if looking for the local
coney-hunter is an essential first stage
when looking for conies, it follows that
one is likely to become unstuck in those
areas where, for one reason or another,
there is no local tradition of hunting
them. There are actually several areas
like this, and in some of them the local
people have absolutely no knowledge of

conies occurring there. The dictum "If
we don't eat it, we don't know about
it", is most appropriate in these circum-
stances, and is quite likely to frustrate
even the most zealous coney follower.
Still, if you have apparently sound
reasons for supposing that they are
there, you feel compelled to look any-
way. It is worth it for the pleasantly
smug feeling you occasionally get when
you find coney-sign despite the fact
that some people have sworn blind they
do not occur there. On the other hand,
you can just as easily search all day in a
seemingly suitable area without being
rewarded with the blessed sight of a
single dropping. This can be tiresome,
particularly since your worthy guide,
who has come along for the money des-
pite his misgivings, will not lose the
opportunity of informing you that he
told you so. Moreover, you are forced
to cover a great deal of ground in this
way, a lot of it precipitous and most of
it on your hands and knees, before
being able to draw any firm conclu-
sions as to whether they are actually
there or not. You therefore tend to
spend rather too much of your time in
places where there aren't any conies to
be found, and rather less time than you
would like in other places which are


J t V.


CONEY FAMILY photographed at the Jersey
Wildlife Preservation Trust. Adult male
Jamaican Hutia is at top; adult female feeding,
(centre); and young coney age about four
weeks at the bottom. Conies breed well in
captivity, and observations made on captive
animals reveal much about their behavioural-
biology which would be quite impossible
to study in the wild state.


The author with dead conies caught by the
pot-trap method. Hundreds of conies are
illegally killed every year by coney hunters,
and they are certainly threatened in some
areas by the activities of these people.

liberally decorated with the solid evi-
dence of their recent activity.
Determining the present (i.e. remain-
ing) distribution of conies is naturally
central to the exercise of attempting to
determine their present status in con-
servation terms. One needs to know
where they are still found, what threats
they are under in each particular area
and, if possible, why they do not occur
in other areas. As often as not, this last
question is the most difficult to answer,
particularly since there are many super-
ficially suitable areas where conies do
not occur; or rather where they do not
now occur, since the abundant remains
of these animals in Arawak middens and
cave deposits is clear evidence for their
much wider distribution in earlier times.
From many of these areas their sub-
sequent elimination can be simply attri-
buted to recent urban or agricultural
development, but it is more difficult to
determine the reasons for their dis-
appearance from many other areas as
yet undeveloped or not developed until
very recently. It is certainly necessary to
look further than the explanation which
has been most frequently put forward,
i.e. that they have been eliminated by
mongoose and other introduced pre-
dators, such as cats, dogs, or even pigs.
With the possible exception of dogs,
there is, in fact, little evidence to sug-
gest that any of these species is a parti-
cularly successful predator of conies.

Indeed, the fact that conies are still
relatively abundant in a few areas (e.g.
the Hellshire Hills) where mongoose
are exceedingly common, and where
'puss' and feral pigs are quite plentiful,
is strong circumstantial evidence that
these animals are not effective preda-
tors of conies. Contrarily, it is equally
clear that dogs and, most especially,
men with dogs, are altogether more
lethal and could certainly account for
the elimination of conies from many
areas where factors of local climate and
geology are not inducive to the formation
of coney holes. This is admittedly specu-
lative, but it is certainly true that conies
now survive only in those areas where
there are an abundance of coney holes
which offer secure refuge. Moreover, in
some of these areas they have evidently
survived despite fairly intensive and sus-
tained hunting pressures over several

It is quite possible, even probable,
that other factors, such as topography,
local climate and vegetation, also influ-
ence the distribution of conies, but
since it is clear that conies are highly
adaptable, it is likely that these factors
take secondary importance to the
absolute availability of coney holes.
This, of course, only applies within
habitats which are broadly equatable,
but one only has to note that conies
may still be found throughout the John
Crow Mountains and parts of the Blue
Mountains on the one hand, and in Hell-
shire on the other hand, to appreciate
just how adaptable they are; i.e. that
these areas represent extremes in alti-
tude, seasonal temperatures and rainfall.
Unfortunately, it was quite impossible
to determine the relative density of
conies in these areas, although once
again it is likely that relative density is
more likely to be directly dependent on
the relative availability of coney holes
than any other factor. This is especially
true in those areas where coney holes
are in short supply. Good examples of
this may be found in the karst forma-
tions of Coco Ree, near Worthy Park,
where careful screening of several lime-
stone domes will often reveal no evi-
dence of conies, whilst adjacent (and
otherwise identical) domes will yield
ample evidence of a dense coney popu-
lation centred around a number of
neighboring holes.
Taking all this into consideration, it

therefore seems likely that conies will
continue to survive in Jamaica in those
areas where the combination of favour-
able climate and geology have produced

an abundance of natural coney holes.
All other factors being equal, it would
seem that they are even able to resist
reasonable hunting pressure, despite the
fact that they have a naturally low birth
rate and are thus ill-adapted to pre-

However, the real threat to the coney
population is, as always, the destruction
of their habitat. Indeed, it is apparent
that conies are now under tremendous
pressure in some areas, and we can cer-
tainly expect the systematic loss of
most of the known coney populations
over the next few years if this pressure
continues and areas of natural forest are
not soon set aside as proper reserves and
national parks.

It matters little whether the des-
truction of their habitat is wrought by
the government-sanctioned development
agencies or the humbler aspirations of
the countryman who captures land to
feed his ever-growing family. Their
motives may be different, but the
scale of their activities is much the
same. What the countryman lacks in
machinery is more than compensated
by numbers. There are relatively few
still-forested hillsides in Jamaica which
do not bear the smoking wounds of
their slash-and-burn cultivation. These
people, aided and abetted by the ganja-
growers and the charcoal-burners are
illegally destroying Jamaica's environ-
ment at a faster rate than the legalized
destruction of Hellshire under concrete
and marl. They are nibbling away at
the John Crow and Blue Mountains and
running riot over the hills around
Worthy Park. The process is disconcert-
ingly apparent and discomfortingly

The poor prognosis for the coney
may be but a small platform for protest,
but their declining distribution is a good
meter of the declining state of Jamaica's
terrestrial environment. As it is, one
now has to travel further and further
every year to find occupied coney holes;
too often over impoverished or badly
eroded hillside. When you eventually
get there, there is no comfort to be
found from the tooth-marks on the
cassava leaves and ganja plants in the
newly-established gardens. Conies only
eat cultivars when everything else has
been cleared away. We met one man
who had actually abandoned his cap-
tured land because of coney-damage
to his crops. It served him right. Conies
have a right to make a living too.

f-o. e Institute of Jamaica
Jamaica's 21st Anniversary of Independence

A team of Jamaica's most distin-
guished scholars will trace our
history and culture from the pre-
Columbian period.
Volume I to appear in 1983.
Fully Illustrated.
A Biography by Anthony johnson
The fascinating storyof the brilliant
lawyer, politician and patriot set
against the background of a society
in the closing years of the colonial
era. (Illustrated).


^KW1 11"106 FAR LM
to your new address

GOSSE'S ]A MA/CA 1844-45
Edited By D.B. Stewart
Philip Henry Gosse, the celebrated
English naturalist, spent 18 months
in Jamaica (1844-5) and left us a
legacy of acute observations on
our natural heritage, in his A
Naturalists Sojurn in Jamaica
(1851), The Birds of Jamaica
(1847) and Illustrations to The
Birds of Jamaica (1849).
All these are now extremely rare
editions. In our new edition, Dr.
Stewart combines the best and
most relevant of Gosse' work on
Jamaica with emphasis on Orni-
thology. Includes full colour illus-
trations from The Birds of Jamaica.



Our back issues are in demand
because they represent a pre-
mier research source for ma-
terial (articles and illus-
trations) on Jamaica's history,
culture, artistic and literary
We have in stock a small back-
list of past issues and would be
pleased to send you a list of
numbers available and cost.


Colourful illustrations of Jamaica's
food and fruits and authentic
recipes of all the Jamaican dishes
you've always wanted to cook but
could never find in onerecipe book.
A ckee and Codfish, Mackerel Run-
dung, Stamp and Go, Dokono,
Ginger Beer, Planters Punch, Easter
Bun and much more.

Still available
No. 44 which includes
The Jamaican Heritage in
Dance by Cheryl Ryman
Complete documentation of
all traditional dances of Jam-
aica, with map showing dis-
tribution around the island.
Over 30 dances are described.
No. 45
Charles Hyatt on the Jamaican

Each J$5 or U.S.$7.50 post-

Wild Pine

In Jamaica, the pineapple (a
bromeliad: member of the
Bromeliaceae) is known simply
as 'Pine'. Because its leaf arrangement
and stalk of flowers are similar to
that of other bromeliads, the
uncultivated species of bromeliads
are called 'Wild Pines', a name
used here at least since 1696
[Cassidy 1961]. Over 60
species of Wild Pines exist in
Many species of Wild Pines are
epiphytes, that is, they grow
on branches and trunks of trees.
They aren't parasitic; they use
the branches and trunks merely
as a place to grow. Because their
leaves are often spirally arranged
and tightly over-
lapping at their bases,
dew, mist and
rainwater collect in
them. Considerable
amounts may collect
in these reservoirs,


as much as a half gallon in some of
our larger Wild Pines. (Wild Pines
containing large amounts of water are
called tanks). The flavour of this
water isn't too bad, at least if
you are as thirsty as I was when I
sipped from Wild Pines in Guatemala
as well as in Jamaica. The Swedish
Sbotanist Olaf Swartz collecting in
Jamaica in 1796 made a gin and
Wild Pine Water cocktail and found
it a very pleasant drink [Steam
However, when drinking from Wild
Pines, be careful not to imbibe along
with the water some of the creatures
that are quite likely to be living in it.
Wild Pine aquaria are usually well-
stocked with a great variety of life.
Here is a list of some of the organisms
that have been found in the water of
Jamaica's Wild Pines [Laessle 1961].
(It should be noted that not
all of them are found in a single
7 Wild Pine at the same time,
but many will be.)


Typical Wild Pine showing arrangement
of leaves and inflorescence.

By Thomas H. Farr

Wild Pines on trees near Morces Gap, Blue Mountains.
(Photo copyright C 1976, President and Fellows, Harvard College).

Algae, the single-celled, motile type
Gastrotrichs and rotifers: microscopic, multi-celled animals.
Planaria, rather like the ones you may have learned about in
a biology class.
Crustacea: ostracods, copeopods and decapods. The decapod
is the 'Wild Pine Crab', a most interesting and unique
Insects: Two species of needle cases (or dragon flies), a tiny
water bug that preys on even tinier forms of life, water
beetles and 22 kinds of fly larvae, 14 of which are mos-
quito wigglerss' [Belkin, Heinemann and Page 1970].
Some of the larvae you might encounter are 'rat-tailed'
maggots and they really have a case of the 'uglies', but
they turn into rather attractively coloured flies.
Tree Frogs eggs and the tadpoles that hatch from them.
Concealed amongst the leaves, but not living in the water,
may be several other animals, 'pool side hangers-on', so to
speak. These include millipedes, centipedes, snails, mites,
spiders, large cricket-like insects, ants and some very interest-
ing beetles more about them later and there may be the
occasional lizard. Hummingbirds visit the flowers and other
birds search the leaves for insects and spiders. One of these,
the Wild Pine sergeant, a jet-black species of the oriole family,
is known only from Jamaica.
Of the animals mentioned, three will be discussed in greater
The Wild Pine Crab, the Snoring Frog and Wild Pine
The Wild Pine Crab is a species (and genus) known only
from Jamaica and is the only crab known to be adapted to
life in Wild Pines. It is about %" long and wide, greyish or
greenish brown. Many crabs are rather flattened but this
species is decidedly so and can move between the leaves with
considerable speed. The female carries her 60 to 100 bright

Wild Pine Crab (Metopaulius depressus) about natural size.
orange eggs for a while before depositing them in the water,
usually in the central cup [Hartnoll 1964-5]. About 12
weeks are required for them to hatch and about 10 days are
spent in the larval stages. Interestingly, one of the larval
stages normal for most crabs is absent in this species. Wild
Pine Crabs are scavengers and have been found in Wild Pines
at about 800 feet above sea level to 2700 feet. Strangely
there are only one or two reports of their having been found
in Wild Pines growing in non-limestone regions. Yet none
has been seen in the John Crow Mountains which are entire-
ly limestone. The reason for this is probably involved with
the geological history of those mountains.
The Tree Frog family is large, with some 500 species of
worldwide distribution. Several species occur in the West
Indies with four in Jamaica and all these lay their eggs in the
Indies with four in Jamaica and all these lay their eggs in the

Snoring Frog (Hyla lichenata), slightly less than natural size.
water of Wild Pines. One species, the Snoring Frog, is aptly
named. Perched high in trees, the males announce their
presence with a prolonged, sonorous call that rather resembles
snoring. This 'song' is said to entice the females to them and
it apparently does, as Snoring Frogs are not exactly rare,
though they are seldom seen or collected because they spend
their lives in trees, only infrequently coming down to ground
Tree Frogs tend to be small, but not this species. Its body
length is 41/2" and with its legs stretched out behind, it is
nearly 10 inches in length from the tip of its nose to the tip
of its toes. It has been claimed that the Snoring Frog is the
second largest species of its family; there is a larger one in
Haiti. Its mottled green, black, reddish brown and white
pattern helps to camouflage it. The head is roughened on top
and its rather lichen-like appearance has provided this species

with part of its scientific name lichenata (Hyla lichenata).
The life history of the Snoring Frog has not been studied
in detail but we do know that its tadpoles live in the water
of Wild Pines. More details are known of another species of
Jamaican Tree Frog (Hyla brunnea) and it is believed that
one of the aspects of its life history would pertain to the
Snoring Frog. It seems that the tadpoles eat chiefly frog
eggs and smaller tadpoles present in the Wild Pine. In other
words, the females lay enough eggs so that a very small
proportion of their offspring can survive by eating poten-
tial brothers and sisters. Sibling cannibalising has become
necessary for the survival of the species [Lynn and Grant
The interesting beetles mentioned earlier in this article are
members of a huge family of beetles that have the text-book
name Ground Beetles. To entomologists around the world
they are known as Carabidae. Practically every species is
known to be a predator, especially on other insects, and
several species are regarded as beneficial because they prey
on agricultural pests. Our Wild Pine Carabidsare undoubtedly
predators too, but other than this inference nothing is known
of their biology. There are five species [Darlington 1953],
all about 12" long. Four of these are black with purplish
reflections and the fifth is black without the purple reflect-
ions. Their most noticeable feature is their flatness, an
obvious adaptation to their mode of life. Both the larvae and
adults occur in Wild Pines and they can move about between
the leaf bases as rapidly as Wild Pine Crabs.

