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Treasures of Jamaican Heritage
Proclamation of Independence
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Proclamation signed by H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II
to open the first Parliament of Independent Jamaica,
Tuesday 7 August 1962.
illuminated on parchment. .
Jamaica Journal is published by
the Institute of Jamaica
12-16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica
Professor Edward Baugh Chairman
Rev. Philip Hart
Professor Gerald Lalor
Dr. Alfred Sangster
Design and Production
Assistant Editor (Circulation)
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
For subscription information, see pp. 25-26.
Vol. 16 No. 3 Copyright i 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 Annunciation by Namba
Roy, the almost-forgotten Jamaican Maroon
artist who died in London in 1961. See our
story and more of his work, beginning on
THE OCCUPATION OF HIGGLERING
by Victoria Durant-Gonzalez
13 TORTOISESHELL COMB CASES: A 17TH CENTURY
by Philip Hart
22 CARIBBEAN MAN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF
An Interview Conducted by Edward Baugh
31 THE FRENCH INVASION OF JAMAICA 1694
by David Buisseret
39 SLIM AND SAM: JAMAICAN STREET SINGERS
by Godfrey Taylor
46 THE STORY OF TWO MEN AND A GUITAR
by Randolph Williams
47 AFRICAN RETENTIONS: YORUBA AND KIKONGO
SONGS IN JAMAICA
by Laura Tanna
65 WINDMILLS AS A SOURCE OF ENERGY?
by A. A. Chen
69 THE 'SECRET LIVES' OF JAMAICAN PLANTS AND
by Peter Bretting
34 NAMBA ROY: MAROON ARTIST AND WRITER
by Pamela Beshoff
61 REDISCOVERING THE NATIVES OF MY PERSON
Review article by Evelyn O'Callaghan
BOOKS Reviews by Patrick Bryan and lan Smith
National Gallery Permanent Collection
"Queen in the House of My Shadow"
by Gloria Escoffery
72 NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
HISTORY AND LIFE
Vol. 16 No. 3
SNOV 2 198
Photograph by Mike Tomlinson
of H igglering By Victoria Durant-Gonzalez
he traditional higgler plays an
essential role in our lives; as
the backbone of the internal
market system, she is a primary source
of food for the nation.
SHigglering as an occupation goes
back to the earliest days of the plantation
economy when slaves were expected to
produce their own food on back or
mountain lands. They were allowed to
sell the surplus, and in time markets
grew around this activity. The emergence
of an independent peasantry in the post-
Emancipation years gave full impetus to
the flowering of the internal market
system, much of the food consumed
locally being produced by 'small holders'
and marketed by their wives and
daughters; from earliest times, the sexual
division of labour has been associated
with the system. Generally speaking,
the cultivation is done by males and the
marketing by females. Economic and
social factors have contributed to the
Persisting female involvement in this
occupation, as we shall discuss.
The system of higglering has over
o time assumed new forms which reflect
Contemporary economic, political and
social conditions of the region. A pheno-
menon of the late 1970s in Jamaica was
the rise of the 'sidewalk vendor' or
higgler of (mainly) imported consumer
goods. Sidewalk vendors have now been
given formal status as 'informal com-
But it is with the market higgler that
we are here concerned, that archetype
of Jamaican womanhood at its most
dynamic;symbol of strength, endurance,
courage and if necessary, quarrel-
someness. From Thursday to Saturday
each week, she is queen of the market-
place. Today she has largely abandoned
her traditional dress of bandana plaid
head tie although the pinafore type
apron with deep pockets is still worn by
In their primary role as distributors
of farm commodities, these women per-
form essential services for which they
gain not only cash income, but self-
worth and status in their local com-
munities. However, within the greater
society, higglering has low social status
in the overall scheme. Part of the reason
for this duality is that at the district or
village level, they are looked upon as
individuals, while at the national level,
they are relegated to a nameless, face-
less social category.
The low status of higglering in the
greater society also partly stems from
the dualistic characterization of agri-
culture in Caribbean economies into
a formal and an informal sector. The
formal agricultural sector produces
crops for export on the best lands,
using modern knowledge and tech-
niques, while the informal sector grows
crops for domestic consumption on
poor hillside lands using conventional
wisdom and low level technology.
Some other influences which contri-
bute to the low status of higglering
are: the over-representation of women
in the occupation, the lack of formal
training required to enter the occupation,
Vernon Tong, Where are you going? 1959. Oil on canvas. 25'" x 21%".
Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica. (Transferred from the Institute of
Jamaica Collection 1974).
Albert Huie, The Vendor. c.1939. Oil on canvas. 27" x 21". Collection: National
Gallery of Jamaica. (Transferred from the Institute of Jamaica Collection 1974).
and the fact that agriculture as an occu-
pation is itself accorded low status.
This article explores higglering in
Jamaica.as an occupation with its own
performance ranking system, skills, and
methods of recruitment, and the options
and rewards it offers women who
participate in it. The motivational
factors that lead to higglering will also
Data were collected during the
period 1974-1975 in a small agricultural
community in St. Mary and at Coro-
nation Market in Kingston. During that
period I participated in and observed
the activities of higglers in their com-
munity and at the market place.
The Falmouth Market centre of economic activity ana social intera
Higglering is an occupation which
requires considerable skill and higglers
rank each other in terms of their ability
in the marketplace. Success is based on
both profit-making and the manipul-
ation of skills.
A needed skill in this occupation
is the ability to count and make change.
Not all higglers perform this task with
equal facility, and the higgler who
lacks proficiency in this area loses her
profit. Other higglers recognize this and
are quick to point out that this is the
reason 'Miss Jane' goes home empty-
handed. Along with the counting and
change-making, a higgler must develop
what they call profit-making techniques.
This involves the ability to acquire steady
customers, buy high quality produce,
to barter, stand ground, to judge one
type of customer from the next. The
higgler must also learn to keep track
of her money, to distinguish between
money which is overhead and that
which is profit. She must acquire the
skill of offering a little extra in order
to attract and maintain a steady cus-
tomer, yet at the same time not give
away all her profit. She acquires the
skill to maintain a delicate balance
in this area.
Higglering is a physically taxing occu-
pation. Women who work as full-time
higglers are at the market from Wednes-
day evening through Saturday evening.
They sleep at the market under con-
ditions that seem extremely inadequate
when related to the service they per-
form as major distributors of food
for the nation. Women are observed
sleeping on hard concrete, on top of
boxes, or nodding on stools. Some
guard protection is available, but it is
minimal; as a result, the higglers are con-
stantly exposed to thieves and violence.
The sanitary facilities are as inadequate
as the sleeping arrangements.
At the Market
Establishing her spot
The market as a selling place usually
consists of the indoor and outdoor
space associated with the market
proper and for which a daily fee is
charged, as well as space on the sidewalk,
which is free.
Once space is acquired, each higgler
maintains her spot week in and week
out. It becomes her business address,
the place with which she is identified
and at which she is easily located by
customers and friends. Miss Addy is a
'street higgler' (sells from the sidewalk)
and says that her location is always
reserved for her. Over an eight-month
period, I observed her and 50 other
street higglers selling from the same
I was told by higglers that market
space is maintained through a system of
mutual recognition which is based on
the higgler establishing the fact that she
is there each week. If her space is occu-
pied upon her arrival, says Miss Addy,
"The women just 'small up'" [make
room]. In the event that a woman is
coming to market for the first time, the
policy is that the other higglers 'small
up' and make room for the additional
person. One veteran of 25 years in the
higglering business explained: "we all
have to sell, and all the women know
and understand and accept this. For
each of us must make a living".
Acquiring her Wholesaler
The load our higgler takes from her
district to the market is augmented by
buying wholesale produce from Coron-
ation Market each night she is in the
rnoro anriurea re nP. uupwriy.
city. The acquisition of wholesale
produce in town is essential to the
higgler's business and there is a vital
skill attached to the manner in which
she establishes her business relation-
ship with a wholesaler. This process
operates in the following way. A higgler
buys from a number of wholesalers so
that she is assured of a constant supply
of available produce. I was told by
higglers that if this practice is not main-
tained and a higgler limits her buying to
one wholesaler, she runs the risk of
being boycotted by the other whole-
salers when her supplier is out of
particular commodities. At the same
time, I was told that each higgler has a
special wholesaler with whom a preferen-
tial relationship exists: this whole-
saler extends credit when the higgler
needs it and provides her with reason-
able assurance of a supply of produce
each week, while the higgler provides
the wholesaler with a regular and con-
sistent outlet for produce. This prac-
tice seems to be related to a general
rule which governs the buying and
selling of commodities at the market-
place: "You buy from me and I sell to
you", or the converse: "You didn't
buy from me before, now I won't sell
to you". This governing rule applies to
wholesaler and retailer as well as to
retailer and customer, suggesting that
there is an emphasis on reciprocity at
each level of the market system.
Our higgler has now acquired her
selling spot at the market. She has estab-
lished business relationships with whole-
salers. Next is the acquisition of what
our higgler calls 'my staunch customers',
that is, steady customers acquired over
a period of time. The procuring of these
customers is described in the accounts
Case No. 1
Higgler Miss Addy explained that she
obtains her staunch customers through
various techniques. Most of them she
acquired over a long period of time. A
customer would come to her each week
making a sizable purchase. This resulted
in Miss Addy bringing something from
her field for this particular customer.
She says she doesn't do this each week,
but only now and again. Miss Addy says
that she obtained-other staunch cus-
tomers as a result of 'our spirits just
moving together well'.
Case No. 2
Higgler Miss Verne says she has ten
Higgler in traditional bandana headdress
formerly worn by all market women, a parti-
cularly beautiful 'bankra' (market basket)
staunch customers. Six of these she has
had for over five years. These staunch
customers buy from Miss Verne each
week, making purchases which total
from four to five dollars. Each Christ-
mas she receives gifts from her staunch
customers. She showed me a white dress
that a customer had made for her last
Christmas. Miss Verne says this cus-
tomer was somewhat reluctant to give
her a gift of clothing, explaining that
"You country people are so funny
about accepting clothing". Thus the
customer asked if she would accept such
a gift before presenting it to her. The
usual type of gift that customers give to
higglers would be household items such
as dishes, pots, pans, or food items such
as Christmas cake.
Case No. 3
This veteran higgler is unable to go to
market this week due to illness in the
family, and she laments over the fact
that her staunch customers will be dis-
appointed. There was only one other
occasion when this higgler missed going
to market and this was due to her
church obligations (she is a Mother in
the church). She says, "There is a 'Coolie'
gal [Indian] who has been buying from
me for over five years. Each week she
spends over six dollars. There is another
staunch customer who last week bought
twenty pounds of yellow yams from
me. This customer always spends
between seven and eight dollars with
me each week." This higgler's concern
is not that she will lose these customers
with one week's absence, but that this
will inconvenience them. She says,
"Just the same, they will understand".
The relationship between higgler and
regular customer is based upon or is an
outgrowth of a reciprocal relationship
which is created from mutual need,
especially under conditions of scarcity.
The higgler needs the security in her
business of reliance upon a certain
amount of fixed sales each week, and
customers need the assurance of know-
ing that their higgler has saved a pint of
red peas or a pound of onions during
one of the perennial periods of scarcity
within the nation. Higglers go to great
lengths to maintain the relationship
with staunch customers: Miss Verne
says, "If my staunch customers buy
yams from me each week, I must have
yams for these customers. Even if I am
not selling yams, I will buy them from
another higgler just so that my staunch
customers get them".
Katzin [1960 p.316] writing on this
topic of the relationship between hig-
gler and regular customers, says:
She knows that her group of town
higglers depend upon her for a part of
their goods every weekend and she
considers it to be her responsibility
to get the load to them. If she is un-
able to come to the market for any
reason, such as illness, she will send
someone to buy the load and take it
to her regular customers.
It is crucial in performing the higgler
role that each actor becomes proficient
at using what higglers call the 'know-
ledge' of higglering. As we have seen,
some of this knowledge involves the
delicate area of interpersonal relation-
ships between higgler and wholesaler
and higgler and staunch customer. In
this realm of interpersonal relationships,
the higgler must acquire some know-
how of the working dynamics of human
relations. This she acquires over time
and on a trial and error basis, and also
by observing and consulting with veteran
higglers. Often within the district a
beginner higgler will consult with a
veteran higgler concerning some problem
that has arisen between her and a whole-
saler or between her and a customer.
The veteran higgler will readily give the
beginner advice and assistance, even
though at the marketplace and during
the actual selling procedure, they engage
in competitive buying and selling.
Other areas of higglering know-
ledge are more standardized or universal.
These are the ability to count correctly
and quickly, to make correct change,
and to bargain effectively. Most of these
skills are acquired through a process of
learning while doing. Higglers generally
receive little schooling; nevertheless,
their occupational skills are highly
developed. After observing the pro-
ficiency with which they compute
sums of money and bargain, it is diffi-
cult to believe that many of them are
unable to read. Higglers manipulate the
performance of computing skills be-
tween self and customer by exerting
control over how this is carried out.
When a customer attempts to confuse
or outwit a higgler by out-computing
her or calculating the sum of a purchase
for her, the higgler simply stops the
transaction. She does this by rearranging
her produce, returning to the shelling of
gungo peas, or other activity or simply
by turning to her stall neighbour and
engaging in chat. While she is engaging
in such diversionary techniques she is
at the same time computing the pur-
chase. The customer usually gets the
message and the transaction is reinitiated
with the higgler in control.
Keeping track of cash and its usage is
another important skill. Some book-
keeping techniques are involved. For
example, Miss Tah-Tah says that when
she is selling she separates her money so
that she will know when she has made
back her 'stand' (expenditures). "After
I make back my stand, then I start on
my profit". She explained that she
keeps track of her money by going to
the toilet and counting it, always
keeping the profit separate from the
stand for this (profit) is the money she
uses to buy things for her household
and for little presents for the children.
Miss Tah-Tah says that money is count-
ed in the toilet to avoid theft. This is a
frequent occurrence at the market; not
by other higglers, but by the 'criminals'
(this is the term used throughout the
island for persons who break the law).
Higglers traditionally wear a pina-
fore or an apron with large deep pockets
in which money is placed. Usually hig-
glers do not display money; it is visible
only in small sums; money is tied in
handkerchiefs, plastic bags, or placed in
a small brown paper bag and kept out
of sight. The amount of money on dis-
play at any given time is that which is
being used in actual at-the-moment
transactions. Large sums of money are
kept in what is known as a 'thread bag'
and this is attached to the body for
safety. The female handling of money is
in contrast to that of the male higgler;
the female is close and somewhat sur-
reptitious in the manner in which she
handles and displays cash, while the
male higgler is more open, even flaunt-
ing. For example, one male higgler, Mass
Renny, keeps his money in two places;
he stores coins and small bills fifty-
cent pieces and one and two dollar
bills in a box which is openly placed
on the ground among the produce he
is selling; the rest he keeps in a money
clip. He flashes his money dip frequent-
ly, for he is often asked to change large
bills by other higglers and he uses this
as an opportunity to flip through the
The Life Cycle of the Higgler
Higglering is an occupation that has
an effective method of recruiting mem-
bers, and can accommodate them. It
provides training through the kin group
and other district members, maintains
an adequate and effective apprentice-
ship programme, and provides role
models. It is an occupation that main-
tains its work force during the various
stages of child-bearing and child-rearing
and into the later stages of the life
cycle. It is these aspects of higglering
which we will next examine.
Higglering, like other occupations
such as midwifery, shop-keeping and
dressmaking, and unlike certaintradition-
al occupational roles for women such as
schoolteaching, nursing, secretarial work,
and the like, develops within the district
itself. The training, skills, and tools re-
quired for higglering are within the
developmental capacity of the district,
and these requirements are facilitated
at the district level. The district pro-
vides the necessary means for the re-
cruitment and training for this occu-
pation while society as a whole provides
the outlet for the practice of higglering
through the internal market system and,
to some degree, the export market
system. In the district studied, there is
an effective and efficient recruitment
and apprenticeship system that starts
at the early stages of the life cycle and
continues to engage its practitioners
into the later stages of the life span.
I observed how small children, below
the age of five, are socialized into the
business of higglering. This socialization
is informal and emerges simply as an
outgrowth of daily life. Introduction
and exposure to bigglering are accom-
plished in subtle ways, some of which
takes place when the mother goes to
the nearby bush with her very young
children to gather fruits and vegetables
that will eventually be distributed within
the internal market system. Often the
mother could be observed instructing
a three- or four-year old to fetch some of
the needed items in preparing her load
for market, such as string or cord to tie
a crocus bag filled with breadfruit, or
a piece of red cloth to use as an identi-
fication mark on her load. Another
mother might be seen sending a five-
or seven-year-old who happens to be
in her yard, to a neighbour's yard to
fetch the mortar and pestle she needs to
produce country chocolate from cocoa
beans. A five-year-old is observed alert-
ing a higgler that a hen just laid an egg
under the house; then he quickly goes
off to fetch it It will be added to the
higgler's supply of eggs that she is tak-
ing to market.
All such incidents take place among
the children who happen to be in the
yard at the time. Some are the children
of the higgler in whose yard they have
gathered to play, some are from other
yards. But each child is drawn inform-
ally into some aspect of this economic
activity. At about the age of seven,
participation takes on a dimension of
formality, and this is related to the
availability of personnel.
When a higgler has no adult house-
hold members to help her prepare for
market, she will keep her children home
from school to help, especially on a
Wednesday, the day the women of this
district go to market.
When children are kept home to
help, they are then considered formal
participants. At this level, children per-
form a needed and useful service in the
marketing business. For such services
they receive small sums of money, pre-
sents brought back from town, a new
dress, a new shirt, a pair of shoes,
candy, and the like. Some of these items
would, of course, be provided under
other circumstances, but a distinction is
made when a higgler gives a present
upon certain occasions and when she is
providing the necessities. In any event
these rewards function as incentives for
continued participation of children in
the higglering work force. On the other
hand, children are punished for not
helping in the tasks of marketing. This
is done by withdrawing certain 'goodies'
During the initial socialization pro-
cesses into higglering, there is no divi-
sion of labour by sex. This division
emerges when higglers start to take their
teenage daughters to the market with
them. I did not observe any instance
where a mother took her teenage son
to the market. It was a common occur-
rence during school holidays to see
young daughters waiting at the bus
stop on Wednesdays with their hig-
gler mothers, ready to go to market in
town. These young girls are well dres-
sed, well scrubbed, with neatly combed
and braided hair, and ready for an
And an excursion it is, for these
trips take place when these girls are
on summer holiday from school, and
the marketplace is full of excitement
and bustling with colourful characters.
For the higgler mothers of these
young girls this is no mere exposure
to city life. These mothers are preparing
(indirectly) their daughters for what is
most likely to become their economic
and social way of life. These trips
to market also provide supervision
for young girls who otherwise would be
left in the yard with no immediate adult
supervision. Oftentimes fathers and
other adult males who share the house-
hold are away working and cannot be
present to act as chaperons.
These two purposes learning and
supervision are seemingly carried out
incidentally to the main business of
selling, for I have no evidence to show
that at any time the mother sits down and
discusses the underlying nature of these
trips to market with her daughter. Yet,
the underlying purposes are clear and
understood by household members as
well as by other district members,
for it has become a custom for mothers
THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
Jamaica's national cultural institution was
founded in 1879. Its main functions are to
foster and encourage the development of cul-
ture, science and history in the national in-
terest. It operates as a statutory body under
the Institute of Jamaica Act, 1978 and falls
under the portfolio of the Prime Minister.
The Institute's central decision-making body
is the Council which is appointed by the Mini-
ster. The Council consists of individuals in-
volved in various aspects of Jamaica's cultural
life appointed in their own right, and rep-
resentatives of major cultural organizations
The Institute of Jamaica consists of a central
administration with a number of divisions
operating with varying degrees of autonomy.
Chairman: Mr. John Hearne
Executive Director: Rev. Philip Hart
Deputy Director: Mr. Gerald Groves
Higglers engaged in the business of buying and si
to socialize daughters into the business
of higglering in this excursion-like
When I asked higglers why they take
their daughters to market, the usual
response was "I need the help, she is a
big pickney now and can be of some
help to me at the market. School is on
holiday and there is no one in the yard
to look after her while I am at market".
On further probing, some mothers in-
dicated that they are being foresighted.
This is illustrated by the statement,
"She is a gal pickney and some day she
may need to know the market".
Of course not all daughters of higglers
will become higglers themselves. The
cases described below provide some
ethnographic aspects of the manner in
which higglers are recruited and illus-
trate important elements in the trans-
mission of higglering skills and know-
Case No. 1
Miss Lovie says she worked as a hig-
gler for 'many, many years'. In fact,
she has just left this occupation as a
full-time participant within the last two
years. She entered higglering through
her grandmother, who is still remember-
ed as a higgler of exceptional ability.
Miss Lovie, who is now 65 years old,
was phased into the higglering occup-
ation at two levels: one, assisting in the
gathering, collecting, and preparation of
the load; and two, by accompanying her
granny to market. As Miss Lovie grew
into a woman and began to have child-
ren, she entered this occupation as an
Case No. 2
Miss Verne is 47 years old and is
the mother of seven children. She start-
ed higglering at about 19 years of age.
Her introduction into higglering start-
ed when her mother, a higgler, was un-
able to go to market due to illness. The
mother sent the load with her daughter,
who went with her cousin, an experien-
ced higgler. Before this incident, Miss
Verne's mother had been reluctant for
her to go to market, but afterwards she
began to accompany her mother on a
regular basis. Her mother taught her the
skills of buying and selling, and the
method of acquiring steady customers.
Case No. 3
Miss Ven is 39 years old, the oldest
of seven children, and has.been a higgler
for as long as she remembers. She com-
pleted the first grade in school, drop-
ping out to take care of household
chores when her mother became ill. At
this early age she took charge of the
washing, cleaning, and cooking. She is
unable to remember her exact age at the
time she started higglering, but believes
it was during early adolescence. She
learned the skills of higglering from her
mother and other higglers in her dis-
Case No. 4
Mada Pinkey's parents died when she
was about 12 years old and she was rear-
ed by her grandparents. Her yard was
located close to the yard of a very suc-
cessful higgler, and this woman taught
her the 'knowledge' of higglering. "As
a youth I followed her to the market,
and little by little I learned how to buy
and sell." That was more than 40 years
ago. Today Mada Pinkey is considered
to be one of the successful higglers in
the district. Other higglers, usually
younger women, come to her for ad-
vice and suggestions about higglering.
These cases show that women
phase gradually into higglering in two
ways: by following a higgler to market
and by substituting for a higgler who is
unable to go to market and who sends
a younger female from her household in
her place. She does not send the substi-
tute to market alone but pairs her with
a veteran higgler who assists the neo-
phyte as she takes charge of the house-
hold's load. Sometimes young girls are
launched into the business of higgler-
ing when a mother sets up a roadside
stand to sell fruits and vegetables to
motorists who pass through the district,
and puts her 10- to 15-year-old daughter
in charge. This provides an opportunity
for young girls to learn some of the
skills of the trade in the home environ-
Optimum Participatory Stage
Women who become higglers can
look forward to a long tenure in this
occupation. The period in which hig-
glers practice on a full-time and/or
regular basis, I define as the 'optimum
participatory stage'. In this stage they
develop and maintain a high perform-
ance level, acquire and perfect the tech-
niques of their trade, and then reach
the stage where they are rewarded for
achievement through recognition of
their performance by their peers and the
district as a whole. During the opti-
mum participatory stage the higgler
establishes herself in her occupation
in the ways already described: by ac-
quiring a permanent spot at the market;
by establishing an ongoing relationship
with wholesalers; by acquiring a steady
clientele; and by becoming proficient in
the skills and knowledge of higglering.
Unlike other forms of labour, higgler-
ing is an occupation which accom-
modates the female throughout her
childbearing years. She can reorganize
her higglering activities in order to re-
produce, and to feed her infant. In
other words, women can continue to
higgle while having children and breast-
feeding them for more than a year.
Women higglers achieve this by rearran-
ging the level at which they participate
in higglering and through a higglering
support system. This system opera-
tes 'like so', to borrow a phrase from
the district: women continue to go to
market until the last stage of pregnancy,
usually up until the seventh or eighth
month depending upon the nature of
the pregnancy. They then stop going
to the market until the breast-feeding
period is coming to a close or has be-
come regulated so that the woman can
return to market on a limited time basis.
During the late gestation period and
regulatory breast-feeding period, the
higgler does not withdraw from higgler-
ing entirely but simply reorganizes her
participatory activities. She does this by
selling to other higglers and by sending
a load with a friend. This is established
through her mutual aid system. These
two methods were employed by three
higglers who gave birth while this re-
search was in progress. Each woman was
a full-time higgler, each breast-fed her
infant, and two started to return to the
market when their infants were eight
months old. However, they gradually
staged reentry by going to town one
evening and returning the next evening.
In this manner these women accommo-
dated market trips with breast-feeding.
Other higglers talked of using this
method during childbearing and child-
rearing. This method allows women to
achieve compatibility between two prim-
ary roles: occupational and familial.
Although higglering can be a life-
time occupation, there comes a time
when through age or infirmity the wo-
men begin to phase out their activities
as full time higglers. They begin to limit
the number of days spent at the market,
the number of trips, the load taken to
market, and to decrease social ties with-
in the marketplace. There is a shift to-
ward redirecting social interaction to
the boundaries of the district by plac-
ing restrictions on intra-district and
intra-island travel and social ties.
Phasing-out higglers are observed
making visits to the shops to make a
purchase and lingering for long periods.
Here they get to see and hear what is
going on through the district, receiving
island-wide news, and news from 'for-
eign'. At an earlier stage in the life cycle
and in the higglering occupation, the
demands of domestic household and
cultivation duties from Sunday through
Tuesday, coupled with the occupational
demands from Wednesday through
Saturday, did not permit this kind of
unhurried activity. But now that there is
a gradual withdrawal from higglering
and a shift in the social field, the shop
has emerged as a main centre for social
interaction for the phasing-out higgler.
She now looks forward to the bus stop
assemblage on market day, not only as
the place where she delivers her stalk of
bananas or her crocus bag of grapefruit
to a younger higgler, but as a place for
social interaction with the market
women and their helpers who are too
busy to chat at other times. At an earlier
stage in her life cycle our higgler came
to this bus stop for one main purpose
- to go to town to market, and the
chatter and gossip that she engaged in
while waiting for the bus were all in-
cidental to this primary function. Now
at this later stage, the occasion is a main
social field for interacting with other
women and whoever else happens to
have joined the bus stop gathering.
Just as our higgler at the first stage of
her life cycle was gradually and almost
deceptively drawn into the market busi-
ness, this process is reversed at the later
stage of the life cycle as she enters the
phasing out stage.
The withdrawal from full-time to part-
time participation is usually spread out
over a number of years and for most
higglers is a gradual process. Eventually,
however, the higgler is unable to go on.
"The body just cannot make it like at
first, the body is becoming weak."
When a phasing-out higgler enters the
withdrawing process, she forms an alli-
ance with a younger higgler. This is
usually a higgler who is at the optimum
stage in the occupation, and it is through
this alliance that she continues to send a
load to market on a weekly basis. This
s tell us s
younger higgler is part of our ageing
higgler's mutual aid network from
that linkage of households and their
constellation of members who are
bound together through a system of
mutual aid based on the exchange of
goods and services. An example of this
older higgler-young higgler alignment is
seen in the relationship between Miss
Addy (age 39) and Miss Gladys (age 75).
The former takes a load to market for
the latter. Miss Gladys in turn keeps a
watchful eye on Miss Addy's four
children while she is in town, seeing
that the three school-age youngsters go
to school properly dressed. The three-
year-old stays in Miss Gladys's yard
while the others are at school. Parallel
exchanges of services exist between
other older and younger higglers in the
This phasing-out optimum stage
arrangement works because it is a cus-
tom, a tradition; it is expected behaviour
and there is an adequate number of role
models in the district both past and
present to show and reinforce this.
Also, due to reciprocity, the older
higglers serve as babysitters. It is part
of higglering. The phasing-out higgler
is not plagued by undue stress, anxiety,
and trauma on withdrawing from her
lifelong occupation. She has been
properly socialized into what to expect
and anticipate. This is the norm, or, as
a higgler would say, 'it is regular'. And
it is regular, indeed, for she has observed
her mother withdraw in this manner;
her aunties did it in this way, and
Osmond Watson, City Life, 1968. Oil on canvas. 25" x 31%". Collection: National Gallery of
Jamaica. (Transferred from the Institute of Jamaica Collection 1974).
some of her cohorts are doing it in this
fashion. What is of parallel social signi-
ficance is that the phasing-out stage
does not abruptly force the higgler out
of this occupation, but allows for the
reorganization of the level at which
participation is maintained in much
the same way as women reorganize
participation to accommodate child-
bearing and childrearing. In this way
the phasing-out higgler, along with the
optimum stage higgler, continues to
direct a flow of cash into the district
and to circulate cash throughout the dis-
trict by patronizing the shops, by pro-
viding work for dressmakers and crafts-
men, by purchasing a dress, or a market
basket, or some other item now and
again as a consumer. In other words,
the phasing-out higgler continues to per-
form needed and useful services in the
district and the load she sends to town
augments the food supply of the nation
and aids in the circulation of cash in the
national economy. Older higglers also
maintain status because they are the
repositories and transmitters of the
essential knowledge of their occupation.
Motivational Factors That Lead to
Higglering is not the lowest occu-
pation open to women. Edith Clarke
[1966 pp. 152-153], writing on the topic
of occupations and the status conferred
on certain roles, says:
The higgler ranks socially above the
domestic servant or labourer; she is
independent as compared with the
wage-earner and wears an apron as the
badge of her calling. It was noticeable
that many of them lived on family land
which in itself confers status in the
The fact that this occupation ranks
socially above other traditional female
occupations, such as domestic, is one
factor motivating women to enter it.
Other pressures are economic. The first
three of these economic pressures -
a need for cash income, lack of job
opportunities, and family demands -
are intertwined. The cases cited below
provide an account of these influences
that contribute to women going into
"Negro Market in the West Indies in 1806". (Artist unknown).
Case No. 1
Miss Aggie has three children, ages
8 to 22. Her spouse works sporadic-
ally doing whatever jobs are available
in the district: working for the Public
Works Department, cleaning, repairing,
and building roads; hiring out to culti-
vators. His search for wage labour takes
him outside the district to other parishes
doing construction wherever work is
available. This search for employment
even takes him outside the country,
where he does farm contract labour in
the United States and Canada. His work
history is characterized by periodic un-
employment. Miss Aggie says that be-
cause her husband is unable to find
steady work she goes to market. She
says she higgles also because she likes
it and it makes her independent. She
explained that by going into town
each week she can buy the things she
needs for her family, and adds, "higgler-
ing is all I know".
Case No. 2
Miss Verne says she has continued
higglering after marriage because often-
times her 'hubby' cannot find work," so
I go to the market". She went on to ex-
plain, "I have seven pickney to look
after: by going to market I can get them
a little something. One pickney is very
bright and I am trying to do right by
her and see that she gets the proper
Case No. 3
Miss Macka has worked as a full-
time higgler since she was 25. She is
now 35 with seven children. She says
that there are few jobs in the district
for men, and because of this her hus-
band is often out of work. In order that
the family will have something to live
on, she goes to market each week.
