Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00049
 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: November-January 1985-1986
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: VID00049
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







411 wl... aq h!


mrqJ 9 -IF

Treasures of Jamaican Heritage




This star shaped guitar is one
of the unique and beautiful
musical instruments made for
use in worship by Everald
Brown who is among Jamaica's
foremost Intuitive artists.
Many of Brown's works are
created through visionary
experience and the musical
instrument is a persistent
image in his paintings.

This instrument is tuned to
the first four strings of the
guitar and utilizes steel strings.
It is among the collection of
traditional musical instruments
owned by the Jamaica School
of Music.

" Alp'

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
D.E. Innerarity
Liane 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$40 for four issues (in
Jamaica only); U.S.$15, U.K.10.
Retail single copy price: J$12 (in Jamaica
only); overseas U.S.$5 or U.K.3 post paid
surface mail.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in Jamaica
Journal are abstracted and indexed in
Historical Abstracts and America: History
and Life.
Vol. 18 No. 4 Copyright 1985 by
Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited.
Cover or contents may not be reproduced in
wholeor in part without written permission.

ISSN: 0021-4124

Vol. 18 No. 4





by David Dolman

by Cheryl Ryman


by Frank Ross


by Carolyn Cooper

by Laura Tanna

Reviewed by Edward Kamau Brathwaite


Andreas Oberli
COVER: Painting by Allan Zion, one of
the intuitive artists whose work is discus-
sed by Gloria Escoffery in this issue, begin-
ning on p.53

by Gloria Escoffery

by Mervyn Morris


'That Cunny Jamma Oman'

The Female Sensibility in the Poetry of Louise Bennett

John Dunkley,
Woman sitting on stool.
Cedar. 12%".

By Carolyn Cooper

In the poem "Jamaica Oman", the Louise Bennett per-
sona1 employs an earthy metaphorical proverb to ex-
pose, with obvious relish, the jinnalship and fortitude
of the Jamaican female:
...'Oman luck deh a dungle',
Some rooted more dan some,
But as long as fowl a scratch dungle heap
Oman luck mus come! (SP, p.23)
In that body of Jamaican folk wisdom transmitted in pro-
verb, Anansi story and riddle, is the genesis of an indigenous
feminist ideology: the paradigm of a submerged and fated
identity that must be rooted up, covertly and assiduously.
The existential dungle, the repository of the accumulated
waste of the society, becomes in the folk iconography the
locus of transformation. It is the dungle, and the dehumaniz-
ing social conditions that allow it, which is the enemy of
woman, not the male.2 Cunning, rather than overt male/
female confrontation is the preferred strategy for main-
taining equanimity.
This proverbial cunning of the Jamaican woman is one
manifestation of the morally ambiguous craftiness of Anansi,
the Akan creator-god, transmuted in Jamaican folklore into
Brer Nansi, the archetypal trickster.3 Folktales of the mighty
outwitted by the clever proliferate throughout the African
diaspora: the shared history of plantation slavery in the

Americas consolidates within the psyche of African peoples
in the hemisphere, cultural continuities, ancestral memories
of sabotage and marronage, systemic resistance to servitude.
It is within this broader tradition of neo-African folk con-
sciousness the Anansi syndrome that Bennett's elabora-
tion of the Jamaican female sensibility can be best under-
This thematic/stylistic analysis of Bennett's rendering of
the Jamaican female psychology is organized under two
broad subject headings: 'Eena Yard', and 'Outa Road', to
quote a Bennett persona. I will examine domestic relations:
male-female, and mother-child; and extra-domestic affairs:
women and work, and women and politics.

Eena Yard
Male-Female Relations
It is the positive, more so than the negative manifestations
of the tricksterism of Anansi that Bennett affirms in her
tribute to the resourcefulness of the Jamaican female in
ordering her domestic affairs with the Jamaican male, ami-
Jamaica oman cunny, sah!
Is how dem jinnal so?
Look how long dem liberated
An de man dem never know!

Look how long Jamaica oman
Modder, sister, wife, sweetheart -
Outa road an eena yard deh pon
A dominate her part! (SP, p. 21)

In the poem "Jamaica Oman", the Bennett persona dif-
ferentiates this tradition of indigenous feminism from'foreign
lan Oman lib', a more recent social movement:
An long before Oman lib bruck out
Over foreign lan
Jamaica female wasa work
Her liberated plan! (SP, p. 22)

The legendary Maroon, Nanny, who 'teck her body/Bounce
bullet back pon man', (SP, p.21) remains alive in Jamaican
folklore because of her militancy against British soldiers, not
Maroon men. The allusion to Nanny situates contemporary
Jamaican 'oman lib' within a long established heritage of
consolidated male/female defense of cultural and political
'Foreign lan Oman lib' is rejected by the Bennett persona
because it fails to acknowledge the strategic differences
between men and women:
Jamaica oman know she strong,
She know she tallawah
But she no want her pickney-dem
Fi start call her 'Puppa'.

So de cunny Jamma oman
Gwan like pants-suit is a style,
An Jamaica man no know she wear
De trousiz all de while! (SP, p. 22)

This 'tallawah' Jamaican woman knows when to be appro-
priately 'weak' as the complementary poem "Tan-Up Seat"
illustrates. The speaker there makes it clear that ritualized
codes of decorum ought to govern male-female behaviour,
particularly when a tired woman recognizes an able-bodied
male seated, on a crowded tramcar:

Me doan sey man kean tired to
But wen dem want show-off
Dem sey ooman is 'weaka sex',
An ooman frail and sof'.
But wen man go pon tram and lef a
Dem mannas a dem yard,
Dem gwan like ooman strong like man
An cruff an rough an hard!
An sometime when shame bun dem shirt
Dem start gwan like dem shy,
An sidung-man kean look straight eena
Tan-up ooman y'eye! (J L, p.49) 0
It is the tenuous compromise that Jamaican women often
make in order to live with their men which Bennett treats
with such consummate craftsmanship in "Jamaica Oman".
An excellent example of comic irony is the 'role reversal' by
means of which women appear to have appropriated the male 4
role as head of the household, but are indeed simply function- t
ing true to nature:

Some back man a push, some side-a
Man a hole him han,
Some a lick sense eena man head,
Some a guide him pon him plan! (SP, p.22)

Lester Hoilett, Male and Female. 1977
Cedar. Height: 14".

Nelson Cooper, The Temptation of St. Nelson. 1983
Oil on canvas. 34"x 30".

Further, women will tolerate disparaging labels of power-
lessness as long as they retain actual power:

Neck an neck an foot an foot wid man
She buckle hole her own;
While man a call her 'so-so rib'
Oman a tun backbone! (SP, p.22)

The speaker's disdainful allusion to the biblical narrative of
origins, conveys her contempt for a sanctimonious partriarchal
prejudice that dehumanizes women in the name of religion.
Bennett's portrayal of the cunny Jamma oman is not a
solemn study of manipulative female politics, or simpering
subservience. Good-natured humour, decidedly shading into
satire, characterizes her critique. For the poem ends on this
ambiguous note:

Lickle by lickle man start praise her,
Day by day de praise a grow;
So him praise her, so it sweet her,
For she wonder if him know. (SP, p.23)

Two mutually ironic interpretations of this verse suggest that
a) even when men concede the benefits of female power they
may not be conscious of the jinnalship whereby women only
appear to defer to conventional notions of appropriate be-
haviour, and b) men may indeed suspect the ruses of women,
and simply allow them free reign. In this second reading,
jinnalship would not be the exclusive perquisite of the fe-
male, as the poem "Racket" illustrates.
The speaker there berates the wiliness of the Jamaican
male who resorts to subterfuge to escape emotional and
material indebtedness during the season of goodwill to all

As it come to Chrismus time
Dem drop de gal-frien 'biff!'
Because dem no waan fi gi
De gal no Chrismus gif! (SP, p.21)

The 'bif' 'gif' rhyme is particularly apposite. The onomato-
poeic 'biff' unlike a 'buff' is lightweight; the rhyme
thus carefully balances the weight of the negligent boyfriend's
commitment against the worth of the missing gift. The deli-
berated drop is a temporary helping down of a burden to be
assumed again, at a more convenient season:

Dem bwoy dah gwan too bad, yaw mah,
An smaddy haffi crack it!
Las ear, two weeks from Chrismus Day,
One po gal jus seh 'feh',
Her bwoy-frien start meck nize an row
An get bex an go weh!
Him meck de nice-nice gal spen Chrismus
Widout a bwoy-frien,
An de las week a January
Him crawl back een again! (SP, p. 21)

In an ironic reading of the poem one begins to suspect the
speaker of a bit of unconscious malice. The intensity of her
righteous indignation on behalf of the victim, as expressed in
the opening four lines of the poem, seem somewhat exces-
sive for the offense:

Tan! Oonoo know is what wrong wid
De bwoy-dem nowadays?

Dem is a set a raskill, cho!
Dem got real dutty ways! (SP, p.20)

By the final three lines, when the speaker is prepared to obli-
terate the duly-punished-male-turned-duppy, one is sure that
the critique of gross male negligence has been inverted. The
joke is on the mourner who is bawling louder than the pri-
mary victim:
Ef dat gal was like me
Next ear him hooda haffi pick
Quarrel wid him duppy !(SP, p.21)

The ambiguous nature of Jamaican male/female relation-
ships, satirized in several Bennett poems, appears antithetical
to the single-minded zealousness of divisive 'foreign lan
Oman lib' which has its Jamaican equivalent in the predomi-
nantly middle-class women's federation movement estab-
lished in the 1940s under the patronage of the governor's
wife, Lady Huggins.5 This kind of organized movement is
essentially different from the perennial struggles of pre-
dominantly working-class women to root out their dungle
luck. Bennett's treatment of the movement is equivocal. In
the poem "Bans O' Ooman", for example, one may detect
satire, despite the speaker's laudatory intentions. In "Mass
Wedding" and "Registration" tonal irony is even more readi-
ly apparent.
In "Bans O' Ooman!" the female persona recreates the
spontaneous excitement of the launching of the Jamaica
Federation of Women designed to bring together women
'high an low, miggle, suspended,/ Every different kine o'
class'. (JL p.41). The comic use of the adjective 'suspended',
which expresses the speaker's penchant for malapropism,
also appropriately intimates the merely temporary suspen-
sion of ordinary class values which appear unimportant in the
euphoria of the celebratory moment. Indeed, when the
woman, who finds herself on the periphery of the gathering
in St. George's Hall, attempts to force her way to the centre
of the event, she discovers that there is definite resistance to
her upward social movement:
Me was a-dead fe go inside
But wen me start fe try,
Ooman queeze me, ooman push me,
Ooman frown an cut dem y'eye. (JL, p. 41)
Undaunted, she resorts to subterfuge, the rear-entry politics
of potential sabotage:
Me tek me time an crawl out back
me noh meck no alarm,
But me practice bans o' tactics
Till me ketch up a platform. (J L, p.41)
In the final two stanzas of the poem the satire becomes
more pointed as one suspects a disjuncture of grandiose in-
tention and actual accomplishment:

Efyuh ever hear dem program!
Ef yuh ever hear dem plan!
Ef yuh ever hear de sinting
Ooman gwine go do to man!
Federation boun to flourish,
For dem got bans o' nice plan,
A n now dem got de heart an soul
Of true Jamaica ooman. (J L, p.41)
The optimistic certainty of the last two lines seems pre-

One of the many plans of the Federation of Women, to
ensure that women enter into properly legal relationships
with men, is the subject of "Mass Wedding". Rex Nettleford's
gloss on the poem is succinct:
The late Mary Morris Knibb of Kingston was a pioneer in the
fight against bachelor fatherhood (taken up again in 1965 no-
tably by the Soroptomist Club of Jamaica led by Edith Clarke,
the anthropologist and social worker). One solution offered by
Mrs. Knibb was the mass wedding, organised at little expense
to the marrying parties, many of whom might have been living
in common-law relationships for years. (JL, p. 30)

The speaker who is hastily trying to secure 'one boonoonoo-
nos man' (JL, p.30), whom she has just met, seems on the
surface to advocate the idea of the mass wedding. But when
one notes the imagery of coercion she employs, one concludes
that even she is aware that the frantic speed of the enterprise
may be matched by the unwilling bridegroom's prowess at

Dat lady Mrs. Married Knibbs,
She is a real Godsen'
For every man now mus tun husband,
Dem kean be noh mo' bwoy friend .
Ah she meck nine-toe Berty
Wed kaas eye Sue you know?
An she force awn Mary Fowl-head
Pon Miss Biddy cousin Joe.

So fine a good man dat yuh hooda
Like fe stan up beside,
Den see Miss Knibbs an yuh will be
Mongs de nex mass wedden brides. (jL, p.31)

The speaker's vacillation between the redundant 'Mrs. Mar-
ried Knibbs' and the contextually deficient 'Miss Knibbs'
seems unintentional and thus reinforces the poem's irony
that ultimately the legal distinction is functionally unimport-
The class values of the Mary Morris Knibbses, as eviden-
ced in "Mass Wedding", go against the grain of a long estab-
lished Jamaican folk conviction that one ought not to marry,
unless one can do it in style; they also violate the well-
documented Jamaican superstition that the legal marriage
ceremony can itself undermine the vulnerable balance of
extra-legal male/female arrangements.
In the poem "Registration", Bennett satirizes yet another
campaign of the well-intentioned Federation to coerce the
working-class Jamaican male into conformity to the demands
of middle-class propriety: the drive to register all fathers. The
Bennett persona gleefully advocates the plan, citing three
Jamaican proverbs to confirm the unequivocal authority of
the proposed law:

Every sore foot got him blue-stone,
Every tief got him las' deal,
Noh care how smaddy dah-gwan bad
Sinting deh fe spokes him wheel. (J L, p. 42)

Despite this apparent commonality of folk and middle-class
values, what the speaker proceeds to do, apparently unwit-
tingly, is to draw satirical attention to the social distance
between the respectable middle-class women of the federation,
who have decent responsible husbands, and the unfortunate,
husbandless, working-class women whom the new legislation
will seek to elevate. Upstanding middle-class women, with

Kay Sullivan, Baby Mother 1.
Resin. Height: 24".

Hylton Nembhard,
Standing Madonna. 1983.
Cedar. Height: 20"

Osmond Watson, Madonna and Child.
Oil on Canvas. 34"x 36".

whom the speaker empathizes, can afford to antagonize
delinquent males because their own houses are in order:

Guess how de man dem gwine bex wid
De ooman Federation' (sic)
Me glad mose o' de lady dem
Married an got dem good husband.

For like how somuch bwoy gwan weh
And Jamaica short o' man,
Dem ooman wat pass de law gwine have
De dickans fe hook one! (J L, p.42)

In a delightfully ambiguous line the speaker allows that un-
married middle-class women might themselves have a hard
time hooking a man of their own in this period of social tur-
Long-chin James, who understandably objects to the legis-
lation is cursed by the woman: 'go weh, man a debil!' (JL,
p.42). But his quick repartee is: 'dat is not no cuss, /For
ooman a debil-mumma/So we kean tell which is wus' (JL,
42). James is indeed perceptive. For what is evident from
Bennett's wide-ranging portrayal of male-female relationships
is that working-class men and women have much more in
common than do middle-class and working-class women. In
the Jamaican context, class, rather than gender is the func-
tional determinant of power.
But there is also evidence in Bennett's poetry of the inter-
nalization of the values of middle-class domestic order
by working-class women who believe that the state of wife.
however transitory, is intrinsically superior to that of 'baby-
mother' or girlfriend. In the words of one woman, who
praises the war for its side benefits:
Soh me wi help de war, an ef
De war should help me
Fe get married, me husband can
Gwan fight fe him country.

An ef my husband even dead,
Me don't seh me won't cry,
But de joy dat ah was married
Wi meck me satisfy. ( L, pp. 100-101)
Similarly, the speaker in the poem "Praises" expresses great
joy that with the establishment of the Sandy Gully American
base, and the attendant employment opportunities it offers,
her status changes:
Look how me an joe did live bad.
But praise to Sandy Gully!
As him get de fus week pay him do
So baps married to me.

An now him meck love sweeter mah
Him style me now as "Honey"
Hear him "Ah dat way bout yuh Hons
Ah hopes yuh goes fo'me". (JL, pp. 98-99)

There is the inevitable irony that the 'ten-poun baby pram'
(JL, p.99), bought in the first flush of prosperity has to be
converted into a fish cart when Joe is laid off and must revert
to his usual occupation. Even though he is later recruited for
the migrant labour scheme to the U.S., his wife's anticipation -
'Wat a way we dah-go bruck sport/Wen we ketch a U.S.A.
-' (JL, p.99) must be tempered by the advice of yet another
Bennett persona:

Betta yuh tan home fight yuh life
Than go a-sea go lose i.

De same sinting wey sweet man mout
Wi meck him lose him head,
Me read eena newspapa sey
Two farm-man meet dem dead! (JL, p.94)

But the new wife's optimism is unshakeable:

Me still love me Jamaica mam,
But like a tenkful wife
Me haffa praise American
Fe put me eena life. (J L, p. 99)

Mother and Child Relations
It is this aspiration that their families be 'put eena life'
which governs the child-rearing practices of Bennett's vocal
women. The proverbial ring of James's uncomplimentary ob-
servation that 'ooman a debil-mumma' reinforces the fact
that women married or not are largely responsible for
the socialization of children in Jamaica. Though there are
very few Bennett poems that deal specifically with mother/
child relations, there is.a group, the theme of which is the
aggressive ambition of mothers that their children, particu-
larly their sons, acquire education, the entree to middle-class
culture. Fluency in the English language is an important
rite of passage, which must be accomplished whether by
formal schooling or as a consequence of living 'in foreign' or
'in town'.
The male persona in the poem "Writing Home" expresses
retrospective gratitude to his mother for her attention to his
education: 'Ah did soh glad yuh did force me fe teck de
zamination /Far now ah can demands a job fe suit me edi-
cation'. (JL, p. 117) There is pathos in the disparity between
the young man's expectations and what he appears equip-
ped to do. Indeed, the muted humour in the poem derives
from the fact that though unemployed, he has joined a trade
union and is 'on strike':

I is not working now but ah
jine in a labour set
An ah 'ope to keep awn striking
Tell some esteem jab ah get. (J L, p. 116)

A satirical portrait of an indulgent, self-congratulatory
mother is given in the poem "New Scholar". The mother's
misguided concern for her son's well-being is apparent in
her words of advice to the boy's teacher, on his first day in

No treat him rough, yaw, Teacher;
Him is a sickly chile:
As yuh touch him hard him meck nize -
Some people seh him pwile.

Teck time wid him, yaw, Teacher -
If him rude an start fi rave
Dis beat anodder bwoy, an him
Wi frighten an behave.

For nuff time when him rude a yard
An woman hear me at all
Ah just beat de bed-poas hard, mah,
An yuh waa fi hear jack bawl! (SP, pp. 8-9)

A similarly satirical poem is "Uriah Preach", which holds
up to comic scrutiny the self-incriminatory pride of mis-
guided maternalism. Rhonda Cobham-Sander's gloss on the
poem is accurate: 'Bennett recounts the vicarious pleasure
taken by a Jamaican mother in the accomplishments of her
children and especially in her son's ability to use his occasion-
al ascent to the pulpit to lambast the family's enemies':6

Fi-me famby is no peaw-peaw,
Me daughter Sue dah teach;
An when rain fall or parson sick
Me son Uriah preach.

Him climb up pon de pulpit, him
Lean over an look dung,
Him look pon all we enemy
An lash dem wid him tongue.

Him tell dem off, dem know is dem,
Dem heart full to de brim;
But as Uriah eena pulpit
Dem cyaan back-answer him. (SP,pp. 60-61)
The general tenor of the mother/child relations described
in Bennett's poetry, is aphoristically expressed by the per-
ceptive speaker in "Bear Up"; 'Noh mock mawga cow, him
a bull muma'. (JL, p. 53)

Outa Road
Women and Work

The majority of Bennett's women are engaged in tradition-
ally female, working-class occupations: domestic labour and
higglering. Both are low-paid, higglering far less so in recent
times, with the rise of the internationally travelled female
merchant class. The supply of prospective domestic labour-
ers far exceeds demand, and employer/employee relations
often reflect the market-value of the domestic servant. But
a definite shift in the balance of power occurs when domes-
tic servants come to recognize that their labour is essential
to the smooth functioning of the middle-class household.
The female servant in the poem "Seeking a Job", for ex-
ample, makes it clear that domestic labour is not her prefer-
red avocation. She will only descend to certain quite specific
tasks, stated in her job description:
Ah cook an wash, but sake o' me nails
Ah doan clean floor again
But a can get a gal fe do
Dat fe yuh now-an-den. (J L, p. 192)
Furthermore, if antagonized, she will simply withdraw her

... the las' ooman ah work wid
Didn' have no fault to fine.
Doah wen she start tek liberty wid me
Ah lif up and walk out,
For as ole-time people sey 'yuh play
Wid dawg dem lick yuh mout'.
Ah hooden stan har facetiness,
Far we wasn' company, (JL, p. 191)
A humorous example of class antagonism resolved by the
conjuring up of a fictitious male relative occurs in the poem
"Me Bredda". The speaker, a vociferous domestic servant,

Albert Huie, The Reapers. c. 1940. 93 "x 6'".

cows a middle-class woman into submission in a dispute
arising from the servant's tardiness in arriving for work -
the very first day.
The housewife attempts to fire the woman on the spot,
but is bombarded by a spate of abusive rhetoric:

Oono call me bredda fi me!
Beg yuh tell him come yah quick!
Tell him bring him pelt-yuh-kin cow-cod
An bus-yuh-open stick!