Wild Pine Carabid (Colpodes darling-
toni) top view about 3 times natural
size; side view about 4% times natural


BELKIN, John W., Sandra HEINEMANN and W.A. PAGE, The
Culicidae of Jamaica, Bull. of the Institute of Jamaica, Science
Series, No. 20, 1970.

CASSIDY, F.G., Jamaica Talk, London: Macmillan, 1961.
DARLINGTON, P.J., Jr., West Indian Carabidae (IX). More about the
Jamaican species, Occasional Papers of the Institute of Jamaica,
HARTNOLL, R.G. "The freshwater grapsid crabs of Jamaica", Proc.
of the Linnaean Soc. of London, Vol. 175, No. 2, 1964-65.
LAESSLE, A.M., "A micro-limnological study of Jamaican brome-
liads", Ecology, Vol. 42, No.3, July 1961.
LYNN, W. Gardner and Chapman GRANT, The Herpetology of
Jamaica, Bull. of the Institute of Jamaica, Science Series,
No. 1., 1940.
STEARN, W.T. "Swartz's contribution to West Indian botany",
Taxon. Vol. 29, No.1,1980.


Next Issue


Their Occupation Their Lives

Sir Philip Sherlock

Maroon Artist and Writer

Tortoiseshell Comb Cases
A 17th Century Jamaican Craft

Wild Pines are truly a part of the Jamaican scene and a
part of our botanical heritage. The flower stalks (inflores-
ences) of several species are horticultural delights and the
plants themselves provide a home for a fascinating collection
of animals. Many are slow growers and some are intolerant of
removal from their tree to a garden in St. Andrew, Montego
Bay, or anywhere else radically different. Nor should natural-
ists with misplaced enthusiasm 'butcher' dozens of Wild
Pines in a frantic effort to collect large series of Wild Pine
Crabs, Carabids or Snoring Frogs. Collecting Wild Pines or
the animals they shelter should be done with moderation
and, for some species, not at all. We should enjoy them
where they are growing and only a few should be taken
by even the most serious of Wild Pine fanciers or biologists.

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I -

Una Marson

By Erika Smilowitz

At the Yilkiz Palace in Istanbul,
Turkey, Una Marson listened for
her name. It was 1935 and she
was about to address the First Inter-
national Women's Congress. She and her
fellow panellists, representatives from
Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Algeria,
would speak on 'East-West Cooperation'.
Una, however, was the only black wo-
man present and only 30 years old.
Women from all over the world ap-
plauded and waited for her to begin.
She had a lot to say. Una wanted to
tell her listeners what it was like to be
born both British and Jamaican, to
finally 'go home' to England and to ex-

perience racial prejudice. She spoke of
the 'colour bar' of landladies who would
not rent to her and of people who called
her names on the street. "I was brought
up to respect everything British", she
told her largely European audience,
"and when I got my heart's desire to go
to Britain, all I got was the cold shoul-
der". She called on the women's move-
ment to help African women, and she
won her audience's sympathy. Forty-
six years later, members of that aud-
ience still vividly recalled Una Marson.
She was, clearly, not the sort of
woman one easily forgot. People who
remember her today, nearly 20 years

after her death, speak of her with res-
pect, admiration and awe. Her long
list of accomplishments tells the story
of a life that was extraordinary by
most standards. Yet all her life she
fought against depression and lived under
what Mrs. Edna Manley has called "a
nightmare of personal and financial
Originally interested in social work,
she was also a journalist, a radio an-
nouncer and a mentor to other writers.
She herself wrote three plays and four
volumes of poetry and was the first
Jamaican woman to own and edit a
magazine. She formed the Readers and

Writers Club, the Kingston Drama Club
and the Jamaica Save the Children
Fund, was active in the Poetry League
of Jamaica and helped form the Pioneer
Press; she was an avid and consistent
proponent of a Jamaican national the-
atre. In England, where she lived for
nearly 10 years, she became private
secretary to H.I.M. Haile Selassie and
began the ground-breaking BBC radio
programme, "Caribbean Voices" She
was a woman of amazing energy and
She was born in 1905 in Santa Cruz,
St. Elizabeth, then a country village, the
youngest child of nine. Her father was
the Rev. Solomon I. Marson, a Baptist
minister and Justice of the Peace and
her mother was Ada ne'e Mullings. De-
vout Christians, they instilled a strong
religious faith in their daughter and
created a durable sense of family de-
votion among the sisters, Ethel, Edith
and Una. Una was fortunate to win a
scholarship to Hampton High School
in Malvern, a boarding school.
While she was still in school, both
of her parents died. As a result, she
could not afford to continue her school-
ing, and she worked first as a secretary,
then as a reporter for the Gleaner. Al-
ways sociable and out-going, she had
many friends, among them Archie
Lindo, broadcaster, poet and play-
wright, and his sister, Dorothy. Mr.
Lindo remembers that Una, who was
never shy, took part in the elocution
contests sponsored by Marcus Garvey,
and the experience could well have had
a considerable effect on the future radio
broadcaster's life.
Probably as a result of her own ex-
perience as a secretary, in May 1928 she
brought out the first issue of a new maga-
zine, The Cosmopolitan, which was also
the official organ of the Jamaica Steno-
grapher's Association. Where could she,
at age 23, have gotten such financial
backing? Such self-confidence? Her
friends explain with pride that 'only
Una could have done it!'
"Our chief aim", she wrote in the
first issue, "is to develop literary and
other artistic talents in our island home
. .Our ambition is to do all we can to
encourage talented young people to ex-
press themselves freely." The emphasis
was on women in particular, but on
youth in general, and because she was
fiercely nationalistic, she emphasized
the future that an educated, enlightened
youth would bring to Jamaica.
Short stories, poetry and commentary
about goings-on in the world were inclu-

ded in every issue. Vivian Virtue publish-
ed his first poem in The Cosmopolitan,
and Archie Lindo also had his first pub-
lication, a modified ghost story, there.
As the editor, Una's values and
opinions, often seemingly radical at the
time, were regularly shared with her
readers. "Women in Jamaica today are
not taking as much interest in sports as
they might", she complained in one
issue. "They seem to be content to
watch the young men excel", and she
admonished her female readers to in-
volve themselves in tennis and hockey.
And, in 1931, when Miss Jamaica
was blonde and blue-eyed, Una extend-
ed her congratulations and then com-
mented ironically that perhaps "some
amount of expense and disappointment
could be saved numbers of dusky ladies
who year after year enter the Beauty
competition if the promoters of the
contest would announce in the daily
press that very dark or black 'beauties'
would not be considered." She added,
"There is a growing feeling . that
'Miss J.' should be a type of girl who is
more truly representative of the major-
ity of Jamaicans."
She was voicing her own deeply-held
convictions; her poem "Cinema Eyes"
(Moth and the Star, p.88), expressed the
same concerns. A mother who 'grew up
with a cinema mind' and thus 'saw no
beauty in black faces' wants to shield
her daughter from the same condition-

. I will let you go [to the
When black beauties
Are chosen for the screen
That you may know
Your own sweet beauty
And not the white loveliness
Of others for envy.

Financial problems connected with
the Depression caused the magazine to
fold three years after it had begun, but
Una had the distinction of being the first
Jamaican woman to own and edit a
Although the demands on her time
as editor of The Cosmopolitan must
have been great, she was full of energy
at this period in her life and was hard at
work on her poetry. Her first book,
Tropic Reveries, came out in 1930
(when she was only 25) and that year
she was awarded the Silver Musgrave
medal of the Institute of Jamaica.
Another volume, Heights and Depths,
came out soon after.

While some dismiss her as a versifierr',
Una took her poetry seriously- although
she certainly recognized her own limit-
ations. Several critics, however, have
claimed literary significance for her
poetry, greater significance, probably,
than she herself suspected. Clare McFar-
lane, Lloyd W. Brown and O.R. Dathorne
all maintain that she was at the fore-
front of an emerging poetic style.
What made her poetry different? She
experimented with form and language.
Her lines were often short and unrhym-
ed, and she occasionally wrote in dia-
And she wrote as a woman. Her
poems tell of passion, of desire, of frus-
trated love and above all, of loneliness.
The image of the woman without love
is again and again called up. Love is
pain, she tells us; whether through love
or the lack of it, women cannot avoid
suffering. In "Unwise" she reminds her-
self of this reality:

It is not wise
Of you
To lie awake
Counting the hours
They do not haste you
To your lover's side
You have no lover
Save in your dreams
So do not lie awake
Go to sleep.
In 1932 Una left her homeland for
the first of many extended visits abroad;
she crossed the Atlantic to live in Lon-
don. Although many writers were by
then living in the metropolis, such a
move by a single woman was unusual.
Never one to be afraid of change, she
was still unprepared for the racial pre-
judice she met and the general sense of
alienation she felt. Searching for some
sort of affiliation, she joined and soon
became secretary of the League of
Coloured People, an organization found-
ed only the year before by Jamaican-
born Dr. Harold Moody. The League,
largely middle or upper middle-class
and multi-racial, was a focal point for
West Indians and Africans, many of
them students, living in England.
Besides sponsoring tennis parties,
receptions and dances, the League
published The Keys and later, News-
notes. (Una was assistant editor of The
Keys for several issues and then editor
for one.) Through these organs, the
League kept its members informed of
relevant world events and regularly re-
ported on discrimination in England

and abroad. One war-time issue railed,
for example, about the thousands of
West Indians who had come to England
to join the R.A.F. only to be given cleri-
cal jobs, a result, it was felt, of Ameri-
can racial prejudice.
The Keys also contained poetry, re-
views and short stories. In July, 1933,
still enraged by racial insults, Una pub-
lished her angriest poem, which was
never printed anywhere else. Part of it

They called me 'Nigger'
Those little white urchins...
What made me keep my fingers
From choking the words in their

It was as a benefit for the League
that she wrote her first play, At What a
Price, co-authored by Horace Vaz, her
long time friend from Jamaica, then liv-
ing in England. This one-act play tells
of a young girl from the country who
goes to Kingston to seek work, leaving
her loyal boyfriend and loving parents
behind. In the big city, she is seduced
by her worldly boss, who ultimately
abandons her. Returning to her parents
and boyfriend, she has learned a lesson,
but as she tell us, "at what a price!"
While the story is simplistic, the play
itself is noteworthy on another level. It
was written by a Jamaican with Jamai-
can characters and actors, dealing with
Jamaican issues, a radical departure at
the time. Una knew that such plays had
to be written if Jamaican literature was
to develop. She felt that too many plays
directed at an English elite had present-
ed West Indian characters as comic
figures if they were presented at all -
and she intended to change this.
Not only did she write the play, but
she also starred in it and directed it. At
What a Price opened in London first at
the YMCA and then played for three
nights at the Scala Theatre in central
London. A review in West Africa (2
December 1933) called it a 'delight-
ful Jamaican comedy' and 'a capital
rendering of middle class life'. Among
the cast of 20 were Dr. Harold Moody
himself, several of his children, and St.
Lucian-born W. Arthur Lewis (later Sir
Arthur Lewis, the Nobel Prize winner in
economics). Dr. Moody admitted that
the play had not raised any money for
the League and had in fact lost money,
but noted that it was the first time that
a play written and performed by'Colour-
ed Colonials' had been staged in London.
With Una in charge, it is safe to assume

UNA MARSON at the centre of West Indian Volunteers broadcasting messages from the BBC
to their families, at a special luncheon given for them by the Overseas League, October 1941.

the all-amateur cast worked hard, but
from reports, they greatly enjoyed the
Not surprisingly, the League took a
strong position on the Italo-Ethiopian
issue, then very much in the public's
mind. When the Emperor Haile Selassie
arrived in England, it sponsored parties
for him, as did many of the women's
groups. At a garden party in Hampstead,
Una got an introduction to the Emperor
and almost immediately became his
private secretary, functioning more as
a press secretary; her writing abilities
and connections with the media were
exactly what he needed. In June of
1936 when the exiled Emperor went to
Geneva to plead his country's case be-
fore the League of Nations, Una was
with him and it is said that she spent the
night at Buckingham Palace as part of
the Ethiopian delegation.
Her name is also linked with at least
two English feminist organizations -
the Women's International League for
Peace and Freedom and the Internation-
al Alliance of Women probably be-
cause women's groups had been sup-
porters of the League from its inception.
Indeed, Winnifred Holtby, the famous
British feminist and novelist, particularly
lent her support, and became personal
friends with Una, who was shaken by
her sudden death.

