Front Cover
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00051
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: May-July 1986
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00051
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
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Full Text


Treasures of Jamaican Heritage

Jamaica Journal
is published on behalf of
the Institute of Jamaica
12 16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica
by Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
All correspondence should be addressed to
IOJ Publications Ltd.
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone: (809) 92-94785/6

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

Back issues: Most back issues are available.
List sent on request. Entire series available
on microfilm from University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, U.S.A.
Subscriptions: J$50 for four issues (in
Jamaica only); U.S$15, U.K. 10.
Retail single copy price: J$15 (in Jamaica
only); overseas U.S. $5 or U.K. 3 postpaid
surface mail.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in Jamaica
Journal are abstracted and indexed in
Historical Abstracts and America: History
and Life.
Vol. 19 No. 2 Copyright 0 1986 by
Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited.
Cover or contents may not be reproduced in
whole or in part without written permission.

ISSN: 0021-4124

Maria La Yaeona
COVER: Making friends with a yellow snake
at Hope Zoo is easy with a little help from wild-
life expert and conservationist William Oliver
whose article on this endangered species begins
on p. 2.



Vol. 19 No. 2



by Erna Brodber

by Cynthia Wilmot


by William L.R. Oliver

by Steve Gruber

by Wilma Bailey


by Rupert Lewis

by Mervyn Morris

by A.L. Hendriks


by Gloria Escoffery

by Pamela O'Gorman





- -


.G "~


Nanka or Yellow Snake

A Jamaican Boa
By William L.R. Oliver

L ocally known as 'yellow snake',
or occasionally as 'nanka', the
Jamaican boa Epicrates subfla-
vus is one of a series of closely related
Boidae (the same family to which the
boa constrictor belongs) confined to
particular islands in the Greater Carib-
bean. Over 20 forms of the Epicrates
boids have been described, of which two
species are found in northern South
America, but the rest are distributed
through the Greater and Lesser Antilles,
the Bahamas and other Caribbean island
clusters. One species is found only on
Cuba, another on Puerto Rico, two
more on Hispaniola, three more on the
Bahamian chain, and so on. E. subflavus
is similarly confined to mainland Jam-
aica, though it formerly also occurred
on one or more of the offshore islets,
but it has been extirpated from these



and from many parts of the mainland
in recent historical times.
The Jamaican boa is one of the largest
and most attractive arguably the most
attractive of the Epicrates boas. Adults
are commonly reported to reach a length
of two to three metres; occasionally as
much as three and one half metres. Even
larger specimens may have occurred in

the past. In his book A Naturalist's So-
journ in Jamaica, which was published
in 1851, the remarkable naturalist Philip
Henry Gosse records an encounter with
'a boa of enormous dimensions':
The people, to ensure the death of so
terrible an animal, had cut its body
into pieces with their machetes or
hangers; but the fragments were col-
lected, and having been placed in con-
tact, measured within a very few inches
of twenty feet, and were as thick as a
man's leg.

Adult Jamaican Boa or Yellow Snake, (op-
posite page) Epicrates subflavus a poster
produced by the Jersey Wildlife Preservation
Trust in association with theNatural Resources
Conservation Department, Government of
Jamaica. Above: Head detail of an adult Jam-
aican boa.

^ \


Approximated distribution of surviving populations of the Jamaican Boa Epicrates subflavus,
based on reported sightings and capture/kill records during the period 1977-82 (inclusive).

Gosse's account also includes a fine,
if somewhat fanciful, description of the

. this boa, when seen alive in its
black and yellow livery, is, I think,
far from unadorned, the contrast being
fine, and the purple iridescent glow that
is reflected in the playing light from
the dark parts of its polished armour is
very rich and brilliant.

The use of the word 'unadorned' in
this description refers to the confusion
which existed at that time between the
Jamaican and the Puerto Rican boas;
the latter being known as E. inornatus.
Why there should have been any such
confusion is unclear, as, despite being
closely related, the two species are quite
dissimilar in appearance. E. inornatus is
not only much smaller than E. subflavus
but, whilst an undeniably handsome
snake, it is also unquestionably drab in
comparison with the Jamaican form.
Whatever the reasons, however, it was
not until 1901 that E. subflavus was so
described and its separate identity was
properly established.

The scientific name subflavus (liter-
ally: 'under-yellow') refers to the char-
acteristic custard-coloured ventral scales
which typically extend along the anterior
half of the body, but which gradually
assume a black-spotting that becomes
increasingly intense until it merges pos-
teriorly to an almost completely black
tail. This pattern is likewise reflected on
the upper parts in which the anterior
half of the body is predominately a
rich ochreous-yellow which is again mer-
ged into the deep indigo blue of the tail

by an intensifying series of blue-black
and orange-yellow bands. The aesthetic
effect of this is greatly enhanced by iri,
descence and by subtle differences in
the hue of neighboring scales, although
the overall patternation is also cryptic in
the dapple of sunlight and shadow
amongst tangled vegetation.

Distribution and Habitat

The effectiveness of this camouflage,
together with their naturally secretive
and largely nocturnal habits, goes some
way towards providing an explanation
of why so little is known about the bio-
logy of this species in the wild state.
Indeed, their inherent inconspicuous-
ness seems to have misled several writers
into concluding that the species was ex-
tremely rare, perhaps even extinct, over
most of mainland Jamaica. Fortunately,
this is evidently not the case, since an is-
land-wide field survey, undertaken by
the author in 1982, was able to obtain
evidence of their continuing survival in
at least nine of the 14 parishes. By the
same token, however, it is apparent that
the species is now confined to the most
remote (or, rather, the least accessible)
parts of the island, and is nowhere plenti-
ful. Accordingly, they are rather infre-
quently encountered, even by local
people who, of course, invariably kill
them on sight in the mistaken belief
that they are venomous.

Nonetheless, some information about
their overall remaining distribution and
habitat preferences may be usefully ex-
trapolated from such encounters and

these, along with any other incidental
observations, capture records, etc., also
provide a crude framework on which to
interpret other aspects of the species'
biology, e.g. their relative abundance in
particular areas and/or during particular
seasons, and even some insight into their
daily activity patterns. During the course
of the aforementioned field survey, for
instance, it was noted that the species
was evidently rather adaptable in as
much as it was reported as occurring
within a wide variety of available habi-
tats. These habitats range from man-
grove woodland and salt marsh, through
dry coastal scrub forest, to wet lime-
stone forest and even lower montane
rain forest. Some of these habitats also
represent areas which are close to the
local climatic extremes in terms of
average seasonal temperatures, relative
humidity and annual rainfall. Thus,
amongst the most important remain-
ing population sites for this species are
the south-western part of the Hellshire
Hills (mangrove and salt marsh), Port-
land Ridge (dry coastal scrub forest),
the Cockpit Country (wet limestone
forest), and the southern and northern
foothills of the Blue Mountains (lower
montane rain forest).

Their Behaviour

The circumstances in which country
people most frequently encounter these
snakes also offer some clues to their
behaviour. In the Hellshire Hills, for
example, snakes are not infrequently
encountered by crab-hunters at night,
thereby indicating their nocturnal be-

haviour, since they are very rarely en-
countered by any other persons who
enter the same areas during the day. In
other drier areas people seldom venture
into the forest at night, but they most
frequently encounter snakes which have
sought shelter in loose rubble, in hol-
low logs or under piles of cut vegeta-
tion, or even in buildings on the peri-
phery of outlying village settlements.
Most of the latter reports refer to en-
counters which have occurred during
the height of the dry season between
January and March, thereby indicating
that these snakes sometimes gravitate
towards centres of human activity, pre-
sumably in search of water and prey,
i.e. rats, though they undoubtedly also
take the occasional chicken or domestic
pigeon. Other reports from similarly dry
areas refer to snakes being found near
bromeliads, which usually contain small
pockets of water in their leaf axils,
or, alternatively, they are sometimes
found sunning themselves on exposed
rocks, having emerged from cover after
the occasional rainstorm.

Comparable reports from local people
also provide some information about
the reproductive behaviour of this
species. These reports often include
reference to two or more snakes asso-
ciating together or being closely inter-
twined. Gosse's account of this species
also includes anecdotal descriptions of
such behaviour. For example:

It is currently reported that when the
Yellow Boa pairs, which is in spring,
others of the same species approach
and twist themselves with and over the
pair, until an immense knot or entwin-
ed mass is formed. Knots composed of
many individuals are certainly often
found, and killed without difficulty,
as they are very inert. This knotting
is called by the negroes 'cooting',
perhaps from the Spanish coito. A
black man, near Bluefields, going to
his daily labour, found a large num-
ber thus contorted, and went on kill-
ing one after another, until the fetor
proceeding from them made him quite
faint, and compelled him to turn home-

Gosse also quotes a second-hand
account from a Dr. Bancroft:

I shall mention on the authority of
some planters of credit, that a number
of Yellow Snakes, as much as ten or
twelve, are not infrequently met with
in the woody parts of the island with
their tails twisted together, but the rest
of their bodies free. This chiefly occurs
about April or May, at their breeding
season, as is supposed. When thus sur-

prised, they will raise their tails and
hiss, and it takes them some time be-
fore they can unwind.

Neither of these accounts is as fanci-
ful as it may seem, for similar observ-
ations have been scientifically recorded
amongst captive snakes of this, and re-
lated species, in recent years. The latter
account, in particular, is a quite accurate
description of their mating behaviour,
during which a copulating pair inter-
twine, or 'knot', their tails whilst main-
taining cloacal contact. The pair remain
tied together in this way for many hours,
during which period other males, likewise
attracted by a sexually-receptive female,
may also attempt to mate with her. More-
over, mating activity is evidently repeat-
ed intensively over a period of several
weeks, during which time the female
will doubtless be mated by several dif-
ferent males.

As a group, the boas are almost ex-
clusively viviparous (i.e. they give birth
to live young, unlike, for example, the
pythons which lay eggs), and although
E. subflavus is no exception, this spe-
cies does produce relatively large lit-
ters larger, in fact, than any of the
other Epicrates spp in which litter size
has been documented. The largest lit-
ter so far recorded in captivity was 34
young, although an average of nine cap-
tive-born litters was 24 young. The fe-
males invariably retire to a hollow trunk
or some other secure crevice to give birth,
and although parturition has never been
properly observed, there is some evidence
that like many mammals they con-
sume the foetal membranes; presumably
to minimise the risk of detection by
other potential predators. That apart,
females play no further part in the sur-
vival of their progeny, which are fully
independent, though they may cluster
together for some time before dispersing.
As-one might expect from such large lit-
ters, the neonate snakes are very small
(.i.e. 25-30 cm in length, and 12-15 g
weight), but they slough their skins
within a few hours of birth, and grow
fast, despite not feeding until about three
weeks old; having survived for that period
only on the quantity of yolk which
is retained in their intestines from the
time of their birth. They also change
colour with increasing age, being at first
buff-red with darker transverse bands
over the posterior parts of their body.
Within a few weeks they become a
rather drab brownish-red with the
same dark banding, and do not achieve
the adult coloration until they are about

three to four years of age.


Whilst it is rather doubtful if adult
yellow snakes have any natural preda-
tors, apart from man (who is literally
an enemy rather than a predator), young
snakes are undoubtedly at risk from a
variety of natural predators as well as
the host of mammalian predators which
have been introduced by human agency
- either deliberately or accidentally -
since the arrival of the first maritime
explorers in the late fifteenth and early
sixteenth centuries. These exotic preda-
tors include rats, cats, dogs, pigs and
mongoose; the latter having been deli-
berately introduced in 1872 in an at-
tempt to counter the depredations of
the accidentally introduced rats which
were causing serious damage to sugar
cane and other crops. In the event, of
course, the mongoose did not prove
particularly effective at controlling the
rat population, but their introduction
inevitably resulted in the serious decline
and, in a number of cases, the extinction
of native species. Amongst the early
casualties was the Black Racer Alsophis
ater, which had been described as the
most abundant snake in Jamaica only
20 years before the introduction of the
mongoose. Similarly, the extinction of
the two largest endemic lizards the
Jamaican Iguana Cyclura collei and the
Giant Yellow Galliwasp Celestus oc-
ciduus; at least five endemic birds; and
one of the only two endemic land mam-
mals the Jamaican Rice Rat Oryzomys
antillarum; has been attributed to the
introduction of rats, the mongoose and
the other domestic predators. These
animals must also have had a serious im-
pact on the population of the Jamaican
boa, though it has been suggested that
this species has now achieved some sort
of ecological equilibrium with the
naturalised species. In a sense, this Is
evident merely by their survival, although
it is certain that these predators will
continue to play a major role in shaping
the structure, distribution and the re-
cruitment rate of the boa populations.


However, the central problem for the
conservation of these animals is more
tangibly centred on the gross destruction
of their habitat and by outright per-

section by man. The story is a familiar
one with progressive changes in land
usage, exploitation of remaining habitat
and poor agricultural practices having
drastically reduced the amount of forest
cover from about 90 per cent of land
area to only about 7 per cent. This is a
continuing process which will inevitably
follow the further expansion of the hu-
man population and the economic devel-
opment of the island. As such, the sur-
vival of remnant populations of this and
other native species has more to do with
the physical remoteness and the diffi-
culties of the terrain of those areas still
supporting natural habitat than it has to
do with the wise management of Jam-
aica's remaining natural resources. All of
those areas previously mentioned as


Jamaican boas produce relatively large litters
larger, in fact, than any other Epicrates
species for which litter-size has been record-
ed. Immediately after they are born, the
infant snakes often cluster together before

deed as forest reserves are, generally
speaking, reserved for commercial fores-
try, and even though wildlife is techni-
cally protected in these areas, the law is
poorly enforced and, for the most part,
realistically unenforceable.

In all other respects, the Jamaican
boa remains completely unprotected.
Indeed, it is not even included as a
scheduled species under the terms of
the Wild Life Protection Act, 1945,
which may be considered somewhat
ironic in view of its inclusion as a threat-
ened species in the IUCN Red Data
Book, and its listing in Appendix I of
the Washington Convention (CITES).1
Unfortunately, however, Jamaica has
not yet ratified CITES, and there is
some evidence that the outside recog-
nition of its threatened status may make
it more desirable for the illicit market in

live snakes for the reptile sector of the
pet trade. On the other hand, the inter-
national trade in this species is probably
negligible now that the species has been
properly established in captivity, and is
breeding regularly. Equally, however,
the outside recognition of its threaten-
ed status has served no useful purpose in
reducing the major causes of mortality
in Jamaica, where the priorities must be
with effective (and long overdue) pro-
tection of key areas of remaining natural
habitat and the promotion of improved
awareness amongst the Jamaican people
of the intrinsic value and importance of
their endemic species. These two factors
are clearly interrelated in as much as the
increasing level of human activity in and
around the few remaining areas of natur-
al habitat also increases the likelihood
of snake-human encounters not least
because the boas are evidently attract-
ed to centres of human activity in search
of water and prey; the latter being pre-

Initially a light buff-red in colour, young
yellow snakes do not assume adult coloration
until three or more years of age.

Occasional reports of snakes being 'knotted
together' generally refer to their mating
behaviour which may last for many hours
and be repeated at regular intervals over a
period of several weeks during the spring.
Often, a single sexually-receptive female will
attract more than one male all of whom
may try to mate with her, though males some-
times fight by wrestling or, with part-raised
bodies, by attempting to push each other over.

being the most important sites for the
conservation of this species have, for
example, been included in Jamaica's
national conservation plan, but none
of these sites has yet been properly re-
designated as protected areas. In other
words, there is, as yet, no effective net-
work of national parks and wildlife re-
serves in Jamaica, and the only legal
protection now afforded to wildlife
habitat is that which obtains in respect
of the scheduling of all Forest Reserves
as Game Sanctuaries in the Forest Act
of 1937. This is very little protection in-

An adult Puerto Rican boa Epicrates inornatus another of a whole series of West India boas of
this genus; many of which are now threatened with extinction in the wild' state. For many years,
the Jamaican boa was confused with this species and it was not properly described as a quite
separate form until the turn of this century.

AK I& f
The Jamaican Racer or 'Black Snake' Alsophis ater, once described as the most abundant snake in
Jamaica, was one of several species either exterminated or endangered by the introduction of the
mongoose and a host of other exotic predators (Photograph of a preserved specimen in the British
Mf-,ornw /tA[rTfrl rUictnr,J I

The Jamaican Giant or Yellow Galliwasp Celestes occiduus one of a series of anguid lizards
found in the West Indies which, like the boas, are everywhere threatened by habitat destruction,
through their ignorant persecution by people in the erroneous belief that they are venomous and
by predation by introduced mammals. This particular species the largest of all the anguids -
was exterminated within a short time after the introduction of the mongoose. (Photograph of a
preserved specimen in the British Museum (Natural History) ).

dominately rodents, which are naturally
plentiful around cultivation and hu-
man habitation. Unfortunately, of course,
the potential advantages of gravitating
towards human habitation are largely
negated by the hazards accrued. These
hazards include road traffic casualties,
burning of cane fields and increased ex-
posure to domesticated predator species
- all of which undoubtedly result in a
high per cent mortality of snakes in
some areas. Perhaps the most important
single factor, however, is the outright
persecution of snakes and other harm-
less reptiles by the local people. As
one of the leading U.S. herpetologists,
Ronald Crombie, recently stated:

I believe the reason for their decline is
quite simple: any large visible animal
will suffer when it comes into contact
with man. The Jamaicans' abject fear
and loathing of snakes, and a general
lack of respect for other living things,
is directly responsible for Epicrates'
seeming rarity. Jamaicans kill each and
every reptile that crosses their path,
often going to considerable effort to
do so.

When referring to the status of the
Cuban boa E. angulifer in the 1930s,
another leading herpetologist of his day,
Thomas Barbour, wrote that: 'The ex-
tension of cane cultivation has deci-
mated this species. Every cane cutter
carries a machete all the time and uses

it on every snake.' A similar situation
prevails in Jamaica and has undoubted-
ly contributed to the decline of this
species over extensive areas. In one in-
stance in the late 1970s it was report-
ed that a whole village turned out to
witness the killing of a large boa that
had been discovered in a tree on the
outskirts of the community. Since no
one in the village would climb the tree
to dislodge the snake, the local police
were called to shoot the snake and were
acclaimed in the national press for doing
so. This fear of snakes and other harm-
less (and useful) reptiles is not only ir-
rational, but it is also stupidly counter-
productive. Gosse made this point rather

A serpent of this species was discover-
ed in my own bedroom one night at
Content, as I was preparing to retire
for rest. Though certainly not within
the bed, it was but just a few inches
from my pillow; but the motive of its
intrusion, which proved fatal to it, was
probably the pursuit of the rats that
scampered along the rafters over the
bed. A male which I dissected in Feb-
ruary had a large mass of rat's hair in
the stomach and rectum, consoli-
dated like the pellets disgorged by

1. Convention on the International Trade
in Endangered Species .



SA Sutemr Rod K int 1,JMi- a

Contract manufacturers and exporters
Cosmetics, Personal-Care and Household
Cleaning Products


Nanse Pen Industrial Complex
P.O. Box 192, Weymouth Close
Kingston 20, Jamaica W.I.
Phone: 92-59733, 92-38597.

We are manufacturers of a variety of gases and gas mixtures for diversified purposes


The Pioneering

Miss Amy Bailey (b. 27 November 1895)
social worker, educator and writer, is probably
best known for her work with the House-
craft Training Centre which she founded in
1945 to train unemployable teen-aged girls in
the skills of housecraft. She was also involved
in raising funds for several voluntary organi-
zations including the Save the Children
Fund and the Family Planning Association
of Jamaica. As a founder of the Women's
Liberal Club, Miss Bailey was one of the lead-
ing figures in the struggle to attain equal
recognition for women in public life. In 1971
the Order of Distinction was conferred on her
as a mark of respect for the contribution she
made to her country's development. In an
interview with Jamaica Journal, Miss Bailey
speaks about the influences which shaped her
life and the years spent in service to her

E.B.: While I was doing a piece of re-
search on women in Jamaica, I came
across an article in the Daily Gleaner
which quoted you as saying, 'the women
teachers of Jamaica have now proved
themselves able by examination, by ex-
perience and practical ability to stand
on the same plane as male colleagues in
all things educational'. It was reported
on the third of January 1940. You were
talking about women teachers not being
promoted to the rank of inspectorate in
schools. Can you tell me something about
the apparent discrimination against
women in the profession at that time?

A.B.: My sister Ina and I were very dis-
turbed at the fact that women were not
taking their rightful place in Jamaica
and we blamed ourselves. We then had a
club called the Women's Liberal Club
and we decided that the club was for
the distinct purpose of enabling women
to look out for themselves. When we
made a research, we found out that
women were in nothing. If men were hav-
ing any function, the women had to do
the chores for the function. And that's
all. We said no. We went to the same
schools, we passed the same examin-
ations, we had the same aspirations and
even though a woman is not the same as
a man God made them biologically
different mentally she is his equal and
she should use her mental capacity for
the improvement of herself. We decided
to have a conference where we would
invite, in 1939, leading women in Jam-
aica to look at ourselves and then de-
mand what we thought we were capable



of doing. And at that first conference
we demanded social equality in education.
We said, women should be inspectors of
schools, they should be in universities,
in the civil service; they should rise to
be heads of departments. And all these
things we brought to the attention of
the public. We invited various speakers
- we had Edith Clarke, Mrs Winston
Lyons, Mrs P.A. Aitken, Mrs Morris-
Knibb, my sister, and we had Mrs
Edith Dalton-James. We passed several
resolutions and the women were enthu-
siastic. We said it was time women enter-
ed politics; be prepared mentally to oc-
cupy and adorn I would like you to
use that word they must be able to
occupy it and adorn it. Because they
are women. You don't expect a man to
adorn a position.

I see the point you are making. To oc-
cupy it as well as adorn it. Making the
distinction between men and women.
That first conference was a success. As
a matter of fact we went to the gover-
nor and the legislative council about
our resolutions.
How did you and your sister go about
mobilizing people and establishing this
I think that this came from our up-
bringing. My mother and father taught
us from we were children to use our
brains that God gave us and think and
to have a feeling of taking up our obli-
gations to people who were not just of
our ilk. So I must pay tribute to my

Erna Brodber

Talks to

Amy Bailey

A youthful Amy Bailey flanked by father
W.F. Bailey and mother Anne Louise Bailey.

mother and father. As a matter of fact
they started the Jamaica Union of
Teachers at their home in Walderston.

When you were establishing this con-
ference about how old were you?

I left Shortwood College in 1917 and
for a year and a half I didn't teach be-
cause I wasn't strong enough. So I brow-
sed around and I taught myself short-
hand and typewriting. And I went to
teach at Kingston Technical School
September 1919 for three months initial-
ly, and I left in 1958 when I retired.
Yesterday was my birthday and I was
exactly 90. We started our Women's
Liberal Club in 1936.

But the conference. How did you mobil-
ize people?

We picked out the people whom we
wanted and said to them, 'look, we
want to do this, we want to do that'.
You know Jamaica had just been passing
through the trauma of 1938.

So you were inspired by the disturbances
and the socio-economic conditions?

I was very much inspired by the dis-
turbance of '38 because then I was alert
to everything that was going on in the
country. I was a member of the executive
of the Jamaica Poetry League. I was a
member of the Readers and Writers'
Club. Rupert Miekle had this Pen and
Quill Club in Port Maria .. the Debating
Society. I was a member of everything
that was really intellectual. And I was
very interested in the Frome Riot from
the sociological point of view. I was the
secretary of the Save the Children Fund

Were you instrumental in bringing the
Save the Children Fund...

Yes. I was the assistant secretary. Una
Marson [Jamaica Journal 16:2] was
the secretary and when we went to Eng-
land she didn't come back and I took
it over.
So you both went to England. What
did you go to England for?

I wanted to raise money for the Save
the Children Fund. I said if I went to
England on a lecture tour, talking about
Jamaica, we should be able to raise
some hundreds of pounds. Una had
been in England before, and she said she
was going back there to see what she
could do. Dr Anderson and Mrs Mary
Morris-Knibb said, 'Amy, you must go
to England too. We are going to send
you to go and talk about Jamaica.'
So in July of 1938 I went to England.
Una was there two weeks before I went.
She got a job over there so she never
came back for years. And I went on a
speaking tour all over.
The impression I am getting is that in
the late '30s and the '40s there was a
group of intellectual women who were
very concerned about conditions here,
and that you would get together from
time to time. You formed a number of
things, one being the Liberal Club. You
established the Save the Children Fund
and you set about getting funds to carry

things through, and you were working
through ideas...

You have got it. I worked through
another idea at the same time with the
Save the Children Fund birth control.
May Farquharson and I were the found-
ation members. We called it birth control,
not family planning. We started this in
1937 and in '38 when I went to England
I said I would see what I could do. I was
blessed to meet with a gentleman who
said that he wouldn't give any money
to the Save the Children Fund but if we
would start properly a birth control
association here in Jamaica, he would
send out Mrs Howe-Martin to help us.
She came out in 1939 and we started
the Birth Control Association at the
Ward Theatre with Mr Norman Manley.
That was the first time he ever made
any public...

That was Mr.Manley's first time?

First public time, yes.

And he came out on the platform?
He was a lawyer, but during the whole
of '38 his mind was stirred. It was time
for him to do something for the country.
We all told him that he was an eminent
lawyer, but his country wanted him
otherwise. So he had been preparing
in his mind and he said to us, 'Thank
you for thinking about me that way but
I can't go out to start anything in public
until I am financially able to stand it,
because once I have begun there is no
turning back. I am going to lose a lot,
financially. So I have to wait until I
find myself sufficiently established.'

From '37 we were at him to come out
in public life. So in '39 Mrs Howe-Martin
came to Jamaica. When this gentleman
told me 'I will send her to you for a
month. We will pay her expenses. You
keep her in Jamaica,' I said, 'that will
do'. I didn't know how I was going to
do it. I met May Farquharson she was
in London then and said to her, 'May'
and I told her the story. She said 'Amy
B, that's alright. When she comes to
Jamaica, Fort George [the Farquharson
residence] can be her official residence
and she can move about, up and down.'
I said, 'How am I ever going to go to
Jamaica and tell them that I am going
to bring home a woman to start .. .'
She said, 'that will be alright.' So with
that background, I wrote the gentle-
man, I said to him, 'Its alright. It's
been arranged.' And she came to us in
February 1939. And we launched a birth
control society right there at the Ward
Theatre with Mr Manley.

You were in so many things. It is very
difficult to ask you even why you were
in this one or the other.