Me naw meck no joke wid you, mah!
Quick an brisk an pay me off,
Or ah call me bredda in yah
Meck him beat you till yuh sof! (SP, p.18)

One is seduced into admiring the daring subterfuge of the
outrageous servant:

Yuh would like fi know me bredda?
Me cyaan help you eena dat.
Me hooda like know him meself,
For is me one me parents got! (SP, p. 19)
Yet one senses the moral impropriety of her victory; this
trickster sabotages the very economic system she pretends to
enter, employing Anansi tactics to accomplish pragmatic
goals. She is a remarkable contrast to the uncharacteristical-
ly submissive domestic servant in "My Dream", who does not
openly rebel against her truly exploitative cousin/employer.
She displaces her aggression on the clothes that she is forced
to launder:
Ah swear ah mus fine a way
Fi wounded cousin Rose,
An ah think it hooda hut her
If ah start maltreat de clothes. (SP, p. 112)

She consoles herself with the proverbial certainty that moral
rightness will inevitably be restored:
Dog a sweat but long hair hide i,
Mout a laugh, but heart a leap!
Everything wha shine no gole piece. (SP, p. 113)

This sublimatory use of proverbs in a potentially explosive
context of class antagonism is an excellent example of lin-
guistic subterfuge, indirection as a strategy to preserve psy-
chic wholeness. These apparently divergent responses to
domestic labour/economic exploitation overt and covert
sabotage are essentially manifestations of the Anansi
The Anansi mentality is also evident in the behaviour
of the higglers who speak in "South Parade Peddler" and
"Candy-Seller". Their dramatic monologues counterpoint
open cajoling of potential customers with sotto voce invec-
... Come here nice white man
Don't pass me by soh sah!
See me begin by de roadside
Come buy a nice wangla.
Wen w'ite people go fe ugly
Massa dem ugly sah.
Koo 'ow dat deh man face heng dung
Lacka wen jackass feel bad. (JL, p.29)

Another higgler who eloquently affirms the importance of

her trade for the well-being of her family, is a single parent,
whose market basket is causing offence to fellow passengers
on a bus:
Yuh can cuss me, yuh can beat me,
Yuh can call me all de 'it;
Do anything yuh want wid me
But lefde basket.
For dis basket is me all-in-all,
Me shillin, pence an poun;
It is me husband an me frien,
Me jewel an me crown.
Me ha six pickney an sence me
Stop teck dem Pa to court
Dis dutty, brucksy basket yah
Is dem ongle support. (SP, p. 92)

Attempts by women to support themselves in non-
traditional occupations is the theme of "Footworks". The
speaker lauds the first female recruit into the Jamaica Con-
stabulary Force:
We haffe do we bes, tun eas,
Tun wes, tun right about
We kean afford fe meck de man
Police dem beat we out. ( L, p. 70)
The choice of 'afford' appropriately emphasizes the in-
creased wages that women will earn in a traditionally male
occupation, and which they dare not relinquish simply be-
cause they cannot manage the heavy police boots:

Lif up yuh foot gal, practise up
Fe tun ooman police.
Oonoo mus bring two clothes-iron
Fe tie pon oono foot.
So we can practise how fe wear
De heavy police boot. (j L, p. 70)
The clothes iron selected to assist women in their new field
of work is a comic reminder of the domestic labour force
from which they have now graduated. The final verse of the
poem humorously suggests that there is no essential differ-
ence in the capacities of the male and female recruits:
Go outa jail an watch good who de
Man-police dem do
Yuh might fine nuff o' dem wid
De same trouble as yuh. (J L, p. 71)

Women and Politics
Women's engagement in the political process is similar-
ly motivated by the desire to share with men the benefits of
increased economic opportunities. Pragmatism characterizes
the attitudes of Bennett's women to politics. In an interest-
ing pair of poems, "New Govanah" and "Mrs. Govanah",
it is evident that affairs of state are acknowledged as import-
ant only to the degree that they guarantee perceptible
material benefits. Mervyn Morris's gloss on "New Govanah"
is lucid:
The poem ridicules the fuss made over the arrival of a new
governor (Sir John Huggins) in 1943. People, it says, are be-
having as though the Governor were really valuable and worth
worrying about, like steak, or white rice, or condensed milk -
commodities scarce during the war . .. Unlike those people
who have dressed up, the speaker is not in awe of the Governor,
and she wonders whether (in accordance with a common Jam-
aican decency) he has brought any message or parcel from her
boy-friend Joe . . There are courteous ironies within the

final stanza. The Governor is implied to be irrelevant and out
of key with ordinary needs and values: he has brought nothing
for her, neither material things nor values. (SP, pp. 130-31)
Similarly, in "Mrs. Govanah", the speaker mistakes the
commotion caused by the ritual passage of the Governor's
wife through Nathan's department store, as being precipi-
tated by the distribution of 'free ile or green banana'. (JL,
p.126). Images of oral gratification are frequently used by
these women in cynical reference to organized politics. In
the poem "Rightful Way" the persona gives advice on the
proper way to vote, noting that politicians, the main bene-
ficiaries of adult suffrage, would be deprived of nourish-
ment if the system were sabotaged:
Yuh know how de genkleman dem
Weh dah-gi speech all bout
Hooda bex fe know yuh help fe teck
De pap out o' dem mout. (JL, p. 135)

Female politicians are not exempt from ridicule. The
speaker in the poem "Which One" questions the competence
of all the candidates up for election, including the female
Pose we try a ooman an she
Teck it put eena her lap
An go get up absent-minded
Meck we constitution drop! (JL, p. 136)

A more sympathetic, though equally problematic image of a
female politician is given in "Big Tings", which documents
the in-fighting between two high-powered male politicians,
the Hon. Sir Alexander Bustamante, and the Rev. E.E.
Mc Laughlin:7
De po' woman councillor nevah sey a ting,
She stay quiet like lamb,
She watch all de man dem antics
An shet up her mout 'pam'.

Me noh blame de po' ooman mah,
Because is she one,
An de po' ting mus feel frighten
Mongs dem blood-t'irsty man. (jL, p. 151)

The female politician's silence is as eloquently damning
as the verbosity of the American consultant in "Distinguish
Merican", imported to assist in launching the 'Be Jamaican,
Buy Jamaican' campaign.
But wen speaks leggo speech
An Amy ask wha dat,
Hear Me: 'Wuds, wuds, dem deh is wuds,
Is pure wuds dem a-chat.'
Hear Amy: 'Wuds? Wha kine o' wuds?'
Me sey: 'Gran wuds, me dear,
Wuds can' express de wuds,
Dat man mout full o' wuds yuh hear!' (JL, p. 158)

The empowerment of the Jamaican woman, as portrayed
in Louise Bennett's substantial poetry, is not accomplish-
ed by mere dependence on the flatulent rhetoric of poli-
ticians though participation in the political process is
essential for all:

Everybody got a vote, an
Every vote gwine swell de score;
Missa Issa, Missa Hanna,
An de man wat sweep de store. (JL, p.129)

John Dunkley,
Woman sitting sideways.
Cedar. 15 ".

What is of equal consequence is that meta-political conviction
of intrinsic worth, validated by the proverbial wisdom of the
folk, that 'ooman day wi come at las'. (JL p.93) Out of the
compost heap of history the cunny Jamma oman, in her
maternal role of mother hen, must root up for herself the
prophetic certainty that 'oman luck mus come! (SP, p. 23)

1. For two accounts of Bennett's use of persona see Mervyn Morris's
Introduction to Louise Bennett's Selected Poems pp. xvii-viii and
Lloyd Brown's West Indian Poetry, Boston: Twayne, 1978, p.116.
2. See, for example, the poignant description of the dungle in
chapter 1 of Orlando Patterson's The Children of Sisyphus,
London: New Authors Ltd., 1964.
3. See, Laura Tanna, "Anansi Jamaica's Trickster Hero", Jam-
aica Journal, 16: 2, May 1983.
4. See, for example, Lucille Mathurin's The Rebel Woman in the
British West Indies During Slavery, Institute of Jamaica, 1975,
pp. 34-37.
5. For an autobiographical account of her career in Jamaica, see
Molly Huggins, Too Much To Tell, London: Heinemann, 1967.
6. Rhonda Cobham-Sander, "The Creative Writer and West Indian
Society: Jamaica 1900-50", Diss. U. of St. Andrews, 1981. Ann
Arbor: UMI, 1984, p.241.
7. For an abbreviated description of the affair, see Rex Nettleford's
gloss on the poem, JL, p.150.


BENNETT, Louise, Jamaica Labrish, Rex Nettleford (ed.), Kingston:
Sangster's, 1966 (references cited parenthetically in text indi-
cated by JL. The orthography of this collection differs from
that of the later, more readable SP).
Selected Poems, Mervyn Morris, (ed.), Kingston: Sangster's,
1982, (references cited parenthetically in text indicated by SP).

The Language of St Elizabeth's

Deaf Community

By David Dolman

T he three mile stretch of road .B"

between Junction and Top Hill
offers a typical south St Elizabeth
scene: plains and sea to the south, the
outermost ridge of the Santa Cruz
Mountains to the north. Dotted across
the countryside are small houses with
flat or thatched roofs, smeared with
orange-red soil rich in bauxite. The people
who live in these houses make their liv-
ing from tending a few cows or goats
or from tilling an acre or two of land
and, as such, lead lives typical of rural
Jamaicans. What few visitors realize, as
they travel this unassuming highway,
is that they are in the midst of a people
who not only understand no English
but who, in addition, use a language em-
ployed in no other place in the world.
This is the deaf community of St
Background Information
I became acquainted with this group
of people about three years ago when I
visited Jamaica for the first time. As a
teacher of the deaf, I was offered the
job of coordinating the deaf education
teacher training programme at Mico
College in Kingston, through the U.S.-
based Mennonite Central Committee.
Part of my orientation to the island
included a stop at the Maranatha School
for the Deaf, the focal point of activi-
ties for St Elizabeth's deaf community.
At that time, I was introduced to Her-
bert Douglas, better known as Headley,

LIFE NEAR TOP HILL where hearing (right,
centre at top and far right) and deaf folk .
(centre, below and right) live amicably toget- -
her; many hearing people understand at least
rudimentary 'country' sign language. At ex- 4
treme right is the school and below, the church 0
under construction by members of the deaf
community who volunteer their labour every


- 0000e

who lives at the school and, now in
his mid-thirties, is the leader of the
Along with a handful of other adult
members of the community, Headley
has had the benefit of some formal
education and, for that reason, is skilled
in the 'standard' sign language used both
in the United States and in all of Jam-
aica except for the St Elizabeth com-
munity. Because I am able to com-
municate in standard sign language,
Headley served as interpreter in con-
versations with people who only use the
St Elizabeth version, known by deaf
Jamaicans as 'country' sign language.
Headley is one of the few members
of the St Elizabeth community who is
not native to the area, having grown up
in St Catherine. Although his parents
could hear, each of his five siblings was
born deaf. At the age of nine, Headley
was enrolled in the Christian Deaf
Fellowship school in Kingston. He stay-
ed at the school for 15 years, working
for six years as a dorm supervisor after
graduating at age 18. One of the stu-
dents in his charge was a young boy
from St Elizabeth, Webster Clarke,
whose deaf father told school officials
about the large deaf community in St
Elizabeth and of the need for a school
Eventually, Headley and one of the
teachers from the Christian Deaf Fellow-
ship school, an American named Fay
Mumaw, moved to the Top Hill area
where, through the help of the Jamaica
Mennonite Church and other organi-
zations, money was raised to buy two
acres of land and build a two-classroom
school building. Miss Mumaw served as
principal, teacher, and chief fundraiser
for the school during the first four years
of its existence, but when she left Jam-
aica in 1980, the school closed.
In 1982, the school re-opened and
has enrolled 10 to 20 deaf students each
year since that time. In addition to its
educational function, it has served as a
gathering place for the past 10 years
for the 200-plus deaf people reported
by Headley to live in the area. During
1985, a top floor was added where
Headley, as pastor to the deaf com-
munity, conducts weekly church services
in country sign language. Every Satur-
day, 18 to 20 deaf people volunteer
their labour toward construction of
their own church building a few hundred
yards from the school. Completion of
this building is expected by early 1986.
Little is known about the origins of
the St Elizabeth deaf community. H.P.

fj C


!*9 1 '.

,l 't
r! L. i~; -,P'-i



1.9 ski

A~I: ,

the St Elizabeth deaf community using their
signs. Those on the opposite page are demon-
strating their name signs. Headley (this page)
signs 'glasses' as part of his name while his
wife Lovette (far left, below) signs 'fat' as part
of hers. Among the other identifiable signs are
those for Friday (slaughter day, above) and
the sign for woman (hand under breast, left,

Jacobs [1953] discounted the view,
popular among the deaf, that the re-
latively fair complexions of many people
in the parish are due to a German ship-
wreck. He believed it more likely that the
racial backgrounds of the region's in-
habitants have been influenced by
Indian tribes indigenous to the island
or by Scottish settlers who, unsuccess-
ful in their attempts to establish a colony
in Panama, migrated to the coast of St
Elizabeth. Reasons for the high inci-
dence of deafness are even more obscure

although, clearly, heredity and inter-
marriage now work together to maintain
the population of deaf people in the
region. Almost all of the members of
the hearing impaired community are
profoundly deaf rather than hard of

Country Sign Language

Most deaf Jamaicans outside of St
Elizabeth communicate using the so-
called standard sign language. This sys-
tem which consists of both signs and
fingerspelling, is taught in schools for
the deaf on the island and is based on
the sign system used in the United
States. Although the two countries
differ in the use of some signs, a deaf
Jamaican can easily understand the lan-
guage of a deaf American who uses
standard sign language and vice versa.
Several thousand signs have been deve-
loped to represent objects, actions,
emotions, ideas and relationships. English
words for which no signs exist can be
expressed by fingerspelling, in which a
different hand configuration is made for
each of the 26 letters of the alphabet.
Proper names and seldom used words
are frequently fingerspelled. Standard
sign language can be done in a manner
that parallels English grammar, or it can
be done in a way which is grammatical-
ly very different from English. For ex-
ample, hearing people in Jamaica or the
United States who know sign language
are likely to sign in a more English-like
version ('It was fun to watch the movie
yesterday') while deaf people, using the
same signs, will express the concept
with less regard for the structure of
English ('yesterday movie I watch
fun') and more regard for the order in
which the ideas or information occurred
in real life.
Standard sign language stands in
marked contrast to the sign system used
by the St Elizabeth deaf community.
Country signs exist for several words
which can only be fingerspelled in
standard sign language; cornmeal, cas-
sava and pimento are examples. On the
other hand, many country signs appear
to be less precisely defined than are
standard signs. For example, the country
sign for farm involves the motion of
chopping cane. This sign, however, with-
in the context of a conversation, can be
used to signify Florida as well. The signs
for America and Montego Bay are
essentially the same: white plus airplane.
In the case of Montego Bay, however,
one points in a northwesterly direction

and indicates that the place is relatively
close. With America, one points due
north and indicates that its location
is far away. Similarly, the signs for
Southfield and Kingston both involve
pulling at one's shirt, since clothing is
sold in both locations. Southfield, how-
ever, which is located a few miles south-
west of Top Hill, is indicated by point-
ing in a southwesterly direction, while
the sign for Kingston requires point-
ing eastward and extending the arm.
Facial expressions, gestures and
pantomime play an important role in
communication among the deaf com-
munity. Emotions such as happiness,
sadness, shame and embarrassment are
physically portrayed. Prepositions like to
and from, articles and linking verbs are
omitted, while adjectives invoking sub-
tleties, such as weird, frustrated or
hopeful, are conveyed with difficulty.
The number'system in country sign
language is systematic. A right-handed
person begins by counting with the
fingers of the right hand and then adds
the fingers of the left hand for addi-
tional numbers up to 10. To sign 11,
one claps once and signs one. Sign-
ing 20 requires two claps, and so on.
The sign for 50 is done by hitting the
left arm with the right hand, and 60
entails this same motion plus one hand
clap. In a similar fashion, rule-governed
movements exist for expressing the con-
cepts of half, hundred and thousand al-
though, reportedly, no sign exists for
Time of the day is expressed with
reference to the sun. Morning is sign-
ed by pointing to the east and follow-
ing the path of the sun, while noon
requires pointing upward. Day is ex-
pressed by making an arc from east to
west. To sign tomorrow, one indicates
the act of sleeping plus a sign mean-
ing future. The sign two days from now
is done in almost the same way, with
the act of sleeping noted twice. For
yesterday, sleeping is expressed as well,
but it is followed by a movement in-
dicating the past.
The first day of the week, Sunday, is
signed by making the motion for book,
a reference to the Bible. This same sign
means week when a one is added to it.
Monday is indicated by signing Sunday
and making a gesture indicating that a
page has been turned. Tuesday is sign-
ed by pounding the upturned wrists to-
gether because, according to members
of the deaf community, that is the day
when a person, bound and shackled, is

sent to jail. Wednesday, the day for
marriage, is expressed by miming the
placing of a ring on one's fourth finger.
Thursday requires a visit to the hospital,
so one makes the motion of giving an
injection to the arm. Friday, the day
animals are slaughtered, is signed by in-
dicating a cut throat, and for Satur-
day, fishing day, one uses the index
finger to denote a squirming fish.
In a similar way, seasons are indi-
cated. For Christmas, one points to the
stars, a reference to the star which led
the Wise Men to the Christchild. Easter
is indicated by spreading one's hands in
the shape of a cross. The closing of
school is expressed by signing school
(making the motion of writing and then
shaking the pen) plus a gesture indicating
away. The rainy season is indicated by
bringing one's hands into a motion indi-
cating rainfall. It appears, however, that
country sign language does not include
reference to specific months.
Most of the movements forming the
country sign language lexicon appear to
be iconic; that is, they represent the
object or concept being referred to. For
example, signing bird by waving one's
hands in the air or signing play by danc-
ing around the room involves symbolic-
ally re-enacting features of birds and
the act of playing. Hearing people with-
out much exposure to either country or
standard sign language, have commented
that country sign language is easier for
them to understand than standard. Still,
it is not possible for an uninformed ob-
server to understand a country sign
language conversation just by watch-
ing it. A person knowledgeable in
country sign may understand that
Wednesday is signed by placing the
ring on the finger because this is the
traditional day of marriage and may,
therefore, call the sign iconic. It is im-
plausible, however, that someone with
no knowledge of country sign language
would watch a person placing an imagin-
ary ring on his finger and know that the
signer was referring to the fourth day of
the week.

One of the more marked differences
between country sign language and
standard sign language is in the use of
fingerspelling. In standard sign language,
spelling is used extensively for proper
names and for words for which no signs
exist. No alphabet exists in country
sign language, a limitation which would
seem to place severe restrictions on the
amount of new knowledge introduced
into the community. Because only a few

members of the St Elizabeth deaf com-
munity know how to read or write,
most do not know their written names.
When I asked one man his name, he told
me that I had asked a difficult question,
but that his hearing daughter could tell
me. Within the deaf community, he is
known by his moustache and, as a man
in his mid-fifties, uses that as his name
Name signs are generally given in
recognition of distinguishing character-
istics. Headley, the only deaf person
with a driver's licence, is referred to by
making the sign for eyeglasses plus
drive. His wife is signed fat plus white
because of her build and complexion.
Goiters, hunchbacks and other physi-
cal deformities become names for other
members of the community. Among
this predominantly light-skinned group
of people, black skin is a distinguishing
characteristic. According to Headley,
three deaf people are signed black,
though with varying degrees of intensity
to indicate their hues relative to each
other. One individual is identified by
drawing one's hand quickly toward the
body because he is, reportedly, a sel-
fish, greedy man who refuses to share.
Headley states that, unlike deaf
children in the community, hearing
children are not usually given name
signs. Instead, they are simply noted
with the signs hunchback plus son,
moustache plus daughter and so on.
Adding a sign indicating height helps to
determine which particular son or
daughter is being referred to.
A person's name sign does not al-
ways remain with him throughout his
lifetime. Obviously, a man who is
known by his moustache had a differ-
ent name sign as a child. One woman in
the community explained that, as a
young girl, her name sign was a refer-
ence to her long, flowing hair. This
name changed in adulthood to indi-
cate an abdominal surgical scar she had
acquired. Currently, her name sign de-
notes her one remaining tooth and, one
supposes, this too will change when the
tooth falls out. When I asked her what
her 'real' name was, she shrugged and
said that maybe the hearing people who
lived nearby knew it.

understood by his hearing daughter and
by Headley. His daughter and I could
both understand speech and, along with
Headley, I knew standard sign language
as well. His daughter understood no
standard sign language, I understood
little country sign language, Headley
understood no speech, and the farmer
understood neither standard sign
language nor speech. And yet, we man-
aged to communicate. The farmer proud-
ly pointed to his. crops and, through
Headley, explained how much he en-
joyed feeding and caring for the birds
on his property.
As we were conversing, it struck
me that the lives of these people are
much more gentle and integrated than
the lives of many who live in urban
areas. Family relationships within the
deaf community tend to be stable; a
mother, father and children living in the
same house is the rule rather than the
exception. The attitude of hearing people
toward their deaf neighbours seems to
be one of acceptance and equality
rather than pity or condescension at
least within the immediate area. A small
one-room store operated by a deaf family
serves the community, and even the
hearing people who shop there know
country sign language in a rudimentary
One can easily, of course, romanti-
cize the lives of people within the com-
munity and forget the extremely limit-
ed educational, vocational and com-
munication opportunities available to
them. It is probable that, with con-
tinued success, the Maranatha School
for the Deaf, which teaches standard
sign language, will be changing all of
that. In time, a deaf child growing up
in St Elizabeth will be able not only to
understand the language of a deaf child
growing up in Kingston or.Montego Bay
but will also know more than his parents
do of the world that exists beyond
Junction and Top Hill. And yet, while
the school's efforts are laudatory, one
cannot help but feel a certain wistful-
ness with the realization that, in the
process of educating, a language and
even a way of life are likely to be lost

Concluding Thoughts

Engaged in conversation at the home
of a deaf farmer one afternoon, I was
impressed by the communication sys-
tems represented. The farmer used only
country sign language, which could be


JACOBS, H.P., "The Parish of Saint Eliza-
beth", The West Indian Review, 3
October 1953.


S:* L

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.