Case No. 4
Miss Vanny explained that after she
had so many children her mother told
her that she had to work to help herself.
Her husband, who she says is not like
her because he can read well, has been
unable to find steady work over the
years (they have been married 15 years).
He works when he can get it and has
done farm contract labour in the United
States. She says, "My hubby he doesn't
work. During these times he cultivates,
and I go to market".
These cases show the configuration
of economic pressures the lack of
permanent work for men, limited job
options open to women with limited
Gallery of Jamaica. (Transferred from the Institute of Jamaica Collection 1974).
saleable skills, and children to provide
for as influences which lead to higgler-
ing. Even when men can find wage
labour be it at the local, national, or
international level work is temporary
and sporadic. The unsteady nature of a
work history of this type functions as
an influence on women to enter and/or
remain in higglering which often be-
comes the one source of cash coming
into the household on a regular basis.
Katzin, writing about higglering (1960
. the woman has a more regular
source of income, even though her
weekly earnings are less than those
of the man when he is working. The
household is thus assured of food and
necessities during the frequent periods
of unemployment ...
Further support of these findings of
motivational factors related to higgler-
ing is shown in the work of William
Davenport [p.437]. He writes:
With respect to the economic system
of the island as a whole, most of the
jobs for wages are for men, while the
women are limited to the kinds of
personal services upon which both
sexes of all ages depend. The one major
exception to this is the important role
the women play in the marketing
system, which takes them into a special-
ized sphere of economic exchange ...
When the productive potential of men
is limited or completely absent in a
household, the women are able to take
over their economic function.. . Or
the women can expand their marketing
activities in order to provide a cash in-
come for their household group.
In addition to these economic pres-
sures which motivate women to enter
higglering, there are also significant
social influences. Among these are the
fact that higglering offers women an
opportunity to broaden their social
base, and it provides them with a sense
of independence. Here independence
has more to do with individual control
over action and behaviour and the
means to individual achievement than
with economic materialism.
This notion of a sense of indepen-
dence was revealed through many con-
versations with higglers. My hostess and
I had many discussions about higglering,
and during these discussions she repeat-
edly gave this as one explanation for her
continuing in this occupation: "You
are a woman, and I am a woman. You
have a hubby and I have a hubby, but
we must always remember that if your
hubby gives you a ten cents, you find a
way to making a ten cents of your own".
What my hostess is revealing in this
statement is not solely an economic
fact of having an independent source
of cash, but something more. This is
the position that a woman has in re-
lation to her mate, and the fact that she
has something which she controls and
over which she has authority. This fact
contributes as much to women's higgler-
ing as the economic pressures from lack
of jobs, need for cash, and the necessity
of providing for children. And it is this
need for independence along with the
other factors that causes a large number
of women from this district to sleep on
hard concrete three nights a week, to
subject their persons to possible attacks,
and to expose their health to insanitary
The market also serves as one means
whereby women can break away from
social restraints placed on their move-
ment and behaviour at the district level.
Katzin, writing about higglers, says
. higglers and country people make
the trip to market every week, not out
of economic necessity, but because
they enjoy it. As the story goes, if one
meets a country higgler on her way to
the market with a big load while she is
still near her home, and offers to buy
the whole load and pay more than she
can expect to get for it in the market,
she will refuse to sell. The reason for
the refusal, according to those who tell
the story, is that she wants to go to
Kingston for some high life, to be able
to do things that would not be approved
by her rural neighbours.
At the district level the male's social
field, and his movement within this
field, contrast sharply with that of the
female. The boundaries of the male's
social field encompass the entire island
rather than just the district. He is free
to move about the island at will; he can
seek employment without a district
link, he can follow his peers about the
island seeking adventure. His movements
are not restricted, and consequently he
is often seen huddled with other male
friends in social settings outside the
yard, sitting on a rock, under a tree,
or on the hillside; or at the rum shop
drinking rum and/or playing dominoes.
This last pastime starts at an early age,
from 10 years on. These are expected
behaviour patterns for males and are
socially defined as unacceptable behav-
iour for women and/or puberty-age girls.
This contrast in the male-female
social fields and the expected behaviours
in each can be illustrated by the Jamaican
patois expression 'me gone' (I am
going). The male can leave the yard or
the district with no more explanation
than 'me gone', with his destination un-
determined, unknown, and unlinked
to his household or to the district. The
female is restrained from moving about
under these same conditions. She may
say 'me gone', but only after her destin-
ation and purpose have been cleared and
sanctioned by household members and/
or district members.
Davenport, writing on the topic of
sex roles in rural Jamaica, describes the
primary role of women as follows
The house, yard, and kitchen are domi-
nated by the adult women of the
household, for most of the perennial
work that goes on in them is in their
charge. Women prepare the food, do
the washing and mending, tend the
kitchen garden, look after the small
animals, and most important, look
after the small children. Older child-
ren lighten the work of adult women
.. they must be supervised and direct-
ed, and this again, falls to the adult
Davenport is not overstating the case
in demonstrating that domestic tasks of
a household are the domain of the wo-
man. When she is in the district, it is her
responsibility to see that these tasks are
carried out. The yard as the centre of
her social field is the place where many
of the domestic duties are performed,
and these are conducted oftentimes
along with such leisurely activities as
gossiping with friends, exchanging ideas
and sharing jokes with companions -
male or female and there are no res-
traints placed on these as long as they
take place in the yard, while washing
clothes at the river, while making a pur-
chase at the shop, receiving or posting a
letter at the post office, while on the
bus in sum, if such events occur with-
in a purposive setting then they are
acceptable. If they occur outside such
purposive setting, then the woman is
described as being a gossip or as lazy,
or she may be accused of 'looking a
man' by both males and females.
Although women perform important
roles in crop production, their role in
this task is defined as peripheral to that
of men performing the same and/or
a similar agricultural role. In other
words, cultivation is culturally and
socially defined as a male role, and the
role of women in this domain is viewed
and defined as supplemental. Her primary
role is viewed as the selling of produce.
At the marketplace, however, much
more takes place than the selling of pro-
duce. Here, as in the yard, the woman's
social position shifts from that of back-
stage to centre stage. In her role of hig-
gler she performs a primary role, supple-
mental to none. It is in this role that she
obtains preferential treatment from her
household members and from her cus-
tomers who often rank socially above
her. The role of higgler reduces the nor-
mal ranking system and changes the
order of things; for three days each
week, the higgler is 'queen' of her
It is at the marketplace that she can
break from the rules which restrict her
movements and behaviour in the dis-
trict, as Katzin tells us, "to be able
to do the things that would not be
approved by her rural neighbours". It
is a place where her identity takes on a
more private element, a more individual
one. Here she has some control over
how much of her private life and
familial ties are revealed. In the social
field of the marketplace, chances are
that her stall neighbour does not know
her family history and does not care
to know it; here she is known as the
higgler, wearing her plaid tie-head and
apron, described by Edith Clarke as
the 'badge of her calling'. The do-
main of the marketplace provides her
with opportunities to achieve by her own
abilities, a place to build her repu-
tation as that of a business woman; it
is the place where her status is based
on this role. Her trips.to town each
week enable her to gain access to cer-
tain goods and services, not available
locally, access to greater knowledge,
all of which contribute to elevating
her within her own district.
In conclusion, it should be impres-
sed upon the reader that women higgle
not because of any one of these factors -
need for a source of cash, lack of job
opportunities for both men and women,
to gain independence, to provide for
children, or to broaden the social
base and widen the social field but
rather it is a matter of a combination of
all these factors. This configuration of
social influences affects each higgler
differently and at different times in her
life cycle and stages in the higglering
CLARKE, Edith, My Mother Who Fathered
Me, London: Allen and Unwin, 1966.
__ "Land Tenure and the Family in four
selected communities in Jamaica", in
Michael M. Horowitz (ed.), Peoples
and Cultures of the Caribbean, Garden
City: The Natural History Press, 1971.
DAVENPORT, William, "The Family System
of Jamaica", Social and Economic
Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4,1961.
DURANT-GONZALEZ, Victoria, "Role and
Status of Rural Jamaican Women:
Higglering and Mothering", Ph.D. dis-
sertation, Berkeley: University of Cali-
KATZIN, Margaret Fisher, "The Jamaican
Country Higgler", Social and Economic
Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, 1959.
"The Businessof Higglering in Jamaica",
Social and Economic Studies, Vol. 9,
No. 3, 1960.
SMITH, M.G., "Community Organization in
Rural Jamaica", Social and Economic
Studies, Vol. 5, No. 3,1956.
Tortoiseshell Comb Cases
A Uin the cases
By Philip Hart
f the many and varied collections owned by the Institute
of Jamaica, one of the most immediately appealing and
interesting must surely be the 17th century tortoiseshell
(or more accurately turtle shell) wig comb cases (many com-
plete with combs), and boxes. In all, the Institute's collection
numbers some 13 items. The first of these lovely objects to
pass into the collection was purchased in London by some
members of the West India Committee and presented to the
Institute in 1923. H.M. Cundall in an article in the West India
Committee Circular,  described the case and comb as
'probably one of the earliest art objects made in the British
West Indies displaying European influence'.
The case, measuring 9%" x 5%" and %" in depth, is
engraved on the obverse side with a vase of flowers and two
birds, above is the word 'Jamaica' and below the date '1671'
(No. 1). On the reverse side is a coat of arms surmounted
with an esquire's helmet. Both sides are richly decorated with
floriated borders reminiscent of English crewel work designs
of the period. The arms are those registered to the family
of Buerton of Co. Chester, being Argent, a Chevron Sable
between three Bucks' Heads Caboshed Gules, i.e. on the
assumption that it was intended to indicate the Sable tincture
by the cross hatching on the chevron. It has been long
thought that the comb and case belonged to the Buccaneer,
Sir Henry Morgan who was lieutenant governor of Jamaica
at various dates between 1674 and 1682.
Frank Cundall in his book The Governors of Jamaica in
the Seventeenth Century  remarks that:
Similar arms were impaled by Robert Byndloss, who died in
1687 and was buried at Spanish Town, as those of his wife
Anne Petronella, daughter of Edward Morgan, cousin of Sir
Henry Morgan; and so the comb and case was first thought to
have belonged to the buccaneer Governor Even if it be
granted that the arms are those of Morgan, it is known that
Charles Morgan, uncle of Sir Henry, was a kinsman of Lady
Lynch, and she may have had the comb and case made for
We shall probably never know for certain whether or not
Sir Henry Morgan was the actual owner of the comb and
case. That he, however, patronized the craftsman, is known.
In 1676 when he wanted to send a present to Sir William
Coventry, he chose 'two large turtle-shell combes in a case
of the same', explaining that though it was 'of no value' it
might be of interest.
Case and comb. Size-9" x 5%"
Obverse vase of flowers with birds. Inscribed 'Jamaica 1671'
Reverse Armorial bearings (possibly 'Morgan' family)
Case and two combs. Size 7W" x 4%"
Obverse Palm tree with initials 'IIE' and the date '1673'
Reverse Banana tree and 'Jamaica' inscribed
Case and two combs. Size 8%" x 5Y"
Obverse Banana tree with initials 'MW'. 'Jamaica' inscribed.
Reverse Allegorical scene depicting Cupid shooting arrow into
man's heart and lady defending her honour.
Of Lady Lynch and her patronage of the tortoiseshell
craftsman we know somewhat more. Vere Herbert, daughter
of Sir Edward Herbert, Attorney General in the reign of
Charles I, married Sir Thomas Lynch in December 1670 and
accompanied him to Jamaica soon afterwards. They arrived
on 25 June 1671. In March 1672, Sir Thomas sent to the
King and Lord Arlington cocoa, vanilla and tobacco and
Lady Lynch sent to Lady Arlington '400 Ib. of the best
white sugar from Barbados, and a tortoiseshell box from here
with combs and some vanillas' [Cundall 1936 p.37]. In the
same letter, Sir Thomas says of his wife,
Besides acting now the nurse, housekeeper, and paintress
makes her as busy as if she had all the affairs of this new
world on her.
Her activities as 'paintress' are mentioned elsewhere.
In a letter dated 5 November 1672, Lynch in writing to Slinges-
by, Secretary to the Council for Plantations, mentions that his
wife had sent a 'cocoa-tree painted' to her mother and in a
letter to Dr. Benjamin Worsley, then Secretary to the Council
for Plantations dated 6 April 1673, that paintings of 'Achiottes
and Cashues' had been sent to Lord Brouncker [Cundall p.
159]. Achiotte, the Spanish form, was then used for anatto.
Knowing of the interest Lady Lynch had in the painting of
local trees, one has only to look at many of the cases both in
the Institute Collection and others, where many varieties of
local trees (coconut, cocoa, anatto, cashew, cactus, etc.)
are engraved, to speculate that she might not only have been
the inspiration behind many of the designs but might herself
have supplied the originals from which the craftsmen worked.
Certainly the date on the earliest known case (1671) coincides
with her arrival in Jamaica. Although Lady Lynch died in
Madeira in 1682 on her way back to Jamaica after a visit
home, the lovely tree designs on the tortoiseshell comb cases
persisted until 1692 when all was brought to an abrupt end
with the great earthquake which devastated Port Royal. A
tortoiseshell box with silver mounts and handles and two
combs in the Institute Collection must be very similar to the
one presented to Lady Arlington by Vere Lynch (No. 8).
In 1925, Frank Cundall, the Secretary of the Institute of
Jamaica, wrote an article entitled 'Tortoise-Shell Carving in
Jamaica'. By then he had identified at least 13 pieces in
various collections. The case from the Sir Cuthbert Grundy.
Collection is similar in stylistic treatment to the so-called
'Morgan Case'. On the reverse side it shows an esquire's
helmet with elaborate decoration surrounding an empty
shield. Above is engraved 'Jamaica' and below the date
1672. The reverse side of coconut palm trees would suggest
the influence of Lady Lynch. Illustrated in the same article
are two other cases (one dated 1688 and the other undated)
from the Collection of Mr. Percival D. Griffiths, both depict-
ing on the obverse side local trees and fruit and on the reverse
side the Jamaica Coat of Arms surmounted by the Royal
Helmet. A third example from Cundall's collection (now in
the Institute Collection) and dated 1690 is similar. All three
cases are mounted in finely engraved silver.
In addition to combs and comb cases, other related items
were made. Frank Cundall wrote :
There has now come to notice a more elaborate example of
this craftsman's work in the form of a cabinet owned by Lady
Smith, of the Bower House, Havering Atte Bower, Essex. It is
6'2 inches high and 10% inches wide: In design it is similar in
all respects to the combs and cases, including the usual coat-of-
arms of Jamaica (which be it noted, shows the Royal Helmet,
and has the pineapple much more correctly rendered than
Case and comb. SIze '" x %-
Obverse Coconut tree and inscribed 'Jamaica 1676'
Reverse Vase of flowers and the name 'John Lewis' inscribed.
the Herald's College artist drew it), the pineapple, the coco-
nut palm, cashew tree, the passion flower and the silver mount-
The casket opens at the top, revealing a shallow box of
about two inches deep. Below this are two pairs of drawers
marked A, B, C and D. Above them and on the front of the
box section of the casket four beautifully engraved pine-
apples are worked. The front of the casket has two doors
with a lock mechanism in silver which when closed secures
the drawers. On the inside of the doors are designs showing
vases of tulips, daffodils and passion flowers similar to those
appearing on several of the comb cases in the Institute
Collection (Nos. 10, 11). The casket stands on silver ball feet.
This piece must stand as the craftsman's masterpiece.
In the Institute collection there is a similar piece but with-
out the drawers and doors (No. 8). It is a box, the lid of
which measures 9%" long by 6/4" wide. The overall height of
the box is 3%". The design on the lid bearing the date 1679
is very similar to the Lady Smith casket and the sides follow
the floriated design similar to many of the comb cases. In-
side are two oblong combs which slip into cleverly contrived
compartments on the end sides. The box is held together
with plain silver mounts and stands on silver ball feet similar
to the Lady Smith casket. On the sides are small silver handles.
There is, in addition, a finely worked lock mechanism in
A round box, in the Institute collection (No. 6) is also
worthy of note. The diameter of the lid measures 5 1/8"
and the height of the box 2'". The top is engraved with the
arms, crest and supporters of Jamaica with the date 1676.
The sides show the usual floriated decoration associated
with the artist. The lid and the base of the box are mounted
in silver. The box has been described as a snuff box but its
size would suggest that it was intended for wig powder. A
similar box lid of almost identical design and dimensions is in
a private collection in Jamaica.
One of the comb cases in the Institute Collection is of
particular interest. It measures 8%" by 5%" and shows an
elaborate design on the obverse side of a banana tree and two
pineapples. Above is the word 'Jamaica'. Between the two
pineapples and on either side of the tree trunk appears the
initials M.W. and below the date 1673. The reverse side is
unique in the craftsman's work and shows a charming picture
of Cupid in the clouds shooting his arrow into the heart of a
Case and two combs. Size 8Y" x 5 3/8"
Obverse Coconut trees and cactus plants
Reverse Jamaica Coat of Arms and inscribed 'Jamaica 1676'
lover dressed in the costume of the period. He smiles in
delight at the welcome injury while his lady, elaborately
dressed and with flowing hair, defends her honour with a
curved sword. Below this scene an unfortunate wild fowl
has been pierced by one of the careless Cupid's arrows (No. 3).
Clearly this piece was specially commissioned as a love token.
Other cases bear the names or initials of their owners. One
most recently acquired by the Institute (in 1983) bears the
names Butler/Hervetson and on the reverse side two arms are
engraved between local trees (No. 13).
Basically, two designs of combs are found in the cases,
a large wide-toothed single comb and a double comb with
one side of medium-sized teeth and the other very fine teeth.
It is generally thought that the very fine teeth were intended
to extract hair lice and that the combs in general were used
for wigs. The superb condition of many of the combs would
suggest that they were never used but kept as objects of
curiosity and beauty.
A careful examination of the Institute collection which
numbers 11 comb cases and combs, one large box with
combs and one powder box (both fully described previously)
reveals the hands of two craftsmen, one working between
1671 and 1684 and the other from 1688 to 1692. Of the
first craftsman (working between 1671 and 1684), the
Institute has 11 examples of his work nine comb cases and
two boxes (Nos. 1 -11). From known pieces in other collect-
ions can be added the Sir Cuthbert Grundy comb case dated
1672, the Lady Smith casket (previously described), a round
powder box lid and comb case in a private collection in
Jamaica and a comb case in a private collection in the United
States bearing the date 1677. Of the second craftsman work-
ing between about 1688 and 1692, the Institute has two
examples of his work dated 1688 and 1690 (Nos. 12, 13).
To these can be added the two cases from the Griffiths'
Collection, one undated but undoubtedly the work of this
man and the other dated 1688, one comb case in a private
6 One round Wig Powder Box.
Diameter 5 1/8"; height 2
Lid shows Ja. ica Coat of
Arms and inscribed '1676'
Sides of box decorated with
The lid and bottom are
mounted in silver
collection in Jamaica and one comb case in a private collection
in the United States dated 1688 and bearing the initials
W.M.2 Of the pieces known to be in the collections of both
the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum,
not enough information is available to ascribe them to either
one craftsman or the other.
The first craftsman's work (1671-1684) displays a wide
variety of designs, the most consistent being the Arms of
Jamaica, the earliest example in the Institute Collection
being 1676 (No. 5). Other designs are of numerous trees
(Nos 2,3,4,5,7,9), vases of flowers (Nos. 1,10,11), personal
armorial bearings and at least one example of an allegorical
scene (No. 3). The engraving is of an extremely fine quality
with a sure fluidity of line, clear and distinct cross hatching
and a delightful and appealingly naive quality in the execution
of figures. In addition to this, his lettering shows a clear and
distinct style. The elegant floriated borders on both combs
and cases are executed with beautiful flowing lines. On the
cases bearing the Jamaica Coat of Arms, the word 'Jamaica'
and the date always appear below the arms but the motto
'Indus Uterque Serviet Uni' never appears. A slight variation
occurs on the two round powder box lids where the word
'Jamaica' and the date are understandably placed on either
side of the arms.
Certain variations are very noticeable in the representation
of the male and female Arawak figures. In all examples, they
are clothed in skirts of leaves. In some examples, they are
seen with feathered head-dresses while in others they are
bare-headed. In most, the male carries a bow in one hand
while the female carries either a bunch of flowers or an arrow.
One notable exception is the latest comb case attributed to
this craftsman (1684) in which the sex of the two figures
is indistinguishable and they hold nothing in their hands.
One final and very distinctive feature of this craftsman's
work found on many of the comb cases and boxes is the use
Case and comb mounted
with silver borders. Size -
6 1/8" x 3 3/8"
Obverse Coconut tree
and cactus plants
tree inscribed 'Jamaica 1677'
Rectangular Box with
two combs. Size 9%" x
6%" with silver mounts,
hinges, handles, lock and
Lid Jamaica Coat of
Arms surrounded by
coconut trees and other
plants. Inscribed 'Jamaica
Sides floriated designs
Case and two combs.
Size- 8 5/8" x 5 3/8"
Coat of Arms. Inscribed
Reverse Banana, cocoa,
and coconut trees with
cactus, anatto and iris
Case and comb.
Size 9 8/8" x 5%"
Obverse Jamaica Coat of Arms.
Inscribed 'Jamaica 1682'
Reverse Vase of flowers
Nos 1 11 Style A-
between 1671 and 1684
Other known examples of this
Lady Smith's casket length of
top 10%". Casket stands 6%"
Casket contains 4 drawers and
2 front doors. The hole is
mounted in silver with silver
ball feet and silver lock mech-
anism. Lid engraved with
Jamaica Coat of Arms, coco-
nut, banana and cactus plants
and inscribed 'Jamaica 1677'.
Inside of the two doors carry
designs of vases of flowers.
Above the 4 drawers are
engraved 4 large pineapples
Case and 2 combs. Size 8%"
Obverse Jamaica Coat of
Arms and 2 pineapples.
Inscribed 'Jamaica 1677'
Reverse Bnana tree and
Private Collection U.S.A.
One Wig Powder Box
Lid similar to Institute
example No 6
Private Collection Jamaica
Comb case and combs bearing
the arms of Jamaica and trees.
Stylistically similar to above.
Like cases date uncertain.
Private Collection Jamaica
Case and 2 combs.
Size 8 5/16" x 5 3/8"
Obverse Vases of flowers
Reverse Jamaica Coat of Arms
3 large pineapples and inscribed 'Jamaica 1684'
Case and 2 combs mounted in silver. Size 6Y." x 3%"
Obverse Jamaica Coat of Arms. Inscribed 'Port Royall
in Jamaica 1690'
Reverse Coconut, cashew, cocoa and banana trees
A- Style B Craftsman working
Between 1688 and 1692
Known examples of this craftsman's
work in other collections
Collection of Mr Percival Griffiths
Case and comb dimensions
uncertain, mounted in silver
Obverse Jamaica Coat of Arms
Reverse Cashew tree and 2
Case and combs dimensions
uncertain, silver mounted
Obverse Jamaica Coat of Arms
with motto and 2 pineapples
Inscribed 'Port Royall in Jamaica
Reverse Coconut, cashew, cocoa
and banana trees, pineapples, cactus
and anatto plants
Case and combs mounted in silver
Obverse Arms of Jamaica motto.
Inscribed 'Port Royall in Jamaica
Reverse Coconut, cashew, cocoa
and banana trees
Private Collection Jamaica
The British Museum and the Victoria and
Albert Museum have examples of
seventeenth century Jamaican
tortoiseshell work but in the
absence of precise information re
designs, etc. we are unable to ascribe
these to either or both of the above
ise and no combs mounted in silver. Size 7 9/16" x 47/1
Obverse Jamaica Coat of Arms, Inscribed 'Port Royall
in Jamaica 1690' and the names 'Butler Hervetson'
Reverse Coconut, cashew, cocoa and banana trees
and 2 family Coats of Arms
of a red pigment rubbed into the engraved surface of the
Indians' clothes and the word Jamaica. A white pigment is
used on all other engraved surfaces.
Of the second craftsman's work (1688-1692) very clear
stylistic differences, particularly in his depiction of the
Coat of Arms, are immediately discernible. His approach,
particularly with the two Indian figures, is altogether more
realistic and stylistically not nearly as appealing. The sex
of the figures is never distinguishable and in fact they appear
to be two children rather than adults. The figure bearing
the bow (male) always appears on the right-hand side where-
as the other craftsman placed the male figure on the left.
They are always bare-headed and instead of skirts made of
leaves, they appear to be clothed in a loin cloth type garment
(Nos. 12, 13).
The engraving lacks the sure fluidity of line so characteristic
of the earlier craftsman and can almost be described as
feathery and hesitant in execution. One unique feature which
appears in all examples of this craftsman's work is the motto
'Indus Uterque Serviet Uni' and a highly decorated tulip-like
form below the motto.
In almost all examples of his work, the words 'Port Royall
In Jamaica' appear above the arms. This clearly decides the
location of the shop. His borders are generally geometrical
rather than floriated and the cases are always bound in beauti-
fully engraved silver mounts. The reverse sides of his cases
always depict trees, some of the designs following very
closely those of the earlier craftsman but with less delicacy
and subtlety. No examples of the second craftsman's work
other than combs and comb cases, are known to exist. It
is worthy of note that in the case of both craftsmen, the
combs are very similar and always decorated with floriated
designs. This is the one truly constant and almost indis-
tinguishable feature in the work of both men.
That Frank Cundall with his keen and perceptive eye
should not have immediately discerned the hands of two
craftsmen, is indeed strange. While it is true that he did not
have the advantage of examining and studying as many
examples of the work as are now available to us, neverthe-
less, his opinion that it was the work of one craftsman 
is based on a comparison of the arms as depicted in the Lady
Smith casket dated 1677 (a classic example of the first crafts-
man's work) and the Griffiths' case of 1688, (a perfect ex-
ample of the second man's work) the very images where the
differences are so clearly discernible. One can only imagine
that the similarity of the tree designs in most instances
clouded his vision.
There has been some speculation over the years as to the
nationality of the tortoiseshell craftsmen. H.M. Cundall
writing on the so-called 'Morgan' comb and case  ad-
vanced the theory that Ann Petronella van Hell, a Dutch
woman and the grandmother of Sir Henry Morgan's wife
possibly brought a craftsman from Holland to Jamaica where
she owned lands. This unlikely theory is based soley on the
tulip decoration which appears on several of the cases.
In his article of 1925 Frank Cundall advanced the theory
that the craftsman was 'possibly someone whom the buc-
caneer, Sir Henry Morgan, induced to accompany him back
to Jamaica from Panama or some other town on the Southern
Main, after one of his raiding expeditions.' This theory is
not supported by any concrete evidence and so must be
seen as pure conjecture.
Recent research done by David Buisseret and Michael
Pawson  brings to light a very likely candidate.
Among the list of craftsmen and tradesmen in Port Royal
before 1692 appears the name Paul Bennett (1673), the only
recorded comb maker. In reference to the tortoiseshell comb
cases, Buisseret and Pawson [p.104] have this to say:
Some of this work was undoubtedly produced by Paul Bennett
who in July 1673 purchased from Denis Macragh, gent, and
Margery his wife, all those two little houses or tenements
where the said Paul and one Matthew Comberford inhabited,
fronting northwards on High Street, abutting east and south
on the other lands of the said Denis Macragh, and west on the
great house belonging to Benjamin Bryan.
As Paul Bennett had been, prior to the sale, a tenant of one
or both of the two little houses, he may very well have been
working there for some years already.
On the face of the above evidence, we might possibly
conclude that the craftsman working between 1672 and
1684 and Paul Bennett, combmaker, were one and the same
person. But what of the second craftsman working between
1688 and 16927 The designs, particularly of local trees,
would suggest that they were based on the earlier work. A
possible explanation is that he took over the workshop on
the death or retirement of Bennett and was in all probability
his son, apprentice or assistant. Could it have been Matthew
Comberford, who inhabited the two little houses with Paul
Bennett? Archaeological work on the site of the sunken City
of Port Royal may yet turn up evidence of the combmaker's
shop and the superb craftsmen who worked in that in-
famous city before the great earthquake of 1692.
The Institute's 17th century tortoiseshell collection will
shortly be on temporary loan to the National Gallery of
Jamaica and will be seen in the rooms devoted to pre-
twentieth century works of art associated with Jamaica, to
be opened later in 1983.
1. Coventry Papers, Vol. 75 Fo. 234, quoted in Buisseret and
2. This case is believed to have belonged to William Morris who
owned Chocolata Hole in Port Royal which was surveyed in
3. This theory is also advanced by H.M. Cundall [19231.
BUISSERET, David and PAWSON, Michael, Port Royal Jamaica,
CUNDALL, F.C., Governors of Jamaica in the 17th Century London:
the W.I. Committee, 1936.
,"Tortoiseshell Carving in Jamaica", The Connoisseur, 1925.
"Tortoiseshell Carving A Notable Specimen from Jamaica",
West India Committee Circular, 13 June 1929.
CUNDALL, H.M., "Early Jamaican Handicraft", The West India
Committee Circular, 29 March 1923.
The controversial bronze statue of
Reggae superstar and folk hero Bob Marley
(the Hon. Robert Nesta Marley, O.M.)
by Christopher Gonzalez,
now in the collection
of the National Gallery of Jamaica
The Life and Times
of Philip Sherlock
An Interview Conducted by
The following is a shortened version of an
interview with Sir Philip Sherlock, CBE,
KBE, BA, LLD, DCL, recorded in Kingston
on 1 and 4 December 1982 and 2 and 4 Fe-
bruary 1983. Sir Philip, educator, historian
and folklorist and poet, is a former head-
master of Wolmer's Boys School, secretary
of the Institute of Jamaica and vice-chancellor
of the University of the West Indies. His pub-
lications include: Anansi, the Spider Man,
London: Macmillan, 1956; New York: Crowell,
1954; West Indian Folk Tales, London:
OUP, 1966; The Aborigines of Jamaica,
Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, 1939; A Short
History of the West Indies (with John Parry),
London: Macmillan, 1956; The Land and the
People of the West Indies, Philadelphia:
Lippincott, 1967; West Indian Nations,
Kingston and London: Macmillan and Jam-
aica Publishing House, 1973; Norman Manley:
a Biography, London: Macmillan, 1980.
Shout for Freedom: a Tribute to Sam Sharpe
(poetry), London and Basingstoke: Mac-
millan Caribbean, 1976.
B. Sir Philip, in a piece about you in
a bio-bibliographical guide on
Caribbean authors, John Figueroa
begins by saying that your contribution
to the whole Caribbean is so great and
covers so many fields that it is difficult
to deal with in a short space.1 But then
he goes on to say that your chosen field
has been history and civics. Is that a
correct summing up?
S. I am not quite sure what John
means by 'civics', but certainly
I would say history, yes, but in a
very large sense, not in the sense of con-
ventional history but in the movement
of man, through history the history
of ideas, for instance, and the history of
technology and the way in which these
things affect the human mind and the
So, if I asked you what was your pro-
fession, what is your profession, would
you say historian perhaps?
I would say it is being a commercial
traveller in education. That would be
perhaps the most accurate. I am not
sure that I have a profession. I started
off as a teacher and that was in 1919.