I will tell you why. I wasn't doing it
of my own accord. God was using me
to bring about some of the things which
had to be done in Jamaica. I was just a

Were you aware at that time that you
were just a channel?

I wasn't aware of it then as I am now,
because the signs of mine, unity meta-
physics, gave me enough knowledge to
know that those are things that God had
implanted in me, and I only know that
I had an urge in me to do something,
but I didn't know then that I was a
channel. Today I know that I was a
channel used by God for those pur-
poses. So in 1937, '38, '39, Technical
School was my main job, but that was
just a side. As a matter of fact, the
director of education then, Mr Easter,
came to Technical School one day with
some visitors he brought along to see
the school. He said, 'This is Miss Amy
Bailey. She is a politician, a social work-
er and does teaching in her spare time.'
That is what the director of education
was saying, introducing me to those

But you had the support of your head-

But of course. Otherwise I couldn't.
I mean when the director of education

could introduce me as a politician, and a
social worker, and a teacher in my spare
time, you know that I had their support.
And as a matter of fact I said to him,
'Mr Easter, on the contrary, I am a
teacher as you know.' He says, 'Yes,
and a good one too.' 'And social work-
er and I do politics in my spare time.'
And they all laughed. I was really up
and about on what I call now My Father's

You mentioned that your parents help-
ed to prepare you to be a channel.
Could you tell me more about the
parental preparation?
My father was a teacher one of the
best teachers in Jamaica, W.F. Bailey his
name was. In those days it was the mark
system and his school had the highest
marks, but he was only getting 8.6.8
per month and he had a family.

How many of you were there?

Eight of us. But he always said that
he only regarded what he got from the
government as money to pay insurance
and things like that. He fed his family
from his own farm. My mother and my
father both came from Newmarket,
New Roads, in Westmoreland. My
mother was trained at the first Moravian
College, Bethabara. Bethlehem has now
taken its place. My mother was a train-
ed teacher. My father was trained at the
government training college that Mico
took the place of. They settled in Wal-
derston. It was then a land settlement
area. A German Moravian minister, a
Mr Walder had lands all around and he
saw that the lands were cut up for the
people. So my father built his home in
Walderston. We had been living about a
mile below before that. Five of us, I
think, were born in Walderston.

What place did you take in the family?

I was the fifth child. We were all trained

You were telling me about your father
and his influence on you.

My father and my mother gave us ideals
that I am still living by today. My father
said to us one day, 'If you stretch
your hands out on a Friday afternoon
or at the end of the month and get a
pay envelope and that's the only good
you can do in the world, you haven't
done very much. So many others are
doing the same thing.' He said to us,
you must do more than get a pay
envelope. Look around and see how you

can help and serve. I think he got it
from the British Crown Prince, Prince
of Wales, his motto was: 'I serve'. My
father said, 'You have that as yours
too: I serve. Serve your country. Serve
your brotherman. Don't just be content
with the pay envelope'. And another
one which he gave us is: 'All the
knowledge you have acquired, if it
can't enable you to make up a fire
without using kerosene oil, it doesn't
amount to much.' He always said,
'There is plenty of room at the top.
Don't be content to be down at the
bottom of the ladder.'

He counselled you?

Absolutely. They gave us ideals, you
know. They kept one general maid and
we as children had to work along with
that maid. So having an untidy
home . that wasn't done because
there was no reason for it. And I told
you my father said 'with your
knowledge, if you can't make a fire
outside without kerosene oil . .' and
he would teach us how to make a fire.

He obviously had receptive children?

Of course. He respected us, in that he
didn't want us to grow up feeling that
we were Mr Bailey's children. We had
to earn our way. We had to work hard,
work hard in our garden, work hard at
whatever we were doing. I would get a
penny, the most I would get was three-
pence every week, to clean my mother's
machine, you know. Whatever work
we did like that, we were paid.
Christmas coming now, we would be
picking coffee, rat-cut coffee you call
it, picking up coffee on the ground, to
sell for our Christmas money. But it
taught us to work hard and it taught us
to be independent.

And he also taught you the academic

Who, my Daddy? y-e-s.

Because you all went off and got

All of us. My brother was a teacher too.
Winnie, Ivy, Ina, Amy, Victor, five of us
became teachers you know. Victor went
to Mico. Elsie she became a nurse, Susie
became a pharmacist. And I must say
this, that one of the greatest blessings
we had, was to be associated with white
people then of culture. The ministers of
all the churches, the Moravian, the
Presbyterian churches around, inspector

of schools . we associated with them.
They thought a lot of my mother be-
cause she was one of the first trained at
Bethabara. Mrs Hick was her first princi-
pal at Bethabara; she married Mr Hicks
who was inspector of schools and they
lived in Walderston one mile from us, in
Mizpah, so they were always associating
with my mother. Mrs Hicks trained those
first girls to be ladies.

Can you say something about your
time at Shortwood?

I had the good fortune to have a white
principal, Miss Alice Whitehead. She was
not one of these book principals, who
have all their knowledge in books; she
was widely read, widely travelled. She
introduced me to poetry and literature
and I have an undying gratitude to her.

Was it part of the curriculum, or was it
just that she was interested in this?

She widened the curriculum far more.
She began with our folk songs. That's
how she began literature. Folk lore and
you built it up. We had to do the folk
lore of all the different countries. You
had to learn all the stories and know
all about them and after that she
introduced you to the poets. She didn't
begin with Shakespeare. She began with
Anansi stories, climbing the stairs, and
then she did general poetry. Then she
took the leading English poets -
Browning the Apostle of Hope, Words-
worth the Apostle of Nature, Tennyson
. and Shakespeare of course was the
crowning piece of all. She led us right
up. It was in my third year that we did
a Shakespeare play.

That is amazing.

That was university type training she
gave us. She gave us an adage from York-
shire I am passing on to you. They
said about her, 'Oh Miss Whitehead, she
is too generous and general and she has
men from the ships and she has all sorts
of things coming up to the college break-
ing down' what they never had -
'decent college traditions'. She said to
us one day, 'We have a saying in York-
shire and I am passing it on to you girls,
"They say. What do they say? Let them
say". 'And that has been one of my con-
victions. If I feel that a thing is right, it
doesn't really matter, intrinsically to me,
what you think. I say to myself, she
hasn't seen the light as yet. I have.

Miss Bailey, when people think of you
they think of social work. Can you tell
me more about your social work activi-
I began, as I said, as a teacher at Kingston
Technical. I gave it up in 1958. Thirty-
eight years. During that time I found
that what I was doing at Technical
School wasn't enough to occupy my
mind, my interests. I was interested in
social work because my parents had al-
ways taught us to look within, then
look out for others. Little by little I be-
came absorbed in social conditions. At
Technical School we would have our
examination for admissions. So many
passed. So many failed. And I would
look at these girls and say, 'What you
going home to do'? 'Nothing. Except
have babies.' In 1944 Professor Simey
came out to Jamaica. He said to me,
'You just sit on yourverandahs and chat.
You don't go to to work to help your
people.' And I said, 'You have given
me a challenge. I promise you, you are
going to hear more about it.' So I began
thinking how we could start training
these girls. A friend rang me and told
me there was a place up for sale Rose-
dale Avenue and if we could get it,
that place would be ideal. They wanted
1,500 for it at the time. I said, 'We
couldn't raise a pound. Where are we
going to get that?' Anyway I came
home and I said nothing to any of my
folks. I had in my bank book 105. I
took out the hundred pounds and I said,
'Mrs Aitken, I have 100. Let us go
down and tie it up.' Mrs Aitken was one
of the foundation members of the House-
craft Training Centre. And we went
down to the auctioneer and we tied it
up with the 100. That was October. He
said that he would give us till March the
following year to pay the balance -
eight months or he would have to
put it up for sale. Well, we took up
the challenge. My mother gave me a
motto, 'God honours faith'. Well, in
the '40s, the Liberal Club, we were
still with it, and I said, we have to do
something to help these girls, these
teen-aged girls. And I just began writing
about it. How to get 1,400? In the
meantime Mr Eustace Bird lent us an
architect, Aubrey Grant, and Grant gave
me a plan. It would cost about six or
seven thousand pounds, apart from
paying the 1,500 for the house. Faith
honours God. God honours Faith.
There was a time when I was very
desperate. The man whom I got the
greatest inspiration from was Mr Eddie
Hanna. He gave me 2,000. Men like

Kirkwood, Hanna, old man Issa. Those
were the people who helped me to raise
the money. And Mr Hanna said this to
me, 'Amy, I watch you. I admire you.
There is something you have got to do.
You have got to get your own men to
be as interested in what you are doing as
I am.'

What did he mean by 'your own men'?

Black men. And he gave me the names
of six black men who had money. What
they gave me was so small in comparison
with men like Hanna, Issa, Kirkwood
S. . With the help of those men, I put
out building blocks for public con-
tribution and we were able to start
building. We opened in December
1945. The night before we opened I
stood outside and saw the lights ablaze
and I wept. Because during construction
there was a time when there was no
money and the builder came and said,
'Miss Bailey, what are we going to do
this Friday? I have no money and I
can't get any more building materials.'
I said, 'Lord help me. What must I do.'
The idea came to me. Ask to be allowed
off an hour from school. And I walked
into Eddie Hanna's wholesale building.
I told him what was happening. And he
rang up Leonard DeCordova and said to
them, 'Now look, I am responsible for
Miss Amy Bailey. Give her all the sup-
plies, materials that she wants for her
Housecraft Training Centre.' One moun-
tain peak, one hurdle over! But I said,
'But Godfather' (I used to call him
that), I said, 'I want some money to
pay'. And he took me upstairs to his
private place and took out 200 one
pound notes. So I was able to meet that
bill and I had no more trouble with any
more building materials until it was
finished. I had some wonderful ex-
periences like that.

How long between the thought and the

Well, I had the thought in about '42 or
'43. We began working in '44.

And you opened in '46?
Officially. But we actually started in
'45. December '45. Six girls, one matron,
one cook. When I gave up in '77, over
6,000 girls had been trained there.

How did you choose your girls?

They didn't have to pass an exam. The
teachers or the ministers or anybody
could choose girls who wanted to be
trained that way.


So the girls had to show a great deal of

It was only later that the government
was able to give us a small subsidy. It
wasn't until Bustamante came into
power, the first year he came into
power I was able to get him to come to
the centre one night. They had a birthday
party for all born in February and he
came that night. He said, 'O this is won-
derful, I didn't know it was something
like this Miss Bailey . we have to
help you. I don't know what to tell
you yet but we will have to help you'.
And from that time the government
began giving me . a spoonful of
something at times, but I said, 'Thank
God'. And it was the best home eco-
nomics school in the widest sense in
Jamaica because I had ideas and I put
every idea into it. We ran the school it-
self where we took in girls. We ran an
evening class for people who wanted to
learn how to cook, we ran dining room
where people came in for meals and we
ran a catering service where we had to
make money buns Easter time,:cakes
all the time. Weddings, we had weddings,
and at Christmastime we wguld make
so many Christmas puddings to send
abroad and for those here. So catering
was a big feature. And God helping me,
I went on. I got help from America.
My brother was over there, my sister
was there, they had committees working
for us, and I got help. I got people to
give scholarships to some of the girls
from the country, and I had the help
of churches. So that we had six dor-
mitories; we had offices downstairs;


been writing in Public Opinion and I
think that she is not only a good writer
but she has a sound knowledge of
conditions and that she has the good of
this country at heart. And her name is
Miss Amy Bailey.' I was so frightened
when I heard it. '. . and I want to
congratulate that one woman who is
doing so much in her way to help'. At
that time I had gone to Mr Manley about
the week or two before, begging him to
start something in Jamaica for women
and children because he was then in
charge of the Social Welfare Commission.
I said, 'the plains of St Andrew can rear
cows for women to do dairy farming'. At
first he pushed it aside but after he heard
the governor's speech he called me and
said, 'you know we should go into
this thing, I think there is a possibility'.
Well they weren't able to do it just then
but there is still scope for women in this
country in dairy production.

OETR.. LEGU -rSa mI -

upstairs we built the classroom in1957,
a big classroom, with offices. It was a
big thing and I was proud of it. When I
got sick in '75, '76, I handed it over to
the government in '78. Handed it over
to them. It is theirs.

Now that you can look back, what
achievement are you proudest of?

Well, I am proud of every one. But
this is one that I am very proud of.
When they opened Kingston Senior
School I heard Governor Denham say,
'I don't know whether she is in the
audience but there is a lady, and I have
been reading the articles that she has

So you are saying that your proudest
moment was when Governor Denham
mentioned you by name?

Yes. I felt glad, proud of the moment
and then I said to myself: I must use
him. I wrote asking him for an interview
and he gave me the interview, and I went
up to King's House for that interview.
I said I wanted to see a trade school for
girls in this country. And he was enthu-
siastic. He said, 'Miss Bailey this is won-
derful if we can get it done'. And in a
couple of days he rang up Town Clerk
Harris and told him about it and Harris
came up to Technical School and said,

'Miss Amy Bailey, what sort of person
are you. You know Governor Denham
has got in touch with me to see to it
that the corporation helps Miss Bailey
set up a trade school. We will do so and
so. You must do so and so'. And he went
into what they would do. The following
week Governor Denham had to have an
operation and died. So that died too.
Back to Technical School. The day he
visited I said to him, 'Your Excellency,
you have come into this class at a
time which is very opportune because
before me is a very frustrated class'. 'Why,
Miss Bailey'? 'Because I train them in
shorthand, we train them in typewriting,
they are good at it and they can get no
work outside in the commercial world
or anywhere.' He said, 'don't we employ
them in the civil service?'. I said, 'No sir,
they are not employed in the civil
service.' 'So the government wouldn't
hire them?' 'They don't think the
technical school trained children are
civil service quality'. And he said to the
children, 'well, that is bad. We are
going to change it.' He said, 'Miss
Bailey, can they write good shorthand?'
I said, 'they write at 80 and 100 words a
minute, Your Excellency, and when I say
they write it they can read it'. He said,
'are they good at English'? I said, 'English
is comparable to the shorthand'. His
excellency the governor at the Technical
School and he has promised that if we
are good at shorthand and typewriting,
commercial work, and are good at
English, that the government will employ
us. And his excellence went and took
one of the books, that fellow's book,
W.D. Roberts. And he said, 'Miss Amy
Bailey, read back what he has written'.
So he was testing me and the boy.
Luckily he was a very good shorthand
writer and I had no difficult in reading
it. The next day the governor rang Mr
Easter (director of education). In two
weeks time it was an accomplished fact.
So this is one of your prized achieve-
I am proud of it. And I was able to
take these frustrated girls and boys and
place them. You see A. Z. Preston
[Vice-Chancellor of the University of the
West Indies]. He was atTechnical School.
So that only shows you. Another thing
that I am rather proud of was what I did
for colour in this country. When I was at
Technical School in the '30s and '40s,
you couldn't call colour out loud, you
By that you mean you couldn't say:
this is a black child?

Yes. I mean you could not differen-
tiate, nor could you notice it. You
observed it and I realized that the
black ones would always be at a dis-
advantage where that issue is concerned.
And so I began writing articles in Public
Opinion in the '30s "Not Wanted, the
Black Man, the Black Woman, the Black
Girl, the Black Boy". The black man
didn't want to marry the black woman
because he wanted to raise the colour of
his children, so he had to marry the
white or the brown or the fair-skinned
and so on. And the black woman was
not wanted in the shops. You wouldn't
see her at the head of any commercial
undertaking. The black girl and the
black boy you wouldn't see them in
commerce, however much they were

You wouldn't see black children in

You wouldn't see them anywhere. It
was the brown ones, however inefficient
they were. I began writing articles and
when I went into the stores they would
say to me, 'Miss Bailey' I remember Mr
Durie from Times Store, said to me 'Miss
Bailey, I see that you have been writing
this thing but we don't discriminate you
know, we have black girls.' So I looked
around and I said, 'I don't see any of
them here, Mr Durie.' He said, 'They are
upstairs.' I said, 'Upstairs'? He said, 'yes,
they do the books upstairs.' I said, 'you

hide them around up there.' I said, 'Mr
Durie, when I come in here as a black
woman, I want to see some of them
down here. Some may be upstairs
but I don't want to come into a store
and see none of mine.' Because it
makes me feel that there is something
wrong, that there is an inferiority com-
plex about me and there is none. And
everywhere I went the owners of the
establishments would be attacking me.
Mr. Issa said to me, 'We would like to
have them you know, Miss Bailey, but
the other girls, there are other girls who
wouldn't want to associate with them'.
The brown girls didn't want to associate
with the black, that is what Mr Issa was
telling you. Was that your perception of
it as well?

Yes. But I looked at it as a teacher, the
brown girls ran away from the black
girls all the time. And I said, 'But Mr
Issa, who employs the brown girls? If
you want a black girl in here you
wouldn't employ a girl who doesn't
want to associate with her?' He said,
'Ah Miss Bailey, you have a point there,
you have a point there, and we are going
to try it out.' And after that it became
the normal thing to go into a store and
see black girls.

So you made the establishment con-
scious of its colour discrimination?

I made the country conscious.

J Edited R.B.Slwan

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' ""'


Rockfort, Kingston 2, Tel: 928-6231.


I a 6^

A I s tro lye e e y thsa Jor TRY IT

COCA WINE is strongly' recommended by the British Medical Journals. TRY IT I

Th. Mljk-ei bnd is gubr .sad t t.
*., ,iVB tal the Bta of the WriglaOB mi
|In th iuoss ot noe-urs nothiMnag a
Ste o u ratmom I ot. bt the bmi

ar a g t sacr t saadde
crem; har b bsqutueatere te ni d ask i sg


f Ja cmaic n j rnali

Esecs g TIn a crs tselfo
I junit tatnheetm

S 'm.eistu en Te a .n anrs n a ..rh r w
s e icrofm

T he year of emancipation in Jam-

aica, a goodwife across the seas
in Edinburgh gave birth to a son.
Emancipation in 1834 marked one of
the highest points in the history of
Jamaica; the quite unrelated birthing
in Scotland was to change the course
of Jamaican journalism.
ha'rlndmade harness fi..ttings- .. |
In a country which prides itself on
its journalistic tradition, the name James
Gall has been forgotten except, perhaps,
by media students and researchers who
seek out the microfilmed records in the
National Library of Jamaica which pro-
vide the only access to the crumbling
pages of Gall's News Letter, the originals
having been stored for safe-keeping. Yet
the News Letter was one of the most in-
fluential periodicals of its day, and cer-
tainly the most provoking.
There, on the front page, are the ad-
vertisements for fine pocket watches at
20/-, patent medicine cure-alls, and
handmade harness fittings. But while
subscribers awaited each issue for news
about shipping arrivals and the conduct
of foreign wars, the best read pages were
undoubtedly those on which Gall print-
ed his fiery editorials and scathing com-
mentaries on the 'snobocracy'.

AsOth rh us. OUR ILUYRATU>D i
Usa, the t.,bo .upfo.su.r sUe lJjljiri |lettef i:
,dm 1bll hrWr .ll, -1.W .s 1
fr thrr ti H., es -sh .
sla f sa ip i- a- '" A "
miiu of "sw "in" Wysy'tyg'ij'- '"""
UIlsg *p I_. h o .f -- -n a s
Jedas sad Sheises- *as ii By?"s I i n*ph *i *I "
Irci~~~r ~ a. -~ --k -.~nr~
1b. u P..Pw ..folI







By Cynthia Wilmot

Where other editors were content to
use restrained language when making a
point of criticism, Gall not only gave
facts and figures but named names -
often, according to his adversaries, with-
out sufficient evidence of incompetence
or outright corruption. Thus, in the 40
years that Gall's News Letter flourished
in Kingston, Gall was loved and hated,
respected and condemned.
'As a journalist', wrote William Kirk-
patrick in the Daily Gleaner Centenary
Number of 1934, 'Gall in his day had no
superiors. He had a real flair for news'.
But Kirkpatrick continued, 'Perverse as
he was, he preferred above all things the
scandal and social gossip of his day. He
had a distinct flair for the salacious and
cared little if the identity of his subject
was thinly veiled'. Yet this fellow
country-man who had known Gall
personally, felt compelled to add that
Gall was a man of great courage, 'abso-
lutely ruthless in his criticism of public
men [and] generally sound on public
Critics writing during the lifetime of
the News Letter were harsher. An editor-
ial in the Jamaica Advocate of March
1885, accused Gall of being'mean natur-


ed, a human jackal who happens to pos-
sess a newspaper . an unscrupulous
coward . a deliberate liar'.
Yet more than a century later when
it was possible to assess his work with
less emotion, F.L. Casserly in a talk for
the Jamaica Historical Society aired on
radio station ZOI (17 November 1948)
gave Gall the credit for breaking away
from the long tradition of dullness and
verbosity in the newspapers of the early
19th century, and called him 'a man
who influenced for the better the
Jamaican journalism that was to come
after him .... Gall was a born journalist
and he wrote well in terse, simple, vigor-
ous English .... He clearly understood
that news and views are commodities
for sale and therefore they ought to be
offered to the public in attractive form
.... [He was] hard-working, enterprising,
Who was this remarkable man who
inspired such varied reactions?

Gall The Immigrant
We know little of Gall's early life in
Scotland. Though probably of modest
birth, he had been well educated per-
haps in a good church school with a
demanding English master, since his
prose at its most flamboyant always dis-
played a clean style and grammatical
At 23, eager and ambitious (and
gifted with good business sense as well
as a way with words) he saw the green
shores of Jamaica from shipdeck, im-
patiently waiting, like so many young
adventurers, to make his fortune in the
colonies. He brought with him a variety
of skills: he was to become a merchant,
hotelier, private detective and lecturer.
He may also have brought a wife, since
history gives the occasional, miserly
mention of a Mrs. Gall, who was ap-
parently unable to inspire the faintest
flicker of recognition in the shadow of
her husband's brilliance.
Gall could have chosen a better time
to emigrate, perhaps. Jamaica had gone
through a long, painful financial 'c&sis.
After emancipation, the country's sugar
industry had struggled to compete with
slave-worked plantations elsewhere and
some of the largest estates had been
abandoned. Only seven years before his
arrival, a cholera epidemic had killed
more than 30,000; in Kingston, with its
primitive sanitation, one out of every 10
had died.
In social life there was an air of gaiety
influenced no doubt by the arrival of

UiA. L".1i~


The 'I enth season.

B. UOS L&VUR WAI'VU' MpseAw.1-
DEPER NW, "Wo0~ 5 ~Y

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orn. In- r-.. 1K-31-y Ani -ift b Td- -*,L.M

TTJKSDAY Evening the 12th Jnury.

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Pit 11 F.


"al's iews Letter,"

OPEN to every registered Subscriber
whons Yearly Subecription is laid up
o the 30th April, 1895. To th ec Suberri-
bes. Tickets, qualifying for participating
I the Drawing, will be issued on, or after,
lit November, 1891.


Wednesday, 19th June. 1895,
By the Subscribers to Gall's Daily News
Ltter or Tri.Weekly News ;Letter (not
the Weekly Edition).
1. An Elegant Cleroh OrSiq, with Gilt
Pipes, Stops, etc.
S An Eleat Cold Wateh in a Morocco
Leather Case
3. n Elegant sllver Wateh.
4. A lel silk Drees (Fifteen yards)
5. A Model Wax Dell (,ife Size) Wax
Aria, ieet, Long Hair, Eyes to open
and close, and Educated to call "Ma-
ma"and "'Papa.
A IMuloald h Several Airs.
7. Am [etr sIlver*al vr.
5. An flIht Dky Clook Striking hour
and Half.hours.
9, A Nior an eding LElp (Complete).
10. A, Elegant Photolnahlo Albunl, 4th with


-_ % 4 a ..,..... 4 1011 ,

French refugees, both masters and slaves,
who had fled to Jamaica from the insur-
rections in what is now Haiti. The im-
pact of this cultural 'invasion' may be
judged by the fact that, as the century
began, one in every 10 slaves in Kingston
was French-speaking. Their masters,
forced to abandon their riches, had not
abandoned their refined French manner
and love of balls and high fashion. Thus
Kingston was a city of high contrasts.
While the dusty streets of the town at
mid-night echoed the rattle of carriage
wheels as the revellers in silks and satins
went home to their beds, the same

No likeness
of Gall has
been found, but
this is his father,
the Reverend
James Gall.

_ __ ____ ..


THIS fACHfl will do *wrbyth,1 t thh mtot t, n-hvo Moohln Btoa
do and qoAu tllt wll. It it bot l.y indlMpn.b Ind eNO MA or,
BOUSfl. MAY Neno ogord to bwithoot ene. Iti o tbtoiu ly imple; I,
*tron xa.l.ro.Otaatot pt out od order. Nver neds rpir.Hu ooooa. and
pI01 Alwfl wm0ork wll.
In l.., Iymot or b wm.kly in.tlmoanta wan pnoa or not in
position to pa dow 90s. Sy 100. dowa., and St. Sd W kly thel.attr ror
1 sht t klo, w .t a bUI nod mlpt io fooU wll be girn. th. parehtr.
Price in London Two Guineas
Thirty Shillings in Jamaica.
JAMES GALL. Sole Agent in Jamaica.

A ll t w .,' 1 I. .,t*. a t-. 'l'tllny tI m', I, l t
G. L.'

VIRULENT Unfiltered
Disease WATER.



streets carried foul-smelling rivers of
sewage to the sea, the town lacking any
other disposal system.
Yet Gall did not find himself in an
intellectual vacuum. The theatre flourish-
ed. The great patriot Edward Jordan
had blazed publishing trails 30 years
earlier with the establishment of The
Watchman. It was in Kingston that
Simon Bolivar had written his famous
Jamaica Letter. When Gall arrived, Beli-
sario and Kidd had set high standards in
the graphic arts and Duperly was pro-
ducing his famous daguerrotypes. He
could count among his contemporaries
such brilliant men as Enos Nuttall and
the naturalist Richard Hill and may have
rubbed shoulders with the Cuban lead-
ers Antonio Maceo and Jose Marti, in
exile in Jamaica.
The lively town presented a challenge
to Gall. With a partner, Andrew Simpson,
who had the necessary capital, he set
up a printer and stationery shop at the
corner of Port Royal and Church Streets
and named it, with typical modesty,
'Gall's Educational Repository for Jam-
aica, Sunday School and Religious

Tract Society, Gall's Printers Store'.
Three years later he began publication
here of a newspaper which was the fore-
runner of the famous or infamous
- News Letter. He also published a
good reference book, Who's Who and
What's What, which even his enemies
had to respect.