Astley Clerk 1868 -1944

Patriot and Cultural Pioneer

By Cheryl Ryman

In some respects he was very much
part of that 'well educated "gram-
mar school" middle class leader-
ship that was truly Jamaican rooted'.
[Interview Nettleford] Astley Clerk,
in any time and by any standard, was
a remarkable man possessing a rare
brand of courage with which he waged a
sustained and impassioned war against
the British status quo. He challenged
and scored some victories over such con-
temporary bastions of British elitism as
the Institute of Jamaica when their
decision to withhold certain texts ef-
fectively curtailed his research on the
music and musical instruments of Jam-
aica.1 Described as a short, pudgy man,
Astley Clerk, who straddled two cen-
turies, nevertheless stood head and
shoulders above most Jamaicans of
his time. His was a lone voice rever-
berating with an incessant rallying call
to the 'children' of the Motherland -
Jamaica over the din of colonialist

sentiments and continental loyalties. He
recognized and promoted a distinctly
'Jamaican'culture long before such things
were fashionable and at a time when the
received English culture was the norm
accepted by Jamaicans of all races. He
was the Jamaican patriot's patriot and a
cultural pioneer.
This article does not intend in any
way to be a biography of Astley Clerk.
Too little is known of the life and char-
acter of this complex individual. The in-
tention rather is to highlight the public
achievements of an outstanding Jam-
aican in danger of being entirely for-
gotten by new generations.
In music, folklore, art, linguistics,
poetry, philately, conchology, and re-
search and publishing, Astley Clerk was
the first to initiate, inspire, or collabor-
ate with others in order to set in mo-
tion those activities and institutions
that were to make possible the 'flower-

ing' of the arts in the 1940s. His was not
a series of pioneering accidents, which
in retrospect proved worthy to be re-
corded by history. Rather, Astley Clerk
was a visionary, who worked diligently
and with dogged 'David-and-Goliath'
determination towards fulfilling his
many dreams of a new Jamaica. He was
also unusual at the time for his personal
position regarding race. He not only
projected the African contribution to
his culture but also acknowledged in
himself, that part of his ancestry in
positive terms. This choice is eviden-
ced in the subject emphases of his writ-
ing and cultural presentations, in his
collections (over 200 African artefacts
in his home alone) and in the genuine
respect that he extended at all times
to all classes of Jamaicans.
Although we know little of his early
life, pride in his African heritage might
have been inculcated at home since it

was a trait shared by his brother, Hope-
ton Gillis Clerk, who spent seven years
in Africa as a Presbyterian missionary
and amassed a collection of African art
and artefacts which Astley inherited.
Both brothers were known to publicly
assert their African ancestry and Hope-
ton Clerk on at least one occasion was
known to declare that he was a 'Negro'.
[Interview Hendriks] Such forth-
rightness takes on added meaning when
we compare it with what we know of
other prominent light-skinned Jam-
aicans who were their contemporaries
(see, for instance, Rhonda 'Cobham's
portrayal of H.G. deLisser in Jamaica
Journal 17:4). Yet Clerk was not a
racist of any type. Members of his
family, close friends and an employee,
his long-serving secretary and even re-
lative strangers like Miss Ivy Coverley
have spontaneously and independently
described him as 'colour blind'. This was
a rare attribute for a successful near-
white Jamaican businessman even up to
the time of Independence and certainly
during the late 19th century to the pre-
World War II period when Astley Clerk
operated at his greatest peak of advo-

The Early Days

Astley Clerk was born in Montego
Bay on 11 May 1868, the second son
of a dark-skinned 'coloured' gentle-
man, Robert Thomas Clerk (Snr), and a
white Jamaican, Sally Clerk (nee Camp-
bell) of Scottish ancestry. Robert
Clerk's father was English and his
mother of African ancestry. Clerk was
born just 30 years after complete eman-
cipation in 1838, seven years after the
Great Revival of 1860-61 that swept
the western end of the island, and
merely three years after the Morant
Bay Rebellion of 1865.

He left Montego Bay for Kingston
as a boy, attending the Kingston
Collegiate under the tutelage of Messrs
Radcliffe, Morrison and Boyce. He began
working at 18 at the Railway then short-
ly after joined 'the business of Mr Otto'.
By 1889, he had joined the music mer-
chandise and dealership business of
Louis Winkler and Son Ltd. at 18 King
Street, where for over 20 years he work-
ed his way up from clerk to manager
and partner in the company. In 1912
Astley Clerk established his own busi-
ness, the famous 'Cowen Music Rooms',
a place where music would be crafted
and nurtured for the next 30 years.
However, the period spent at Winkler's
was also important. It was here that

Lilie Clerk
Clerk developed and honed his business
acumen while evolving and giving life
to many of his early musical endeavours.

Although Clerk's was a multifaceted
talent, his contribution to music is per-
haps his single greatest area of achieve-
ment. He organized musical competi-
tions; held monthly concerts; started
the Christmas Morning Concerts; edited
and published musical magazines; col-
lected (over 400 songs), scored, arranged,
performed and published a number of
Jamaican folk songs; sang (bass); play-
ed the organ and piano, was also a
piano tuner and trainer; wrote and com-
posed songs for schools; arranged and
conducted music for orchestra and chor-
al groups and was generally a contri-
butor to and moving spirit behind most
musical events on the island.

His Musical Contributions

Clerk promoted the first two eisted-
dfods (international music competitions)
held in Jamaica under the auspices of
the Institute of Jamaica, and in 1897
suggested to the same institution, the
holding of what turned out to be a high-
ly successful musical competition. In
1895 he instituted the choral competi-
tions which were carried on for many
years. Also in the late 19th century,
Clerk edited and published under the
auspices of Winkler and Son Ltd., the
annual Winkler's Choir Leader. A very
popular publication, it contained in the
first section a variety of short articles,
excerpts from and reprints of articles
about music, musicians and musical
practices. It also included notices
re deaths, births, marriages and anni-
versaries of musicians and announce-
ments of upcoming musical events. The

second part contained a large selection
of hymns. He also edited the similar
Winkler's Musical Monthly, through
which medium he was able to press for
and succeeded in gaining remuneration
for the services of Jamaican concert

Clerk continued to be supportive
to individual musicians, offering his
premises to them for practice on Satur-
day afternoons. Himself a 'musician of
no mean order', he formed and man-
aged his own orchestra. He was the
organist at St Andrew Kirk and later St
Luke's Anglican Church. A reportedly
good singer, in 1904 he performed as
one of the basses of the 'Messiah' fes-
tival promoted by Madame DeMontag-
nac, who, in 1929, went on to form the
first Jamaican Symphony Orchestra.
On that occasion, the 'Messiah' was
being presented in the West Indies for
the first time in its entirety at the
Theatre Royal, Kingston. Clerk, con-
scious of its musical significance, not
only gave tremendous assistance to
the overall production but produced
a souvenir programme which is now
prized in the musical history of Jamaica.

Cowen Music Rooms

Cowen Music Rooms was named after
Sir Frederick Hymen Cowen who was
born in Jamaica on 29 January 1852,
and lived here until 1856 when his
family moved to England. Cowen, a
child prodigy, achieved international
renown and is the only West Indian to
be included in the prestigious Groves
Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Clerk kept the Jamaican music com-
munity informed of Cowen's progress
and when in February 1929, after 70
years, he returned to Jamaica, Astley
Clerk's pride and elation were bound-
less. The prominent role he played in
preparing both an appropriate gift
and a welcome address which he sign-
ed (followed by some 60 other sig-
natures) on behalf of the 'music lovers
of Jamaica' is testimony to the pres-
tige he enjoyed in the local music
Cowen Music Rooms was first lo-
cated at 14 King Street in a modern
two storey structure and was considered
not only the best music store in the
island but one of the most progressive
business houses of Kingston.2 It carried
almost every musical instrument, all
carefully selected by Clerk to withstand
the local climate while performing at
optimum levels. Clerk also stocked


Action Song.

Astlry CI, k

knw tlool i-h .bhil dr.n Vhii ..W r. .i raid, When I. 'r .. "i

r:gl t ime Jump at ev r shade. Think the tree are "dup pie,"

Sr -ph Fn n, T r__ b j k f
F-) r p Vr Y p V I p I 1 0
S su p a tiel; Fn cy hears in bush cs, Trem ble like ;i leaf.

y^^ ^ V y V_^ t

:-But when I'm out walking.7
And night's curtains fall,8
I feel safe and happy,-
Not ysitrad at all
Though the moon is hidden
And t's dark all round,tl
Insects. frgs and crickets
Makc a merry sound

SP,:n tr, self
2 -Hld p both hands in astonishment
S -)art back as if frighened
4 P'inr with mnc hand urtsler Ii the trees
: POmr with ,thet hand vwartds the ground

3-And all round about me
Though no stars may gleam,
Thousands of wee I lanterns
Flash I 2 and glow and beam
With a smiling welcome
From the dewy grass, I
Blinkey lanterns greet me
Everywhere I pass

6-Shudder visibly
7 -Raie fee as if walking
8- Raise hands above head slowly le them fall
9 -Shak head emphatically
1o-Sweep hand in half crlde

4-Up among the tree-tops
Where the dark vines twine. 13
All above, below me.
Stars of earth, they shine
So I walk7 on singing
Just as if 'twas dayv
For the blnkecv 14 light me
On the lonrl was

11 -Point to extreme end ot tore finger
12 Move hand rapidlh Jiuor.j tight to Ictn
I -Move hands in dcSripnlon ot crie innln ln
14 -Clap hads to end ot ircr

"Blinkeys", a song with instructions for actions, one of the school songs in Clerk's Jamaican School Songs. (Covers of two editions above).

Jamaican School Songs






music sheets songs and musical
productions, some of which were
printed in his own printer and included
his own work and that of other local
artists, such as the songs and waltzes of
P. Anderson Cover and Kenneth
McCormack. Art pictures, art materials,
gramophone records and pianola rolls
were among the accessories sold.

With this wide range of music and art
items, augmented by Clerk's collections
of artefacts and a library of books re-
lated to all the arts, it is little wonder
that Cowen Music Rooms became a
popular rendezvous and the centre of
cultural activity. The store offered the
all-inclusive facilities of club, concert
hall, publishing house, museum and li-
brary. The atmosphere created of regular
artistic encounter and comradeship was
conducive to the development of two
very popular activities the Variant
and the Christmas Morning Concert.
The monthly Variants staged by
Astley Clerk in the piano and organ
rooms, were described as 'one of his
many happy ideas' in the Jamaica
Times of 14 June 1913. They serv-
ed to expose, encourage and develop
much local talent. These included such
notable performers as Granville Campbell
(tenor), Stanley Morand (singer/co-
median) and his sister (singer), P.A.
Cover (singer/composer) and Bertie
Harris (dialect verse). The Variant, held
every second Wednesday in the month,
was the precursor to and consistent with
the 'variety concert' tradition from
which indigenous Jamaican theatrical
forms evolved. Christmas Morning con-
certs, Edelweiss Park concerts and the
famous Rose Gardens' film and live
entertainment all belong to this genre.
The Christmas Morning concerts also

started in Cowen Music Rooms. Grand
Markets were held as a much anticipated
Christmas morning event. They attracted
many last minute shoppers who, often
dressed in their finery for church services,
promenaded along King Street, pur-
chasing a variety of special food and
gift items for the season. Cowen Music
Rooms, like other stores on King Street,
remained open. The usual 'club' atmos-
phere was heightened by the Christmas
congeniality of Astley Clerk who in-
vited his friends and customers to
share refreshments with him. What be-
gan in that first year as an impromptu
concert, very much along the lines of
the Variant, became so successful in
subsequent years that Victor Lindo,
Ernest Cupidon and Eric Coverley
respectively, moved the location and
extended the scope and popularity of
this all-important indigenous theatri-
cal form.
By 1929, the store had been moved
to upper King Street (56A), and it is
believed that the effects of a fire next
door forced another relocation. This
and the ongoing neglect of the business
in deference to Clerk's other growing
interests contributed to his financial
and the store's demise. When in May
1940 the doors were finally closed on
the last location of the store at 35
Peter's Lane, the description of a
'crowded dingy office' was a far cry
from the illustrious reputation and the
physical appearance of the store when
it first opened its doors nearly three
decades before.

Music in Education

Clerk's myriad ventures described so
far fulfilled only one part of his vision.
He also, almost singlehandedly, launch-

Astley Clerk was the first to design a Jamaican
flag. The island of Jamaica was green, sur-
rounded by blue within a gold border with
the Union Jack inset. Clerk explained, "Here's
Green for my Evergreen Island/ Here's Blue
for her sea circling smile/Here's gold for her
health giving sunlight/ That won her her
name 'Sunshine Isle' land over all waves the
mother's call /The Union Jack of England.

ed an educational programme in music
through the competitions organised, his
lectures and lecture-demonstrations,
performances and publications of which
The Music and Musical Instruments of
Jamaica, Winkler's Choir Leader, Wink-
ler's Musical Monthly and Jamaica
School Songs are the most signifi-
cant. Astley Clerk composed most of
this last text, which included "The Is-
land Anthem", written and first pub-
lished by him in 1887. An even more
popular song, "Hail to Jamaica", com-
posed by Clerk, was so frequently sung
by the West Indians in England during
World War II that the British information
office was prompted to enquire here as
to the name of the composer.
This text of Jamaican patriotic songs,
first published just after World War I
was the first and only one of its type up
to and even after Jamaica's Indepen-
dence, a fact noted by H.P. Jacobs in
the introduction to the third edition of
1963. The songs were composed and ar-
ranged with teachers and school chil-
dren in mind as evidenced by the dedi-
cation and the actions/instructions ac-
companying each song. In the foreword
to the second edition, Clerk enjoins
the teacher 'to consider it a privilege
of the highest order to lay the foun-
dation of love for country in the heart
and life of the child to whom he or
she is more than parent'. Clerk also
noted in the foreword to the first
We have felt most strongly, and again
and again have we said it, that the sons
and daughters of Jamaica especially her
boys and girls, should have songs at
their disposal which are distinctly and
particularly Jamaican; . such songs
would help to awaken and nourish
the deep love for our Motherland
(my emphasis) that each and all of us
should feel.
Is it not absurd that our children
should sing of nothing but "Rosy
Apples" and "Fields of Snow", when
these are not things that they see
and know personally? The golden
orange glowing amid its green leaves,
the royal poinciana's far-gleaming crim-
son, the silver and gold ferns' delicate
fronds, the banana, the mighty ceiba
and the bloom-laden logwood, these
are sights familiar to eyes Jamaican;
and of these let the Jamaican sing, for
they also are beautiful.

The Patriot

The patriotic glint expressed here is
indicative of the passionate 'love affair'
and proselytizing zeal that Astley Clerk
felt for the Motherland, which for
him was not England, as it was for most
Jamaicans at the time, but Jamaica.
Even among the 'few' patriots, there
was a pervasive ambivalence or dual
loyalties expressed towards England and
Jamaica which was further compound-
ed by ethnic/racial affinities. H.P. Jacobs
in the "Introduction", in referring to
these 'two kinds of patriotism', at-
tempts to explain this phenomenon
as a loyalty to something (British
Empire) which includes Jamaica. In so
doing he broadly describes the patriots
of the pre-World War II period, like
Tom Redcam and even Dr Robert Love.
Tom Redcam, also hailed as the 'father
of Jamaican Literature', was consider-

Cover for one of Clerk's handmade booklets
containing illustrations and facts about Jam-
aica (see sample page, below) created as a
birthday gift for a friend.



-. '." OCH- r^i

H^H ; hLijn bz, o^

-| tptul'fi o^
j.*1'1 i j ^
-*Ai 7ZCa.


CAXA-0 |1\. 0% aarltlt(P ra i^L

^)a*-L^ ~ ~ A CAyfM cK^s >f^ <~j> "tIfO*2c




ed 'the most powerful personality in
the patriotic movement'. Patriotic to
whom or what and in what order of
priorities one might well ask. As argued
by Jacobs, Redcam was also caught up
in dual loyalties, perceiving England
as more of the Motherland than Astley
Clerk who, although not a political
man, had perhaps made the clearest
political statement among his peers
in designing a Jamaican flag which he
raised and saluted instead of the Union
Jack, and in composing an anthem to be
sung in place of "God Save The King".
In this, and so often in his own poems
and songs, Clerk clearly proclaimed his
resolution of any ambivalence in favour
of Jamaica.3 This was exceptional for
his time and even more so given the pri-
vileged social and racial status which
he enjoyed in the society.
The assertion of Jamaica's 'mother-
hood' and sovereignty was expressed
without 'malice or intent' toward
Britain. Astley Clerk merely felt, some
50 years before Independence, that
Jamaica was sufficiently endowed with
a distinct culture and history and with
natural and human resources to justify
her own flag and anthem. Certainly the
notion that Jamaica should continue
to be subject to Britain was totally un-
acceptable to Clerk. The words of the
"Green, Blue and Gold", written by
Arabella Moulton Barrett, with music
composed by Clerk, sums up his atti-
tude and that of those who shared his

Lift proudly the flag of Old England;
Let nations be glad in her shade
The valour, the blood of the Briton
In its glorious folds be displayed
Tho' mighty my pride in her colours,
Stained red with her victories bold
Still dearer the flag of my country
Jamaica's own Green, Blue and Gold
(my emphasis)
Similarly, in his explanation of the
design of the flag, in which the Union
Jack takes an appropriately prominent
position, Clerk acknowledges his con-
tinuing respect and affection for Britain
since 'England with all your faults, we
love thee still'.4 But Clerk's emphasis
was quite different from that expressed
by the black Jamaican Dr Robert Love
in an editorial in his own newspaper,
The Jamaica Advocate (26 January
In spite of some faults which we see
and feel, there is much that is good
and sound in the great heart of England,
and we have confidence in her good in-
tentions .. We desire no change of
nationality. Self-government is our
right as an integral portion of the British

Empire and by push and prudence we
will regain it. Let us work as English-
men and win as Englishmen.
Such loyalties were firmly entrenched in
the minds of Jamaicans of all classes.5
So it was in the face of strong pro-
British solidarity that Astley Clerk form-
ed the Patriotic League of Jamaica dur-
ing World War I. Although not happy
with the more overt political and entre-
preneurial direction that the league later
began to take, he retained the status of
provisional secretary. He also formed a
youth arm of the League in which he
was able to more faithfully pursue his
original objectives. The Young People's
Patriotic League of Jamaica, comprised
of members not exceeding 18 years of
age, could not be accused of being anti-
British; in fact it supported Jamaica's
participation in the war. Nevertheless,
it focused its energies on cultivating
strong pro-Jamaican loyalties which
were projected in the motto: "Jamaica's
Welfare First" and in the 'Green, Blue
and Gold' flag and Jamaican anthem.
Astley Clerk worked to educate young
Jamaicans about 'things Jamaican' and
through this to inculcate a love and
loyalty to Jamaica first. He under-
stood that being born in Jamaica,
particularly into the prevailing atmos-
phere of ambivalent loyalties, guaran-
teed neither love nor loyalty from her
citizens. Only the exposure to and
knowledge of the distinct features of
one's culture could invoke this patriotic
He hrad a tremendous affection and
respect for young people. To many re-
latives and friends he was known as
'Uncle Astley'. Kindness and generosity
were hallmarks of his personality. Clerk
never missed an opportunity to private-
ly or publicly praise and encourage any
Jamaican talent, particularly young
talent. This was the case for Noelle
Foster-Davis, Sybil Cunningham and
Granville Campbell, all of whom he en-
couraged to explore and include Jam-
aican and Jamaican-inspired works in
their repertoire, on occasion providing
them with the benefit of his research
and documentation in manuscript form.

Things Jamaican

Clerk also immersed himself in re-
search on the history, natural environ-
ment, music, customs, and life of his
fellow Jamaicans, envying people like
Walter Jekyll, to whom he dedicated
his book The Music and Musical Instru-
ments of Jamaica, and Martha Beck-
with, for the time they were able to

devote to this type of research. Never-
theless, he managed to amass a wide
variety of collections, all of which are
supported by laboriously detailed and
comprehensive documentation. He be-
came virtually 'a fountain of knowledge
on every phase of Jamaican life', so much
so that many queries from overseas sent
to the Gleaner were redirected to Clerk
for reply. [Interview Hendriks] One
aspect of his research concerned our
earliest ancestors, the Arawaks. He ex-
haustively, as far as he was allowed
through the Institute of Jamaica, re-
searched and documented their life and
culture. Much of this formed the sub-
ject of his many poems and ballads
and of a lecture which was subsequent-
ly published in 1913 as The Music and
Musical Instruments of Jamaica. Here,
both the Arawak and the Afro-Jamaican
contributions to Jamaican music are
extensively treated.
Clerk also amassed a collection of
rare and beautiful Jamaican shells, which
was once displayed in 1928. This no
doubt helped to gain him the reputation
of being an authority on conchology.
He was also a philatelist, an interest
which started at the age of eight and
continued up to his death in 1944. He
was instrumental in founding the Phila-
telic Society of Jamaica. As with other
things that interested him, Clerk wrote
prolifically about Jamaican stamps.
He started the magazine The Jamaica
Philatelist and functioned as its editor
until 1939 when, because of failing
health, he retired from that position.
He was also editor of a weekly column,
'Stamp Album' in three local newspapers
- The Gleaner, Jamaica Times and
Chronicle at different times. In addi-
tion, he compiled a book dealing with
the history of Jamaica through her
stamps and there has been reference
to yet another 'highly valuable' work,
in manuscript form, a 'Glossary of
Philatelic Terms'.
Clerk not only collected and
thoroughly documented all aspects of
Jamaican stamps but applied his analytic-
al mind and his vision of a new Jamaica
to this area as well. He was very active
in promoting new stamp issues and in
suggesting new forms. Here too his in-
nate generosity and kindness was ex-
pressed. He gave freely of his dupli-
cate stamps to young collectors and
was instrumental in forming a Junior
Stamp Club in 1942.
His interest in natural history led him
to collect broken rocks, lumps of earth,
old bricks (Port Royal), sand (with

PHOTOS FROM AN ALBUM: Top left, Wedding photo of Clerk's niece Gloria Millard; top right: Family shot includingMiss Payne (sculptor), Gloria
Millard, Mr. Millard and young Anna Maria Hendriks (seated); Bottom, left: Astley Clerk's nephew Leslie Clerk with his wife and daughter; bottom,
right: Linda Stockhausen of Cudjoe Minstrels fame, standing on the verandah of "Hope Glen", the Clerk's home.

luminous properties) and specimens of
flora and fauna (his pressed and dried col-
lection of ferns is to be found in the
manuscript collection of the National
Library of Jamaica). He moved from
specimens to collecting valuable book
editions and surrounded himself with
native musical and other unusual instru-
ments together with artefacts from all
over the world, in particular Africa. The
location of these artefacts is now un-
known, but a catalogue in the Nation-
al Library lists among the 200-odd items,
African weapons, wooden dolls ('Ikenga'
and fertility dolls from Southern Nigeria)
and other forms of statuary, brass dish-
es, cloth wrappers for women, whips
used by Zulu men to drive cattle, a
praying mat and an African chief's fan.

Astley Clerk also collected post cards
from all over the world and compiled a
number of albums and scrapbooks
which document, through photographs
and clippings with his commentary, the
customs and important events and per-
sonages in Jamaican society. One such
collection humorously titled "Ee Tru
Fe Tru Bookeepa" described as a
'collection of facts gathered here and
there relating to our mysterious Jamaica',
was presented to a young friend, Clara
Belle Grant as a birthday gift in 1942.
Clerk's interest in art extended beyond
his 'armchair' scrapbook and arte-
fact collections. The 1916-1919 Who's
Who in Jamaica indicates that he had
acquired two large watercolours, "Fringe
of the Liguanea Plains" and "Summit of
the Blue Mountain Peak" by Joseph
Kirkpatrick for the Institute of Jamaica.
The Who's Who also records that he was
the moving spirit behind several art
exhibitions held in Kingston.

Clerk's collection of folk songs, start-
ed as a boy, continued far into his adult
life. A few of over 400 songs were pub-
lished but most have remained in manu-
script form of which two large collections
may be found in the National Library of
Jamaica. He published some ballads
which were apparently intended to be
part of an island parish series. His col-
lection of Jamaica Street Cries, also lo-
cated in the National Library in manu-
script form, was recently published in
part in Jamaica Journal (18:2), Clerk
collected and scored the songs and
sounds of Jamaica for his personal satis-
faction, but as much in the hope that
the day would come when Jamaican
folk music would be so adapted as to be
sung in our drawing rooms and concert
halls instead of foreign music.