I was at Calabar High School as a boy
and then left school at the end of 1918
when there was that awful Spanish
influenza epidemic. That was a vivid
memory because there were 14 of us at
Calabar who were taking the Cambridge
exams, a final exam for us in those days,
the school certificate examination, and
the 14 of us went down with the flu.
How near were you to the actual exam
when you ...?
We were very near to it. I was sent away;
I looked terribly thin and weak and we
were one week away from the exams.
My father and mother were living at
the time at Grateful Hill. He was the
Methodist parson at Grateful Hill.
Where is Grateful Hill?
That's up by Glengoffe, about four-
teen miles beyond Constant Spring,
beyond Lawrence Tavern, up in the
mountains. And I was sent up there and
I remember my mother, she didn't
give me brandy every two hours, but
she gave me Irish Moss and all kinds of
things. The result was that I was able to
take the examinations.
Now that you mention your parents,
can we go back a little before we come
forward again to Calabar? Go back to
your beginnings, really, because I think
you were born in Portland?
Yes. My earliest memories in fact are of
the Methodist manse at Kensington,
which is about three miles west of Man-
chioneal, and a little in from the coast.
And it was a very beautiful outlook
from the manse, because you looked
across to the sea, and behind, the foot-
hills that lead up to the John Crow
Where were you born?
I was born in Manchioneal, all of us -
my brothers Frank and Hugh and my
sister Alma. I was born in 1902, 25th of
The days were very pleasant, you know,
we just ran about in the fields around
the house. One of the things that has al-
ways puzzled me is that I remember a
woman coming in to teach us. She heard
us with spelling and making letters, but
I can't remember ever learning the
alphabet or ever being taught to read. I
think what happened was this: my
father had some books in his study, not
a large collection, but that I think made
a tremendous difference in my growing
up because at a very early age I began to
read these books and to enjoy them. I
remember reading a book called The
Black Douglas with an illustration in it
of a woman weaving, and somehow that
followed me because it was a story of
blood and thunder and I would have a
dream in which the woman was weaving
in a room underneath the house, and I
could hear the moaning as she was
weaving. It was a terrifying dream, and
when the news came that my Dad was
leaving the Manchioneal circuit to go to
Grateful Hill, the only thing that pleased
me about that move was that I would be
leaving behind me the woman with her
constant moaning and weaving.
Perhaps that also helped to mould the
poetic sensitivity in you?
Well it may have made me more sensitive
to, you might say, to shadows and
spirits and duppy.
Your father, was he English, or ...?
No, my Dad was born in Jamaica. I
tried to trace the family. I became
very interested in it because when I was
headmaster at Wolmer's much later on,
at the school we had two old Minute
Books which went back to the 1830s,
and I was looking through them and
found the name of Thomas Terence
Sherlock, 1832. I went to Wolmer's as
headmaster in 1932 and that helped me
a great deal, it helped me at the first
prize-giving that I presided over at
Wolmer's to be able to say that I honour-
ed Wolmer's with its long tradition and
its long history, that I came from a new
school, Calabar, of which I also was
very proud, but that I could perhaps
claim a longer connection with Wolmer's
than any of those present, because
Thomas Terence Sherlock, who was
probably my great-grandfather, taught
at the school in 1832.
What about your mother?
My mother came from the Swift River
district in Portland and she lived to be
about 94 and her memory was good to
And her name was... ?
Her name was Trotter, and there are still
Trotters, I think there are more Trotters
now around Toronto ...
Yes, a lot of them, I know.
But they all originated from Swift River.
And I remember as a little boy going to
spend a week with Uncle Dan Trotter
and the brothers up in the Swift River
district. I remember the river and the
huge Blue Mountain range, and getting
up to an early morning breakfast of
Jamaican chocolate with all the globs
of fat floating on top, made with coco-
nut milk, by my grandmother, and
instead of bread, you know, roasted
coco very hard to beat that kind of
breakfast when you are growing up.
How did you come to go to Calabar?
Because Dad had no money and as a
Methodist parson he hoped to send us,
my brother and me, to the Kingswood
School near Bath, which was one of the
great Methodist schools...
In England that is, Bath in England?
That's right, and I don't think he could
have managed it, but at any rate we sat
for the entrance examination for Kings-
wood and passed. Now it happened that
some little time before, in 1912, Ernest
Price, Baptist parson, and David Davis,
also a Baptist missionary Price born in
England, with a BA, BD, and Davis, a
very remarkable man, Australian, who
also did his degree at Bristol they
happened to come out to Jamaica, and
Price was struck by the fact that he
met so many teachers and so many
ministers who were very concerned
about where their children would be
educated. Now it is true that you had
Munro and you had J.C. and the fees
were low in those days, 4, but 4
was an awful lot of money in 1912,
1913, and . I mean 4 for a day
pupil, but then the boarding fees were
So Price and Davis decided that they
would start a school that would be
open to any boy, but that they would
give priority to the sons of teachers
and parsons, and they didn't say only
Baptist parsons. So my father heard
of this. School started in September
1912 and by January 1914 he set off
in the buggy with my brother Frank and
me to enter Calabar.
So you entered Calabar less than two
years after it started?
After it started.
How many students were there, can
Not many. I doubt if there were as
many as 60. We got to Calabar at the
beginning of 1914, and Mr Price always
teased us because my mother and Dad
you know had gone to a great deal of
trouble. They had bought Eton collars
and the straw hats, 'boaters'. yes, and fit-
ted us up with these things and little
tweed suits for Sundays.
Well I guess they were anticipating
Yes; and Mr Price never got over the
fact of the buggy driving in and the two
of us getting out in our little Eton suits
to enter Calabar!
Can you say a little about Mr Davis? Mr
Price was headmaster, was he? What was
Price was headmaster, Davis was second
master. Now if you were a little boy it
would be difficult to understand Mr
Davis. He spoke in a rather gruff way,
but even the smallest boy who didn't
perhaps feel any particular affection
for him at the time respected him be-
cause he seemed to be able to do any-
thing. He was a plumber for the school;
if the toilets or basins went wrong, it
was Mr Davis who fixed them. If car-
pentry had to be done, he was there
on the roof, if necessary. He might
pull in a couple of carpenters to help
him, but you know he did mason work,
and he had worked in the mines at
Broken Hill [Australia] for a time and
he had come up the hard way, and he
could turn his hand to practically any-
But when you turned 16 or 17 and
began to listen to what he was saying,
you found that he had an extraordinary
range of knowledge and wisdom. He
really was a scholar with a very, very
original mind. Also, he had a gift of
phrase. I remember, we were doing
something in the story of Jesus and he
was talking about it, and how they
came up and asked Him for a sign -
this was in a sermon in the chapel on
Sunday morning and he said, "You
see, they were interested in celestial
circuses and terrestrial fireworks", I
mean he could roll off these phrases.
But he got to the heart of the matter,
and I found very often that on a Sun-
day morning in 15 minutes he had
opened up a completely new line of
thinking. He was a character in many
respects and a strong personality, with-
out trying in any way to dominate. Mr
Price dominated. He didn't even have to
try to, that was his nature. Mr Davis you
had to listen to. So it was a perfect
complement; the one was a man who
could do so many things and Mr Price,
on the other hand, had this lively interest
in the arts, and in music, and in making
Shakespeare come to life.
When you graduated from school, you
had the school certificate?
I had the school certificate.
And then you went right into teaching?
I was waiting for a job in the bank. In
those days of course there were very
few openings, and to be a bank clerk
was really almost at the height of what
one could expect. My father had put in
an application and we were hoping I
would get a job with the Bank of Nova
Scotia, and Mr Price wrote saying that
a teacher had fallen ill, I need somebody
for three weeks, would you come, we
will give you board and lodging and1
a week. Well, that's a lot of money. So
off I set in very ill-fitting long pants, be-
cause I had just recently gone into what
we called 'long pants', and started teach-
ing and found I liked it very much. At
the end of three weeks he asked me if I
would stay, so I moved into teaching by
So, I see you had not thought about
teaching as a career?
I had not thought about teaching, no.
But once I had started, I just liked it.
So I knew then that if I wanted to get
anywhere as a teacher I would have to
do a degree. And that meant starting
with the London Matriculation. I was
weak in mathematics, but I had done
enough to get through the school certi-
ficate. And I thought that would carry
me through matric, so I took matric and
failed, failed in maths. And I think that
was the best thing that could have
happened to me at the time because it
just, for the first time, made me under-
stand that I had to work and work hard.
And I made up my mind and worked
very hard at the maths, and then this
time I took matric and passed in the
first division, of which I was very proud.
Having got through matric, naturally the
next thing was to take the intermediate
arts. There I knew that it would be diffi-
cult to do the maths, so I chose logic
and philosophy, because you could
offer that as an alternative to mathem-
atics. I took that, logic and philosophy
and Latin and English and history.
The coaching for the logic and philo-
sophy, where did you get it from?
You had to do it all yourself. I enjoyed
it, I worked at it. I had learnt by now
how to work, and I got through in the
You stayed on teaching at Calabar until
1932 would it be?
No, somewhere about 1927. By then I
had taken the degree and I had taken in
fact two degree exams, because I did
the general degree in English, Latin and
the rest and got through in the first
division, and then I took the Honours.
History, was it?
English. And that involved doing Beo-
wulf, but it was something I liked, and
there I was occasionally able to go and
talk with Miss Anna Hollar who was
about the only person in the island who
had . she had gone away, studied in
England, and had some knowledge of
Gothic. So being able to go occasion-
ally and talk with her meant a great deal.
I got one week off before the exam, one
week off from teaching. I got first class
honours in the English.
When you left Calabar in '27, where did
you go to?
I went as headmaster of a little school as
it was then, the Manchester Secondary
That's what became Manchester High
That's right. The headmaster had just
retired. He was the Rev. Johns, father
of the famous Vere Johns. Very re-
markable man, very strong character,
and he had retired and I was quite
young, I was 25 and I went up to be
headmaster of the school in which, for
the first time, there were girls. I had
never had to teach girls before; there
were girls and boys.
But you stayed at Manchester Second-
ary only two years, was it?
I stayed for two years because we had a
plan for its expansion, and it went for-
ward to the Schools' Commission and
was looked at very carefully and with
considerable sympathy. It was a good
plan, but Bishop DeCarteret had started
DeCarteret Preparatory not long before,
and I think it is correct to say that he
took the view that the Manchester
School would be competing with the
DeCarteret School, so naturally he had
a great deal of influence with the
Schools' Commission and the program-
me didn't go forward. When that
happened I didn't see any other way
of building a larger school, so I gave up
at the end of that year and went back
So you went back to Calabar in 1929
and stayed there ...
I was there for three years.
And then went to Wolmer's. But tell us
about getting the headmastership. I
mean, wasn't that a remarkably young
age to be headmaster of Wolmer's?
Yes, I think it was. In those days head-
masters were very venerable and had
beards. I don't quite know how it
happened, but the trustees of the
Wolmer's board consulted with Mr
Price about the possibility of whether
I might be interested and he certainly
must have recommended me very
strongly, and then the board invited
me to apply. That was in 1932. I was
just 30. I had to pretend to be much
older than I really was.
And you stayed at Wolmer's what,
I was there up to '38.
Now, do you want to reflect a little on
the Wolmer's years?
Yes, I could make a beginning at it. One
of the things that I wondered when I
went to Wolmer's was: how would I
find a day school? No boarding facilities,
an old school with a long tradition, and
fortunately I knew some of the masters,
I had met them, you know, as a master
at Calabar. I knew Bunny Cunningham,
Harry Walker, old man P.A. Cover, O.G.
Brown, Mr Day, they weren't strangers
And you got a warm reception, did you?
I did, yes, it was very very happy. The
first thing that I discovered was that the
family feeling in Wolmer's was tremen-
dous. It really was extraordinary. Here
was a day school but with a sense of
tradition, loyaltytothe school,a wonder-
ful reputation in games and in scholar-
ship, and it had certain values that we
didn't have at Calabar, naturally, you
know, it was a different school. I learnt,
you might say, the value of having a
staff, and one can't overestimate this, it
was a staff that had been there for some
time, a staff that was known to the
parents, trusted by them. And they were
Wolmer's. That was the school, you
know. F.M. Day was the 'Chips' of his
Is there any particular kind of problem
that you associate with those days?
There were one or two things, but there
were no real problems of discipline really,
because it was a school with a good sense
of discipline and the masters knew how
to keep order.
One thing was this, that during that first
year when I saw the boys I was suddenly
struck by the fact, I saw a number of
them running across, say, from the class-
room to the lavatory or out on to the
field, and some of them were well built,
but others were obviously, like me,
rather thin, scrawny we would say in,
Jamaica. And it struck me, I said, 'Why
don't we have P.T.?
Oh, that was not a subject?
It was not, and I talked with Bunny
Cunningham and Harry Walker and the
others and they said, 'Yes, we are pre-
pared to come in and teacl so we
made a change that every Monday,
Wednesday, Friday, the last period
would be physical training. Now I never
kept the statistics, but it was extra-
ordinary the difference that one year
made, and do you know, I can't remem-
ber the year, whether it was '36 or
what, but in that year we won, I think,
every single trophy except swimming.
One of the other things I think that I
did that I was happy with was that
some of the Old Boys began to say, you
know, 'civics' became the word at the
time in education and they began to
talk about it and I said, 'Well, why don't
we organize say that on a Friday
morning, one of you, like, say, a doctor,
will come up and talk about medicine
as a career'. We never did civics in the
abstract sense but we tied it to the
profession and then it might be that
Mr Harris, the town clerk, father of a
couple of boys ...
Murray Harris was his name.
Yes, Murray Harris. He would come up
and tell them how the thing ran, what
the municipality was like. I enjoyed the
years at Wolmer's for that reason as well,
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that it gave an opportunity for inno-
vation, experiment. But gradually to-
ward the end of that period, I began to
sense that I was becoming too author-
itarian. A teacher sometimes becomes
God and what you say has got to be
right and there is no question about
it, and I began to feel that for my own
growth it was necessary to move into
something else. So there came the
possibility of taking on the secretary-
ship of the Institute of Jamaica.
Was this another instance where you
That's right. Mr H.G. DeLisser came up;
I was interested but I never dreamt
that it would happen this way, and H.G.
DeLisser came up to see me one day at
Wolmer's, and I think I may say that on
the strength of the Wolmer's record, and
the fact that my predecessor, Moles-
worth, a very fine person, was going
back to England, and what with the
national feeling they wanted a Jamaican,
and so he came up...
Now that you mention the national
feeling at the time I believe those
years, the late '30s, mid to late '30s,
when you were at Wolmer's and then on
into the '40s, were particularly import-
ant years, particularly exciting, parti-
cularly decisive in the history of what
we might now call 'The New Jamaica'.
There was this national feeling, a sort
of surge of political consciousness,
accompanied by an intellectual ferment,
if that's the word, and artistic; could
you say something about that aspect
and your involvement in it?
Yes. Let's go back some distance, be-
cause, looking back, I think that one of
the decisive influences was Marcus Gar-
vey. It wasn't so much that he was
preaching West Indian nationalism as
that he was saying to the black people,
not only of the Caribbean, but really
of the United States and the world,
'You have a history, you have a history
of which you should be proud, and you
should know your history and you
should know the accomplishments of
the heroes in that history'.
Of course, it was a remarkable challenge
and I was sort of lower middle-class and
at first I thought that this was a form
of heresy. But the seed lodged and it
began to grow and I think one of the
things that really was a most moving
experience was that as a young teacher
I was standing on Harbour Street in
a great crowd to watch the parade of
sailors and nurses who had come off the
ship, the Black Star Line ship. It was
quite a simple ceremony in many ways
and yet a very moving one, because here
were people who were dedicated to the
idea that blackness had merit to it and
had beauty to it. And a feeling com-
municated itself through the crowd that
really was quite electric and would be
very hard to put into words.
Then in the late 1920s we had the
beginning of the great Depression and
many people in Jamaica were beginning
to be very anxious indeed about the
economic situation. Wages were very
low, the Frome riots highlighted this,
and looking back you can see that two
streams began to run together, streams
that were to join and were to change
Jamaica. One was the labour movement
as such, at first not an articulated move-
ment, it was a protest movement and
began amongst the people. The other
movement began with, I think, a small
group of intellectuals, you might call
them. I don't particularly like the word.
but they were thinking people, many
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of them middle-class, who began to say,
'Look, what are we?'
Therefore, with history, when I began,
I had to teach Empire history and I
began to question it. I remember also
saying to Mr Price one day, 'Couldn't
we teach some West Indian history,
some Jamaican history?' because, again,
I had read Gardiner's History of Jamaica
and been very interested in it. I have
Josephus' History of the Jews, and so
on. And I never quite got over the fact
that he looked at me with a rather pity-
ing smile and said, 'My boy, you have
no history'. Well, and this was some-
thing, he wasn't saying it in any cruel
way; it was something that was accept-
ed. We had no history. But I began to
Now, I am not sure really if it would
have been enough to produce a change
had not the same kind of thing been
happening to different people at the
same time. It wasn't something that
happened suddenly in Jamaica, but
was something that was in the climate
of opinion throughout the Caribbean
and was profoundly significant because
it signalled a break with the old colonial
attitudes in our case.
Well these things are difficult to put
into words, but along with it there came
one or two people. H.P. Jacobs, for
instance, and O.T. Fairclough. Fair-
clough had been at school with me at
Calabar, and he went to Haiti, he
worked in one of the banks and did
quite well. And then he came back to
Jamaica and became one of what we
would now call 'the radicals'. And then
Jacobs had been I think, a schoolmaster,
and he became linked with Fairclough
and shared Fairclough's opinions and
views. And there were others.
Now these were people who you might
say were thinkers and writers. There
were other people who were singers
and musicians who were just as import-
ant really, except that they didn't
articulate, but they did express.
What sorts of people are you thinking
Well, I was thinking, for instance, of
Slim and Sam. Towards the end of the
1930s I was asked to give a lecture at
the Institute of Jamaica, and I decided
that instead of giving a one hour lecture,
I would introduce the theme and then
present different aspects of Jamaican
You were speaking on folklore then?
I was speaking on Jamaican folklore. I
mention this because this is another ele-
ment that began to come into the whole
stream of consciousness. Slim and Sam
were wonderful; they had a guitar and
they sang, and the voices harmonized
and they would sing a tremendous
number of folk songs, some of which
they made up. [See p. 39 this issue].
So here was another stream. It wasn't
just the thinkers and the writers, but it
was the artists as well.
Was there any sort of group of these
'thinking' people who met ... You give
the impression that of course Jacobs
and Fairclough were in close contact.
But was there any group beyond just
Yes. I think this is where Edna Manley
did such a great service for Jamaica.
Because, the painters, like young Albert
Huie and others, some of them not so
young, like Dunkley, went to her; she
attracted them; she was an artist of
course; her exhibitions were beginning
to attract attention in Jamaica attract
ridicule as well, mark you but there
were increasingly a number of young
writers, poets, artists, who began to
gather round her. George Campbell
would take his poems to her. I would
take an occasional poem or two. I think
it was just the fact that you could get
together and talk, and she lit a fire in
you. You didn't go away depressed
or anything like that. You went away
with something alight inside of you. She
So was it about in the '30s, say, that
your own writing of poetry blossomed,
Yes, I think so..One or two small things
before, but I got, in a slight way, an
attack of this business.
Now while this was happening with the
arts and literature, it was happening also
in politics, because Norman Manley at
the time was the great name in law, in
fact in the British Caribbean, and the
people who were interested in political
change began now to come together,
and that was the period when Fairclough
and others persuaded Manley to enter
politics and to become the leader. I
very well remember that September
evening in 1938 when there was a meet-
ing at the Ward Theatre and I went
down. There was a great mass, largely
middle-class but not entirely, lots of
working people, and outside the theatre
was crowded. And Sir Stafford Cripps
was there as special guest, and Busta-
mante came, I think he came late.
Was he in the audience or on the plat-
He was on the platform, from what I
can remember. Now at that meeting
Manley really launched the [People's
National] Party with a speech that I
think should still be taught or made
known to all young people in Jamaica,
because it really enunciated the prin-
ciples of the national movement. And
it wasn't a Party speech, it was a speech
that dealt with the whole idea of what
I mention Busta, and I think if it had
been Manley alone we would have had
change, but the combination of Manley
and Bustamante as leaders of political
parties really produced remarkable
Your work at the Institute: could you
say how it fitted into all that spirit
and movement you have been describing?
Yes. I was attracted to the Institute not
only because it meant dealing with adults,
moving into the adult world, but also I
think because of the national movement,
and because I saw the link between cul-
tural development of Jamaica and, you
might say, the economic and political
development. For instance, one of the
first things that I was able to do there,
with the help of Leila James's sister -
I think she was Mrs Shackleford, who
had married in Nigeria, was it, or in the
Gold Coast, and she had brought out
some lovely examples of West African
sculpture and metal work and with
the help of the Shacklefords and others
we put on an exhibition of African art
at the Institute.
What sort of success did it have?
It was tremendous. It was very, very
well received. You see, here again, it was
really in a sense the first time. It was
part of Garvey's message, and it was the
first time that this kind of recognition
was being given to what is a very
important part of the background of the
whole of the Caribbean.
There were other things that I was fas-
cinated by. One was the children. So
with the help of one or two friends I set
to work, and the board accepted the
suggestion, that we should develop a
Junior Institute. And I went out on to
the street to collect the money for it,
and do you know that the reaction of
the average adult was, 'It's a waste of
money, the children will tear up the
books and they won't be interested'.
I think that came to be one of the most
valuable parts of the Institute, still is.
One of the most moving things was to
see these youngsters coming down the
steps out of a building that belonged
to them; it was the Junior Institute,
clutching the book to themselves, you
know, not tearing it up, and going away
as if it were a treasure, which indeed it
I notice that when you left the Institute
you went to be education officer of
Jamaica Welfare. What prompted that
Well, I think what prompted it was this:
While I was at the Institute the United
Kingdom set up this Commission on
Higher Education in the Colonies. The
commission decided to send out a com-
mittee to West Africa, and they set up
a West India Committee under Sir James
Irvine, vice-chancellor of St Andrew's.
The U.K. also did something that was
quite extraordinary for those days. It
asked Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and
British Guiana to name somebody to
that commission when it met, for in-
stance, in Jamaica. I don't think that
the colonial officials in Jamaica thought
this thing would come to anything. And
so I was named to the committee. And
in Barbados they named Hugh Springer.
And then Hugh and I were very lucky
because they went further after the
thing had gone on for a bit and said that
two of us should go with the com-
mission . .
On its travels?
On its travels.
That was the start of your Caribbean...
That's right, that was the beginning of
it. But here again, seeing this happen,
and having taken a hand in writing the
report, I said to myself, 'I must prepare
myself, I would like to take a hand, to
be actively involved, I would like to be
a member of staff of this thing if it
comes off. The only role I see for my-
self is in adult education'. Now I had
done the school teaching part of it, I
had done the Institute part of it. I said,
'Now, let's get out into the field and do
the community education part of it'.
And so I had two wonderful years as
education officer for Jamaica Welfare.
The time helped, because the theme of
the whole thing was: we are out to build
a new Jamaica. And people would come
from overseas and they would look at it
and say, 'This is wonderful', but they
would question what might be called
the evangelical element in the whole
thing. And we would say, 'This is the
whole business of the thing, you -have
to have a national purpose that people
commit themselves to', and the song
Which song are you referring to?
'We Are Out to Build a New Jamaica'.
And also there was the feeling of com-
ing together, for the first time. It wasn't
people coming into a village to do good
to others; it was the whole village com-
ing together. I remember going into St
Thomas with Rudolph Burke and talk-
ing with the people up in his little dis-
trict. And we might have gone in with
the idea that these people should have
a health clinic, they should have this,
they should have that, but when we sat
down round the table and talked to
them, they said, 'What we want is a
cricket pitch!' And Burke gave the land
and I would go over there on a Saturday
sometimes, or mid-week, and they
would be clearing the land after they
had finished working, and they built the
field. And then Jamaica Welfare helped
them put up the pavilion and it became
not a cricket field, but a community
centre. But you know, if we had gone in
with our ideas it would never have
worked that way. No, we learnt a lot
and we learnt above everything else a
tremendous respect for the Jamaican
working man. And when I say 'man',
Jamaican working woman and man,
because so often the woman was the
centre both of the family and the leader-
ship in the village.
You've spoken about your years with
Jamaica Welfare and how those years
prepared you for playing, you hoped,
some kind of role in the university, or
university college, which was to be
founded. So can we go right into the
UCWI period then, and really begin at
the beginning? You were appointed
from the inception, weren't you?
Yes. At the end of 1947 I got word that
the newly appointed principal of the
University College, who was Thomas
Taylor, fellow of Brasenose College,
and an organic chemist by trade, he
described himself in that way, was com-
ing out to Jamaica early in '48. I think
he arrived soon after Christmas, and
asked me to see him. He was very quick,
very quick of mind and intellect and
didn't like beating about the bush, so
it didn't take us long to talk about the
possibility of my joining the university
staff, and of course I was delighted to
do so, and he asked me if I would be
director of Extra-Mural Studies. So by
about February of '48 I joined him. We
began to work, the first office was on
the Lady Musgrave Road.
Can you say something about your role
as director of Extra-Mural Studies at
the very beginning? What was the scope
of the operation?
Well, all that had to be thought out.
My first job really was to help with the
initial steps that had to be taken. Help
with introducing Sir Thomas Taylor to
the community and also thinking out
with him the role of the Extra-Mural
department. It was agreed that, after
thinking out the kind of programme
that might be developed, I should spend
a short time in the United Kingdom,
working, discussing it with different
people there. I knew that in a com-
munity like Jamaica, or the West
Indian community, the orthodox or
conventional extra-mural approach
would not work. We had to be much
more community-development oriented.
I knew there were a number of people
who would be interested in the develop-
ment of programmes leading towards
a qualification, it might be a degree or it
might be a diploma, or certificate or
what you will. But I knew that that
could not be the whole programme.
And another thing was, I think, coming
from working at the Institute and from
the discussions one had with people like
Edna Manley, Norman Manley, Theo
Sealy and others, that the enormous im-
portance of culture in development ..
I would just like to stress that point
because usually development is defined
in economic terms and I think many
people are beginning to discover today
that it is a complex, large subject and
interrelated with other things, and that
in fact, creativity may be, to my mind
is, the most important part of develop-
So I would put the cardinal points of
our little compass as being, first of all,
programmes that would prepare people
for further qualifications or that they
just wanted to follow to satisfy their
own intellectual interests; and then pro-
grammes that aimed at the cultural
development of opportunities for crea-
tivity through the dance, through
drama, through painting and so on. And
then programmes that strengthened
leadership, the capability of people to
handle their own affairs.
With regard to the training for com-
munity leadership, how did that work?
The beginning of the work lay in dis-
cussions with people in the community
and the new member of staff, giving him
time to relate to them, and making
them feel that we were a team. I had no
pattern to lay down. They had to find
the way and we worked together. Now
these efforts were small, because we
were operating on very much of a shoe-
string. In Trinidad, Andrew Pearse, the
resident tutor, followed the same sort of
pattern, getting to know the community,
consulting with people, and then he
developed that kind of leadership pro-
gramme. But also from the start he did
a considerable amount with the young
artists and writers. He did that by help-
ing to establish what was called 'The
Cellar Club' which met in a cellar under-
neath one of the government buildings.
And before you could look round they
had a very active little group.
Then we would find people in country
towns and Gloria Cumper helped to
develop this programme in Montego Bay
or in Falmouth or wherever who were
qualified to run programmes. That was
a very exciting experience. So there was
the beginning of programmes in leader-
ship training. Then drama. I have for-
gotten who it was that went to St Lucia
as resident tutor, but at the time there
was Simmons ...
Harry Simmons. And there was Derek
Walcott who was not yet at university,
but already a poet. Ah yes, it was Bertie
Easter. He was greatly loved in St Lucia,
and he helped to start the work there.
And again, obviously one strong pillar
of the work would be the opportunities
for people like Derek and his brother,
and Harry Simmons and others, to take
a lead in developing drama. And St
Lucia helped us a good deal in that res-
Now that you have mentioned St Lucia,
it leads me to another point. I think of
you, and I am not singular in this, as
perhaps the prototype of the 'Caribbean
man', the man with the Caribbean vision.
Would I be right in thinking that these
years in establishing the Extra-Mural
department helped to mature that
Oh yes, absolutely. I mean it was fan-
tastic, you know. If you went to, say,
Antigua, I met men like Vere Bird, who
was in his early years, beginning his
leadership there. In St Kitts there was
Bradshaw. In St Lucia there was Garnet
Gordon, who was very civic-minded and
a wonderful person. All of them had
really a West Indian outlook. They were
not insular. In Barbados there was
Grantley Adams, in Trinidad, of course,
Eric Williams later on, not at the very
start. Gomes was there at the beginning,
but the Trinidadianswerevery interested.
Sir Philip Sherlock speaking at his installation as one OT ne tmree rellows oUT n inrauiuu u1
Jamaica elected in 1979 during celebration of the Institute's Centenary Year. (The other fellows
are the Hon. Edna Manley, O.M. and C.L.R. James).
At what stage were you appointed vice-
principal of the University College? Was
that from the beginning?
No, that came somewhere about '55.
So I was both director of Extra-Mural
Studies and vice-principal at that time.
And then you became principal, or vice-
chancellor? By that time it was an in-
dependent university, wasn't it?
Yes. In 1959 there were discussions
about a merger between the University
College of the West Indies and the
Imperial College of Tropical Agricul-
ture in Trinidad.
Now, that again was a significant develop-
ment because at the time Eric Williams
was very keen on the idea of a West
Indian university, so that the times were
right. Also, the movement against
colonialism and the rest of it had really
meant the purposes of the Imperial
College were not what they had been
in 1915 or whenever it was established.
So that the discussion went very well
and it was decided that the merger would
take place and then I was asked by
Arthur Lewis if I would go to Trinidad
as principal. And I was very happy to do
How long did you stay there?
We were there for three years. We were
very happy there and I felt that I knew
that there had been a very real gap
between the Imperial College and the
community. Now how were we to make
it clear that it had now become part of
the Caribbean community? One way
was by putting on a series of public lec-
tures at the Imperial College itself. I
went, for instance, and saw C. L.R. James.
He was then editor of the Nation, the
official paper of the People's National
Movement, and he gave six lectures on
great thinkers, like Shakespeare, and
world artists, Shakespeare and Plato
and some of the Greek tragedies. The
first evening I went round to the lecture
room a little early in order to greet
people who came in. I have never for-
gotten, there was one man who came in
from Tunapuna, and I was at the door
shaking hands, and he looked at me and
said, 'This is no longer hallowed ground'.
I was really glad to hear that.
Trinidad was a great learning experi-
ence. Learning more about the com-
munity of Trinidad and learning about
the Eastern Caribbean, and learning
about the things to be done in making
a beginning, carrying through a merger,
and developing relationships with
another group of students and with
Yes, and learning, too, more about the
overall administration of the Univer-
sity, because this means that by the
time you became vice-chancellor, you
had been broken in, in a way, by the
experience as principal.
Yes, I am glad you have said 'broken
in' and not 'broken down'.
But the experience as vice-chancellor
must have been quite special though.
Can you talk about the challenges...
Yes. By the way, you are quite right.