The Journalist

Gall was not, of course, the only star
in the journalistic sky. Some fine writers
served the newspapers in the latter half
of the century. Among them were
Robert Osborn, William Girod and
James Otway Clerk, all full-time journal-
ists, and occasional contributors such as
William Morrison, the Rev. John Rad-
cliffe, the Rev. J.B. Ellis and Henry
Vendryes. The Gleaner was in the cap-
able hands of the DeCordova family.
But the general tone of the press was
conservative, with top honours for
dullness and highfaluting but murky
prose going to the Colonial Standard,
edited by George Levy.
The young Scotsman changed all
this, and in doing so made enemies.
One morning Levy accosted Gall at the
stamp window of the general post of-
fice, spat in his face and kicked him.
Gall prosecuted and won his case and
with his usual sense of humour reported
in the News Letter that'Mr. Gall has been
assaulted by a piece of machinery'. His
readers chuckled: they all knew Levy
had a cork legal
Gall sought constantly to make his
paper livelier and more informative than
those of rivals such as Levy. Growing up
as he had in Great Britain, where news
was on the street almost as soon as it
happened, Gall was irked by the local
practice of relying on 'packet intelli-
gence' brought from England by Royal
Mail steamers. When Jamaica was linked
to the trans-Atlantic cable service he
saw his opportunity. He immediately al-
lied himself with a New York news
service and was not only able to print
his own up-to-the-minute 'Gall's Special
Telegram', bringing news weeks before
it reached his rivals by the old route,
but at the same time had himself appoint-
ed correspondent for the New York of-
fice, covering not only Jamaica but the
larger Caribbean cities as well.
Of course, the newspapers of a cen-
tury ago including the News Letter -
were a far cry from the smartly-styled
papers of today. The front page was
given over almost entirely to advertise-
ments. Most headlines were at most one-

column in width, followed by long
columns of closely set type and very
few illustrations. However, readers of
that time had not yet had their atten-
tion span shortened by exposure to the
barrage of superficial snippets of inform-
ation that the electronic media offer.
They were quite content to sit down for a
'good long read', so long as the style was
witty and the thought profound. Gall's
wit and audacity were evident in every
column it seemed that if he did not
write every word of the News Letter
himself he certainly imposed his style
on others.
Every column of the News Letter,
offensive or not, was readable. He was
outspoken on all public issues and al-
ways took the side of progress, even
when his opinions ran counter to the
Establishment which they usually
did. But just as eagerly read were the
barbed social notes and agricultural jot-
tings, down to the 'editor's notes' at the
bottom of his correspondence column,
which were usually much more amusing
than the letters themselves. Once, reply-
ing to a moderate rebuke from a cer-
tain Mr. Cody who had gently chided
him for intemperate remarks about a
member of the clergy, Gall produced a
two-column long 'footnote' which read
in part:
Our dear friend Cody has Iost his temper.
We urgently request our readers not
to judge Mr. Cody by this letter: he
is really a much more intelligent and a
much better educated and a much more
refined man than a reader of his ridi-
culous and vulgar letter would suppose.
Perhaps we would be acting more kind-
ly were we to refuse to insert his let-
ter; however we have inserted it and
out of regard for Mr. Cody's feelings
we hereby solicit a merciful consider-
ation for those gross blunders which
violate the canons of commonsense,
decency and propriety.
Not for a moment would we have it
supposed that the true Cody is re-
vealed in this letter; the real Cody is
a quiet, well-conducted tradesman, the
mildest-mannered man who ever sold
an ounce of tea or tootled on a French
horn while the Cody represented in
this letter is a semi-imbecile, a furious
fanatic . . We refuse to admit that
reason is tottering on that throne
which Mr. Cody, with considerable
humour, calls his mind. We are driven
to the conclusion that Christmas and
the New Year have been too much for
this kind-hearted, but weak-stomached
grocer. We will be gentle, because Mr.
Cody is ill.

The formula worked. Gall pushed his
circulation up to 10,000 copies per
week a remarkable achievement when
we remember that the population of

Kingston, where most readers lived, was
approximately 35,000, and that the
majority were illiterate or semi-literate.
And to speed more sales, the enterprising
publisher held contests and lotteries for
new subscribers, offering in prizes in
one case; 'a full-toned church bell, a
box of dominoes, and a meerschaum

The Entrepreneur
One would have supposed that the
News Letter would have been enough to
fully occupy any man. Yet Gall found
time and energy to operate several other
businesses with equal success. He ran a
shop in King Street, where he shocked
local puritans by exhibiting in the
window for all the world to see the
first flush toilet to be imported into
Jamaica. He ran a private investigation
agency with himself as chief detective.
He printed and sold valentines, pushing
sales by printing bogus 'letters' from
satisfied customers in his News Letter.
One fictitious gentleman wrote:

Any suitor who woos a girl with a
valentine from - -'s or- - - -'s
[rival merchants] 'would be guilty of
the grossest manners and the most de-
plorable taste. If a man wants to make
an impression on my daughter he must
present her with a valentine from
In 1870, successfully managing his
many ventures like a juggler keeping
half-a-dozen balls in the air, Gall turned
his talents in yet another direction. He
noted that a certain waterfront property
owned by McLean's Shipbuilding and
Watering Yard was blessed with several
crystal clear springs. Telling nobody of
his intentions, he purchased the land,
and to everyone's surprise constructed a
sanatorium, piping some of the water
into a drinking supply and the rest into
baths he claimed could cure arthritis
and other ailments. He named his spa
Myrtle Bank, after the myrtle flowers
which grew in his native Scotland, and
to add cachet, imported some of the
plants for the garden. Although the
flowers withered in the hot sun, the
Myrtle Bank flourished.
Gall advertised his hotel as 'the head-
quarters of Americans and the Liter-
ati', and the boast did come true in
later years. At first, of course, the pa-
trons were local folk who took advant-
age of the baths (at 6d. per time) since
few homes had bathrooms. An annual
Christmas fair was well patronized by
high society and the common people,
and eventually the foreign notables did

Tho world's i theatre, the olrth a utare,
W\lclh Uold and ilaturu do with istlOr 111.
TllnoAS ulsYWOOO.

David, of Goatridge, is so very sweet on
Lizzie, that no doubt "tit Wednesday"
will be announced at an early date.
Gilbert, of Epping Farm, las recently
been casting an eye upon Cardy, but Busy
Bee would advise hlin to cast the other eye
upon" White shoe David, who says that
he will have no fooling around in that
Mass Willie, has been heard to say that
he has the utmost faith in the fair Isa-
bella, and Busy Bee quite agrees with him.
Petty is looking charmingly bright and
rosy since se has been engaged to the
Minto Dude: it is to be hoped that this
young lady will not allow the fish to lip
off the hook, as she did when Boyd played
the role that is now being taken by the

.ack, our local Sibthorpe, has resigned
the position which he has held in tlhe Con-
stalulary for the last live years, and in-
tcnls to o in for lsop-keeplng, very
.hlrtly. lie has recently >elievedl thei
Illollltoaiy of every-day existence lhere l,
Irceli;.ia-ig ono of Mason and lunli llai
well.known organs. lie has an excellent
t,>cli. anrI Crowds of peopll gather round
lhi., 1,tc whenever lie is bringing fortll
,ih linilaus sInunds fron tlie inotrnuentl,-
nil tlat is very frequently.
It is reportedly that Bobby did not iimcel,
.. i.1- 1.0 ....- ; 11 ,1 SN."w

begin to arrive and were willing to pay
the staggering rate of 11/- per day, all
found. Long after Gall's departure and
death, the Myrtle Bank became known
world-wide as 'The Crossroads of the

The printer changed premises several
times and business arrangements often
changed with the location. At one time
he formed a partnership with the
DeCordova family in a Harbour Street
building. Later he set up shop on Duke
Street, then moved his headquarters to
Port Royal Street. During the great fire
of December 1882, the Port Royal
Street building, along with a large part
of Kingston, was destroyed. All other
printeries were in ashes, but fortunate-



Nellie:-I wonder why they have such
big golden eagles in th. church ?
Freddy :-' Cause they're birds of pray,
of course isn't it, ma?

No, Henry," she said, in a low tone,
"it i, impossible. I fear to trust my future
with you."
And why?"
"I have watched your conduct closely.
It hicks the mark of such devotion as my
soul craves."
'- Do I not come to see you four nights in
the week?"
Yes. But I have detected a calculating
selfishneis in your nature, which I fear."
SWhat do you mean ?"
SYou have never yet failed to leave in
time to catch the Inst car for Kingston."
SBut that's only commnon-sense."
I know it is, Henry, and therefore it is
noi, lov'."

ly Gall's printing plant on Duke Street
remained untouched. This meant that
for a short time Gall had a monopoly on
both news and advertising and made the
most of it. The Gleaner was soon on the
streets again to provide competition.
But it was difficult to compete with
Gall's flair. 'LOVE JEALOUSY -
MURDER!' one of his headlines would
scream, and readers would come running.
Although the columns of the News
Letter raised blood pressure among his
competitors, like sensible men they often
learned from his example. Gall, parti-
cularly in his later years, began import-
ing crack British writers among them
W.R. Durie, who eventually founded the
prestigious Jamaica Times which con-

tinued publication into the 1950s.
Joshua DeCordova who managed the
Gleaner from 1875 to 1892, realized
that the News Letter's sharp style could
not be matched by the gifted but un-
trained Jamaicans on his own staff. He
also began importing British reporters
but wisely apprenticed Jamaicans to
them, so that a corps of local journalists
with the discipline of the top Scottish
dailies and the high standards of Fleet
Street was built up an influence that
has lasted until the present.

One of the most popular News Letter
features was a column, 'What Charlotte
Says'. Charlotte was supposedly a snow-
ball vendor at the Royal Mail Wharf

who saw all and told all of the doings of
the high and mighty. Through Char-
lotte, Gall's uncanny knack for sniffing
out a scandal had full play with the
result that he was often involved in
court cases. Equally offensive to many
was his 'Society Notes' section, where
truth and fiction were bedfellows and
the devil take the hindmostl Prominent
persons were named and actions and
words attributed to them that were,
indeed, libellous.

Under public pressure (from adverti-
sers as well as from those whose dignity
was ruffled) Gall regretfully suspended
the Society Notes but he did it with
his own style, refusing to take the



Myrtle Bank Hotel

P 1 A.& I J" EI
IT COMMANDS magnificent views of the
Harbour of Kingston, the Motintains
of St. Andrew, Flamstead, New eastle,
Stoney Hill, Craigton, (the mcuntain real
denee of the Governor,) Warika, the Pali
sadoos, Plum Point Lighthouse Por-
Royal, Fort IIenderson and Fort Augnstat
I1' IS CONVENIENTLY situated for
basinessme n and peronus having business to
transact in the CiLy. It is on the principal
business Street of the City. ('ar pass the
door every fifteen minus es for the Post
Office, the Court lloune, the Bank anul
thie R dilwy Statiou, and yel, when within
the premises themselves, the scenery anur
rounding induces the belief that visitors
are in the country, for they see nothing but
beautiful grounds, an avenue of Palms and
a splendid array of tropical plants, flowers
and fruits.
the Establishment a l'rvate Iokrdioun
Establishment having the CO.UlF(ohl'
OF IIOME combined with the ADVAN.
once pitronise Mlyrtle iank very eal-
dom fall to retu in, aid the success ef tlhe
establishment is largely due to the kind
tlhiIe that h ive liiet said of its mv ag .
mintby persons who have reliihl,t I li
comfort. and the Irivacy of the in ltiittion.
PIrovilled with 9g:(od sutomk and elperiet'nccd

responsibility surely with tongue in
cheek. In self-righteous indignation, Gall
protested that the Society Notes were
none of his doing, and bemoaned the
'advantage having been taken of our
confidence in the bona fides of corres-
pondents . . Having to rely largely on
the good faith of contributors we found
ourselves being used for ignoble and dis-
reputable purposes.' Everyone knew -
and Gall knew that they knew that he
himself was wholly responsible. But,
nearing the end of his life, perhaps he
was tiring a little of the battle. At any
rate, his enemies were quick to pounce.
Gloated the Jamaica Advocate: 'Gall
surrenders he does it meanly, but he
does it I' And further commented:



Myrtle Bank Hotel Co.,


Capital--15,000 in 7,500 Shares of A2 each;

(Wit& power to increase e t CaOita and Shares)
Payable 5s. per share on application ; Us per share on allotment; and the balance
n calls not exceeding 5s, and at Intervals of not les than three months.
The Company to be registered under the Jamaica Companies Act 27 Vie. chae 4.
The liabilities of the shareholders will be limited to the amount unpaid on their
The HOTEL AT MYRTLE BANK, in Kingston, Is well established, and is a
favourite resort of tourists, travellers and persons seeking rest and change of
climate. The present accommodations are far too limited in their extent for the re
sent demands of those who come seeking roomt. Since January last additional e-
rooms have been provided and considerable alterations have beenmade for the om-
fort and convenience of te increasing number of visitors. The crowded character
of tihe building has for some time past, necessitated the occupation of part of
Mears. Soutar & Co's wharf premises for Hotel Stores, and the buildings hitherto
used a a Printing Ofice are being converted into additional bathrooms, servants'
rooms, harness and store roonuie out-ofloes and it is now proposco to bud extensive
rw:crel ways over tihe avenues, and to still further enlarge the verandahs of the main

He does what every unscrupulous cow-
ard does, viz. throws the blame on his
associates. He would have us believe
that it is not he whose vitiated tastes
and greed for money suggest the nature
and subjects of the correspondence ...
he has not the manliness to say that he
did wrong .. .. But what he has done
is only a part of what he will have to
do before the sound and upright people
in this island will accept his remorse
The Jamaican public will be satis-
fled only when the moral tone of Gall's
pages will be like that of all other
Jamaican newspapers . . If he were
in New York, Anthony Comstock's
Society would long ago have had ...
[his columns] suppressed by law.

The Public Crusader
No doubt Gall was at fault, and the
innocent suffered at times with the
guilty. But from today's perspective one
is inclined to suspect the purity of the
motives of his critics those 'sound and
upright people' particularly when they
put themselves in the company of
Anthony Comstock, America's most
famous 'anti-vice' crusader and secre-
tary/founder of the New York Society
for the Suppression of Vice. In 1873
Comstock had helped secure passage of
a law prohibiting the use of the mails
for 'obscene matter' defined as any-
thing which in Comstock's opinion might
pervert the morals of the young. To this
end Comstock campaigned savagely
against George Bernard Shaw, describing
the writer as 'the Irish smut-dealer'. In
the same way, anyone who campaigned
for the rights of women and children or
against the exploitation of the working-
man was viewed by Comstock with sus-
We must ask ourselves, then, if Gall's
severest critics might have had some
other motive than a love of the pure,
the good and the beautiful. For example,
Gall had infuriated many by objecting
in print to the way prizes were award-
ed in the agricultural shows. For the
same degree of excellence in their ex-
hibits, large farmers were given 10
and small farmers 50/-; Gall insisted it
should be the other way around. He also
offended the big penkeepers by cam-
paigning for an equal tax on farm ani-
mals. Small settlers had to pay a tax of
11/- for each horse or mule and 3/6d for
each donkey while the large estate own-
ers paid only 6d.
'In this island', fumed Gall, 'the
newspapers are almost the only guar-
dians of public liberty, and must not be
influenced in the performance of a pub-
lic duty'.

JANUARY 2, 9____

The event of tlh week has
been the arrest of tho Mona
Water Prophet-.Alexander Bed-
ward;-upon the charge of being a
wicked, malicious, seditious and evil-

disposed person, and of acting in a
mannerlikcev to disturb the peaceof
the Island Ily di.squii.ing the liege

subjects of Our Sovereign Lady the
It is not necessary that weshould enter
at length, into the past career of the ac-
eused einee he first started the super-
stitions religious cruse as to the alleged
healing properties possessed by the
water of the river Mona. All that is
ancient history.
At the same time it is not uninter-
esting to "hark back" to the time
when the Bedward Craes was at its
height, and we therefore give place to a
sketch by our special artist in which is
represented a scene ae route to the
" Healing waters." It speaks for itself.

Ourspecial artist haalso fumished
us with a sketch which he made on the
spot at the time not many months sine,
when "Bedward" was a word that
could almost "be coiured with. It
represent, a view of the seene of the
Prophet's operation at a very edy .
hour in the morning, and as it also a
"speaking sketch, comment is unne-

On the way to the sene of his pro- sevrrlbrations 'ot ;tle 'clock had
phesies, Bedward did not always make ccrasd to stir the quiet morning
lpte of what is cnmolllnIlv knnwln us air, alout five and twenty constables is-
Shank's pony: he-like ilatuln of old suled from the Station, armed cap pie
rclde an am.- with rifle and bayonets, three mounted
orderlies simultaneously making their
appearance from the sideto of the
building. Under command of Inspeo-
torn Wedderburn and James the police
SInterre l the conveyances, and the caval-
c ule started for Moua, Inspector 'Pen-
nington accompanying the onrdcrlies on
'rh morning was chilly, and the pro*
cesi.n -iTf the term may 1w used--,
-rtieds suchi dust as to remind one of

Nor should they be backward, he felt,
in pointing out weaknesses in the society.
He wrote:

It is somewhat discouraging in Jamaica
to witness, year after year, the steady
decline of every useful institution in
Kingston and St. Andrew . . The
Royal Society of Art and Agriculture
lived a few years and died soon after
Mr. Custos Kemble read a paper on
'The Silk Worm' . . The Ladies Self
Help sprang up under Lady Musgrave
and Mrs. Charles Campbell, but no
sooner had the former left the island
than the spirit of philanthropy oozed
out at the fingers of the directorate
.. The Sailors Home is another
popular institution which commanded
public sympathy . but the glory of
that has gone too, 120 per annum
being the limit of public charity and
subscription of which 60 is consum-
ed on the Secretary for collecting it
. The curse of everything in Jam-
aica is caste, and unless certain parties
are prominent in an undertaking no-
thing is worthy of interest. People in
-Kingston always like to be said among
the 'quality' and unless there is an ele-
ment of this attraction present nothing
seems to get done. People PROFESS
to take a deep interest in those who
can not help themselves, but just put
them to the test.
A pauper died and has to be buried
by the City Fathers at May Pen.
Which city minister will perform
the service over her grave? Not one
of them . . Let it be announced
that some public performer desires
to amuse the poor and destitute of
the Parish free of charge in the Town
Hall . and what clergyman comes
to help or share in their enjoyment?
But let it be announced that the
Governor is coming [and] we at once
have a hall profoundly filled with the
most unctuous professors of this spirit
of philanthropic meekness and gentle-
ness. All the ministers of the city
will be there. Jubilee East will be there,
Parson Roberts will be there, John
Radcliffe will be there....

The Establishment was shocked when
Gall nicknamed the colonial secretary
'Pomponius Ego', and poked fun at him
on every occasion. Sometimes his
attacks were more serious. When, for
example, there were plans for setting up
an electric light commission, a move
which was apparently opposed by the
colonial secretary, Gall suggested that
that dignitary had personal motives. The
gas company, which had provided
illumination, had been a particular
target of the News Letter. And now Gall
said, 'Pomponius Ego is opposed to any
commission to interfere with the brilliant
management, successful working and
marvellous account keeping of the
Gas Trust. Pomponius is vainly trying to

Park was blaze with glory, and a right
royal time was indulged in. Everybody en.
jnyel themselves immensely, and the ge-
nial host and charming hostesn were con.
gratnlated *n all sides over their success
ao s, happily ministering to the pluasre
of euci a lurge number.


Ellmore will be remembered by at least
one vounu man and a pretty young Msdy

shield a rotten and utterly bankrupt

Yet Gall was quick to give praise
when merited. He had always
championed the cause of black
Jamaicans, and he commended Governor
Henry Blake for announcing that he
would address a meeting of black
citizens, in an editorial which ended
with the stirring and for some,
inflammatory words, 'Come let us
reason together!' Said Gall:

If Black people were more considered
and more frequently taken into our
confidence and into public under-
takings We remember only a few
years ago the antiquated fossil who
controlled the public buildings actual-
ly refused to permit the Town Hall to
be used by Black people for a ball to
honour Her Majesty's birthday.

As the century drew to a close, Gall's
failing health forced him to give up
some of his many enterprises and to
place more responsibility into the hands
of his editorial staff. In 1899, now into
his sixties, Gall sold the newspaper and
packed his bags for home but his heart
remained in his adopted country. A fly-
er appeared, undated, advertising 'Mr.
Gall's Panoramic Lectures on Jamaica,
with Six Hundred Lime Light Photo-
graphs, Pictures Which Tell Their Own
Tale', including a photo of 'Fitzherbert
Patty, son of the Famous Barrister who
used to Water his Garden with Cham-
pagne'. The faded sheet gives us Gall's
address: 63 Newington Mead, Edin-
burgh, and Waverley House, Constant
Spring, Jamaica, P.O. Box 91. Whether
this tour took place on an earlier visit
home or whether it was the last salute

to Jamaica from a dying man is un-

So now, more than 85 years after
the last issue of the News Letter came off
the press, how do we judge its editor
and publisher? As a scamp and self-
seeker who used its pages to titillate for
profit? As a fearless crusader against
snobbery and corruption and a s'scial
critic who spoke out, without fear'.r.
favour, against those whom, -he felt,
stood in the way of progress?"
Clearly, Gall was both. And he was
more. He was a successful businessman,
a pioneer hotelier, an entrepreneur who
found it just as intriguing to promote
Turtle Tablets ('One makes Two plates
of Soup') as to campaign for cleaner
city politics. His most important contri-
bution to Jamaica, of course, is simply
this: in the 43 years he spent in the is-
land, he probably contributed more to
the establishment of a healthy, indepen-
dent tradition of journalism than any-
one else in his time.

And it is obvious to anyone who
takes the trouble to read the pages of
Gall's News Letter, seeking out the
editorials on the second page, after the
reports of ships'arrivals and the advertise-
ments for linsey-woolsey by the yard,
that if Gall himself could have written
his own epitaph it would have been this:

'He was a good newspaperman -
with a nose for news.'


1. Only a few years short of its centenary,
on the afternoon of 27 February 1966,
the Myrtle Bank was destroyed by fire,
the ruins eventually to be torn down to
make way for urban development.

CASSERLY, F.L., Radio broadcast on behalf
of the Historical Society of Jamaica on
ZQI, 17 November 1948.
"James Gall, Journalist and Business-
man" in Jamaica Historical Society
Bulletin, March 1958.
Down Town, 1934
Gall's News Letter
Daily Gleaner Centenary Number, Septem-
ber 1934.
Jamaica Advocate,16 March 1895.
National Library of Jamaica clippings file.

A Note on

Birds and Ganja

By Steve Gruber

I n recent years we have seen large tracts of Jamaica's re-
maining forests and woodlands relentlessly destroyed by
the itinerant small farmer, the woodcutter, coalburner
and even the government itself. The methods vary little and
accomplish the same end. Acres of wooded land denuded. But
perhaps the single most effective group responsible for this
destruction is the myriad ganja (marijuana) growers. And the
single most effective method for clearing is the 'slash and
burn' technique.
While little apparently can be done to stem this island-
wide deforestation, some species of birds have managed to
adapt to these widespread changes in their habitats. Parti-
cularly in the areas surrounding Lluidas Vale, Accompong
and Moore Town (see figure 1) several species have success-
fully integrated the Cannabis (C. indica, C. sativa) plant into
their general diet. In the process these species have become
quite tolerant of human encroachments, and have begun to
present some concern to the ganja farmer.

The degree of concern varies with the variety and quality
of a particular ganja crop. If the crop is to be 'sensimilla' -
seedless, highly potent, and expensive, birds are scared off
with rows of tin cans and aluminium foil suspended over
flowering female plants, to reduce the risk of accidental
cross-pollination. In the case of the so-called 'commercial'
ganja, the bird species are tolerated and even encouraged;
particularly the Jamaican Tody that preys on a variety of
insects damaging to the plants and the Jamaican White-
eyed Vireo that has a special fondness for a small green
caterpillar which is common to most cannabis plants.
In all the areas mentioned above, the species of birds feed-
ing on or within cannabis plants varied little, the most notice-
able observations being the absence of the Crested Quail
Dove from the Accompong area, and the Guyana Parrotlet
from the Moore Town area. However, of all the species docu-
mented as being regular feeders, the Guyana Parrotlet and the
Olive-throated Parakeet are regarded as the most destructive

Figure 1.


For Travel
~ j-


Lets bring
your travel
to life

We are Jamaica
On the ground. In the air. Second to none.
Reservations: Kingston 922 4661, Montego Bay 952-4300, Negril 957-4210, Ocho Rios 974-2566


to growing plants, destroying seeds, buds and branches.
Interestingly, each species regularly orients itself to a parti-
cular level of any single plant (see figure 2). In this way each
receives the maximum benefit, and subsequent approval or
disapproval of the farmer. Therefore while the Tody and the
Vireo are generally tolerated, the Parrotlet and Parakeet
together with the Ruddy Quail Dove and the Common
Ground Dove frequently end up as food for the farmer.
A breakdown of the species and the level of a cannabis
plant preferred can be appreciated from figure 2. Those
species predatory on buds, tentacles, and developing seeds
include the Parrotlet, Parakeet, the Blue Quit, the Greater
Antillean Bullfinch and the Saffron Finch. Within the mid
branches we find the Tody and the Vireo. And the ground
feeders, utilizing fallen seeds, include the Saffron Finch (fluc-
tuating), the Common Ground Dove, the Ruddy Quail Dove,
the Crested Quail Dove and the White-bellied Dove.

As most cannabis cultivations seldom approach maturity
before late August through November, the species of birds
frequenting these sites cannot be accurately observed before
this period. It all however presents an interesting area for fur-
ther investigations.