Astley Clerk in later years.
These did not exhaust Clerk's inter-
ests. Other aspects of Jamaican life and
culture which he researched and docu-
mented included dialect lexical items,
proverbs, legends, customs and beliefs,
place names, caves, rivers and water-
falls in each parish of the island, toge-
ther with an equally careful document-
ation of the birds, fruits and flowers of
Jamaica. He diligently recorded many
lexical items of the Jamaican dialect on
cards together with their meaning, ety-
mology and usage. An item in Spotlight,
July 1940, referring to Clerk's retire-
ment and the closure of Cowen Music
Rooms, noted the compilation of the
first dictionary of Jamaican dialect that
was being prepared by Clerk with the
assistance of H.P. Jacobs, indicating
that the project had been commissioned
by 'Island Age of Literature'. This very
important collection seems to have been
lost, and with it at least one item -
'filmy', a Jamaican country expression
for 'fairy' included in one of his poems,
which is not to be found in the Diction-
ary of Jamaican English by Cassidy and
LePage, first published over 20 years
after Clerk's proposed dictionary. An
excerpt from the foreword to the
Dictionary of Jamaican English (p.viii,
para 4) does throw some light on cer-
tain aspects of Astley Clerk's collection
and perhaps just as importantly on his
selflessness and collaborative instincts:

Mr. H.P. Jacobs, who had been col-
lecting lexical items in Jamaica for
many years, both from written sources
and from his own observation, made
available to the survey both his ad-
vice and also that portion of his col-
lection which had been transcribed into

two manuscript books by Mr Astley
Clerk. These books covered only about
half the alphabet, for the period 1935-
1948; they proved a helpful source,
and are cited by the date of the observ-
ation followed by "HPJ",followed by a
parish when that was given. Where Mr.
Clerk had added his own notes, these
are cited as "A. Clerk in HPJ".
In the Astley Clerk manuscript col-
lection (Ms 44 a-m) located at the
National Library of Jamaica, we find.
enough of the meticulous and com-
prehensive work in music and folklore
research and documentation that justi-
fies the perhaps belated silver Musgrave
Medal that he received in 1937 'for his
efforts for the development of music
and to maintain interest in the Folk-
lore of Jamaica'.6

Astley Clerk wrote hundreds of
poems, two sets of which are in the
National Library of Jamaica. He was
one of the founders of the Jamaica
Poetry League and acted as its secretary
with J.E. Clare McFarlane as president.
The league held regular meetings and
circulated the work of all members pri-
marily through a monthly publication
called The Post Box. It was the Poetry
League which undertook the re-issue
of the third edition of Clerk's original
Jamaica School Songs after his death.
Clerk was also a member and honorary
secretary/treasurer of the Jamaica Local
Literary Association (JLLA) founded in

The Poetry League and its members
were engaged Fh a running battle of liter-
ary style with the more avant garde
'new poets' of the thirties like M.G.
Smith, Philip Sherlock, George Camp-
bell and later, the even more inno-
vative Louise Bennett. The more con-
ventional and strict-meter 'Wordsworth-
ian' style of many league members even-
tually proved too romantic for the in-
creasingly militant and revolutionary
tone of the independence movement,
giving further validity to the 'new

The widespread revolution in the arts,
led in the 1940s by Mrs Edna Manley
and complemented by the cousins
Norman Manley and Alexander Busta-
mante in the political arena, took the
vision of Astley Clerk's 'new' Jamaica
at a far more rapid pace forward than
Clerk could have imagined possible. The
pace also served to overshadow and force
almost into obscurity the contributions
of Astley Clerk and the handful of like-

minded Jamaicans of the late 19th and
early 20th centuries. Nevertheless, Clerk
did receive public recognition in his
time from his fellow poets and patriots
such as Dr Robert Love and Tom Red-
cam who dedicated his poem "Jamaica"
to him.
Astley Clerk approximated in a lay
capacity the religious fervour of his or-
dained brother Hopeton Clerk. Clara
Belle Grant in her 28 May 1944 obitu-
ary of Clerk, described his love of coun-
try as second only to his love of God. His
involvement in the church together with
the consistent entry of religious themes
into most of his songs and poems (and
letters) bear further testimony to this
statement. He not only served the
church, interpreted characteristically in
catholic and interdenominational terms,
as organist and choir master but also as
a lay preacher. Clerk travelled all over
the island on Sundays preaching in dif-
ferent churches. As a result of his com-
bined music and folklore research and
lay preaching activities, Astley Clerk
was well-known and welcomed in the
homes of all strata of society through-
out the island.
The Man A Dream at Twilight

Clerk, a deeply religious man and
given to frequent periods of contem-
plation, was reputed to be psychic.
Among other events, he predicted both
his and his wife's deaths. Lilie Clerk nee
Campbell remained in the home, in the
background. From all reports, she was
as equally 'nice' a person as her hus-
band, and along with the rest of his
family tended to be more indulgent, and
even indulgently amused, than appre-
ciative of what they perceived as his
'flights of fancy'. His wife did share at
least two things with her husband, and
these were her love of children and their
love for each other, which endured over
45 years of marriage. The funeral pro-
gramme which he prepared was a poetic
eulogy of the love and life of Lilie and
Astley Clerk. The poems, written at
different periods in their relationship,
celebrate their meeting, their marriage
and love for each other, the premature
loss of their only child (a blow softened
by the constant flow and in some cases
residence in their home of children and
young adults) the prediction of their
respective deaths articulated in the
poem "A Dream at Twilight" and final-
ly her death on 11 August 1938:
Just two and forty years have sped
since in my path, God dropped a
... a beauteous Lilie flower

No 11 (22 ) Vol 2. maMf eby 1922






1. lre. Albinia Hutton c/o Hutton Esq ;
Henderson & Co
2. H. C. Bennett Esq. Co Hutton
s__ _li-oville v I' l.'
3. Rev. Percy Heywortf. St. Anne Bay .O. i 0.
4. L. T. Moody Esq. c/o Courts Office (
_______ ort Antonio P.O. O4i -7 ia.
5. MiansM. A. Wolcott. Richmond F. 0. ~/
6. Misa Eva INicholas. c/o A.B. Lowe Esq.
Adelphi P. o.
7. Mies L. A. King. "Dulce Domumn" ,
Z____~_______________ICewport P. i0.-- .,
8. Misa A. Moulton-Barrett. 18 King Street ~ T, J
Kin gton P.O. f- 3i,
9. Astley Clerk Esq. 18 King Street c, s
_________Kingston P. 0.
La ^i c- r

Keep the Post Eag two days, then post it on to the
next on the liHt. ( postage only d.)
If you desire that we continue sending it, say so.

Title page for "The Jamaica Philatelist" (top) and sample page from "The Post Bag"
whereby material was circulated to members of the Poetry League.

... O God, I thank thee for my Crown
My own sweet Lilie flower.
(8 February 1932) -"A Lily Song"
Long, long ago, in the first dear days
God nearly proved her his love,
But he called it back in His wisdom
Tenderly, sweetly, He lulled it to sleep,
And 'tis there somewhere above
Never a babe of her own has she,
At least, none on earth to be seen
But echoing loud in her palace home
Are the voices of children that gladly
Acclaiming her Mother and Queen.
(19 February 1924) "The Queen
In the early morning hours between
20 and 21 May 1944 Astley Clerk him-
self died. Following his premature re-
turn from a visit with a friend in New-
port7 due to illness, he succumbed to
a sudden seizure. It could be better
said however that Astley Clerk died
of loneliness for his mate.
Lilie's death was shattering. 'Some-

thing just went out of him' is how Linda
Stockhausen, one of the many young
adults who lived in the home, described
his reaction. Reference to his having to
resign his position as editor of "The
Philatelist" because of failing health
is consistent with the reports of a bro-
ken spirit. Astley Clerk was 70 when his
wife died but was certainly still physical-
ly healthy and intellectually alert. Many
of the young adults moved out shortly
after his wife's death; the children next
door to their residence 'Hope Glen' in
Collins Green had grown and the family
also moved away Astley Clerk was
My God, my God I loved her much,
and still I love;
Her life was sweet in Thee, and
precious unto me;
... I ne'r forgot Thy gift was only lent
to me,
And now, I give Thy precious fragrance
back to Thee
( 21 August 1938) -
"The Lilie Transplanted".

Two years after Lilie's death he re-
tired, closing the door on his office at
35 Peter's Lane, which premises he had
been sharing with his nephew, Leslie
Clerk, reputed to be the best piano
tuner in the island having been appren-
ticed to his uncle for six years. The sale
of 'Hope Glen' shortly after, was the
severing of the last link with the work
and life of a man whom G.C. Gunter
had hailed as an 'outstanding genius'.
Clerk moved in with his brother, Robert
Thomas Clerk, at Park Road Collins
Green, where he died, it would seem a
poor and lonely old man.

But, not entirely. At the end of
1939 he had met Clara Belle Grant, a
bright and enthusiastic sister-lover of
Jamaica. In December 1939 he was in-
vited to Port Antonio by Archie Lindo,
president of a literary club there, and
was met at the railway station by Lindo
and Grant, the club secretary. An instant
friendship ensued between Clerk and
the 20-year-old Clara Belle who went on
to become a well known Gleaner
reporter. She brought back into Clerk's
life for a few brief years, a new light
and passion, and, as he did for his wife,
he thanked God for the gift:
Lord, I love her and thank you for the
gift you sent rme to take care of for
you and myself.
She was the daughter he never had. 'Lit-
tie Belle' obviously shared many of his
interests and passions. She loved Jamaica
and her parish Portland in particular,
poetry, music and God. She too was
prone to psychic experiences and in a
letter dated 7 April 1944, he alludes to
their 'first' psychic meeting and bond-
ing and describes his deep-felt affection
for her, his 'one and only daughter'.9
. to know that the thoughts of our
love can and do go back to a fixed
date, as mine has to the very first Good
Friday morning we spent together .
you there and I at Hope Glen ... Do
your thoughts ever go back to that G/
F morning? Do they travel back to-
day? .... Your letter to me about that
long ago morning is still with me and
telling how you passed that early
hour in the abiding heart presence of
our God . Belle, have we, you my
only daughter I your Daddy Mio,
drawn nearer and grown dearer the
one to the other since that 1st G/Fri-

A little over a month later, Astley
Clerk was dead. The funeral presided
over by ministers from three different
denominations (Presbyterian, Methodist,
Anglican) took place the afternoon after
his death. This prevented many of those
like Clara Belle Grant who would have

attended to pay their final and public
respects to the man they knew and loved.
Nevertheless, despite heavy rain, the
Gleaner reported a large attendance of
family, friends and 'kindred spirits' who
came to pay their respects to the man,
the patriot and cultural pioneer a
truly great Jamaican who for over 70
years did place indigenous Jamaica's
welfare first.


For assistance in researching this article, I am
grateful to Professor Rex Nettleford, Mr
Archie Lindo, Mr Wycliffe Bennett, and the
late Noelle Foster-Davis and the family of the
late Astley Clerk Mr Ernest Clerk, Mrs Gloria
Millard (nee Clerk), Mrs Alma Parkinson, Miss
Linda Stockhausen and in particular Miss Anna
Maria Hendriks.MissHendriks, a niece (in-law),
provided invaluable information based on per-
sonal knowledge and researched data and
generally clarified many areas of my own
research. She also provided a number of
photographs from her collection. A debt
is also due to Miss Clara Belle Grant and the
National Library of Jamaica for saving from
extinction, a portion of Astley Clerk's col-


1. The denial of access to certain texts
from the West India Collection of the
Institute of Jamaica is alluded to in the
Introduction to Clerk's 1913 Music and
Musical Instruments of Jamaica. This
formed the subject of an editorial sup-
porting Clerk in the Jamaica Times, 30
August 1913 and was followed by cor-
respondence between Astley Clerk and
the Secretary of the Institute of Jamaica.
2. Twentieth Century Impressions of the
West Indies, pp. 154-155.
3. For example in his Foreword to the 2nd
edition of Jamaica School Songs; in the
song "Hail O Glorious Motherland" in
the 3rd edition; in the dedication poem
in the collection of poems Jamaica's
Welfare First and throughout the text
(MS No. 44, National Library of Jamaica).
4. Astley Clerk Manuscript Collection, MS
44k, p.47, National Library of Jamaica.
5. Informal discussion with Dr Patrick
Bryan on the late 19th century period.
6. Extract from the Report of the Institute
of Jamaica for the year ending 31
December 1936.
7. A news report ("Mr Astley Clerk Musician
and Poet died yesterday") gives Man-
deville as the location of his holiday but
Miss Hendriks feels certain that it was
in fact nearby Newport.
8. Letter to Clara Belle Grant, 7 April
1944, Ms 44a No. 1.
9. Ibid.


BAXTER, Ivy, The Arts of An Island, Metu-
chen, N.J.: The Scarcecrow Press Inc.,
CLERK, Astley, National Library Manu-
script collection. MS 44.
,Foreword Jamaica School Songs, 2nd.
ed., Kingston: 1931.

JACOBS, H.P.,"Introduction", Jamaica School
Songs, 3rd ed., Jamaica Poetry League,
National Library of Jamaica Clippings File.
Twentieth Century Impressions of the West
Indies: their history, people, commerce,
industries and resources, Douglas Feld-
wick and L.T. Delaney (eds.), London:
Lloyd's of Great Britain Publishing
Co. Ltd., 1914.
Who's Who in Jamaica, 1916-1919.


Research Review No. 1

The African Aesthetic in Jamaican
Intuitive Art
Patricia Bryan

The Evolution of African
Languages in Jamaica
Beverley Hall-Alleyne

The Development of Jamaican
Popular Music

Part 2:
The Urbanization of the Folk
Garth White

Kumina: Stability and Change
Cheryl Ryman

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Aquaculture in Jamaica

A Growing Industry

By Frank Ross

The developing countries of the world are currently
caught between rising populations and decreased agri-
cultural output, especially of protein sources. In addi-
tion, poor foreign exchange earnings have, in many
cases, severely limited importation of food such as
tinned or salted fish, creating a greater demand on local
protein sources.
A major source of protein to many developing
countries has traditionally been captured fishes of both
marine and riverine species. With the growing demand
for protein and the fall in commercial capture fisheries,
a great deal of emphasis is now beingplaced on aqua-
culture as a viable alternative means of producing fish
Fin fish culture of species such as tilapias and carps
which feed low on the food chain and are resistant to
poor water quality has been widely promoted for
developing countries as low cost sources of good
quality protein. Since 1977, the government of 0
Jamaica has undertaken a programme for the
development of commercial aquaculture, both for
import substitution and for the export market. The
private sector has taken to fish farming with
enthusiasm; so much so that it is well on its way to Beautiful Koj carp are grown mostly for their ornamental value and
being one of the success stories of Jamaica's thrust are a potential export, but fish farmers are concentrating for the
to agricultural self-sufficiency. moment on edible varieties.

Development of the Jamaican Programme

In the 1930s the Java tilapia or African perch, Tilapia
mossambica, was introduced to Asia from its native
Africa. The ease of reproduction, quick growth and
catholic appetite resulted in its rapid spread throughout
lower Asia and the tropical world. It was promoted as a
miracle fish and was introduced to Jamaica in the early
1950s. A breeding programme was carried out by the Fish-
eries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and the fish was
stocked into rivers, natural ponds and stock watering ponds
islandwide. Unfortunately the very factors, such as ease of
reproduction, which made the fish so attractive also brought
about the collapse of the system. When both sexes are stock-

ed together in a pond, the fish begin spawning when 2-3
months old and 2-4 inches in size. This rapidly leads to over-
crowding in the pond and the stunting of the growth of the
In 1977, the government, with the assistance of United
States Agency for International Development (USAID) put
together a programme to evaluate the potential of commer-
cial fish culture here, and to increase Jamaica's institutional
capability to implement an islandwide fish production pro-
Two existing government facilities, one at Twickenham
Park, St Catherine and the other at Mitchell Town in Claren-
don, were acquired and refurbished. The Twickenham Park

The cycle of growing fish from seed
stock to marketable size takes a mini-
mum of 16 weeks. Fish are first grown
(left) in brood ponds from which every
10 days Ig frys (below) are moved into
nursery ponds. After 6 8 weeks, finger-
lings of 25-30g (below, left) are moved
to grow out ponds where 10-12 weeks
later, fish of marketable size such as
the Silver Perch at 230g or 5 lb (at right)
- are produced.

Pond fish marketed in Jamaica include
Silver Perch, Red Perch, Grass Carp, and
Mirror Carp.

R.J P..rc(


rrror L.up

;0.. '
ors ii -*

SllIr Pt\ il


Grass Carp

_ I y .0

, ." .


Fish ponds vary enormously in size, from the backyard variety to large operations such as the 82-acre
Mitchell Town facility (aerial view) which has 33 ponds varying in size from one half to 10 acres.

Seine is the usual method of harvesting pond fish.

facility was expanded to 10 acres of ponds and became the
headquarters of the Inland Fisheries Unit of the Ministry of
Agriculture. Twickenham Park became the major site for
research into production methods, seed stock production and
fish nutrition as well as the nucleus for the extension pro-
gramme in the eastern half of the island.

The Mitchell Town facility, originally a 16-pond com-
plex with approximately 25 acres of water, was expanded to
82 acres and 33 ponds varying in size from one-half acre to
10 acres. Mitchell Town became the major supplier of fish
seed to the fledgling industry as well as a commercial pro-
duction demonstration site.
With the expansion of the industry a western facility was
constructed in 1982 at Meylersfield, Westmoreland. This
facility, in addition to administrative and extension offices,
had 18 ponds with a combined water acreage of 15 acres.
Here again the emphasis was on seed stock supply and pro-
duction demonstration.
A training programme was built into the project whereby
fisheries officers, extension officers and farmers were trained
in various aspects of fish farm management.

Production System
In order to overcome the problem of wild spawning of the
perch in the farm ponds, a system of manual separation of
male and female perch at a small size (3-4 inches) and the
stocking of only males in the grow-out or food-fish production
ponds was instituted. This involved the utilization of a three-
tiered production system of brood ponds, nursery ponds and
grow-out ponds.

Brood Pond Management
Brood ponds are managed to produce small (1 inch length
and 1 gramme or 0.035 ounce) mixed-sex tilapia fry for sub-
sequent rearing in nursery ponds. Sexually mature fish, rang-
ing in size from 2-7 ounces, are stocked in earthen ponds at a
density of 4,000-5,000 fish per acre. A ratio of 3 females to
1 male is used. The fish are fed with a commercial fish feed
at specified amounts throughout the crop cycle.
After an initial 5-6 week period, fry are harvested from
the ponds, using a small-mesh nylon drag seine net, on a
weekly basis. A one-acre brood pond can yield 2 million fry
during a year's operation. The harvested fry are transferred
to a nursery pond for further growth.
Nursery Pond Management
The fry collected from the brood ponds are transferred to
nursery ponds where they are stocked at a density of 70,000-
80,000 per acre. Here they are grown for a period of 8-10
weeks, by which time they achieve an average size of 3 inches
and a weight of 1 ounce. At this size the fry, or fingerlings as
they are now called, are harvested and the males separated
from the females by visual inspection of the external geni-
talia, since the males only will go into the grow-out ponds.
Depending on the level of management, including the con-
sistency of feeding during the crop cycle, a yield of 30,000-
40,000 mixed-sex fingerlings per acre can be achieved. From
this amount approximately 10,000-14,000 male fingerlings
can be culled and used to stock the grow-out ponds.
Grow-out Pond Management

In Jamaica, tilapia grow-out ponds range in size from one-

half acre to 2 acres on average although some larger ponds
(8-10 acres) are used. In the semi-intensive system practiced
by the majority of Jamaican farmers today, fingerlings are
stocked in the pond at a density of 6,000-8,000 fish per acre.
The fish are fed with a commercial fish feed at 3 per cent
of the total weight of fith in the pond, on a daily basis.
The daily ration of feed is usually split into 2 applications,
half in the morning and half in the afternoon. The fish are
sampled every 2 weeks and the amount of feed adjusted,
based on the average weight of the fish.
The fish are usually harvested within 10-17 weeks, depend-
ing on the size of fish the farmer wishes to market. This com-
monly varies between one-half to three-quarter pound in size.
Harvesting is done by partially draining the pond and using
a net to remove the majority of the fish. The pond is finally
completely drained and the remainder of the fish removed.
Under this system a one-acre pond yields between 2,000
and 2,600 pounds of fish per acre per crop. With very good
management some farmers have attained yields of 3,000
pounds per acre per crop. A good farmer can get 3-4 crops of
fish per year.

Growth of the Industry 1977-1984

During the initial 2 years of the fish farming programme
(1977-1978) the emphasis was on production of the African

Perch production rose from 4,840 pounds in 1977 to
83,160 pounds in 1978, mainly from the government farm
at Mitchell Town (Table 1).

Consumer acceptance of the dark coloured African
perch, however, was poor. In 1978 the government intro-
duced the silver or nile perch, Tilapianilotica, from the United
States. This perch, as the common name implies, has a silver
grey colour which is much more acceptable to the consumer.
It also has a deeper body, thus giving a higher meat to bone
ratio than the African perch. 1979-80 saw the phasing out
of the African perch from culture ponds as the silver perch
was promoted. This period also saw the emergence ot the pri-
vate sector as the major producer of cultured fish, as the In-





1977 4,840 4840
1978 73,480 9,680 83,160
1979 37,840 18,260 56,100
1980 15,180 29,480 44,660
1981 16,280 55,000 71,280
1982 51,200 234,677 285,877
1983 37,822 286,497 324,319
1984 27,606 718,359 745,965

264,248 1,351,953 1,616,201

land Fisheries Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture concen-
trated on seed stock production, training, research and
development of the extension services.

Total production fell in 1980 to 45,000 pounds of which
30,000 pounds were produced by the private sector. By 1982
286,000 pounds of silver perch were produced of which
235,000 pounds were produced by the private sector. In
1983 approximately 230,000 pounds of fish were pro-
duced and sold. The total for 1984 was 745,965 pounds of
fish; over 90 per cent was produced by the private sector.
As the production figures in Figure 1 illustrate, the pri-
vate sector is now firmly convinced of the viability of fish
farming. Since 1977 over 1,000 acres of fish ponds have been
constructed by the private sector. This sector has also become
the chief supplier of tilapia fry and fingerlings to the local


600 -

|g 400
S- t

~. 400
300- 286

200 I V

100- 73 51
"0" 3 ,

1977 1978 1907 1980 1981

1982 1983 1984


Recent Innovations in the Industry
The semi-intensive tilapia farming system described above
is practiced by most of the island's farmers. However, the
system is an evolving one and technological variations are
constantly being tested in order to improve yields, stream-
line operations and increase marketability of the product.