I had had a lot of experience and been
very fortunate, but being vice-chancellor
is something quite different. In fact it
is hard to prepare one's self for it, be-
cause you may have experience in
administration, but one of the keys, is
really dealing with people and com-
municating with people. And what I
really aimed at, I may not have suc-
ceeded, but I aimed at being accessible,
as accessible as possible to people from
the community or to students or to
Were there any kinds of crises?
Oh yes, we had the usual crises. For in-
stance, on one occasion when the Prin-
cess Royal came out and there was some
difficulty in Mary Seacole Hall, so the
girls had little placards and so on pro-
testing whatever it was. There are al-
ways these things, but they don't lead
to any bitterness, certainly as far as I
Then the other thing was, the faculty.
At the beginning we recruited younger
men who were at a point in their career
where they were willing to come be-
cause they felt that if they did a good
job over three or five years they would
have strengthened their chances for pro-
motion elsewhere. And I think this was
the right policy. Now these men were
all scholars, but they also had to plan
and develop their laboratories and that
meant they had to know what they
were doing, they had to choose their
priorities, and I think we owe a lot to
them not only for their teaching and
not only for the research work that they
initiated, but also for the care and the
skill with which they designed the first
laboratories and teaching buildings.
The dedication of these men, it often
moved me very much, because I think if
they had been in a U.K. university
they would not perhaps have had the
opportunity of the kind of wider per-
spective that they had in our much
smaller, new university, and it's a tri-
bute to them that they took that
opportunity and got into it. LePage, for
instance, as you know, built his repu-
tation really as a scholar on the work
that he did with Fred Cassidy in linguis-
Before we leave your time as vice chan-
cellor, would you say something about
what's known as 'The Rodney Affair',
which happened in October 1968?
Naturally, you became, you had to be
involved in it. Could you say some-
thing about how you seethe significance
of that affair?
I will be happy to do that. I think I
should like to keep away from what
might be called details. I think that,
to put it generally, the matter could
have been handled much more gently,
and with much more understanding by
the government of the day. I think that,
looking back, the way in which it was
dealt with was an expression of the hos-
tility felt towards, not only this uni-
versity, but very often towards univer-
sities in developing countries.
I am not arguing about whether Rodney
was right or was wrong in his opinions.
He had a right to voice them in an aca-
demic community. The practice of them
was another matter for the law and the
officers of the law. But I think that a
society with a longer tradition of in-
dependence and tolerance and of the
democratic process would have been
gentler and less authoritarian in its
Now what was the significance really
of the Rodney affair as far as the uni-
versity and the community is con-
cerned? In the first place, Rodney
was a very fine scholar, perhaps the
finest scholar, historian, that UWI has
produced. I am talking about the people
who came as students to UWI. I think
that apart from his standing as a his-
torian was his standing as a member of
a society in which he felt that there was
still hostility, an inner hostility, toward
people who were black. And I think
that he compelled the university, and
the society, to consider the implications
of blackness. He was not the first person
of course to do this. It had been there
long before; you had on the one hand
Bedward, if you like, and you certainly
had Garvey. But Rodney was making an
intellectual appeal and insisting on the
importance of black history or African
history. And this had an enormous ap-
peal, I think, anywhere, to students any-
where in a developing country, parti-
cularly a community like that of the
West Indies. So I think that again,
whether he was right or wrong in his,
shall I say, his ideology and his political
commitments, he did perform a very im-
portant service in compelling us as a
community to look at something that
many of us West Indians had accepted
verbally, but had not really accepted
Could you say something now about
what you have been doing since you
left the university?
I would be glad to. During the 1950s,
what with my work as director of the
Extra-Mural department, and travelling
round the West Indies and the Caribbean,
and trying to look at things in a broader
perspective, I became committed to the
idea of federation and political asso-
ciation, close political association, and it
really was a disastrous blow when the
federation broke up in 1962. Well, what
was to happen? Was one to accept that
there is still a possibility of developing
closer relationships in the region? The
answer was, that there definitely was.
It occurred to me that, and this came
out of discussions with a number of
people fro.n other countries, and some
from the Ford Foundation, that there
was one institution that certainly could
contribute in a very important way to
the development of understanding, and
that is the university. After all, it is not
concerned, or shouldn't be concerned
with political power, it is not concern-
ed with territory, and scholarship leaps
across boundaries whether they are
political or whatever, so that gradually
it dawned upon me that we should ex-
plore the possibility of bringing togeth-
er a number of Caribbean universities
in an effort to see whether they could
I became very excited about this, so in
a 1968 meeting in San Juan, 16 repre-
sentatives of universities and institutes
established an Association of Carib-
bean Universities [UNICA], and asked
me if I would be ... I had organised it, I
had been doing the preparatory work,
and they asked me to continue. When I
retired from the UWI in 1969, I re-
treaded, to my good fortune, and
became Secretary-General of the Asso-
ciation, and worked at that up to the
end of December 1979.
Sir Philip, thank you very much indeed.
1. Donald E. Herdecket al, Caribbean Writers:
A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Encyclopedia.
Washington; D.C.: Three Continents Press.
The French Invasion
of Jamaica -1694
04 JAMAICA, showing parish divisions,
drawn by Sr. Nicholas de Fer, French Geographer (Paris 1714)
By David Buisseret
he main outline of events during the French invasion
of Jamaica in 1694 has long been known: how they
landed in the middle of June at Port Morant and
Cow Bay, spent a month ravaging St Thomas and St David,
and then sailed on to Vere (south Clarendon), whence they
were repulsed towards the end of July. However, many
aspects of these events remained obscure in the accounts of
them,1 and that is why it has seemed useful to interrogate
some new sources.
There are essentially two groups of these: the French
documents preserved at the Archives Nationales in Paris,2
and the early maps of Vere available among the so-called
'survey maps' at the Institute of Jamaica (National Library).
Read together with the already-exploited accounts preserved
at the Public Record Office, and described in the various
calendars of State Papers, these new documents permit
us to elucidate several aspects of the invasion.
Ever since the later 1670s, the Jamaican authorities had
been nervous about the possibility of an invasion by the
French. They had had a close call in 1679 [Buisseret 1974]
and a warning in 1690.3 In 1692, after the earthquake, a
band of Frenchmen had ravaged part of the north coast;4
this was simply an extended version of a more or less endemic
series of raids and reprisals. In April 1694 tension began to
mount again; HMS Falcon, cruising off the eastern end of
Jamaica, drove off six small privateers apparently intent
upon a raid,5 and some time during May, Governor Beeston
received a warning from Curacao that 'the French were
making great preparations against Jamaica'.6 For some time
about then he had received no reports from the Falcon, and
began to suspect that she had been lost (as we shall see, he
Then on 31 May 1694 he had a most alarming visitor.
Captain Elliott, 'in a very mean habit and with a meagre,
weather-beaten countenance', entered his house in the evening
to explain that he had just escaped by canoe from St-
Domingue, where governor Du Casse was preparing 20 ships
and 3000 men for an invasion of Jamaica. Beeston at once
called a Council of War, which saw to the reinforcement of
Port Royal and to the fortification of what is now Rockfort.
The defence of Jamaica's south-eastern coast had always
been a tactical problem, since the settlements were thinly
spread along the coast, thus impeding concentration at any
one point without long delays. Beeston's solution was radi-
cal; he withdrew all the militia from St Thomas and St
David, concentrating them in Spanish Town and the Liguanea
plain. The guns in the forts at Port Morant were spiked, and
the powder removed; all the inhabitants of these two parishes
were invited to evacuate them.8
Meanwhile the French were getting themselves organized.
A squadron of three men-of-war the Temeraire, Envieux
and Solide had left France in February 1694 under the
command of Admiral Rollon. They arrived in St- Domingue
at the end of March and received orders from Du Casse to
cruise off Jamaica.9 There they captured the Falcon, 'navire
de guerre anglois de 50 canons months et 130 hommes
d'equipage', and sent her back to Leogane. Then they also
returned to Leogane, to join up with 16 privateer-ships and
to embark '1500 des habitans de la Coste' as a landing-force
for the 'entreprise de la Jamdique'.
Du Casse himself sailed on Rollon's ship, the Thm6raire,
and on 17 Junelo they anchored in 'Boulbai' according to
Rollon, or the 'baie des vaches' in Delabrouste's version. The
latter was probably correct, as they seem to have been in
Cow Bay, just west of the mouth of the Yallahs river. Rollon
describes the anchorage as 'bad ground, full of lost anchors
and isolated rocks'. Du Casse soon sent ashore a detachment
of privateers, looking for prisoners; they were met by some
Negroes and captured some other inhabitants, who told them
Spanish Town *
(quite correctly) that the English had abandoned those
parishes in order to strengthen Port Royal, Spanish Town,
Withywood (at the mouth of the Rio Minho) and Liguanea.
They also told the French that Beeston had been warned of
the invasion by escaped prisoners; presumably Du Casse
already knew of the escape of Captain Elliott.
Then the French set about ravaging the two parishes;
as Rollon laconically puts it, 'we burnt everything as far as
Port Morant'. On the 23rd his own ship, the Tme'raire, got
into problems when her anchor-cable parted in a squall; he
was obliged to put to sea and in fact never was able to re-
join the expedition before its return to St-Domingue.11
The rest of the squadron now began to run short of water
(as they said; was the Yallahs dry?), and so made its way to
Port Morant, where ample supplies were available.12 Here
they continued to ravage the countryside, and Du Casse
(who had been on shore when the Temeraire was forced to
put to sea) specially detached five ships under the Sr. de Bau-
regard to do the same thing on the north side of the island,
in St George and St Mary. As Beeston put it, 'more inhuman
barbarities were never committed by Turk of infidel'.
By mid-July they felt that they had done enough damage,
and so on 16 or 17 July the whole fleet returned to Cow
Bay. Here they quickly landed a force 'to give a false alarm'
as Delabrouste wrote. But Beeston was not deceived, and
moved only 100 men to cover the possibility of an attack
into the Liguanea plain from the east. Then the privateers
hastily re-embarked, and the fleet sailed straight to Withy-
-wood, at the mouth of the Rio Minho. Here there was a
little town, called Carlisle, and a fort recently erected at the
river's mouth. The French landed on the night of 18-19 July
and attacked the rather ill-conceived fort from the east early
in the morning. It was manned by about '250 men, besides
blacks', and commanded by Colonel Sutton of the Clarendon
But the militia, though they fought with what even the
French described as 'quelque bravoure' had 'nulle discipline',
and were eventually forced to abandon their breastwork and
flee to the west.13 Here the Rio Minho barred their way;
some were drowned in it, and there might have been a great
slaughter but for the arrival of a fresh detachment of militia.
They had just marched or ridden for 30 miles non-stop, but
they straightway fell on the right flank of the French, and
forced them to desist from pursuit.
The two sides now withdrew, the French establishing a
camp at the mouth of the Rio Minho, and the Jamaican
militia occupying various fortified houses further up the
valley. On the 22nd the French made an attack on one of
these, 'Mr Hubbard's brick house'; they lost a number of men
and failed to take it. Perhaps it was a house rather like Halse
Hall in Clarendon, or Stokes Hall in St Thomas; at any rate,
this failure greatly discouraged them. They made no further
attempt on the 23rd, and on the 24th boarded their ships
and sailed away.
Beeston could still not be sure that they had gone for
good, but in fact after putting in to Port Morant for water
they sailed back to Leogane, where they arrived on 28 August.
By then many of their men were sick. On the Envieux there
were 100 deaths, and many as well on the Thmdraire, includ-
ing Admiral Rollon. Beeston claimed that the French lost
350 men killed in action and 350 of sickness; while the
first figure is surely too high, the second may well be too
low, so that a total loss of 700 may be roughly correct.14
On the Jamaican side the losses were also severe. As
Rollon wrote, Du Casse 'made war exactly as the King wishes;
no pillaging, except of Negroes, and everything was burnt'.
The list of people whose plantations were sacked in St
Thomas and St David is in effect a list of the landowners
there in 1694;15 it was decades before these parishes re-
covered. In the engagements around Withywood, the town of
Carlisle disappeared from the map, and many leading families
lost members killed or wounded: names like Vassell, Dawkins,
Smart and Fisher were already prominent in Clarendon and
St Elizabeth. On the other hand, the militia had acquitted
itself well, and had prevented Clarendon from suffering the
same fate as the eastern parishes. At least 14 Negroes had had
to be freed for valourous conduct, and probably a good deal
Until quite recently it was possible to identify Hubbard's
house in lower Clarendon, with the bullets in its walls, as well
as the great cotton-tree under which a particularly hot skirm-
ish took place." Now all that has gone, and the very site of
the breastwork seems impossible to determine with any accu-
racy. But the repulse of the invasion was a notable feat of
arms in its day; a considerable accomplishment for an infant
1. Of which the chief remains that in Cundall (1936].
2. AN Marine B/4, 15 fo. 445-450, the 'Relation de M. de Rollon'
and fo. 451-454, the report by M. Delabrouste, captain of the
3. CSP 1690 art. 1041, Inchiquin to Lords of Trade and Plantations.
4. CSP 1692 art. 2278, President and Council to Lords of Trade
5. CSP 1694 art. 1109 and 1194, Beeston to Sir John Trenchard
and to the Lords of Trade and Plantations.
6. CSP 1694 art. 1194, Beeston to Lords of Trade and Plantations.
7. loc. cit., it will be noticed that this estimate of the size of the
landing-force is much too great.
8. Long after the invasion was over, Beeston was severely criticized
for these measures, by those whose plantations had been ravaged.
But he surely had no choice; there was no way he could offer
this area effective protection.
9. See the report of Delabrouste, AN B/4, 15 fo. 451.
10. In his own account, using New Style dates, it is June 27th. But
I have converted all dates to the Old Style.
11. The Temeraire was systematically misdirected by the various
pilots and other mariners of whom she enquired the whereabouts
of the French fleet. But that is another story.
12. According to Beeston, the French fleet had from the start had
eight ships at Port Morant; CSP 1694 art. 1236.
13. CSP 1694 art. 1236.
14. There were also, of course, some deserters, like those two Negroes
who came over from the French and were 'liberated'; CSP 1694
art. 1130, Minutes of the Council of Jamaica for 7July 1694.
15. CSP 1699 art. 443. I. These landowners were of course the ones
who most bitterly criticized Beeston for his tactical dispositions.
16. CSP 1694 art. 94 and CSP 1695 art. 106.
17. See Cundall  p.377 on the location of Hubbard's, backed
up by the relevant maps in the collection at the Institute of
BUISSERET, David, "The French Come to Wood and Water", Jamaica
Journal, volume 8 nos. 2 and 3, 1974.
CUNDALL, Frank, The Governors of Jamaica in the 17th Century,
,Historic Jamaica, London: 1915.
By Pamela Beshoff
Namba Roy, Spirit of the Stallion.
(Donated by the Roy Family).
Namba Roy, Accompong Madonna. N;
(Gift of the Maroons of Accompong).
1 he Negro Kipling', is what Tom Driberg, the British
Labour MP and diarist called Namba Roy, writing
After the publication of Roy's book, Black Albino.
It is a measure of how much has changed in thetwenty-odd
years since the book's publication that the description now
seems not only incongruous but ludicrous. There is no doubt
but that Driberg, who admired Roy's work, intended it as a
compliment and indeed used the comparison to highlight
what he saw as a similarity between the compelling simpli-
city of the tale of a Maroon village and the life of its inhabit-
ants, with Kipling's Jungle Stories. But the philosophy of
Kipling, the psalmist of Empire, could hardly be further from
the Africanism of Roy, who followed his lonely muse through
all the vicissitudes of life in a Jamaican Maroon village,
service in the British merchant marine and life in London
until his death at the age of 51.
Namba Roy was born Nathan Roy Atkins, a name which
he later abandoned for the African name of Namba, coupled
with his middle name of Roy. Much of his young life was
spent in Accompong in the Cockpit Country but it is not
National gallery ot Jamaica.
Namba Roy, Queen of Sheba. Private collection.
clear whether he was actually born there. It is known that his
people came to Jamaica under slavery from the Congo and
that they subsequently escaped to the Cockpit Country to
live as free men, or Maroons, as they came to be called.
Namba Roy's grandfather was the traditional carver of his
village, a role that was handed down from father to son and
was said to have been in his family for 250 years. Roy has
described the methods of teaching adopted by the carvers
in his grandfather's day:
There was just one pupil to take his place either when the
Master was too old, or died. All through the years of train-
ing his successor, it was the imagination which would be
concentrated upon. Day and night the young student would
be told the legends and history associated with the pieces he
would one day carve. It was explained that wood, unlike stone,
lives and dies; that horns or tusks from animals are of greater
importance as a medium, for the latter are not only born, live
and die, but may also be associated with reincarnation. The
symbolism of the outsize navel, club feet, oversize breasts
were also explained, until the student's mind would be full of
Then the day would come when the Master felt he could no
longer carve. The student, now a man, is overjoyed to know
that at last the mantle has fallen on him. When he looks down
at the piece of ivory or horn before him, he sees the images he
has been seeing since childhood, only now they lie imprisoned
in the material. He starts to work with great confidence, for he
feels as one dedicated to rescue this new life from its ivory
Roy's later insistence upon ivory as his chosen medium,
even though the expense entailed great sacrifice upon his part,
can be understood by reference to this explanation.
Namba Roy, or Nathan Roy Atkins as he was then known,
joined the British merchant navy shortly after the outbreak
of world war II and served as a seaman on munitions ships
and oil tankers until 1944 when illness forced him to be in-
valided out. By a strange quirk of bureaucracy, since Jamaica
was then a British colony and Jamaicans then regarded as
British citizens, Roy was disembarked in Britain, a country
entirely strange to him, rather than being returned to his
native Jamaica. Alone, ill and in a strange land, Roy passed
through a difficult time until eventually he found employ-
ment. Later he married Yvonne Shelley, an English actress,
and together they had three children, a boy, Tamba and two
girls, Lucinda and Jacqueline.
Yvonne Roy, in a tribute written after his death in 1961,
has described how Roy used to leave for work at 5.30 a.m.
and not return home until nearly 7.00 p.m., drawing the
wage of a disabled person, for such his illness had left him.
His creative work was done in the evenings, during the
night and early mornings and on Sundays when the kitchen
table would be crowded with easels, paints and sculptor's
It was in this period that the true flowering of Roy's
talent took place. He produced two books, many paintings
and myriad carvings. Black Albino, published in 1961, tells
the story of a Maroon village where lives a young chief,
Tomaso and his rival, Lago, who is jealous of Tomaso and his
wife Kisanka. When an albino child, whom they name
Tamba, is born to the couple, Lago exploits the superstitions
of the villagers so as to force the removal of Tomaso and his
wife. Tom Driberg in his introduction to the book called it
an 'inverted parable of colour prejudice' and it is clear that
Roy was making a point of universal validity. Roy's other
book, No Black Sparrows, was not published during his life-
time but publishers are now showing an interest not only in
publishing this but also in the publication again of Black
(On extended loan to the National Gallery).
Namba Roy, The Crowd. Private collection.
Namba Roy, B'rer Rabbit. Private c
Namba Roy, Sorrow. Private collection.
Namba Roy, The Blues. Private collection.
Nambf Roy, Jesus and His Mammy. Private oullontion.
(Photograph courtesy of the Smithsonian inutitution).
Very striking in Roy's paintings and carvings are the
African women represented. With their high foreheads, long
necks and proud bearing, these women are of an unforgettable
beauty. It is an amazing tribute to the collective memory of a
people that Roy should have produced this work while so far
removed in time and geography from the roots of his African
past. In many ways Roy seemed before his time. His unwaver-
ing commitment to keeping alive the traditions of his people,
which would not seem out of place now, was then viewed
as something of a radical departure. Roy tells us of the hostility
to his work experienced even from some fellow West Indians:
At my first exhibition here in London in 1952 my purely
Negro style caused many of my people to feel embarrassed,
remembering how often the word 'primitive' had been used for
political purposes. Sensitive to the accusations of 'idol-worship'
and 'witchcraft' which the outside world formerly associated
with its art, my people would shun our own expression and
would insist that all art instructors must have European stand-
He described how he tried at times to "hide my primiti-
vism under a bushel", but without success. "I found that I
just couldn't work satisfactorily to European standards",
he wrote, "the art of my forefathers was always crying to
Roy appeared to make a conscious effort to relate his
primitivism to the modern world of high technology in which
he found himself, but always with thesame reversal to ancient
values and traditions. "I live in an age of radar, television and
atom bombs", he said. "My mind creates but with the influ-
ences of my time taking part. And yet my father's and grand-
father's training cannot be discarded. I find myself under
their spell always". A fascinating glimpse of some of the con-
tent of this training appears in Roy's account of the meaning
of the primitive forms:
"There would be the flat, abstract-like mask or figure,
created to symbolise the belief that man's spirit or soul,
unlike man himself, was free from physical bulk, and was
thus able to travel freely and unhampered wherever it wishes.
The club-like feet on a figure showed man's debt to the
earth, who was his second mother and who will claim his
body in the end". He describes the importance of the head in
the beliefs and traditions of his ancestors:
But of the many symbols pregnant with beautiful legends and
amazing philosophy none is greater than the head, always out
of proportion to the figure in carvings representing the super-
natural. To this there were a few exceptions. For my ancestors
claimed that every abstract gift which humans are said to poss-
ess soul, life, thoughts good or bad, courage, cowardice,
every emotion, were all placed in their heads just before their
birth. The old tutor would say: 'See the front part of the new-
born infant's head? See how it throbs? Put your finger on it
now gently. For it is soft as an over-ripe fruit. This is where
the Great One opened and placed his bag of gifts to Man -
just as the Great Father of Life did when he made the First
Child when the earth first came from the sky'.
This emphasis on the head was reflected in certain sayings,
thus, as Roy tells us:
In my Maroon village in the mountains of Jamaica, one phrase
still remains from our ancestors' belief in the head. Whenever
we are moved greatly we never say: 'My heart is full my
heart is touched my heart is glad.' We use one sentence to
cover any of these emotions: 'My head grows big'.
Hand in hand with this dedication to transmitting the
values and traditions of his ancestors, and of keeping alive
the methods of their teaching, goes an explicit Christian
theme in much of Roy's work. The Creation Story, an Afri-
can folk-tale of the world's creation, is juxtaposed with carv-
ings and paintings whose Christian theme is interwoven with
their African representation. "Jesus and his Mammy", one
of the most famous of Roy's works, is an exquisite ivory
carving showing the figure of Mary, represented as an African
woman, tenderly bending over the small figure of the boy
Jesus, also in African guise. The "Annunciation", also in
ivory, has the figure of Mary, arching up through a wondrous
curve, to hear the news brought by an Angel contrastingly
straight-backed. The pleasing counterpoint of the arching
Mary and the straight-backed Angel, while creating the tens-
ion for the subject, also illustrates Roy's earlier point, des-
cribing images lying 'imprisoned in the material' and of the
duty of the carver to 'rescue this new life from its ivory
There is a substantial body of Roy's work still in the
hands of the Roy family and in the hands of one particular
English collector. It is curious that with so much of the work
so readily available there has never been through all these
years an exhibition of Roy's work, mounted in Jamaica.
Could it be that the ambiguities of the Maroons' historical
relationship towards other Jamaicans and, conversely, the
ambivalence of other Jamaicans' attitudes towards the
Maroons found an echo in this glaring omission?
It is probably nearer the truth to say that Roy's work has
finally found its time and Jamaica is more ready now to
receive the work of this lost brother than ever it has been.
News then that the National Gallery intends to hold a Namba
Roy retrospective exhibition has come, at long last, as a
welcome though belated tribute to Roy's work. It is gratify-
ing too, to know that one of Roy's great pieces, the Accom-
pong Madonna, has been presented to the National Gallery
by the Roy family, who wish it to be known as a gift from
the Maroons.2 Perhaps these two gestures will help to bind
the historical wounds, if wounds there be, on the one hand,
and on the other, make amends at last for the omission of
Roy's work from recognition in Jamaica.
Namba Roy was a prolific creative artist and his creativity
spilled out in many forms, through his writing, his painting
and his carving. His work is marked by a unity of design and
purpose but it is in his carving that he seemed to find the
mode best suited to expression of his genius. Perhaps this is
not surprising when one considers the nature of his inherit-
ance as the descendant of the traditional master carvers of
his people, but it is not often that fate decrees that genius
and its practical application appear so perfectly matched.
Witnessing the serious purpose of Roy's work, conscious of
its pride in execution and basking in the knowledge of its
dedication to a long and ancient tradition, so is the viewer
moved to echo the words of Roy's ancestors: 'My head grows
1. All the quotations in this article are taken from papers held by
the Roy family, to whom'the author is indebted.
2. In the National Gallery-Smithsonian Travelling Exhibition of
Jamaican art, Namba Roy is represented by two works, Jesus
and His Mammy and Annunciation. The National Gallery's in-
stallation at the new gallery Jamaican Art 1922-1982 in-
cludes four works by Roy: The Accompong Madonna, a gift
of the Maroons of Accompong, Spirit of the Stallion, donated
by the Roy family and Spirit of the Black Stone and Crucifixion,
on extended loan from the Roy family. The National Gallery
is exploring the possibility of a Namba Roy Exhibition in 1984.
Jamaican Street Singers
By Godfrey Taylor
This article is a preliminary attempt
to document the lives and art of
two of Jamaica's greatfolk singers
and composers, popularly known as
Slim and Sam. Although they took part
in cabaret and stage shows, it is as
street singers that they are best re-
membered. They composed their own
songs, usually topical, and made their
living selling their song sheets for a
penny each at their street performances.
Their heyday was the 1930s and early
1940s; their 'stage' the city's streets,
especially the downtown Kingston mar-
kets on the busy weekends.
Information on Slim and Sam has
come largely from oral accounts be-
cause there is little documentation on
them. Only a few written references to
them could be found, for example, one
in Jamaica Journal, another in the
Sunday Gleaner, and both were passing
references to them in articles about
others. In their day, Slim and Sam were
not considered 'respectable' and there-
fore would not have been the subject of
Our presentation on Slim and Sam consists
of two articles written over 40 years apart.
Godfrey Taylor's piece was actually in press
before we discovered Ranny Williams's article.
We decided to run both, since one relies on
folk memory, elusive and impressionistic and
presents them as shadowy figures filtered'
through age and time. The other, written by
one who knew them, captures the vibrancy
and immediacy of the pair at the height of
their fame. And yet, we are still left with the
articles and commentary.
I therefore concentrated on interviews
with persons who knew them or worked
with them, had heard of them, or heard
them sing. Not all persons with whom
interviews were sought were willing (or
able) to give information and some
sources, such as a reputed son of Sam,
feeling that we know little about Slim and
Sam. We invite correspondence from readers
who can add to this preliminary attempt to
provide documentation on the pair, including
songs they are known to have composed.
Memorabilia such as song sheets, photo-
graphs etc. would be welcome, either on
loan to be photographed and returned, or do-
nated as permanent contributions to the
collection of the National Library of Jamaica.
could not be traced. Primary sources,
such as Ranny Williams, were already
dead by the time this research got under-
way. The difficulty of collecting data on
Slim and Sam points up the need to
urgently document all the varying threads
of our musical and other heritage.
Most of those to whom I spoke who
were alive in Jamaica in the 1930s re-
member at least hearing of (if notactual-
ly hearing) Slim and Sam. But although
they were well known, what is re-
membered of them today is very sketchy.
They were prolific song writers, but
many of their songs have become ab-
sorbed into the traditional folk music
which we today assume to be anony-
mously written. Aside from pursuing
their own art, they encouraged and
helped other artistes and influenced
many. Without a doubt, their work is
seminal to the development of our
The Lives of Slim and Sam
We have little information on the
early years of Slim and Sam. They
were identified only as 'Slim' Beck-
ford and Sam Blackwood who had mi-
grated to Kingston in the late 1920s.
Conflicts arise as to the area from which
they originated. One informant [Sal-
mon] 1 says he believes Sam 'belongs to
St. Elizabeth' and 'Kid Harold' (Harold
Smith) reports that they grew up in
Montego Bay, where he met them late
in 1927. Kid Harold, Trim (his partner)
and their troupe of dancers, The Butter-
fly Troupe, went to Montego Bay to
perform on a show sponsored by Arthur
Eldemire. This show took place on the
night Jack Dempsey lost his boxing title.
Kid Harold met Slim in a bar, and as a
result of that meeting, he tried to get
Eldemire to hire Slim and Sam as an act
to give his troupe and himself a break in
their show, as it was such a fast paced
show. Slim and Sam had not themselves
approached Eldemire, and the 'Kid' was
acting on their behalf. Mr. Eldemire did
not agree, so they were not hired.
When they migrated to Kingston is
not certain, but Salmon knew they were
already there when he came to the city
in 1928. They lived in the downtown
area where most of their activities were
also centred. Salmon remembers Slim
living at Pink Lane and Sam living at
Bond Street at some time early in the
period when he first knew them, but he
does not know where they moved to.
'Kid Harold' recollects that Sam 'used
to hang out at an upstairs place' on the
corner of Beeston and West Street,
while when 'Calypso Joe' (Correll
DePass) knew them (the late 1930s),
Slim lived at Asquith Street and Sam at
As singers, they frequented Spanish
Town Road, mainly at its intersection
with Bond Street, Rose Lane and Ox-
ford Street, but their main playing areas
were the downtown Kingston markets,
especially Coronation. They went to
other streets in Kingston, but liked the
most crowded sections where there
would be a larger audience and a better
chance of selling some of their 'penny
tracts' as their song sheets were called.
It has also not been ascertained when
they began singing together, or when
they started to sell their song sheets, but
it seems that these activities provided
their sole source of income. 'They were
poor, honest, and tried to make a living',
says one informant; another, that 'they
made sufficient to eat and pay rent',
and a third that 'they made their lives
out of nothing'. Sometimes it was rough
going. In the early days, before they
became well known, the singing duo
were sometimes chased out of the mar-
kets by market guards. They themselves
kept an eye out for pickpockets ('grab-
an-run') and if they spotted one, would
stop their singing to chase him away.
They generally sang in the morning
hours going on sometimes until about
2 p.m., but would not stay at one place
too long on any day. They would some-
times be paid to play a particular favour-
Slim and Sam sang not only in
Kingston, but went to rural towns
and villages as well. One informant,
Willis, remembers them coming to
his village, Richmond, St. Mary, during
the 1930s, while he was still a little boy.
Salmon remembers Slim and Sam sing-
ing in the rural area that he came from,
and Hibbert recollects them going to
Maggotty one New Year's Day with a
concert promoted by Mr. Billings of
Billings' Mattress Company. (They did
other concerts promoted by Mr. Billings).
They graduated to the stage with
help from Kid Harold and Cupidon of
the group Cupes and Abes (Cupidon
and Ableton). Kid Harold got them a
spot on a show at Palace and some of
the 'out theatres' like the Valley. 'Kid'
remembers helping them to get a job at
the Gaiety along with Reva Cooke and
The Red Devil's Orchestra for a Monday
night show, only to have the theatre
burn down at about 8 o'clock the Mon-
day morning. Eric Coverley remembers
Cupidon bringing them to the stage in
a Vere Johns production. Augustus
Brathwaite in an article in Jamaica
Journal states that at a concert, "there
were ring games, Anancy Stories, a
'John Canoe dance' (with drums),
danced by Eric Coverley as the Horse
Head, 'Songs of today', by the popular
Slim and Sam, and two sets of folk
songs by the Cudjoe Minstrels".