Reprinted from the Gosse Bird Club newsletter No. 43 September

Guyana Parrotlet
Olive-throated Parakeet
Jamaican Euphonia
(Blue Quit)
Greater Antillean Bullfinch
Saffron Finch

Jamaican Tody
Jamaican White-eyed Virec

Saffron Finch
Common Ground Dove
White-bellied Dove
Ruddy Quail Dove
Crested Quail Dove

Forpus passerinus
Aratinga nana

Euphonia jamaica
i Loxigilla violacea
Sicalis flaveola

Todus todus
Vireo modestus

Sicalis flaveola
Columbina passerina
Leptotila jamaicensis
Geotrygon montana
Geotrygon versicolor

The three

most important

letters in ing---

IBM World Trade Corporation
52-56 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5, Jamaica
Telephone: 92-63170
(Incorporated in Delaware, U.SA. with Limited Liability)

t7The Jamaican forests are extremely valuable to the nation,
but in terms which are difficult to assign monetary values.
Firstly, trees contribute to replacing the oxygen of the
atmosphere which is necessary for human and animal
life. Forests are, therefore, vitally necessary. Secondly,
where our forests grow, our water supplies originate, too.
These supplies are replenished by rainfall which in Jamaica
occurs seasonally, in very heavy showers. Our forests are
able to break the force of these showers and thus allow the
moisture to percolate into the natural aquifers or ground-
water table. Without our forests, the rainfall would rapid-
ly run off the steep slopes causing a loss of water to re-
plenish our supplies as well as damage to soil and crops in
the path of the run-off. The forests also provide us with a
source of raw materials for building, furniture, crafts, and

so on. At present we cannot satisfy our growing needs for
wood but there are golden opportunities to increase timber
production on the ruinate forest land; improve our ability
to extract and mill the available timber, and develop a viable
national industry supporting a large labour force. These
opportunities could be of considerable benefit to the needs
of the society. A fourth value is that of knowledge and re-
creation. Forests provide essential elements for scientific
study as well as relaxation and enjoyment, both of which
are necessary to the quality of human life. Lastly, the forest
land of Jamaica has a potential for development with con-
siderable social benefits. The conversion of ruinate forests
to commercial forests by a system of plantations can offer
job opportunities in small areas and create new industries
and wealth for the country,? Extract fromJ.J.Vol. 15.no.4 1971

This statement was made 15 years ago and remains true today. Since 1979, F.I.D.C.O.
has developed some 13,000 acres of new pine forests and now controls 20,000 acres of
pine timber. We are aiming at a total production forest of 60,000 acres towards
national self-sufficiency.



Regd. Office: Cnr. of Tobago Ave. and Knutsford Blvd. (3rd floor) New Kingston.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 557 Kingston 10, Jamaica
Tel: 929-7271 3 Telex: 2377 Cable: FIDCO KINGSTON JA.

The Intimate World of Milton George
Notes on some themes and key images in his works

By Gloria Escoffery

T here are many approaches to
an artist's works which may lead
to serious appraisal. The casual
visitor to a group show may feel impel-
led to look searchingly at a particular
painting or sculpture and to follow the
trail back to the artist's studio. In time,
appreciation grows or declines; in any
event understanding of the works be-
comes inseparable from a sense of the
artist's personality. At the other ex-
treme of detachment, the profession-
al critic moseys through the retrospective
of a deal artist whom he has never met.
The careful disposition of the works
into 'periods', the scholarly tributes and
curatorial notes in the catalogue, create
the illusion that what he is seeing is a
definitive map of the territory, and that
any further exercise of empathy is beside
the point. This is not true, of course;
the challenge to look with inquisitor's
eyes and trust one's own intuition is
tremendous. Exposure to works of a liv-
ing artist, seen at intervals of time and
in assorted company, presents a different
sort of challenge. Over each work hangs
a question mark. Is this a more-of-the-
sameish dead end? A detour or bypass?
A freeway to new achievement?
For my subject I have chosen Milton
George, an artist whose works aren't at
present to be seen anywhere in the privi-
leged isolation of a one-man show,
though they may be seen, of course, at
the National Gallery, the Frame Centre,
and in private collections. Why this
particular artist, you may well ask, see-
ing that there has been in the interval of
writing such a spate of shows which
might be reviewed.
If required to select the Jamaican
artist of the year for 1986, my choice
would be Milton George. Quite apart
from the fact that his work strongly ap-
peals to me and that he happens to be

one of my favourite people he is so
palpably at the top of his form. It is time
that some critic really confronted his
works and tried to share his/her insights.
As far as I know it hasn't been attempt-
ed, though one writer has recorded an
interview which gave some insight into
Milton's personality and philosophy of
life.1 Members of the public, year after
year, have been treated to glimpses of
his major works at the annual national
shows, but there has been no retrospec-
tive to pull it all together and, truth to
tell, I do not believe the time is ripe for
that yet. It is time, however, that the
consistency of vision, the technical and
imaginative adventurism of this quiet
fireball in our midst became widely ac-
knowledged. There is nothing exhibition-
ist about the man's personality. Original
people are sometimes noticeable as
cranks or wild men by the gleam in their
eyes or their eccentric behaviour; Mil-
ton's fire burns within and he feels no.
need to play 'the artist'. It is worthwhile

knowing the artist as a man, but ulti-
mately it is the works which must be
assessed, and they speak for themselves.
Another reason for my choice at this
time is that Milton George is one of the
seven artists chosen to represent Jam-
aica in an exhibition of Caribbean art
to be mounted this summer at the
Commonwealth Institute in London.2
My guess is that of the chosen seven he
is the one who will evoke the most
spontaneous response of delight. Work-
ing in an expressionist style which fea-
tures an almost reckless abandon to
colour, he appeals directly to the senses.
It takes a little more time to get to
know what lies behind the facade of ap-
parent gaiety and to appreciate the cycli-
cal nature of his progress through a
series of themes and technical safaris.
Born in 1939, Milton is surprising-
ly because the appellation assorts so
oddly with his personality- the 'elder
statesman' of the London-bound group.

Two Women with a Man. Oil pastel on paper.
Collection: Mr and Mrs Samuel Skogstad.

Chronologically he belongs with George
Rodney, Osmond Watson and other early
graduates of the Jamaica School of Art
- artists one associates with an air of
conscious professionalism. But Milton is
a maverick. His attendance by fits and
starts at that institution sent him out
into the world with no academic chalk
dust on his shoulders. What he did dis-
cover as a student was the release pos-
sible through expressionism. His heroes
were Van Gogh and the early 20th
century German expressionists, also
Matisse and the other Fauves. It was the
excitement generated by reproductions
of their works that propelled him into a
career in art rather than music; he still
hankers to get his hands on some musical
instrument that can be mastered with
the help of a performer's manual. Like
that other great Jamaican original, Carl
Abrahams, he is in fact self-taught, but
proudly descended from well-known
traditions of European art. Such intuitive-
ly motivated talent tends to mature late

ApLernW n wrn rrenus. uu un canvas.
Collection: Wallace Campbell

Head ofa Young Girl. Oil on
paper. Private collection.

and to take the public by surprise; it
sneaks in to public approbation after a
while, however.
By the end of the 1960s, Milton
already had a few patrons who recog-
nized his quality. Deryck Roberts had
acquired the Mother and Child (c.1967)
which has been on extended loan to the
National Gallery.3 It was in the late
seventies, however, that the consistency
of his achievement became noticeable.
His expressionist portraits and humanis-
tic fantasies appeared year after year
like wayward shooting stars. Looking
through old catalogues of annual nation-
al shows, I feel a twinge of regret for
not having been more alert and stored
up visual memories of such works as
The Red Church (1979) a man with
burning eyes, not a church building -
and the Bridge of the same year. This
must have been a period of feverish
activity for Milton. In 1978 he benefited
from the award of a National Gallery
fellowship. In 1980 came two vibrant
canvases, Prophet and The Fallen Rider.
It was not until the early eighties
when I started writing regularly for
Jamaica Journal that I became personal-
ly captivated by Milton George. Who
could fail to respond to the intense
colour harmonies, the feathery pastel
and brush technique of the eight works
featured in the 1983 National Gallery
"Male and Female Created He Them"
show? One of these works, which was
purchased by the Gallery, consisted of
14 Pages from My Diary- a series of
compositions in oil pastels which form a
daring personal account of erotic adven-
tures or misadventures. Then came
the monumental Crucifixion of 1984.
In this work intrinsic beauty transcends
the ugliness and stunts the repugnance
one may initially feel at what some per-
sons may regard as the blasphemous
treatment of a traditional Christian
theme. It is one of the paradoxes of
art that what is ugly in life may be trans-
formed into beauty in art. Satire, arising
from a morally pure and beautiful
sense of outrage, may indeed inspire -
as in the works of Hieronymus Bosch
- both caricatures of 'holy' events and
hellish images of the utmost sensuality
and esthetic seductiveness.
This article does not purport to be a
survey of Milton George's oeuvre to
date. What I set out to do was to spend
as many hours in one day as I dould
emotionally sustain looking intently at
his works. I obtained permission to view
works in storage at the National Gallery,

some of them bound for the show in
London; also I was very fortunate in
being permitted to view two important
private collections which were in a sense
complementary in what they had to of-
fer. Dr David Boxer's collection is very
extensive, and includes early works
which enable the viewer to make interest-
ing stylistic comparisons. One is almost
overwhelmed to see in one milieu so
many of the major works, many of
which had been shown in annual nation-
al exhibitions. The other collection be-
longs to Mr and Mrs Samuel Skogstad,
American residents who over the past
three years have amassed a large col-
lection of Milton's lIter canvases; the
walls of their Stony Hill residence are
lit up by canvases dating from the
eighties in which the colour seems to
explode beyond the frames. These pic-
tures all have a distinctly personal flavour,
like more pages from a diary, but not
exclusively an erotic one.
It must be mentioned that I also had
Milton at my side throughout this quest.
There was no formal interview; we did
not talk much about his style or his
aims as an artist. But the remarks he
dropped and the explanations he gave

about the occasions which inspired the
works were invaluable in elucidating
'meanings' that may otherwise have re-
mained obscure. How best to organ-
ize my reflections on this crash course
in meanings in the world of Milton
George? Colour reproductions are scarce,
and as I write I have mainly to depend
on fragmentary notes scribbled in the
heat of the moment; in a sense the read-
er will have the edge over me, in that
the published article will be well illus-
A good place to start is with the
Afternoon with Friends, a large com-
position in oils currently on view among
the works which have returned from the
SITES tour. Painted in 1983, this work
features many of the characteristics of
Milton's mature exposition of social
situations. It is very lucid and open to
interpretation in psychological terms,
unlike many of the later works in which
the reduction of images into symbols
has gone so far that one almost needs to
have mastered a special language to
'read' them. This is one of the pictures
in which the artist eschews excited poin-
tillist brush strokes and calligraphic
symbols and relies on clear expanses of

The Red Church. Oil on canvas.
Collection: the artist.

subtly interacting, warm colours, more
or less level in tonality. This brings out
the dominant shapes and the essentials
which as in child art -are emphasized
at the expense of photographic realism.
Here is a picture any viewer not hung up
on literal representation will enjoy as a
sensuous experience and chuckle
Here we see fourfriends sitting around
a red-topped table and downing a few
drinks while one of them holds forth at
one end. The rich warm greens, reds,
yellows and oranges, typical of Milton's
palette, suggest that this is a convivial
occasion. This is a moment of common
social experience in which we can recog-
nize the prototypes of our own friends
and acquaintances. Each one here is an
individual, with his own characteristic
postures also a personal identity regis-
tered by his head dress, or some other
characteristic feature. What is more, the
artist has cunningly used colours and
shapes to capture the essence of the
relationship, at that moment, between
them. The guy seated at one end with
one elbow on the table, smoking a pipe,
is the prototype artist/observer. Notice
how his perceptive eyes seem to be

secretively lurking beneath the visor of
his cap; perhaps he is in his mind al-
ready composing the picture. His al-
most journalistic function is emphasized
by the way the profile of the cap, the
bulbous, inquisitive nose, the distinctly
Van Goghian pipe, seem to eat into the
flat green background. Beside him, on
his left, sits the dreamer, eyes attempt-
ing to focus on the electric light bulb as
if it is some new planet that 'swims into
his ken'. His clownish dunce cap teeters
at the tip as his.head tilts backwards; he
reminds me oddly of some celluloid toy
I must have had in childhood a clown
with a weighted spherical base that
maintained its gravity malgre tout.
Essentially circumambulatory in spirit,
this guest roundly cradles the glass which
holds the enchanting elixir. Beside him
sits Ms Blabbermouth in person, hold-
ing herself in for the sake of good man-
ners and waiting her turn to give her
personal views. Those red-tipped claws
spread out on her breast are potentially
dangerous, but for the moment they are
turned inward on her own thoughts;
or maybe she withdraws from the blast
of the foul-mouthed blather spewed
out of the mouth of the speaker.

This expressionist expose is much
better than a photograph. Milton
George's intuitive grasp of essentials
has enabled him to get to the heart of
the matter. It is a good-natured pic-
ture, though perhaps the woman is more
cruelly exposed than the others.
The harridan or harpy is a recurrent
theme in Milton George's world one
might almost say menagerie, as he so
often distributes animal heads among
his personae, male and female. How
does he regard women? If he were to
publish a book on the,role of women
the feminists would, I am sure, light a
pyre in Heroes Park and toss it into the
flame. According to Milton, women are
'dangerous people'; not because they are
militant or innately vicious but because
men in their sensuality too readily sub-
mit to their demands. (Is this a diplomat-
ic male chauvinist cop out?) Man is a
sort of 'service station' where she seeks
her satisfaction. He alone has provided
the great inventions, the noble art; he
is the one fitted to undertake the phy-
sical labour. For woman he goes to the
office and to war, even shedding his
blood for her. He adores and fears -
her; she in her heart wishes for no

Pages from My Diary (14 works).
Oil pastel and pastel on paper.
Collection: National Gallery of

Crucifixion. Oi on canvas. David Boxer collection.

The Joy of Being Alive. Oil pastel on paper.
Collection: Mr and Mrs Samuel Skogstad.

The Mocking of Christ. Oi on canvas.
David Boxer collection.

Three at a Party. Oil pastel on paper.
Collection: Mr and Mrs Samuel Skogstad.

The Artist in Brooklyn. Oi pastel on paper.
Collection: Mr and Mrs Samuel Skogstad.

change in the status quo.
Very occasionally Milton George pro-
duces a caricature of 'woman' which
gives the impression that he identifies
with her as a very vulnerable being -
if somewhat stupid. I feel this way about
that being tenderly portrayed in wash
titled The Bride (1982) in the Boxer
collection.4 He may even pay frank and
straightforward tribute to female beauty,
as in the recent strong Head of a Young
Girl. Or eloquent tribute to Motherhood
in the 1960s Mother and Child. But on
the whole Milton sees the situation vis-
a-vis the female sex from the point of
view of one fighting for his life. In the
Skogstad collection there is an amusing
illustration of the hazard of male sub-
missiveness and smugness in Two
Women with One Man. Many different
forms of male revenge are depicted in
his works, but with a light touch, not
vindictively. I am thinking of a page
in the 1983 Diary which shows a male
artist playfully doing some brushwork
just above the breast of the model (de-
picted in the canvas with all her attri-
butes exposed) while she reaches out to
slap him.
In more serious works, the proto-

type of the female as bitch cannot be
ignored. Let us look closely at the
Crucifixion. Closest to the figure on
the cross, on tiptoes with curiosity, is
a blond virgin covered from ankle to
chin by a straight white gown. Looking
over her shoulder is her sister self, Mag-
dalen Herodias, the dancing girl who
flaunts the typical 'Miltonic' emblems
of materialism bead necklace and
prominent wrist watch. Her vitality is
most evident in the power and stance of
her lower limbs; hosed, beneath red
panties, in black mesh stockings. On
her feet she wears white high-heeled
shoes so heavy that they suggest the
clogs peasant women wear in the fields.
Her face is spaniel-like, but at least she
has black human hair, in which she has
placed a red, red rose. This bitch of a
Magdalen is less shocking than the
Mother figure, emerging in nude pro-
file at the outer edge of the right
panel of the diptych. This one has a
completely animal head more sea cow
or hippopotamus than spaniel. My mind
reaches involuntarily for a shadow
image in literature which I am sure
never occurred to Milton but which may
well have an underground link on some

deep Jungian level of consciousness.
This is the poem in which T.S. Eliot
compares the shadowy figure of the
Christian church with the fleshy and
solid hippopotamus.5

Is this representation of the Mother
of Christ blasphemous or is it an instance
of caricature used to set 'religiosity' on
its head? I think Milton George intends
here to give his personal view of the es-
sentially animal, (and not for that rea-
son necessarily ignoble) emotional
roots of maternal feeling.
The image of the worldly belly dan-
cer turns up in many of Milton George's
works, though she is rarely as compnlete-
ly presented as in the Crucifixion. She
may be summarily introduced by some
of her attributes, as among the enter-
tainers in Jamaican Landscape (Skogs-
tad collection) to be discussed later.
She appears in a major work, The Mock-
ing of Christ, a frenzied cat.nival scene
- recalling the work of the Belgiah
artist James Ensor in which masks
and costumes run rampant in a riot
of broken colour so that it takes some
time to decipher what is taking place.
Here the woman's nudity is a further

A.D. 1984. Oi pastel
on paper. Collection:
National Gallery of Jamaica

carnal insult to the central figure, shown
nude beneath the medal-encrusted cloak
the mob has thrown over his shoulders.
One of the strangest female personae
I have seen in Milton George's works is
the spike-headed, black-masked 'angel
of death' in The Journey a major work
of 1984 in the Boxer collection which is
somewhat analagous in its thematic
content to the Ralph Campbell Acro-
bats.6 A male figure lies inert and very
dead at the bottom of the composition.
Overhead the avenging angel of death
appears to gloat over her victim and
glory in her own vitality. Between them
hovers one of those doggy personae so
frequently appearing in Milton George's
works. I thought this might be "some
sort of intercessionary guard dog; but
no, Milton explained, what is enacted
here is mockery not guardianship.
Is this a modern nightmare of emascu-
lation or a traditional morality play
dramatizing the puny pretensions of
man in the face of death? There is no
law which forbids the viewer to appre-
hend both 'explanations'simultaneously.
The sexual and the metaphysical planes
surely interact on some deep level of
intuition where poetry is created. This

is the way poetry works.

The Journey belongs within a cycle
of works in which Milton George seems
to be attempting to come to terms with
those mysterious spirits which pursue
and mock as anguished humanity passes
through the crises of his lifetime or
simply goes on his way in the course of
life. Between 1984 and 1985 he pro-
duced a series of oils or oil pastels with
very dark background, including Who
Would Have Thought? A.D. 1984, Fear
of Being Followed and New York
January 1985 in which the footsteps
of man/animal are 'dogged' by these
impudent or cynical animal presences7
In A.D. 1984, an oil pastel on paper, a
distinctly 'hangdog', reptillian-looking
'dog' with drooping tail shadows a silly-
looking donkey-headed man with note-
worthy penis and ear 'cocked' for the
sounds of pursuit. Between them the
path is crossed diagonally by the huge
shadow of a man. Such phantasmagoria
inevitably recalls the imagery of Goya's
Los Caprichos. The sleep of reason across
the centuries again produces monsters.

The choice of the title A.D. 1984
raises the question of whether there is

any conscious political content in
Milton George's works. Does he in-
tend here to add a footnote to Orwell's
Nineteen Eighty Four? Milton may cer-
tainly not in the narrow sense be cate-
gorised as a political painter. He makes
no specific protests; his realm is the
larger one of universal mankind. I was
surprised when he referred to one work,
The Park, as a 'political picture'. As far
as I can see, apart from the inclusion of
a man carrying a flag among the mock-
ers of Christ, this is the closest he has
come to revealing an interest in politic-
al life at least as a manifestation of
human energy. It turned out that
what he meant was that in painting
The Park he expressed his feeling about
the people power which seemed to radi-
ate from those park philosophers; many
of them are unemployed, some being
regular characters who come together
daily to discuss the politics of the day.
This is one of the later works in which
there is so much going on in terms of
colour interaction that the eye can hard-
ly find a place to rest. Here Milton uses
the device of a black shape, almost a
'black hole' of non-attention, which, I
notice, appears in other works. The black
ideogram, not identifiable by its shape,

The Park. Oil on canvas.
Collection: National
Gallery of Jamaica.

ine couple. ul on canvas.
David Boxer collection.

Jamaican Landscape. Oil pastel on paper.
Collection: Mr and Mrs Samuel Skogstad.

here represents some public monument,
maybe 'some old British administrator';
a public focus of non-impdrtance in fact.
To get back to Milton George's feel-
ing about animals though: the emblem-
atic use of animal images indicates a
literary mode of inspiration, in the sense
that so many of the vital enactments
seem to spring from popular speech,
or cliches. In this respect he follows in
the tradition of folk-wise artists like
Pieter Brueghel. I have deliberately
used the expressions 'to dog (a per-
son's) footsteps' and 'hangdog'. Under-
lying Milton's representation of these
creatures is surely the concept of the
'underdog'. For the dog, leading a
'dog's life' may hold the satisfaction of
mockery, however, when man's 'familiar'
ironically considers the pretensions of
his 'master'. Beyond such metaphorical
exercises Milton seems to express a per-
sonal empathy with animals. This comes
out in Killer Horse (Boxer collection) a
crayon drawing in which vigorous strokes
in livid reds and yellows convey not just
the tension felt by spectators but the
nervousness of the horse being led to
the starting gate.
The physiognomical links between
various animals and different types
of human personality have long been
the subject of caricature. This is the
device used by Milton George in portray-
ing the vulpine head of the female
partner in a major recent work, The
Couple, exhibited in the 1985 annual
show (Boxer collection). This is a cruel-
ly Thurberesque expose of marital skir-
mishes in the sophisticated world where
man has developed 'civilized' techniques
of self-defence. The choice of dun colours
seems a new departure for Milton
George; this playing down of colour in
itself conveys something of the under-
statement one associates with sophisti-
cated society, where words take the
place of blows. It also allows the monu-
mental play of forms to have full scope
so that the work has a grandeur removed
from the triviality of the cartoonist's
linear shorthand. Here the partners have
arrived at a resolution, if not a truce.
The recriminations of the animal-head-
ed female pass right over the head of her
stocky mate. There he sits, twinkling
with self-possession as he clutches his
martini glass close to his chest. He has
learnt the trick of insulating himself
from her attacks; she may think she is
winning the battle, but he has learnt
how it is possible to survive and win the
war. This work is a sophisticated follow

up of Afternoon with Friends easy to
read. It places Milton George in a dis-
tinguished company which includes
such assorted names as Rouault, Grosz,
Botero, and of course our Carl Abrahams.
For Milton George, as for all the
great humanistic artists and writers
(one immediately thinks of Shake-
speare), tragedy and comedy, good and
evil, do not inhabit separate quarters.
The other side of the anguished con-
cern for humanity, which causes him
actually to shed tears sometimes when
he is bringing his visions of evil to birth
on canvas, is a healthy hedonism. This
comes across strongly in the works in
the Skogstad collection.
There one sees a running comment-
ary on his visits to New York, another
diary in fact, which conveys all the ex-
citement of response to big city life and
reunion with friends and relatives. No
party must be missed or left unrecorded
as a 'memorable occasion'; thus such
works as Returning from a Party which
makes a point of recording the 'apple
hats' and designer jeans which consti-
tuted the 'in thing' of the time, probably
to appear later as considered symbols in
his more 'metaphysical' works. Milton's
New York has no more documentary
validity than Alan Zion's, but it is
emotionally more real. He was there;
he is the one you see portrayed in the
corner of his brother's apartment
looking out of the window at the people

Sensuous exuberance also fills the
Jamaican-inspired works. The sea romps
and billows in The Joy of Being Alive,
a canvas inspired by a day at Port
Henderson. In Sunbather, Milton uses
almost excruciatingly acid colours to
convey the raw sense of over-exposure
to the rays of the tropical sun.
These pictures are not entirely devoid
of social satire, but the viewer has to
work hard to find it. One almost gaudy
canvas titled Jamaican Landscape in
which there is no immediately visible
sign of landscape behind the people,
yielded strange meanings when the artist
generously explained what was passing
through his mind as he painted it. The
people are the landscape. Coconut palms
of a resort area have been reduced to
vestigial remains, here a broken off
trunk, there an 'airport art' corona. The
men in the foreground (he tells me) are
shuffling cards; what is at stake is the
question of the day: whether or not
casino gambling will be legalised.

These explanations perhaps should
not be published, or they should be hid-
den away in the footnotes. They do not
explain or convey the enchanting sen-
suousness of the finished work.
Ultimately one must consider the
question of Milton George as a serious
interpreter of the scriptures. Is he a
religious painter or a blasphemer, or
neither, but a humanist who uses the
metaphor of the Christian epic for his
own purposes? He says he is no church-
goer, and therefore does not consider
himself a religious artist. He has, how-
ever produced a very personal and mov-
ing series of five Heads of Christ (in the
Boxer collection); and he has brought a
freshening to the interpretation of such
episodes as Christ Walking on the Water,
here the viewer becomes aware of the
heavy darkness of the night, in which
the puny figure of the walker is scarcely
distinguishable. In Milton's moral world,
Christ is the epitome of human simpli-
city and vulnerability mocked by
boors and dwarfed by the terrors of the

It is appropriate to end these reflec-
tions with a startling new work which
seems to reach forward into new levels
of reductionism. Like the other major
works it may be read as a social or meta-
physical parable of human existence.

This is The Wall (Boxer collection), a

The Wall. Oil on Canvas.
David Boxer collection.

large canvas in which Milton uses the
sort of agitated but controlled stippling
Jackson Pollock might have produced.
Here is this pulsating but flat, vertical
red dead end. Look carefully and you
will discern some black strokes that add
up to a stick figure of a man. It is as if
his very substance has been devoured
by the obstacle of the wall. The medium
here is completely the message.


1. "Milton" by Laurie Mahfood, Arts
Jamaica 2:4.
2. The other artists are Christopher
Gonzalez, Winston Patrick, Judy Mc-
Millan, Laura Facey, Robert Cook-
horne and David Boxer.
3. Now in the Jamaican art section of the
National Gallery.
4. Reproduced in the National Gallery
1982 national exhibition catalogue
along with Forever Woman.
5. TS. Eliot, Selected Poems, Faber
Opening quatrain:
'The broad-bodied hippopotamus
Rests on his belly in the mud;
Although he seems so firm to us
He is merely flesh and blood".
6. See review in Jamaica Journal 19:1,
7. See National Gallery annual exhibition
catalogue 1984.

This is what Mutual L

is all about.