In connection with the International
Alliance for Women, Una went to Turkey
in 1935 and spoke on East-West co-
operation. According to the Manchester
Guardian, Una "astonished the Confer-
ence by her intellectual vigour".
While some people have guessed that
she left London so abruptly in 1936
because of her disillusionment at Haile
Selassie's treatment in Geneva, another
explanation might be that she had heard
about what was happening at home and
wanted to be part of it. She returned to
Jamaica at an unparalleled period in her
country's history. It was a period of
great social ferment which was to cul-
minate in the Caribbean-wide labour dis-
turbances of 1937-8; the rise of two
major political parties was imminent.
There was a sense of nationalism every-
where and a growing movement for
national pride in all the arts. Mrs. Edna
Manley and Philip Sherlock were in the
forefront, and Una would soon become
an integral part of this artistic renais-
sance. She stressed whenever she could
and wherever she could the need for a
Jamaican publishing house which would
publish Jamaican literature; she wrote
and produced plays and urged her many
friends to do the same.
The very year she returned, she
founded the Kingston Drama Club for
the development of native drama and

produced London Calling. Louise Ben-
nett-Coverley remembers it as the story
of a young Jamaican girl who goes to
London to further her education. Lone-
ly, she yearns to return home and finally
she does. Unfortunately, she must go
back to London and the play ends on
a sad note, with the girl alone in Lon-
don. The scenery was apparently remark-
able, for a fireplace used in the London
scenes stands out in Mrs. Coverley's
mind, and Noel Vaz remembers that
flowers covered the stage, probably
for the Jamaican scenes.
Her next play, Pocomania, presented
at Ward Theatre by the Kingston Drama
Club in January 1938, seems to have
made more of an impression. Ivy Bax-
ter, the dancer and author of The Arts
of an Island, has commented that Poco-
mania represented a turning point in
what was acceptable on the stage: "It
was a break in tradition because it talk-
ed about a cult from the country." The
cast featured such prominent literary
and artistic personalities as Eric Coverley,
Frank Hill, Elsie Benjamin and Vivian
Stella Davis, the main character in
Pocomania, is a strong-headed woman,
who knows that she wants more out of
life than the staid country existence she
had as a child. "I am sick to death of
the quietness here . ." she tells her
more easily contented sister, and adds,
"You never asked much of life anyway".
When her childhood sweetheart dies,
Stella is attracted to the excitement of
Pocomania, a revivalist sect. The drums
seem to cast a spell over her. By the end
of the play, she is in love with her
former sweetheart's brother, a doctor,
who at least understands her need.
Both these plays are noteworthy be-
cause they were among the very earliest
plays produced in Jamaica which dealt
with Jamaican issues and used Jamaican
actors and characters. Pocomania even
featured Jamaican songs and dances.
This was an extremely important step
in the development of a national theatre.
In addition to her theatre work, she
brought out in 1937 a third volume of
poetry, The Moth and the Star, with an
introduction by Sir Philip Sherlock. He
notes the quiet acceptance of racial
identity which characterized the vol-
ume. Reflected too are her varied inter-
ests in world peace, in women's groups
and in the Ethiopian issue. What emerges,
in general, is a sense of kindness and
sympathy for the world and all people.
Also about this time, she founded
the Readers and Writers Club. While the

UNA MARSON (centre) introduces Uriel Porter, Gladys Taylor, the singer, Ike Hatch, the enter-
tainer, and Lionel Trim, the comedian, during a BBC broadcast to the West Indies in which these
artists took part (1941).

group consisted largely of writers and
dramatists, such as Frank Hill, H.G.
DeLisser, Aimee Webster and Elsie
Benjamin Barsoe, there was a political
side to their meetings as well. It was
difficult, of course, to be apolitical in
1937 in Jamaica.
But poetry and theatre and even
politics were not enough to keep Una
occupied completely and she now direct-
ed her tireless energy in another area al-
together. In 1938, she founded the
Jamaica Save the Children Fund, dedi-
cated to economic development for
children and their families. Many Jam-
aicans who do not know her as a literary
figure, remember Una Marson with rev-
erence as the founder of this important
organization, still in operation today.
By 1938, with Europe mobilizing for
war, West Indians were joining the Arm-
ed Forces, and once again, Una sailed to
London. Initially on the staff of the
Jamaica Standard, she also began to do
occasional work for the BBC.
When the BBC wanted a programme
that allowed servicemen to send messages
back home to the West Indies, Una was
a likely organizer and she was hired as
'compere'. She soon transformed Call-
ing the West Indies into a literary pro-
gramme, one that would have lasting
and profound effect on the future of
this region's literary development.

Hopeful writers would submit their
unpublished work to representatives on
each island, who, if they felt the material
was worthwhile, would send it on to
London. Cedric G. Lindo, the critic,
was the Jamaican representative; he
remembers the immense following of
the programme. Henry Swanzy, who be-
came editor after the war, is quick to
claim for Una the credit of generating
interest and for establishing contacts
throughout the West Indies. John
Figueroa, Samuel Selvon and George
Lamming were among the 200 authors
who first gained exposure through
"Caribbean Voices", a segment of
Calling the West Indies. Prof. Figueroa
remembers Una's unrelenting dedication
to Jamaican literature in particular.

Writers and would-be writers through-
out the West Indies would gather in
front of their radios at 6:15 once a
week and wait to hear the words:
"Hello, West Indies. This is Una Marson."
For a half-hour they heard poetry, plays
and short stories, all written and per-
formed by fellow West Indian writers.

Braving bombs and other dangers
in wartime London, Una and her guests
broadcast from the BBC's underground
studio in Piccadilly. Although it was
dangerous, Una knew well the import-
ance, both long-term and short-term,

of the radio programme; and at the height
of its popularity, it is not an exaggeration
to say that the name 'Una Marson' was
a household word.
Una's life now was full, and she had
many friends. Her crowded flat in Bays-
water, London, became a meeting spot
for West Indian servicemen stationed all
over England, but she had friends of all
ethnic and racial backgrounds. The
writer Egon Larsen and his wife Ursula -
'refugees from Nazi Germany', as they
describe themselves were among her
many friends. Una invited them to
dinner after they had met at the home
of a mutual friend, a famous photo-
grapher. With great fondness they re-
called the grand piano in her flat and
the music and laughter they associated
with her. Always there was Una's sense
of humour dominating the party; she
loved to talk and laugh.
Those who knew her passionate
nature would not be surprised to hear
a little known story about her at this
period. The Larsens report that Una
fell in love and wanted to marry a man
nearly 15 years her junior, a Jewish
immigrant, who lived nearby. As they
tell it, he was an extraordinarily hand-
some man, but clearly not on her in-
tellectual level, and they successfully
talked her out of what they saw as an
ill-fated union.
Sociable, caring and sympathetic,
she could also be an imposing person
when she wanted to be or felt she need-
ed to be. She was, at times, undiplomatic,
even blunt. Rudolph Dunbar, the Guy-
anese born conductor, remembers that
he had been hired to conduct the choir
and to locate musicians for "Caribbean
Voices He was incensed once when
Una tried to tell him what to do about
a musical score, and when he approach-
ed her, the row escalated. However,
they ultimately ended as friends: she
was there to greet him when, years later,
he toured Jamaica, and was writing an
article on his notable accomplishments
in the world of music, when she died.
Excitement, in general, marks this
period in her life. She was surrounded
by brilliant friends, and was in close
contact with famous writers, such as
T.S. Eliot, George Orwell and Dylan
Thomas. Henry Swanzy, however, rem-
embers that somehow he felt there was
a sadness to her, and that, like many
poets, she hid a private tragedy.

Her good friend, the Englishwoman
Stella Mead, a children's book writer,
helped her put out her fourth volume of

BBC WEST INDIAN MESSAGE PARTY (1943): Service men and women from the West Indies
went to the BBC studio to send messages home in this weekly programme. With producer and
compere Una Marson are (from left): Pte. Norma Marsh and Aircraftman Arthur Chin, both of
Kingston, Jamaica; Pte Nellie Forrester, of Montego Bay, Jamaica; Sapper Darnley Watts of St.
Michael's, Barbados; Nurse Vernice Lewis and Aircraftman Edwin Angus, both of Kingston,
Jamaica; Pilot-Officer Charles Egerton-Eves of Stann Creek, British Honduras.

poems, Towards the Stars, in 1945,
with poems mostly culled from earlier
volumes. Although the effort of a new
book probably helped, the secret sorrow
or tensions may eventually have gotten
the best of her. By late 1945, she could
no longer work and had to spend time
away from London recuperating. It was
Stella who finally realized that Una had
to leave England and who arranged for
Mr. and Mrs. Clare McFarlane, old
friends then visiting England, to help
Una back to Jamaica. One friend re-
ports that the boat, docked at Liver-
pool, was held up for the dramatic
arrival of Una Marson.
Three years later, she wrote to
Henry Swanzy from Jamaica, that she
was now 'fit'. By this time, she was hard
at work as organizing secretary of the
Pioneer Press, working with W. Adolphe
Roberts, Louise Bennett and others.
The Pioneer Press was a new publishing
venture by the Gleaner Company
designed to bring out affordable edi-
tions of works by Jamaican authors.
About 25 books were published in all;
but Una herself contributed to only
one: Anancy Stories and Dialect Verses.
She continued to urge Jamaican re-
presentation in the media; she wrote to
Henry Swanzy several times encouraging

him to include Jamaican works on
"Caribbean Voices", her old programme.
She wrote in the Sunday Gleaner in
October 1949, ". .. It has not yet come
home to the hearts and minds of the
people of this island that our status in
the way of nationhood is more to be en-
hanced by our literary output than by
rum and bananas . .."
She also continued to work with the
Save the Children Fund, rekindled
interest in .the Readers and Writers Club,
wrote a column for Public Opinion as
"The Torch", and wrote occasional
articles for the Sunday Gleaner. She was
always writing and thinking and plan-
ning, and while she was loyal to her old
causes, she moved in new directions,
such as helping to set up schools for
under-privileged children.
In the early 1950s, she began to
travel again. She talked of going to
Africa (and in one letter mentioned her
plays being produced there) but in the
end, she visited relatives and friends in
Miami, New York, and Washington,
D.C., finally settling in the United States.
She recorded her observations of Ameri-
can life in several articles, probably
written with the hope of publication.
Always, she commented on the thea-
tre or the lack of it (as was the case in

Washington). In New York, she saw
Porgy and Bess, calling it, revolting
as a slice of typical Negro life in Amer-
ica'. She was shocked by the theatre
prices and the uncomfortable cheaper-
priced seats, but then she was making
comparisons to London's West End.
Unlike most tourists, she did not go to
Radio City and had no interest in shop-
A serious love interest now appeared.
In Washington, Una met Dr. Peter Stap-
les, a dentist and a widower with two '
grown daughters, whom she married in
about 1960 when she was in her mid 0
50s. According to one friend, Una wel-
comed the security marriage brought,
and by some accounts, the couple got '
along well. Others report, however, that o
his children caused dissension. The
marriage, in any event, did not last, and
in the end Una, again in need of rest,
went back to Jamaica to the home of
one of her sisters.
Those close to her at this time her
two sisters, her family friend, Mrs.
Jenny Goffe, and Mrs. Edna Manley -
were worried about her, for she spent
her time talking bitterly of ill treat-
ment. She, who had been an international
radio personality, had been turned
down by the Jamaica Broadcasting
Corporation for a job and told, accord-
ing to Mrs. Goffe, that her 'voice was
not good'.
She soon revived her interest in the
Save the Children Fund and began to
write on a freelance basis for the Gleaner.
At work on a semi-autobiographical
book on social development in Jamaica
and armed with a British Council
scholarship, she left her homeland still
another time for a journey to Israel and
England. In Israel she visited the Mt.
Carmel Institute for Social Service and
may have attended a women's peace
conference in Jerusalem.
In London, she stayed with her old
friends, the Larsens, who, pleased to see
her once again, found her lively as ever, a
although they noted she had gained a
great deal of weight. In fact, this may 2
have been connected with the illness ,
that now forced her to return to Jamaica,
cancelling plans for an extended stay in '
London and Israel, and leaving her pro-
jected book unfinished forever.
Back in Jamaica, in May 1965 she m
had a heart attack; Mrs. Jenny Goffe
took her to hospital in Kingston. After
a long vigil, Mrs. Goffe left the hospital
for the night, thinking her friend was
resting. But they called her later that

UNA AND THE FAMOUS: Through her BBC job, Una Marson met many of the leading names
in English letters as well as writers from many other countries in the English-speaking world. Here
she is seated (centre) with participants in "Voice", a monthly radio programme broadcasting
modern poetry to English-speaking India. Others in picture (left to right) are : Sitting: Venu
Chitale, a member of the BBC Indian section; M.J. Tambimuttu, a Tamil from Ceylon, editor
of "Poetry" (London); T.S. Eliot; Mulk Raj Anand, Indian novelist; Christopher Pemberton, a
member of the BBC staff; Narayana Menon, Indian writer. Standing: George Orwell, author and
producer of the programme; Nancy Parratt, secretary to George Orwell; William Empson, poet
and critic. (Photograph obtained through the good offices of Jeremy Verity, BBC, and John
Figueroa, Open University).

CALLING THE WEST INDIES: Una Marion as rganis and conmere of the weMly programme
"Calling the West Indies" broadcast in the BBC Oersas Sariwc, hr wth Gerry lmot. BBC
compere and prWdmr. OCcaion a td h Cht imnam 193 edim (and t am ry) dt

Una Marson in her study (date unknown).

night to tell her the sad news, that Una
had had another heart attack and died:
Una Marson was buried 10 May 1965
at St. Andrew Parish Church. At her
funeral, she was eulogized. One mourn-
er remembered that someone said she
should have gotten a Nobel Prize for
her literary efforts; others clamoured
for a public subscription for a monu-
ment. The London Times noted her
death and there was a long obituary in
the Gleaner. An article about her by
Aimee Webster, along with a poem by
Sylvia Wynter, appeared in the Sunday
While there have been no monu-
ments erected and no prizes awarded,
she has been remembered in ways that
would have made her proud. The issue
of Savacou 13: The Caribbean Woman,
edited by Edward Brathwaite and Lucille
Mathurin-Mair, was dedicated to her.
And her many loyal and grateful
friends have not forgotten her. She had
a lasting and profound effect on numer-
ous careers and lives, on the develop-
ment of Jamaica's literature and literary
consciousness. She was in many ways
a woman before her time and yet, hope-
fully, because of the humanism that
motivated her, a woman for all times.


My research would have been impossible with-
out the help of many persons, and I would
like to thank especially: Mr. Vivian Virtue,
Mr. Archie Lindo, Mr. John Figueroa, Mrs.
Jenny Goffe, Mr. Cedric Lindo, Mr. Rudolph
Dunbar, Mr. Henry Swanzy, Miss Ivy Baxter,
Mrs. Louise Bennett-Coverley, Mrs. Edna
Manley, Mr. Noel Vaz, Dr. Edward Baugh,
Mr. Mervyn Morris, Ms. Jeanette B. Allis,
Mr. and Mrs. Wycliffe Bennett, Mr. and Mrs.
Egon Larsen, Mr. Ronald Moody, Mr. Mike
Phillips, Mr. Tony Laryea, Mrs. Margaret
Ingledew, Miss Lydia Tovey, Mrs. Annie
Staples, Mr. James Early, Mr. G. James
Fleming, Professor Louis James, Mrs. Barbara
Ferland, Mr. Robert Neymeyer. I would also
like to thank librarians at the Institute of
Jamaica, the British Library, Library of
Congress, the New York Public Library,
Houghton Library (Harvard), Moorlands Libra-
ry (Howard University) and Ms. Mary Bleecker,
College of the Virgin Islands.

Gloria Escoffery

New works -1982


dren are heard on the green .
SCollection: the artist.

Woman's World. Oil on canvas. 36" x 36". Collection: the artis

Panorama of Disaster. Oil on canvas. Collection: the artist.