1. Production figures include documented harvests. Production from
over 300 subsistence (hobby) farmers as well as from several mini
dams, rivers and natural ponds are not included no data available.
2. During 1978-79, small Tilapia termed 'soup fish' were accepted at
the government-owned processing and marketing (AMC) facility.
Since 1979, only the larger fish were considered marketable.
3. During 1979-1981 there was a drop in production due to several
reasons; there were delays in the acquisition of the second support
facility at Meylersfield, delays in the construction of the UDC
farm, the withdrawal of the AMC as a major fish distributor and
the fingerling shortage resulting from a change of culture species,
i.e. when the Tilapia nilotica (silver perch) replaced the darker
Tilapia mossambica (African perch). It was also anticipated that
there would be this lag period before rapid growth occurred due to
the factors related to a temporary loss of momentum as production
switched from government to private farms and as private fish pro-
ducers slowly gained confidence in the economic viability for a
production system previously unproven in the Jamaican private

4. From 1978, the government facilities concentrated on the pro-
duction of fry and fingerlings for distribution and sale to farmers,
while the major production of food fish was carried on by the
private sector farmers.

Hormonal sex reversal of Red Tilapia is
one of the technological innovations
being used to ensure that only males go
into the grow-out ponds. Thousands of
young fish are collected from the edge
of the pond, graded to ensure that only
sexually undifferentiated fry are treat-
ed, and counted (left). They are then
stocked at 1650-3000 per square metre in
concrete tanks for 21- 28 days, during
which time they are fed with a hormone
treated feed. This results in a population
of 95-100 per cent male fish. After treat-
ment the fish are moved to grow-out

Since Carp do not reproduce naturally
in our climate, spawning is induced by
the use of hormones. The fish are trans-
ferred from ponds to tanks where they
are injected with hormones. 18-24
hours after final injection, eggs are col-
lected from the females and milt from
the males (right). Eggs and milt are mixed
together then placed in hatching jars
where the eggs are constantly agitated
by streams of fresh water until they
hatch, usually within 18 hours. Newly
hatched fry are fed boiled egg yolk for
8-10 days and then moved to specially
prepared rearing ponds.

Photographs by Sharon Chambers,
courtesy of Inland Fisheries Depart-
ment, Ministry of Agriculture.

One of the major areas of innovation has been in the pro-
duction of seed stock. The current brood pond-nursery pond
system has one major drawback. More than 50 per cent of
the fingerlings produced by this system are discarded as fe-
males. These females are mainly used as dog and cat food, or
used by the workers for fish tea (soup). A small percentage is
kept for the stocking of brood ponds. Two new systems are
currently being developed to increase the output of male

fingerlings and reduce discards.
versal and hybridization.

These are hormonal sex re-

The sex of tilapia fry is not indelibly fixed at birth. It is
possible by feeding a male hormone such as metyl testes-
terone to newly hatched fry, to produce functional males
from genotypic females. Various methods have been develop-

ed in commercial hatcheries in Israel and Asia. These hatcher-
ies consistently produce batches of fry which are comprised
of 95-100 per cent males instead of the normal 50:50 ratio
of males to females. Locally, Jamaican Aqualapia Ltd., has
recently brought on stream this type of hatchery to supply
both their on-farm fry needs and to sell to other fish

Another technological advance in this area, pioneered
locally by Aquaculture Jamaica Ltd., is the production of fry
by the mating of 2 different species of tilapia. In this system
a male Tilapia aurea is mated with a female Tilapia nilotica
with the resultant spawn consisting of 90-95 per cent males.
Both of these methods are readily adaptable to farms with
good management.
Methods for improving the yield per acre from grow-out
ponds are also being commercially proven. These include
utilizing a higher protein fish feed and increasing the carry-
ing capacity of the ponds by the use of paddle wheel aerators
or air diffusors. Both of these mechanical devices increase
the amount of oxygen in the pond and thus indirectly the
poundage of fish that the pond can contain.

Another development in the industry is the culture of red
hybrid tilapias. The result of years of genetic hybridization,
various strains of perch with a pinkish/red or golden skin
coloration have been developed in Taiwan, Israel and the
United States. The colours of these fish have proven at-
tractive to consumers and three strains of these hybrids
are now available here. Market testing of the Jamaican
product, both locally and overseas, is ongoing.

Freshwater Prawn Culture

Although 2 pilot research prawn projects were develop-
ed in Jamaica in the late 1960s, neither achieved commer-
cial viability at the time. Interest has recently resurged in rais-
ing freshwater prawns (shrimp) for export as well as for local

The species used is not a native Jamaican shrimp, but the
Malaysian or Hawaiian prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii.
Following many years of work this species has been proven
to hold the greatest promise for survival and growth in farm
ponds. This species, closely related to Jamaican species, is
commercially cultured in Hawaii, Southeast Asia, Central
America and in other tropical and sub-tropical areas of the
world. Successful farming techniques have been developed
in Hawaii and Thailand and are now widely used.
Two Jamaican companies are now growing prawns com-
mercially. These are Jamaica Aqua Farms in Westmoreland
and Aquaculture Jamaica Ltd., in St. Elizabeth. Both com-
panies have developed extensive hatchery facilities for the
production of seed stock ('post-larvae') which are then placed
in freshwater grow-out ponds for rearing to market size.

Prawns can be grown in standard fish ponds, and in some
countries, Israel for instance, prawns are grown in polycul-
ture with tilapia or other species of fish, in the same pond.
Prawns however, are more susceptible to poor water quality
(low dissolved oxygen and pesticide run off, for example)
than tilapia. Water high in oxygen and pollutant-free is pre-
ferred. Well and spring water are good sources and surface
water can also be used if of adequate purity. Sufficient water
should be available for filling ponds, compensating for seep-

age and evaporation losses, and for emergency flushing of the
pond if necessary.
Small farmers need not attempt to.produce their own seed
stock since these are available from the two commercial com-
panies. Technical assistance is available to grow-out farmers
from both companies as well as from Agro 21 Corporation

The steadily increasing production of fresh-water fish and
shrimp has resulted in more emphasis being placed on the
marketing, processing and distribution aspects of the in-

Prior to 1981, farm raised tilapia was mainly sold fresh on
the pond bank, directly to consumers as well as to higglers
and small wholesalers. Some of the fish sold to the latter two
groups were resold in produce markets, meat shops, small
restaurants and hospitals. As the volume of fish increased the
distribution system has diversified.
Some farmers, in addition to their pond bank sales, have
integrated their operations to include transporting and
marketing their own fish in rural markets such as Chapel-
ton and Bog Walk. Others have set up small fish market out-
lets in some townships. In the St Catherine area, a fish farmers'
cooperative has been formed, and the farmers have set up a
retail/wholesale fish market at Twickenham Park. A few of
the larger farmers have begun processing their fish (and
shrimp) and selling directly to large restaurants and hotels,
both in Kingston and on the north coast. The local hotel
industry has expressed a growing demand for fish (parti-
cularly fillet) and shrimp. Indications from the foreign
markets are that processed fish and shrimp will be the
required norm in most cases. Various local companies are
now pursuing the possibility of developing processing facili-
ties in order to take advantage of these developing markets.

Potential for the Industry

Rapid growth is anticipated for the local aquaculture in-
dustry in the next 3-5 years with the impetus coming from
both the private sector and the government.
The private sector is now firmly behind the development
of fish and shrimp farming locally, having realized the profits
that can be made from properly managed farms and the
market potential both locally and overseas.
The government has targeted fish and shrimp farming as
key areas for development under the Agro 21 Self-Sufficiency
Programme. Government lands and facilities are being made
available for lease to the private sector at minimal rates.
Credit has been made available from the Agricultural Credit
Bank (accessed through commercial banks and People's
Co-operative Banks); development banks such as Trafalgar
Development Bank Ltd., and the Jamaica Agricultural
Development Foundation.
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amaica's most successful writer
on the international cinema scene
remains very much a mystery to his
compatriots. Rather aptly described by a
childhood friend as intelligent, sensitive
and diffident, it is perhaps the latter
characteristic which keeps Evan Jones
just beyond our conscious recognition.
'Isn't he a poet?' 'Didn't he do "The
Fight Against Slavery"?' 'Wasn't his
brother the one . ?' Nobody ever says:
'Ah yes, the first five film scripts he
wrote were immediately produced and
wasn't one of them nominated for an
Academy Award?'

That he has an additional five films
to his credit and works with the likes of
John Huston, Michael Caine, Dirk
Bogarde, Jeanne Moreau and the inimi-
table Elizabeth Taylor is apparently
more than most of us can absorb. Recog-
nition in Jamaica, when it comes, is for
his poetry, B.B.C. television scripts or
various children's textbooks rarely
for his major film scripts.
Born in Hector's River, Portland on
29 December 1927 to property owner
Fred M. Jones, one of Jamaica's largest
individual landowners, Evan Jones was
named after his great-grandfather, a
Welsh clergyman of the Church of Eng-
land, who came to Jamaica in 1842.
Morgan Jones, his son, chose agricul-
ture over the ministry, leased a ruinate
property in 1872 and married a Jam-
aican, a Burke from Portland. But the
Jones association with religion didn't
end there, for Evan's own mother,
Gladys, was a Quaker missionary from
Iowa who came to teach at the Happy
Grove School.
Little wonder then that much of
Evan Jones's work deals with matters
of conscience, with spiritual equa-
tions which touch the soul: the need for
nuclear disarmament (The Damned);
opposition to slavery ("The Fight
Against Slavery"); whether one must
fight in war (King and Country); should
one advocate land reform if it means the
destruction of one's own family ("In A
Backward Country") and so on.
Jones acknowledges, 'I was brought
up as a Quaker. If you don't believe in
organized religion, Quakerism is a very
good faith to adhere to because the dog-
ma doesn't exist, only the concerns.
And I don't think you can argue with
the idea that there is something of God
in every man. You can define something
and you can define God any way you
like, but the statement is true.'

Religion forms part of even his
earliest Jamaican memories: 'From my
nursery bedroom window you looked
out over the Seaside Church which was
built by the Quakers. But every night
you could hear the Kumina in the hills
just behind, and everyone in the village
seemed to have two religions. They
went to the Quaker church on Sunday,
but they weren't so silly as to believe
their own ancestral faiths were rubbish.'
And did he ever, out of curiosity, go
to Kumina? 'I didn't', he admits with a
rueful grin. 'My mother would have
had a fit!'

While his 'proper Victorian Church
of England' father served on the Happy
Grove School Board and his mother was
at one time acting headmistress there,
Evan and his brothers and sisters had a
Jamaican governess at home. Then the
twelve-year-old twins, Keith and Ken-
neth, and nine-year-old Evan were sent
to Munro.

It was at Munro that Evan Jones
recognized what would become his life's
work. 'I became interested in literature
and in writing by the accident of hav-
ing a teacher whom I admired very
much, and I'm sure this is not unusual.
His name was Reg Bunting [subsequent-
ly a headmaster at Wolmer's] and he
was a graduate of Cambridge. I was 12.
Suddenly English literature, the read-
ing of it and the composition of it, be-
came terribly important to me. I start-
ed writing poetry in my school note-
books and stories and that kind of
stuff. I wanted to be a writer from that
time on.'

He started with poetry because, 'I
think poetry is the thing one goes to

first if you're romantically inclined,
especially if you've admired the poets of
the past. I love the romantic poets and
Shakespeare and so you write poetry.
'I changed when I was in my early
twenties. I became much more interest-
ed in the drama because my approach
only allowed for my own voice and I
wanted to argue with myself. I wanted
to have other points of view. I felt that
one couldn't get at anything called truth
if you just expressed one side of it, and
the drama was what appealed to me as a
way of doing this.'

Inadvertently his parents' careers and
their influence upon his childhood also
contributed to his decision to become a
writer. 'I was involved with my father',
Jones recollects. 'He was on the property
every day and we went out with him,
the boys, always. I rode the property
with him day after day . .. My father
didn't go to university but he was one
of those Victorians who recited poetry
all the time, driving along in the car or
riding on a horse.
'My mother was very interested in
writing too. She wrote sermons and
delivered them in the local church. If it
was Harvest or Christmas or just an ordi-
nary Sunday, the congregation could be
10 people, or 300'. And Jones watched
his mother deliver those sermons. 'There
was a period when she took service at
Seaside Church once a month, and then
she used to do the prayer meeting at
Long Road once a week. She did the
service at Amity Hall once a month. She
was very, very active and she directed
the church pageants. My father was a bit
of an actor. He starred in one of the
church pageants when she used to do

Evan Jones

Man of Two Worlds

By Laura Tanna

Always a part of his parents' active
lives, Evan accepted their different
nationalities and careers easily. 'One
was aware sometimes of her American-
ism and her homesickness. One was
aware sometimes of her connection with
the other white, Quaker missionaries,
as distinct from say my father's con-
nections with other Jamaican business-
men or his connection with the school,
but it never seemed odd, this disparity
of backgrounds.

'I'd been to the States as a child, to
my mother's family in Iowa, to my
uncle there who lived on a farm . and
so when you ask about colour and social
relationships, when asked of a Jamaican '
it's in many ways a meaningless ques- g
tion. There are members of my family i
who are all white and there are mem-
bers of my family who are all black and
so as a child the question of association
never came up. I could be with one
uncle who was black and with another
who was white. They probably spoke
differently and that was it.

'And similarly when one played, or at

Evan Jones at his home at Twinhoe, Avon, England.

school, one's friends were various
colours: black, Chinese, white, brown.
It wasn't until I went to school in
America at the age of 17 that I realized
what the so-called 'problem of race' is.
I suppose as a child I may have been
very blinkered, deliberately unaware,
because I think that an adolescent grow-
ing up in Kingston nowadays is much
more aware of colour than we were
then. But I think this is a learned at-
titude because Independence and atti-
tudes to tourists and things like that
have brought the colour business to the
surface in a way that it wasn't before.
'I mean there was always the Jam-
aican ability to make jokes about colour
and abuse your best friends because of
their differences in colour, which is a
way of dealing with it, but colour pre-
judice in a legalized, secret society way,
I only ran into when I first got to
America. I think it's much less in
America now. It really is. But those
were the days when you had the black
and white signs in the railway stations.
When I first saw those in Miami I didn't
know what to do, so I stood on the plat-
form. I wouldn't go into one of those
if it excluded the other part of me.
'From Munro I went to Haverford
[a university in Philadelphia, Pennsyl-
vania founded by the Friends] at 17,
majored in English and Spanish and
took a degree in 1949. I wrote my first
plays when I was there at Haverford.
The very first play that I did was about
the White Witch of Rose Hall because I
was looking for something that the
Americans around me would not have
chosen. I directed it, I think, and it
was terrible. Another one-act play was
written and produced at Haverford and
I wrote a full-length play called Inherit
This Land, which was produced in Jam-
aica later by the Little Theatre Move-
ment in 1951. Zachy Matalon directed
it and Greta Fowler, bless her heart, she
was in it. That was my first full-length
play on the stage.
'After graduation I went to Palestine.
I'd already worked in Mexico one sum-
mer for the American Friends Service
Committee and they were looking for
people with a little bit of experience. So
in 1949 I went and worked with the
Quakers for the United Nations on
Arab Refugee Relief. This was just after
the first Arab/Israeli War.
'It was very important to me, a very
shattering experience, because I found
myself, at the age of 21, in charge of a
refugee camp of 30,000 people. I was

in charge of distributing food to these
people. One Quaker was in charge of
each camp on the Gaza Strip and had a
staff of Arabs recruited from the re-
fugees. I was in charge of the camp at
Khan Yunis and had an interpreter -
marvellous man, an Armenian who
spoke fluently Hebrew, Arabic and
English. I suppose in effect he was in
charge of the camp and I took the rap
because I was the foreigner.
'It was a lot of responsibility for
someone 21 years of age. It was a poli-
tical education in that I had only heard
of the Arab/Israeli problem second-
hand. I learned not to take sides in these
disputes because the more you learn
about something as complicated as that
situation, the more you realize there are
no black and whites in human relation-
ships. I saw suffering there that I had
not experienced and that I was respon-
sible for trying to do something about.
I think in encountering the corruption
that went on in the distribution of sup-
plies I had my first strong smell of evil.
The only source of wealth was the food
that we were giving away and there were
people who would stop at nothing to
steal it, to sell it and to take it away
from others. I had naively thought that
the good in everyone was just lying
there waiting to be brought out. I began
to feel after some of the clashes I had
in those camps that evil was just as
strong. That's what I thought at the
After one of the most crucial years in
his own development, Jones went direct-
ly into another, contrasting cultural
context. He enrolled at Oxford Uni-
versity to do a degree in English. 'It
was the first time I'd ever been to Eng-
land and I absolutely hated Oxford the
first year, loathed it. It seemed to be a
place full of snobbish and arrogant
children, but you see, I already had a
degree and I'd come straight from the
refugee camp, so to meet young boys
from Eton and Marlborough who'd
come up to Oxford was not something
that I could cope with. But by the
second year I'd formed a circle of friends,
largely Rhodes Scholars: Hector Wynter
from Jamaica who became the editor of
the Gleaner; Neville Dawes who be-
came executive director of the Institute
of Jamaica; Julius Lister from South
Africa; two American mathematicians,
Dale Dick and Bob Bass; an Australian
fast bowler whose name I can't remem-
ber; along with Christopher Railing, the
producer, who was the only under-
graduate of the group. We formed a

little clique of older, international stu-
dents and I enjoyed the second year
at Oxford very much. Then I went
back to America to teach.
'I didn't go back to Jamaica be-
cause I didn't feel there was a place for
me on the farm. I didn't want to work
on the farm. I had no other profession-
al qualification. I wanted to be a writer
and I didn't think Jamaica was going
to be the place to do it. When I told
my father I wanted to be a writer he
was very indulgent. He said, "Yes,
you can go ahead and try to be a
writer, but when you're ready to work,
there's a job for you." He wanted me to
study law, which I didn't want to do.
'I had close friends in America. I'd
written to them about what I was going
to do with myself and they got me a job
with the Campbell Soup Co. There was
a policy decision to try to hire some
black or coloured people and I was a
very convenient coloured person, be-
cause I was a coloured person whom no-
body would recognize as a coloured per-
son. And I am a coloured person and
proud of it but by the time I got to
Philadelphia there'd been a reversal of
policy and I had no job at all.
'I tried to get a job on the basis of
my Oxford education and no one would
even talk to me because they said I was
too well educated, so by saying that I
had worked on a sugar plantation I got
a job in the furnace room at a bubble-
gum factory which kept me going until
I got a job teaching English at the Put-
ney School in Vermont [a Friends insti-
tution]. Then for two years I was an
instructor at Wesleyan University in
Connecticut, at the end of which I had
proved that I could make a living at
teaching, and had a profession I could
enjoy and go back to. So I said, I'm
going to do what I want to do. I'm go-
ing to try to make a living as a writer.'
Jones had been writing consistently
over the years, making his first impres-
sion upon Jamaican readers with his
poem "Song of the Banana Man", which
was written partly in England and part-
ly in the United States. 'That came
about as a result of a discussion with
Neville Dawes about what West Indian
poetry should be. I remember arguing
that it should not be just like English
poetry, or dialect verse but should be
comprehensive, and incorporate the
rhythms and language of both. And
Neville challenged me to prove it. So
I wrote "Song of the Banana Man",
which was not just an exercise, because

it's a poem about my childhood. It was
Neville who got it published in Bar-
bados and read on the B.B.C. "La-
ment of the Banana Man" was written
10 years later after I'd separated from
my first wife and was living alone in
Jones also wrote Protector of the
Indians, an historical biography of
Bartholome de Las Casas. '[Thomas]
Nelson's were doing a series on religious
leaders which was intended to sell to
schools in America and I happened to
know the chap who was editing the
series. He asked me if there were a reli-
gious leader from the West Indies in
whom I was interested. I put up the
name of Las Casas who was concern-
ed with the emancipation of Indian
slaves and saving the indigenous Indians
in the Caribbean and Central America.'
But Evan Jones wanted to write
drama, and in 1956, at the age of 28, he
made a decision: 'The time had come to
take the plunge and see if I could live
off my writing. I decided to go to Lon-
don because London, I believed, was
where everything was happening; the
recovery of England from the war
and the influx of all the Commonwealth,
new or old, meant that England was a
very lively place to be, intellectually
and artistically. A lot of people agreed
with me and the place was full of Aus-
tralians, Indians, South Africans and
West Indians all busily writing away.
'Just before I left the States I met
my first wife. We had to decide whether
to get married or keep the friendship
going over a longer period of time and
consider it more thoroughly. Naturally
we did the rash thing and got married
immediately. So she came with me and
her father, who was a very distinguish-
ed critic in America, Francis Ferguesson
who wrote The Idea of A Theatre, gave
me introductions to Eliot, Spender, and
a young producer at the B.B.C. called
Stuart Burge. I met the great men, but it
was through Stuart that I got my career
'Stuart had a play he was going to
produce and it fell through, so he called
me up and said did I have anything I
could offer to fill the gap?' What Jones
had to offer was material on the wrench-
ing experience of Khan Yunis, the Pales-
tinian Arab refugee camp. 'I had just
finished this play so by a miracle I'd
only been in the country six months
and I was getting my first play done on
B.B.C. television.' "The Widows of Jaffa"
was produced in 1956-7 and met with
great success.