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Claude McKay's

Political Views

By Rupert Lewis

laude McKay (1889-1948) is well known for his
poetry, novels and autobiographical writings. To
most of his readers he is an outstanding cultural
figure and is assessed in relation to the outpouring of writing
by blacks in the United States in the 1920s known as the
Harlem Renaissance. McKay was, as is evident in his auto-
biography A Long Way From Home, involved with radical
politics in the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union.
His travels in Germany, Spain, France and North Africa pro-
vided him not only with material for his literary work, places
to live in and write about, but also with exposure to the main
political issues of the 1920s and 1930s: socialism and com-
munism, fascism, the struggle against racism, the awakening
of the colonial peoples, the women's movement, as well as
the role of the writer and his commitment to social and
political change. In the essays published in The Passion of
Claude McKay Selected Prose and Poetry, 1912-1948
[1973] edited by Wayne Cooper, and in his Russian book en-
titled The Negroes in America [1979], there is further evi-
dence of McKay's role as a political thinker and activist.
McKay's involvement in radical politics took place in the
United States during world war I, almost at the same time as
Marcus Garvey's. The impact of the 1917 Russian Revolution
on McKay was strong. In the early 1920s he was a vigorous
supporter of communism; by the 1930s he was an anti-
communist. He moved from the religious fundamentalism of

his Clarendon parents to the agnosticism of the British aristo-
crat, Walter Jekyll, and in the 1940s, to the embrace of
Catholicism. Throughout these changes McKay remained
committed to the fight against racism and colonial dictator-
ships. But there seems to be no constancy to his political
views: he was incapable of adhering to a particular ideology,
whether Garveyism to which he was connected for a brief
period in the 1920s, or Marxism, or some variant of Shavian
This article will examine McKay's political views and their
evolution from his Jamaican years before world war I until
his death. In so doing, one has to avoid an artificial separation
of McKay's cultural work from his political activities since
both are intertwined. Yet an analysis of the political impli-
cations of his poetry and novels lies outside the scope of this
article. Here I will mainly be concerned with McKay's political
views and actions as expressed in his autobiographical and
publicist prose.
A Colonial

McKay grew up with a fundamentalist father who had
land that enabled the family to be relatively well-off. In 1912
when he left Jamaica, his father had 100 acres of fertile land.
His brother, U. Theo McKay, became known as an excellent
schoolteacher and choirmaster. Claude, too, had made a

name for himself as a Jamaican poet, having published
Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads (both in 1912) and
having been awarded the silver Musgrave medal of the Institute
of Jamaica. McKay was influenced by the quaint paternalism
of the English aristocrat, Walter Jekyll, and the Fabian social-
ism of the governor, later known as Lord Sydney Olivier.
Wayne Cooper sums up the colonial McKay very well when
he writes [1973 p.5] :

As an educated youth of black peasant origins,-McKay thus dis.
played to a painful degree the psychological ambivalence incul.
cated among West Indians under British colonialism. Both the
strength and weakness of his dialect poetry flowed from this
attempt to embrace his black Jamaican origins, while simul-
taneously clinging to Britain as a spiritual homeland. He was
not an Englishman and could not become one; yet custom
and education mandated his adherence to British imperialistic
values and traditions.

His travel to the United States was to change all this. His
imperialistic illusions were to be shattered. This was almost
identical to Garvey's experience of 1916 when he travelled to
the U.S.

Wayne Cooper states that 'McKay had grown to man-
hood in a society whose population was overwhelmingly
black and largely free from the overt white oppression which
constricted the lives of black Americans in the United States'
[1973 pp.6-7]. This is a carefully worded comparison, but
one should not forget that McKay was born less than a
quarter-century after the Morant Bay rebellion and mas-
sacre, and in a society where there was overt white oppression.
His Jamaican years, however, did not radicalize him. It left
him an ambitious young man who wanted to get on in life by
studying agriculture at the famous Tuskegee Institute found-
ed by Booker T. Washington. Moreover, he had read a lot of
English literature and would have been influenced politically
by Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism and Bernard Shaw's
Fabian socialism, all of which were compatible with imperial-
ism. Had not his literary godfather and close friend, Walter
Jekyll, said in relation to the British Empire, 'What is there
to take its place, Claude? The Germans are still too young
and arrogant; they will never do.' [McKay, Hills 1979 p. 701.
For the country folk of Clarendon, 'going to America was
the greatest event in the history of our hills; America was the
land of education and opportunity'. [Hills, 1979 p. 84].
McKay left the land of his birth never to return.

Racism in the U.S.

Experience of racial discrimination in the U.S. was the
single most important factor in McKay's evolution to radical-
ism. His travels and his wide reading would have led him to
the conclusion already arrived at by W.E.B. DuBois [1965 p.
9] that 'The problem of the twentieth century is the problem
of the colour line, the relation of the darker to the lighter
races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands
of the sea.' Of course, this was not the only problem, but it
is one that has been central to the politics of this country
and to the emergence of the Third World, the majority of the
world's peoples. McKay was to spend six months in-Alabama
and two years at Kansas State College. In 1914 he received 'a
few thousand dollars' from 'an English admirer' of his Jam-
aican dialect verse. With this money he went to New York
to invest in a small restaurant venture and to get married.
Both ventures failed. [Cooper 1973 p. 7].

New York changed McKay's course from agriculture to
full-time writer and journalist together with a host of itinerant
occupations. He made friends with the editor and writer
Frank Harris, established a life-long friendship with left-
wing editor and writer Max Eastman, and developed close
ties with other left cultural figures around The Masses and
The Liberator. McKay seems to have been closer to the white
left than to black radicals. The only one of the latter that he
speaks of with some regard was the socialist Hubert Harrison,
who later became a Garveyite.
Apart from his experience of racism, the other decisive
factors in his development were the turbulence of the post-
world war 1 period and the fate of black soldiers, many of
whom were harassed and some of whom were lynched on
their return to American soil. In 1919, 76 blacks were lynch-
ed in the U.S. In his autobiography McKay writes [1970
p. 31]:
The World War had ended. But its end was a signal for the out-
break of little wars between labor and capital and, like a
plague breaking out in sore places, between colored and white,
murderous shootings and hangings. Travelling from city to city
and unable to gauge the attitude and temper of each one, we
Negro railroad men were nervous. We were less light-hearted.
We did not separate from one another gaily to spend ourselves
in speakeasies and gambling joints. We stuck together,some of
us armed, going from the railroad to our quarters. We stayed in
our quarters all through the dreary ominous nights, for we
never knew what was going to happen.
It was during those days that the sonnet, 'If We Must
Die', exploded out of me. And for it the Negro people unani-
mously hailed me as a poet.
The third factor was the impact of the Russian Revolu-
tion and the socialist influence. In 1919 McKay visited
England for the first time. There he had his third collection
of poems, Spring in New Hampshire [1920] published, with
a preface by the distinguished critic I.A. Richards. In England
he pursued radical politics and journalism in the Workers'
Dreadnought which was published by the famous suffragette
and socialist Sylvia Pankhurst. His essay "Socialism and the
Negro", which appeared in this periodical, merits some dis-
cussion. It is well-written and, as is the case with his political
essays, does not engage in abstract theoretical debate but is
preoccupied with the course of resistance to slavery and the
succeeding modes of exploitation. He also shows a good
knowledge of American radicalism. He concludes by saying:

Although an international Socialist, I am supporting the move-
ment [i.e. Garvey], for I believe that, for subject peoples, at
least, Nationalism is the open door to Communism. Further-
more, I will try to bring this army of awakened workers over
to the finer system of Socialism. Some English Communists
have remarked to me that they have no real sympathy for the
Irish and Indian movement because it is nationalistic. But,
today, the British Empire is the greatest obstacle to Inter-
national Socialism, and any of its subjugated parts succeeding
in breaking away from it would be helping the cause of World
Communism. In these pregnant times no people who are strong
enough to throw off an imperial yoke will tamely submit to a
system of local capitalism. The breaking up of the British
Empire must either begin at home or abroad . . [Cooper
1973 p.54].

The excerpt establishes McKay's credentials as an anti-
colonial militant who wants the British Empire dismantled.
This is a far cry from his Jamaican days. It is also clear that
there were some communists who failed. to appreciate the
significance of the nationalist movement in the colonies. They
felt that the 'civilized' European workers would, after freeing
the metropoles, bring liberation to the 'backward' colonies.

This was a type of left-wing political paternalism which
ignored the independent struggles of the colonial peoples.
Consequently, 'nationalism' became a bad word, associated,
as it was, with the chauvinist attitudes in Europe during the
war. One of the theoretical reasons for this was the failure to
distinguish between the nationalism of a Queen Victoria and
that of a Paul Bogle; in other words, to recognize the distinction
between the nationalism of the oppressor and that of the op-
pressed. Nationalism, however, may not necessarily be the
open door to communism as McKay suggests. But he had his
finger on the fundamental issue facing the oppressed non-
white peoples. McKay's views at the time would reflect what
Lenin referred to as 'left-wing communism'. They were to
the left of Lenin's. For example, McKay's idea that with the
end of colonialism the people would not tamely submit to
local capitalism ignores the material conditions in the colonies
which make capitalist development inevitable in many parts
of the imperial system.
McKay's nationalism is also apparent in his essay on the
Irish revolutionary movement in which he shows his solidarity
with the oldest part of the British Empire and his friendly
criticism of Bernard Shaw. In this article he advances an idea
that exists in the writings of Marx and Lenin, but advances
it in his own way and from his own experience and that is:
the relationship between national liberation in Ireland and
socialism in England. He identifies with the Irish very much
in the way that Marcus Garvey did. On a subjective level, he

.1 react more to the emotions of the Irish people than to
those of any other whites; they are so passionately primitive
in their loves and hates. They are quite free of the disease
which is known in bourgeois phraseology as Anglo-Saxon
hypocrisy. I suffer with the Irish. I think I understand the
Irish. My belonging to a subject race entitles me to some under-
standing of them. And then I was born and reared a peasant;
the peasant's passion for the soil possesses me, and it is one of
the strongest passions in the Irish revolution. [1973 p.59].

McKay's peasant-based individualism, pride and national-
ism characterise his political actions and some of his best
literary work.1
His most accomplished novel, Banana Bottom [1933],
celebrates peasant life, and My Green Hills of Jamaica [1979],
although not as well-written as A Long Way From Home
[1937], is a lyrical statement of his love for the soil. Cor-
respondingly, McKay's polemical writings were informed
more by this 'peasant passion' than by a proletarian one.
Hence, in part, his dispute with Michael Gold with whom
he worked on The Liberator. Gold went on to become a
leading 'proletarian writer', establishing a reputation with his
autobiography Jews Without Gold and cultural articles
written for the Communist Party press. Writing of their
joint work on The Liberator, McKay comments [1970
pp. 138-9]:

... Michael Gold and myself were appointed executive editors.
There could have been no worse combination,because personal-
ly and intellectually and from the first time we met, Michael
Gold and I were opposed to each other.
Michael Gold's idea of The Liberator was that it should be-
come a popular proletarian magazine, printing doggerels from
lumberjacks and stevedores and true revelations from chamber-
maids. I contended that while it was most excellent to get
material out of the forgotten members of the working class
it should be good stuff that could compare with any other

Russian Welcome

McKay went to see what the Russian Revolution was like
because of his pro-communist sympathies. He was curious to
see at first hand a new social order in its creation. He had re-
ceived no official invitation, however, and had to finance his
trip with the help of friends. McKay's circle of friends in-
cluded many influential communists such as Sylvia Pankhurst
with whom Lenin corresponded, whose Dreadnought Lenin
read, and against whom he wrote the critical work, "Left-
Wing Communism An Infantile Disorder".2 There was also
William Gallacher, one of the founders of the Communist
Party of Great Britain; Sen Katayama, the Japanese com-
munist who was knowledgeable about the 'Negro question',
having lived and worked in New York City, and, of course,
John Reed, author of the classic work on the Russian Revolu-
tion, Ten Days That Shook the World. So McKay had con-
But visiting Russia in the 1920s was hazardous since this
breached American travel restrictions and attracted harass-
ment and job loss on return. Being a black person McKay
was in double jeopardy. As he wrote in a letter to the Bol-
shevik newspaper of 3 December 1922:
In America it is much less dangerous to be a Communist than
to be a Negro. A Communist lives in fear of government per-
secution; the Negro lives in fear of bourgeois persecution and
of the devilish caprice of the white population which is numeric-
ally overwhelming.' [Negroes, 1979 p.89].

On the other hand, McKay was to be warmly welcomed in
the Soviet Union precisely on account of his colour, it seem-
Never in my life did I feel prouder of being African, a black,
and no mistake about it. Unforgettable that first occasion upon
which I was physically uplifted. I had not yet seen it done to
anybody, nor did I know that it was a Russian custom. The
Moscow streets were filled with eager crowds before the Congress
started. As I tried to get through along the Tverskyaya I was
suddenly surrounded by a crowd, tossed into the air, and
caught a number of times and carried a block on their friendly
shoulders. The civilians started it. The soldiers imitated them.
And the sailors followed the soldiers, tossing me higher than
From Moscow to Petrograd and from Petrograd to Mos-
cow I went triumphantly from surprise to surprise, extra-
vagantly feted on every side. I was carried along on a crest of
sweet excitement. I was like a black ikon in the flesh. The
famine had ended, the Nep [New Economic Policy] was
flourishing, the people were simply happy. I was the first
Negro to arrive in Russia since the revolution, and perhaps, I
was generally regarded as an omen of good luckl Yes, that was
exactly what it was. I was like a black ikon.3 [1970, p.168].

This animated account was published some 15 years after
visiting the Soviet Union, at a time when McKay had long
repudiated the leftist views of his youth.
This exhilarating experience was recounted for American
readers in a 1924 Crisis magazine. Starting out by acknow-
ledging that the label of propaganda would be affixed to
what he intended to write, he countered by indicating that
most of his leisure time was spent 'in non-partisan and anti-
Bolshevist circles'. [Cooper, 1973 p.102] .He fondly described
the Domino Cafe, where he spent many evenings, as 'a
notorious den of the dilettante poets and writers', and com-
pared favourably his experiences in Europe as against those
in the United States:
But in Petrograd [now Leningrad] and Moscow, I could not
detect a trace of this ignorant snobbishness among the educated

classes, and the attitude of the common workers, the soldiers
and sailors was still more remarkable. It was so beautifully
naive; for them I was only a black member of the world of
humanity. [1973 p.1010].

McKay also met the top leaders of the Russian Revolution
except for Lenin, who was very ill.
In this atmosphere of social change and intense intellectual
debate, McKay appears to have temporarily embraced certain
doctrinaire communist positions of the time. For instance, in
one of his letters to Trotsky in 1922 he acknowledges that
'the Negro question is at bottom a question of the working
class', a position which fuses the issue of national liberation
with the liberation of the working class (socialism), a position
long advocated by the left but more recently reassessed as
concerned with distinct though related issues.
In that same letter, McKay assures Trotsky that 'some
elements among progressive Negroes have conducted large-
scale communist propaganda among their race', and self-
critically acknowledges that more in this line needed to be
done. At the same time, McKay firmly criticizes the neglect
of the 'Negro question' by the 'leaders of the class struggle'.
[Negroes, 1979 p.10].

It was by the yardstick of commitment to this racial ques-
tion that McKay seems eventually to have become disillusion-
ed with communist ideology.

Political Alienation

In a 1923 letter to the Bolshevik newspaper, McKay ad-
mitted to being a communist, though the date of his member-
ship has not yet been established. However, McKay did not
maintain a communist ideological and organizational posi-
tion for long. He does in fact say of himself in retrospect,
'I could never be a disciplined member of any Communist
Party, for I was born to be a poet.' [1970, p.173]. Certainly,
the relationship between Maxim Gorky, the famous Russian
novelist, and Lenin indicates the turbulence and contra-
dictory response of the artistic temperament to the twists
and turns of organized political life. On the other hand, there
have been a number of poets, such as Nicolas Guillen and
Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize winner, who have been
functionaries of the Cuban and Chilean Communist Parties
But in terms of political ideas, McKay was obsessed by no
more pressing question than that of resolving the inequalities
of race. He raises this issue over and over in his essays, in his
letters, in his fiction, and in his poetry.

The centrality for McKay of the race issue is evident in
the exchange of letters he had with Trotsky. Trotsky reflected
the communist opposition to world war I as an imperialist
war in which the working class of various nations were whip-
ped up into a jingoistic frenzy and sent to defend the interests
of their respective bourgeoisie.4 In addition to their own
Frenchmen, France utilized blacks from Africa, the Carib-
bean, and the United States, who proved to be good and
courageous fighters. Trotsky, however, warned:
It is necessary to set the blacks themselves against this. It is
necessary to open their eyes to the fact that, by aiding French
imperialism to enslave Europe, the blacks are enslaving them-
selves by supporting the dominion of French capital in Africa
and other colonies .. .There can be no doubt that the involve-
ment of colonial masses who are more backward in economic

and cultural respects in world imperialist conflicts, and more
especially in European class conflicts, represents an extremely
risky experiment from the point of view of the governing
bourgeoisie themselves. Dark-skinned peoples, like natives of
the colonies in general, preserve their conservatism and intel-
lectual immobility only to the extent that they remain in their
customary economic conditions and daily routine. When the
hand of capital and all the more so, the hand of militarism
mechanically uproots them from their customary conditions of
existence and compels them to risk their lives for complex
and new problems and conflicts (conflicts between the bour-
geoisie of different nations, conflicts between classes of one
and the same nation), then their stubborn, conservative states
of mind break down at once, and revolutionary ideas find
quick access to a consciousness thrown off its equilibrium.
[Negroes, 1979 pp. 7 -8].

Indeed, there is no doubt that involvement in the war had
a radicalizing effect on black servicemen in Europe, moreso
when they returned to the colonies as second- and third-class
citizens. But what was uppermost in Trotsky's mind was the
European Revolution. Blacks seemed to figure in his mind
primarily because they were being used as soldiers in the con-
flict with other nations and could be used by a European
bourgeoisie against its revolting working class. So that missing
from Trotsky's letter is an awareness of the struggle for self-
determination in the colonies themselves as an independent
though connected stream.
Naturally, approaching the matter from a Third World
perspective, McKay's response reinforced Trotsky's pre-
occupations. He detailed:
In the winter of 1919-20 the soldiers of various Negro groups
from all parts of Africa and America met with one another in a
London club especially set aside for them by the British govern-
ment and separated from white soldiers. They spoke various
European languages. They had all been disillusioned with the
European war, because they kept on having frightful clashes
with English and American soldiers, besides the fact that the
authorities treated them completely differently from the
white soldiers. They were deeply aroused by the propaganda
of 'Back to Africa' which came from New York. In place of
their former pride because they were wearing khaki uniforms
put on for 'the defense of civilization', they had become
disillusioned, had begun to look at things critically, and were
imbued with race consciousness. [Negroes, 1979 p.10].
Furthermore, the black cause was winning sympathizers
among the European left: 'French and American capitalists
so nakedly use Negroes in their offensive tactics against the
working class, that organized workers and communists
cannot any longer treat the black masses with indifference.'
[Negroes, 1979 p.10].

The centrality of the race issue for McKay is also the
rationale behind publication in Moscow of the polemical
book, Negroes in America [1979].5 The book was written
without the benefit of libraries and research materials and
shows McKay's own grasp of the issue from study and ex-
perience. It was probably the first time that a book with such
a perspective had been written and was obviously intended
to propagandize the black perspective on the race question
to the international left, whose views on the matter were
dominated by the opinions of left-wing whites.
The political sections of this book are chapter 2, "A
General View", which gives a historical assessment; chapter
3, which discusses "Labour Leaders and Negroes", and
chapter 4, "The Workers' Party and Negroes". The other
chapters consider the role of Negroes in sports, art, music
and literature. The last two sections deal with "Sex and Econo-
mics", and an account of the hanging of a black man in

Texas after being falsely accused of raping a white woman.

But the book also contains incisive criticism of the white
left towards the racial question:

Many whites call themselves radicals. They assure themselves
and their friends that they are irreconcilable enemies of the
existing order, with all its frightful injustices. They are ready to
faint when they hear about the fact that white children are
compelled to work long hours in factories and on farms, and
write lengthy articles, editorials, and letters of protest against
repression in Ireland and against the introduction of African
"Savages" into "civilized" Germany. But their radicalism in
many cases doesn't extend to colored peoples. This to a large
extent applies to opportunistic elements inside various radical
movements. Every time they have to defend American Negroes,
they usually do it with far from the same ardor as when they
are up in arms against injustice with respect to members of
their own race. [Negroes 1979 p.39].

This echoes his views that were expressed in 'The Racial
Issue in the USA: A Summary", which appeared in the
International Press Correspondence published by the Com-
munist International in 1922:
The blacks are hostile to communism because they regard it as a
"white" working-class movement and they consider the white
workers their greatest enemy, who draw the color line against
them in factory and office and lynch and burn them at the
stake for being colored. Only the best and broadest minded
Negro leaders who can combine Communist ideas with a deep
sympathy for and understanding of the black man's grievances
will reach the masses with revolutionary propaganda. There
are few such leaders in America today. [Cooper 1973 p.91].

Indeed, while in 1922 he distanced himself from this per-
ception by black American workers, by 15 April 1939, in an
article for the New York Amsterdam News, he was to show
himself critical of 'the traditional idea of Socialists and Com-
munists . that Negroes should think less as Negroes and
more as workers, fighting in the common struggle of all
workers: that Negroes should react to social conditions as a
class, and with the working class in general and not as a racial
group.' [Cooper 1973 p.280]. His enthusiasm for the Russian
Revolution had long waned. Like several intellectuals in the
United States and Western Europe who had supported the
Revolution, McKav had come to feel that it had been be-
trayed. As such, he condemned 'the failure of the experi-
ment in International Socialism in Soviet Russia as the social
salvation of exploited workers and oppressed peoples, with
the resultant suppression of all free intellectual inquiry and
artistic freedom.' [Cooper 1973 p.281]. Apart from the
critical reception given to two of his novels in Russia, the
Moscow trials of 1936-38, whose victims were Stalin's political
and cultural opponents, would have laid the ground for hostile
comments of this nature. Furthermore, account needs to be
taken of the impact of anti-communist ideology which formed
a central part of the capitalist mass media, book publishing
and government policy. This had intensified since the Russian
Revolution of 1917.

Artistic Rejection
As a result of his visit to the Soviet Union, a number of
McKay's literary works were translated into Russian. In 1925
the Ogonek Publishing House issued three short stories entitled
"Trial by Lynching", "The Mulatto Girl" and "The Soldier's
Return". McKay's poetry also appeared in Soviet publications.
But from the introductions to the translations of Banjo and
Home to Harlem,6 it is clear that McKay's fiction failed to

live up to the political and artistic prescriptions of the Bol-
shevik intelligentsia. For instance, Z. Vershinina claimed
in her preface to Banjo, which appeared in Russian in 1930:
'one can admire Claude McKay's heroes; they are vivid and
one can feel them. But these are not fighters for the new and
not builders.' Similarly, the writers of the preface to Home
to Harlem state that 'McKay did not try to portray the
coloured Americans who are strong in spirit.' And just as
McKay's artistic vision and sense of political commitment fell
far short of that expected of a militant who had spoken at
the Fourth Congress of the Third Communist International,
so too did he disappoint and repel the black nationalists and
the left in the United States.
However, as an artist, McKay appears to have set himself
the task of documenting the life-style and experiences of
working-class blacks, whether in Harlem, Marseilles, or Jam-
aica. This goal was achieved largely through a naturalistic ap-
proach to art, which certainly offended the nationalists.
Marcus Garvey denounced Home to Harlem as a 'damn-
able libel against the Negro'. [Vincent 1973 p.58]. And W.E.
B. DuBois claimed that for the most part it nauseated him,
. after the dirtier parts of its filth I feel distinctly like
taking a bath.' [Vincent 1973 p.359]. Similarly, the study
Harlem: Negro Metropolis [1940], met with unfavourable
critical response. Black reviewers accused McKay of distort-
ing Harlem life, of 'overemphasizing its primitive and exotic
side and of adopting a generally anti-intellectual stand in his
criticism of the Negro intelligentsia.' They also charged he had
exaggerated the Communist party's influence in Harlem. His
anti-communism, they maintained, 'actually flowed from
personal resentments he had against former friends'. [Cooper
1973 p.39]. 'Such reviews left McKay bitter and more iso-
lated than ever .... He consequently found himself at the age
of fifty with no position, no money and no prospects'.
[1973 p.401.
The left had wanted stirring revolutionary heroes; the
nationalists demanded uplifting life-styles both camps
wanted their ideals reflected in art. But the moral fibre of
McKay's central characters fell woefully short of such ideals.
McKay, committed to realism, had no wish to betray the
reality in which he lived and which he thought a fit subject
for fiction.
At the same time, one detects in his post-Russia years an
increasing disengagement from the difficulties of choice in-
volved in life in the United States, and an opting for the life
of a wanderer. Correspondingly, the realistic mode of his fic-
tion began to admit of a certain degree of romanticisation.
This trend is evident in Banjo [Blary 1981-82 p.34] as well
as in his depiction of Jamaican peasant life in Banana Bottom
and of Jamaican society in My Green Hills of Jamaica.
But the intelligentsia rejected his artistic products for one
reason or another. This must have wrecked his self-esteem.
Loss of faith in self and in the source of inspiration seem to
have led McKay back towards the childhood certainties, re-
awakened by memory. Among these certainties was the ac-
ceptance of a religious interpretation of existence. In Moroc-
co, which reminded him sharply of Jamaica, he contem-
plated adopting the Islamic faith. [See Fabre 1981-82 pp.
37-52]. By 11 October 1944 he was baptized into the
Catholic faith.
Apart from this and other reasons for McKay's turn to
religion loneliness, ill-health, poverty it is clear that

McKay was highly impressionable, and that his views were
coloured by the opinions of persuasive people he met in
various locations.

The Challenge of Colonialism
McKay had not returned to the United States after his
departure from the Soviet Union in mid-1923. Instead, he
lived in France until 1928, residing either in Paris, or on the
cheaper Mediterranean coast; and after France, he shifted to
Morocco in North Africa. There he stayed until his return to
the United States in 1934. During this period he began writing
fiction and completed three novels.
By this time, politically, McKay was adopting positions
which largely characterized the Third World and black
American intelligentsia. The views of this sector were critical
of colonialism and racism on the one hand, but at the same
time critical of communism. As a colonial by circumstance of
birth, travel made him acutely aware of the oppressive nature
of colonialism. Re-acquaintance with that system in France
and in Morocco served to re-invigorate a flame that had never
been extinguished during his years of socialist involvement.
His years in North Africa made him intimate with French
colonialism and some of his comments on the French left
anticipated criticisms by Frantz Fanon and other colonial
intellectuals in the 1950s during the Algerian war of indepen-
dence. In a 1943 essay McKay observed that 'In North Africa
the French mentality is conservative to the point of reaction.
A visitor to the colonies gets the impression that it is there
that the powerful rightist tendency in the French nation is
most securely entrenched.' [Cooper 1973 pp.291-2]. In
McKay's view, the much-vaunted 'liberty, equality, and
fraternity' were the prerogative only of Frenchmen, for in an
essay written in 1939, he commented that when:

the French Popular Front was obliged to face the issue of
defending the social rights and aspirations of the native people
against French colonial aggression, precisely as the Spanish
Republican government had done, it took the side of reaction.
In their wild efforts to cover up the shame, the Popular
Front press and its apologists proclaim that the nationalists
have been inspired by Fascist agents and that they are Fascist-
minded. [Cooper 1973 pp.287-8].