Upstairs-Downstairs Gallery January 1983
Phnl ranhq by Cecil Ward


By Evelyn O'Callaghan

Zee Edgell, Baka Lamb, London:
Heinemann, 1972.

n Women and Madness (1972),
Phyllis Chesler makes some start-
ling assertions; for example, she
claims that most 20th century women
who are psychiatrically labelled are not
in fact mad. Rather, "what we consider
'madness' . is either the acting out of
the devalued female role or the total or
partial rejection of one's sex-role stereo-
type". (p.56) Women, she claims, are
under pressure to conform to conflicting
or impossible role-models and their fail.
ure to meet expectations sometimes
results in a withdrawal into 'madness'.
There they find themselves in the posi-
tion of helpless and self-destructive
children, but at least free from the con-
straints of the female roles they can't
adequately perform.
Beka Lamb, Zee Edgell's recent
Belizian novel, deals specifically with
the pressures that young black women
have to face, and with the 'crazy house'
that claims some who cannot take these
pressures. Beka Lamb is not the first
West Indian novel to deal with this sub.
ject. Antoinette, the white Jamaican
'heroine' of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso
Sea (1966), torn between two cultures
and their opposing ideals of woman
hood, withdraws into a violent fantasy
world and eventually takes her own life -
as does Rema in Roger Mais's The Hills
Were Joyful Together (1953), rather
than face life without her man. Aunt
Alice in Erna Brodber's Jane and
Louisa Will Soon Come Home (1980).
and Elizabeth in Marion Patrick Jones's
J'Ouvert Morning (1976), choose mad-
ness or, at least, extreme eccentricity

in preference to the female stereo-
type demanded of them.
The destructive effect of these con-
flicting pressures, particularly in the
arena of sexual relationships, is common
to all these women. In Edgell's novel.
Beka's best friend, Toycie, gets pregnant
by the son of a respected 'Pania' (Spanish
stock) family. The boy refuses to marry
her, she's expelled from the Catholic
high school where she had been excel-
ling, and with no future left, withdraws
into madness and later, hidden away
with relatives in the bush, dies in a
hurricane. A common West Indian
story, as the dispassionate asylum matron
Men and boys about here, married or
not, pursue certain young ladies, espec-
ially the pretty ones, ambitious and
proud like your Toycie. After they
catch them the men, not all, mind
you but some, start treating the girls
like dirt, confusing them. The girls
get desperate because they've lost their
virginity . Many girls wind up preg-
nant. This makes the men somebody in
the eyes of their friends .. It's a kind
of revenge, don't ask me for what,
Mislady, especially if the girl skinned
up her nose at them at first. lp.1351
Women are damned if they do and
damned if they don't. Yet many sur-
vive unmarried motherhood, as Beka
sees in the matriarchal society around
on this street Miss Flo had a daughter
named Miss Glory, and Miss Glory had
Miss Ruby, that's the one with the face
bumpy like pineapple skin, and now
she has three daughters. And then
there's old Miss Boysie ...(p.145)
Even her own Granny Ivy was 'caught'
in Toycie's trap, but lived a full and
happy life. Why then Beka's supreme
terror that her life too will 'probably
break down, maybe in Toycie's way'?
The answer lies in the novel's society,
clearly established in the opening
chapter a colonial world, dominated
by institutions (church, school, prison,
asylum, Government house) all firmly
based on foreign models. In this society

T D-) E%

I _

it s possible to climb the social ladder,
to effect the transformation from a
'flat-rate Belize creole' into a person
with 'high mind' (p.1); and this trans-
formation comes through education, for
Beka as for Tee in Merle Hodge's Crick
Crack Monkey (1970). But education
involves rigid adherence to the rules of
the Catholic convent school, which are
intolerant of the 'laxity' of West Indian
morals and extend no compassion for
those who fall by the wayside. This is
explicit in the identification of the ex-
pressionless stone Virgin with the un-
compromising Sister Virgil, who refuses
Toycie any hope or mercy.
Beka and her compatriots had
to leap through the hoops of quality
purposely held high by the nuns, rarely,
however, without awkwardness, deter.
mination and intense effort. There
were others, many times of the highest
intellectual capacity, who could not,
did not, would not, for a variety of
reasons, learn to switch roles with the
required rapidity .... These were the
ones who stumbled and tell, often in
utter confusion, and sometimes were
expelled from school. (p.1121
Regardless of West Indian tolerance, the

-.-W .....
'fallen' woman was, without appeal, ex-
cluded from education and its access
into the 'good society' epitomized by
the pious hypocrisy of the Villanuevas.
Women in Beka and Toycie's position,
then, walk a very thin line, pressured by
the nuns, and by their families who have
sacrificed much that they may succeed.

This constant tension leads the fallen
Toycie to withdraw, like the 'shame-a-
lady' leaves (p.121), into madness. Beka
reacts at first by constant lying (another
escape into fantasy), but learns from
Toycie's suffering to accept herself,
failings and all, rather than emulate
some impossible 'phoney' ideal. The
novel begins and ends with Beka's win-
ning of an essay award, which she feels
would have been Toycie's had she lived;
the extended flashbacks that form the
bulk of the narrative explain why
Toycie didn't make it, and how Beka
honours her friend by going on where
Toycie couldn't manage to go.
In this, the novel succeeds it takes
an everyday Caribbean social pheno-
menon, personalizes it and anatom-
izes the agony of those involved, draw-
ing hope from the fact that Beka
(symbolized by the bougainvillea stump
that puts out new shoots) will survive
and learn from another's mistake. Where
Edgell fails is in trying to do much more
for example, her attempts at political
allegory by the identification of Beka
with Belize ('sometimes I feel bruk
down like my own country, sister'
p.115), and the hazy link between
Beka's maturity and her country's
nationalistic awakening at the end of
the novel. Images that are organic to the
description of Beka's development be-
come laboured when stretched to fit
the political theme as well: Beka's inner
turmoil is constantly imaged as a tidal
wave about to break, and her growing
distress is described in terms of natural
turbulence reaching a crisis in the hurri-
cane in which Toycie dies. The attempt
to broaden the application of the image
to include political upheaval also,
tends to lessen the overall effect.
Similarly, the transparent juxta-
position of Toycie's renunciation by the
'superior' Villanueva family with politic-
al rhetoric about the exploitation of
Belize by the colonial elite, is too
obviously calling attention to the novel's
Another minor flaw is the author's

concern for the 'foreign' reader, which
leads to unintegrated cultural explan-
ations ('cultural cushioning') that bear
little relation to the narrative's progres-
sion. An example is the passage on the
history and racial make-up of Belize
sketched in (p.11) with obvious edu-
cative intent and little connection with
what has gone before in the chapter. It
could also be this concern for the non-
Belizian reader that causes Edgell to
anglicize her dialogue, trying for a com-
promise between English and Belize
creole that is sometimes stilted and
sometimes inaccurate no Belizian uses
the word 'Carib' as Beka's mother does
(p.70): since 1968, the term 'Garifuna'
has been the norm.
.Edgell's style is straightforward: she
uses a conventional flashback structure
for Beka's cathartic reconstruction of
the past, and a simple narrative language
to achieve the effect of understatement
suitable to Beka's adolescent conscious-
ness. It is only on closer inspection that
we realize there is more than appears on
the surface, and this also befits Beka's
growing maturity, her awareness that
life's 'meanings' have to be groped for
before they are grasped with any certi-
tude. Despite its flaws, Beka Lamb is a
rewarding novel and a welcome contri-
bution to the growing body of West
Indian novels by and about women.

Evelyn O'Callaghan is a lecturer in the
Department of English, University of
the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

By Mervyn Morris

Perry Henzell, Power Game, Kingston:
Ten-A Publications, 1982 J$12.
Neville Willoughby, Jamaica Boy,
Kingston: Antilles Book Company Ltd.,
1981. J$9.70.
et on an unnamed Caribbean
island, Perry Henzell's Power
Game keeps close to what
many of us living through the seventies
in Jamaica know or can believe to have
been happening here. ("If a no so it go,
a nearly so.")

As the black market boomed and
government revenue from the formal
economy continued to drop. Forbes
persuaded the cabinet to bring into
force severe foreign-exchange controls
to halt the flow of money leaving the
island. It became an offence to possess
foreign currency that wasn't strictly
accounted for. Travel allowances drop-
ped to fifty dollars a year. Businessmen
returning from abroad had to turn in

S, o

any foreign money they brought into
the island to a bank within two days of
arrival. They were searched when
boarding flights to check their pockets
and briefcases for hidden cash. Many
previously legitimate businessmen got
their money out via the ganja trade
rather than reinvest it in an island
where it could get trapped forever.
Almost a hundred million dollars
fled the island that way in six months.
Forbes slapped on even stiffer controls
in his fury. (p.191)

Power Game is full of paragraphs like
that even chapters describing con-
ditions and episodes that Jamaican
readers will find (at least vaguely)
familiar. The 'Green Bay Massacre',
the 'Peace Truce', the Peace Concert,
are among the recognizable sources of


the fiction. Henzell's way with char-
acters is trickier: if elements here and
there strongly suggest particular models,
only rarely can we settle confidently on
a one-to-one identification. Zack Clay
may be one exception, a Bob Marley
like. figure who has a passion for justice
and sings a message we can dance to.
The other main characters are General
Mark Bernard, a man of discipline who
controls the army; his brother Winston,
the intellectual, internationally reputable
as an economist; Winston's wife Michele
(nee Azani), broadcaster, media expert,
desirable woman, fiercely independent;
Michele's brother Eddie Azani the
most vivid character of all a prag-
matic businessman, involved in the
recording industry, money-lending and
ganja trade. Each of these people is a
gambler, a serious risk-taker. The novel
seems to recommend special respect for
people who have the nerve to, at some
stage, chance it all, though it is as well
to take, like Eddie Azani, "all possible
precaution against unnecessary risk".
Henzell truly knows the people in
his book. The well realized characters
are by no means restricted to those
major five. Others remain in the memory:
people such as Burru, the Rasta philo-
sopher; the ghetto leaders I-Roy, Wire.
Red Roy, Biga; the charismatic Prime
Minister, PJ, a Third World star.
Through the fiction, Power Game
analyses various kinds of promise and
failure intellectual, economic, moral,
political in Jamaica in the 1970s. As
seen in the novel, the most fundamental
failure, perhaps, is in economic decision-
making. Winston makes a case against
borrowing money to buy oil-based
One, we won't be able to afford the
oil to run it. Two, by the time we ve
paid for it we'll be too broke to afford
the new technology just then coming
on to the market. Three, we will have
lost a valuable opportunity to use the
waiting time to set up our basic agri-
cultural infrastructure once and for
all. I suggest we start off by planning
to borrow as little money as possible

during this time of transition. (p.1 19)
But special interests and short-term
political considerations prevail. Eco-
nomic and social disaster follows, in-
The work is at its least convincing
when it tries to dramatize the economic
alternatives. We never quite believe in
the computer-expert's personal (if tern

porary) return to the land; though we
see the symbolic point.
Simply on the level of story, the
novel is gripping. The writing is notably
unpretentious, flexibly expressive with-
out advertising itself. Power Game does
not gesture towards greatness. It is an
entertaining, serious, convincing, well-
made novel that examines a time of
trouble and implies possible means of
improvement. Trite as it may sound in
summary, the message ultimately is love,
self-reliance and true humility: 'humility
is key'. (p.367)
Produced in Jamaica. Power Game
has an attractive cover and very read-
able print. But the book has been appal-
lingly proof-read, if proof read at all.
Also produced in Jamaica is Neville
Willoughby's Jamaica Boy, copyrighted
1981 but in fact available only at the
end of 1982. That it is altogether a
slighter work than Henzell's may be part
of the reason for the comparative neg-
lect of it by the Jamaican media. The
writing is without distinction; but the
book is readable, at a certain level. The
plot moves smoothly, the characters are

clearly sketched, there is plenty of sex
and violence. The many couplings, ex-
plicitly described, are varied in mood
and style, and carefully distributed
throughout the text. If Jamaica Boy is
to be believed, the world of pop stars
and entertainment journalism is mostly
one of ganja, cocaine and easy sex, into
which, occasionally, outsiders intrude:
murderers or hustlers on the make,
short of the money the good life puts
on show, or misfits inhibited by an
obsolescent respectability. The novel
has snatches of the documentary in
transcripts of television interviews, for
example, and the set-piece grounation
with Rastas in the ghetto. But always
it feels like a book written to make
some money, not primarily to discover
anything, celebrate anything, or teach
anything. Nearly all the pulp literature
bought and read in Jamaica has been
imported from abroad. Jamaica Boy is
proof that we can write it here, and
keep the money at home.

Mervyn Morris is Senior Lecturer in the
Department of English, University of
the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

By Barbara Lalla
David Sutcliffe, British Black English,
Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1982.

T he language and culture of British
born black communities are often
assessed as subcultural and some-
what isolated. Instead, David Sutcliffe
approaches them as creative develop-
ments of an Afro-American tradition,
transplanted, adapted, yet still somehow
distinctive. He sees the linguistic and
cultural situation of the British Black as
a dynamic one, new to Britain but old
to the Caribbean islands from which the
migrants originated and which have seen
centuries of violent cultural conflict.
The linguistic influence of West Indian
migrants to Britain has been commented
on before, notably by J.C. Wells, Jamai-
can Pronunciation in London (Black-
well, 1973), but Wells concentrates large-
ly on surface features of the language.

Sutcliffe's investigation is a broader
discussion of the speech pattern com-
mon in black communities in Britain
and ultimately derived from Caribbean
creoles, more specifically from the
Jamaican speech native to about 60 per
cent of Britain's black migrants. His
major example is 'Ballad For You', a
carefully glossed tale by a resident of
To Sutcliffe the cultural milieu can-
not be divorced from the language
patterns through which it finds expres-
sion, so he describes the folklore in black
communities, offering examples of pro-
verbs, rhymes and riddles and orally
transmitted tales like those of Anansi
and Soucouyen. He then goes on to des-
cribe efforts to draw the violently con-
flicting cultural strains of the West Indian
People into one vision a whole rather
than a broken personality efforts such
as the fiction of Wilson Harris and the
vision of Ras Tafari.
In discussing problems of black child-
ren in the British classroom, Sutcliffe is
likely to find keen support from pro-
gressive educators in arguing that young-
er children should not be crippled by
oppressive correction. Many, however,
are likely to oppose his view that up to
the end of the third year in secondary
school, teachers should disregard non-
standard features in writing lest they
damage the child's confidence and
fluency. Indeed, a year or two seems
inadequate for a child to achieve that
automatic facility with Standard English
that success in the examination system
Part II of the study focuses on lin-
guistic aspects, first on syntactic features
such as the use of stative verbs:
When dem gal dress, dem sharp,
multiple negatives for emphasis:
she noh want none no more,
and African-derived serial verbs:
dat will teach dat gal fi come try
mash up my scene.
Then he proceeds to an outline of sound
structure. Certain weaknesses in his tech-

nical analysis seem to arise from a lack
of historical perspective, in particular an
understanding of the persistence of
archaic and dialectal English forms in
the creole and to the patterns of change
already in motion in English when con-
tact with West African speakers began.
Being devoid of heavy linguistic ter-
minology wherever possible, British
Black English is accessible to the general
reader, though perhaps lacking at points
in technical detail and depth.
Such weaknesses as exist do not out-
weigh the general usefulness of Sut-
cliffe's work in outlining the structure
of the creole in Britain and its role in
the preservation and adaptation of
Black culture in a welter of varying and
often conflicting social influences.
Barbara Lalla is a lecturer in the Depart-
ment of English, University of the West
Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad.