'Then I did another play for the
B.B.C. called "In A Backward Country",
[1959] about land reform in the West
Indies. The subject of that play was in-
directly based on my own family, and
more directly based on the David and
Absalom story. I used to look for ideas
for plays in the Bible. I made King
David a large landowner and Absalom,
his son, a politician who advocated land
reform and thereby destroyed his father.
Nobody who's ever seen that play recog-
nizes the David and Absalom in it be-
cause it's a political parable about life in
Jamaica. The plot is that the son of a
wealthy landowner goes into politics,
as my own brother Kenneth did, and in
the political climate of the time, he es-
pouses the cause of land reform which
means splitting up the large estates and
he and the party he espouses take over
his father's land and divide it up. So he
plays a part in the ruin of his own house,
so to speak. It's a long time ago that I
wrote that play.' It was produced on
the B.B.C. and later in Guyana in 1964.
'I read somewhere the other day
somebody arguing against the didactic
theatre saying it's not the business of
the playwright to take sides and have
a heavy influence on politics. It's his
job to show a situation so that people
can understand it better, or feel more
fully about it, and I hope that's the
case in that play.
'I went back to Jamaica for six
months in 1959 or '60. My brother
Keith went on long leave and I went
home and ran the farm. I thought I
could work on the farm and write and
I realized that this was not possible. If I
was going to be a writer I suppose
I'm an ambitious one. If I were going to
open a department store, I wouldn't
open it in Shepton Mullet. I'd open it
in London. And if I were to write for
the theatre or for films I'm going to do
it either in London or New York or
Hollywood, because that's where the
market is and that's where the other
people who are largely connected with
the business are.'
Jones was keenly aware of a problem
which faces writers of many national-
ities. If one's own language is spoken
by a limited number of people, as is
Jamaican English, how does one com-
municate with the larger world com-
munity? 'You see, it's difficult in films
to write specifically, even for an English
audience, because the Americans don't
understand a Scottish accent or a Liver-
pudlian one properly spoken. You have
to write in some sort of vague trans-

atlantic English when you're writing for
So Jones went with his first wife
to New York where he wrote a third
television play for the B.B.C. 'It was
about the loneliness of urban life and
in fact [when produced in 1964] was
the most successful of the television
plays I did. It was called "The Mad
House On Castle Street", but because
it was about an English subject, people
could associate with it much more easi-
ly. I suddenly found that my name was
being noticed in the business.
'While I was doing a Palestinian or
West Indian subject it could be presumed
that this was a one-off and not signifi-
cant. It really is a terrible business for
somebody to come from another country
and even have one huge success with a
play about that country. The establish-
ment of the English theatre or films
does not consider that you've actually
arrived. It's an importation. Ray Lawler's
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll was a
huge success on the West End and people
didn't fall over themselves offering him
commissioned work about England.
"This chap writes about Australian cane
cutters". I think the same thing was
true of my two plays. They were ad-
mired but people in the business didn't
start looking for me to give me a job.'
And yet it was on the merit of "In
A Backward Country" that Evan Jones
got his first break in writing a major
filmscript. 'I met director Joseph Losey
because he had seen my work on tele-
vision. I was a great friend of concert
pianist Julius Katchen. We'd been to
college in America together, and his
doctor was Joe's doctor. Apparently
they were talking about the plays they
had seen on television and Joe said he
wanted to meet me and we took it from
'Joseph Losey had been subpoenaed
by the House Un-American Activities
Committee while on a trip to Europe
and he decided there was not much
point in going back to America and
not being able to work again, ever,
because he was blacklisted in Holly-
wood. At the time I met him he wasn't
able to work. Two or three years later
he was able to work in England. The
first film I did for him was one of his
first The Damned [1962].
'I'd been in the States year and writ-
ten a third play for the B.B.C. So I
came over to London for that pro-
duction and when I got here it was can-
celled. So I was looking for a room to

L;: a7

Evan Jones (seated, right) with parents and five of his six siblings, a family of 'diverse interests'.

live in and trying to decide what to do
when I ran into Joe. He invited me
home for dinner and rather a repeat of
the Stuart Burge situation, he said: "I've
got a film that I have to start shooting
in a couple of weeks time and I hate the
script. Would you look at it and tell me
what you think?" And with the ar-
rogance of youth I read the script and
told him I thought I could do better
than that in two weeks. He said: "You're
on." And I moved upstairs at this house
and wrote The Damned in two weeks.

'The company who made those films
was famous for just doing cheap, hor-
ror films. Whereas this one concerned
the changes in people's bodies because of
nuclear war, we thought it was rather
a more serious subject and I turned it
into a political statement really, against
nuclear war.'
Jones acknowledges that, 'To start
off as I did with everything I wrote
being made is most extraordinary, and
this was very much because of my situ-
ation with Joe. Joe liked to work with a
team of people, one or two writers and
the same designer and so on. When he
was working, we were working.'

And work they did, following in
1963 with Eve, which was a love
story, a study of romantic obsession,
based loosely on a Raymond Chandler
book originally set in California but al-
tered to be made in Venice, with Jeanne
Moreau and Stanley Baker.

Their third film together remains
Evan Jones's favourite. 'The one I did
for Joe Losey about the first World
War, King and Country, that I'm very
proud of. It's very, very good. It's as
strong a statement about war as any-
body's ever made in films. It's about
the trial of a deserter. And his execution.
It's a marvellous film. Joe Losey direct-
ed it, and Dirk Bogarde was in it, and
Tom Courtenay. It was a small budget
art film and we were nominated for the
Academy Award, in every category.
That was in the early sixties, but we
didn't get a single award because we
were a little movie that cost 70,000.'
Modesty Blaise, Jones's fourth film
with Losey, was their last collaboration.
'Two things happened. Basically we
didn't get on all that well on Modesty
Blaise because we had different ver-
sions of what we were trying to do, and

at the same time the script of Modesty
Blaise had been very much admired by
the people who made the Bond films,
Saltzman and Broccoli. So when Modesty
Blaise was over they offered me Funeral
In Berlin, which was the first big com-
mercial picture that I'd done. Com-
mercially this was the peak of British
cinema-making, that particular organi-

'It was a very good work experience
indeed. The director was Guy Hamilton,
who went on to do Superman and things
like that. Guy was absolutely thorough
in every detail, planned his whole film
before he started, and shot it as he plan-
ned it. Joe tended to make them up as
he went along, which was why it was
rather harder to write a script for him',
Jones says with a laugh. 'Or rather, the
work came at a different point. My
work for Funeral In Berlin [1966] was
finished when the cameras started.
'I rewrote hardly anything for Funeral.
I rewrote a lot for Modesty Blaise. In a
way it was more satisfying in that I like
to be involved in the shooting, but at
least the work on the script was the
work on the script. I didn't have to

wake up in the middle of the night and
write a part for somebody who'd just
struck the director's imagination, who
wasn't in the original story at all, and
have to figure out how this person can
fit into the story.
'You see, a film script it's story-
telling. What I have to do is fantasize
the story, see it on the screen in front
of me. So I try to dream the story, but
it has to be only 30 seconds long before
it moves on to something else. I put
down everything you see as well as
everything you hear. I put down where
I want the music, what dialogue I want
spoken, what the camera's going to do,
when it goes from somebody to some-
body else. You see, a screenplay is a
blueprint. It has to go to the director, to
the casting people, to costume, props,
lighting and everything else. It has to
be very image-oriented, and a lot of
scripts that aren't, that are written like
novels, make the directors despair. But
because of my early association with
Joe Losey, he taught me to write a
script for the director. If I give him five
shots and he wants to do it in one shot,
that's all right. But I give him a blue-
print for a day's shooting which indi-
cates what he can get out of the actors,
how the story progresses and so forth.
'A typical film script is about 130-40
pages. My scripts shoot about a minute
a page. There may only be on that page
five or six lines of dialogue with a lot of
description of light and camera and so
forth. It's like writing telegrams.
'To do the first draft takes between
two and three months but usually there
are a lot of drafts which may take six
to nine months because the producers
get it and they say, "Yes, this is fine
but this is too expensive. This doesn't
work. I don't like this. This idea, you
work on it again."
'Then the director has a go. When
it's cast, you may have a very talented
actor, his part has to be built up and
one who's not so talented, whose part
has to be cut down. And then you run
into the distributor's problems as well.
So that my main contribution is that
first draft which I conceive as the film.
The second contribution is to keep that
film alive through the process of making

'The director has the script in front
of him but he need not necessarily
shoot it. He can ask for new scenes. He
can junk other scenes. He can interpret
scenes in a way which they were not
intended. He's in charge during the mak-

The author as youthful footballer.

ing of the film. You can say, "I don't
agree with that", whatever. But you've
got to agree to something for the thing
to proceed, and perhaps it isn't until
afterwards you think; I should never
have done that. Or the thing I thought
was so good wasn't absolutely any good
at all and that is what I stuck up for.
The other person isn't always wrong.

'For instance, Joe Losey, whom I've
mentioned many times, his version of a
film I wrote for him, King and Country,
was so much better than I had imagined
it could possibly be, while his version of
the last film I did for him, Modesty
Blaise, is just absolutely dreadful, in
my view. Modesty Blaise is embarras-
sing. I saw it the other day. I was just -
I thought I'd wasted my life if that's
what I'd been doing.

'And then with my latest one,
Champions, which was a labour of
love because I love national hunt rac-
ing and the whole story of Bob Cham-
pion recovering from cancer to ride the
winner of the Grand National was a
natural for the movies. My mother died
of cancer. My brother, Keith, died of
cancer. So that it was a very personal
subject, both the horses and the ill-
ness. And when we finished that film
and looked at the first rough cut,
which was the script as written, just
put together with musical backing the
director chose from his own record col-
lection, it was the most wonderful
thing I'd ever seen, that film.

'But it was too long. It was two
hours and fifteen minutes and they
wanted an hour and fifty-two minutes,
so there could be a turn around in the
cinemas every two hours with time to
sell peanuts etc. And the knives went to
work on the film and what one sees is a
travesty, in my view. But I suppose I
must blame myself for writing too
long a film.

'Joe Losey will tell you the same
story about that picture called Eve.
The full version of that ran for two
hours and forty-five minutes and no-
body's I think they showed it once
in Finland but it's a great disappoint-
ment to him what happened to that
'The finest actress I've worked with
was in Eve, that was Jeanne Moreau.
And the best film actor I've worked
with is Michael Caine. He's discovered
the secret of being a film actor, which is
that you use your own personality, be-
cause that's what people come to see,
and he can bend'a character to suit his
personality without destroying the
character. A lot of them can't play the
character, but he can do both, and he
does it with great style and ease.

'Most of the time you're great friends
with the actors while you're shooting
and then you never see them again.
Alexander Knox and I became great
friends. He was in The Damned and won
an Academy Award for doing Wilson
many years ago. When we were doing
Victory, Max von Sydow and I used to
have lunch together. I think he's an
extraordinarily nice fellow and were he
living next door, I think we'd be in and
out of each other's houses all the time,
but I haven't seen him since then. It's a
very transient sort of thing.

'You asked me if I had experienced
failure. Interesting thing was that I'd
done those five films [The Damned,
Eve, King and Country, Modesty Blaise,
Funeral in Berlin] and after Funeral
[1966] I thought all I'd have to do was
put my feet up and wait for phone calls
to come in. Curiously, I was out of
work for nearly a year and a half. I
wrote some television plays during the
period but I didn't get offered any films
and I think it was partly because a lot of
people thought I could no longer be
afforded. The sort of experimental films
and cheaper films weren't looking for
someone who had worked for Saltzman
and Broccoli and at the same time I
wasn't prepared to go to Hollywood, so

I had to sweat it out and start doing
something not as large.
'I did a couple of plays for the B.B.C.
- it's difficult to remember exactly
which ones at the time and I wrote
a number of scripts nothing happened
to. I wrote a lovely script called "All
The Angels" that was never produced. I
must have written over the years 20 or
25 screenplays and I must have had 10
or 12 produced.'
Jones's work during the early sixties
includes a play called The Spectators,
(1962) a serious treatment of the
relationship between tourists and Jam-
aicans, which ran for its statutory week
at the Guildford Theatre in Surrey, and
then a television play for ITV, "Return
To Look Behind" (1963 -64), about
problems facing a Jamaican immigrant
in London who finally returns to
When left to his own devices and not
working for someone else, Jones consist-
ently comes back to Jamaican themes,
not only because of his Jamaican child-
hood, but because of continued family
links. The death in 1964 of his brother,
Kenneth Jones, Minister of Com-
munications and Works, seemingly
strengthened Evan's ties to Jamaica,
despite the rumours of foul play which
surround the tragedy. Evan explained:
'Well first of all, as to whether he was
murdered or not, I wasn't in the coun-
try at the time it happened and I'm not
a detective inspector so that I know as
much about that as anybody else. It is
my belief that it was accidental and that
he thought he was going to the bath-
robm and walked out onto the balcony,
lost his balance and fell. I believe that is
what happened. As to my family's feel-
ings, I wouldn't say there was bitter-
ness in the family. My father was still
alive and it was a terrible blow to him.
Keith was still alive and it was a great
blow to him. Poor man. He could hardly
show his face for the next six months
because people thought he was a ghost,
especially those who didn't know there
was a twin brother. I'm sure as with
twins they were very close; he felt a bit
of himself had died too.
'I think that it brought me closer to
Jamaica rather than further away. I
came home for the funeral and the out-
pouring of love that Jamaicans gave to
him at his funeral was perhaps the most
moving thing I've ever seen, because
people believed that he was talented,
honest and in politics to serve.'
Evan Jones's own career in London

got moving again when he collaborated
on two films with Canadian director
Ted Kotcheff. 'He's now very success-
ful in Hollywood but we still see each
other from time to time. In 1969 we did
Two Gentlemen Sharing about black
and white relationships in London in
the form of a young liberal white man
who was interested in West Indian cul-
ture and a young black man who was
interested in white culture and the two
gentlemen lived together, and then we
did something that I'd written earlier
for Dirk Bogarde which was set in Aus-
tralia, based on an Australian novel,
Wake In Fright. The film was called
Outback and was in fact the first import-
ant film of the Australian renaissance.'
Go Tell It On Table Mountain, a
one-act play by Jones was produced in
Jamaica in 1970 but he is probably best
known in the West Indies for the work
which absorbed much of his time in the
early seventies. 'I went back to tele-
vision to do 'The Fight Against Slavery"
series with Christopher Railing, a drama/
documentary producer for the B.B.C.
Now he's working freelance. He's done
a whole series of very good, very import-
ant programmes :"The Search For The
Nile"; "The Fight Against Slavery";
"The Voyage of The Beagle". We hadn't
been in touch really since Oxford but he
knew I existed and I knew he existed
and he was looking for a writer to work
on "The Fight Against Slavery" and
thought, "This is Evan's cup of tea." He
asked me if I would do one of the series
and I said "Well, I would do it only if I
could do them all." And we did it.
'It took two years. It took me a
year to research and write it and it took
a year to shoot it. The B.B.C. were very
kind and gave me a researcher so any-
thing I wanted, she went off and came
back with photocopies from the London
libraries, various books, the Parliament-
ary Records and a lot of unpublished
material. I'm very pleased with "The
Fight Against Slavery" '[1976].
The seventies were not entirely con-
sumed with works of socially redeem-
ing value, however. Another of Jones's
assignments was to rewrite the script of
Nightwatch [1975], a film featuring
Elizabeth Taylor. 'The specific prob-
lem was that Elizabeth Taylor wouldn't
do it because she didn't like the part the
way it had been written so it was just a
question of rewriting it. I'd seen her
work in other things and an actress like
that needs a couple of big scenes and
she wants certain moments. It didn't
always work as planned. I had written

that she commits the murder, comes in,
hastily packs her bags and gets in a
taxi to go to the airport. But I had
to rewrite it because she had ordered,
from her designer, clothing to do the
murder in and clothing to go away in.
So the script had to be altered to give
her an opportunity to change her
clothes, which I thought was lovely.'
Jones only succumbed to Hollywood
once, when he wrote the script for
Victory, as it was called in America,
or Escape to Victory, in the U.K. 'John
Huston directed it with Michael Caine,
Sylvester Stallone, Max von Sydow and
people like that. The English critics,
for the most part, screamed with laugh-
ter at it, said it was absolute rubbish.
And then I picked up a New York critic
who'd understood exactly what was in-
tended by the film and praised it to
the skies, so you shrug your shoulders
and carry on. The film's done very
well and made a lot of money so I'm
happy about that.' Of Hollywood it-
self, he says: 'I spent three months
and I just lived in a hotel room and
wrote the script because my family
was here in England.'

His family now consists of his second
wife, Joanna, a former actress, and their
two daughters, Melissa and Sadie. 'The
older one is reading English literature
at Exeter and I'm sure she'll be in the
business of publishing or agenting or
writing', says the proud father and 'the
younger daughter is here in Bath, taking
up drama A level and she wants to be an
actress'. She also rides beautifully, on
Special Branch, a horse who's very
much a part of their family.
His English wife and children and
their home in the U.K. are another of
the reasons Jones writes primarily for
the British market, though he brings
his own perspective in wherever possible.
For instance, his 1977 television script,
"The Man With The Power", dealt
with a black carpenter in London who
uses his psychic ability for religious
means. Simultaneously, Jones treats a
broad range of subject matter, as in
"The Racing Game" [1981], for which
he wrote the first episode in a television
series based on ex-jockey Dick Francis's
When asked about Perry Henzell and
Trevor Rhone who try to make Jam-
aican films without big commercial
backing, Jones responds, 'More power
to them. I think its wonderful that
they're doing that and I admire them
enormously. I think probably they ar-

rived at what they're doing by a series
of decisions. Perry came over here and
learnt his craft but I don't think he
wanted a career in England. He wanted
to live the way he lives and he wanted
to make the kinds of movies he makes
and have full control over them. It
would be very difficult for him to have
full control over his films in an inter-
national market. It's a question of per-
sonality too, because I don't mind so
much dropping the responsibility for
the total creation and working in a team
of people who are producing something.'
Ultimately Evan Jones feels himself to
be an international writer. 'I've written
films about England. I can work on
American subjects. And Australians I
get along very well with. Four or five
years ago Outback was being revived,
so I feel I'm an honorary Australian
writer and I am a member of the Aus-
tralian Writers Guild. I've done another
film for them since and I'm working on
one now which is the first incident in
Australian history. In films I write what-
ever comes 'up. I'd never heard of the
1629 wreck of the Batavia until I met
the Australian director, Bruce Beres-
ford, who was interested in it. So off
we go. I now know more about it than
all but two or three people in the
'But the material that's personal to
me, nobody else can write, can only be
written essentially as a novel. I think
that films and television have been very
good to me and I've enjoyed them very
much. I've got great satisfaction out of
them. There's only been over the years a
lingering feeling that I'm missing out on
the writing of prose, that I'm a little
tired of writing telegrams, sort of speed
writing for somebody else to interpret.
When one writes a novel, the thing is
complete and final, exactly the way you
want it. So I thought I'd like to do one
before I go.
'Five years ago I wrote a script based
on D.H. Lawrence's Kangaroo. It's been
knocking around Australia and it seems
to have found a home with a producer
who is going to make it this November,
that is if there are no more slips
between cup and lip. I have to go out
there for a couple of weeks but I'm not
starting a new project until I've got the
back of the novel broken.'
As to how much of the novel is about
Jamaica, Evan Jones replies: 'It's all
Jamaica.' Even the experience of his
brother's death and the outpouring of
feeling at the funeral? 'It will be in the
novel, yes.'

To have a family with many differ-
ent interests must inevitably provide
material for such a book. Why does he
suppose his family is so diverse?
'I think because my parents were
both very interesting and powerful
people. They also had a very, very
strong sense of purpose, of morality,
and of destiny perhaps. If you are an
important family in a parish by
important I mean social position and
wealth rather than intrinsic importance,
because that's a different thing we
were all brought up to believe we had to
be somebody and do something, in a
very small way like the Kennedy family
in the States. Or like old, aristocratic,
landed families in England.
'It was your job as a human being,
because you were born into the manor,
to do something with it. The eldest
son ran the estate. It's in the tradition.
The second son fought in the R.A.F.
and then he came back home and went
into politics. And the third son, I have
no position within the family, on the
land. But I must nonetheless use my
life. I chose to be a writer. The brother
behind me is a psychiatrist. He runs a
hospital in California. And Richard
now, the youngest brother, has inherited
the job of running the farm. So its that
sort of tradition'.
But Evan Jones won't be working
from journals or diaries. He insists, 'I
have a very naive belief, I believe psy-
chiatrists bear this out, that you never
forget anything. Your memory is just
one enormous bank. It pops up when
you need it and if you concentrate
hard enough, it will come back to you.
The novel cannot be just pure nostal-
gia. Any incident that I describe in the
novel which may be based on fact and


perhaps involve other people, ask the
other person what happened and they'll
tell you the story differently. Or tell
you quite a different one because the
memory is accurate but the creative pro-
cess is a reassembling of material. No-
body would be interested in a thousand
pages of my reminiscences. I've got to
turn it into something more than that.
But use my own life and my own mater-
ial, yes. They all say that everyone has
one novel in them and most people
write it first. I'll be taking a chance in
writing it last.
'I think if there's a final point I
want to make it's that I'm a double
character in some ways. Although I've
become an international writer, what-
ever that may be, I'm also still a Jam-
aican one. Jamaica is my home and my
roots and provides whatever material or
inspiration I have, essentially. I've just
learned to use that material in an inter-
national way but I have kept going
throughout my love for and my interest
in Jamaica and I've kept writing about
Jamaican subjects when I can.
'My early poetry, "Song of the
Banana Man" and "Lament of the Ban-
ana Man", "The Fight Against Slavery",
the children's stories that I've written
for Longman, the new set of children's
stories for Ginn, some of the plays,
some of the characters in the plays, and
finally the novel are all essentially Jam-
'I'm glad I haven't confined myself
entirely to that, because I might have
found myself writing in a circle. I love
being able to do these different things.
I write a German spy story one year and
an historical Australian subject the next,
and I suppose I'm very, very lucky to be
both these people'.


of Unchaos
Rex Nettleford's Dance Jamaica

By Edward Kamau Brathwaite

The artist in Caribbean society has an idea, image, piece of '.'
wood, a word, flesh of metal, a tonelle
it comes like the flame of a struck match 'from the universe',
'from a god', but it also comes from that rough strip along
the scraped side of the box and from the flint crowning the
head of the match/stick
the struck match, the ripped flame, flicker, spark of god, is
most valuable & most vulnerable at the moment of initiation:
the cupped hand, steady wick, dry wood or quickened leaves.
The compost of this artist's metaphor must be yes trash
& ready
the artist's god must have, whatever else, a mundane funda-
mental hospis: a flammable environment
The artist does not always know this. Sometimes he/she I
knows but does not care; does not/ perhaps cannot always
trust it. Or not allowed to come to trust it
and sometimes the fundament itself resists. Is cold in/flam- 4
mable or hostile Dancers from Bridgens (c. 1840). 0
The 'successful' artist is the 'lucky' prometheus: striking the -
right match at the moment's limit

The NDTC between performances at the City Center Theatre, New
York (above) in September 1983. That was the NDTC's fourth visit
to New York and one of the many international tours taken to the
UK, Germany, the USSR, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela,
Bermuda and the Eastern Caribbean.

Traditional music collected from the field forms the basis of many of
the scores used by NDTC choreographers. In front of the NDTC
singers (above, left) led by Marjorie Whylie (seated left) is the benta,
an instrument made out of bamboo and played by drummers Billy
Lawrence and Leaford McFarlane.

Left, Ni-Woman of Destiny (Barnett, 1976), the story of Nanny of
the Maroons is both history and legend. It is about the power of the
Woman in Afro-Caribbean society.

Dance Jamaica Cultural Definition and Artistic Discovery: The
National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica 1962-1983 is published
by Grove Press, New York. Price (J) $195.00; U.S.$29.95.