On the other hand, McKay was highly appreciative of the
solidarity shown by the Spanish left towards the Moroccan
struggle for self-determination.
He was also supportive of the West Indian struggle for self-
rule. In the New Leader, 25 October 1941, he praised 'the
West Indian intellectual coterie [in New York]' as unstintedd
in its regular denunciation of British Imperialism'. He then
went on to publicize the fact that 'One of its leading spirits
and president of the West Indian National Council, W.A.
Domingo, was arrested and thrown into concentration camp
in June, when he attempted to visit the island of Jamaica'.
One reason given for his detention was that 'his presence was
likely to obstruct the British War effort', and another was
that 'he was likely to impede the speedy carrying out of the
work of establishing United States naval and air bases in Jam-
aica'. [Cooper 1973 p.278].


On 22 May 1948, Claude McKay died of heart failure in a
Chicago hospital. During his lifetime his politics had centred
on racial and colonial questions. His political views had evol-
ved from those of a colonial to those of a left-wing radical in

the 1920s. This process was a result of the radicalization of
the black intelligentsia in those years. But the 1930s and
1940s saw his isolation from the organized left and the
nationalist intelligentsia inside and outside the United States.
This made him politically impotent. This political isolation
may be seen as reflective of character traits such as emotion-
al instability and intellectual impressionability. It was also
reflective of a retreat into idyllicism brought on by exile and
personal disillusionment. At the same time, his disengagement
from communism mirrors a more general trend among the
western left during the inter-war years. Yet despite this re-
treat from a communist left position, McKay continued to
maintain anti-colonial and anti-racist positions characteristic
of a larger number of intellectuals who had emerged in the
colonies and who were connected to a wide spectrum of
movements seeking political freedom.
When all is said and done, it is as an artist, not a polemicist
or politician, that McKay prided himself. This self-awareness
surges strongly through his account of the Petrograd days:

I was invited to speak and read my poems wherever I appeared
I was a poet . and their keen questions showed that
they were much more interested in the technique of my poetry,
my views on and my position regarding the modern literary
movements than the difference of my color. [Cooper 1973
pp. 102-3].

This, in face of Bernard Shaw's suggestion that he should
be a pugilist'! To be a black man and an artist was no mean
achievement in those days. McKay would have been conscious
of being a path-breaker, creating a literature in the virtual
absence (for that generation) of a known scribal tradition.
His own nationalism was nurtured in Jamaica and was ex-
pressed, albeit with some ambivalence, in his dialect verse.
In the modernist and democratic spirit of the age,
McKay's art spoke of the real-life experience of simple folk.
At the same time, this depiction was informed by a keenly
political class- and race-conscious sensibility.

1. For the implications of McKay's Jamaican background, see Lewis
and Lewis [1977, 23: 38-53].
2. The 1920s saw the formation of several communist parties out-
side the Soviet Union. These early parties brought together people
with a wide range of political persuasions, including anarchism,
populism, feminism, Fabian socialism, ultra-left ideas, etc. as well
as nationalism.
3. Several Russian icons carry images of dark-skinned religious figures.
This no doubt reflects the historical connection between the
Orthodox churches of Europe and the Ethiopian Orthodox
Church, a virtual cradle of Christianity. For reasons of this old
nexus, black icons and Madonna images are revered in several
parts of Europe. A primaeval link between blackness and good
luck stemming from this connection seems to have given way,
under the impact of the Christian Crusades against Islam, to
subsequent negative associations of blackness in the European
mind. Africans played a large and prominent part in the medieval
4. See, for example, the editorial in Izvestia, 16 November 1922,
entitled "The Awakening Race" which deals with the 'Negro
question' and spends some time discussing the use of black
troops against the proletariat in France.
5. The original English version of this text has not yet been found.
As such, because what is now available is a translation from the
Russian back into English, it is not possible to assess McKay's
own style. Furthermore, without the original, one is unable to
know what editorial changes and cuts were made.

6. I am grateful to Margaret Webley for translating from Russian
into English the prefaces to Home to Harlem and Banjo, and to
the Lenin Library in Moscow for making photocopies of these
7. McKay's presentation of the black life-style conformed to the
false paradigms of the cultural Negritudinists. See Lewis and
Lewis [1977].

BLARY, Liliane, "Claude McKay and Africa", Commonwealth 5,
[1981-2]: 25-35.
COOPER, Wayne (ed.), The Passion of Claude McKay-Selected Prose
and Poetry 1912-1948, New York: Schocken Books, 1973.
DuBOIS, W.E.B., The Souls of Black Folk Essays and Sketches,
Londbn: Longmans, Green, 1965.
FABRE, Michel, "Beyond Banjo: Claude McKay's African Experi-
ence", Commonwealth 5, [1981-82]: 37-52.
LEWIS, Rupert and Maureen LEWIS, "Claude McKay's Jamaica",
Caribbean Quarterly, 23: 2 and 3 [June September 1977]:

McKAY, Claude, Banjo (in Russian), Moscow: Land and Factory
Publishers, c.1930.
Home to Harlem (in Russian), Moscow: State Publishers, 1930.
Banana Bottom, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1933; New
York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1961.
A Long Way From Home, New York: Lee Furman, c.1937;
New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1970.
Harlem Negro Metropolis, New York: Harcourt, Brace,
Jovanovich, 1972.
- The Negroes in America. Translated by Robert Winter. Edited
by Alan McLeod. New York: Kennikat Press, 1979.
--, My Green Hills of Jamaica and Five Jamaican Short Stories,
Edited by Mervyn.Morris. Kingston: Heinemann, 1979.
"Trials by Lynching (Stories about Negro Life in North Ame-
rica)", typesaript. Translated by Robert Winter. Edited by
Alan McLeod.
VINCENT, Theodore, (ed.), Voices of a Black Nation Political
Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance, San Francisco: Ramparts
Press, 1973.


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


In the article "Trafalgar House"
by Jane Reid (18:2) the writer
referred to the Prince of Wales'
kangaroo which died at sea and was
'brought ashore at Kingston and
buried at dead of night somewhere
in the then 56 acres of Trafalgar
Park under the supervision of the
Prince's ADC, Lord Mountbatten'.
The story is attributed to Lord
Perhaps there were two such
kangaroos, though I cannot imagine
a herd of kangaroos gambolling
round the royal vessel during the
prince's round-the-world trip. In
any event, I know of a royal
kangaroo brought to the Caribbean
by the same prince long ago but
that one died in Trinidad. The
grave, complete with marble grave-
stone, is in the botanic gardens in
Port of Spain.
Could it be the same kangaroo?
Or did the ghost of the Trinidad
animal come hippity-hopping across
the Caribbean to Trafalgar Park?

George John
24 Mona Common
Kingston 6

I found the article on the Great
Exhibition of 1891 (18:3) most
interesting. It was especially signi-
ficant for me as it was only two
years ago that I came across this
souvenir plate (below) at Stiven's
on Eureka Crescent. I thought it a
charming piece and bought it but
was not at the time fully aware of
its historical importance.
I do hope that others in pos-
session of souvenirs from the
Exhibition will respond to your
request and share them with the
readers of Jamaica Journal.

Emma L. Curtin (Mrs.)
4 Dublin Castle Close
Gordon Town P.O.
St. Andrew

Mrs Beryl Donaldson of Man-
deville has kindly allowed us to
photograph and display these sou-
venir glasses purchased by members
of her family at the Great Exhibition
of 1891 (Jamaica Journal 18:3).
She tells us that her grandfather
Frederick Emanuel made the jour-
ney from Lucea to Kingston by
horse and buggy to attend the ex-
hibition, while her husband's grand-
mother Rachel Donaldson made a
similar trip from Westmoreland.
They found that the most popular
souvenirs were the glasses, perhaps
because it was possible to have
one's name engraved on them after
purchase. As our picture above
shows, both Frederick Emanuel and
Rachel Donaldson had theirs done.

We invite readers with other souvenirs
of the Great Exhibition to share them
with us.

Claude mc Kay

A Poet of Love

CL UV -' S -.

By Mervyn Morris

I n Claude McKay's 'most striking poems', Jean Wagner
[1973:225] writes, 'he, among all black poels, is par
excellence the poet of hate'. Anthologies reinforce
that impression: poems of protest or defiance or hate claim
most of the pages allotted to McKay. He is a voice of black
resistance.1 'So what I write is urged out of my blood./ There
is no white man who could write my book'. [Selected Poems,
p.50] .2 'Deep in the secret chambers of my heart/ I muse my
life-long hate.' [SP, p.74].
It is no less accurate, however, to call McKay a poet of
love: nostalgic love of the Jamaica to which he never physically
returned; love even of the U.S.A.; compassionate love extend-
ed to fellow-sufferers of various kinds; love of his mother; his
love of friends; erotic love; love, ultimately, of the Roman
Catholic Church.

Love of Country

His love for Jamaica finds voluble expression even in his
very earliest books. In "Sukee River", for example [CB, pp.
78-80], the persona pledges to stay at home forever. But
Claude McKay, of course, did not. The section in Selected
Poems called 'Songs for Jamaica' contains the bulk of his
nostalgic poems from exile; among them "Flame Heart":

What weeks, what months, what time of the mild year
We cheated school to have our fling at tops?
What days our wine-thrilled bodies pulsed with joy
Feasting upon blackberries in the copse?
Oh some I know! I have embalmed the days,
Even the sacred moments when we played,

All innocent of passion, uncorrupt,
A t noon and evening In the flane-heart's shade.
We were so happy, happy, I remember,
Beneath the poinsettia's red in warm December.
[SP, p.13].
The keyword 'embalmed' modifies all that rich nostalgia.
Whatever must be embalmed has died. The persona looks
back at what is now, in important senses, beyond recovery.
The preterite in the final sentence closes the poem with a
firm reminder that the happiness associated with innocence is
not retrievable. What the persona remembers, however vivid-
ly, is actually, like his mother in another poem [p.22], dead:
'the dead past' only 'seems vividly alive' [p.29]. The 'waking
dreams' [p.20], the idyllic memory, are undercut by har-
bingers of death: lizards threaten to devour careless little
flies, 'The leisured buzzard floats upon the breeze' [p.20].
In "The Tropics in New York" McKay skilfully contrasts
New York reality (imported fruit, objectively there in the win-
dow) with the memories triggered of Edenic abundance,
overlaid with religious associations ('mystical', 'benediction',
'nun-like' the landscape like a sacrament). Then in the final
stanza we return to the reality of exile and the painful long-
ing for home, such hunger for 'the old, familiar ways' [p.31].
The exile longs for home, and talks of going back to realize
his 'thousand dreams' [p.32] of a place which, in actual fact,
will probably have changed. 'I shall return. I shall return
again/ To ease my mind of long, long years of pain' [p.32].
The pain not only of absence from his native land, but
also of living as a black man in the United States. The per-
sonae encounter discrimination, hardship, the impulse to
hate. But in "America" [p.59] the persona declares:

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
About "Barcelona" there is somewhat similar ambivalence:
some aspects of that 'admirable city' are 'sinister and strange',
and in the final stanza of sonnet III, images signal danger: the
flashing knife, a lighted fuse:
I see your movement flashing like a knife,
Reeling my sense, drunk upon the hues
Of motion, the eternal rainbow wheel,
Your passion smouldering like a lighted fuse,
But more than all sensations, oh I feel
Your color flaming in the dance of life.
[SP, p.861.

Fellow Sufferers
McKay revelled in 'the dance of life': he was unusually
open to experience: 'a vagabond with a purpose'. Moving
around he came into contact with a wide range of people,
many of them victims of one sort or another. His writings
frequently express compassionate love for fellow-sufferers,
an intense caring regard for others; such as Michael, for ex-
ample, a white pickpocket who became a friend of his.
Throughout his poetry this love for sufferers recurs. In Songs
of Jamaica, for example, victims granted loving concern
(sometimes in execrable verse) include Little Jim who has a
sore toe [pp. 22-23]; Jim, a youngster badly pinched by a
handcuff [pp. 24-26]; a 'midnight woman' threatened by the
law [pp. 74-76]; a rural family struggling to make ends meet
in a time of stringency [pp. 86-91]; a youngster after a judi-
cial flogging [pp. 111 -113]. In his preface to Constab
Ballads, a collection based on his experience as a policeman,
McKay confesses, in irony, to 'a most improper sympathy
with wrongdoers'. In many of his poems, love in compassion
reaches out towards people whom conventional arbiters of
morality might consider wrongdoers the apple woman har-
rassed by the police [CB, pp. 57-58]; prostitutes; 'girls who
pass/ To bend and barter at desire's call' [SP, 60], or "The
Harlem Dancer" [SP. p.61]. In "The Castaways" human
derelicts are seen in contrast with the happy fruitfulness of
nature ('The vivid grass with visible delight/Springing trium-
phant from the pregnant earth'), with the cheerfulness and
freedom of butterflies and sparrows in flight, with the af-
fecting beauty of flowers, with the joyful singing of thrushes:
But seated on the benches daubed with green,
The castaways of life, a few asleep,
Some withered women desolate and mean,
And over all, life's shadows dark and deep.
Moaning I turned away, for misery
I have the strength to bear but not to see. (p. 73).

Part of the misery to be borne is the pain of separation
in love. In the poems of Claude McKay the loved one is not
always female:
Ah, dear frien' o mine,
Love me, frien' o mine,
Wid that love of thine
Passin'love of womenkin' [SJ, p.107].

The peasants of Jamaica were always fond and faithful in
friendships', McKay has told us in A Long Way from Home
[1970: 35]. 'Every boy and every man had a best friend,
from whom he expected sympathy and understanding even
more than from a near relative'.
In "Bennie's Departure" [CB, pp.15-22] there is a very
close friendship indeed, ('One in passion, one in will, bound/
By a boundless love and wide', p.16). At a training school for
policemen the two men spend five happy months together.
They eat together. They go for twilight walks by the Rio
Cobre and are reluctant to return to barracks. They take
cold showers together in the early morning a little ahead
of their colleagues. They sleep on adjacent cots, until the
sergeant moves Bennie away. Soon a greater wrench must be
endured: Bennie leaves the depot-school, and the persona is
in distress. In "Consolation", the poem that follows, we see
the grief-stricken young man respond to the kindness of
another colleague, ('one searching' look into his face,/ I gave
him in my heart a place.' p.24).
McKay hated being a policeman and was happy
indeed when his friend and patron Walter Jekyll -an English-
man of such high social standing he could be scathing about
the 'middle class bad manners' of the colonial governor -
used his influence to get McKay released from the constab-
ulary after only eight months of the five-year contract.

Erotic Love

Wayne Cooper [1973: 321-22], in a footnote, records un-
certainty about the sexual orientation of McKay. 'As in other
areas of his life, McKay was in truth profoundly ambivalent
regarding his sexual preferences. Some of his friends remember
him as primarily, if not totally, homosexual; others knew
nothing of his homosexuality and regarded him as hetero-
sexual, while some who knew him best maintain he was bi-
Whatever the gender of his actual partners,McKay is a
powerful poet of sexual love. In Selected Poems the pieces in
the final section, 'Amoroso', have been adjudged by David
Littlejohn [1966:58] 'extraordinary things . arguably bet-
ter than his race-war sonnets'. Blyden-Jackson, [1953, 13:
217], reviewing Selected Poems, noted that in it 'the pheno-
menon of sex is treated more delicately, but no less definitely,
than in ... Home to Harlem'
Coitus is clearly imaged here:

O were I hovering, a bee, to probe
Deep down within your scented heart, fair flower,
Enfolded by your soft vermilion robe,
Amorous of sweets, for but one perfect hour!
[p. 94]

Uncovered on your couch of figured green,
Here let us linger Indivisible.
The portals of your sanctuary unseen
Receive my offering, yielding unto me.
[p. 97]

Of snow flakes, ostensibly:

/ went to bed and rose at early dawn
To see them huddled together in a heap,
Each merged into the other upon the lawn,
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.


Or, most explicitly:
My body kindled to a mighty flame,
And burnt you yielding in my hot embrace
Untilyou swooned to love, breathing my name
[p. 03]

Many of the affairs commemorated, whether real or ima-
ginary, seem to have been brief. ('My soul takes leave of me
to sing all day/ A love so fugitive and so complete', p. 99).
Cooper notes that Mckay 'had difficulty maintaining an inti-
mate relationship with anyone over a long period'. McKay's
marriage to a childhood sweetheart (30 July 1914) lasted
only a few months; his wife, nee Eulalie Lewars, returned to
Jamaica where their child, a daughter, was born. Years later
he remarked, in a letter to Max Eastman: 'I ought to be close-
ly attached to somebody, woman or even man, instead of
being off at loose ends living lone-wolfishly' (28 June 1933).
He could be troubled also by closeness. In another letter to
Eastman (30 April 1935) he argued, a propos a friend: 'It
is not that I don't love her, but I think that constant rub-
bing together is likely to destroy love in fact it is be-
cause I love her that I want to prevent our love degenerating
into an insipid habit.'
Some of the 'Amoroso'poems are concerned with problems,
signalled at times by the titles: "Absence", "Tormented",
"Futility", "Through Agony", "Thirst". Sometimes the level
of commitment demanded is greater than the persona is happy
to give. Sometimes there is a barrier of race. Or desire has
been frustrated by absence, physical or psychic. Or there is a
struggle forcontrol of the relationship. Believable psychological
states underlie most of the poems.
Some McKay love poems are positive about relationships;
some of the early ones are even sentimental. A few are lightly
cynical: such as "De Dog Rose" [SJ, pp. 72-73], which is
better than the general run of early pieces. "Romance" [SP,
p. 96] is a uniquely delicate achievement for McKay. It uses
the romantic counters tongue in cheek, and ultimately boasts
of the mutual insincerity of these unillusioned lovers:
To hear you ask if Ishall love always,
And myself answer: Till the end of days;

To feel your easeful sigh of happiness
When on your trembling lips I murmur: Yes;
It is so sweet. We know it is not true.
What matters it? The night must shed her dew.

We know it is not true, but it is sweet -
The poem with this music is complete.

The physical is never drably realistic in these poems.
Romantic heightening suffuses nearly everything. The poems
are strong on fragrance, perfume, scent; specific colours,
bright ones often red, and scarlet and purple. People and
passions suggest analogies in nature: flower, tree, river, flood,
storm. Passion is often flame. Sometimes also, as in "Memor-
ial", the imagery of sex is given religious overtones ('Your

body was a sacred cell always'; 'I touched your flesh with
reverential hands' p.104).

The Roman Catholic Church

At the end of his life McKay turned finally to religion, to
the Roman Catholic Church. The old free-thinker and icono-
clast had difficulty explaining his conversion to some of his
pagan friends. 'After all, Max, what is Truth? It seems to me
that to have a religion is very much like falling in love with a
woman. You love her for her colour and the music and
rhythm of her for her Beauty, which cannot be defined.'

In this vast world of lies and hate and greed,
Upon my knees, Oh Lord, for truth I plead. [p.46]
Around me roar and crash the pagan isms
To which most of my life was consecrate,
Betrayed by evil men and torn by schisms
For they were built on nothing more than hate!

McKay, throughout his life, was a passionate poet of love.

1. But see Giles [1976:42], 'a great deal of his poetry cannot be
classified, directly or indirectly, as black protest'. See also
Brown [1978; 1984: 39], 'McKay's achievement as the first
major West Indian poet goes beyond the fact that he has won
an international reputation for racial protest in black America.
He is of special significance in the history of West Indian
poetry because his work represents the first sustained attempts
to utilize local idioms as well as inherited European forms.'
2. Titles of poetry volumes by McKay will be abbreviated as fol-
SP: Selected Poems of Claude McKay
SJ: Songs of Jamaica
CB: Constab Ballads
Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads have been reprinted in a
one volume edition called The Dialect Poetry of Claude McKay
[1972] which retains the pagination of the original books.

BROWN, Lloyd W., West Indian Poetry, Boston: Twayne, 1978;
London: Heinemann, 1984.
COOPER, Wayne F., The Passion of Claude McKay, New York:
Schocken Books, 1973.
GILES, James R., Claude McKay, Boston: Twayne, 1976.
JACKSON, Blyden, "The Essential McKay", review of Selected
Poems of Claude McKay, in Phylon Vol. XIII No. 2, [1953]:
LITTLEJOHN, David, Black on White, New York: Viking, 1966.
McKAY, Claude, Constab Ballads, London: Watts, 1912.
Songs of Jamaica, Kingston: Aston Gardner, 1912.
,Selected Poems of Claude McKay, New York: Bookman Asso-
ciates, 1935.
-, Letter to Max Eastman, 30 April 1935, Lilly Library, Indiana
University, Bloomington, Indiana.
.A Long Way From Home, New York: Harcourt, Brace and
World, 1970.
- The Dialect Poetry of Claude McKay, New York: Books for
Libraries Press, 1972.
, My Green Hills of Jamaica, Kingston: Heinemann, 1979.
WAGNER, Jean, Black Poets of the United States. Translated by
Kenneth Douglas. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970.



History and Culture
Cariesta Forums An Anthology of 20
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Carlos Fuentes (Mexico); Rene
Depestre (Haiti); Jan Carew, Wilson
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George Lamming, Edward Kamau
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PB 248 pp (1976) JS10 or U.S.4.30 ppd.

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.BUWH dr Sw


By Evelyn. O'CalJaghan

Woman's Tongue
Hazel D. Campbell
Kingston: Savacou Publications Ltd., 1985,
Perhaps revealing the mark of a
good short story writer, Hazel
Campbell is fortunate in her
choice of Woman's Tongue as the the-
matic title of her new collection of
stories. The product of her female
tongue, these stories collect together
incidents and responses in the lives of
contemporary Jamaican women, old
and young, rural and urban, 'middle
class' and downright poor. Like the
eponymous tree, with its characteristic
sound produced by the movement of
numerous dry pods in the breeze, female
experience is related through several
varieties of Jamaican speech, several
voices which collectively embody a very
real sense of Jamaican community.
The first tale in this small volume,
"The Ebony Desk", strikes a note of
colloquial intimacy between writer and
reader by using the fluid 'middle' regis-
ter of Jamaican creole: 'If is one thing I
always fraid of is people "dead-lef"
things'; and although she then tells us
she 'have to use me best "pop-style"
language to tell you this one', the stand-
ard English narrative easily accom-
modates the pseudo-Rasta idiom of her
son as well as a clever mimicry of the
rhythmical style of DJ dub-music.
Campbell seems fully in control of the
Jamaican language-continuum, and is
able to represent oral creole speech
fluently in the medium of a scribal,
'literary' form, refreshingly free from
irritating glosses, embedded explan-
ations or the use of punctuation mark-
ings to suggest a standard English 'origin-
al' spelling. When the pragmatic Miss
Winsome advises 'Miss Girlie' (in the
excellent story of that title) not to be
too fastidious about prostituting herself
to obtain money for her lover, the
authenticity of her speech is indubitable:
Cho, Missisl You too fenky fenky. Since
Ivan want you fi go sell pussy, well, go
sell pussy! Plenty hungry touris round

the place. An mek me tell you some-
thing . you don't even have fi give
Ivan all the money wha you mek. After
all, a fi you pussy.
In the collection, experience too is
presented as multi-faceted. "Super-
market Blues" and "Why Not Tonight?"
detail the most mundane of activities
and reflections, while "The Ebony
Desk", "The Painting" and "Easter
Sunday Morning" suggest a mysterious,
supra-natural level of experience imping-
ing on the everyday life of women. The
first story describes the writer's antique
desk which slowly assumes a powerful
personality of its own, imposing its will
upon the form of the fictions she tries
to write. In "The Painting", Karen's

Hazel Campbell
mysterious vision, which she's impel-
led to capture on canvas, serves to warn
and then teach her about the painful,
'refining fire' of love. And in "Easter
Sunday Morning", tension builds up to
a dramatized conflict between good and
evil, between forces of arcane wisdom
embodied in the obeah-woman Mother
White, and the ultimately victorious
powers of the orthodox church. Into
the superficial blandness of women's
lives, Campbell suggests, elements of a
non-rational reality occasionally intrude.
The central symbol of the Woman's
Tongue tree serves to illustrate another
aspect of the author's stylistic tech-
nique. Just as each pod is essentially
flimsy, yet in combination with others
can produce a disturbing cacophony, so
Campbell's easy tone and the light
entertainment of most of the stories

contain certain touches of harsh, sting-
ing irony. In "Why Not Tonight?" a
young girl's reflections on the hypo-
critical posturings of her pious church
elders, 'That same Sister Margaret
for example, the Most Saved of the
Saved . took great delight in mak-
ing life as miserable as possible for many
people', serves as a subtle indictment of
a repressive religion in which the merit
of salvation 'had probably less to do
with a concern for her soul and more
for the protection of her virginity'.
Again, the realistic depiction in
"Supermarket Blues" of the hardships
caused by commodity shortages in late
1970s Jamaica, points up the selfish and
inhumane treatment of others which in-
evitably follows on the constant pres-
sure of 'scuffling' for life's essentials.
But the most telling irony in the collec-
tion is at the expense of Jamaican men.
If poor aged Miss Maud is literally knock-
ed down in the rush towards the cash-
register, the middle-class Mrs. Telfer also
suffers verbal and emotional violence
from her husband, who acts 'as if all
these changes were her fault' and re-
fuses to compromise:
Men never understood, Mrs. Telfer
sighed. He would talk for hours about
the economic situation of the country,
balance of payments problems, explain
to his bewildered friends that the bad
planning in the past had brought the
country to its present situation, but
ask him to use newspaper instead of
toilet paper as she had once suggested
Whether he is the 'miserable' middle-
class husband of "Supermarket Blues"
the working-class 'Philandering Bertie
of "The Thursday Wife", who recog-
nizes the superiority of his long-suffering
wife over his various 'outside women' at
the very moment the 'dutiful' Mary
questions whether she can continue to
'accommodate' him; or Ivan, in "Miss
Girlie", forcing his loyal and submissive
girlfriend to sell her body for American
dollars with which he intends to buy a
motorboat and earn enough to 'set up'
Girlie although in the meantime, he'll
have to use her sister sexually, as while
Girlie is pleasuring tourists 'he wasn't
getting into any white man muck'; all in
all, Jamaican men emerge as selfish, ex-
ploitative bullies, demanding their
women's servitude but giving neither
respect nor gratitude in return.