By Hubert Devonish
Lito Vails, What a Pistarckle! A Diction-
ary of Virgin Islands English Creole, Lito
Valls, USVI: 1981. Paperback, 139 pages.
As the title of this work suggests,
this is an attempt to compile a
dictionary of Virgin Islands Eng-
lish Creole (VIEC). On the author's own
admission, this is an effort by a non-
professional. It cannot, therefore, in all
fairness, be compared to the Cassidy
and LePage Dictionary of Jamaican
English, for example. Nevertheless, the
urgent task of documentation of Carib-
bean Creole languages need not wait on
the professionals, even though these
have an important contribution to make.
In spite of the rather 'folkloric' first
half of the book title, and an equally
'folkloric' design on the front cover of
the book, Vails' work does deserve some
recognition as making a contribution to
the lexicography of Caribbean Creole
languages, notable VIEC about which
little modern linguistic description has
been done.
As a dictionary, the work has serious
limitations. However, the author has the
very useful habit of giving examples of

sentences in which particular items he
records can occur. The reader is, there-

fore, able to observe, in addition to any-
thing else, the syntactic structure of
VIEC. Thus, when Vails cites, apparent-
ly incorrectly, 'acome' as a single lexi-
cal item and gives it the context 'Me
acome' meaning 'I am coming', one is
able to recognize that VIEC does have
a marker 'a' used before a verb such as
'come' to indicate a progressive action.
This is, of course, a feature shared by
many English-lexicon Creoles in the
Citations of 'awee' meaning 'we,
us, our' and 'all yoh' meaning 'you'
(plur.) serve to establish similarities with
some English-lexicon Creoles in the
Eastern Caribbean such as Tobagonian
and Guyanese. There is, as well, the al-
most inevitable citation of 'nyam' for
'eat', as well as typical Creole com-
pound words such as 'day clean' mean-
ing 'dawn' and 'dead house' meaning
'mortuary' or 'home of the deceased'.
These and many more forms such as the
use of 'de' as a locational marker, serve
to firmly situate VIEC within the
family of Caribbean English-lexicon
Creole languages. The author helps in
this process by frequently making re-
ferences to the existence of similar forms
in other Caribbean Creoles. Incidentally,
Vails also makes reference to any similar-
ities which he notices with Puerto Rican
Spanish, which seems to have had some
influence on the lexicon of VIEC. The
book has additional value in that it also
includes a number of largely obsolete
items from Virgin Islands Dutch Creole.
The book is easy going for the casual
reader who is simply interested in simi-
larities and differences between the
Creoles he/she may be familiar with and
VIEC. It is also a useful work for the
specialist, who would find much interest-
ing data, some of it unintentional, in-
cluded within this volume.

Hubert Devonish is a lecturer in the
Department of Linguistics and Use of
English, University of the West Indies,
Mona, Jamaica.

twenty-first anniversary year.
It was, incidentally, an appropriate
historical marker, in that Patrick is a
representative of the first generation
of indigenous artists to have received
their foundation training entirely in the
post-Independence phase of the Jamaica
School of Art. _


By Gloria Escoffery

In February 1983 the Bolivar Gal-
lery mounted an exhibition of
wood carvings, bronzes and draw-
ings by Jamaican sculptor Winston
Patrick. This gave viewers the oppor-
tunity to see work in progress by a dis-
tinguished artist who had been absent
from the local art scene for four or five
Advance publicity played variations
on the theme of his spectacular achieve-
ment and acclaim in avant-garde Euro-
pean circles; a televised interview in
which some of the artist's new works
were previewed proffered a glimpse of
interesting new directions. Would the
forthcoming exhibition, designed to ex-
pose a relatively small collection con-
sisting of 12 sculptures and a few sculp-
tor's drawings give an adequate sampling
of the artist's current style, and would
his new works justify his international
Happily the quality of the works on
display was first rate; there could have
been few disappointed viewers. Some
ultra-conservative Patrick watchers, how-
ever, may have regretted the absence of
figures in wood stylistically closer to
some of the early works in local collect-
ions. The three single bronzes which
represented his current figurative offer-
ings had the air of residual products of
a previous phase, a subsequent wave of
inspiration being manifest in the nine
abstract wood carvings. All in all, in
spite of its modest size, this exhibition
will probably stand out in retrospect as
the most intriguing artistic event of our

Seated Figure. Bronze.

It would, indeed, be strange if this
generation had failed to produce one or
two outstanding sculptors. Born in 1946,
Patrick arrived at the art school in time
to be receptive to the ripples emanating
from a mentor who was not only a mas-
ter craftsman in sculpture, but also an
infectiously enthusiastic teacher with
extraordinary rapport with his students.
Notwithstanding that Bill Broome, a
Scots expatriate, was merely holding the
fort as acting principal at a time when
the authorities were still suspicious of
the influence of artists from the outside
world, in a short while he managed to
bring into being a 'school' of young
artists with recognizable tendencies; im-
peccable technique plus a predilection
for variations on the foetal forms favour-
ed by Broome.
I mention this by the way. It is not
without interest in relation to the evo-
lution of Winston Patrick; though I can-
not say that I have formerly seen echoes
of 'foetalism' in his work. Perhaps he
owes something of his developing in-
terest in forms growing within forms to
concepts absorbed in his early art school

Relatively small scaled, the sculptures
in the Bolivar show were of a size to be
conveniently accommodated in the living
room of the average private collector,
yet they would not be out of place or
seem small in a museum. Whether
mounted on a plinth, casually displayed
on table top or cabinet, or to take
the hint supplied in the titles of two
basically horizontal pieces placed at
floor level, these sculptures demand to
be handled and caressed. Some challenge
the viewer, or owner, to try them out
in different 'postures': even perhaps
to commit the sacrilege of promoting
the floor pieces from their lowly position
to eye level, or daringly to display them
as vertical wall panels. Familiar and en-
dearing as household gods, they some-
how maintain an aura of mystery and
What is the secret of grandeur? Monu-
mentality in representations of the hu-
man figure may have something to do
with the proportion of the head to the
rest of the body, but I suspect that this
only works if the piece is a large one so
that the viewer looks up in awe seeing
a distant, uncaring countenance in the
sky. This is clearly not the full or at
least the sole explanation of the pheno-
menon. The typical Winston Patrick
mannikin is large-headed and massive-
limbed, and these quite small bronze
figures are far more reminiscent of
Marino Marini's peasant riders than of
those Henry Moore reclining figures, so
very grand and impersonal with their
kunckle-duster heads. I suspect (writing
as a somewhat ignorant viewer with no
training in sculpture) that monument-
ality has more to do with the compact-
ness or containment of the figure, so
that by clever paring away of the in-
essential crust, the sculptor manages
to preserve an aura which conjures up
the ghost of the complete block in its
original form. This is a carving concept
of course. Modelled sculptures like Gia-
cometti figures may be vital, but to me
they lack the quality of monumental-

Winston Patrick is the beneficiary of
a long line of modern sculptors, led by
Brancusi, Moore, Arp, Barbara Hepworth
and others who sought their inspiration
in eternity-oriented ancient civilizations
as well as the sublime simplifications of
natural forms. They are responsible for
the creation of a contemporary popular
sensibility which finds solace in boulders,
shells and (verging on the dramatic) frag-
ments of coral or driftwood in solemn,
distracted, or hysterical poses. Now that
beachcomber art has become almost a
cliche, one observes the sophisticated
artist venturing into stranger and
stranger corners of the universe to come
up with items for the seemingly inex-
haustible encyclopedia of forms derived
from nature. The microscope and the
camera have, of course, come into the
act. As I lose myself in contemplation
of the orderly ripples and nuances of
form in Winston Patrick's works, I find
myself recalling the close-up nature stu-
dies of the photographer Andreas
Feininger. It is typical of contemporary
sensibility to perceive such analogies.
But let us draw near to the Patrick
sculptures, starting with the figurative
The dominant impression, apart from
the tactile seductiveness of the surfaces,
(and not divorced from it), is one of con-
trolled kinetic energy, analogous to rip-
ples of muscle beneath the skin: yet
these solid, one might almost say stolid,
figures are neither sinuous nor straining
to treat us to a display of sinews. Alert-
ness denoting attention rather than
tension is the psychological keynote:
all three single figures are seated or part-
ly reclining, the greatest urgency being
evident in the small bronze figure with
torso leaning forward, head tilted up
and arm behind the back. I think that
most viewers would agree with me that
there is more dynamic and inner co-
herence in this one than in its partner,
the semi reclining figure. Is this because
we tend instinctively to empathise
with a fellow human being with pinion-
ed arms, in the way that Michelangelo's

slaves, held captive by the unworked
areas of marble, evoke an instinctive
fellow feeling of frustration? No, in
both cases I think the credit must go
to the sculptor; the success is in the
realized form before us, not in the
It is interesting to note (from the
artist's account) that the two small
figures evolved from plaster models,
while the larger one was originally
executed in wood. My reference above,
to Marino Marini, takes on additional
meaning in relation to the latter. Marini's

Horizontal form. Wood.
spirited and homely mounts in Patrick's
sculpture take on the guise of a chair.
Viewing the sculpture from the front,
one is not aware of the chair except as a
static base for the figure; in profile it
seems to have a life of its own, not only
bearing the weight, but offering resist-
ance to it, so that monumentality is re-
duced and the total configuration ap-
pears lighter and more sprightly. From
the artist's mind issued the idea of this
chair, a rather Van Goghian chair, but
possessing more of the resilient quality
of bentwood or steel.
The transformation of essential qual-
ities of one substance or medium to
another may well provide the key to
understanding Winston Patrick's abstract
Whether he works in braziletto or
lignum vitae, mahogany, fustic, poly-
sander or some other hard wood not
represented in this collection, it is evi-
dent that Winston Patrick speaks from
the heart when he says that wood is his
'home base'. To many viewers, the main
attraction of this show would have been
the astonishing surface lustre of these
woods with their variegated grain. Pat-
rick understands his tough 'exotics' (for-
tunately available in Europe, and indeed
some of them used for industrial pur-

poses) literally to the core. Some of
the least sound fibres, he explained, are
to be found near the core. This accounts
for his tendency to chisel away till he
produces cylindrical forms, not boring-
ly cylindrical but elaborately interlock-
ed and engaging in a baroque interaction
around the core. One of the braziletto
forms when placed in a vertical position
is reminiscent of a boat engine: lay it on
its side and it recalls its organic genesis
as a section of a tree trunk.
One repeatedly comes up against the
same problem in trying to pass on one's
reactions to works of art, especially if
they are non-figurative. It is easy and
inevitable, but is it necessarily wrong-
headed, to over step the boundaries of
what the artist reveals, or understands, or
is capable of articulating, about his own
artistic intentions? I make no pretensions
as to powers of insight which would en-
able me to give an authoritative guide to
the works of Winston Patrick.
However, it does seem to me that he
is a serious artist who is doing something
more than seeking crafty solutions to
technical problems or playing with
beautiful woods to provide pleasurable
playthings. Consequently, the careful
objective terminology of solid geometry
with its spheroids, ellipsoids and other
dry terms, seems to me inadequate. At
the risk of being far off the mark, the
critic must venture into the realm of
'meanings'. Not, of course, in the sim-
plistic sense that every picture tells a
story, but that the life work of every
artist reveals a consistent, or spasmodic,
search for meanings. At the heart of the
matter is a particular obsession and this
is what it is the duty of the critic to
sniff out.
The recurring decimal in Winston
Patrick's work is an awareness of the
potency of man's imagination in a world
of transformations; its ability to devise
or dream up zany transformations of
its own.
The stuff of our universe has in the
20th century been subjected to rational
scrutiny to the point where it has lost
much of its ancient mystery; everything

but its genesis (according to my un-
tutored view of science) is now a matter
of observable process. Man's playful
imagination daily reconstitutes matter
for utilitarian purposes, creating all sorts
of synthetic materials and even moving
into the former sacrosanct area of re-
cycling or reproducing human or animal
tissues. Is it not inevitable that this
should be reflected in art? Should not
man, through the medium of his artists,
exact some bonus of fun, in the form
of wit or ironic comment? In the welter
of transformations the old categories:
natural and synthetic, animal, vegetable
and mineral, organic and mechanical,
art and craft, sculpture and painting,
functional and expressive, solid, liquid
and gaseous, true and false, temporal
and spatial, mental and physical, even -
come to think of it dead and alive,
yes, all these straitjacket modes of
thinking have been cast aside. They are
as dead as the notion that it is unholy to
fly since God did not endow us with
Winston Patrick's works seem to me
an elegant and witty demonstration of
characteristic contemporary impudence
in the face of old 'certainties'. What he
does, specifically, is turn upside down
or inside out our expectations of what
wood should or could, can, shall or
may, be expected to be or do. I am not
merely being pedantic.
There is nothing new in the idea that
mechanical artefacts or bits of them can
take their place in respectable museum
art. One has only to think of the assem-
bly line constructs of artists like Cesar
and Bontecou. Bronze, long the pre-
cinct of distinguished ancestors in the
making, has descended to the function
of almost trompe I'oeil still life with
Manzu's "Chair with Fruit". Once we
are on the subject of transformations,
the mind flies to Picasso, father of in-
ventiveness, with his basket-sided goat
and bull's head concocted out of bicycle
saddle and handlebar. Let us not pro-
ceed to the extremes of perversity, one
might almost say depravity, by bringing
up creations like Oppenheim's "Break-

fast in Fur". The point is that these pro-
ducts of the mind proclaim the omni-
potence of the mind. Let us turn to
Winston Patrick, who dazzles us with his
virtuosity so that we may fail to see the
irony of the situation, much less the
seriousness behind the joke.