What I say here applies to all of us: poet playwright sculptor
choreographer, and not to artist only but to all initiators of
creativity: flag or conflagration. But in the Caribbean: colo-
nial ex-colonial developing un-developing (third) world: each
click or scratch & stage is crucial: fraught with danger magic
mystery the drought of luck :the work/hardwuk that works:

Phillip Moore raising Cuffie in Georgetown, Karl Broodhagen
putting up Bussa in Barbados, Edna Manley's resurrection of
Paul Bogle in Morant Bay, Rex Nettleford & Eddy Thomas
conceiving of a National Dance Theatre Company at In-
dependence 1962 in Kingstontown

Spark flame possibility: possibility spark flame

in an environment of sounds & pressure meanings: back-a-wall,
moonlight city, dungle, rock steady ska, sputnik, satellites,
the satellites, don drummond's green & island trombone

to cup & keep this flame they had to dance new colours:
green and gold and black and fire where before there had been
red and blue and white (p 39) and glacier. To know these
colours crow, they had to dance no learn to dance


What keeps (has kept) Caribbean/l IlWorld initiators artistical-
ly alive is, among other things, their IGNORANCE best
haspirated HIGnorance: of the Opelessness, that open hole of
history and the context into which it's thimbled them: middle
passage children of sisyphus: ghetto upon ghetto on guitar:
of how the house is made of scards & how the stars are stack-
ed against us. The ignorance of unspoiled souls. ?Redemptive
innocence. But also just plain low down ignorance: like who
is Nanny and which island of the Caribbean is made of coral
& basalt and is a butterfly, and not knowing the names of
our flowers & trees & villages & birds and calling them dat,
like 'when the Company was unaware of the rich drumming
heritage of Jamaica ..' (p169)


There are several ways of approaching Rex Nettleford's new
book, Dance Jamaica (1985), his second on the NDTC (Roots
& Rhythms came out in 1969) and his third (Mirror Mirror
1970, Caribbean Cultural Identity 1978) on aspects of our
cultural development. For now it is a tarot pack of pictures
and I turn to the photo on p 32: Thomas, Nettleford, piano,
Ve've' Billie Holiday and is that an almost dove flickering and
partly held in Nettleford's watch hand? 'The picture was
taken in 1960, two years before the Company's founding.'
and the threshold/link & lady between the two initiators is
not Billie Holiday but Ivy Baxter:

The difficulties for the choreographer ... were insur-
mountable ... supposedly because of the lack of a ready-
made technique and vocabulary and an acceptable
aesthetic framework [which of course] the imported
European classical ballet readily offered. Ivy Baxter. .
was not daunted by such difficulties, and even before
she made an intensive study of the gestures and habits

Eddy Thomas (at the piano), Ivy Baxter (director of the Ivy Baxter
Creative Dance Group) and Rex Nettleford discussing the score com-
posed by Thomas for "Once Upon a Seaweed" a musical with book
by Alma Hylton-MockYen and music by Eddy Thomas. Noel Vaz
directed while Baxter and Nettleford choreographed. This was in
June 1960, two years before the founding of the NDTC.

of the people [and gave us The arts of an island 1970],
she surveyed the immediate environment and began to
create dances in the spirit of Jamaican realities, draw-
ing on stories and folksongs as well as street gestures
and the life of the marketplace [pp 28-29]

Features which would also become important aspects of the
NDTC's development. And on the same page where these
words occur, another Legba precursor & initiator: Beryl
McBurnie of the Little Carib Theatre, Trinidad,1 whose visits,
performances and lectures to and in Jamaica 1955 & 1957,
created the same kind of confirmatory excitement in pre-
Independence cultural/nativist circles as did the bronze visit
of Robert Serumaga and his Uganda Theatre Company in the
early 'revolutionary' seventies

Here, then, were the gathering forces of the Alternative/to
ballet, to 'classical' music, to the imposed superexcellencies
of Western culture; though, as the tone and tenor of Nettle-
ford's text here indicates, with him and the NDTC pioneers,
there was never that stride and stridency so often associated
with (cultural) revolutionary activity. That kind of curve was
never their style nor their conviction. They saw (some say
they wanted) both sides of the duality. Though increasingly
they recognized that to create (moving it away from taint
of lewd and heavy-hip and stereotype and coon and night-
club act) and to sustain creation of the felt and known and
ancient/new, they had to move towards what in effect they
always were: the alter/native(s):

The flexed foot is useful as symbol not only of hoe and
pickax [e] but also of resolution, strength and earthiness.
The arms, like other parts of the body, must be able to
describe the curve of mountains, the flow of rivers, and
the ebb and flow of oceans, just as in other traditions
the movements of swans and the shapes of Gothic
cathedrals, skyscrapers, and pine trees piercing the

Court of Jah (Nettleford, 1975):
final sequence in the tribute to
the artistry of Bob Marley.

Kumina (Nettleford, 1971);
ancestral rites as source of energy
for the Company's work

winter sky have found [their own] correspondences ...
[pp 176-77]

And what better time to strike the match than at the
moment of Independence when the new symbolic colours
made most urgent sense and challenged most an urge towards
alternative: the altered native: with memories of '38, the
campaigns of the Heroes, Horse of the Morning, Banana
Bottom, Hills, Extra-mural, Mapletoft Poulle, and Brother
Man now chanting from the island's stones of I&l, Selassie
I and Ityopia


For dance and dance theatre (all through the book and esp
on p106, Nettleford makes the fine significant distinction)
there must be bodies: instruments: committed tendons to be
trained. And muscle memoried. And motivated. Bare foot
that walked the dusty streets perhaps ancestrally, now calmed
or caged in shoes; the mountain climbing buttocks getting
soft in cushioned drawing rooms; the young and anxious
mind prepared to leap from Lovers Leap to Paris or Manhattan,
turn lazily to Vogue or (?even) Sadlers Wells...

To warp them back to something else and something further
in themselves: the sense of deeper down & future: the
thousand hours of sweet & sweat& hard floor un/remembered
here. This is the burden of the Company recorded, celebrated
in this compact resonating volume 2


The three at that piano (1960) are maroons (for Nettleford
on this: pp14, 19). To become its vision, the Company
had now therefore to move from nouveau riche or nouveau
real and cellophane and cosmo cosmopolitan .. to Accom-
pong. Back, that is, to the hills of its island's history and the
shared history of our whole huge half-sunk archipelago; for-
ward, that is, to jerk and jeng and harst, cassava bammy,
rivermaid and cooing dove and engine driving (pp21-22);
shango from imitative eleison and necrophyllic languish, to
rib cage contract/ripple, sufferer (see pp 23-29) and cave and

This kind of modern maronage, wilful and conscious and
expertise, is possible only in a country with a houm, what
Erna Brodber detonates as koumbla and somewhere else I
said was nam. That is, in Caribbean countries where there was
(is) Toussaint and Marti and Nanny and Makandal and
Garvey and Yemajaa and Fidel and Fedon and Bob Marley
and where the people of the country know this, love this,
try to live this, live this, despite the contradictions. On this
the artist consumes his talent light not like a candle, tallow
till both ends are run, but like the self-creating energy and
hool of sun; artist and art and audience making one whole,
like at Sabina Park and Kensington Oval at cricket, like at the
Carnival in Trinidad, like with Redemption Song. The audi-
ence as 'collective wisdom . of the people' (p16) at last
beyond the academic critics) (pp 257-66). The audience as
Siva, seeing its own artist in its mirror. Re/creator

Which is perhaps why, until the lion drums became well &
wall & triumph in the Company's kinesis (see p257); till
Marjorie Whylie let damballa loose among her Singers; until

r- W ... IM 4
Launching ceremony:
Rex Nettleford, the author, leafs through a chapter of the book with
two founding members of the NDTC and current choreographers:
Sheila Barnett, director of the Jamaica School of Dance (left) and
Barbara Requa tutor administrator and head of the junior section of
the school.

Kumina, that is, became art and parcel of the repertoire
(1971/72) leading from there to Myal (1974) and Gerrehbenta
(1983) and Sulkari (1980, which could be 1480!) and The
Crossing (1978) and the Court of Jah (1975) . there
would be always George the Baptists calling from the roots
(p 72), and audience intensity not always taut enough to

Now to give thanks and celebrate its 21 of years of working
working building on, the Company's initiator, (co)founder,
leading dancer, chief choreographer, Artistic Director and
now chronicler, bears detailed, comprehensive, often candid
witness to the Company's achievement not only as success-
ful, long-lived, active growing organon; a household word at
home, pace setter, cynosure, progenitor of style: not only
dance but costume/dress and colour scheme and shape (I
think) and music: songs sometimes seen for the first time on
their stage, leading to new discoveries: what more could
prophets want and in their own poor, rich, blessed, bleeding
and beloved country

but also instrument, the author hopes, of social change (p40).
It is this extra-terpsichorean concern, connected too with the
distinction dance & dance theatre, and with collective
wisdom of the tribe, and the experiential aesthetics of our
history; this remarkable and remarkably successful fusion of
actor, artist, author, scholar, administrator, lecturer, broad-
caster, consultant and facilitator, earning him the accolade
'Renaissance Man' to that already Hon (1975) and Musgrave
Gold (1981), that is perhaps more than any other single
factor, responsible for the remarkable success of the National
Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica. Though it is equally
true and crystalled from this book (as fine as the achievement
it recalls) that it is the Company itself and its whole ambience,
that is finally responsible for itself/itself: fears failures future
- and success

Which is why Nettleford, in summing up, towards the end
(see 'The . Company as Catalyst' pp243-256 and 'The
Company as Model' pp 267 -279) makes perhaps one of the
most daring ?revolutionary and most natural ?political state-
ments yet made out here in the Caribbean : that a group of

modern day maroons, highly skilled and dedicated, world
connected, people based, subsistent volunteers3 & pioneers
of grace within the nation state, can, through their work and
art, and the lesson of & from their work and art, become a
model of success/development, of bridge and heal, trans-
figuration for our still crab sideways underdeveloping world.
How does this grab you Platon?


The book (317 high quality paper pages), superbly edited and
leaved (laid out) by Grove Press of New York, and illus-
trated by the author and his publishers, is divided into
nine chapters + Foreword, 4 Appendices, and Notes &
References (pp296-310) often as informative as text (cer-
tainly an indispensable complement to it) and an Index. The
book begins (pp 13-37) with a look at the cultural context
out of which dance and the arts of the Caribbean come:
slavery, suffering, severance and fragmentation. Chs 2-6
concentrate on the (Ch2) history of the Company, the
socio-political energies which made it conceivable and
possible; followed by brief biogs of the Founders (directors,
dancers, musicians, technicians, administration etc); its
growth through the 'watershed'years 1967-68, tours overseas,
work & research at home, the founding of the School of
Dance in 1970 and the Cultural Training Centre in 1975/76.

Ch3 deals with the repertoire: themes and content, with
especial looks at Female (pp127-134) and African (pp134-
142) Presences, and the role of religion and ritual (pp142-
153) in the Company's development. Ch4 details the happily
developing integration of music & dance as a significant
element in the Company's success; while Ch5, which some
commentators found least satisfactory (perhaps not long/
detailed/explanatory/exploratory enough? 16pp as cf Ch3's
56pp?), deals with the Company's aesthetics (technique,
vocabulary, style)4: For me the chapter is fine, finding its
own place in the scheme of the book. But comparing it with
two of the few other books written on dance in the Caribbean,
Molly Ahye's statement on the dance and on Beryl McBurnie's
dance theatre enterprise in Trinidad, we can begin to see
where a more specialized study, using sketches, choreographic
notation and the kind of language being developed for the
Company by Cheryl Ryman (p250), would/will be possible.
Ch8, 'The Company and the critics', meanwhile, is perhaps
best read in conjunction with this chapter

The Appendices (Tours, Repertoire with first date of each
item, its choreographer, music/composer, costume designer)
is just what a book of record such as this requires. Perhaps,
next time, some more on costumes, sets and lights (per-
haps a book, too, by one of the technicians? one/some of
the musicians?). Next time (edition?) a Bibliography of
Caribbean Dance, especially since Nettleford's own notes and
references acknowledge far more scattered articles, reviews
and newspaper comments that one was until this book not
aware of. And this bibliography could include an account
of the by now many films and videos on or about or by the

Up-front with the text, parallel and integral part of the
book, are the photographs and illustrations. 263 photos, in

fact, including the two initiators (p38), in dance poses (p53),
24 pics of the original Company members (dancers, musicians,
technicians and all), the 4 postage stamps (p99) of
the Company, issued by the Government of Jamaica in 1972;
the first graduating class of the School of Dance (p100, not
dated); 76 pictures from some. of the 110 works in the
Company's repertoire 1962-83; 34 shots of the (full)
Company members and guest artists in action; 14 mugshots
of the new (1983) dancers; 19 of the singers & musicians, inc
Marjorie Whylie on p229

On p188 there is the only full page portrait in the book (ex-
cept, that is, the full page of the Initiators p38): a peerless
Yvonne daCosta, with long long long long long long long
cigarette holder in All God's Children ... undated ...
timeless ...


1. The artistic as ?distinct from the socio-cultural context of N DTC
dance is Jamaica ancestral + Jamaica popular & contemporary,
Caribbean traditional, Haiti & Ailey, Dunham, Graham, Lavinia
Williams (& Mc Burnie) and more recently Alonso & Afro-
Cuba. Some useful (background) texts: Katherine Dunham, Les
dances d'Haiti (Paris 1950), trans Dances of Haiti (Los Angeles
1983); Lisa Lekis, The origin and development of ethnic Carib-
bean dance (U of Florida Ph.D. 1956, pub University Micro-
films 1969), Dancing gods (New York 1960); Beryl McBurnie,
Dance Trinidad Dance: Outlines of the dances of Trinidad
(Port of Spain 71958); Molly Ahye, Golden heritage: the dance
in Trinidad & Tobago ( [Port of Spain] 1978), Cradle of Carib-
bean dance: Beryl McBurnie and the Little Carib Theatre
[Port of Spain] 1983; Cheryl Ryman, 'The Jamaican heritage
in dance' (Jamaica Journal 44 (? 1980); ?Anon, Alicia [Alonso]
and her Ballet Nacional de Cuba (New York 1981). These +
Sylvia Wynter, Judith Bettleheim, Sheila Barnett and again
Cheryl Ryman, all on jonkonnu (JJ 4:2 (1970, 10:2-4 (1976),
43:. (?1979), 17:1, 17:2 (1984), and Rex Nettleford's conver-
sation with Shirley Maynier Burke about The Crossing (JJ 42:
?1979), are indispensable
2. This sense of a dedicated group of artist/workers fashioned
under the vision of a visioner is also found in Derek Walcott's
account of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 'What the twi-
light says', preface to Dream on Monkey Mountain and other
plays (1970). Walcott's elated response to the Company's
1971 appearance in Trinidad is several times referred to in
Nettleford's text

3. For this, see esp pp237-40 & pp44-52

4. To understand what a dancer/choreographer means by aesthe-
tics, we have to become aware not only of his/her riddim/
riddles, pace, contoured energy & colour of the presentationss,
but the shapes, impossible to frieze, that he/she tries for/tries
for. Far more important, in this respect, than the much vaunted
'vocabulary' of opposition: ripple/jerk/release, arc/stretch/
slide/retract etc are the NDTC's psychocultural images: ikon
chips: chiops:





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Harmony Hall Intuitives

By Gloria Escoffery

( Dunkley, the Millers, Kapo, Sidney
McLaren, the Browns and more recent-
ly William Joseph are all effective anti-
dotes to the poison of past conditioning
as well as to the present humbug and
mischief which persist among some
critics and decidedly lesser artists in
Jamaica. Such persons either tolerate
'the primitives' or refuse to admit that
these intuitive painters and carvers
must be closely observed and keenly
studied as guides to that aesthetic
certitude that must be rooted in our
creative potential if the world is to
take us seriously as creators rather than
imitators. Those intuitive artists have
indeed found what to paint with and
what to paint on, what to carve with
and what to carve on, despite the eco-
nomic marginality most of them have
suffered in a society that has not func-
tioned largely in their interest. I

I t is now six years since Rex
Nettleford, writing the intro-
ductory article for the National
Gallery "Intuitive Eye" exhibition, drew
the attention of the public at large to
what a clique of collectors had long
known: that Dunkley, the Millers and
their successors, led by Kapo in the
Institute of Jamaica "Self Taught Art-
ists" shows, were exceptional beings
who were more in touch with them-
selves, and more interesting, than many
'professionals'. Here, appearing as inevit-
ably as the berries on our pimento trees,
was not merely an exotic export, but
the spice of life itself, in terms of indig-
enous culture. However, such a bounti-
ful crop is likely to be followed by a
lean year. Haiti is ever in the minds of
the cognoscenti as a warning. Not only
shall we in the long run pay for advance-
ment from developing to developed
nation status by a process of industrial-
ization and a levelling mass communi-
cations crisis that will almost certainly
destroy the folk culture from which
these intuitives sprang; in the short
term too, may we not in our very excess
of approval stifle the thing we love?
Flattered and exploited may not
these artists pander to our mediocre
tastes and water down their idiosyn-

cratic vision? Or may they, in a new
found lust after Mammon, reproduce
their commercial successes ad nauseam?
The tourist industry offers a high road
to iniquity for the weaker brethren.
Alas for the inevitable descent into 'the
pseudo-primitive, or more specifically,
the pseudo-African that approaches
Kitsch, the so-called "airport art" which
we find, not only in Jamaica, but in
every island in the Caribbean?'
Have the forebodings of the pessi-
mists been realized? Is there a line, can a
line be drawn, to keep Kitsch out of the
genuinely 'intuitive'? How can artists
nowadays find what to paint and carve
with and on, without compromising their
integrity? How can they communicate
truly without an audience who under-
stands their cult symbols and their inner
aspirations? Is art sufficiently universal
- or sufficiently responsive to subject-
ive imperatives to communicate across
the gap that separates cultures?

As usual I shall leave these difficult
questions hanging in the air and get
back to surer ground: Let us examine
some of the problems the intuitive artist
today faces and see how, in the land of
'push-come-to-shove' he uses his talents,
one way or another, in the interest of
some compromise between complete
self fulfilment and fulfilment of an ap-
proved social function.

The lignum vitae tree hardens slowly,
maturing year by year under the all see-
ing sun. Alabaster is, by mysterious
processes, secreted within the bowels of
Mother Earth. The best things in life are
free. Nonsense. Every natural resource
in the civilized world has its commer-
cial value. The carver must strike a
bargain with the dealer in lumber or the
entrepreneur mining alabaster for larger
industrial purposes. His tools are far
more sophisticated than a whittling knife
or simple stone chisel. They are power
driven and he must face JPSCo. bills.
However naive his vision, he must take
on the duties and responsibilities of
genus 'small businessman': learn to
keep accounts, to negotiate bank loans,

make income tax returns, cope with
insurance. Ask 'Doc' Williamson how
often his power drill has been stolen. As
for the painter: enamels may be bright
and 'folksy', but they are difficult to
control and ruin fine brushes which he
needs for detailed brushwork. Artists'
pigments in oils or acrylics cost a for-
tune; a medium sized sable brush may
cost well over $50 and a single tube of
paint $25. The purchaser may accept
home made frames as amusing for
after all they are replaceable, but he de-
mands that the painting be executed on
a lasting ground maybe masonite or
even canvas. Dunkley performed won-
ders with house paints on cardboard but
some of his works were rejected as being
too frail to travel in the SITES show.

Dunkley kept on with his barbering
(as does, or did, Palmer of Falmouth);
but the strains of life drove plumber-
painter Daley to Bellevue. The art school
graduate can usually find a teaching job,
but what of the untrained naive painter?
Is he destined to pass his days in the
Jamaican equivalent of a garret, namely
a ghetto tenement yard or some mount-
ain hovel where he can live on mangoes
and remain ignorant of the temptations
of Mammon? There remains, in our
country, a residue of colonialism, or
paternalism, which suggests that the
intuitive, as a national trust asset, should
be saved from destitution by official-
dom. I have seen the stream of carvers
and painters who come knocking at the
curator's door at the National Gallery.
Last time I was there a farmer from the
hills of St Andrew brought in a carving
so huge and heavy I wondered how ever
he got it to the bus, for probably he had
had to walk miles with it. What can Dr
Boxer or any person of good will offer
but interest and encouragement: keep
working; don't neglect the farm; try the
commercial galleries.
So then, what is the solution? Just
that. And if he is lucky there is a
Harmony Hall in his future, agents who
are understanding and perceptive and
honest. A place which after a while be-

comes a second home; where he meets
his fellow artists, begins to look with an
extra critical eye at his own work.
In Jamaica the intuitive, like the
sophisticated artist and he is likely to
be just as gallery wise as the other -
tries to accumulate a C.V. of group and
solo shows, awards etc. Being establish-
ed means having a foot in at least one
Kingston gallery and one in a centre
in Ocho Rios and/or Montego Bay. The
alternative is to be an independent
street hustler and hang around hotels; or
to establish a stall or tourist centre shop
of one's own, as Ocho Rios wood carver
Kenneth Williams has done, somehow
managing to combine barbershop em-
ployment with very serious dedication
to sculpture.

Narrowing the field to a single group
of artists and a gallery I happen to be
fairly familiar with, let us then, focus on
Harmony Hall and see how their policy
works for the artists.
The Harmony Hall proprietors have,
wisely I think, consolidated the relation-
ship with a small group rather than
spreading their nets wide and accepting
work on consignment from all comers.
"Intuitives I was launched in 1982
with painters Kapo (Mallica Reynolds),
Everald Brown, Albert Artwell, Allan
Zion and one sculptor, alabaster carver
John 'Doc' Williamson. If you would
like to find out more about these per-
sons, and the rest who joined later, I
suggest you write to Harmony Hall for
information about their brochures;
there is one of the Intuitives as a group,
and a separate one on Kapo. "Intuitives
II" the following year was marked by
the launching of one sculptor, William
'Woody' Joseph, St Andrew farmer
turned wood carver rather late in life;
also a painter, Phanel Toussaint, a
Haitian by birth who has settled in
Jamaica. The 1984 Intuitives show intro-
duced Zaccheus Powell, a sculptor who
had established a name for himself in
Kingston as the carver of fanciful
staffs and macca sticks, bowls, salad
servers, etc., all most erotically decor-
ated. Then came "Intuitives IV" in 1985,
and the launching of two young painters,
Michael Parchment and Veron Williams.
Although most of the artists live in
distant parishes,2 there must be some
serious problem at home to keep them
from this annual 'family reunion' at
Harmony Hall. Kapo and Brother Brown
are especially missed if they fail to turn
up. The atmosphere is friendly and there
!s a crowd of guests in which one is sure

Albert Artwell, Jonah and the Whale

Veron Williams, Tatch Palm District

rglgpp wq~s~!r'r~nm~a~a"

Zacchaeus Powell,
Kaliman Stick

William 'Woody' Josephs, Three Heads

to 'buck up' some old acquaintances.
The artists talk shop and look warily (as
artists always do) at the latest works of
their competitors and of course the prices
affixed thereto. Drinks are served and
there is speechmaking and jollity, general-
ly a lunch party for the artists on the
lawn after the crowd has departed.
For me the most memorable occasion
was "Intuitives II" day, when guest
speaker Ossie Harding, then a senator,
launched the term autochthonouss' art,
at the same time brandishing a learned
tome which corroborated his theory
about the spontaneous appearance of
African stylistic characteristics in
'Woody' Joseph's carvings. Had the
word been easier to pronounce it might
have superceded 'intuitive'; perhaps it is
just as well that it was such a mouthful.
To some of these artists, especially
the older ones, Harmony Hall sales pro-
vide the very staff of life, help to solve
family problems, pay doctor's bills. It
may be instructive at this point to look
at the going prices of 'intuitive' art ac-
cording to the 1985 Harmony Hall
"Intuitives IV" catalogue. 3

Only one of the two Kapos on show
was for sale; the price was $10,000.
Below that there was a gap, not neces-
sarily indicating that the work of the
other artists was inferior. Brother
Brown's beautiful paintings, carvings
and musical instruments, like Kapo's
works, go out from his rockfast little
house deep in rural St Ann to many a
foreign museum and sophisticated liv-
ing room. At this show you could have
purchased his largest work, Pot of Gold,
Cultural Heritage, for $2,500; one of
his three precious decorated "Special
Dove Lutes" for $1,250. Probably pric-
ing his work according to time spent on
them as well as size and complexity,
Phanel Toussaint offered his large market
scene for $2,700. Next in the descending
scale of prices for major works came
Sylvester Woods, his masterpiece for the
occasion being Creation and Garden of
Eden, priced at $1,200, while the proli-
fic Allan Zion, showing 11 pictures of
various sizes which made a blaze of
colour on the main wall, covered a
price range of $800 to $200. Veron
Williams was the hit of the day in terms
of instant sales; his naive panoramic
scenes of life in a variety of rural com-
munities were priced between $350
and $175; purchasers were clearly mov-
ing in before next year, when his prices
may well, like chicken meat in the super-
market, take wing and fly out of sight.