Eric Coverley remembers that they
were employed by some firms to pro-
vide entertainment at Christmas parties,
and Johnson mentioned that he was in-
formed that 'Philip Sherlock included
them in almost everything he did. Any
little show he put on, they were in-
cluded' [See Sherlock Interview, this
issue]. Paul Issa, in an article in the
Sunday Gleaner stated that Slim and
Sam had a company called 'The Okla-
homa Troupe',3 but none of my sources
could confirm this.
Sometimes they were engaged to ap-
pear on stage at fund raising functions
to help out the war effort, and for these
functions (as well as for other special
functions in which they participated)
they composed special songs. During
the war effort programme, they made
fun of Hitler and/or Mussolini with one
of their songs ('Sandy Gully') calling
Mussolini a 'mus mus', the Jamaican
term for a mouse. Hoyte notes that 'on
stage they dressed uniformly, for ex-
ample in white shirts with long puffed
sleeves, and black pants with a red band
around the waist'. Coverley recollects
them wearing straw hats and waist
bands in a Vere Johns production.
They also performed at Movies
Theatre (at Knutsford Park) which was
owned by Mr. Walter Morais. Two other
shows on which they appeared were A.
B. Dead and Hot Chocolate. Johnson
turned back a few pages of history and
explained that District Constable Arthur
Bartley (A.B. for short) was a terror in
the West, and on his death there was
great rejoicing, with crowds following
the coffin along North Street, and at the
May Pen Cemetery, the 'people' said
'ashes to ashes, s . . to s . .' and
literally poured 's . .' (that is, faeces)
on the grave. Bartley died about 1942-
1943, and for the show, Slim and Sam
wrote the song 'A.B. Dead'. Hot Cho-
colate was put on about 1943 1944,
with Dudley MacMillan as producer.
It was organised by Harold Holness
and was 'rehearsed in a backyard in East
Kingston in the dirt, with people like
Daisy Myrie', Johnson explained that
those performers were the 'real hoofers,
the old hoofers, who went around with
"Sagwa Shows" '. He bemoaned the fact
that nobody would write about those
old hoofers, 'especially the Gleaner at
that time', because 'they weren't people
to be mentioned'.
After Slim's death, the date of which
has not been ascertained, Sam is reported
by Archie Lindo to have gone on radio
station ZQI of which Lindo was head.
This, Lindo said, was in the early 1940s
as he remembers playing Sam not later
than 1945-1946. He remembers Sam
dying shortly after that. Although the
date of Sam's death remains uncertain
(some sources have him dying as late as
1954), the circumstances surrounding
his death seem well known. Sam was
married to a 'nice wife', but apparently
he had a roving eye. Some sources have
him dying in the Kingston Public Ho-
spital in not too pretty a shape.
Stories seem to have circulated about
their lives before they became street
singers. They were reported to have
been 'wrong doers' before teaming up,
'not big wrongs . . little wrongs', and
that they 'went to prison so often, that
when they came out the last time they
decided to team up'. The two sources of
this information both said that they had
only heard it rumoured and could not
say whether it was true or not. What
they knew, however, was that they
'were jolly fellows' who 'didn't molest
people', and were kind.
Physically, Slim and Sam were a con-
Slim was described as 'tall and sharp',
'long and magwa', angular, 'six foot
something' and was said by Lennie
Hibbert to have looked like an Indian.
Leopold Willis, another informant, said
his 'mouth kinda twist according to how
Sam, on the other hand, was described
by adjectives such as short, chubby,
bulky, solid, fat and stout. Calypso
Joe pegs him at about five feet seven
inches tall, and Salmon remembers him
having 'good' hair, that is 'slightly
straight' hair with a few waves, and
being lighter in complexion than Slim.
Willis noted that Sam had one eye slight-
ly closed 'like a cast eye'.
In the team, Slim was the 'first
voice' while Sam played the guitar and
added the 'second voice' or the harmony.
Slim was the seller of the songs, and, as
Calypso Joe adds, was the 'jokify' one.
Their song sheets or 'tracts' were sold
for a penny each, though Clyde Hoyte
remembers them accepting a half-penny
for a tract. 'Sometimes they would even
give one away if the person had no
Both Salmon and Thompson agree
that the tracts were printed by the 'Her-
ald Publishing House'. Thompson also
adds that their songs went in to race
books, mentioning the 'old-time yearly
racing book' during 1935 1940. The
tracts are now believed to be collectors
items; I have not been able to locate
What did Slim and Sam contribute to
the development of Jamaican music?
First, there were their songs. Basically,
they created their own words to fit exist-
ing mento tunes. It could not be ascer-
tained from any source whether or not
they actually composed any tunes. It
is believed by some that they composed
every song they sang. Others assert that
they heard them sing traditional- songs,
to their own arrangement. They com-
posed their songs weekly, but would
sing mainly on Fridays and Saturdays
when the busy downtown area would be
crowded with market vendors and shop-
The songs they wrote made com-
ments on various situations of the day.
If there was an election, a murder, hard
times, a hurricane, Slim and Sam were
sure to put it in song. They wrote songs
on famous murders such as those com-
mitted by Rubal and Dias (at 16 South
Camp Road), Gillard's murder of Batiste
(at Luke Lane) and about Louise Walker
(the first woman to murder a man in
Jamaica). They were also reputed to
have written 'Dip and Fall Back' which
tells of the resourcefulness of the
Jamaicans in the hard time during
and immediately after World War II.
They wrote songs about love affairs,
songs about tramcars ('Buy A Tram Car'
deals with a scoundrel selling a tram car
to a country bumpkin), duppies ('Run
Isaac'), and wife stealing ('Johnny Take
Away Mi Wife'). In fact, they wrote
songs on virtually anything that happen-
ed in or out of the country.
Coverley remembers them as being
very original, having 'remarkable me-
mories', and writing every song with
a chorus. The songs were catchy, topi-
cal, and sure to make you laugh. Salmon
likens their gift of song making to that
of the Mighty Sparrow of Trinidad, and
adds that 'if dey see yu out dere doin
anything funny, dem mek a song off yu
same time'. Johnson remarks that their
songs were 'always near the mark' strik-
ing the point aimed at with clarity. Each
song was also supposed to have a verse
dealing with sex, which was 'not necess-
arily linked with the story, but was put
in just the same'. Hoyte notes though,
that this was nothing new, because 'as
far back as you look in the history of
folk music in this part of the world, you
will find that there are some [sexual]
overtones'. However, he did not think
that they came anywhere near the trend
that has developed in recent years, as
they were more restrained. Wycliffe
Bennett says, "there was a certain dar-
ing in their use of subject matter but
even when they could be considered
risque, they were never at any time
Aside from the actual songs they
composed, three areas of their art made
them successful innovators who are
remembered today: their use of lan-
guage, their choice of subject matter,
and the treatment and presentation of
material in a manner with which their
audience could empathise. There was no
pretentiousness about Slim and Sam:
they were street singers. Their public
use of the Jamaican idiom made them
easily accessible to one and all. The wit
and topicality of their songs and their
skill as performersmade them an import-
ant part of the communications process
of their day. As Johnson notes, since
there was no radio in those days, they
acted as a means of dissemination of
news. 'As soon as you got off the truck
(not buses in those days) in Savanna-
la-mar, people would say "What is the
latest Slim and Sam?" '. Slim and Sam
were important social commentators,
one informant noted, in the same
manner as Louise Bennett and herpoetry.
He added that in singing in the markets
they reached out to people who would
not normally have been reached by other
Allied to this was their musical ability:
Charles Hyatt states that Slim and Sam
were a good musical pair to whom 'har-
monies seemed to come easily . .they
were as natural as bread and butter
They were also talented performers
who understood how to manipulate
an audience and their audiences were
large. Calypso Joe recalls that when
they sang at Spanish Town Road, the
'place would be jammed like a fiesta'.
Wycliffe Bennett notes the electri-
fying effect which hearing Slim and
Sam had on him:
When I heard Slim and Sam for the
first time at South Parade one Satur-
day afternoon many many years ago, I
was caught up with the magic and the
infectious laughter of the occasion.
There was certainly a two-way flow of
excitement between the performers
and the audience and I was fascinated
by their public use of the Jamaican
idiom. This made them readily access-
ible to everyone. They understood the
Jamaican mentality as well as other
great performers of the Jamaican stage.
I would certainly relate them to our
comedy tradition exemplified by Stan-
ley Morand, E.M. Cupidon, Ranny
Williams and Louise Bennett.
Slim and Sam through their influence
on others left their mark on the develop-
ing Jamaican theatre. During their time
and after, they had many imitators
though perhaps no real rivals. There
were other street singers, but none
apparently of the calibre of Slim and
Sam since these others are not remem-
bered today. Some of them undoubted-
ly capitalized on Slim and Sam's work.
One source reported that one man who
went around the island selling printed
songs and using a guitarist/singer after
Slim and Sam had faded away, sold Slim
and Sam songs as his own compositions.
Local calypso bands which started in
the postwar years after the heyday of
Slim and Sam also used to play their
compositions on the streets, but they
did not sell tracts and performed for
coins which people dropped into their
baskets. However, it is believed that in
the early days of recording, some calyp-
sonians recorded Slim and Sam songs as
Many performers who knew Slim and
Sam and who have since gone on to
carve their own niche in Jamaican theatre
acknowledge their debt to the singer-
composers, if only for the inspiration.
For instance, Calypso Joe, one of the
early calypsonians who knew them,
along with The Ticklers recorded two
Slim and Sam songs: 'Glamour Gal' and
'Don't You Fence Her In' and acknow-
ledge the duo as a source of inspiration
to them. The now famous 'Bim 'n'
Barn (Ed 'Bim' Lewis and Aston 'Bam'
Wynter) also probably owed their
genesis to Slim and Sam. It is claimed
that Slim and Sam gave Lewis a job in a
show in 1933. Lewis introduced them
to Wynter, he was hired as Lewis's
partner, and they decided to call them-
selves 'Bim 'n' Bam'.4
To this day, many of the songs of
Slim and Sam are sung by Jamaicans
who do not know that they are singing
songs written by the great minstrels. It
is a pity that none of the tracts has sur-
faced, as they would certainly reveal
many of our anonymous folk songs
which continue to give so much joy, as
being songs of Slim and Sam.
1. ORAL SOURCES:
BENNETT, Wycliffe, interviewed by
Jamaica Journal staff, June 1983.
COVERLEY, Eric, interviewed by
author February 1981.
DEPASS, Corell, interviewed by Noel
Dexter, February 1981. Depass, who
recorded two of Slim and Sam's songs,
uses Calypso Joe as his stage name.
HIBBERT, Lennie, interviewed by
author, March 1981.
HOYTE, Clyde, interviewed by author
23 April 1982.
HYATT, Charles, interviewed by author
JOHNSON, Bari, interviewed by author
21 April 1982.
LINDO, Archie, interviewed by author
12 April 1982.
SALMON, Adrian, interviewed by au-
thor, 21 April 1982. (Salmon lived at
West Street when he first met Slim and
Sam. Later he moved to Bond Street,
after Sam had moved).
SMITH, Harold Alexander ('Kid Har-
old') interviewed by author, 22 April
1982. ('Kid Harold' now in his eighties,
a veteran of the stage from the time of
silent movies, still tap dances).
THOMPSON, Juan, interviewed by
author, 18 April 1982.
WILLIS, Leopold, interviewed by Noel
Dexter, February 1981. Willis worked
with Calypso Joe's band 'The Ticklers'
who recorded two of Slim and Sam's
2. BRATHWAITE, Augustus, "The Cud-
joe Minstrels A Perspective", Jamaica
Journal, No. 43.
3. ISSA, Paul, "Edward 'Bim' Lewis has
Survived", Sunday Gleaner Magazine,
12 October 1975.
4. Bim and Bam were a comedy team
who were later joined by Clover (Hya-
cinth Clover) who married Bim, mak-
ing the threesome "Bim, Bam and
Clover". Bim and Bam are now dead
but their production company (led by
Clover) lives on.
I am particularly grateful to Noel Dexter and
to all those who gave interviews.
Slim and Sam
(Source: N. Dexter)
(Tune: "Sllde Mongoose")
1. Up a Constant Spring Road dis time
Right a numba one-sixty-nine
A gong a coolie duppy' combine
Fi stone Isaac.
Run Isaac, run fi yu life
Run Isaac, run wid yu wife
Yu gi de duppy dem food an ting,
Di more yu gi dem di more dem sing
So tek yu body from Constant Spring
An' run Isaac.
2. Isaac sen fi a obeah man2
Di obeah man come wid a shet pan
But de duppy tek i outa im han
An' beat Isaac.
3. A one-foot man come wid 12 fowl egg
Come fi bribe de duppy an beg
But de duppy tek off'im wooden leg
An beat Isaac.
Buy a Tram Car
(Source: Borl Johnson)
(Tune: "Dip and Fall Back")
The latest news today is about a
man who come from far
He came to buy a bus but he
preferred a tram car.
He saw a 'ginnal' then in a
Hope tram leaving town,
The 'ginnal' sold him the Hope
tram car for twenty-five pound.
Buy a tram car, Buy a tram car
If you have buto twenty-five pound
You can buy a tram car.
(There are other verses but these could not be
Mumma Mi Goin' A Town
(Source: N. Dexter)
"Mumma mi gain' a town
Puppa mi gain' a town
An' me no care who' Auntie Mttie she
going to say to me
Nutten can prevent me gain' back to de city.
Mumma mi going' a town
Puppa no badda beat up yu gum
Mi hear say Auntie Rose is goin' to hide
But if a naked a gain' a town."
I. One gal from the country come to de town
To spen a week wid her aunt
Before de week was done, she say, me nah
De aunt ha fi hire one motor car
Fi carry her back home one day
But as she jump outa de car, on lan eena de
Lissen to what she say:
2. As soon os me /an' an' come offa de van
Mi meet up a romance bwoy.
Mumma him sweet yu see got personality
Him got on a drape' and a coat wid a cape
An' a ha'kerchief trim wid lace
Him got on pretty socks an' a ale time
An' merriment full him face.
3. Him carry mi a Carib2 one Sunday night
De place look so nice an' sweet
Me nevva siddung good before me drop
Him carry me pon de horse weh run pan
An' swear an' tell me de trut'
Him gwine straighten me head, gimme a
double panel bed
And a four storey wedge heel boot.
1. 'drape' pants in the height of fashion
2. Cinema opened in 1936 then the most
modern in the Caribbean.
3. 'horse weh run pan train line' i.e. tram car,
then the city's public transportation system.
(Source: Barl Johnson) TUNE 2
War O, War 0, war in Europe, War 0
War 0, War 0, war in Europe, Yes we know.
I. England has got to win the war
To ra, ra, ra.
So gimme a drink and a big cigar
To ra, ra, ra.
It doesn't matter what you think
So pull the cork and gimme a drink
To rip, to rip, to ra, ra, ra.
2. Germany say that Poland is wrong
To ra, ra, ra.
And Poland say that Germany is wrong
To ra, ra, ra.
We really don't know which is which
But Hitler is a son of a .....
To rip, to rip, to ra, ra, ra.
3. Food and clothes is now so dear
To ro, ro, ra.
We soon can neither eat nor wear
To ra, ra, ra.
Mi soon a fi tek ashes mek bread
An' dress mi gal in a coolie red
To rip, to rip, to ra, ro, ra.
4. Jamaica ready to go to war
To ra, ra, ra.
We need no gas or man-o-war
To ra, ra, ra.
For we have coco macca stick'
De razor an' de half a brick
To rip, to rip, to ra, ra, ra.
1. Club made from stem or trunk of tree of the
(Source: Barl Johnson) TUNE 3
1. A went to Sandy Gully' fe go get a bite'
Dem set dung mi name an' a feel alright
De very day a start to work de man dem
2. Dem say de pay we a get is good
An' if yu complain dem say wi rude
But look pan de price we a pay fi food
3. If a had a gun a would heng myself
If a could swim a would shoot myself
If a had a rope a would drown myself
4. Mus-Mus' Mussolini yu know yu soft
Anything befall yu Hitler is de cause
Dat's de reason why we going' bus' yu heart
5. Hitler mek mi show yu a ting or two
Yu gain' lose dis war don't care what yu do
An' when yu hear de end yu gain'
6. Mi gal tackle mi one nine o'clock
.... (line not remembered) ....
Lord have mercy pan mi spinal cord
1. A war-time song, 'Sandy Gully' being one
of the schemes undertaken by the Americans
here under a 'bases for destroyers deal'
negotiated between Churchill and Roosevelt.
Sandy Gully, changed by the Americans to
'Vernamfield', was a U.S. Air Force base for
the duration of the war.
2. 'to get a bite' i.e. to seek a job.
3. 'mus-mus- mouse.
How People Rumour So
(Source: Barl Johnson) TUNE 4
How people rumour so, who mek dem
tell lie so
Dem doan tin' out how nutten go
Before dem rumour so.
1. Is some di oddo day, when Slim
was sick in bed
A woman say, she hear dem say,
A man say dot Slim dead.
2. An' dot was all it wanted
Di news spread up and down
From Kingston to Montego Bay
An' over all oroun'.
3. A man say, mi hear say Slim dead
Might be so a doan know, a doan see
dem pon de street.
4. A woman say a true soh
Slim dead on' dat's not all
For di evening' when dem bury him
I attend de funeral.
Johnny Tek Away Mi Wife
(Source: Calypso Joe) TUNE 5
After Johnny wear mi clothes
After Johnny eat mi food
After Johnny sleep in mi bed
Johnny turn roun'an' tek mi wife
Lord what a misery
Wherever I see Johnny
People, people going' to sorry to see
The grove fi Johnny on' the gallows fi mi.
(Wrftten about 1939)
4~ i I I A' II I 'g 'j I I I t I I
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At r rl
D s r-I -C
I- -V I -~n I~r-I-~~~
By Randolph Williams
(Reprinted from the Jamaica Standard,
2 June 1939)
EN YEARS ago, two young men
and a guitar appeared on the
streets of Kingston. The guitar
was slung by a cord over the broad
shoulders of the stouter of the two.
That was Sam. A wad of pink, blue,
green, and red sheets of printed paper
was in the hand of the other, a rather
thin fellow. That was Slim. And that
was the beginning of a brilliant stage
career for Slim and Sam.
They started on Spanish Town Road.
The bandit scare was then on, it gave
these two fellows ideas. Why not write
a poem on the bandits, put music to it,
have sheets printed and walk the
streets singing and selling their song?
They put their heads together. 'The
Bandits' was written and sung along
Spanish Town Road as well as other
parts of the city. The little coloured
printed sheets went like hot cakes.
It was a fine bit of work, that song:
there was feeling in the words and sad
beauty in the tune. Others followed:
'Flair Tail' about the highway robber
dressed in a woman's clothes, who
haunted Trench Pen. Then the popular
cyclist was murdered 'Teacher'
Batiste. Slim and Sam wrote a song on
that too. It was another best seller. But
these sad songs, good as they were,
did not give much scope for the talents
of Slim and Sam. It was with comedy
and folklore that they established
themselves as really gifted enter-
All Kingston went wild over them.
Everywhere they stopped, a large
crowd gathered to hear Sam strum on
the guitar and blend his rich tenor with
the mellow baritone of Slim; to listen
and howl with delight at the pungent
wit and irony expressed in every line.
Soon these fellows invaded the coun-
try towns and conquered them. Up to
then they did not consider the concert
stage as a medium for expressing their
art. But in 1931, the Edelweis Amuse-
ment Company began producing a
number of vaudeville shows, and Slim
and Sam were asked to sing one of
their happy songs on the programme.
That was a great night for the trouba-
dours at Edelweis Park; deafening
applause forced them to stop their
song for a couple of times and wait
until the crowd ceased laughing
before beginning again. Encore fol-
lowed encore until, exhausted, they
were led away by the master of cere-
monies from before the footlights.
There is a certain fascination about the
stage for those who are born to it. A
single feel of the smooth boards, the
glow of the spot-lights, the sound of
plaudits: these things linger on in the
mind of the true artist, once they have
taken place, and he remains captive of
So Slim and Sam took to the concert
hall and the concert hall took to Slim
and Sam. They have played all over the
island, giving a short and very funny
skit before singing one of their songs.
There is hardly a good concert pro-
gramme now-a-days that is without an
item or two by Slim and Sam, and I
have never seen them appear on any
stage, that they were not encored
again and again.
Their success is due to the fact that
they hold to their line with the
adhesiveness of a postage stamp. Folk-
lore is their business. All the incidents
of much interest that have happened
and are happening in Jamaica, they
record them in songs that for plain
broad humour, telling expression and
true character study, cannot be beaten
anywhere. The customs, whims, wiles
and living conditions of the masses of
the island are an open book in their
hands, as 'The Balm Yard Blues', 'Go
Tell The Chauffeur Me Naw Go Back',
'Watch You Puddin', 'Shepherd Gone',
'The Nine/Night Blues', 'The Labour
Strike', 'Madda Bulletin' and 'Salt Lane
Gal Mento', all show.
From the pavement on Spanish Town
Road these two gifted Jamaicans have
gone on to the Ward Theatre stage,
entertained at Myrtle Bank Hotel and
recently at the Institute of Jamaica
where they have been singing their
songs at different stages of the folk-
lore lectures by Mr. P. M. Sherlock, B.A.
They were in Mr. Dudley McMillan's
Big Apple with the Smiths in January
1938 and in the Yamboree at the
beginning of this year. At the third
performance of this show, His Excel-
lency, the Governor was present and
heard them sing one of their finest
numbers, 'The Depression Blues', the
following verse of which would be
enough to establish their reputation
permanently if 'Balm Yard Blues'
hadn't done that long ago.
Time is hard we can't geta thing
Poor people try to invent something,
A man was found dead in his kitchen,
Because 'im take white lime make dumplin'
What an invention 'ole 'im Joe.
How do they go to work? Sam told
me all about it. First they select a tune,
then each of them writes a number of
verses to it, they meet and pick out the
best verses. What are their plans? To
go on composing and singing their
songs, to stick to the stage in the hope
of attracting the attention of foreign
producers. I recall that Slim and Sam
did a little screen acting. That when a
film company came to Jamaica some
time ago to make Drums Of The Jungle,
they did an important bit in the
picture, also when Mr. Phillip Lord and
Mr. F. Herrick came down to make
White Sails. These two experienced
showmen expressed the opinion that
Slim and Sam would do well in "the
Well we don't keep them idle in
Jamaica. When I called on them at
their address, 44 Oxford Street, they
were busy listing their engagements
and preparing new numbers for
several concerts, the first of which will
be the Show of Shows scheduled for
next Monday night at Edelweis Park.
They showed me one of their latest
song sheets, I can't help quoting a few
lines of the 'Nine Night Blues':
An' what a people fe sing n' pray
When the food start to come their way,
One eye 'pon de book, one eye 'pon
the tray at Nine Night.
Fast little struts like these abound in the
songs of Slim and Sam, no wonder the
crowds yell for more when these
Yoruba and Kikongo Songs
By Laura Tanna
Research conducted on contemporary Jamaican oral
narrative performance in 1973 and 1974 provided
some unexpected material: the three Nago songs
whose translations and musical transcriptions are included
here.' In 1974 I knew only that the songs were in African
languages but their collection, transcription and the search
for their origins in Jamaica provide an interesting com-
mentary on how essential interdisciplinary exchanges are in
researching African literatures.
I wanted to ascertain if any narratives still existed in
African languages. Traditionally, the Maroons are regarded
as having retained more African elements of their culture
than other Jamaicans since their ancestors escaped from
slavery to live in isolated hill communities. These Africans
were first brought to Jamaica in 1517 by the Spaniards.2
After the English took over in 1655, records of slave ship-
ments during the 18th century indicate that the dominant
African ethnic groups entering Jamaica were those of the
peoples of Ghana and Nigeria, with the Akan culture pre-
dominating [Cassidy 1961; Robinson 1969].
What has been largely ignored, however, is the influx of
over 8,000 Yoruba and Central African immigrants who
came to Jamaica between 1841 and 1865 as indentured
labourers, particularly after 1844 [Schuler 1980]. In her
brilliant study, "Alas, Alas, Kongo", historian Monica Schuler
describes how in 1844 the British adopted a policy of search
and seizure of slavers at sea, many of which were ships
destined for Brazil. The liberated slaves were originally
taken to Sierra Leone and given the option of finding their
own way home, remaining in Sierra Leone, or emigrating to
the West Indies. By 1850, coercion was used to ensure that
these Africans emigrated as indentured labourers to the West
Schuler further describes the impact on Jamaica of these
post-emancipation Africans, dispelling the traditionally held
view that 'the persistence of certain African cultures . .
must be retentions from the slave period' [p. 9]. Her study
was not published until 1980 and became available to me
only after my own dissertation had been completed, but her
work corroborates and sheds further light on some of my
After 18 months of field work, I was unable to find any
narratives performed in African languages; narratives of
African origin have made the transition and are now per-
formed in Jamaican creole. But Hazel Ramsay and I did re-
cord Yoruba and Kikongo songs near the village of Abeokuta
The Nago people, as Yoruba descendants are called in
Jamaica, were one of the few enclaves of immigrants who
took pride in preserving their African culture. Olive Lewin,
Folk Music Researcher for the Institute of Jamaica in 1967
and 1968 located the community in Westmoreland and
brought its cultural treasures to the attention of other
Jamaicans. In a brief article, "An Old Man Dies ... A Book is
Lost", Miss Lewin describes her first encounter with the
people of Abeokuta (near Waterworks) in 1968. On a subse-
quent visit in 1970, Professor Fela Sowande, a Nigerian
ethnomusicologist, was able to confirm that the songs and a
few words of the Nagos were authentically Yoruba in origin.
But as Miss Lewin noted . each visit is sadder than the
last. There is always another face missing .. .' [Folkart p.2] .
By the time I was able to visit Abeokuta in 1974 with
Miss Lewin's assistant, Hazel Ramsay, the village was no
longer inhabited. Those elderly Nago still alive had left their
hilltop homes to settle with their children in Waterworks,
Ferris, or elsewhere on the flatlands. Our initial enquiries
elicited the remark that 'all de Nago people-dem dead' but
eventually we were directed to Theophilus 'Sonny' Bent,
reputedly the oldest surviving Nago in Jamaica. He was
92 years old at the time but had suffered a stroke three years
before and, as a result, his memory was impaired. All he
really remembered was that his ancestors had beaten bread-
fruit in a mortar and called it tur tum, and when they mixed
Theophilus Bent and his wife Mammy Bent taken 19 March 197
living Nago, at that time 92 years old. Both the Bents are now dead.
cornmeal with cassava it was called mussa. When asked if his
grandmother had ever told any stories about Africa, he re-
Dey not tell you everything, yu know. Dey not tell yu every-
ting. Sometimes when dey talk inna dere language dey sen yu
way. Yu have to go round house and out an catch some of de
words ... [Tanna 1980 p.30].
Another Nago, Rachel Alberta Fenton, when asked if she
knew any of the language, replied, 'None at all. Me no know.
De old people naa mek me stand within ... Me don know de
language at all.' [Tanna 1980 p.32].
The characteristic of secrecy, especially surrounding the
African languages, is shared by all the African communities
in Jamaica, including Accompong and Moore Town. Their
language was their last defence against the intrusion of alien
cultures, social structures, and laws. Some element of fear
also prompted adults to keep things to themselves until child-
ren were of an age to be trusted. Rachel Alberta Fenton
As children now we stand aside an we listen good what dem
did say. Yu cyaan face dem all when dey have dance. Every-
body face de African-dem. Dem tick to rules, man. Dem beat
yu . .When dem have dance, yu know, dey sing dese. Dey no
have de songs, dem cannot dance. Is de song cause dem to have
devigahl [Tanna 1980 p.32].
their home in Waterworks, Westmoreland, wnen ne was
Perhaps it was the association of rhythm and music with
words which preserved at least a few songs in African lan-
guages, but it is the songs which remain. Mrs. Fenton rocked
back and forth in her chair as she sang, and shook her
shoulders as if dancing sitting down. First she sang "Sho wo,
sho wo, sho wo, dele o ke ni wo ya" and then "Shayni shayni
abara shayni o". As each number ended, she raised her hands
high and shouted "ewo ewo ya" which made the children
laugh, but another performer quietly rebuked them, saying
this was their culture and they ought to be proud of it
[Tanna 1980 p.33].
The song, "Shayni Shayni", which Mrs. Fenton sang is
similar to one collected by Olive Lewin and published in her
Forty Folk Songs of Jamaica . Mrs. Fenton did not
know what the song meant and Miss Lewin was not certain
if it were in Yoruba or not, so she spelt the words as they
sounded in English. However, Mrs. Fenton's song and the one
collected by Miss Lewin appear to be shorter, creolized ver-
sions of a Yoruba song "Senu senu na bara senu ya", which
Theophilus Bent sang in a frail voice.
Aderemi Bamikunle, a Yoruba speaker from Nigeria, iden-
tified "Senu senu na bara senu ya" as a Yoruba incantation
to drive away the misfortune of death. He translated it
SENU SENU NA BARA SENU YA
ad 7 1 'P I f le 1 L -!0 V N, M r I P
Abeni must not die (must always be there)
even though raging death is coming home.
Abeni must not die (must always be there)
even though raging death is coming home.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
I say go home.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
I say go home; a huge fire opens its mouth.
Obstacle give way, I say go home, obstacle
Open mouth, open mouth give way.
I say go home.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
A huge fire opens its mouth.
Either Mr. Bent never knew the meaning of the song or
it was lost to him over the years. His pronunciation was
nonetheless surprisingly accurate. Only the sound of the
vowel in Mr. Bent's word senu ('shaynu') was slightly differ-
ent from the Yoruba senu ('shenu').
A WO RI A-EMIIFUJFUU I- KU ROIN BO WA LE
I I, r>
AWORI A BE-ff FURUTJFI -NJ ROIN
i / . ... I/ .V L,
BO WA LE qE-NU YA YA IN- A BA RA SE-NU YA SE-NU SE-NU -NA BA-RA
SENU SENU SENUI mNABAA SE-NU YA YA IN-A B -RA SE-NU A MIlMU LE
J V IN I B-V o \r/, V K ,I
i SE-NU SE-NU SE-NU 'NA BA-RA SE-NU YA YA IN-A BA-RA SE-NU-AMOWMJ LE
V L I,
SSE-NU YA YA IN-A BA-RA SE-NU YA SE-NU SE- NU NA BA-RA SE- NU
WJ, Ip P I ,
SE-NU IN-A BA- RA SE- NU YA MD-NE MU LE SE- NU YA YA IN- A BA- RA
E- NU YA
LA E -DI KO, MON- I MU- LE E- DI KO SE-NU SE-NU
J I I I V, - -
E-DI KO MON- I MU- LE SE- NU SE- NU IN- A BA- RA SE- NU
IP I N
YA SE- NU YA YA IN-A BA- RA SE- NU YA IN- A BA-RA SE-NU
+i I I --
YA YA IN- A BA-RA SE-NU YA.