What of those two polysander floor
forms, with their elegant undulating
planes and crisp edges? Behold the rod
which rests diagonally across the com-
position pretending not to be part of
the same solid block. Could this be after
all the facsimile of a tomb, modified
cube simulating a book with page dog-
eared to mark a significant passage?
From marble simulating wood pulp
processed into paper to hardwood simu-
lating marble simulating paper; an inter-
esting journey for the speculative mind,
and sensuously appealing, to boot.
Regard that maquette of modern
architecture in fustic. How else could
the simulated concrete slab roof defy
gravity but by the contrivance of a
simulated metal screw made of wood
and actually constituting a built-in
feature of the solid block?
When is a seed pod not a seed pod?
When it is fashioned from the tree of
life and so denied ad infinitum the gift
of procreation.
What use has man of sharp metal
tools when he can pierce an intractible
cylinder of lignum vitae with a built-in
When is a World War I battlefield an
erotic landscape? When it is a forest of
polished mahogany volcanic eruptions
sited in India, where it doubles with
E.M. Forster's "fists and fingers of the
Malabar hills".

I make no apology for the licence of
association which is the mark of a literary
imagination. Did not Henry Moore
collaborate with his poet friend W.H.
Winston Patrick says that when work-
ing in wood he proceeds intuitively
from one area of development to an-
other. As he moves in his various com-

missions from one medium to another,
he is stimulated to new ideas for further
projects. One of the drawings at the
Bolivar depicts an open air sculpture nos-
talgically set against a mountain range.
He is impatient to challenge nature in
her own domain, using weather resistant
I suspect that in Jamaica Patrick is
regarded mainly as a wood carver be-
cause of his works in National Gallery
shows and private collections, as well as
his totemic sculpture executed for the
Bank of Jamaica in 1976. But many
Kingstonians going about their business
will be aware also of his copper bas
relief for the Myers Fletcher and Gor-
don Building (1974) and his pendant
sculpture in aluminium, enlivened with
colour, at the Victoria Mutual Build-
ing (1977). A recent major commission
abroad was a panel executed in copper
and laminated wood for Solas Inter-
national in Holland. There he was
challenged to stress the idea of continuity
of tradition by incorporating in this
work, set in an ultra modern environ-
ment, sections of wood recycled from
the original, historic factory.
I end where I began, with the idea of
tradition and the importance of making
wise provisions for carrying it on. Win-
ston Patrick, born in Clarendon, Jam-
aica, came from much the same rural
background as many of our intuitives
who have remained in their niches or
perhaps made it to the rarefied region of
international exposure and fame. He
was for a time employed as a teacher at
the Cultural Training Centre, and also
worked as tutor in a rural art and craft
training scheme in Trelawny.
As a postscript to this article . are
we giving enough thought in our art
education programme to the varied
needs of the young artists of widely
differing backgrounds who will be the
sculptors and painters of tomorrow?

Gloria Escoffery, O.D., is artist, poet,
journalist and Head of the English
Department at Browns Town Com-
munity College.

Seated Figure. Bronze. (Two views).

Interlocking Forms. Wood.

Erotic Landscape. Wood.

National Gallery Exhibition


January- March 1983
hT e plastic arts and dance have at various periods in
history coincided with, and served each other. This
exhibition sought to explore the interaction between
the two in Jamaica; in particular the impact on creative
artists of the National Dance Theatre Company since its
inception in 1962.
This large exhibition was one of the most ambitious ever
mounted by the National Gallery. It included approximately
133 catalogued works of art, a slide presentation from photo-
graphers Maria LaYacona, Owen Minott, Warren Robinson
TL and Easton Lee, and video films from
the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.
c .-.. These showed dances from the NDTC
KaySullivan, Myal 1977. Aluminium resin. repertoire as well as traditional dances.
Height 42". Collection: Dr. and Mrs. K.
Whitbourne. The exhibition demonstrated the
S wide range of media employed in cap-
Sullivan worked alongside the NDTC during during the essence of the dance and in-
several productions, including Myal luded painting, photography, sculpture,
(choreographer: Rex Nettleford 1974). c d csme
Her figurative sculpture emphasises body drawing, costume design, costumes,
movements and postures. ceramics, set design, backdrops, posters,
and papier-machi dolls.

S, Cecil Baugh, Vase with Two Dancers. c.1978.
Stoneware with iron slip. Height: 122"
SCollection: Dr. and Mrs. Roy Augier.
SI Baugh was one of the artists influenced by
S; Maria LaYacona's photographs of the NDTC,
'" r an example of the 'cross-fertilization'
& produced in the arts.

Eugene Hyde, No. 29 The Dance. 1966. Oil on canvas. 47" x 46%"
Collection: Olympia International Art Centre.
Hyde was one of the earlier painters to work alongside the NDTC. His
interaction with the company in 1966 resulted in a series of abstract
expressionist paintings entitled "The Dance".

Susan Alexander, I ne Ring Iviust Ule. c. lbt.
Pastel on paper. 192" x 27". Collection:
Professor the Hon. Rex Nettleford.

Alexander has been one of the most prolific
artists in recording the NDTC and Eddy
Thomas dance repertory. A dancer herself,
much of her work on dance dates from the
early 1970s.

Albert Huie, Pocomania. c.1950. Linocut.
9%" x 71". Collection: Miss Dorothy

One of the better known of the early Huie
prints which explored traditional
Jamaican folk ritual.

Barrington Watson, Kapo in the Spirit.c.1966.
Pen and ink on paper 12" x 14". Collection:
Mr. and Mrs. Wycliffe Bennett.

Here Watson pays tribute to Zion Revival
leader Kapo (Mallica Reynolds) the intuitive
artist whose works were also represented
in the show.


Costume Design is only one example of the
marriage between the arts in the service
of the dance. At left, Eduardo Rivero's
costume for his work Sulkari (1980) and
right Susan Alexander's for The Victor
(1980) choreographed by Rex Nettleford.

"The sensibility in
a woman's intimate,
gentle, shy, painstakingly
honest, acerbic, maniac, mercurial.
This is the important other half, the
perspicacity missing from the
current record of the literature of
the Caribbean." Pamela Mordecai
"Lorna Goodison's first collection
full of good things ... the poems
are without pose or pretension,
witty, sharply sensuous, con-
versational and casually intimate.
The voice is distinctive, and effort-
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seems to be writing in standard
English. . .They affirm the value
of talk and love between individuals,
anJ the dignity of ordinary people
and of private visions."
- Dennis Scott Sunday Gleaner
Magazine, 1980

J$12.00 U.S. $8.00
in Jamaica only Post paid overseas

"One of the most intriguing
collections of Jamaican poems
yet published. ..
... the book is a mixture of miraculously beautiful
language .... It is full of delights." Dennis Scott -
Sunday Gleaner magazine.

"Anthony McNeill is the first and most accomplished
poet to appear out of the 'now' generation of the
anglophone Caribbean. McNeill's solutions over the
next few years will be one of the major achievements
in our literature." Edward Brathwaite

"Tony McNeill's extraordinary poems are at once .
deliberately controlled, and inwardly . anarchic.
His verse is high-voltage current burning in a vacuum
bulb of words . McNeill's imaginative world is
nightmare and beyond nightmare, the edge of being."
-Louis James

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Poems by Anthony McNeill


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"Megalleons of Light"

Edward Brathwaite's

Sun Poem
Published by Oxford University Press, 1982.

"The sun made patterns on the water that gave birth to
children" (Sun Poem)

By Gordon Rohlehr

The Arrivants (1967-69) located the Caribbean islands
and their present inhabitants in a broad historical
context involving settlement, disruption, catastrophe,
movement, exile and reconstruction, and viewed Caribbean
sensibility as a process and an issue of this history. Black +
Blues (1976) intensified Brathwaite's focus on the contem-
porary diasporan person in the Caribbean and America. In
that collection one perceives an emerging secular eschatology
in which historical process increasingly creates the possibility
of apocalypse. The omen of apocalypse has been predominant
in Brathwaite's poetry since the mid-seventies, and has led
him to review the grim history of the contact of Western
Atlantic civilization with the civilizations of the New World,
and to trace the arc of the vulture of empire as it hasswung
from feeding ground to feeding ground.
The vision of apocalypse has, however, been counter-
pointed by 'our calm histories' the largely autobiographical
Mother Poem (1977) and Sun Poem (1982). In those works
Brathwaite has tried to trace the coral's growth of the history
of his 'mother', Barbados, and the tension is between the
poet's sense of belonging to landscape, sun and sea, and his
awareness of the country's dislocation from both an ancestral
past and the sort of education necessary to self-perception.
Mother Poem portrays and meditates on the lives and fates of
a number of women, who in soliloquy define their lot and
ultimately rebel against the roles which have been imposed
on them. The poem owes its dimension and structural co-
herence to the fact that the 'mother' is identified with the
island itself, the sea surrounding it, the limestone caves of
subterranean water beneath it, and all of these are metaphors
for anima and muse. The 'mother' is, ultimately, a principle
of renewal and rebirth, an aspect of universal law which
counterpoints the apparently irreversible entropy of the
apocalyptic poems.
Sun Poem unites three distinct themes. There is the auto-
biographical 'Son' poem. There is, secondly, the historical
theme in which Brathwaite tries to project into visibility
Bussa, the leader of a nineteenth century slave revolt, to sug-
gest ways of rewriting the history of the catastrophic colli-
sion of Africa with Europe, and to describe the island's
loss of myth and a sense of the meaning of the hero-arche-
type. The third poem is 'Sun' poem in which the micro-
cosmic histories of both Adam, universal man, and Barbados,
the earth and sea which he has been given, are placed in a
framework of cosmic principle, in which movement is simul-
taneously towards the waste and void of entropy, and towards
the sunlight and rainbow of renewal.
The autobiographical 'Son' poem is a lyrical description of

a boyhood in sun and sea, with all the rituals peculiar to
boyhood: the initiatory fights, the acquisition of beach and
sea skills, dreaming, falling in love. The portrait of boyhood
has the authenticity of experience intimately felt, of sen-
sation faithfully rendered; though it should be noted that
autobiography is set at a distance by Brathwaite's choice of
the name Adam first man, father of the human race and
Son of God for his protagonist. Adam became a little like
Wordsworth's primal child, a representation of childhood
itself, where immediacy of sensation transcends meaning. It
is age and growth that expose Adam to the meaning and
pattern which have emerged from his experience.
Part of this poem was written 20 years ago. "The Return
of the Sun" (Section IX, pp.73-83) first appeared as
"Christine" in Bim Vol. 8, No. 32 (Jan-Jul 1961) pp.246-50.
In that excerpt, the boy's name is also Adam, though the girl,
who is to become Esse (Being?) in Sun Poem, is called Christine.
The two versions are nearly the same, except that in the
poem the dialogue is in italics and the story is split up into
intervals or movements and has a number of interpolated
new passages. Esse is given a lisp which Christine lacked.
Frank Collymore, in his introduction to Bim 32 quoted
Henry Swanzy:
A propos writers from Barbados he [Swanzy] observes: "A
talent that almost equals his (George Lamming's) is that of
Edward Brathwaite, a Cambridge graduate with some remark-
able poems of Europe, and at least one unpublished novella,
The Boy and the Sea, obscure but brilliant."
One suspects that most of the purely autobiographical
element of Sun Poem was derived from that unpublished
novella. A great deal of Sun Poem is narrative or descriptive
prose, sometimes, though not always, controlled by a certain
rhythmic regularity patterned, I think, on the movement of
waves. In Mother Poem there is a continuous sea-surge and
cadence which can be heard even in passages that don't treat
of the sea. In Sun Poem there is less sea-swell, but more lilt
and ripple of waves in the boyhood sequences. The reason
for this is that the sea in Mother Poem is the major presence
through which the perpetual on-going movement of the life-
force is conveyed, while in Sun Poem, this function is per-
formed by sun, the sea becoming a stage on which the drama
of boyhood is enacted, its movement a dance which parallels
the pure sensation of youth.
The autobiographical element extends into a portrait of
the island's sons and fathers, paralleling the portraits of the
women in Mother Poem, and ending with the grandfather's
death where Mother Poem had closed with the grandmother's.
Among the sons are beach boys who grow up with their
fishermen fathers and 'land boys' who also grow up on the
beaches, but come from more conventional homes. Brath-
waite accords the beach boys of memory an almost legendary
stature, through his portrayal of Batto and the folklore of
repeated narrative, passed on from generation to generation
of beach children, which surrounds him. Batto is a beach
hero and bully, a kind of amphibian boy god, honoured by
the poet with the emblems of sun and sea.
his skin which on the beach was hard and rough and
was spotted with salt
till it flaked like scales was smooth in the water and
tight in the wind...
and the sun was a medal on batto's chest (p. 17)
Batto, who looks forward to a manhood when 'proper prison'

(p.17) will fulfil the short sojourn he has already served at a
boys' reform school, is a mixture of angel of light and snake.
There isn't only the reference to 'scales', but later in the
same passage we are told of his 'glittering weight', and there
is the reference to 'the fallen star'. Adam's underwater wrestle
with him is a rite of passage, a do or die struggle with the
lucifer of the beach.
It is not surprising that intimations of the fall from this
boyhood paradise come immediately after Adam's encounter
with Batto, when the boys' consciousness begins to alternate
between the mythology which grows naturally out of the
marriage of sun, sea, landscape and the people whom they
know, and the alienating archetypes of a foreign folklore,
which they enact in their games. They will eventually pay for
this in an incapacity to generate hero-archetypes patterned
on the fathers that they know.
the games we paid had little meaning.
Those which retained their African form had lost their signi-
ficance and were, indeed, never recognized as having been
African. The others, from Robin Hood to Monopoly and
Monte Carlo, already celebrate the ethos of romantic fantasy
and vampiric capitalism which will prey on their adult lives.
The constant absorption of Euro/American norms and image-
ideals results in plastic, undead people, grinning a white
celluloid welcome to tourists.
when strangers passed and said hell
o: we let our eye
lids down and slowly un
dead: grinned (p.20)
Brathwaite is later to reflect on his own poetic role in the
image of
the lighthouse distant beyond distance beyond fields
now silvery like nerves in darkness like quixote with his
lance of light
searching for salt for dead souls for

we were dead: the us/not us: the dust: blood
spilled: green branches of the family bone cut off
from root and rib and culture (p.92)