Sylvester Woods

John 'Doc' Williamson working on a typical alabaster carving
above, and standing in front of his studio (right).

Everald Brown


Allan Zion

The other newcomer, Michael Parch-
ment, being less assured and clear cut in
style, was probably over-optimistic in
asking $550 for his largest piece, titled
Higglers. (Artwell was not represented
at "Intuitives IV", having just had a one-
man show.)

The sculptors' prices seemed to me
very reasonable, considering the skill
and imagination involved. In addition
to portraits and small figures, Zaccheus
Powell showed a lovely Blue Drawers
Stick for $600 and three complex sym-
bolic pieces at $1,000 each. 'Doc'
Williamson surprised his fans by giving
his version of Eve, not in alabaster but
in wood. This was snapped up for $500.
It is interesting to speculate on the cross
fertilisation process when one realises
that Zaccheus Powell started working in
alabaster with 'Doc'Williamson. 'Woody'
Joseph showed several portraits and a
strange piece titled Axman Bird; these
ranged in price from $100 to $600.

Of course it is not only in this special
show that the Harmony Hall artists sell
their works. I imagine that Zacchie
makes quite a good, steady income from
his hair ornaments, picks and combs,
etc. 'Doc' Williamson also produces
functional pieces and smaller sculptures
which make interesting souvenirs. The
lion is almost his personal trade mark,
and he also produces a variety of other
animals, each one unique because of
the exotic variations in the colour and
'texture' of the alabaster. This type of
flexibility in adapting almost to two dif-

ferent markets has a long and respect-
able tradition in the 'curio trade'.
After all, the Millers, father and son,
partly made their living carving 'sou-
venirs' which were, however, way above
the level of the usual craft market pro-
Prints and reproductions are usually
thought of as the way painters attract
purchasers of limited means. Postcards
are, apparently, not profitable to pro-
duce unless one has facilities for exten-
sive distribution. Harmony Hall has
therefore opted instead for 'notelets'
with royalties going to the artists, and
some of the intuitives benefit. They also
get paid for designs used for Christmas
cards in a project sponsored by Com-
bined Charities, a voluntary organization
geared to assist six local charities. Then
there are the promotional posters and
brochures, quite expensive to produce
because of the coloured illustrations.
Each artist gets 100 copies of the poster
in which his work appears; he is also al-
lowed to use the colour separations in
the brochure, if he so desires. These
posters and brochures go out far and
wide and give the intuitives the sort of
publicity they could not possibly ob-
tain on their own.
The fact is that the Harmony Hall
proprietors though businesslike, aren't
really in this venture for personal profit.
They genuinely want to be involved in
Jamaican life and help promote indigen-
ous culture.
What of the artists' work? There re-

mains space only for a few comments
and comparisons and I shall concentrate
on the painters, leaving out Kapo, who
is already so well known, and Everald
Brown, whose work would take a book
to analyse or try to explain.4
The term 'intuitive' has perhaps out-
lived its usefulness as a way of counter-
acting the demoralising effect of 'primi-
tive' and the confusion inherent in 'naive'
once one recognizes the claims of child
art, superficial 'Sunday painting' and art
of the mentally unbalanced.5 'Folk art'
isn't quite right either, though there are
some links between the decorative im-
pulse that plays variations on a tradition-
al pattern in 'folk' art and the rhythmic
energy of the true intuitive. As Rex
Nettleford pointed out, all art con-
tains a degree of intuition. If we could
find a new and better term we could
then reserve 'intuitive' for use as an
accolade to be conferred only on such
originals as Kapo and Everald Brown!
Apart from distinctive visionary ex-
perience, there seem to be two main
lines of development, through dramatic
narrative and through pure genre, or
genre tinged with satire. These approach-
es are not mutually exclusive, and the
permutations and combinations are fur-
ther complicated by the varying ratio of
'significance' to decorative embellish-
Both Sylvester Woods and Albert
Artwell are illustrators of the scrip-
tures, but their styles are very differ-
ent. Woods appears to choose his theme


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with an eye to its dramatic potential.
Thus he frequently takes his themes
from history or mythology and special-
izes in 'old time' country rituals like
Johncanoe; which he tends to repeat,
knowing tourists like such themes -
with variations of course. The back-
ground to these scenes of battle or crises
of some kind are very like the lush but
stony hillsides of the village in St Mary
where he lives; rocks and swathes of
dark green foliage provide effective set-
tings for his natural or supernatural
Albert Artwell, on the other hand
sticks to the bible, interpreting the
scriptures along doctrinaire Rastafarian
lines. He uses a consistent personal
repertoire of emblems clouds with
lowering faces, fires, rainbows, moon,
sun and stars, split rocks, the Rasta-
farian flag. An instinctive decorator, he
spreads his scenes liberally across the
picture plane, making capital of those
individualistic, upright little houses,
each with its multicoloured striped roof;
he opens them up, like cut outs for a
toy village waiting to be folded and
glued in place. His animals are a perfect
Noah's ark set, not graceful and subtle
as they often are in Haitian paintings.
Increasingly complex in his story telling,
Artwell includes many episodes in the
same panoramic view. His tour de force
of complexity so far was, of course, the
painting in the last National Gallery
annual show. Are these two artists to
be accorded the label 'intuitive'? Per-
haps. Does it really matter?
With Allan Zion, who seems at the
moment to be in the ascendant, human
beings matter not at all as individuals.
Stylised into blobby, clumsy creatures,
they play their part, like walkways,
ponds, staircases, bricks, in the design.
Occasionally a specially favoured item,
a helicopter as emblem of romantic
locomotion perhaps, takes on personal-
ity. It is really amazing to see how, with
some encouragement and a place to
show his work, Zion has blossomed
since the days when he used to haunt
the National Gallery (then at Devon
House), trying to sell his tiny paint-
ings of roosters for a dollar or two.
Completely urban in his perspective
on life, Zion now dreams of Moscow
and 'Creative America', working on
whole series of complicated composi-
tions in which onion domes or tilting
skyscrapers (as the case may be) proli-
ferate. Carefully choosing a particular
range of colours for each picture, he
works his way through and out of an en-

Brother Everald Brown's musical instruments
and a painting, Mystery in the Hills

The artists at the opening of the "Intuitives IV" show at Harmony Hall, from left: Michael Parch-
ment, Veron Williams, Sylvester Woods, Allan Zion, 'Doc' Williamson, 'Woody'Joseph (behind in
hat), Phanel Toussaint and Zaccheus Powell. At right is Dr Freddie Hickling who opened the



chanted conglomeration of linear forms,
nowadays combining circular and rect-
angular shapes in a really sophisticated
way. Here is a natural abstract artist,
conditioned to include a narrative, but
never to point a moral.

Phanel Toussaint and Veron Williams
yank us back to 'real' life and reawaken
the moral and social sense. Not that
either of them paints as if he possesses
the eye of a camera. They are very dif-
ferent though. Phanel, who had his early
training in a Haitian artist's workshop,
has a professional's respect for tech-
nique. He works slowly, polishing his
details and improvising new ways of
building up surfaces so as, for instance,
to break down the barrier between pic-
ture and the frame in which it has its
being. He probably understands quite
well that 'naive' painting is his metier,
and to be too much a 'master' of linear
perspective would be against his better
interests. Occasionally he takes on the
role of folk votarist, but his icons are
less convincing than his genre scenes,
for at heart he is a social satirist observ-
ing the vagaries of human nature and
the consequences of folly; as in his illus-
tration of the 'two is better than too
many' theme. Always, one notes his
Latin respect for elegance. This comes
out when he has a chance to depict
something grand, like the interior of
Devon House, with Kapo featured as
honoured guest.

Veron Williams, by way of con-
trast, is Jamaican to the core. It does
not disturb him if one of the build-
ings he portrays is as ugly as all get
out, if it has the solidity of incipient
prosperity. In fact he observes details
of social rank with great care; a Jam-
aican familiar with the rural milieu he
represents in his panoramic community
scenes, could make an educated guess at
the social status and income of every
household depicted in his Tatch Palm
District. But unlike Phanel Toussaint,
Veron Williams is not yet set in his
style of painting. His way of looking at
life is no different from many a young
art student. How he will eventually turn
out depends on whether he decides to
remain 'naive', a course which may prove
quite lucrative, or press on into studies
of volume, aerial perspective, scale, light
and shadow, and so on. The strain of
trying to cope with the complex prob-
lems of naturalistic renderings appear
now in the compositions in which the
figures are drawn on larger scale. The
fish in the foreground of his Rocky

Point fish market are quite impression-
istically handled.
Even this sampling indicates what
vastly different worlds evolve as a re-
sult of different artists' search for an
ideal or divinely ordered world. For
Everald Brown, the mystic, truths are
written into the rocks and pastures he
overlooks from the window of his house.
Veron Williams objectifies religion as
located in a mission house, socialised
Christianity. One picture shows a com-
pound dominated by church and, pre-
sumably, pastor's house. Every shrub is
pruned, every person dressed in Sunday
best. The children cluster around the
trunk of a shade tree, awaiting their
Sunday school teacher, who may be
that lady or gentleman engaged in
discreet courtship on a bench nearby.
The station wagon waits in readiness on
the driveway. Let us look, chuckle at his
keenly observed details, and make up a
story; and forget about aesthetics. This
too is a way of enjoying pictures!
Does the experience of being close-
ly involved with fellow artists, and with
perceptive patrons and sympathetic
dealers change the outlook or vision of
(for want of a better word) 'intuitives'?
The only positive evidence I can offer to
suggest it does is that Albert Artwell no
longer depicts all the bad guys as white
and all the good guys as black. By such
tiny signs of cultural interaction new
situations, new artistic styles, new visions
of the world come into being.

GLORIA ESCOFFERY, O.D., is artist, poet,
journalist and teacher and lives in Browns
Town, St Ann.


1. David Boxer, "The Intuitive Eye" cata-
logue, National Gallery of Jamaica, 1979.
2. Phanel Toussaint has recently moved out
of Kingston and lives in a house not far
from Harmony Hall, Ocho Rios.
3. Prices are quoted in Jamaican dollars.
4. The National Gallery catalogue to mark
the opening of the Larry Wirth Kapo Col-
lection (1983) contains a potpourri of
articles on Kapo. A study of Everald
Brown's life and work is long overdue.
i5. Readers interested in studying the many
facets of intuitive art on an international
scale from the 17th century to the present,
should consult Modern Primitives by Otto
Bihalji-Merin (Thames and Hudson, 1971)
in which the author clarifies distinctions
between 'primitive', 'naive' and folk art.
He devotes part of a chapter to "Haiti,
Between Gods, Poets and Dealers" but
does not seem to have been aware of con-
temporary developments in Jamaica. A
rewarding book, profusely illustrated.

Carolyn Cooper is a lecturer in the
Department of English, University of
the West Indies, Mona. The recipient of
a Fullbright Fellowship (1985) she is
currently at Howard University, Washing-
ton D.C. conducting research on the fic-
tion of Toni Morrison and Paule Mar-
shall. Dr Cooper's previous contribution
to Jamaica Journal was "Proverb as
Metaphor in the Poetry of Louise Ben-
nett" (17: 2, 1984).

David Dolman lectures in the Special
Education Department at Mico College
and is employed in Jamaica through
the Mennonite Central Committee of
Akron, Pennsylvania. Dr. Dolman will
return to William Rainey Harper College
in Palatine, Illinois at the end of the
1985-86 academic year.

Cheryl Ryman, researcher and choreo-
grapher, has studied extensively the
traditional dance forms in Jamaica.
Previous contributions to Jamaica Jour-
nal include "The Jamaican Heritage in
Dance" (44, 1980) and "Jonkonnu:
A Neo African Form" (17:2, 1984).
She is a member of the National Dance
Theatre Company of Jamaica and a
former researcher with the African
Caribbean Institute of Jamaica.

Frank Ross, the director of Aquaculture
at Agro 21 Corporation Ltd., has 11
years experience in fisheries and aqua-
culture. Dr Ross was formerly head of
Research, Production and Training at
the Inland Fisheries Project, Ministry
of Agriculture.

Laura Tanna is the author of Jamaican
Folk Tales and Oral Histories. Dr. Tanna
writes frequently on art and culture for
several publications including Jamaica
Journal. She also assists with the govern-
ment's oral history documentation pro-
gramme, the Memory Bank.

Edward Kamau Brathwaite poet and his-
torian is professor of Social and Cultural
History, University of the West Indies,
Mona. Professor Brathwaite is the author
of numerous publications including the
poetic works, The Arrivants, (1973,)
Mother Poem (1977) and Sun Poem

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By Mervyn Morris

Christine Craig, Quadrille for
Tigers. Berkeley, California:
Mina Press, 1984. pp.76.
Quadrille for Tigers is
attractive, accomplish-
ed, important. Chris-
tine Craig, a significant poet
with a pleasing individual voice,
often contrives to sound casual,
but her poems are craftily
layered. Her publishers ac-
curately note that the poems
in this collection are informed
by the poet's 'womanhood as
well as her Jamaican roots' and
that 'her imagination extends
over a wide range of human
experience, brilliantly picturing
its struggles as well as its joys'.
Many of the poems are in-
timately Jamaican in reference
- "Sunday in the Lane", for
example, "The Causeway", or
the painterly "St Ann". But
their resonances echo wide. In
"Lost from the Fold", for ex-
ample (p.13), we have Death
scuffling his adidas, using macka
to pick his teeth, while his
dread friend Hunger skanks;
but the poem's protest can
readily be shared by anyone
willing to respond to poverty
or neglect, and to the loss of
faith. The neglected woman on
the street is lost from the fold,
apparently forgotten. The per-
sona is impelled to turn away
from faith. The consolations of
the Son of Heaven are bitterly
implied to be unavailable under
the blaring 'hot sun of this hell'.
As in many of the poems, there
is also a gender element in the
perception: the victim observed
is a woman; the God who seems
to have absconded is male, as
are "Death the certain friend"
and his accomplice Hunger.
But the claim on our sym-
pathies is not restricted by the
poem's local habitation or its
play of gender.
Some of the pieces, more
explicitly, speak for the con-
dition of woman. ('Poor wo-
man, the man's truth/is an
empty yabba for you', p.57).
But they are often gentle in
their address to man, as in
"Poem for a Marriage" (p.27),
"LovePoem" (p.40),"For Klaus

or John or Pierre" (p.50).There
are poems of love, of longing,
of friendship; poems of friend-
ship with other women; poems
of family affection. The general
tendency is towards love and
reconciliation. Even in "Elsa's
Version" (pp. 58-9) where Elsa
advises men:
You can confuse, abuse
an mess wid you own self
till you good an ready
to deal wid I as
a real somebody.


for Tigers

Poems by


human person traffics in a range
of possibilities.
Writing black, the African
flinging accusations at our
colonial past
vying with each other to
vault most quickly
The sharp european fence,
Rushing to see
Whatever speaks of our warm,
black roots.

The poem allows for the pos- Still the cold
sibility that a man may one Creeps up through our careful
day become 'a real somebody'
and therefore be ready to deal behaviour.
with Elsa, with woman, 'as/a (p.60)
real somebody', treating her as At the centre there is a ten-
truly a person, sion, emphasized in the title of
If the woman is determined the volume, between control
+ 1k h,1 4 k| ..k. and energy.

LU e a ree Ula /ic woman
(p.51) and to shape her own
journey (p.57), she is also keen
that she and the man brother,
lover, friend should 'make
something new together' (p.57).
The movement towards
reconciliation is not confined
to man/woman relationships. It
is there also in other potential
polarities: black/white, rich/
poor, Old World/New World,
for example. Like gender, his-
tory, race and class need not
necessarily divide. Art can re-
concile, can transcend; and the

Between the noise and
we move in careful steps
each with too much past
for brisker measure. But I
am weary
of this slow quadrille, for
leap behind my clouded
spiders stretch their furry
ready to trip me out of step.


The association of quadrille
and tigers hints also atthe poet's
Jamaican base (quadrille as an
emblem of Jamaican culture)
and her involvement beyond
Jamaica (literal tigers do not
leap in Jamaica, though there
may be one in the zoo these
tigers, literary and universal,
symbolize psychic energies).
In every single human house
'there are two people living un-
easily' (p.32): 'One says life is
rational'. 'The other says, life
is the crazy/whirling baton of
some cosmic conductor'. The
person, the artist, tries to re-
concile 'These two, trying to
make one song'. The recon-
ciliation is not necessarily fu-
sion; it may be achieved, as
also in this volume, by move-
ment between the tendencies.
No one poem says it all. Ulti-
mately the statement is in-
complete, dynamic; is mov-
ing, still.
"Take and Hold", the final
poem in the collection, ends:

Alone is a devious word,
wail it golden on a sax,
throb it deep on a drum,
lilt it in counterpoint
on a silken piano. Together
all the loneness in one
finds harmony, balance
in the others
till alone becomes a
song, a rhythm
that moves and beats
and knocks
on a store of locked up
Open the gate Legba
Atibon Legba, ah open
the gate
for us.

(pp. 75-76)

Not for me, for 'us'. Christine
Craig includes us all. She speaks
(with quiet eloquence) not just
for the woman, the free black
woman, the struggling artist,
but also for anyone who has
ever recognized in his or her
alone 'a store of locked up

MERVYN MORRIS is a senior
lecturer in the Department of
English, University of the West
Indies, Mona.

JAMAICA JOURNAL is offering at special prices, sets of back issues to
complete your collection. Limited Quantities Available !
The following numbers are available:
Vol. 2 Nos 2,3,4 Vol. 9 Nos. 1 4
Vol. 3 Nos. 3,4, Vol. 10 Nos. 1 -4
Vol.4 Nos. 1,3,4 Vol. 11 Nos. 1 -4
Vol. 5 Nos. 1 -4 No. 42 (Vol. 12)
Vol. 6 Nos. 1 -4 Nos. 43,44 (Vol. 13)
Vol. 7 Nos. 1 -4 No 45 (Vol. 14)
Vol. 8 Nos. 1 -4 No. 46 (Vol. 15)
Vol. 16 (Nos 1 -4)
Special prices,
Single copies J$5 US$3 UK1.50
Purchase the entire set. Save 20%
US$75 UK39 J$136 per set
(Prices include handling and postage charges)

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Sulhermere Road. Kngpton 10. JarnaI.a
Telephone: 92-94785/6

IbyEi 4a
and the p
by Enrd Sids

A guidA to histnrinal

Port Royal, once called
"the wickedest city in
the world."

An informal history of
the residence of Prime
Minister Seaga and his
family. US$3.00

A comprehensive
visitor's guide to

Available in hotels, book stores and gift shops in Jamaica or by airmail

We make



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Telephone: 92-69024 39
mutual understands


17 August 1985 was the 100th anniversary of the
laying of the cornerstone of the first synagogue to be
built at the corner of Duke and Charles Streets in
Kingston, now the only synagogue in Jamaica. A special
Jewish New Year's Eve service was held 15 September
to commemorate this anniversary and to celebrate the
first attempt, in November 1883, to unite the Sephardic
and Ashkenazi congregations, representing Jews of
Mediterranean and Middle European origins respective-
ly. The synagogue 'Shaangare Shalom'- Gates of Peace
-- was built through the combined efforts of some of
the members of the two congregations. Complete amal-
gamation took place 38 years later, in 1921.
Designed by architects George Messiter and Charles
Renwick and built by Charles P. Lazarus, the original
structure was heavily influenced by the Byzantine style
of architecture. The brick building 60 x 40' and 45'
high, seated 700 people. Its outstanding features includ-
ed the beautiful ceiling of smoothly finished wood and
twin towers which housed self-supported cement con-
crete stairs with handsome iron balustrades and rails.
The gallery which ran around three sides of the building
was supported by elegant iron columns with picturesque
gilt capitals decorated with intricate designs of vines and
The synagogue was partially destroyed by the 1907
earthquake and was rebuilt in 1911-12 in reinforced
concrete. The restoration was carried out by Henriques
Brothers who closely followed the lines of the original
structure, though the facade was altered to a Spanish
colonial style.
The interior maintains the style of the original struc-
ture as the roof, gallery and pillars were reused. The
Echal (Ark) and Tebah (Reading Desk) are of polished
mahogany and their platforms covered with blue Wilton
carpets. In the tradition of Sephardic synagogues in the
Caribbean and Central America and other destinations
of the Marranos who fled Spanish oppression in the 15th
and 16th centuries, the floor is covered with sand as a
symbol of silence, a reminder of the secrecy with which
they had to practice their faith during the Spanish occu- .
nation. ( Marranos were Spanish and Portuguese Jews
forcibly converted to Christianity but secretly adhering .
to Judaism). On either side of the Ark, which contains
13 scrolls of the Law from former synagogues through- -,
out Jamaica, two lights burn perpetually symbolising
the unity here of the Ashkenazi and Sephardic congre- s"

'~~ir~U-"% ~o~"Y;"L_77w~~~~


Glimpses of Jamaica's Natural History


This species of pond turtle, Pseudemys or Chrysemys terrapen, occurs only in Jamaica, although there
are closely related species on other West Indian islands.
Still fairly common in ponds and rivers in some areas of the island, these turtles may attain a shell
length of nearly 13 inches. They feed on insects, crayfish, small fish, aquatic plants and are occasionally
scavengers. There are at least two reports of our pond turtles snapping ticks off cattle standing in water.
Their courtship is interesting to watch: '. .. the male faces the female and holds his tore legs straight
out in front with the backs of his feet on each side of the female's head. With the backs of his long claws,
he gives a vibratory motion or very rapid slapping on the side of the female's head, slapping more on the
side to which she endeavours to turn. She apparently keeps her eyes shut and appears to be very much
bored at his solicitude.' (The Herpetology of Jamaica by W.G. Lynn and Chapman Grant, 1940).

Natural History Division
Institute of Jamaica

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