Of course, as is clear in "Miss Girlie",
the men's attitudes are in part due to
the vicious economic struggle in which
most Jamaicans are engaged, and which
is constantly seen as responsible for the
debasement of human relationships. The
point is never made didactically, but
is allowed to emerge implicitly from the
narrative; although Campbell sometimes
slips into the trap of describing rather
than evoking the reactions of her female
protagonists. In "The Painting", we are
told that Karen is 'worried to death',
'quite frantic', 'bewildered and numb'
after her husband's desertion, but these
states are not really portrayed in the.
character's speech, action or mental
Occasionally, the author is not con-.
tent to let her story convey its 'mes-
sage' on its own terms. Again in "The
Painting", she seems unable to resist the
temptation to explain the central sym-
bol directly and such obvious authorial
intrusion, I think, is damaging to the
fiction, for the device of the painting
is made to play a forced and uncon-
vincing role in the story. The moral
fable/parable "Princess Carla and the
Southern Prince", which completes the
volume, suffers at times from the same
flaw. Jamaica's middle class is like an
enchanted princess, living in a dream
world, 'asleep', to the surrounding
social ills; Prince Ralph's message that
'its time to wake up', to 'face reality and
do what you can to help those around
you' is perhaps stressed once too often.
However, the beauty of a fable is that
each reader is free to determine his/her
own interpretation, so that my criticism
may be invalid.
To conclude, the eight stories which
comprise Woman's Tongue make for en-
joyable reading and, on closer examin-
ation, demonstrate the fact that there is
often a great deal of beauty and truthful
insight to be discovered in the so-called
chatter and gossip of women's tongues.
EVELYN O'CALLAGHAN is a lecturer in the
Department of English, University of the West
Indies, Barbados.

By Elaine Brooks

This Island Now
Peter Abrahams
London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 1985, pp.207.
Faber and Faber have recently re-
issued a revised edition of This
Island Now simultaneously with
with the publication of Peter Abrahams's
new novel, The View From Coyaba. The
cover designs are very similar, presum-
ably so that the sales of one will affect
the other. They are both political novels
with Jamaican backgrounds and even
though Peter Abrahams did not identify

the island in 1966 when This Island
Now was first published, the Jamaican
flag on the new cover leaves little doubt
to the observant reader where the story
is set. The View From Coyaba spends a
great deal of time also on Abrahams's
native continent of Africa, where his ex-
periences must certainly have contri-
buted to the considerable political
insight he displays in This Island Now.
Several pages omitted in the earlier
Faber editions have been included in
this one. The Collier (U.S.) edition of
1971 had contained these pages which,
among other things, confirm the iden-
tity of Josiah's would-be assassin. Per-
haps the English publishers might have
wished to maintain some mystery then,
and have now concluded that the story
loses nothing by his identification.
Interestingly, neither the author nor at
least two leading critics of West Indian
literature were aware of the omission.

- W, T

-w -- mJ
Peter Abrahams
In 1966 This Island Now was a grip-
ping piece of fiction. Reading it 20
years later, its prophetic qualities are
extremely thought provoking and even
frightening at times. Abrahams does not
spend much time on physical description
nor on personal character development.
Instead, he concentrates on the politic-
al development of his main character
ant the story moves along quickly and
He depicts two types of political
leaderss who represent major polarities in
personality and leadership styles. Moses
Joshua, who has just died at the begin-
ning of the novel, had ruled for 50
years. His wit, vitality and warmth con-
cealed his unscrupulous use of power.
Albert Josiah, who succeeds him, is
cold and calculating and his political
decisions, whatever their philosophical
foundation, are clearly based on the pre-
mise of the old cliche that the end justi-
fies the means.
Josiah is arrogant and confident
enough to believe that his is the only

right way 'to free the land and its
people'. He therefore puts into effect
policies which are morally reprehensible
but, in his opinion, justifiable. When he
is compelled to use sustained force to
quell rioting and 200 people are killed,
he expresses genuine sorrow but he
believes the economic betterment of the
country and the entrenchment of his
political authority are paramount. Thus
moral considerations are replaced by
economic and political ones. The
dilemma of leadership is resolved, Abra-
hams indicates, by the death of con-
science and the termination or suppres-
sion of personal or individual choice.

The author also describes one of
the side effects of dictatorship whether
it be relatively benign like Joshua's or
almost completely authoritarian like
Josiah's: that is, the emasculation of
lesser politicians or weaker persons,
which makes them willing to rubber-
stamp any 'politrick', so that the fic-
tion of a democratic government can
be maintained. Indeed, Josiah always
strives to appear to be acting legitimate-
ly, as he understands the historical con-
ditioning that makes our colonial people
believe in 'duly constituted' authority.
In recent years the major eruption in
the English-speaking Caribbean which
took place in Grenada, seems to bear
this out, in that, in some quarters, the
main criticism of the New Jewel Move-
ment was its illegitimacy and this was
the rationalisation put forward by some
for its overthrow.
Another important character in the
novel is the idealistic and patriotic
Andy. Abrahams employs an excellent
literary and dramatic device in his por-
trayal of him. Although Josiah is his
mentor and patron, Andy is the moral
focus and his comments reveal the
strength and weaknesses of Josiah's
policies and the man himself. Andy's
struggle to overcome his law-abiding
nature, his loyalty to his erstwhile
exemplar and his Christian upbringing,
by engaging in violence, is the climax
of the book.
The pleasure of reading Peter Abra-
hams's novels is always enhanced by his
duality of vision. Josiah explains and
justifies his actions at every turn, and
his arguments are so persuasive that the
reader can understand why he is able to
mesmerize Andy, and others, for so
However, another dimension is added
to This Island Now by the love interests
that are integrated into the plot. As may
be expected, problems of class, colour
and status are entangled. Here they are
resolved in a realistic rather than a com-
fortable manner.
Jamaican and other West Indian

readers will see many similarities to situ-
ations in the 1970s and 1980s the op-
position's public meeting being held at
'the city's largest hotel', the methods
used to reduce political subordinates to
nonentities, the beatification of the
grass roots 'perfect party man', the in-
credible coincidence of names found
elsewhere among the characters, and by
no means least, the economic measures
If one chooses to indulge in a guessing
game to identify the fictional characters
with those in real life, one is likely to
conclude that political leaders ruled by
power are much the same despite differ-
ing styles. Abrahams seems to point to
this in the similarity of his president's
names, which are meant to deliberately
appeal to the Judeo-Christian sentiment
of the mass of the people.
The reader is most successfully made
to face an unpalatable truth, that is,
that the core establishment undergoes
little or nor change even by leaders who
profess to be making revolutionary
This Island Now is, perhaps in too
many respects, this island still.
ELAINE BRQOKS, a graduate of the Univer-
sity of the West Indies, is administrative assist-
ant in the Faculty of Arts and General Studies
at Mona.

By Swithin Wilmot
Foundations of the Christian Missions in
British, French and Spanish West Indies
Vol. 1,
James Latimer,
New York: Vantage Press, 1984, pp.156.

he book purports to look at
the establishment of Christian
Missions in the Spanish, French
and British Caribbean from the coming
of Columbus up to the abolition of slav-
ery in the British West Indies. A variety
of topics are covered the aborigines
and Europeans, slaves and missionaries,
missionaries and slave masters, the
humanitarian contribution to emanci-
pation, and the attempt at religious edu-
cation. All these are indeed fascinating
subjects and have attracted the atten-
tion of scholars. Unfortunately Dr
Latimer adds precious little to the
Moreover the book is extremely diffi-
cult to plough through as the text is in-
undated with very extensive quotations
from primary sources which are not co-
herently discussed and which even con-
tradict each other. By way of extract
from Las Casas we are told that the
aborigines had no religion of their own
nor any fixed form of worship (p.16).
However on the following page reference
is made to another missionary who

reported that the aborigines had temples
and priests (p.17). A fundamental flaw
in this work is the author's failure to re-
concile contradictory reports of con-
temporaries, and the reader is left to the
mercy of very biased observers. This
odd mixture between a source book and
a monograph confused this reader, and
it would appear, the author, as it is very
difficult to follow the direction of the
Finally, Dr. Latimer parrots the deep-
ly entrenched cultural prejudices of his
sources. He expresses serious doubts
about the slaves entitlement to imme-
diate emancipation because of their
'backward state' (p.11). He also refers
to the slaves as 'unfortunates' (p.117)
and 'wretched Negroes' (p.138), and
embraces a Baptist missionary's deroga-
tory and offensive interpretation of
African religions as 'confused and un-
becoming' (p.68). We are also told that
the apprenticeship system was the last
opportunity to instruct the slaves in
'elementary religion' thereby raising
their status above that of 'savages' (p.132)
One would hope that the projected
second volume will reflect fundamental
alterations in the author's approach to
his subject.
SWITHIN WILMOT is a lecturer in the
Department of History, University of the
West Indies, Jamaica.

Alcan contributes to Jamaica

The disposal of the wastes from
processing bauxite to alumina has
always been a problem. Alcan spared
neither time nor money in looking
for alternative ways of storing the
waste products of alumina manu-
facture, or the red mud.
When the solution was found,
the Company allocated over US$25
million in creating gigantic drying
beds so that this waste can be stored
safely out of the way of ground
Alcan willingly helps the com-
munities where it operates, not only
by providing much needed employ-
ment, but by offering help on school
and hospital boards, and defraying

certain costs forcommunity projects,
and more: Alcan contributes to
education by annually providing
Jamaican students with scholarships
to U.W.I. and C.A.S.T., as well as for
universities overseas. Plus, scholar-
ships are granted to children of
Alcan employees whenever they
enter tertiary institutions, here or

That's Alcan. A corporate citizen that


Alcan Jamaica Company A

Quietly Achklvin Ilmportat Goals


These brief notes on books
received do not preclude a
longer review.

The One
Andrew Sal key
London: Bogle L'Ouverture
Publications Ltd., 1985
Brother Anansi, traditional
folk hero of the Caribbean is
cast in the novel role of free-
dom fighter in Andrew Sal-
key's recently published story
The One. Anansi uses his
legendary magical powers to
help the people of Guyana
avenge the brutal murder of a
man they love and respect.
A fictionalized account of
the avenging of Walter Rod-
ney's murder, The One is
among the stories contain-
ed in a new collection by
Andrew Salkey entitled An-
ancy, Traveller, to be pub-
lished by Bogle-L'Ouverture.

Poetic Tributes
Walter Rodney
London: Bogle-L'
Ouverture Publications Ltd.,
1985 pp. 102.
The responses of over 40
Caribbean poets to the kil-
ling of Guyanese historian and
political activist Walter Rod-
ney, are recorded in a new

volume of poetry entitled
Walter Rodney, Poetic Tri-
butes. Some of the poems first
appeared in publications such
as Caribbean Contact, Race
Today and The Vanguard. The
collection includes the work
of Linton Kwesi Johnson,
David Dabydeen, Martin Car-
ter, and Edward Kamau Brath-

New England Review &
Breadloaf Quarterly
Vol. 7 No. 4 Summer 1985,
Hanover: Kenyon Hill
Publications Inc.
pp. 634
The special summer issue
of the New England Review
and Breadloaf Quarterly for
1985 features a wide offer-
ing of contemporary Carib-
bean Literature. The selections
from the works of more than
40 writers include poetry, fic-
tion and essays. Edward
Kamau Brathwaite, Jan Carew,
Samuel Selvon are some of
the writers from the English
speaking Caribbean whose
works appear.
Translations of the works
of some of the most highly
acclaimed writers of the
Spanish speaking Caribbean
feature selections from
Nicolas Guillen, Roberto Fer-
nandez Retamar, Alejo Car-
pentier and Roberto Gonzilez
Echevarrra among others.

A Novel by Neville Dawes


"INTERIM is a well written
book, well worth reading...
... one must credit the author with providing us with
an exciting story and coming out on top with his fine
style of writing." Archie Lindo, The STAR.
"Dawes has created a masterpiece in INTERIM ...
the theme of a Jamaican people struggling for an
existence and identity ... ." Joy Scott, DAILY NEWS
J$1 5.00 o... U.S.$4.50
in Jamaica only Post paid overseas

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Sut-lrmcre Road. Kingston 10. Jamaica.
Telephone: 92 94785/6


(for Cedric Lindo)

When they talk together what they speak about
Are times long-remembered, events, places
They have shared, old familiar faces,
Commonly held beliefs, atavistic fears, their faith, their

It's not only what they say, though, affirms their bond;
As strong, the how of it: the way they phrase their
Using gentle tones and accents, with slow careful fond
Words, their wise spirits calling each to each.

Between them they make a type of old music,
Simple, stately, melodious, calmly sweet,
Rising through the air in cadences that make a magic
In their minds. Old music with their time, their beat.

Hearing them is like being in a green woodland
Watching a susurrussing stream moving to the sea
While listening to birds flight an evensong to praise the
Sun, and
Noticing how day's long light flows away almost

A. L. Hendriks




"One of the most intriguing
collections of Jamaican poems
yet published. ..
. the book is a mixture of miraculously beautiful
language .... It is full of delights." Dennis Scott -
Sunday Gleaner magazine.
"Anthony McNeill is the first and most accomplished poet to appear out
of the 'now' generation of the anglophone Caribbean. McNeil's solutions
over the next few years will be one of the major achievements in our
literature." -Edward Brathwaite

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

JS12.00 U.S.$8.50
in Jamaica only rc( o Sn e ts Post paid overseas

Me Jfar of Cloud
Poems by Anthony McNeill

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

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

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


William L.R. Oliver is a research
assistant with the Jersey Wildlife
Preservation Trust where he has work-
ed since 1974. A noted zoologist and
animal conservationist, his interest in
Jamaica's endangered species is re-
flected in his previous contribution
to Jamaica journal "Looking for
Conies" (16:2).
Erna Brodber, socio-historian and
novelist, previously contributed an
interview with the Rev. Eddie Burke
(17:2) and "Oral Sources and the
Creation of a Social History of the
Caribbean" (16:2). Dr Brodber is
particularly noted for her work in
oral history.
Cynthia Wilmot, journalist and film-
maker, is associate editor of the Dip-
lomatic Courier. A former director/
scriptwriterwith Jamaica Information
Service, Mrs Wilmot has worked in all
aspects of media in Jamaica since
Steve Gruber is studying medicine
in New York. His interest in Jamaica's
endemic species led him to mount a
yellow snake protection programme
in Trelawny where local farmers who
formerly killed the species now accept
and protect it.
Rupert Lewis is head of the depart-
ment of government, University of
the West Indies, Jamaica. A well
known Garvey scholar, he reviewed
works by Tony Martin and Robert
Hill in Jamaica Journal (17:4). He is
co-editor of Garvey -Africa, Europe,
the Americas and author of Marcus
Garvey: Anti-Colonial Champion -
forthcoming, 1986.
Mervyn Morris is a senior lecturer in
the Department of English, Univer-
sity of the West Indies. A highly ac-
claimed poet and literary critic, his
articles appear regularly in internation-
al and local publications including
Jamaica Journal.
Wilma Bailey lectures in bio-geography
in the department of geography,
University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
She has published several articles
dealing with the geography of health.
A.L. Hendriks is a well known Jam-
aican poet who now resides in Eng-
land. A pioneer in broadcasting in
the Caribbean he is a former general
manager of the Jamaica Broadcasting
Corporation. Mr Hendriks published
his fifth collection of verse, The
Islanders and other Poems, in 1983
(review, 18:3).

Three Jamaican Pianists

Three Jamaican Pianists

By Pamela O'Gorman

within a month during the Christ-
mas/New Year season, three of
Jamaica's most outstandingly
talented pianists appeared on the local
stage. 'Talented' is a feeble word, but
the only one that could apply equally
to Monty Alexander, Orrett Rhoden
and Orville Hammond, apart from 'non-
resident'.They all live abroad and operate
abroad as performers.
All three merit attention. Monty
Alexander, in his early forties, is an
established artiste, internationally ac-
claimed. Orville Hammond in his thirties
and Orrett Rhoden in his twenties are
still aspiring, although they have both
earned a measure of recognition, locally
and abroad, in their chosen fields. Com-
ing together in such a short period of
time, the performances of all three of-
fered an interesting insight into those
so-different yet so-similar worlds of
music, jazz and the classics.
Furthermore, I was fortunate enough
to be able to interview Alexander and
Hammond. Musicians do not often get
the opportunity to speak publicly about
themselves and what they have to say
about their work is often interesting
and revealing.

Monty Alexander left Jamaica at the
age of 17, when his family migrated to
Miami. Prior to that he had learned piano
from Vera Downes, Brenda Smythe and
that doyen of Jamaican piano teachers,
Lillian Trench, who started so many
young musicians on a professional path.
He had absorbed mento, calypso and
rhythm and blues, he had sat at the feet
of local popular musicians whom he al-
ways found 'extremely helpful' to a
young aspiring pianist and, having heard
Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, he
had veered away from his classical train-
ing and set his sights firmly on becoming
a jazz musician.
Shortly after arriving in Miami, he
obtained work in a local club. He was

spotted by Frank Sinatra and Jilly
Rizzo and as a result went to New
York, where he laid the foundations of
his career, working with some of the
best musicians of the day Frank
Sinatra, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown,
Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, 'Senator'
Eugene Wright and others. This early
recognition attests to an unusually
developed talent.
A turning point in his career, and one
that firmly established his reputation,
was his London debut at Ronnie Scott's
club where the Sunday Times reviewer
enthused: 'Monty Alexander is special.

He made one of the few unforgettable
debuts I remember in years.'
From that time he became a familiar
figure on the international scene, ac-
claimed in Europe and the U.S.A., later
in Canada and Japan.

Serious, dedicated and remarkably
integrated as a person, he gives the lie
to the popular notion that jazz musi-
cians have to be freaked out in order to
play well. On the contrary, leading the
kind of life where you make four trips
to Europe in one year, as he did in
1985, he asserts that a musician must

Monty Alexander (left) and John Clayton



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have 'nerves of steel'. 'You've got to
keep your head in order when you go
on stage to play', he says.
His concert at the Pegasus Hotel,
given in aid of Vouch, was well attend-
ed, but not as well attended as it might
have been had the price of the seats
been less than $75 and $50. (One won-
ders what percentage of these astro-
nomical prices goes on promotional costs
and how much eventually reaches the
charity concerned.) A classicist at heart,
he prefers acoustic instruments and
abhors electronics; but he had to com-
promise on this occasion and use some
subtle sound-reinforcement to overcome
the deadness of the Pegasus ballroom.
Thankfully it was well done. "
Monty Alexander approaches his
music as a chamber music player. To
him, each instrument is important and
interesting in itself; but because his
approach is intimate and conversation-
al, with each player having a supreme-
ly civilized regard for what the other is
saying, each part is conceived and has
to be listened to in relation to what
the other parts are doing.
Undoubtedly this is why he has al-
ways chosen his partners with the ut-
most care, not just for their technical
ability, but also their ability to shape
clear lines that are conceived contra-
puntally and at the same time give the
'small orchestra' effect for which he
continuously strives.
There are certain hallmarks of Monty
Alexander's creative approach. The
introductions to many of his arrange-
ments, as well as his original com-
positions, are less often direct state-
ments of the theme than allusions to
what is to follow usually a phrase or
motif played around with against a back-
ground of colour effects out of which
the theme eventually emerges in full.
This constitutes a climax in itself, plac-
ing the song (if it's a standard) in a new
perspective right from the beginning.
Silence, to him, is as important as
sound, and his music therefore has a
dramatic quality that holds the listen-
er's attention throughout, particularly
as he and his players use an infinite
variety of dynamic levels and timbral
effects. Although he is capable of stun-
ning climaxes and can shake out of his
sleeves any amount of technical fire-
works, he never overstates himself.
He makes hisway through an evening's
performance like someone who keeps
encountering friends along the way -

bits of Ellington songs, old standards,
stylistic allusions to other pianists -
most often brought out with an impish
sense of humour, a joke shared among
initiates. His music therefore appeals
at many levels. The uninitiated can en-
joy the music at face value, the initiated
can, in addition, savour the allusions,
share the jokes and go home feeling that
a special and private world has been
brought to life. Ellington's "Love You
Madly", which he included in his Pegasus
programme, was the epitome of this.
But he does not overdo it, for he is far
too considerate a musician both to his
colleagues and his audiences. It never-
theless adds a dimension of sophisti-
cated humour that one seldom en-
counters in an art form that too often
takes itself too seriously.
The one composition of his own that
he played at the Pegasus "Renewal"-
showed his dramatic sense and his
craftsmanship to perfection. Using
nontraditional effects in the intro-
duction, plucking the strings inside the
piano, he later brought out some thun-
derous sounds from which emerged a
two-note motif that eventually acted as
the unifying element in the whole work.
It also showed his harmonic sense at
its most sophisticated.
His present partners, John Clayton
and Jeff Hamilton, are beautifully
matched to him. They are both conserv-
atory-trained, which is important only
in so far as their tonal and technical

resources can be extended in directions
that one does not normally expect from
musicians whose experience is limited
to the stands, and they both attest to
what they have learned from Monty
Alexander as a Jamaican musician.
John Clayton, who plays with the
Amsterdam Philharmonic under Haitink
and has played with Ella Fitzgerald and
the Basie Band, uses every possible re-
source available to a bass player. Whether
he uses the bow (which he obviously
prefers) or pizzicato, he does so be-
cause it is right for that particular
moment. His cello-like upper register,
which he commands with enviable
mastery, is lyrical and eloquent. (Who
can forget his introduction to Michael
Jackson's "Ben"?). Whether he uses
double-stopping, glissando, harmonics
or just plain busking, he does so with a
consummate artistry that is always at the
service of the music and not merely for
Similarly with Jeff Hamilton. He is
light years away from the simplistic
notion that traps are primarily for time-
keeping, punctuation and rhythmic
excitement. He, too, uses every possible
gradation of sound colour and timbre,
from shimmering, gossamer-like disturb-
ances of the air, through explorations of
the resources of every component of the
set using hands as well as sticks, through
the full gamut of rhythmic and dynamic
pyrotechnics that can keep the listener
transfixed with a near-unbearable ten-

14 December 1985

The members-of the group must trust each other.

Each performance is a rehearsal for the next night.

Freedom needs discipline, otherwise there is chaos.

We all develop habits and if we're not careful, we begin imitating ourselves.

Feeling good about what you're doing Is Important.

You have a responsibility to be the best you can be music must
be an uplifting experience.

Never lose the feeling for music that you had when you first started

Playing classical music is essential, but it's necessary to like
the music you play; otherwise there's a mental block, Play as much
classical music as you can, but leave room for fantasy, Ultimately
the Instrument Is arnedom to express yourself,

sion. But again, those formidable music-
al and technical resources are never over-
done. They are kept always within the
context of an agreed, overall musical
At a workshop they gave at the
School of Music, unfortunately abys-
mally attended by local musicians, the
trio talked, played, answered questions
and rapped about the music with some
of the younger members of the frater-
nity. (See box).
Out of this workshop and in an inter-
view he gave later, a number of interest-
ing sidelights emerged on Monty Alex-
ander. A traditionalist, he abhors electron-
ics, which he considers unnatural -
'like synthetic food'. He feels that techn-
ology is doing away with human life.
In comparison, acoustic music is a pro-
duct of nature, 'like toto, plantain, king-
fish and rum'. In the same vein, the
piano is 'authentic, like a piece of
history'. He believes that electronic
instruments are an abomination and
that brilliant or weird sound effects are
often used to disguise lack of talent or
musical skill.
On the subject of Jamaican music,
while he says he enjoys reggae, he feels
that it is being forced by commercial-
ism. Because the interest is in the traps
and bass (and he has the greatest admir-
ation for the reggae rhythm sections)
he feels there are no new melodic and
harmonic possibilities in the music.
Talking about the influence of blues
on Jamaican popular music, he expres-
sed the opinion that the blues in Jam-
aica is more soulful than in black

Talking to Monty Alexander, one
realizes that, despite the sophistication
he has acquired as a musician, he is still
very much a Jamaican at heart with the
innate Jamaican appreciation of things
that are simple and natural. Nor has his
playing lost its Jamaican character. This
is very difficult to pin down exactly,
but it lies in a unique approach to rhy-
thmic accentuation and syncopation, a
certain treatment of the off-beat and
the use of traditional patterns in both
rhythm and melody. Above all, his music
is suffused with a kind of relaxed vital-
ity that is always ready to break out into
a bubbling exuberance.
Orville Hammond's playing also has
this strongly Jamaican quality. His con-
cert at the School of Music given in mid-
January confirmed that he is an uncom-
monly gifted pianist and composer,

Orville Hammond

who, given the opportunity, might well
become another Monty Alexander.

He was born in Falmouth. His parents
are administrators in local government
and his mother gave him his first piano
lesson. He went to Calabar High School
and thereafter studied with Geoffrey
Fairweather and Fay Ennever-Robotham.
Having won a scholarship to pursue a
degree course at Oberlin College in the
U.S.A. two years ago, he is now study-
ing there with the well-known Afro-
American classical pianist Francis Walk-
er, studying jazz as a minor which is all
Oberlin can offer in that field. Most
vacation periods see him back home in

In the intervening years between
schooldays and his present sojourn
abroad, he has supported himself as a
musician by performing for a number of
years on cruise ships in the Caribbean
and as resident pianist in several hotels
and restaurants the Jamaica Playboy
Club, Hyatt Regency, Holiday Inn and
Blue Mountain Inn. In 1982 he did a
European tour with Jimmy Cliff. He has
appeared fairly frequently on the local
stage and has built up a faithful follow-
ing who recognize him as a jazz pianist
of outstanding ability. He is also a rare
bird in the jazz field in being not only
an excellent teacher but also a musician
who loves teaching. This is rare in the
world of popular music, which boasts
so many brilliant, instinctive musicians
who nevertheless are incapable of
mastering the analytic process that is so

necessary a precursor to imparting
For a number of years he found his
natural musical facility worrying. He
was bothered by his inability to put an
instant label on chords and musical pro-
cesses which he used naturally by ear,
and he felt that, somehow, they were
invalid for being instinctive. Nowadays,
he is less disturbed by this, realizing per-
haps, as so many creative musicians do,
that he is a medium for transmitting
something outside himself which is not
readily explained in rational terms.
Unfortunately his concert was mar-
red by over-amplification (quite un-
necessary for the School of Music audi-
torium) and poor balance between the
piano, the electric bass of Glen Brownie
and the lead guitar of Wigmore Francis.
There is a great problem with young
local bass players in that, being steeped
in reggae and having limited experience
of other musical styles, they place too
much emphasis on the bass line when
they venture into jazz. Similarly, many
of our local lead guitarists do not know
when to keep quiet and allow a soloist
to follow his own train of thought with-
out interfering. Wigmore Francis is ex-
tremely competent, sometimes brilliant,
but he has yet to sensitize himself to the
subtle give-and-take that jazz demands.
Desi Jones on traps, similarly competent,
nevertheless needs more experience in
exploring silence as an entity in itself
and the ability to keep things together
with a minimum of fuss. It is good to
see younger musicians responding to the
challenges of another idiom. They will
no doubt learn with experience that the
essence of a great deal of jazz is not so
much what is put in as what is left out.
Despite these problems, the concert
was a notable success. There is very little
that Orville Hammond cannot master
technically these days though he still
does not have the superb clarity of artic-
ulation that Monty Alexander has,
His rhythmic sense is compelling and it
lies at the heart of his creative imagin-
ation. Yet, at the same time he com-
mands a lyricism that is supported by a
sure sense of harmonic colour and move-
ment and an ability to use the piano
throughout its full range.
As a composer, he never wanders
from the point. The creative line is al-
ways firm and his musical gestures are
clear and communicative, as we saw in
the bouncy, sunny Chaplinesque main
theme of "Spring", which was propel-
led by a memorable bass riff and some

Before leaving home to return to Oberlin to
resume his studies, Orville Hammond talked
to Pamela O'Gorman about his work and the
musical scene in Jamaica as it affects someone
like himself.