Note: The dot under S indicates the 'sh' sound in Yoruba
Sung by Theophilus Bent
Collected by Hazel Ramsay
and Laura Tanna
by Vibart Seaforth
A LU-BE-MO A LU-MO A LU-BE-MO BEN-G -- BM-4 3B-GB
A LU-BE-MO A LU-BE- MO B Ui-GB
A MA SUBB-A-LA A MA SUS-A-LA A M SUNM- A LA -
,, J' f r r 1 i j'-- --
LU TA- TA LU TA- TA LU A MASUNG-A LA A- A
SUMG- A LA TA-TA LU
l M kkP I V I I a
A LU- BE- MO A LU-BE MO A LU-BE- MO BSE-GE --
4>" IIl n . I j i r
GE BEN GE A LU BE-MO A- LU -B-NO B GB
Although Mr. Bent was of Yoruba ancestry, another song
he sang, "Alubemo", is a Kikongo song. Mr. Bent knew only
that it was African. He believed that it meant: 'Come to Jesus
jus now. He will save you. He will save you jus now'. Dr. Jan
Vansina suggested that the song was Kikongo; Makasu A
M'Teba Yamiri, a Kikongo speaker from Zaire concurred and
gave this rough translation of "Alubemo":
O great source of light (radiance),
O great source of light,
O great source of light.
[We are] Calling,
O great source of light,
A great source of light,
Sung by Theophilus Bent
Collected by Hazel Ramsay
and Laura Tanna
by Vibart Seaforth
O see the trap (difficulties).
0 see the trap.
O see the trap.
O see the trap.
O see the trap,
Mr. Yamiri explained that kubema is a verb meaning 'to
shine or radiate', and kubenga a verb meaning 'to call'. He
qualified his translation by saying that even though tata
means 'father' and musunga means 'trap', he was not certain
of the forms tatalu and masungala. Nonetheless, his trans-
lation is perhaps accurate enough to establish that the song is
Kikongo and religious in nature.
"lie Baba Mi" was sung by Alfred Doman, a middle-
aged man who had learned the song from his Nago grand-
mother. Doman sang in a loud, powerful voice, and as he
sang he held a thick, heavy stick in front of him. With each
beat of the song, he pounded the earth dramatically as he
danced around the stick. His strong, vibrant baritone carried
clearly in the evening air. His performance of "lie Baba Mi"
was the climax of a community song and story session in
Waterworks. Doman himself had no idea what the words of
the song meant, but it is a Yoruba hymn. Aderemi Bami-
the fifth. In contrast, "lie Baba Mi" is much more European,
in 2/4 time, and reminded Mr. Seaforth of the Afro-Christian
Jamaican revival tunes.
Both "$enu senu na bara senu ya" and "lie Baba Mi"
are ternary, that is, the second part differs from the first,
but the third part repeats the first. However, "Alubemo", the
song in Kikongo, is a chant. The meter changes because of
the intonation of the words so that the third part does not
exactly repeat the first part since note values are shorter in
the third part.
ILE BABA MI
WV V V\ I IV
I- LE BA-BA MI 0- PA LO- KA BU-BE MN I- LE BA- BA MI
r F 01 1- -' -
I- LE BA- BA MI I LE BA- BA MI PA LO- KA BO- BIE
I LI U
I- ILE BA-BA MI LO- K -
O GO O 0 GO L-LE LU YA O- GO 0- GO
I, 0 Sung by Alfred Doman
y I V I I Collected by Hazel Ramsay
o GO WAl-LE- LU YA 0 GO 0 -GO 0 GO AL-L LU A and Laura Tanna
I "- I I by Vibart Seaforth
I LE BA -BA MI LO K
kunle gave the following translation with no hesitation:
In My Father's House
In my father's house,
There are very many rooms (sleeping places).
In my father's house,
In my father's house.
In my father's house,
There are very many rooms,
In my father's house.
Praises, praises, praises alleluya.
Praises, praises, praises alleluya.
Praises, praises, praises alleluya.
In my father's house.
Mr. Doman varied from Yoruba only in the pronunciation
of one line. 'There are very many rooms' should be QpglopQ
bugbe lo wa in Yoruba; Doman pronounces the phrase, 'Opa
loka bube wa'. In every other aspect, the Nago song is easily
understood by a modern Yoruba speaker.
When Vibart Seaforth, a tutor at the Jamaica School of
Music, musically transcribed the Nago songs, he found 'Senu
senu na bara senu ya' to be the most complicated because of
the irregularity of length of lines. The rhythm can not be
grouped in a regular European pattern of meters in 4/8 time,
for instance, but switches instead from groups of four in the
first two lines to seven in the second two and then twelve in
An effort to determine the origins of these Yoruba and
Kikongo songs in Westmoreland led me last year to Dr.
Schuler's work. I read both "Alas, Alas, Kongo" and the doc-
toral dissertation "Yerri, Yerri, Koongo" upon which the
book is based. Some of her work was done in Sierra Leone
and London, but she did spend four months of 1971 in
Jamaica where her field work included Waterworks, West-
moreland. There she recorded the lyrics of two Nago songs
which are excluded from "Alas, Alas, Kongo", but which ap-
pear in the dissertation.
The first, "lie Baba Mi" was probably recorded from the
same person, Alfred Doman, from whom Hazel Ramsay and I
recorded it since she lists him as an informant and the words
of her version are identical to the one above. She suggests
that the composer of "lie Baba Mi" was a bona-fide Yoruba
since 'Ogo, ogo, ogo alleluia' has been substituted for the
European 'Glory, glory alleluia'. She notes: 'Ogo probably
Ogu or Ogun, the god of iron is the chief deity of the city
of Ilesha in Ijesha, the Kingdom that provided a number of
Yoruba immigrants to the West Indies, including Jamaica'.
[Schuler 1977 p.219].
The other song she collected is a short fragment of "Alu-
bemo", consisting only of the words 'Amasungula Tatalu'.
Dr. Schuler repeats the 'Come to Jesus' translation given by
the Nago singer, apparently not Mr. Bent since he is not in-
cluded among her informants. She suggests that:
The Yoruba might have brought these hymns to Jamaica with
them, having le-rned them at Badagri, Lagos or Abeokuta from
Yoruba repatriates from Sierra Leone, European missionaries,
or their Sierra Leone catechists. Christian Yoruba are known
to have been captured and sold as slaves (1977 p.220].
Although she collected several Kikongo songs from Central
African settlements in the eastern parish of St. Thomas,
neither she nor her informant was aware that 'Amasungula
Tatalu' is in Kikongo and not Yoruba.
Why a Yoruba descendant should be singing in Kikongo
baffled me, and with the death of Theophilus Bent in 1981
at the age of 99, it is no longer possible to determine the
manner in which the Kikongo song entered his repertoire,
but Monica Schuler's own research provides one plausible
explanation. She writes:
A number of ships that took recaptives from the Liberated
African depot [in Sierra Leone] also contained both West
African (mostly Yoruba) and Central Africans, and again the
shipmate link worked to minimize national differences. These
voyages established a pattern of African solidarity [1977 p.
It is possible that people of different ethnic backgrounds
shared their culture with one another in their confinement in
Sierra Leone or on board ship even before they reached
Jamaica, and continued to do so in their new homes.
This is merely a footnote in thestudy of African retentions
in the Caribbean but the fact is that from the year Olive
Lewin brought the Nago community to the attention of
scholars, it took 14 years and three researchers in different
disciplines folk music, languages and literature, and history
to fit these various pieces together, illustrating how essen-
tial interdisciplinary exchanges are in researching Jamaica's
The translations of the Yoruba and Kikongo songs included
here demonstrate that African languages survive in Jamaican
oral traditions and with Dr. Schuler's historical study, greater
dimension is added to an understanding of their preservation
1. Translations and commentary on the three songs appear in
Tanna  pp. 103-7.
2. All historical references are taken from Cundall  unless
CASSIDY, Frederic G., Jamaica Talk, London: Macmillan, 1961.
CUNDALL, Frank, Chronological Outlines of Jamaica History 1492 -
1926, Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, 1927.
LEWIN, Olive, "An Old Man dies, a book is lost", Jamaican Folkart,
Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, n.d.
Forty Folk Songs of Jamaica, Washington D.C.: Organization
of American States, 1973.
ROBINSON, Carey, The Fighting Maroons of Jamaica, London:
William Collins and Sangster's, 1969.
SCHULER, Monica, "Alas, Alas, Kongo": A Social History of In-
dentured African Immigration into Jamaica, 1841 -1865
Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Press, 1980.
'Yerri, Yerri, Koongo' : A Social History of Liberated African
Immigration into Jamaica, 1841-1867", Ann Arbor: Xerox
University Microfilms, 1977.
TANNA, Laura, "The Art of Jamaican Oral Narrative Performance",
Ann Arbor: Xerox University Microfilms, 1980.
New Seville, St. Ann
OAS Site of the Americas
The National Gallery's
Jamaican Art Travels Overseas
W. Adolphe Roberts
Patriot and Man of Letters
and much more
Be sure of a copy
Subscribe Today See pp. 25-26
"QUEEN IN THE HOUSE OF MY
By Gloria Escoffery
This article is dedicated to my friend Ralph
Campbell, whose 'missing' painting set me off
on an arduous but rewarding quest.
I walked through the exhibition
rooms of the new National Gallery
trying to decide on a theme for
this article. The decision did not take
long. I soon became aware that the walls
were dominated by women; when I trod
the open spaces to circumvent the free
standing sculptures, they forced me to
walk around them warily, taking in every
curve and angle in their forms. Women
as complex individuals absorbed in look-
ing inward or as self-sufficient personal-
ities confidently observing the observer;
women as innocent or not so innocent
children, as maidens dressed or un-
dressed, as satisfied matrons andmothers,
as reminders of the old age that awaits
us all if we live long enough; women
routinely playing their part in genre
scenes or as dramatic personaein theatri-
cal encounters; as no more than their
unique but everyday selves; or raised
by diverse modes symbolic, express-
ionist or surrealist to the nth degree
of conceptual isolation as represent-
atives of womanhood; women as pros-
titutes (perhaps); 'woman' as man's
servitor or helpmate; as Eve, as Madonna,
as primitive wood nymph or African
queen. Alone or taking her place in
figure compositions, with other females,
with men, in the street, in the landscape,
still she seemed to retain her poise and
claim to serious attention.
I must record, however, a strange dis-
traction that overtook me. No sooner
had I decided on my theme than I began
to notice within myself an unease, as if
a friend with whom I had made a long
standing date had failed to turn up. The
missing body was a certain woman who
had her being (almost life size) on a
vertical canvas, painted, probably in the
late fifties, by Ralph Campbell. Why did
she now return to haunt me?
It was this experience which led me
to the conclusion that we all look at
works of art in this way. There is no
such thing as the ideal viewer whose
potentiality for receptiveness is uncloud-
ed by a clutter of preconceptions. Her-
bert Read admitted as much when he
described the process of empathy
by which, ideally, the viewer should be
taken by surprise:
All art is the development of formal
relations, and where there is form there
can be empathy. But whether, when
we look at a picture, we always 'em-
pathize' that is another question.
I began with assuming that we look at
the picture with a perfectly free mind,
but that is a rare condition as rare
as that purity of heart2which is the
condition of seeing God.
Should not these shadow images
help to contribute to our pleasure in
viewing works of art? Perhaps it is one
of the functions of a national gallery
to lead the viewer outward, beyond its
walls, to the world where the 'missing'
masterpieces and inevitably all art
lovers will think of dozens are to be
found; in commercial galleries, in col-
lector's homes or offices, in the studios
of struggling young artists. Born teacher
that I seem to be, I immediately thought
that I could perhaps help to supplement
the services of the educational branch of
the gallery staff under-financed as
one would expect in these times of eco-
nomic austerity by publishing a list of
available reproductions which the reader
could consult as a back up to my pros-
pective essay for Jamaica Journal.
Alas for the aspiring academic whose
eyes are bigger than his belly! Before I
was one-quarter of the way through my
research, I realized that, in order to pub-
lish the 'so-so' list, I would have to jetti-
son the comments. I did, however, press
on with this gargantuan task, using as
my sources of reference my now in-
valuable complete set of Jamaica
Journal, catalogues of past exhibitions
at the National Gallery, and issues of a
relatively new art publication, Arts
Jamaica, which, if it holds out against
the pressures of Philistinism, will in time
be another invaluable source of reference
material. Perhaps I shall be able to use
the fruits of my research later if ever I
find time to write a longer study. Socio-
logists in search of data for a thesis on
the importance of women in our artistic
perceptions of ourselves may meanwhile
scurry for their notebooks in order to
record the following statistics.
Number of works with explicit
'references' to women in the National
Gallery permanent collection: 57. This
excludes implicit symbolism and purely
abstract works based on feminine forms.
It also takes no cognizance of the fact
that many of the artists represented
here by works not narrowly relating to
the theme are well known for their por-
traits of women or other thematic
works which create 'shadow images' in
the mind of any viewer who is in the
habit of going around the galleries. (I
have in mind particularly, Carl Abrahams,
Ralph Campbell, George Rodney, Valerie
Bloomfield, Judy MacMillan, Christopher
Gonzalez, Carl Craig, and Tina Matkovic-
Spiro). Moreover, the moment one stops
to think about the works here present
to the senses, there spring to mind rele-
vant works by younger or older -
artists not represented in the exhibition
(for instance, members of that clamor-
ous group of women artists who have
come into prominence in the early
eighties). Some names I would mention
here, in terms of availability of illus-
trations in the sources mentioned above
are: Stanley Barnes, Judith Salmon,
Susan Shirley, Errol Lloyd, Roy Law-
rence, Philip Hart, Whitney Miller,
Stafford Schleiffer, Colmore Lewis,
Dawn Scott, Cecil Cooper, Gene Pear-
son, Nelson Cooper, Casper, Hope
Wheeler, Neville Budhai and Hylton
Nembard. Harken to me you socio-
logists; the total number of illustrations
I found in the course of my 'treasure
hunt' was something like 100 and
this does not include the resources of
retrospective show catalogues of major
artists like Edna Manley, Albert Huie
and Carl Abrahams: perhaps I should
offer to lend my complete inventory
to any reader who would promise to
look up every work of art that is men-
Now for my comments, which, be-
cause there is so much that I would like
to say and so little space in which to say
it, will have to take the form of notes
on a few of the artists represented, using
the works in the 'permanent' exhibition
as a springboard; and sneaking in as
many references as possible to works
outside the gallery.
Edna Manley (1900 -
Concepts relating to fertility, generation,
the family, growth, the relationship of
human sexuality to the organic universe,
are central to her oeuvre, so that there is
hardly a work by her hands which may
not be contemplated as tangential to
her perception of womanhood. How-
ever, in the present collection I would
invite the viewer in this context to
concentrate on five works which illus-
trate two ideas woman as an element-
al dynamic principle and force (for good
cuna manley, uneno motner. 1YIi. Cement
Fondu. 46". Private Collection (On extended
loan to the National Gallery of Jamaica).
and evil) to be reckoned with in the uni-
verse, and woman as a being who
endures and surmounts travail.
The first is exemplified by Eve (1929),
Moon (1943) and The Land (1947),
the second by The Ancestor (1978) and
Ghetto Mother (1982). The painful
journey from the pert self-containment
,of Eve to the tragic defensiveness and
defiance of the ghetto mother cannot
but recall a similar route travelled by
Michelangelo, from the St. Peter's
to the Palestrina Pieta. This does not
mean that Edna Manley possesses the
unfailing certitude of a Michelangelo in
embodying her visions; but when she
can bring the concept safely to birth
she is a very good sculptor.
The retrospective show catalogue
contains many illuminating photographs
of recent essays in the mother and child
theme. These obviously indicate pre-
occupations which culminate in the
1982 Ghetto Mother. The great challenge
tjat Edna Manley faced in Jamaica was
submitting herself to the assault on her
idealising faculty by Jamaican 'roots'
life and consciousness. For me the real
stunner reproduced in the retrospective
catalogue is the Little Theatre's Rainbow
Serpent of 1974/5 which shows how
eloquent and original the artist can be
when she faces this challenge. Someone
should attempt a study on the images of
Eve in her work; this subject alone could
occupy far more space than could be
assigned to it in a magazine article.
Albert Huie (1920- )
No artist is more fully represented in
the gallery when it comes to realistic
paintings of women. Ever meticulous
and methodical, Huie enables us to
make a tidy assessment of his oeuvre as
he plots his determined trajectory
through the years. His output seems to
divide itself into three categories: (1)
portraits of prim but seductive young
ladies who later turn into carefully
studied and rather less erotic nudes; (2)
commissioned portraits of 'interesting'
ladies; (3) large scale compositions in
Edna Manley, Eve. 1929. Mahogany. 79".
Collection: Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield,
England. (On extended loan to the National
Gallery of Jamaica).
which women take their important
place in the ritual of work or play. Early
Huie at his beguiling best is to be seen
in the newly 'rediscovered' Young girl
with pink necklace of c. 1939. Again, I
feel cheated that I have insufficient
space here to develop the theme broach-
ed above. May I refer readers to the
1979 retrospective show catalogue
where there are many reproductions,
unfortunately in black and white.
With respect to my third category, it
is interesting to move from the National
Gallery's Coconut Piece (1966) to a sur-
vey of compositions in which he seems
to be emphasizing the monumentality
of women, as in the Water Carriers of
1960; or assigning them to an esoteric
world of their own, as in the early
Baptism of 1937. This preoccupation,
or tendency to idealization reaches its
peak in 1950 with what, in the context
of Huie's oeuvre, may be described as
the 'frenzied' atmosphere of his Fantasia
of 1950. In spite of his numerous por-
traits of women, I do not invariably
find in Huie that interest in women as
individuals that one recognizes, for in-
stance, in Barrington Watson. One has
the impression that they stand a poor
chance as rivals for his attention com-
pared to his beloved trees, hills, moun-
tains and seascapes.
.u.. i. fnlUiD, uUg..lu I w1I nl rlin i...Ulia,
c.1939. Oil on hardboard. 13" x 9%'". Col-
lection: National Gallery of Jamaica.
Karl Parboosingh (1923 -1975)
'Parboo', on the other hand, though
poorly represented in the National
Gallery in this aspect of his production,
strikes one as being involved in a dyna-
mic way with women. At his most ex-
pressionist his works are indeed intensely
erotic; I am told that one visitor to the
recent exhibition of works painted
when he was in his phase of involvement
with Rastafarian modes of thought a
visitor who appeared, ironically, to be a
Rastafarian, took one look at his Voyeur
and wrote in the visitor's book the single
comment, 'Disgraceful I'
How then, do we interpret his per-
ceptions of women in two quite differ-
ent canvases in the national collection,
the Jamaican Interlude of 1958 and the
Flight into Egypt of 1974? The first
seems to me to be primarily the artistic
exercise of a young virtuoso in the pro-
cess of exploring the possibilities of his
metier. What was important to him was
the strong pattern of the whites against
the vivid greens and earth colours, not
any wish to show the dominance of
women in the composition (a repro-
duction of this is, by the way, avail-
able at the Gallery).
To understand this side of Parboo -
the professionalism which caused him to
maintain his links with international
artistic traditions is important; one
example which may be studied in colour
reproduction is his Jamaican Gothic
[published in Jamaica Journal No. 46].
How far had he moved from the world
of the American artist Grant Wood who,
for his part, had challenged European
tradition in his famous American
Gothic. Could it be that the Flight into
Egypt, in which the sex of the Virgin
Mary is wittily 'reduced' to geometric
hieroglyphics, represented a temporary
retreat from bachanalian exuberance?
This seems a reasonable hypothesis, for
in spite of his vibrant emotionalism,
Parboosingh tended to fuse life and
stylistic adventurism, ever seeking new
solutions with each successive canvas or
Barrington Watson (1931 )
Here is the paradox of an artist who has
become known as a connoisseur of the
erotic, and whose work nevertheless
strikes one as cold and clinical. (I speak
as a woman of course; men may react
differently). Barry is a first rate aca-
demician, and he has produced some un-
forgettable images of tenderness, notably
the large 1958 Mother and child [see
Jamaica Journal No. 46, where it is
reproduced in colour].
The National Gallery collection at
present on view exhibits a good example
of his sympathetic objectivity in the
Portrait of Valerie Bloomfield (1962).
Other essays in this field which may be
studied in reproduction are to be found
in recent annual exhibition catalogues:
1977, The many phases of Eve; 1978,
The Yoke; 1979, Study for Lady in
White; 1980, Mother and Child. The
year 1982 marked the emergence of a
new mythological or religious dimen-
sion; the conventional academic nude,
her head shaven, appears in a somewhat
grotesque parody of herself as The
Magdalene. Meanwhile there is another
facet in the artist's oeuvre which has a
parallel development; this is the pre-
occupation with women as components
of dynamic figure compositions. Two
examples of this exercise are: the Con-
versation [ 1979 catalogue], Prayer Meet-
ing [Royal Bank Collection show of
The two poles of frenzy and restraint
in the handling of the traditionally
'feminine' rituals of pocomania could
provide material for an interesting study
on individual artistic temperament and
style. Here I can only call attention to
the two examples in the National
Gallery of a long line of essays on this
theme by an artist very different from
Watson, David Pottinger. The 1981
"Theme and Variations" exhibition,
incidentally, featured the Pottinger
Pocomania series along with Watson's
variations on the Visions of Venus.
Seya Parboosingh (1925 )
Barry Watson has had many disciples
in the line of portraiture, but one artist
who is as far as possible from his mode
of viewing life is Seya Parboosingh. All
her paintings project a very private, inner
vision of feminine experience, sometimes
in my opinion a bit too hung up on
childish days and ways, but at its
strongest revealing by its inner tensions
that life is not all sweetness and light.
Her Girl at the National Gallery calls up
shadow images of earlier works avail-
able in reproduction: Sisters and Green
Lady [in colour reproduction in Jamaica
Journal 7: 1,2]; the 1976 Mother and
Child, [in colour'on the cover of Arts
Jamaica 1:2]. Also The Young Mother
(1978 "Mother and Child" show at
This may be a good moment to
throw out what I hope will be a few
thought provoking ideas on the works
of our women artists.
23%" x 15%". Collection: National Gallery of
Judy Macmillan (1945 )
Represented in the Gallery by a male
portrait, New Breed, she seems to me
to be at her best when painting male
models. Such relatively early works as
her Face Man and Sleeping Boy
[Jamaica Journal 7: 1,2], cast stronger
shadows than her studies of women, in
which the symbolic titles sometimes
seem meaningless witness her Sun
Goddess 1972, [Jamaica Journal 6:2]
and Day Dream, [Jamaica Journal 7:41,
Why do women feel this need to
'make a statement' in conceptual terms?
One of my favourites in the current
crop of women artists, Susan Shirley, is
on top of form with her piercingly real
delineation of houses and their environ-
ment; one can hardly believe that the
same clear visioned person produces
such (to me) vapid works as her Wood
Nymphs [National Exhibition catalogue
for 1980] and Morning Star [Festival
Samere Tansley (1944 -
Another artist of this group, represented
in the national collection by herAncient
Memories, is one woman who manages,
by sheer doggedness and consistency of
vision, to carry off the symbolic content
in her very realistic paintings of women.
She is for convenience hung among the
artists tending towards surrealism, but
her dreams are anything but wayward
samere Iansley, Ancient Memories. Acrylic
on canvas. 20" x 30". Collection: The Artist.
(On extended loan to the National Gallery of
wisps of dreams; there she sits like a
spider in a web, methodically, year by
year, spinning a feminist nature myth-
ology of her own. In 1978 she produces
The Creatrix. This is followed by The
Healing of Opposites in 1979. In 1981
she backtracks a little to produce a self
searching self portrait, and this is follow-
ed in 1982 by her Tree Spirit. How old
fashioned and dull this might be, and
yet it isn't, because of her technique
Tina Matkovic-Spiro (1943 -
This artist is more of an intellectual, or
should I say a person preoccupied with
impersonal metaphysical images, than
Samere Tansley, but every bit as much a
spokes-person (!) for the view that
women are at the very heart of the
created universe. Her Messenger in the
national collection (1982-83) is to be
seen as integral to her meditations on
the shell Venus theme. The reader may
refer to the Helix Triptych and Vision
of Venus IVreproduced, unfortunately
not in colour, in the 1981 annual national
Susan Alexander (1929 -
Often associated with her ambitious
compositions recording the repertoire
and individuals of the NDTC, Susan
Alexander is no mythologiser or mystic,
but a most competent draughts person(!)
- in the tradition of Barry Watson.
Mythology attracts her, however: wit-
ness the series of portraits she exhibited
in the mid-seventies of well known
Jamaican ladies of the art world as
embodiments of the nine muses. For her
work in the theatrical vein, readers may
look at the illustrations given in the
catalogue of the 1983 "Art and Dance"
exhibition, in which Myal is shown,
along with her study of two figures in
The King Must Die. Personally I find
those works in which she weaves a
hectic web of moving figures (as in the
Royal Bank collection New Day Festival)
far less genuinely poetic than her studies
of single figures. In the National Gallery
West End Weekend she is shown at her
professional and lyrical best, achieving
a harmonious design by means of subtly
placed lozenges of colour [See p.11].
Now here we are back in the male world
with an artist who, in the Jamaican art
scene, represents the surrealist vision par
excellence. It would seem almost an act
of lese-majeste to attempt a resume of
Garland's pilgrimage, as he explores the
subtlety of women or at least the
subtlety of his personal perceptions
about them. The National Gallery offers
two complementary samples of stylistic
evolution in his oeuvre. One is the classi-
cal, Picassoesque Portrait of a Woman
painted in 1968; the other a full blown
surrealist see-through Profile of 1978
(This appears on the cover of the latest
issue of Arts Jamaica). Woman, in the
person of a befrilled, perplexed looking
little black girl seated in the midst of
a garden which has less in common with
the vision of Bosch than with the bed-
lam images of the 19th century English
fantasist Richard Dadd, also occupies
the centre of his composition Fairy-
scape, painted in 1974/5. Does Colin
Garland adore, hate, resent, women?
Colin Garland Portrait of a Woman. c. 1968.
Oil on canvas. 13%" x 10%". Private Col-
lection. (On extended loan to the National
Gallery of Jamaica).
These are questions for the psychologist.
One thing for sure is that he is no mad
Dadd. His enchanting series of Priestesses
in the "Theme and Variations" show
conveys a sense of superb professional-
ism in the creation of elegant and
Available illustrations of Garland's
work include: Medal for Auntie and
Eventide; [Jamaica Journal 8:2,3];
works reproduced in National Gallery
catalogues between 1977 and 1983:
Big People and Little People [colour
cover of Royal Bank collection show],
Penelope, High Priestess, Flora, In the
Beautiful Caribbean, Conundrum,
Woman with Cards, Girl 1 and Girl 2
(diptych), Two Priestesses.
Turning to Osmond Watson, it is some-
thing of a relief to touch real Jamaican
'dutty' once more. Not that this artist
shies away from the potentiality for
jewel-like richness offered by the Euro-
pean Christian art tradition; when he
wishes he can produce as glowing an
icon as any traditionalist witness his
Rainbow Triptych of 1978. But to me
the essential Osmond Watson is to be
found in works in which he grapples
with the gut need to say something
about the strength and pathos of
women at the base of our society. Thus
his moving canvas The Lawd is My
Shepherd and the cedar carving Who
Shall I turn To? in the National Gallery
Disdain for classical (not expression-
ist) European canons of beauty extends
to his commissioned religious works. I
imagine that conventional church goers
were at first rather taken aback by his
1982 carving of the Madonna and Child,
created for the Kingston Parish Church.
[See Arts Jamaica 1:2]. Religious feel-
ing is not incompatible with the use of
motifs possessing an almost plebeian
degree of obviousness as symbols, such
as the rose on the skirt of Mary, in the
1971 Madonna of Stony Gut repro-
duced in Jamaica Journal 5:2,3].
Osmond Watson's vision, combining
an intense expressiveness with easily
accessible symbolism, is really extra-
ordinarily appropriate for devotional
images intended to communicate direct-
ly with the Jamaican public. How truly
Jamaican is his 1982 Madonna and
Child ["Some Mother and Child Images
in Jamaican Art"]. There is a great
refinement and subtlety however, in his
paintings: in his canvas The Fullness of
Love [1982 National Art Exhibition]
symbolism and heightened naturalism
are magnificently combined.
George Rodney (1936 )
Few people will associate this painter of
ethereal landscape abstractions with a
preoccupation with women. Yet they
are evidently there, in the forefront of
his consciousness, helping to define the
spaces opened up to the viewer. Often
studied with loving attention, women
appear to signify a domestic anchor in
Rodney's landscape compositions, with-
out which the open spaces would lose
the sense of relationship to human scale.
These ideas may be tested by perusal of
the following reproductions: Adrienne's
Dream [cover illustration in colour
Jamaica Journal 7: 1,2]; also Shirley, a
straightforward, classical portrait which
invites an interesting comparison with
Whitney Miller's Meditation; two
charcoal drawings of female nudes
[1981 National Gallery catalogue];
Higglers [1979 National Gallery cata-
logue]; Standing Nude with Goblet
Some unfamiliar with Jamaican art
might come away from the National
Gallery with the impression that Carl
Abrahams's world is one in which the
feminine and tender side of life are
rather rigidly excluded witness his
ruggedly masculine Grand Finale of the
Tea Party (1959), his Last Supper
(1955) and even those mild and lyrical
pieces in which Christ the boy is shown
in the first acts of His manly role outside
the home (Boy in the Temple and
Woman Must I Not Be About My Father's
But those who are familiar with this
artist's prodigious output will know that
he has often wrestled with his percep-
tions of women, showing them in a vari-
ety of relations to men, as the centre of
murderous episodes in which the most
horrifying violence is depicted; as grand
and monumental Earth Mother figures,
as vampires and seductresses, generally
in some mythical guise; as celebrants in
religious rites; as interesting individual
human beings; perhaps with some
emphasis on racial features.
I hope that the recently published
book on Carl Abrahams by Nora Strud-
wick, which I have not yet seen, will in-
clude illustrations by which readers may
pursue these hints for further reflection.
My search through the sources identi-
fied above are barely enough to whet
the appetite; See Carl Abrahams Retro-
spective catalogue (1975) for: Portrait
of a Chinese Girl (1954); Five Nudes
(1956); Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelu-
jah (c. 1965); also Arts Jamaica 1:3
cover illustration (colour) details of
Angels at the Birth of Christ; (Am I too-
presumptuous in assigning feminine
gender to these celestial Beings?); same
publication: Grief of Mary.
Christopher Gonzalez (1943 )
His ciment fondu sculpture Mystic
Creation (1977) at the National Gallery
is a puzzling work far more so than
the controversial Marley statue (which,
at the time of writing, I have seen only
in press photographs). *n the context of
my chosen theme I would have to ask
readers to look beyond the existing
'permanent' collection in order to get
the essence of this artist's vision of
womanhood. The entire trend of his
symbolism is directed towards express-
sing the strong affinity he feels with the
culture of Africa, and one can under-
stand his frustration and disappoint-
ment at the mass rejection of his con-
ceptualized Bob Marley. I see no point
in entering into the current debate, on
which just about every possible angle
has been brought forward for discussion.