The task which he sets himself, then, is to illuminate dead
souls, to resurrect the ghosts of the past for the enlighten-
ment of the undead, so that a reconnection with root and rib
and culture might occur. It is a task which, predictably,
many have deemed futile or impossible, the undead not
lacking voice or point of view.
The Adams and Bussas are due to become the fathers of
'Clips', whose grey or histrionic lives are measured against the
sun's arc. The first father is 'your secular bourgeois family
man of the property owning class', who begins with a sense
of responsibility, lapses into fornication and ends in eclipse,
vainly awaiting fulfilment in the society's recognition of his
talents. Impotence and obsolescence are his lot as he
the afternoon of fathers going grey
soft in the head
in the belly
in the heart
and where it hurts him most (p.66)
In Mother Poem ("Moth Air") we have the aging wife reflect-
ing on the noon and afternoon infidelities of this husband

with tired resignation, because their life together has become
part of the menage of work, sweat and joyless effort, the ted-
ium and flatness of the daily round to which she has dedi-
cated her life.
The second type of father is middle of the middle, the
good Christian paterfamilias -who differs from his secular
brother only in so far as he has more property and respect-
ability, and sexually exploits the maid at home rather than,
going outside 'the four white walls of moderation' for his
amours. His afternoon fate, a judgement passed by time
upon this hypocritical preserver of the old plantocratic skin
trade, is 'natty dread' children who hate his guts and seek
to enter the world of explosive youth culture with the ur-
gency of those who, born to privilege, imagine themselves to
have missed something by not having been poor enough,
black enough or roots enough. The results of the children's
choice of blackness, pop, anarchism or left wing activism,
have already been dramatised by Brathwaite in "Dred"
(Other Exiles pp. 47-48) where the judge in passing judge-
ment on the dread rapist suddenly sees in the condemned
his son, his double and image; his own dual life, in short, and
the emptiness of his soul which the wig of dead caucasian
hair, so different from dreadlocks, can scarcely conceal.
The third 'version' of fathers the word 'version' warns
us are the real dreads, the makers and products of reggae
culture. Despite his affirmation of the music and creativity
of this counter-culture, Brathwaite is critical of its deficien-
cies. Its energies are as misplaced and wasted as those of the
youth in "Glass" (Black + Blues) those pathetic 'angels of
the fix'. Almost outside of any system, they seem to avoid
being exploited in the labour market, but at the hustler's
price of living a life at the behest of chance and 'skull'.
Responsibility is outside their vocabulary, and their father-
hood comes early.

the thrilldrens here are feathers in a hat-
trick or medals upon

idi amins chest
no more no less (p.69)

Children, the products of the thrill of the second, are regard-
ed as a trick or trap by these gun-children, whose deification
of Rhygin and Amin, suggests a debased machismo which
crowns itself as casually with murder as it does with off-
The portraits of fathers end with a monologue which is
the counterpart of the wife's reflection in Mother Poem on
what the system has done to her man ("Twine" Mother
Poem pp.6-7). The man's lament concerns his having become
dispossessed of sunlight and the rainbow promise of boyhood.
The father in his afternoon, watches his son growing bigger
towards his noon, with the envy and muted bitterness that
normally characterizes the father's reaction in an Oedipal

is only i getting smaller. something squeezin i head
like a
sorringe. uh drink it an dry. is the sun dyein out i
vision, no man
i never did own it. cause a man cyan be
faddah to faddah if e newah get chance to be son/
light (p.71)
Implied here is the father's realization that his son has

replaced him in his wife's affection, and has thus become
the real 'father' in the house. We saw this happening early
in Mother Poem (pp.12-14). Now that his wife has started
working 'to make enns meet' and begun to establish the
meagre basis for an independent income, the father feels his
manhood to be doubly eroded, regarding her independence
as his own diminishment. Now he returns to an empty house
in which he is a stranger 'a dry stick stickin up lonely'. It is in
the context of his own diminishment that he envies his son
his youth, even as he laments his own eclipse.
Though, as we have observed, his soliloquy parallels the
women's in Mother Poem, tragically, neither woman nor man
understands or speaks openly in the presence of others. Mis-
understanding of each other's loneliness generally takes the
form of quarrelling; a constant loveless bickering on the part
of the women, and a bitter resigned silence on the part of the
men. The women, who move in a world of religiosity, are
generally more able to ritualize their sorrows, and their
laments sometimes are given the strength and depth of song.
Thus in Sun Poem the wife, faced with dispossession and des-
titution after her husband's death

sang the hymn without tune without words with
hot pregnant pauses
chugging the milk into butter
hugging its warm animal mutter closer and closer and
amen was all she could say
to the back and the break and the breeders of strife
amen to the wind and the fish and the cool of the knife
amen amen to their love and the men in her life (pp.
The song issues forth like the spasms and contraction of preg-
nancy. But it does issue forth, this tuneless, wordless heart-
break hymn, and with it there is a faith to continue, a quality
of stoicism different from the men's bitter hopeless pride and
eventual resignation to life's planned obsolescence.

The second major theme concerns the consequences of a
society's continued disconnection from its past. We first see
it in the absence of an indigenous hero-archetype on which
the boys can pattern their games (pp. 19-20). We see it next
in their rapid loss of a capacity to dream; a loss so extreme
that they have no room for the dreamer or for the poetry of
their own inward growing.
Bubbles of the world
sky blue moonlight
the sons of the earth ignore dreamers
faced with bone iron steel in their pillagers
they work long lines of rock cutters
harrowing steps up the steps of the cit-
adel terracing fields to the factory (p.37)

The divorce between the worlds of work and dream is abso-
lute for those who are chained to a self-renewing system of
exploitation in which the factory's ancient treadmill and
Henri Christophe's citadel are two millstones in the same old

The dreamer, out of step with the treadmill rhythms of
reality, seeks to relocate his experience in time, history and
myth; to roll away the boulder in the back garden under
which history is interred. This history, as in the harmattan
poem "Crab" (Black + Blues), is imaged by the crab who
'knew ancient histories/old harbour cartagena tenoctitlan'.
The poet dreams of becoming reconnected with the sub-
merged histories of the peoples, which have never been taught
on his island. He sees omens of that history in the ordinary
actions and work of his people. The stone cutting gangs re-
place the slave gangs. The sea-egg hunters, for all the clarity
and beauty of light and wave which surrounds their work,
are conquistadors and treasure hunters, 'rippin an robin an
rapin the ripenin blue egg blackeyed summertime sea'. They
re-enact an ancient piracy in which both landscape and people
are raped of gold, pristine fertility and vision.
the blue black boats blazed with the white living
white waving light
of the heaped-up sea-egg shells and they cracked the
egg through its one black
watery eye and their spoons raked the gold core clean.

The centre of Sun Poem is preoccupied with the con-
sequences of the split vision of the already half-blind one-eyed
colonial. The transition from lyrical boyhood to the moment
when the eye was cracked, is smoothly accomplished in "The
Crossing", which is on the surface a description of a Sunday
school trip to the eastern side of the island, but soon becomes
invested with metaphorical significance. We are prepared for
the crossing by a vision of the island from off the West coast.
The land seems to vanish as one travels further West. Here
we have, unobtrusively, the connection between the diaspora
and amnesia. The poet shifts in his seat to look back because
the vision is a disquieting one of slow obliteration, engulfment
and the loss of enlightenment.
Here then are intimations of both personal and communal
how the land that you loved like your mother
seemed to sink under dark choppy water
that was ringing you round like a wall
Eventually, only the tallest trees, (the poets? the rebels? a
handful of exceptional people?) still remain visible.
but they were losing their colour
but they were closing their names
they didn't toss light anymore (p.41)
Consequent upon this erasure of name and vision and heritage
is the distortion of the image of Africa in the popular mind.
The eastern side of the island, the side of the sun's red rising,
is associated with a terror of Ogun/Shango turbulence. The
Atlantic coast facing the middle passage is metaphorically
that suppressed area of the diasporan psyche, associated
here with that area of lost history, of suppressed, submerged
identity, which resurfaces in the society's exaggerated dis-
may and terror at the emerging Rastafarian movement.
and the sea over there was a giant of iron
a rasta of water with rumbelling muscles and terrible
terrible hair (p.42)
These schoolboys, perfectly at home with the white horrors
of barnabas collins and dracula in whose images they have
remade themselves, convert the iron of Ogun into the
panicky Bajun "i:ron" flight from face. The journey from



Karl Parboosingh, Fisher Men. 1968. Oil on hardboard. 18"x24". Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica (gift of the Royal Bank Foundation 1982).

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West to East coast thus becomes an unnecessarily fearful rite
of passage. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that
Brathwaite believes that the journey can and should be made,
and that he does present us with a vision of the emerging
land, and the possibility of reinvigorated powers of recall,
as we begin to travel eastwards.
"Noom", a blend of noon and doom, is Brathwaite's
version of this suppressed history, what he has elsewhere
termed the 'alter-renaissance'. Prospero's history and historio-
graphy are filtered through Caliban's ironic eyes. Racists of
the Long-DeGobineau-Froude-Carlyle school are caught in
the ironic glare:
there were tribes there of scarecrows
hunters of heads who ate humane bones
crink skull and cavicle
big buttock women who preferred to mate with
baboons (p.48).
The superstitions of history are invoked to be deflated by
Caliban's vision of Prospero's heroes of civilization:

and worshipped the devil like
henry viii, like leo x, like francis i, like pope joan
of arc, like baptists, like jesuit priests, like ni-
collo machiavelli like the niggers they were (p.48)

Precisely when Europe is experiencing its Reformation
and everyone in sectarian Christianity is defining everyone
else as the devil; precisely when Europe is in the middle of its
witch-hunts and Inquisition, it is also encountering Africa. It
is, in other words, a Europe well grounded in atrocity which
shaped the image of a diabolical Africa. In this way they
were able to justify the slave trade to themselves, and establish
the ideal foundation for the further atrocity which a signifi-
cant part of their history since then has been. Brathwaite's
point is that many Black people have accepted and internalized
Europe's distorted image of Africa, and prefer it to the
challenge of really knowing. He views this divorce from a
healthy image of oneself as one of the major problems of
Caribbean social history; a problem which in Sun Poem lies
at the roots of the psychic dispossession of the male.


As in Islands, Brathwaite is driven to understand 'this
death/of sons, of songs, of sunshine', and this leads him to
the third great theme of Sun Poem: the sun itself. Sun Poem
has as its central metaphor the arc which the sun seems to
describe from east to west as the earth spins. It is one of the
most conventional metaphors of man's life, and is employed
by Brathwaite consistently throughout the poem in this way.
The sun is presented as a source of mythology, and as one
reads one is aware of Dahomean, Akan, Egyptian, Dogon and
Judeo-Christian creation myths underlying the poem. Brath-
waite's major task is that of unifying the Sun and Son poems.
The Sun poem suggests cosmic dimension which runs counter
to the autobiography. Even the language in which each theme
is presented differs, the language of the autobiography being
warm, conversational, essentially prosaic and totally access-
ible, while that of the Sun poem is frequently obscure or
Brathwaite attempts to overcome this dichotomy by
suffusing the many narrative and descriptive sequences with
light and colour. Adam, recently arrived from the country,

awakens to the 'sudden green sun the light of the sun on the
sea,' after having left behind in the Edenic country, 'the
shower of green light around the gooseberry tree'. (p.5)
Mouse is seen against this light.

her dress looked very white
and her skin against the gooseberry light

was smooth and bright
as if it had a life of its own
that lived in her skin that was black (p.6)

Batto, though presented as a fallen angel of light, is honoured
with the sun's medal on his chest (p.17) and Adam and Esse
are similarly crowned by the sun which illuminates their love
(pp.73-83). The Muse of poetry and dream is made to re-
semble both Mouse and Esse:

there is a girl at the window
her flesh of cheek reflects the sheen of shadow
green tangerine young black

but the sons of the earth ignore dreamers (p. 37)

The land and its tallest trees, its poets, its artists, temporarily
forgotten in the amnesiac drift westward ho, disappear from
the eye-sight. Reclaimed, remembered,

they were suddenly green and sharp and alive again
into the dream of the water
into the dream of the world

till the sun and the sky and the whirl where they were
was one with the spot where they were (p.42)

At such moments, 'sudden in a shaft of sunlight' as Eliot
might have put it, the Sun poem, the Son poem and the
themes of history, memory and rooted belonging merge.
The sun theme provides the autobiography with a kind of
circular cosmic frame or ring of light. Significantly, it is most
predominant at the very beginning and the end. Sun Poem
begins in Brathwaite's heraldic style. The theme is genesis,
the primal age 'when my songs were first heard in the voice
of the coot of the owl' (p.1). It is a time of reconciliation of the
primal elements, earth, air, fire and water. The Sun here
is the sun of all creation mythology: he is simultaneously
Apollo in his chariot (hence 'wheels oi the sky') and Ra in
his sun ship ('the keel of the blue'). Fa is the son of Nu,
the primeval water 'who gave birth unto himself' [Van Over
p.255] and then became inert, surrendering his energies to
Ra. Ra thus became a father and progenitor as well as the
sun/son who emerges from Nu the ocean. It is in this respect
that the 'son of my song' is also the 'father-giver'.
The mention of 'sunsum' alerts us that this poem will
be about spirit and essence transmitted, as the Akan believe,
through the fathers, and becoming part of the bloodline
of family and nation. But Brathwaite's contention is that the
conditions of the African diaspora resulted in an attenuation
of the bloodline and a wastage and drying up of the male
essence. This drying up, this dessication of spirit, is enacted
in the poem's centre and symbolic noon ("Noom"), where
the Dahomean Loa most likely Legba, who in Dahomey
was the Sun dies on the Barbadian Cattlewash coast. Fallen,
cast out from Africa with the Slave Trade, the Loa who is also
the Dogon Nummo first feels 'his body lose its shining' and
at noon, 'gazing full at the sun that was beating tormenting

drums in his head', cries out to the Sun which he once was,
but from which he has become separated.

and his cry grew greater as the pain of the world
grew black for him (p.52)