P.O'G: Who have been your strongest
musical influences?

O.H.: The musicians who have influen-
ced me most are Herbie Hancock, Bill
Evans, Monty Alexander and Chick

You've always been bothered about the
strength of your instinct, as compared
with your theoretical knowledge. Do
you still feel that way?

Consciously I've always tried to intel-
lectualize what I do I see the need to
be conscious of what I do, but I realize
now that the what is more important
than the why. Because I like to teach, I
think the why is important, but no
longer so much. There is a great diffi-
culty in using words to describe spon-
taneous creation.
To what extent have your classical stu-
dies helped you?

They've helped in two ways. Technical-
ly (more than stylistically) and for play-
ing ballads. For instance Chopin's Noc-
turnes and Ballades have helped my
touch, phrasing and balance. But there's

beautifully-moulded tensions resolved
by the continuous recurrence of the
In order to test an impression that
had solidified into a strong opinion at
the School of Music concert,I set up a
test in which I compared the taped re-
cording of two numbers from that pro-
gramme with recordings of the same
numbers by Monty Alexander. There
was, of course, a disparity in recording
quality and in instrumentation, but I
was primarily interested in comparing
two pianists. "Fungi Mama" which end-
ed the first half of Hammond's concert
and which is included in Monty Alex-
ander's album Triple Treat was the first
test piece. It is a tight, exciting calypso
that requires quick responses from all
the players, testing how quickly they can

a limit to what the classics can do for a
jazz pianist.

Do you find that your performance is
affected by the musicians you play with?

Yes, definitely. To a large extent my
playing is determined by the musicians
I'm on stage with. I react, and fit in to
make things come together.

What would you like best for yourself
as a musician?

I'd like to be a full-time performer with
opportunities to teach. I really like teach-
ing. We wait too long to start teaching
music in Jamaica. It should begin in
primary school in fact, before birth

What about your identity as a Jamaican

I know my Jamaican upbringing has
influenced me rhythmically. But I re-
fuse to feel confined by the idea of being
Jamaican. People abroad notice my 'dif-
ferentness' as a Jamaican; however I
am not considered typically Jamaican
locally, because I don't play reggae.

What are your thoughts about reggae?
All bands who do well abroad have been
influenced by other styles. I'm disturbed
that so many students seem interested
only in reggae. I feel they should open
themselves to all styles, otherwise their
music can't develop. I believe in cross-

think on their feet. Switching back and
forth from tape (Hammond) to disc
(Alexander) it was difficult to distin-
gjish between the two pianists. I found
Orville Hammond's playing in every way
as brilliant as Monty Alexander's and a
colleague whom I invited to listen,
agreed with me. My hunch was confirm-
ed. (I should add that Desi Jones on
traps and Wigmore Francis on lead gui-
tar deserved full credit in this, also. It is
a pity that Glen Brownie was over-
"Stella by Starlight", the second test
piece, was in direct contrast to "Fungi
Mama". A slow ballad, it was treated by
Orville to an exhaustive and evocative
exploration of the theme before he gave
it an elaborate up-tempo treatment and
eventually turned it over to the rest of

fertilization and that reggae should
develop further. Musicians should play
what they like rather than playing what
audiences, expect. There are great
pressures on Jamaican musicians to con-
form to a certain pattern. An artistic
success on a record often doesn't do
well because of lack of promotion.
There's a feeling that people get what
they want; but they don't. If they were
given a choice and a wider exposure,
they would demand more. Very often
bands need acceptance abroad before
being accepted at home.

How do you feel about coming back
home to Jamaica?

I have a fear of stagnancy. There's a grow-
ing interest in jazz here, but not-enough
to earn a living solely by it. Hotel work
is necessary, but it's lacking in scope.
Musicians would be more adventurous
but they have a fear of alienating their
peer group. Many of them don't stretch
themselves. They are satisfied with what
they do. The musical fraternity is afraid
of anybody who's too adventurous,
although there are signs of a turnaround
in that attitude among the younger
musicians and the more accomplished
musicians in reggae. They're being more
innovative more than they used to be,
but still not enough. Most innovative of
all are Chalice and Third World.

It's hard to ask a pianist just to Compp',
as in reggae.

the group. Unfortunately they proceed-
ed to let it slip through their fingers
with some heedless meandering through
bass and drums before being brought
together at last by the piano for the
final chorus. Hammond's treatment was
far longer than Alexander's, each was
quite different in concept, both were
"Stella" merely emphasizes that
Hammond's future success will depend
not only on getting the right 'break' but
equally on the quality of the players he
has to work with and the time he has to
build a cohesive unit around him. It also
reminds us that, in any kind of music,
whether it be jazz or classical, it is not
the fast, exciting music that tests a
musician so much as slow examples that
require sustained concentration, intelli-

S ... . '. '.. .. '. ] : 7..

gence and imagination. It becomes cru-
cial for the jazz musician, who is so
dependent upon his fellow players to
help sustain a mood or a certain sense
of direction.
Given Orville Hammond's innate
ability, it would be interesting to hear
what he could do with experienced jazz
players and an acoustic bass whose deep-
er, more rounded timbre would prob-
ably be more suited to his style. Whether
he has the right temperament, the 'nerves
of steel' and the toughness to make his
way to the top of a relentlessly demand-
ing profession remains to be seen.
There is no doubtthat Orrett Rhoden
has the toughness. The big question is
whether he has the self-discipline and
musical intellect to appeal at a level
beyond the superficial; for up to now
he has attracted a certain type of listen-
er obviously dazzled by the glamour and
mystique of classical music but some-
what lacking in discernment; certainly
the ecstatic reviews of the concerts he
gave here a few years ago were embar-
rassing in their anxiety to hail him as a
genius ready to lay the rest of the world
at his feet.
His talent is unquestionable. He has a
serviceable technique, strong musicality,
an excellent memory, and a certain
poetic sense which he uses with imagin-
ation. Unfortunately this could describe
any of a thousand young pianists gradua-
ting from the best institutions in the
U.S.A. and Europe every year to enter a
field that is fiercely competitive and al-
ready over-populated. Realizing this no
doubt, he has adopted a number of de-
vices to 'shock the bourgeois' and

Orrett Rhoden

attract attention. Alas, despite the pith
helmet which adorns his head in those
eye-catching advertisements that project
him as a 'Caribbean bombshell- Eu rope's
most controversial pianist', despite the
sequined gloves, the capes, the spats and
the promises of two full-length concer-
tos as a same-night sequel to a Carnegie
Hall recital, he cannot bring it off. Much
as the world of classical music might
benefit from an infusion of iconoclasm
to relieve it of some of its pretentiousness
and religiosity, much as its communi-
cants might be willing to tolerate a cer-
tain degree of 'camp', they will not toler-
ate self-indulgent interference with the
integrity of the music, unless it is trans-
ferred wholesale to another milieu like

jazz or synthesizers and up to now they,
too, have managed to preserve its integ-
The mannerisms Orrett Rhoden has
adopted away from the keyboard, have
been transferred to his playing. His right
foot pumps and stomps in rhythmic
passages, rubatos are overdone, style is
perverted (he is the only player I have
heard reduce Bach and Scarlatti to a
pair of mincing sybarites). Phrasing and
accentuation are deliberately distorted
and his readings tend to move forward in
a series of titillating flurries that destroy
the overall line and undermine any
architectural sense.
After his Carnegie Hall debut, the
New York Daily News gave him one of
the harshest (and funniest) reviews I
have ever read. Irrepressible as ever, he
soon after came home from this New
York 'triumph', thankfully passing up
his original plan to hire the stadium, and
presented the same programme at the
Pegasus, specially fon a home audience.
I like this kind of brashness. It makes
for a little light-heartedness in a pre-
dominantly heavy world; but sooner or
later Orrett is going to have to make up
his mind whether he wants to be regard-
ed as a serious classical pianist or an
entertainer. Whatever he settles for, he
will need to do a lot of disciplined and
sustained work far more than is evi-
dent in his playing at the moment.

Pamela O'Gorman is director of the
Jamaica School of Music and our
regular music columnist.

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

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

The historical, cultural and linguistic background which
gave rise to the oral narrative tradition in Jamaica is
explained and put into the context of the present situation.
Although the emphasis is on the stories, an effort is made to
examine storytelling as a dramatic art form so as to convey
to the reader some of the dynamic vitality of performance
which keeps the tradition of folk tales alive and enduring.

J$79.95 or U.S.$20
For free brochures on this and other publications on
Jamaican culture please write to us:

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

Sex Differences in

Paediatric Admissions

to Kingston Hospitals

By Wilma Bailey

In an analysis of 5,502 admissions
to the Port of Spain General Hos-
pital in 1982, Ramchander et al
[1984] noted the dominance of male
children in all age groups. The male-
female ratio in that study was 1.2:1. By
way of explaining this distribution the
authors wrote, 'These results are similar
to those in most Indian States where
parents carry male children for medical
attention more readily than female
children'. The argument is that Indian
cultural practices, in a society in which
40 per cent of the population comprises
people of Indian descent, are reflected
in paediatric admissions.
This article looks at sex differences
in admissions to hospitals from a popu-
lation in which the Indian component is
less than two per cent. The study is con-
fined to admissions during the first six
months of 1983 to public and private
hospitals in the parishes of Kingston and
St. Andrew in Jamaica.1
The case histories of 2,249 patients
below the age of 14 were examined.
Since 164 children were readmitted, the
total admissions from the area defined
amounted to 2,413. There were 451
cases in which more than one ailment
was diagnosed, with the result that
2,889 complaints were seen. Statistical
significance was measured by the chi
square test.


As in the Trinidad study, male child-
ren dominated admissions in all age
groups (Table 1), the male-female ratio
being 1.4:1. The male-female ratio in
the age group 0-14 in Kingston and St.
Andrew in 1982 was 0.99:1. While the

excess of females over males in the urban
area was a mere 1.2 per cent, the excess
of males over females in admissions was
over 31 per cent. Males significantly
outnumbered females in hospital ad-
missions (p.- 001).



0- 11 months 359 263 622
1 2 years 263 167 430
2- 5 years 439 200 739
5- 9 years 285 192 477
9+ years 84 61 145

1,430 983 2,413


Infective and Parasitic

Respiratory, together with infective
and parasitic diseases accounted for 69
per cent of admissions in the six-month
period (Table 2). The infective and
parasitic group was important among
younger children, especially those in the
0-11 month age group, where these
diseases accounted for 46 per cent of
all admissions. Between 1-2 years, the
percentage admitted for these diseases
fell and was only marginally more than
that admitted for respiratory diseases.
Respiratory problems predominated
among older children, largely because of
the importance of asthma as a cause of
admission. For both groups there is an
increase in the sex differential in the 1-2
year age group. In the case of infective
and parasitic diseases, the large differen-
tial in the over nine year category can

be ignored since the numbers involved
are small enough (21) to be affected by
chance. The overall trend is an increase
in the sex differential in the 1-2 year age
group and an irregular decline in later

Respiratory Diseases. Asthma and pneu-
monia accounted for 71 per cent of all
admissions for respiratory problems. As
Figure 2 shows, the relationship between
admissions for these two diseases and
those for total respiratory disorders was
very close. Below the age of one, pneu-
monia was by far the more important
of the two diseases. Thereafter, pneu-
monia lost its position to asthma which,
for many age groups, was the single
most common respiratory complaint.
Asthma accounted for 19 per cent of
admissions over the six-month period.

January June 1983

Respiratory 39
Infective and Parasitic 30
Accident and Injuries 11
Ill-defined, others 9
Endocrinal, Nutritional Metabolic 5
Blood 2
Cardiovascular 2
Genito-urinary 2

However, as this was the most common
cause of readmission, the patient per-
centage was lower 17.

Respiratory Diseases

103 1



4 (0-











a' f --- -- - a
0-1' 1-2 2-5 5-9 9.
Figure 1: Sex Different
Figure 2: The Contribution of Asthma and
Pneumonia to Admissions for
Respiratory Diseases

I50 / \ D'EASES
/ \
- ASTHMA ond
a /
5 100-
I oI- \

.0E '5

50" \ -

251 \

< 1-2 2-3 3-k L-5 5-6 6-7 7-8 8-9
Age Groups
Figure 3: Admissions for Pneumonia
50- Jan. -June 1983
S \

u \
a \


. 10

100 -



*o 40-

Infective & Parasitic Diseases








1-2 2-5 5-9 9

in Hospital Admissions.

Figure 4: Admissions for Asthma

1\ Jon.
I \
I \
I \

-June 1983

Age Grou
9. MALE - - FEMA
Figure 5: Admissions for Gas
Jan. June 19

Age Groups

In Figures 3 and 4, the remarkable
differences between the level of male
and female admissions in the younger
age groups are apparent. For asthma,
the differential was greatest in the 2-3
year age group, when peak admissions
for this complaint occurred. In both
diseases, the sex differences declined with
increasing age, the fluctuations in the
small population above the age of 5
being unimportant.

Infective and Parasitic Diseases. Among
infective and parasitic diseases gastro-
enteritis was most common, resulting
in 16 per cent of all admissions. The
male-female ratio was 1.6:1, but in the
age group 0-11 months it was more than
1.8:1. As with asthma, the age group
associated with peak admissions coin-
cided with that of peak differential
(Figure 5). Meningitis, measles, glo-
merulo nephritis were among other
causes of admission in this group but
their numbers are too small for meaning-
ful comparisons.

Accidents and Injuries

The most conspicuous complaints
differentially represented between the
sexes were those classified as accidents
and injuries. There was a significant
/\ male predominance in every age group
I (p <. .001) and for every type of acci-
\\ dent (Tables 3 and 4). Overall, the male-
S female ratio was 2.2:1. The most pro-
V nounced sex differentials occurred
between the ages of 2-4 and between
i i 6-8. In the earlier age group, accidental
6-7 7-8 e-9 poisoning and falls were the main causes
ps of this difference, whereas in later years
LE the differential was due tomotor vehicle
troenteritis accidents. For both sexes, accidental
poisonings peaked in the one-year-olds,
83 and gasoline was the most common sub-
stance ingested. With motor vehicle acci-
dents there was a sudden increase in
male admissions between the ages of 6-7
and a slight increase between 7-8 after
which admissions fell. There was no
MALE .-- significant increase in female admis-
FE MALE sions until the age of seven after which
the number fell.

Nutritional Diseases

Although admissions for nutritional
problems showed a differential in favour
S of males, it was lowest of all diseases ex-
9* amined 1.3:1. The differential was
greatest in the 1-2 year age group.

<1 1-2 2-3 3-4 4-5 5-6 6-7 7-8 869 9+
Age Groups


(Percentage Male)


0- 11 months 65
1- 2 years 67
2- 3 years 73
3- 4 years 72
4- 5 years 64
5- 6 years 62
6- 7 years 77
7- 8 years 73
8- 9 years 54
9+ 69

(Percentage Male)


M.V.A. 75
Accidental Poisoning 65
Falls 76
Other accidents in the home 70
Other 55


Hospital admissions are an inadequate
measure of health in any society for, as
Kohn and White [1971] have demon-
strated, the availability of beds and
nurses may, to some extent, favour
those who are urgently in need of at-
tention or the acutely ill. In developed
countries, a system of national monitor-
ing to establish a sounder basis of health
needs has been advocated. However,
not only is a national programme of
monitoring expensive, but serious doubt
exists as to-whether epidemiological
considerations, by themselves, could ex-
plain the pattern of utilization of health
services. The socio-cultural characteristics
of a population can affect perception
of, and response to, ill health. Race and
class are important elements in health
service utilization in the United States
of America and Britain [Cordle and
Tyroler 1974; De Vise 1973; Oppe
1964]. Ramchander et al. suggest, but
do not explore, a cultural explanation
for the sex differential in utilization in

The problem is that the pattern of
male predominance in child admissions
is repeated in studies in other western
cultures. For obvious reasons, sex dif-
ferentials in mortality have received
more attention than differences in

morbidity. Where morbidity trends have
been studied the emphasis has been on
older age groups or on specific diseases
[Enterline 1961; Roberts 1976]. How-
ever, in England and Wales in 1977,
male children had a significantly higher
bed occupancy rate than female child-
ren [Forfar and Arneil 1984]. In the
United States of America between 1960
and 1962, male children below the age
of 15 had an admission rate of 56 per
1,000, while the rate for females was
43. Male infants, says Blaxter [1976],
are, statistically speaking, less healthy
than females.
There are several diseases for which a
sex discrimination is well documented.
Although the true incidence of asthma
is unknown partly because of the dif-
fering criteria of diagnosis of individual
investigators, there is a male pre-
dominance in childhood [Brewis 1975;
Forfar and Arneil 1984; Jolly 1983].
Moreover, asthma may be indirectly
linked with admissions for other diseases
because of its known or suspected asso-
ciation with respiratory disorders such
as croup, bronchitis and bronchiolitis
[Jolly, 1983]. Accidents also provide a
striking example of complaints which
demonstrate sex morbidity and mortal-
ity differences. Boys are more suscept-
ible, especially boys in lower social
classes [DHSS 1980]. In Anatol's study
of mechanical trauma in Trinidad, boys
accounted for 64 per cent of the cases
seen [Anatol 1984]. In England, the
male predominance in road accidents is
striking after the age of one year. The
discrepancy is attributed either to 'the
timidity or caution of the girl or to the
carelessness or adventure of the boy'
[Roberts 1976], characteristics which
could also be responsible for higher ad-
mission rates for other types of acci-
dents. The male-female admission rate
for road accidents in the present study
is 3:1. Another possible reason for this
large male-female discrepancy is the fact
that, given prevailing social conditions,
parents adopt a more protective attitude
towards girls who, in general, tend to be
accompanied by an adult at an older age
than boys.

Some conditions of sex-specific pre-
valences can be readily accounted for -
conditions of genetic origin, those re-
lated to the sex organs, or those result-
ing from unequal environmental factors.
More complex are those conditions in

which environmental conditions may be
regarded as being equal in the two sexes
ana where 'there is some genetic ele-

ment to which a sex difference is often
the first clue' [Roberts 1976]. The Y
chromosome, writes Edwards [1976],
'apparently protects or predisposes to
everything to which the flesh is heir -
but this is just another way of saying
that boys and girls differ, and disease is
but a breakdown of health.'


1. The hospitals were the University and
Bustamante Children's hospitals as well
as St. Joseph's, Medical Associates'
and Andrews' Memorial hospitals.


ANATOL, T., "Some aspects of paediatric
trauma in Trinidad", West Ind. Med.
J. 33, 1984.
BLAXTER, Mildred, "Social Class and Health
Inequalities" in CARTER, C.O. and
PEEL, John (eds) Equalities and In-
equalities in Health, 1976.
BREWIS, R.A.L., Lecture Notes on Respir-
atory Diseases, 1975.
CORDLE, F. and TYROLER, H.A., "The Use
of Medical Records for Epidemiological
Research 1." Difference in Hospital
Utilization and in Hospital Mortality
by Age-Race-Sex-Place of Residence
and Socioeconomic Status in a Defined
Community Population", Medical Care
XII, 1974.
Department of Health and Social Security
(DHSS) Inequalities in Health: Report
of a Research Working Group, 1980.
De VISE, P. "Misused and Misplaced Hospitals
and Doctors: A Location Analysis of
the Urban Health Care Crisis", Asso-
ciation of American Geographers Paper
No. 22, 1973.
EDWARDS,J.H. "Single Factor Predisposition
to Disease" in CARTER, C.O. and
PEEL, John (eds), Equalities and
Inequalities in Health, 1976.
ENTERLINE, P.E., "Causes of Death Respon-
sible for Recent Increases in Sex
Mortality Differentials in the United
States", Milbank Memorial Fund Quart-
erly 39, 1961.

FORFAR, J.O. and ARNEIL, G.C. Textbook
of Paediatrics Vol. 1., 1984.
JOLLY, Hugh, Diseases of Children, 1983.
KOHN, Robert, WHITE, KERR, L., (eds)
Health Care: An International Study,
OPPE,T.E."The Health of West Indian Child-
ren." Proc. Roy. Soc. Med. 57, 1964.
E., "Analysis of Medical Paediatric Ad-
mission to the Port-of-Spain General
Hospital (1982)". West. Ind. Med. J.
ROBERTS, D.F., "Sex Differences in Disease
and Mortality" in CARTER, C.O. and
PEEL, John (eds) Equalities and In-
equalities in Health, 1976.


The Council of the Institute
of Jamaica recently
announced the appointments
of Mrs Beverley Hall-Alleyne
and Mr Dexter Manning to
the p ts of Executive
Director and Deputy ..,
.Directer of the Institute

Mirs Hl-Alleyne has been
.with the Institute since 1974
when she joined the staff of
the newly formed African
'Caribbean Institute of
Jamaica (ACIJ) as a
research fellow in linguistics.
SShe subsequently became
hed ofCIJ in 1978, a
position she held until 1985
when she became acting
Executive Director of the
Institute. Mrs Alleyne's
appointment is effective as of
October 1 1985.

Mr Dexter Manning, although
new to the Institute, has had
a long and distinguished career
in the Jamaican civil service.
His professional training
includes social administration
at the University College,
Swansea, Wales; and public
administration at the
University of Manchester.
His most recent position was
as director in charge of the
division dealing with research
and statistics at the Ministry
of Labour. Mr Manning's
appointment became effective
'1 March 1986.


Jamaica's notional cultural institution was
founded/in 1879. Its main functions are to
fosternd encourage the development of
culture, science and history in the national
interest. It operates as a statutory body un-
der the Institute of Jamaica Act, 1978 and
falls under the portfolio of the Prime
The Institute's central decision-making body
is the Council which is appointed by the
Minister. The Council consists of individuals
involved in various aspects of Jamaica's
cultural life appointed in their own right,
and representatives of major cultural
organizations and institutions.
The Institute of Jamaica consists of a central.
administration and a number of divisions
and associate bodies operating with varying
degrees of autonomy
Chairman: Hon. Hector Wynter, O.J.
Executive Director: Beverley Hall-Alleyne
Central Administration
12-16 East Street, Kingston Tel: 92-20620
African Caribbean Institute (ACU)
Roy West Building, 12 Ocean Blvd.
Kingston Mall Tel: 92-24793
Cultural Training Centre,
1 Arthur Wint Drive, Kingston 5
School of Art Tel:92-92352
School of Dance- Tel/:92-92350/68404
School of Drama Tel: 92-92353/68335
School of Music Tel: 92-92351/68751

Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
(Jamaica Journal)
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10
Tel: 92-94785/94786/68817

Junior Centre
19 East Streeet, Kingston Tel. 92-20620

Head Office
12-16 East Street, Kingston Tel: 92-20620
National Museum of Historical
Archaeology, Port Royal Tel: 98-42452
Fort Charles Maritime Museum
Port Royal
Arawak Museum
White Marl
Military Museum
Up Park Camp, 3rd GR Compound
Jamaica Peoples Museum of Craft
and Technology
Spanish Town Square Tel: 98-42452
Old Kings House Archaeological Museum
Spanish Town Square Tel 98-42452

National Gallery of Jamalic
Roy West Building, Ocean Boulevard,
Kingston Mall Tel: 92-28541

Natural History Library and
12-16 East Street, Kingston Tel: 92-20620

National Library of Jamaica
12-16 East Street, Kingston Tel: 92-20620.

We make



Insurance' Protection through the
following types of polices:

The Insurance Company
of the West Indies Ltd
KINGSTON: 2 St. Lucia Avenue,
Kingston 5, Tel: 92-69040-7
ICWI City Centre: 101 Harbour St.,
Kingston, Tel: 92-28415-8
MONTEGO BAY: 21 Market Street,
Tel: 952-0301
MAY PEN: 2 Fernleigh Avenue, P.O.
Box 421, Tel: 986-2598

Historic Structures'

The Aqueducts
University of the West Indies Mona Campus

Part of the ambience of the Mona campus of the University
of the West Indies is created by the ruins which remain from
the days of sugar when the campus site was occupied by the
Mona and Papine estates. The most commanding relics are the
elegant stone and brick arches of the aqueducts which supplied
energy for the sugar works of the two properties. Built in the
mid-eighteenth century, the two aqueducts were linked to the
same water supply system which originated at the Hope River.
Water was led from the river to a large pool just north of the
present University Hospital which in turn fed the aqueducts.

The ruins of the aqueduct which supplied the Papine works

start at the hospital ring road and lead directly to the remains
of the mill-house just north of the university campus ring road.
The aqueduct starts out at ground level and is raised gradually
on arches of increasing height to a maximum of approximately
10 feet as the mill-house is approached. Thus, the necessary
pressure was maintained to turn the overshot water-wheel
utilised by the estate. Water discharged from the mill-house
was then channelled through underground conduits to flood
gates situated where the Assembly Hall now stands, leading
into the aqueduct serving the Mona works. This structure,
similar in design to the Papine aqueduct, begins beside the
bookshop and leads to the ruins of the mill-house in the
Chapel Gardens.

I I'

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