It might be illuminating for readers who
are aware of the fracas but don't really
know Gonzalez's work to look up the
following illustrations: African Woman
and Tree of Life [Jamaica Journal 7:
4]; Medicine Dance [National Gallery
annual show 1978]; Fertility [National
I might add that the projection of
African ideals of feminine beauty has
motivated many of our artists, one of
the most outstanding being the sculptor-
potter Gene Pearson. His Nanny and
Veger of the 1981 annual show had a
strikingly beautiful follow up in the far
more satisfying Black Beauty of 1982.
David Boxer (1946 )
The challenge offered to the classical
ideal of beauty as represented by the
three graces, and of course the goddess
Venus, has been a recurrent theme in
Jamaican painting as well as sculpture.
David Boxer enters this arena with his
Three Graces (National Gallery), which
shatters the ideal of three graceful ladies
arranged in classical counterpoint. It
gives us instead a frightening vision of
thick-waisted, hefty-buttocked buffeting
viragos bent on mutual extinction. (I
myself had ventured to give a feminine
vision of the impact of the three graces
on modern Jamaica in a poster-like ver-
sion of The Three Graces painted in
1970 [Jamaica Journal5:1] .) But Boxer's
style is one of controlled expressionism.
Always aware of the myth behind the
natural world, he has given us many
interesting perceptions of femininity,
but none, to my mind, quite as beauti-
ful as his Aurora, in the Royal Bank
Collection, reproduced in the catalogue
of the "Collections" series show of
1981 but, unfortunately, not in colour.
In reconstructing the religious works of
the great masters he does not always
emphasize the ugliness of strife, though
some sort of sacrilege is usually implied.
Giovanni Bellini's concept of the Pieth
takes on a new dimension in the Boxer
collage reinterpretation of 1978 [Arts
Space is running out and I am aware
of the tremendous gaps in this intro-
duction to the theme of women in the
national collection. I have not even
touched on the varied concepts of
women in the works of the Intuitives.
Before closing, I might add a few mis-
cellaneous comments which occurred to
me as I walked through the gallery.
Diamond Wedding by John Dunkley
(c.1940) [Illustrated in Jamaica Journal
Vol. 2 No. 3]: which of the two will
win or lose by being the first to die?
Shadow pictures in the mind: (1) Milton
George's The Bride and Forever Woman
[National Gallery catalogue 1982] (2)
Orville Taylor's Grammada [National
Accompong Madonna by Namba
Roy (1958) [See p.34 this issue] .Surely
this is more truly African in feeling than
many a work which purports to be so:
complementary 'pagan' images -
Osmond Watson's Ogun, God of War
Portrait of Rhoda Jackson by Rich-
mond Barthe, Where are you going?
by Vernon Tong (1950); Head of a
Woman by Dorothy Payne (1953);
Old Wall Kingston by Robert Sawyers
(1961). They may not know where they
are going, but there's no question that
sooner or later they will make it their
business to get there.
*See p. 21 this issue, Ed.
GLORIA ESCOFFERY, O.D., is artist, poet,
journalist and head of the English Department
at Browns Town Community College.
1. The title is taken from a poem by Mervyn
Morris titled "Sunday Coronation".
2. Herbert Read, The Meaning of Art;
London: Faber and Faber.
By Patrick Bryan
Gad Heuman, Between Black and White:
Race, Politics and the Free Coloreds in
Jamaica, 1792-1865. Westport, Connecticut:
Greenwood Press, 1981.
A study of slave society can only
be complete when the position,
role and political action of the
free coloureds (or mulattoes, or browns)
within that society are assessed. Gad
Heuman in a thoroughly researched,
meticulously written book sets out to
do just that with respect to the mulat-
toes or browns of Jamaica.
He does not challenge the general
assumption often made about the mul-
atto population that they were in mate-
rial and social terms generally better off
than blacks. What he does do is empha-
size that apart from a tiny fraction of
very wealthy mulattoes who were co-
opted into white society through the
sale of exemptions from civil dis-
abilities, the overwhelming majority
of mulattoes, at the end of the 18th
century anyhow, were the victims of
conscious, widespread and unremitting
civil and legal disabilities, in spite of (or
because of) their expanding numbers
and wealth. The wholesale adoption of
white values by the brown population
was no guarantee for the removal of dis-
abilities for whites who stubbornly
controlled the reins of colonial power
were inclined to believe that any con-
cession of rights to mulattoes would
weaken their own hold upon Jamaican
society. In this respect, the whites treat-
ed the mulattoes on roughly the same
footing as Jews.
The experience of Haiti where the
white plantocracy had been swept from
power, strengthened white plantocratic
resistance to the concession of political
rights to mulattoes. To reinforce their
position, the whites persecuted the
French emigres Lecesne and Escoffety
whom they alleged had been involved in
various nefarious schemes and plots to
overthrow the white establishment, and
probably in association with blacks.
The experience of Haiti was the spectre
invoked to ensure that 'civilization'
would disappear if subordinate racial
categories were not kept in their place.
Heuman's account for Jamaica coincides
entirely with what had transpired and
was transpiring in Cuba and Venezuela.
Heuman points out that the decision
to come to an accommodation with the
mulattoes did not arise from a change of
heart, but rather from the pragmatic
issue of survival. The precarious position
of the planters, becoming evident in the
economic sense from the 1820s, arising
out of the abolition of the slave trade,
the decline in their fortunes, and the
prospect of abolition, led the whites to
assume that a marriage of convenience
with the mulattoes was crucial, namely,
the concession of civil and political
rights (1830) in exchange for political
support in the struggle against the
abolitionists. Heuman argues that the
concessions were too little and too late,
since the long tradition of antagonism
towards mulattoes had served to weld
the latter into a unified, independent
political force. Thus the mulattoes, far
from supporting the planters on the
abolition issue, supported the abolition-
ists, partly on the grounds that free
labour was more economical than slave
labour. The lowering of the franchise
and the concession of civil liberties
facilitated the social mobility of mulat-
toes, but they continued to oppose the
planters on questions of immigration
However, mulatto unity did not last,
and the marriage of convenience ended
in divorce. Heuman very carefully
points out that the mulattoes never
challenged the planters on economic
grounds. Sugar, for them, remained
King. But they were prone to be obsessed
with the maintenance of the privileges
which they had gained during the years,
and would not risk losing their consti-
tutional privileges by challenging the
white plantocrats vociferously on
the social question. Such especially was
the position of Edward Jordan. On the
other hand, a liberal wing of the mulat-
to establishment, of which George
William Gordon was one of the spokes-
men, was inclined more and more to
demand serious consideration of the
social problems of the ex-slaves. The
important point is that the mulatto
position had ceased to be unified. The
action of conservative mulattoes such as
Jordan cannot be used to judge the
orientation of all mulattoes. But Heu-
man seem essentially sympathetic to
the mulatto conservatives who acted
pragmatically, within the realm of
It is clear from Heuman's study that
mulattoes were able to influence the
black vote in elections which, as in con-
temporary Jamaica, were marked by
violence, intimidation, ruffianism, and
bribery. Freeholders, even in a diminish-
ed voting population, exercised some
influence on the outcome of elections.
The cautious mulattoes were them-
selves determined that black influence
on voting patterns and decision-making
should take place gradually and only
gradually. This was to forestall any
move on the part of planters to lock
down the Assembly and seek direct
rule from Britain, the better to rein-
state their control over all decision-
making. By the 1860s, it was becom-
ing clear that the browns had polarized
along two lines one preoccupied with
economic and administrative reorgani-
zation of the colony, the other becom-
ing more concerned with the social
The Morant Bay 'Rebellion' and Paul
Bogle's recommendation that blacks
'cleave to the black' with all the fears
that that invoked in respect of wide-
spread black protests, strengthened the
view of the whites that placing them-
selves under direct Crown Colony rule
was the wisest course for them. In this
orientation they were much supported
by Governor Edward John Eyre, who
was himself singularly disinclined to
address the social problems of the
island. In 1865 the House of Assembly
voted itself out of existence.
Certain general views with respect
to mulatto populations have been
emerging. First, there is the view that in
material and social terms they were
generally better off than blacks. Second,
as a subordinate category of the popu-
lation they were more apt to receive
civil rights and political and legal rights
than blacks though they too suffered
severe civil disabilities. Third, as a sec-
tion of the population which shared
property and slaveholding with the
whites, their tendency was to endeavour
to associate more closely wherever
possible with the white society. Fourth,
the mulattoes for reasons partly to do
with economic competition and partly
to do with uncertainty as to where they
stood in respect of the black popu-
lation, were as a group highly distrusted
Heuman's work does not challenge
these assumptions in any fundamental
sense. What his study succeeds in doing
is to examine the mulatto community
in relation to changing political and eco-
nomic circumstances, and to give a care-
ful analysis of the mulatto reaction
which was not always unified, and
which was conditioned by a variety of
factors some racial, some constitution-
al. They were influenced by their strong
loyalty to the British Crown, and
obviously by conditions pertaining
to their own security with respect to
the black (slave and ex-slave) popu-
Patrick Bryan is a lecturer in the Depart-
ment of History, University of the West
Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
By lan Smith
Dennis Scott, Dreadwalk, London: New
Beacon Books, 1982. 46 pp.
he three broad themes in Dread-
walk are: the artist and the
creative act, the viccissitudes of
love, and social and political concerns.
Underlying these, one senses a vision
that proves to be impatient with static
and surface realities and sees experience
as dynamic process.
Not surprisingly, it is the styles of
this poet which command our attention.
There is the use of symbols, a favourite
device of Scott: birds, stones, cracks,
darkness, caves and thread, all of which
relate to the danger of challenging
accepted norms or 'ordinariness' in what-
ever context. Folk myth informs the
symbolism of 'Stepping on the cracks':
"Don't break the lines, that is/death".
Yet there are some "whose roots among
us/embroider the hard street" like the
poet actively engaged in an often in-
Conceits of a metaphysical manner
are in evidence, as in "Hunt" where a
peculiar love relationship is evoked
via the image of someone threading a
needle. The lyrical "Moonfish" is stylis-
tically memorable for its bold and ef-
fective use of heroic couplets in treating
the traditional theme of love, but a love
which demands more than "Civilities":
"I lack the sea of you".
One must emphasize the importance
of the surrealist mode of perception in
this collection, one which, imagistically
and symbolically, distorts the normal
mode, but which finally seeks to examine
the inner or psychic dimension of real-
ity. "Nightwalk" and "Dreamcut" are
significant examples, the latter creating
mythical images of man's common heri-
tage, though specifically localized: "I
will make poems like people/ . like
dreams carved black in the head's cave".
Both poems demonstrate that concern
for the discovery and definition of self
which is the underpinning idea of the
In the poems of social and political
concern we find equally interesting
technical essais, yet the overall effect
in some of these is the most moving
and successful. "Apocalypse dub"
appears to fuse the Biblical myth of the
four horsemen of the Apocalypse with
the classical myth of the Fates. Here
the horsemen, socially recognizable
types on motorcycles, symbolize po-
verty, disease and death who "cruise
on the corner/giggling", the destroyers
of the poor. It is important to remember
that the Apocalypse also involves the
institution of righteousness, and by ex-
tension, implies the eventual salvation
from social death.
"Mouth", again in the surrealist
mode, presents us with a portrait:
Here is a painting of the poor.
something to feed four.
The deliberate ambiguity of the 'boiling'
underscores the anger of the woman.
There is a dislocation of space as it
happens that in the pot is a real 'gentle-
man', 'the suburban pooler', the social
foil of the woman. The social tensions
and political implications reach a cli-
max, delivered deftly with dramatic
He doesn't know
The spoon will soon come down.
"Dreadwalk", the title-poem, presents
the meeting of the persona with a 'dread'
who 'came walking'. At the end of the
encounter, the persona learns to sing
like the dread, and the poem ends, "I
am walking", suggesting the comple-
tion of the process. The stylistic coup is
to be seen in the interplay of standard
Jamaican and the Rasta idiom, where
the initial ambiguity concerning "I"
is resolved when the "I" persona be-
comes one in sensibility and aware-
ness with the "I" dread; formal features
dramatize the theme exactly. From the
perspective of the poet, "I am walking"
signals a conscious engagement in the
social and political situation.
As title-poem, "Dreadwalk" does not
indicate for Scott a shift in the linguis-
tic preference to Creole, and "More
poem", itself utilizing Creole and
Rasta structures, reinforces what we
already know about Scott: he feels the
poet has the right to use all traditions.
The effect is that his poetry crosses
local boundaries and addresses itself
to a wider humanity.
Man must chant as Man can
lan Smith is a lecturer in the Department
of English, University of the West
Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
the Natives of
A Review of Erna Brodber, Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home.
London: New Beacon, 1980.
By Evelyn O' Callaghan
he theme of growing up in a West Indian society
with the cumulative effects of this society on the
maturing individual, recurs in modern Caribbean
fiction, but chiefly from the male viewpoint. Erna Brod-
ber's Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home is one of the
few novels written by women since 1970 that discusses this
theme from the viewpoint of a female protagonist.
Yet this novel seems to me to bear less resemblance to its
West Indian forbears in its structure and use of language,
than to the methods employed by Joyce in A Portrait of
the Artist as a Young Man, with its shifting impressions,
detailed treatment of certain experiences, lack of regard
for chronological time in the narrative, and the use of
different stylistic registers to indicate the different stages in
the individual's development. The Portrait describes the
growth of the creative sensibility, involving a renunciation of
the confusing traps of religion and nationalism by the matur-
ing artist; Jane and Louisa deals with the growth of self-
awareness out of fragmentation and collapse, involving the
acknowledgement and acceptance of personal and cultural
While I do not intend to discuss here parallels and similari-
ties between the two works, it is important to realize that
they share a certain number of structural and linguistic
techniques because both deal in a very intense way with
the struggles of a growing individual to define him/herself
despite the models imposed by a post-colonial society.
Structurally, Jane and Louisa charts the progress of a
fragmented personality through a process of historical re-
construction to a tentative wholeness. In this sense the
novel is a therapeutic exercise, a case-study of sorts,
with the therapeutic tool being the process of 'going back'
to the past. Erna Brodber [interviewed by E. O'Callaghan,
1982] explains that the initial purpose of the novel was
indeed to serve as a case study of the dissociative person-
ality for her social work students. The notion of dissocia-
tion, she clarifies, encompasses the idea of a once-integrated
personality fragmented through a traumatic experience, or a
series of experiences. The dissociated personality is unable to
connect all the aspects of the past, or to connect past with
present 'the bits are scattered'. Dissociation is part of
several syndromes of mental illness, and the patient is usually
treated in psychoanalytic therapy, which involves a regression
into the personal past (often under hypnosis) and a re-
experiencing of certain disconnected past experiences.
'Voices', and indeed all of the first section of the novel,
is constructed out of snippets of experience and conversations
taken from childhood, barely comprehensible here but ex-
plained and developed later in the narrative, as the healing
process of reconstruction gets underway. Importantly, the
second section, 'To Waltz With You', takes the form of a
more ordered, chronologically accurate narrative, since 'the
parts of the patient are coming together' through the pain-
ful task of re-living the traumatic events leading up to psychic
collapse, and slowly integrating them into a true picture of
The next two sections of the novel return again to the dis-
connected fragments of the past, the still-life lantern slides
presented earlier, elaborating and drawing them together into
a coherent family history. As the process of rediscovery
begins to involve connection, Aunt Alice (an important
therapist for the central character, Nellie) looks forward to
the coherent linking of slides into a whole, progressive
'moving camera' film. In one of the final episodes of the
novel, 'The Moving Camera', the film is allowed to run
smoothly, unedited, recounting the family history that has
produced Nellie. This is the final stage of reintegration, for,
as Brodber puts it,
if someone is going to give you the moving picture, they are
going to give you the whole of your past and you are just
going to have to look at it and deal with it. By the end, it is a
complete picture when the patient has been able to cope
and has been able to see that something has to happen, and a
new life has to be forged out of the past.
Since so much of the novel is concerned with the redis-
covery of Nellie's family history, the implication is that the
history of the community is as important for the individual
as her personal history, since the protagonist must come to
terms with the ways in which the values and models offered
by that community, and its ancestors, have shaped her.
Therefore a strong sense of community is vital to the novel,
and one of the ways of achieving this is through the shared
usage of several registers of Jamaican creole, primarily in
But representing a speech community in the novel involves
more than an artistic representation of its syntax and vocabul-
ary. The ways language is used reflect wider social impli-
cations: certain attitudes and orientations towards the world
inform and reveal themselves in patterns of speech. For ex-
ample, Roger Mais [in "WhattheJamaican tells us of Himself"
undated ms.] describes certain facets of the Jamaican per-
sonality which are shown in habitual sociolinguistic patterns:
His love of big words and ostentation, his love of dress, his bibli-
cal allusions and flowery speech, are all in keeping with one
who has been for so many generations, through one reason or
another, deprived of adequate means of expressing himself.
When the novelist uses one or more of these socio-linguistic
patterns in his creative writing, he does so to help reveal
certain underlying cultural features which explain a parti-
cular character or structure a certain internal relationship.
One such creole speech pattern important in Jane and
Louisa is that of 'code-switching', and an understanding of
this practice yields deeper insights about the community
represented, as well as the dilemma of the central character.
Some linguists maintain that the language situation which
exists in Jamaica can be best described as bilingualism, with
Jamaican creole discrete from Jamaican English, and all
utterances falling between these two ideals can be shown
to be the result of code switching. Others prefer the model
of a language continuum ranging from acrolect (Jamaican
English) to basilect (broad creole), with intermediate (meso-
lect) registers in between, and speakers code-shifting along
the spectrum according to their linguistic range.
Whichever model is preferable is not in question here.
It is agreed, however, that within such a system of language
variation a person's ability to code-switch, his linguistic
capacity, is dependent on social factors.
While all languages have different styles for certain social
occasions (public speaking, lovers' talk, addressing children),
the creole has different lects which, at the polar extremes,
are genetically distinct; for example, acrolect 'I am singing'
is genetically different from either mesolect 'mi singin' or
basilect 'mi da sing', and each would be used in different
social situations or for different purposes.
Code-switching within the continuum is a matter of per-
formance, of behavioral realization, since one's speech is
often an important indication of membership in a certain
ethnic, occupational, age or peer group, of one's class or
level of education. So shifting from one lect to another
implies shifting social positions. Thus Nellie, in the bosom
of her rural family, uses a mesolectal variety of creole nearer
to the basilect:
But is not me one frighten. Everybody else frighten too and
they quiet, quiet, when my father stop talking. (p.14)
But Nellie, the grown up and 'citified' schoolgirl, speaking to
her middle-class Aunt Becca (with whom she is on less in-
timate terms), switches to a more acrolectal register:
But I am sixteen, a prefect at school and a patrol leader. You
let me go on hikes. You let me go to evensong and speech
festival by myself at night. I don't understand. (p.16)
Speakers cannot then be stereotyped by style-choice since,
especially in an urban situation, verbal adaptability has be-
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come a necessary skill wilti increased social mobility and ex-
posure to different social groups increasing the linguistic
range of any one speaker. There is a great deal of language
interaction and overlap in the creole continuum, and code-
switching involves the assumption of a range of social markers
that indicate the role or class or identity the speaker wishes
to be identified with. In Jane and Louisa, speech is an in-
tegral part of the central kumbla/camouflage theme Tia
teaches her 'khaki' children to assume the lect of a certain
class in order to disguise their origins, in order to succeed:
You musn't say bway, you must say bai. Talk like your
This idea of assumption of identity through an assumption
of a particular speech style is in turn related to the West
Indian penchant for role-playing, a skill explored in novels
like Mais's Brother Man (1954), where playing parts is a
necessity in the dog-eat-dog world of the urban slum, and
verbal adaptability is at a premium. The ability of a character
like Papacita to switch roles in different situations, is the
ability to escape from dangerous corners by suiting his
speech and behaviour to the situation at hand.
Similarly, in the Anancy tale in Jane and Louisa (pp.123-
130), Anancy's verbal fluency is his only means of escaping
from Dryhead's kingdom. He assumes the role of a humble,
broken man who has no option but to hand over his beloved
children to the tyrant:
I broke, I los', I bow to you. You is King. I just can't make it,
can't make it at all. I bring the children them. All of them -
His rhetorical skill enables him to throw Dryhead off the
scent of his actual crime, poaching the fishy smell in his
boat is only the result of the heart-broken children over-
turning it in a vain attempt to stop their father. And, verbally
gifted as he is, he is quick to seize on and manipulate the ver-
bal weaknesses of others Firefly's inability to distinguish
linguistically between singular and plural means that he is
confused visually also, as to whether Anancy has brought
one child or many. This leads on to his master-stroke: the
double meaning behind his public vilification of his child/
children, 'Go eena kumbla'.
To Dryhead and his court, this was a bad word that only a man
so torn with grief could utter to his child. To Tacuma, it meant:
find yourself a camouflage and get back into the Store house.
Purely by playing a certain role and by linguistic skill,
Anancy manages to erect a deceptive facade for his captors,
and then escapes through it.
Code-switching, role-playing, the assumption of a camou-
flage or kumbla, are essential means of survival for Nellie
also. In the novel, several models of the role of woman are
held up to her: which is she to assume? There is Tia Maria,
black great-grandmother, who writes herself out of the
family history, who 'did everything to annihilate herself ...
her skin, her dress, her smell', who retreats into her kumbla
of self-effacement so as to ensure her children will succeed
as whites. There is Aunt Alice, who has taken the camou-
flage of madness, who does this as Brodber explains, because
'she cannot cope with the whole process of existing as a wo-
man so she just withdraws into dumbness'.
Then there is Aunt Becca, brown, educated, religious, who
has assumed the face of middle-class respectability only at
the terrible price of aborting her illegitimate child. And there
are the mysterious cousins, B. Teena and Letitia, fallen
women who 'had simply dropped U-roy and Locksley and
Obadiah and vanished into the crowd' (p.143). To Nellie,
they represent the power of 'it', of female sexuality, as well
as the negative conception of the womb as scrap-heap, a
casual container for unwanted and unplanned children.
Brodber explains that
the womb has the capacity that people can just fling some-
thing up there that they don't intend to retrieve . .which is
what you do with a scrap-heap.
The antithesis of this identification of womanhood
with sexual reproduction is the model of the 'cracked doll',
the dry intellectual woman involved in meetings to 'improve'
the working class, taking minutes and listening to carefully
rehearsed arguments. Like all the other models, this role
necessitates a denial of some aspects of femaleness in order
to emphasize others, these being worn as a camouflage.
But which camouflage is Nellie to assume, which role of
womanhood is she to emulate? And inevitably, what happens
to Nellie herself, hidden behind the role, within the kumbla?
For, as the novel explicitly states,
the trouble with the kumbia is the getting out of the kumbla.
It is a protective device. If you dwell too long in it, it makes
you delicate. (p.130)
Constant camouflage, constant attempts to play the right
role, to speak the right language, have fractured Nellie's
sense of wholeness and fragmented her personality. As
Rhonda Cobham puts it in her review of the novel [Race
Today, 14: 1, 1981-2] ,
Nellie's own kumbla of sexual inhibition and social exclusivity,
which has ensured intellectual achievement and social position,
is now seen as yet another immunising device that offers secur-
ity, but ultimately maims whole areas of the personality, per-
petuating the cycle of oppression/escape/alienation that first
made such kumblas necessary.
As the novel re-examines Nellie's past, the forces which went
into the making of this kumbla become apparent.
From the beginning, sexual maturation is seen as some-
thing frightening ('you are eleven now and soon something
strange will happen to you' p.23), and sexuality is not seen
in a positive light as 'bounty', but rather something to be
put 'under a bushel or else it will shame you'. (p.24).
Furthermore, Nellie is torn between the pressures of con-
ventional morality ('save yourself lest you turn woman be-
fore your time' p.17), and the pressure to conform to sexual
'liberation' at the university she attends. These pressures are
consistently imaged as external forces, voices, opinions im-
pinging on Nellie's already confused sense of ethics. The
short impressionistic piece that describes her sexual initiation
consists of conflicting voices, now internalized: conventional
morality epitomized by her mother's face 'painted with dis-
gust' versus liberated norms urging her to go through with it:
You want to be a woman; now you have a man, you'll be like
everybody else. You're normal nowl Vomit and bear it. (p.28) .
For Nellie, as for so many women, sex is sordid ('I need to
be cleansed' p.119), and so she avoids the issue by choosing
the role of the cerebral intellectual, going through the
motions of emotional involvement, but remaining essentially
I went on as before. I took the minutes with a stiff upper lip.
Sexual repression is Aunt Becca's advice, as is social ex-
clusivity withdrawal from an inferior class of people 'who
will drag you down', who are perceived, like men, as threats.
Nellie accepts this position, looking down on 'those people'
throw dice, slam dominoes and give laugh-for-peasoup all day
long. They have no culture, no sense of identity, no shame or
respect for themselves. (p.51)
Naturally, social superiority is linked with colour, and so
Nellie chooses to identify with 'Papa's grandfather and
Mama's mother', members of the clan who were 'brown,
intellectual, better and apart' (p.7). Speech also, is an indi-
cator of class; thus the adult Nellie is horrified to find herself
breaking into lower-class creole in her rage at Baba:
Is that me? with such expressions. Am I a fishwife? (p.71)
It is Baba, along with Aunt Alice, who precipitates Nellie's
emergence from the kumbla. This process is essentially one
of acceptance of herself as a woman and as part of black
Jamaican society, aspects of herself that Nellie has repressed
or denied, leaving her with a fragmented sense of self. Again,
this task of reintegrating her psyche to produce a 'walking-
talking human being' once more, involves an awareness of her
origins. This is why, when Nellie screams creole expletives at
him, Baba congratulates her as having found her language,
the language of her ancestors; and
Next thing you'll be telling me where I come from and that
would really be telling as you know (p.71)
In the final section of the novel, Nellie does tell: of her
and Baba's shared origins, a typically creole mixture of
origins, recreated here in all its glory and shame so as to help
Nellie discover who she is by discovering who she comes
from. By analyzing the role-models of Caribbean woman-
hood offered her, she comes to see why these alternatives
were necessary for survival, and that there are other, more
wholesome options for her. As Brodber explains,
you have to know them (the ancestors) and you have to know
that these were the problems and this was how they dealt with
them; you have to know that this was how the women of your
past, of your race or of your nation have dealt with it, and
you have to look and you have to shake their hands still and
know that this was their way of coping. But it does not necess-
arily mean that you have to do it this way.
This concern with the ancestors is part of the last aspect of
the novel I wish to discuss here; the way in which Jane and
Louisa transcends biography in order to show that the need
to repossess the past is the way toward psychic reintegration
for the community, the society, as well as the individual.
As noted above, a sense of community pervades Jane and
Louisa family, friends, neighbours (dead and living) cohere
into an almost tangible presence. This community has its
own voice that impinges on the individual's consciousness:
Dearie and Sister, Sweet Boy and Girlie and all of us mouth;
the voice belongs to the family group dead and alive. (p.12)
Briefly, this community is viewed from two perspectives.
One sees it as wise, supportive and strengthening: 'step warily,
follow your elders' words and let them take your hand'.
(p.14) Alternatively, it can be seen as malicious, dangerous
and untrustworthy: 'Everybody is related here and people
can turn your head behind you. Mind how you talk' (p.11).
The point is clarified by the authorial voice:
People had a great deal of strength and power in their hearts;
they wanted to use it kindly for you, but like dammed up
water, it had no morals: it could as easily be let towards you as
against you .. The minute our people felt that you slighted
their powers, they turned evil and all the force in their hearts
would be channelled into making their evil warnings come true.
Therefore, although community pressures are responsible
for Nellie's fragmented identity, yet it is within the power of
the community that her cure lies. To tap this power, it is
necessary for her to communicate with and reconstruct the
ancestry of her community; and it is significant that it is
Baba, a figure from the past, who helps to initiate the process.
The theme is reiterated throughout the novel know
your 'roots', your community, the 'natives of your person',
or you will never know yourself or be able to rightfully lay
claim to your environment. Nellie realizes this eventually:
I had to know them to know what I was about; that I could
no-how wear my rightful Easter dress, sit in my granny's parour,
eat my cane nor walk in my beautiful garden unless I walked
with them, the black and squat, the thin and wizened, all of
There is a structural similarity between the opening and
closing sections of the novel, between the opening 'chapters'
of 'Voices' and 'The Fish'. Images of a 'mossy covert, dim
and cool and very dark', protected and secure as eggs under a
hen, are reiterated at the beginning and end of Jne and
Louisa. Yet change comes upon this safe world. In 'Voices',
the change is symbolized by the sheltering trees being cut
down, allowing the sun to fully penetrate the childhood
kumbla. In 'The Fish', change is seen as imperative the
garden must be cleared again (p.147), new paths must be laid
dowrr in order to re-open and repossess the spiritual land-
The change, the new paths through the past, are clearly
those made by the process of historical reconstruction that
Nellie initiates. As the author explains, the therapeutic pro-
cess involves going back over one's life-history in order to
learn from it. Furthermore, she continues, in Jane and
I'm making the same claim for the history of the nation -
that you have to go back and look at it, no matter how dis-
tressing, no matter how dirty, no matter how all your myths
have to be destroyed, you still have to go back and look at
it. And when you finish, you have to decide whether you're
going to live with it, whether you're going to forget it, or -
hopefully you say, well it's so it go and let me do my piece
and claim it.
As a work of West Indian fiction, Jne and Louisa is at-
tempting to do what I think the works of Harris and Brath-
waite also do reclaim the past, reassess its values and util-
ize its survival and syncretism as lessons, guidelines for con-
temporary life. In this novel, the quest is at once convincing-
ly personal and female and, at the same time, communal and
asexual. While we are explicitly told 'You'll find no finger
posts to point you to our place' (p.9), no hard and fast rules
are given for how to go forward after the processes of his-
torical and personal reconstruction are completed; the pre-
vailing mood is one of progress, of optimism. The dream-
image of the fish Nellie carries within her suggests the
Christian fish symbol of surviving faith, a secret message of
brotherhood and hope for the entire (religious) community.
While this positive symbol is not yet 'born', we are given
to understand that 'It will come' (p.147). So the novel ends
with a farewell to the reclaimed ancestors and a reiteration of
a positive future, not just by the central character, but by an
entire West Indian generation:
We are getting ready.
?Windmills as a Source
of Energy? A.A Chen
W e often use the aphorism 'rediscovering the wheel' to
describe the construction of an elaborate or original
version of an old invention. So too, in our search for
new sources of energy we have been rediscovering the wind-
mill. Windmills for grinding grain are related to water-mills,
which are as old as Our Saviour. The first known water-mill,
the so-called Greek mill, used a horizontal waterwheel which
rotated on a vertical axis; the vertical waterwheel, rotating
on a horizontal axis, with which we are familiar, was intro-
duced in the first century AD by Vitruvius, a Roman archi-
tect. It is however, not known who first conceived of wind
power, instead of water power, to rotate the mill. In the
fourth century AD, travellers reported the use of wind-driven
prayer wheels in the Far East. Primitive windmills were at
work in Persia during the 10th century. Those mills were
mechanically related to the horizontal waterwheels and
were driven by sails revolving on a vertical axis. The typical
European windmill, with sails revolving on a horizontal axis,
was first recorded in the 12th century and appears to have
been an independent invention.