Here the Dahomean Legba and Dogon Nummo is equated
with the hero of Good Friday in his experience of the Passion.
He is the God in exile, all the Gods who died and resurrected
It is this dying of the sun which is alluded to from the
very beginning of the poem in the lines where the sun/sum
walks the four corners of the magnet, caught in the
wind, blind

in the eye of ihs own hurricane (p. 1)
Diasporan, the African 'sun/sum' wanders to all points of the
compass, trapped and without vision, drifting in a void of its
(or 'ihs') own making. The use of 'ihs' rather than 'its' pre-
serves the link between the Dahomean Legba and Christ,
who is represented by the letters "IHS" (lesu Hominum Sal-
vator) in Roman and Anglo-Catholic churches. The eye
of the hurricane is a void, though the hurricane itself suggests
the potential fury and energy of the Caribbean self. It is
what the sons need to recognize and realize within them-
selves. At present they inhabit only the void of themselves,
a hollow centre which Brathwaite elsewhere attributes to an
absence of 'sunsum' ("Springblade" in Black + Blues).
In the next lines we are provided with an alternative to
this vision of unrealized potential:
and the trees on the mountain be-
come mine: living eye of my branches
of bone; flute
where is my hope hope where is my psalter (p. 1)
There is hope in the claiming of new indigenized roots. The
eye of reduced scarecrow man the image and idea have
been borrowed from Wilson Harris need not be blind. The
hope which springs out of the new rootedness which Brath-
waite felt on his return to the Caribbean, and particularly
during his sojourn in Barbados (1972-73), is the theme of his
psalm of praise ("psalter"), and the prevailing spirit of both
Mother Poem and Sun Poem. Sun Poem is the flute which
Brathwaite has fashioned from the skeletal, hollow branch
of diasporan existence, in order to celebrate his indigenization
and proclaim the muse and good news ("mews") of his origin.
Our dried-up intellectualism, he suggests, has still largely
ignored those areas in which we are most vibrantly alive:
'brain corals ignite and ignore it'. It is these sun spots of life,
however, which the poet will affirm and celebrate.
Towards the end of the first sequence he refers to the
time 'when the sky first spoke with the voice of the rainbow'.
This is in one sense simply boyhood, in which the sun is
described as a rainbow-coloured kite (p.9), and the radiance
of life is expressed in the image of 'de singin angel kite in me
hann already ablaze wid de rainbow a heaven' (p.71). On
another level the rainbow, born of the marriage of Sun and
water, represents phases in the sun's life from the red blood
of its rising, through the orange and yellow of morning, the
green and blue of afternoon and the indigo and violet of
evening. The rainbow-image provides Brathwaite with a
structuring device on which Sun Poem is erected.
The rainbow is also related to the creation mythology
which is the subject of the poem. In Dogon creation myth-

ology, the Nummo or life force assumes the form of a ram
He moved about the high clouds leaving a track of four colours
from the earth shaken off his hooves. His left fore-foot made a
black track, his right a red track, the two others one green and
one yellow. That fourfold track was called 'the Nummo's
track.' It is the rainbow [Griaule 1965 pp. 107-108].
It was along the arc of the rainbow that the Nummo sent
the stolen fragment of the sun to earth in order to create fire
[Griaule pp. 42-43].
By coincidence, perhaps, the four colours of the Dogon
rainbow, are also the colours of Rastafari, and Brathwaite
mentions three of them in naming the symbolic colours of
his life, those sun-spots or areas of his being which make
possible a flowering of creativity:

black spot of my life: jah
blue spot of my life: love
yellow spot of my life: i ises
red spot of my dream that still flowers flowers flowers

He also claims that these four colours are North American
Indian sacred colours, though he doesn't identify the nation.
One knows that his concern with the tension between the
primal and non-primal visions of life, has often led him to ex-
plore parallels between mythologies. In "Shango" (Black +
Blues) the submerged primal visions of African, Meso-
American and North American Indian are resurrected and
confront the materialistic structures of the genocidal West at
the moment of apocalypse.
It is therefore with a reassertion of the cycle that the
poem ends. This is first seen on the microcosmic plane, in the
treatment of his grandfather's death.

and i looked up to see my father's eye: wheeling
towards his father
now as i his sun moved upward to his eye (p.93)

The lives of grandfather, father and son describe similar arcs,
one flowing into the other. There is a certain comfort in this
sense of ordered movement, a mature acceptance of the
human subordination to cosmic principle. In Mother Poem,
it is the sound and movement of the sea and the inward
and outward movement of the stream which reassert the
cosmic principle: 'closing her eyes, he can hear the breakers
breaking in her bleak of bone' (Mother Poem p.115).
The penultimate sequence strengthens the parallel between
the fates of suns and sons. 'Suns don't know when they die.'
They store up 'megalleons of light' which make them appear
to be vigorously alive when seen from our vantage point of
light years away, even though the death of ice has already
overtaken them. The word 'megalleons' is one of those happy
Brathwaite coinages, which suggests both the ideas of
'medallion' and of the sun as an enormous Megaga') ship
('galleon'), Ra's sun-ship preserving its light during the twelve
hours in the underworld. If the Megaa' in the word also
suggests the megaton, then the idea of resurrection after
the post-historic chaos of nuclear fission, of reestablishing
the cycle of life which man has sought to violate, is also
The voice of the Sun in the second movement of the
poem is the voice of the non-primal vision, the voice of the
son/sun of empire, the Prospero counterpart to the poet's
Caliban. He is uncomfortable with the circle or arc of univer-
sal and natural law, which he seeks to replace with the mad,
forward rectilinear drive of the 'loco/motives' of a technology

employed to dominate human and natural life. He yearns,
in spite of himself, to embrace the dark primal Other whom
he has 'wracked', the Black who has become his ego-trip
back to the romantically primitive, the nigger of his narcissus,
the shadow of his sun. He is, however, chained to his own
loco/motives, caught in his missile thrust towards holocaust
or void, nuclear fission or black hole. The primal demands
an entirely different sense of both movement and time, the
idea of a cyclic curve back to a past which is also the future.
This forward movement into the past is what East Africans
have termed zamani, and is the result of a cyclic notion of
time in which one's life is regarded not as a rectilinear move-
ment away from birth and towards death, the end of the line,
but as a curve backwards to the ancestors, towards a future
which is also the past, since the ancestors have already lived.
This notion of time is resisted by the European who has,
indeed, stigmatized it as an example of the African's supposed
inability to break out of the closed circle of traditionalism in
which the ancestors retain supreme authority, and to progress
in the sense that the European understands the term. Brath-
waite is concerned with the implications of the Caribbean
man's almost unconditional acceptance of the rectilinear per-
spectives of the 'missile' culture, and his corresponding resist-
ance, and at times hostility, to the idea of the primal. The
consequence of this is both the death of the hero-archetype
and the violation of the Muse, as well as that indifference to
both past and future which grows out of a constant erasure
of history; that blind forward movement without point of
reference. Since Brathwaite sees that forward movement as
having its terminus in catastrophe, he is finally concerned
with the reclamation of the cyclic vision of zamani, which
alone can move him beyond a terminal gloom of apocalypse.
As with suns so with sons, who remain sexually immoder-
ate even when they have lost fire ('though their intemperate
i:ron has already wrinkled to rust'.) A principle or arc of
ascent, tumescence, zenith and flaccid shrivel governs the
lives of both suns and sons. And it is this principle which
Brathwaite invokes to explain the life-movement of the males
in his world: their blaze of boyhood, guttering at noon, and
despairing attempts to arrest detumescence, the inevitable
slide down the sinister side of the arc. There is no renewal for
the individual but for the species, the next generation of
sons. The individual faces a future in which passion is only
remembered, and finally attains a distance more absolute
than that of Yeats's disdainful starlit dome in "Byzantium",
in which all human entanglement and intercourse are reduceJ
to 'that howl and hammer', as the sons and suns each seek
the separate voids of their black holes.
Brathwaite, however, whether his theme is history or the
sunsum's progress through time and space, generally ends
with a reaffirmation of the cycle of life. Hence the final
movement, based perhaps on the Egyptian myth of Ra's
progress through the underworld of night, has as its first
stage the graduated uncreation of the world, leaving only
darkness. Then there is the divine happening

and out of this dark came nam
nameless dark horse of devouring morning (p.96)
Nam is Dogon Nummo or life principle, Akan Onyame or
irreducible divine sunsum, which is neither created nor
destroyed, but propels itself along the cycle of birth, life,
death and rebirth to resurface again in its emblem, the Sun.
Nam is a 'nameless dark horse' because of his firstness,
his originality, his arrival into an empty universe without

names. In the Babylonian account of the Creation, the stage
of genesis is described as "when no name had been named,
no fates had been determined" [Van Over p.175]. Nam is a
dark horse because he's an African creator god and therefore
both obscure and nameless in a Caribbean context of divorce
from self and image. He's also equated with the Greek Apollo
who drives his horses across the sky. He devours the darkness
and, like countless other such life-forces, either emerges out
of, or sets in order, or marries with and fecundates the
murky waters of primeval Chaos.
Nam fills the void, saturates all non-being, all "absence,
darkness, death; things which are not" [Donne]
until there was nothing there
until there was no nothing there (p.96)
Here we have the central crux of all creation, the primal
mystery; the calling into being of a world ex nihilo. The first
thing nam creates after his abolition of 'nothing' is 'meer',
the sea, the 'mother of water' of "Dawn" in Islands. This
water is different from the dark waters of Chaos, since it has
been called into being after the light. Water is also the Dogon
and the light grew
and opened the eye of its flower
they say (p.96)
Literally this is a reference to the sun emerging over the
horizon and sending out rays in all directions to form the
sunflower. The 'eye of its flower' may also be a concealed
reference to 'iris', which is both the pupil of the eye, a flower,
and the Greek goddess of the rainbow. She would be an
appropriate presence at this moment of marriage of light and
water. However, it is Isis, the Egyptian goddess, who success-
fully sought equal power with Ra, the Sun god, who is
named. Isis is associated with the sun and with the spreading
of civilization and the rebirth of Osiris.
The brazen sheen of light on water which will crown both
Adam and Batto, first man and fallen sun-ship batteauu) of
the beach, is the first voice or colour of the sun, the red
copper of its rising. So the light spreads, 'beating its genesis
genesis genesis genesis' and the water coloured the land with
ihs hum'. One notes the use of coloured rather than covered.
The colour of light passing through water is that of the rain-
bow. Its voice suggests the Om, Ah, Hum the sacred breaths
and first words of prayer in the discipline of the Mandala. A
creation myth such as this is almost certainly a description
of the poet's own discovery of voice and breath, his achieve-
ment of music and first word. It is in this sense that this final
movement is appropriately entitled Son, the Cuban kaiso-
like form of celebration.
Out of the sea emerges coral, the "Rock/Seed" with
which Mother Poem begins. Sun Poem has thus described a
circle back to the genesis of its progenitor, Mother Poem, and
the children who rise up with the new sun, the adams and
esses, are also his poems and the creativity of the region at its


DONNE, J., "A Nocturnall upon S. Lucies Day, being the shortest
GRIAULE, M., Conversations With Ogotemelli, London: Oxford
University Press, 1965.
VAN CVER, R., Sun Songs: Creation Myths from Around The
World, New York: Mentor, 1980.


The Rev. C.S. Reid, O.D., has been in the Baptist Ministry
for the past 21 years. Agraduate of the Universities of London
(1959) and Oxford (1962), he is currently writing a book on
National Hero Sam Sharpe. He received the Order of Dis-
tinction in 1981.

Velma Pollard is a lecturer in the School of Education,
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. She is a re-
searcher in Jamaican Creole and the Speech of Rastafarians
and has had her poems and short stories published in journals
and anthologies, including JAMAICA JOURNAL.

Laura Tanna, Ph.D. in African Languages and Literature is a
folklore researcher and journalist whose activities include
work with the Memory Bank, the Creative Production and
Training Centre and the Cecil Baugh Pottery Project. She is
currently writing a book, in collaboration with photographer
Bob Kerns, on Cecil Baugh's life and art.

Michael Auld, a Jamaican, lives and works in Washington D.C.
He has been working as a graphic designer/illustrator since
1966. As a sculptor he has participated in many group shows
in the United States and has had one man shows at the O.A.S.
and Howard University.

Ancile Gloudon has been collecting orchids since 1953 when
he began as a schoolboy in his native Trinidad. He was
secretary of the Jamaica Orchid Society 1963-77 and has
been President since 1978. He is the author of Caribbean
Orchid Growing (1979) with Aimee Webster DeLisser. His
Orchids of Jamaica is scheduled for publication in 1984.

William L.R. Oliver has been working at the Jersey Wildlife
Preservation Trust since 1974. A graduate of the Universities
of London and Liverpool, he has written and illustrated a

number of papers on endangered species, both in captivity
and the wild.

Peter K. Bretting, Ph.D., is Botanist and Head of the Natural
History Division, Institute of Jamaica. His recent publications
reflect his interest in plant evolution, ethnobotany, and
economic botany.

Thomas H. Farr, Ph.D. has been an Entomologist at the
Institute of Jamaica since 1954 and has authored a number
of publications. Although chiefly interested in insects, he has
collected and observed other elements of Jamaican fauna.

Erika Smilowitz has been.an English instructor at the College
of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix, for the past six years. She is
currently reading for a Ph.D. degree at the University of New

Gordon Rohlehr is a Reader in the Department of English,
U.W.I., St. Augustine, Trinidad. His Pathfinder, a critical
study of Brathwaite's Arrivants, was published in 1981.


We gratefully acknowledge the contribution made to
JAMAICA JOURNAL by the other Divisions of the Institute.

We are particularly indebted to:

The Director and staff of the National Library of Jamaica
The Institute's Photographic Department and Mr. Keith
Morrison, Institute Photographer.

'Historic Structures

The Iron Bridge

Spanish Town

Erected in 1801, this historic bridge spans the Rio Cobre at the
entrance to Spanish Town. No longer in use, it remains an
outstanding relic of our architectural heritage, as the painting
by James Hakewill (1778-1843) shows. It isalso an outstanding
relic internationally, of developments in engineering. According
to Neil Cossons and Barrie Trinder (The Iron Bridge Symbol
of the Industrial Revolution, U.K.: Moonraker Press, 1979):
"This was perhaps the first iron bridge in the Americas and is
possibly the only surviving iron bridge anywhere in the world
to have been built on Burdon's principle". In simple terms, this
meant erecting an iron arch on the same principle as a stone
bridge, by using cast iron boxes as voussons, i.e. the wedge-
shaped stones forming the arch.

The small photograph shows another Iron Bridge (and its re-
flection) across the River Severn at Coalbrookdale, England.
This was the first metal bridge to be constructed in the world.
But it was a continuation in iron of the building techniques
associated with wood and stone, with the very lengthy ribs
being cast in one piece. By the time of the Spanish Town
bridge, the technique of building metal bridges had become
far more refined, so that this bridge was what David Buisseret
has described as 'a masterly piece of prefabrication'. It is made
up of numerous small precast segments shipped to Jamaica
from an English foundry and neatly fitting together on assembly.
The bridge was designed by Thomas Wilson, an English engineer
who had worked with Rowland Burdon, M.P. for Durham, on a
!-."W '.O: T ,

.:-" -. ", i. .. ... '',i
'T j 1 lr

previous bridge where Burdon's patented construction method
was used. It was cast by Walkers of Rotheram, the foundry
which also made many of the cannon sent to Jamaica.

Although the Spanish Town bridge has survived nearly 200
years, its continued survival will be assured only by the con-
stant vigilance and concern of all, to preserve for. future gene-
rations this beautiful reminder of our past.

* s.. .*



.-Y *-

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