Today the term 'windmill' is used loosely to describe any
device for converting wind energy to useful work, whether
it be grinding grain, pumping water or generating electricity.
Technical jargon refers to windmills as Wind Energy Conver-
sion Systems (WECS), or sometimes as Wind Turbo-Generator
Systems (WTGS) if they are used for generating electricity.
Windmills are driven both by 'lift' force, similar to the force
on the underside of an airplane wing, and by 'drag' force,
similar to the force which you experience when you extend
your hand outside of a moving vehicle.
There are two common categories of windmills: (i) those
whose rotors or driven elements are mounted on a vertical
axis, such as the Savonius rotor (Fig. 1) or the Darrieus rotor
(which resembles an enormous egg beater); (ii) those with
rotors mounted on a horizontal axis, such as multivane rotors
(which were used in Jamaica in the 1930s), and propeller
Windmills can do useful work when their rotors are coupled
to grinding wheels, water pumps, electrical generators and
turbines. The obvious advantage of a windmill is that it uses a
free source of energy, viz., the wind. At the same time the
capital cost of a windmill is not an insurmountable problem.
The technology is also well understood and reliable (except for
very large machines). What then has been the stumbling
block in utilizing windmills in Jamaica's quest for cheaper
energy sources? The answer lies mainly in the variability of
the wind. Anyone walking against the stiff winds in the
Kingston waterfront or on the Hellshire beach during the day
would consider these places to be prime candidates for wind-
mill sites. A stroll in the night, however, usually evokes a
different picture, many times one of calm. The wind in
Jamaica therefore has its ups (in the days) and downs (at
nights), and must becarefullystudied inevaluatingthe econom-
ic potential of windmills. The prospects will also depend
on the purpose for which a windmill will be used, and on its
environmental and social acceptability.
Let us first look at the variability of the wind and the
energy which we can expect to extract from it. The pre-
vailing wind system is the north east trade winds emanating
from the Azores-Bermuda high pressure ridge. The highest
speed of this wind system is of the order of 2.5 meters per
second (5 mph) in the summer and 4.5 meters per second (10
mph) in the winter months [Riehl 1979]. Deviations from the
constancy of the prevailing wind occur mainly when land
masses disrupt the basic flow and when temperate latitude
systems move from mainland U.S.A. to sufficiently low lati-
tudes in the Atlantic and weaken and/or displace the High,
as frequently happens during the winter months [Climate,
1973]. When the trade winds reach Jamaica, which is in the
western extremity of the system, they will probably have
Savonius Rotor for Water Pumping. Rotors are made of split oil drums
and rotate on a vertical axis. The diaphragm pump (not shown) is
coupled to the rotor via a bell crank and eccentric.
A 'Windmill' (wind energy conversion system) using 3 propeller blades
rotating on a horizontal axis. This particular device has a cut-in wind
speed of 10 mph and a rated power of 65000 Watts at 26 mph.
been slowed by the land mass of Hispaniola and will also be
blowing in a more easterly direction. In Jamaica, as in other
Caribbean islands, the trade winds will be reinforced by the
sea breeze during the daytime, and weakened or cancelled
by the land and mountain breezes at nights.
The sea breeze results from the heating of the land during
the daytime and the consequent expansion of air over land,
so that at some elevated level the air pressure is greater above
land than over the sea. Through this pressure gradient, air is
accelerated from land to sea at the elevated level. As a con-
sequence of this higher level flow, the pressure over the sur-
face of the sea is greater than over the surface of the land,
and a return air current known as the sea breeze flows from
sea to land near the surface. Since the sea breeze is due to the
thermal heating of the land relative to that of the sea, the
maximum sea breeze occurs in the early afternoon. At nights
the reverse process occurs and a so-called land breeze flows
from the land to the sea at the surface. Mountain breeze
which flows downhill during the nights may also flow in the
same direction as the land breeze. Thus the resulting trade
wind plus the land-sea breeze system, known commonly by
the misnomer 'sea breeze', is strengthened in the day with a
peak in the early afternoon, and is weakened or cancelled
altogether at nights when the two components flow in
opposite directions. The land-sea breeze itself is highly vari-
able, depending on incident solar radiation and cloud cover
over the island.
The variability of the trade wind plus land-sea breeze
system leads to problems in determining the power which
can be extracted from the wind by a windmill. The energy
of the wind is due to its motion and at an instant in time the
power available to the windmill is proportional to the cube
of the wind speed and to the area of the rotor of the wind-
Thus / = A d v3,
where / is the instantaneous power available to the wind-
mill, A is the rotor area, d is the density of the air and v
is the wind speed. The power output of the windmill depends
on its power coefficient, which is defined as the ratio of the
power output to the power available to the windmill. Thus
where P is the power output and Cp is the power coefficient.
C, is variable and depends on the ratio of the speed at which
the tip of the rotor is moving to the speed of the wind,the so-
called tip-to-wind speed ratio.Cp has a theoretical maximum
value of 0.593, and a figure greater than .3 (i.e. greater than
30 per cent efficiency) is rarely achieved. For a particular
windmill the value can be estimated from the manufacturer's
specifications of the wind speed at which the windmill will
first produce useful power (called the cut-in wind speed),
and of the lowest wind speed at which the windmill output
reaches its rated value (called the rated wind speed). The
power which is actually available for use from a real wind-
mill installation will be less than the value of P given by the
above equation due to inefficiencies in the system to which it
is coupled, i.e. the water pump, generator, etc. The extent
A West Indian Mill Yard showing wind
of these inefficiencies can be determined from the manu-
Thus we can in theory obtain an estimate for the useful
power from a windmill installation at any instant in time if
we measure the wind speed at that instant and use the manu-
facturer's specifications. To find the average power available
over an extended period, we would have to find the wind
speed at every instance, or at suitably spaced intervals, cal-
culate the corresponding instantaneous power, then sum all
the instantaneous powers and calculate an average. This, of
course, is a tedious exercise and in most cases it is not practi-
cal since instantaneous wind speeds are not known or collect-
ed over a sufficiently long period.
One way of overcoming this problem is to determine
empirically the amount of time the wind speed lies in a cer-
tain range of speeds and obtain some mathematical function
to describe this distribution. The problem of obtaining an
average power can then be solved analytically by a computer.
This method, although less tedious, suffers from the obvious
shortcoming that the mathematical distribution assumed will
not give exactly the wind speed distribution. Both method-
ologies suffer from the vagrancy of the wind and the average
power estimated from readings in one year will not necessarily
be the same as the average power estimated from readings in
another year. As with all statistical problems, the reliability
of estimate will improve with the number of observations.
For meteorological stations which have been recording winds
reliably for a long time, such as at the Norman Manley and
Sangster Airports, we can make reliable estimates of power.
Elsewhere, we need to make more observations.
In addition to the variability in the wind we must con-
sider the use to which a windmill will be put, in order to
evaluate its potential. Windmills employed in water pump-
ing applications often have lower tip-to-wind speed ratio and
lower power coefficient than those used for electricity
generation. Consequently the sophistication required for the
design of the former is often less than that required for the
design of the latter. Thus from a technical point of view,
good application prospects will be more readily found for
windmills for water pumping than for electricity generation.
The Savonius rotor shown in Fig. 1 is a low tip-to-wind
speed device and is used primarily for pumping water. The
propeller type windmill shown in Fig. 2 has a high tip-to-
wind speed ratio and is used for generating electricity. From
the point of view of capacity, a single windmill will suffice
for water pumping purposes, but the electrical generating
capacity of a windmill is presently limited to about 1 mega-
watt. Thus several windmills operating in an array, called a
wind farm, would be required to replace a medium sized
fossil fuel generator. A large wind turbo-generator system
is obviously more complicated than an irrigation system.
For electricity generation on a small scale, e.g., for a
homestead, storage of electricity must be taken into account.
For Jamaica at the moment the only viable form of storage
is accumulators or storage batteries. Batteries will add to the
cost of the installation and will have to be replaced regularly.
The other state-of-the-art storage, which is not yet possible
in Jamaica, is the use of a device called a synchronous in-
verter, which was developed in 1975. The synchronous in-
verter makes it possible to feed excess electricity generated
by a windmill back into the public utility system, and is
employed in places where the electric company will give a
rebate to the windmill user for excess electricity fed into the
utility. The synchronous inverter electronically mixes power
from both the windmill and the utility power line for use by
the consumer. When the windmill is not providing enough
power to satisfy the user's demand, utility power is used.
When power exceeding the user's demand is generated by
the windmill, the excess is fed to the utility line to be used
elsewhere. The synchronous inverter can actually drive the
utility meter backwards, or two meters, one to show the
energy taken from the utility and the other to show the
energy delivered to the utility, can be used.
In addition to the technical aspects, we must also con-
sider factors such as electricity demand (in the case of
electricity generation), hydrology (in the case of water
pumping), crop irrigation cycle, crop diversification, soil type
and climatology (in the case of irrigation), environmental
acceptability and social acceptability. For example, an ideal
crop for irrigation by windmills would be one whose water
requirement in terms of quantity, duration and season,
matches the seasonal and diurnal wind speed. Environmental
problems may arise if we have to clear large tracts of land for
a wind farm, in order to give the windmills free access to the
wind. If the windmills are to be used and maintained by a
community, necessary motivation and skill levels must exist
in the community. These are just some examples of other
factors to be considered.
The Government of Jamaica is seriously considering the
use of windmills, for various applications. In 1976 and 1977
a study was done by the Physics Department, University of
the West Indies, using techniques described above, to deter-
mine the potential of using windmills for electricity gene-
ration for a homestead in the eastern section of Jamaica
[Chen 1978]. The study showed that at the two sites investi-
gated (Manchioneal in Portland, and Rowlandsfield in St.
Thomas), the prospects were not encouraging, due partly to
the need to store electricity by batteries for use at nights.
The study did not consider the possibility of using a syn-
chronous inverter. In 1978 another study was undertaken by
the Physics Department, U.W.I., in collaboration with the
Meteorological Service, mainly to determine the potential
of windmills for water pumping [Chen 1980]. There were
good prospects for this type of application in the areas investi-
gated, which included Flagaman in St. Elizabeth, Discovery
Bay in St. Ann, Phillipsfield in St. Thomas and Hillside in
Clarendon. Of course it should be emphasized that an
individual site needs individual prospecting.
The 1978 study again looked at small scale generation of
electricity at three sites, Vinery and Passley Gardens in Port-
land and Pimento Hill in St. Mary. It showed the sites at
Vinery and Pimento Hill to be marginal and that at Passley
Gardens as poor. The large scale generation of electricity
to be fed directly into the public utility was not investigated
partly because of the discouraging results for electricity
generation for a homestead.
The prospect for large scale generation of electricity,
however, should not be ruled out for several reasons. First,
it may be possible to find sites in Jamaica where the wind
speeds are accelerated by natural contour, for example, in
a Venturi effect. Secondly, the wind speed will increase with
height above the ground, so that suitable wind speeds may be
found at an optimum height which lies within the confines
of technological and economical feasibility. For example,
whereas the wind speeds in the above studies were recorded
at 30 ft. above the ground, the instantaneous power at 100
ft. above the ground would be approximately 1.7 times that
at 30 ft., if a flat surface under standard atmospheric con-
ditions is assumed. However, the analysis in real time is not
so simple since the long term average is related to the statis-
tics of occurrence of various influencing factors, such as
atmospheric stability, and consequently must rely on a more
empirical approach. In addition much of the theory is based
on a flat surface approximation which is not valid in most
places in Jamaica. In other words, estimation of power gene-
rated by windmills at higher levels is an exercise of greater
complexity and expense. The Government of Jamaica in
collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, is soon
to embark on such an exercise of windmapping for large
scale generation of electricity. An ideal site to investigate
would be the John Crow Mountains since it is the first
mountainous ridge in the path of the trade winds.
Finally, even if the new investigation confirms the winds
to be only marginal for the large scale generation of electricity,
the generation of electricity by windmills could still be a
worthwhile economical venture if the windmills were used as
backup systems during peak loads near noon, much as the
gas turbines at Hunts Bay Power Station were intended to
be. To ensure the economic viability of such a scheme, a
methodology would have to be developed for accurately pre-
dicting the times at which the winds arrive at the cut-in
speeds of the windmill and the duration and magnitude of
the winds. On the days of good wind expectation, backup
gas turbines would not have to be fired up to be brought
on stream to take up the peak loads, since this would be
done by the windmills, and thus substantial fuel savings
In summary, windmills or Wind Energy Conversion
Systems can be usefully employed in Jamaica for water
pumping and irrigation. Their use in this respect would be
best implemented by a multidisciplinary approach involving
the engineer, the physicist/meteorologist, agricultural
scientist, hydrologist, economist and sociologist, in order to
determine suitable windmills and windmill application sites,
to match these sites to the best crops, to study the economic-
al viability and to determine the social acceptability. The
case for the large scale generation of electricity by windmills
is not clear. The answer is blowing in the wind. But the
wind is fickle and must be studied carefully to elicit its true
CHEN, A.A., "Wind Power in Eastern Jamaica", Scientific Report
No. 107, Dept. of Physics, U.W.I., 1978.
"Wind Power Feasibility Study", Scientific Report No. 120,
Dept. of Physics, U.W.I., 1980.
The Climate of Jamaica, prepared by the Climatology Branch of the
Jamaican Meteorological Service, 1973.
RIEHL, Herbert, Climate and Weather in the Tropics, Academic
The 'Secret Lives'of Jamaican Plants
By Peter Bretting
D during the last few years the pop-
ular media have contained some-
what sensational reports of the
bizarre 'secret lives' of plants and ani-
mals. Leaves of living plants have
been connected to polygraphs (lie-
detectors) and vegetative emotions sup-
posedly recorded. Remarkable explan-
ations have been advanced for the touch-
sensitive 'Shame Weed' or 'Bashful
Lady' (Mimosa pudica) or, for the re-
productive methods of stingrays and
other marine life. Such reports attract
a wide audience because many Jamaicans'
are curious about nature.
Rather than reading about such
'secret lives', why not discover them?
Little equipment is required. A pocket-
size notebook and pencil for recording
discoveries are vital: you will soon learn
how rapidly small details are forgotten
if not recorded. Binoculars and a magni-
fier are useful but not necessities. A
companions) for your jaunts is (are)
desirable, but an occasional 'solo' foray
is good for the soul.
Well, what should be observed? Let
us begin by scrutinizing a flowering
tree and our national bird, the doctor
bird. We shall discover that details of
their everyday lives may be as fascin-
ating as any fabricated story. So, we
journey to central Manchester, home of
a Jamaican poui, the doctor bird, wild
pines, and other curious game and
The Sex Life of a Jamaican Tree
March is a dry month in the hills of
central Manchester. The ground between
the jagged pale grey limestone is covered
by dry leaves that crackle and crunch
with every footfall. Some trees drop
many or all of their leaves during the
drought. Among these is an endemic
species, Tabebuia platyantha (Bignoni-
aceae), a close relative of the cultivated
yellow and pink poui trees (Tabebuia
rufescens and T. rosea) that grace so
many Jamaican yards. The endemic
species evidently lacks a common name,
but let us refer to it here as a Jamaican
At maturity, these trees are about 25
feet tall, with boles of ca. 15-20 inches
diameter at breast height. The boles
fork into short slender branches that
give the leafless tree the appearance of
a skeletal hand with bony fingers reach-
ing skyward. At the ends of most branch-
es are clusters of pencil-shaped fruits
greatly resembling those of the com-
mon cultivated pouis. Also at the branch
tips are flowers, and their behaviour
is most interesting.
Flowers are the sites of sexual re-
production for flowering plants (angio-
sperms, in botanical terminology). Pollen
grains are produced by organs called
stamens and, more particularly, in an-
thers. Eggs are produced in the ovules,
which are enclosed and protected by
fleshy ovaries, which after successful
pollination mature into fruits contain-
ing seeds (the fertilized mature ovules).
Because sexual reproduction cannot
proceed without pollination, angio-
sperms have evolved devious methods
for ensuring that this occurs. So, let
us sit under a native poui and observe
its sex life on a lovely March day.
As dawn breaks, about 25 flowers are
visible on the tree. They are about 5
inches long, pale yellow-cream and
shaped very much like flowers of the
cultivated pouis. The blossom (botanic-
ally speaking, the corolla) is somewhat
fleshy and crinkled, and has a musky
fragrance. Copious amounts of a sticky
nectar pool at its base. The four pollen-
bearing anthers are situated at the
upper inner surface of the floral tube
near, but not touching, the stigma,
where pollen will be deposited, ger-
minate, and eventually fertilize the
With first light (about 6:15 a.m.)
a male doctor bird (streamertail hum-
mingbird: Trochilus polytmus) arrives at
the tree and darts from flower to flower,
hovering in front of them and sipping
nectar. After a quarter hour of feeding,
he perches for about 10 minutes, and
then leaves, but soon returns and re-
peats his routine of arrival-feeding-
perching-departure throughout the
morning. This male chases any other
doctor birds, male or female, away from
'his' Jamaican poui like a solicitous
guard dog. Honeybees and larger bees
(probably carpenter bees) manage to
sneak by and visit the flowers, either to
drink nectar or gather pollen.
As the morning passes, blossoms fall
one by one from the tree, so that by
mid-afternoon no open flowers remain.
Interestingly, some of the fallen blos-
soms have a neatly incised slit at their
base, evidence that a bananaquit (Coere-
ba flaveola) has pierced them to sip
nectar. With the late afternoon, flower
buds begin to swell and then burst open.
At 4 p.m. several flowers are open; by
6 p.m. there are more than 20. The male
doctor bird, after an absence of several
hours when the tree was flowerless, re-
turns to feed and repels other doctor
birds that approach 'his' tree. As the sun
sets, the doctor bird leaves to perch for
the night, and the Jamaican poui is in
full bloom. We voyeurs head back home
for a good meal, with plenty of coffee
or tea, because we must return later this
evening for the rest of the story, which
promises to be exciting.
During the afternoon we have graph-
ed the number of open flowers against
the hours of the day (see the diagram)
and a puzzling pattern has emerged. If
doctor birds or bees are the most import-
ant pollinators of this tree, why do
flowers fall steadily when these animals
are most active, and why does the tree
bear most flowers when doctor birds
and bees are 'asleep'? Furthermore,
most flowers pollinated by doctor birds
are tube-like, scent-less, and brilliant
crimson or yellow. Bee-pollinated
flowers are generally smaller, brightly
colored with nectar guides, and sweetly
scented [see Faegri and van der PijI
1979 for many examples]. Are noc-
turnal animals important for the sex
life of this tree?
Several hours later we trudge back
into the woods, our path lit by torches
and peenie-wallies. We sit quietly under
the tree, and every few minutes flick on
our electric torches and shine them up-
ward. We do not have long to wait.
About 7:00 p.m. a large hawkmoth
(commonly called 'bat') is visible. In
Aechmea paniculigera in bloom. Humming-
birds are attracted to the hundreds of tiny
flowers by the vivid pink, ribbon-like bracts
seen hanging below the flower stalk. This
'wild pine' is found only in Jamaica, where
it is fairly common in woods.
Guzmania monostachia in bloom. The bright orange-red bracts at the tip of the 18 inch long flower
stalk attract hummingbirds to the inconspicuous white flowers of this 'wild pine'.
Cross-section of Jamaican poui flower, showing
several of the floral organs mentioned in the
Anthers text. The drawing is c. lifesize.
the torch beam its eyes glow orange-red
like burning coals as it slowly moves
from blossom to blossom, sipping nec-
tar from each. After a few minutes of
feeding it leaves, but it and other moths
and hawkmoths are seen throughout
the night. Occasionally bats (commonly
called 'rat bats') flutter into our view as
they approach the tree. Unfortunately,
our torches are too weak and we cannot
discern if the bats are feeding upon the
Jamaican poui or devouring moths
caught on the wing. We also cannot
determine whether the hawkmoths and
the bats are actually pollinating this tree.
Much more research is needed in this
regard. The nocturnal peak in flowering,
however, would seem to indicate that
one or both of these animals is a very
As dawn approaches, moths and bats
leave, and with the first light the male
doctor bird returns, sings a lovely tune
to announce the new day, and sips nec-
tar from the flowers. Another day begins
for the Jamaican poui and its many
The Diet of a Doctor Bird
Having focused upon a tree, let us
now observe one of its visitors more
closely. The doctor bird, like all hum-
mingbirds, eats nectar and small insects.
Whenever the male doctor bird we met
before perched near the Jamaican poui,
it would occasionally dart out and snare
small insects. We also noted that it arri-
ved always from a particular direction,
then always left the tree headed down-
slope in another direction.
Where was it going? To find out.
we clamber down the slope over grey
sharp-edged honeycomb-limestone rocks
that emit a metallic clink when they
collide. Now, let us survey the area.
We see a huge 'Brown Gal' orch d
(Oncidium luridum), with leaves several
feet long, and a spray of attractive gold
and bronze 3-inch-long flowers. The
hummingbird probably is not visiting
the Brown Gal flowers: they are adapted
for insect pollination. Then we spy a bit
of orange-red near the ground: a brome-
liad ('wild pine') called Guzmania mono-
stachia is in bloom. Its small white
tubular flowers are odorless and incon-
spicuous, but contain much nectar.
Hours of the day
The blossoms are attached to a stout
stalk and are separated by modified
leaves (called bracts). Bracts at the tip
of the stalk are bright orange-red: do
they attract doctor birds?
We crouch behind a boulder and wait.
Above us we can hear the whir of a male
doctor bird as he feeds from a Jamaican
poui. Then, the whir approaches and we
see him hovering near the bromeliad,
thrusting his bill into every tiny flower,
sipping nectar. He soon leaves, but about
15 minutes later returns to the poui and
then to the bromeliad. This routine con-
tinues throughout the afternoon, and it
becomes obvious that the doctor bird,
like many hummingbirds [Stiles 1981],
is following a surprisingly rigid feeding
schedule that probably helps ensure ac-
quisition of the prodigious quantity
(twice its body weight!) of food it re-
Knowing that doctor birds are strong-
ly attracted to oranges, reds, and yellows,
we search the woods for other items on
its menu. Again we spy a flash of red
near the ground. It is an endemic brom-
eliad, Aechmea paniculigera, in flower.
It has large deep-green strap-like leaves,
and one flowering stalk that resembles
a prickly bottle brush ca. 2 feet long. As
many as 500 small tubular, light violet
flowers are borne on the stalk, but only
5-10 flowers are open on any given day.
Underneath the stalk are 8 vivid salmon-
pink bracts each about a foot long and 3
inches wide. These advertise the flowers
garishly but effectively, and remind one
of the red flagging tacked to the backs
of trucks carrying 'oversize' loads.
We hide behind a tree, and within a
minute, a male doctor bird appears,
hovers before every open bromeliad
flower, and sips nectar. He then perches
nearby, preens his plumage, and repels
several other doctor birds that try to
feed upon 'his' bromeliad. He leaves,
but returns after several minutes and re-
peats this routine for most of the morn-
ing. Notably, like the other male doctor
bird we observed before, this bird al-
ways flies to our observation post from
the same direction, and always exits
from another. When we trace his arrival
route, we encounter him visiting flowers
of Jamaica's national tree, the blue
mahoe, after which he returns to the
bromeliad. So, he too makes regular
rounds of flowering plants in the forest.
Observing Jamaica's wildlife in this
manner is a restful, healthy, and satis-
fying form of recreation, but it is valu-
able in several other ways. First, we are
making scientific discoveries. The
doctor bird, Jamaican poui, and the
Aechmea bromeliad are found nowhere
else in the world, and, as far as I know,
no one has ever noted the details report-
ed here. This information has theoretical
value, too. The interactions between
plants and their pollinators or visitors
have a role in determining the com-
munity structure of a given forest
[Heithaus 1974]. That is the types of
pollinating or flower-visiting animals
and their plant hosts may determine
the number and frequency of different
plant and animal species in any forest.
This is important information for trying
to understand how Jamaican forests re-
generate, maintain themselves, and func-
Second, this knowledge should be
used to develop management practices
that ensure the survival of endemic
species such as those mentioned here
or in an earlier article [Bretting 1983].
In designing a strategy for conserving
forests, preservation of i) 'mobile
generalized pollinators' (e.g. the doctor
bird) and ii) nectar-producing plants
that are important food sources for
'mobile generalized pollinators' (e.g. the
Jamaican poui or Aechmea) must be
ensured [Frankel and Sould 1981].
Such plants and animals can be con-
sidered keystone species because, just as
removing the keystone will cause an
.arch to collapse, extinction of keystone
species may cause an entire forest com-
munity to collapse. So, by discovering
Diagram showing the daily fluctuation of the
number of open flowers on a typical Jamaican
poui. Most flowers open in late afternoon and
persist until late morning or early afternoon
of the following day.
the 'secret lives' of Jamaican plants or
animals and communicating your find-
ings to other naturalists or biologists
(see the note below) you can help
ensure their continued survival.
BRETTING, P.K., "Jamaica's flowering plants:
the five endemic genera". Jamaica
Journal, 16:1, 1983.
FAEGRI, K. and L. van der PIJL, The Prin-
ciples of Pollination Ecology (3rd rev.
ed) N.Y.: Pergamon Press, 1979.
FRANKEL, 0. and M. SOULE, Conservation
and Evolution, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1981.
HEITHAUS, E.R., "The role of plant-pollin-
ator interactions in determining com-
munity structure", Ann. Mo. Bot.
Gard., 61: 675-691.1974.
STILES, F.G., "Geographical aspects of bird-
flower co-evolution, with particular
reference to Central America", Ann.
Mo. Bot. Gard., 68: 323-351.1981.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I thank the Suttons
of Marshall's Pen, Manchester whose hospital-
ity to naturalists and biologists has contri-
buted substantially to our knowledge of
Jamaican plants and animals.
NOTE: Those interested in this sort of nature
study can find kindred spirits in the Natural
History Society of Jamaica, Jamaica Junior
Naturalists, and Gosse Bird Club. Of course,
we at the Natural History Division, Institute
of Jamaica, would be happy to meet you.
Victoria Durant-Gonzalez, Ph.D. in Anthropology, is a lec-
turer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Her
field work has been among rural women in Jamaica and
women in industry in the Eastern Caribbean. She was previous-
ly a research fellow at the Institute of Social and Economic
Research at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
Philip G. Hart, O.D., was Rector of the Kingston Parish
Church for 10 years prior to taking up the post of Executive
Director of the Institute of Jamaica in July 1981. A lover of
the arts and natural history, the Rev. Hart has a special interest
in painting and had some of his works exhibited in the 1982
David Buisseret, a frequent contributor to Jamaica Journal
['Fresh Light on Spanish Jamaica', February 1983] is Director
of the Smith Center for the History of Cartography at the New-
berry Library, Chicago. He was formerly attached to the
Department of History at the University of the West Indies,
Edward Baugh is Professor of English at the University of the
West Indies, Mona. His publications include Derek Walcott:
Memory as Vision (1978) and Critics on Caribbean Literature
Pamela Beshoff, formerly attached to the Jamaican High
Commission in London, is currently a free lance journalist
and a graduate student at London School of Economics.
Godfrey Taylor is a lecturer in the Computer Department at
the College of Arts, Science and Technology. Music is his
special interest and he has worked as director and accompanist
with several choirs and singing groups, including the University
Singers. He is also the organist at Providence Methodist
Randolph 'Ranny' Williams, O.D., 1912-1980. Folklorist,
actor, 'man of many laughs', Mas' Ran's life was not solely
confined to the theatre. As a journalist, he wrote for Jamaica
Standard, the Daily Gleaner, Public Opinion and Jamaica
Daily News. In Jamaica Standard he explored various aspects
of Jamaica's cultural heritage and charted the progress of
popular entertainers of the day. These articles are among the
few records we have of the careers of people like Ableton
and Cupidon and Slim and Sam.
Laura Tanna, Ph.D. in African Languages and Literature, is at
present editing an anthology of Jamaican Folk Tales as part
of the Jamaica 21 celebrations. Her previous contribution to
Jamaica Journal was 'Anansi Jamaica's Trickster Hero'
Evelyn O' Callaghan is a lecturer in the Departmentof English
at the University of the West Indies, Mona. She is a researcher
into the language situation in Jamaica, particularly as reflect-
ed in literature, and is also interested in West Indian women
writers and fiction dealing with women.
A. Anthony Chen, Ph.D., is currently senior lecturer and
Head of the Department of Physics at the University of the
West Indies, Mona. He specializes in Atmospheric Physics.
Peter 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. He contributed 'Jamaica's Flowering Plants:
The Five Endemic Genera' to Jamaica Journal [February
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.
The Director and staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica
For the Record
The photograph of Una Marson on p. 52 of the previous issue
(16:2) was wrongly credited to the National Library. It was
supplied courtesy of Mr. Vivian Virtue.
Duke Street, Kingston
verted to offices by infilling but much of the
beautiful interior timberwork remains. A
particularly striking feature is the part-straight
flight, part-winders staircase in mahogany
which leads to the upper floor. On this floor
are some fine specimens of surrounds to door
openings. These were no doubt taken from
fashionable pattern-books of classical designs
In 1814, Hibbert House was purchased by the
Spacious 18th century town house (interior
views shown here), seat of Jamaica's legislature
from 1872 to October 1960 when the House
of Representatives met for the first time in
Gordon House, built across the street. It is
now the home of the Jamaica National Trust
Headquarters House was built c1755 as the
dwelling house of Thomas Hibbert, the Eldest,
who made his wealth through the slave trade
and in bold speculation during the Wars of
Trade selling French 'Prize' ships at a hand-
some profit on the London market. His house
is, therefore, a tangible reminder of the wealth
and opulence of the Kingston merchant in his
heyday. It is the last surviving mansion of a
group of four connected with a bet made by
four Kingston merchants as to who could
build the finest house.
Writing in 1774, Edward Long mentioned
The attic, too, with its many dormer windows
is a fascinating place, providing a bird's eye
view of the plains of St. Catherine, Kingston
harbour and beyond, and the Liguanea Plains
with the Blue Mountains as a backdrop. The
crow's nest on the roof gives a breathtaking
view of southern Jamaica.
Although the original structure of the house
has been substantially altered to provide
office space, and the garden has long since
given way to car-parks and government build-
ings, it is still quite remarkable that this house
has, to a great extent, remained intact. Veran-
dahs on the north and south have been con-
War Office from the widow of Dr Solomon
DeLeon and became the official residence of
the General of the army. It is probably this
fact that saved it from a fate similar to the
other three private houses in the bet.
that many of the houses in Kingston were
extremely elegant. His general description of
Kingston houses certainly fits Hibbert House:
". mostly constructed of brick, raised two
or three stories, conveniently disposed and in
general well-furnished; their roofs are all
shingled; the fronts of most of them are shaded
with a piazza below, and a covered gallery
Hibbert House is of brick, stone and timber.
It consists of a basement, ground and upper
floors, and an attic.
In the basement, besides the fine brickwork,
there are several interesting features that are
worthy of note; these include the little stair-
case leading from the first floor, the barrel
vault presumably the traditional wine cellar
- and the brick stands for cooling jars.
The house now came to be called Headquarters
House, or Government House or General's
House. In 1872 when the capital was moved
to Kingston, the house was purchased by the
government for 5,000 and became the office
of the Colonial Secretary and the seat of the
-Jamaica National Trust Commission
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