Celebrating a Grenada Poet a Day (Alister Hughes)

Alister Hughes


by Alister Hughes, Journalist and Poet, 1919 – 2005


We’re now independent, yes, massa day done,

We’re free. It’s a new day which now has begun.

So please, let’s get working as hard as we can

To foster the growth of Caribbean Man.


Let’s take a look backward, remember with pride

Those brave ones who stood up and battled the tide,

Who braced up and faced it when all others ran,

Who fought for the birth of Caribbean Man.


Paul Bogle, as brave as you ever will find,

And Gordon, like true steel in fire refined,

They died in Jamaica pursuing a plan

To fight for the rights of Caribbean Man.


And Critchlow, for gains to the workers he fought,

And when he was fired that counted for naught,

Guyana his country, farsighted his scan,

He called for the vote for Caribbean Man.


More noble nude freeman than full gilded slave

He lived by that precept, and Donovan gave

Example that we too with dignity can

Though trampled, be proud of Caribbean Man.


In Donovan’s tracks then came Ted Marryshow

His dream was that we had just one way to go

One country, Westindies, division he’d ban

One nation, one people, Caribbean Man


These are but few of the great ones of yore

Who faced the rough storm in the time gone before

When it was easy to drift with all in the van

With never a thought of Caribbean Man


When all were so willing to swim with the tide

Be accepted, and join in the social ride

Kowtow to the massa, and pray that he can

Forget that you are a Caribbean Man


Be called in to dinner or Government tea

Get an honour, a knighthood or CBE

Think Limies superior and much better

Black, brown or whatever, Caribbean Man


Not so these great ones, much more noble their game

Unselfish, farsighted the stars were their aim

Society’s glitter was not in their plan

They knew the true worth of Caribbean Man


They knew that the Masters did’nt dare educate

The objects they ruled in colonial state

The learning they gave us was ‘Dan in the van’

The basics, no more for Caribbean Man.


And history for us never touched on our shores

But focussed on Europe, kings, treaties and wars

What mattered, developed, continued, began

In no way included Caribbean Man.


They taught us of Raleigh and Hawkings and Drake

Their exploits and how brave a fight they did make

We saw this with pride, as true British eyes can

But not with the eyes of Caribbean Man


We knew naught of Fedon, Toussaint or Quacko

Nor Christophe, Quamina or loose-mouthed Cudjoe

We knew not of Cuffie away down in Guyan

And what he had done for Caribbean Man


But now we are free, and it’s slavery no more

Our fate is our own. We’ve the key to the door

That leads to our future, let’s find if we can

What stuff that he’s made of, Caribbean Man


When we were colonials in long days gone by,

To make like massa was what we did try,

To be like the British, our aim and our plan

A synthetic Limey, Caribbean Man.


That’s over but, sadly, we’ve not yet begun

To see our own place, recognize our own sun,

In place of the Limey, we’re now African,

Not yet do we know we’re Caribbean Man.


How dare we forget and consign to the breeze

Our brother the Indian, our sister Chinese

And others who cover the whole ethic span

For they too, my friend, are Caribbean Man.


We’re all of this region, no matter the skin,

Black, white, pink or yellow, we’d better begin

To know we’re a nation and one common plan

Is what must develop Caribbean Man.


Let’s turn eyes inwards and scales from them shed,

See us as a people, and not that we’re wed

And fixed to some Mother, whom never can

We grow and develop Caribbean Man.


Not England nor China nor India nor Spain

Not Africa, Scotland nor France nor Bahrain

Can now be our Mother, that can’t be our plan.

We’re nobody’s child, we’re Caribbean Man


We have our own customs, traditions, folk lore,

Like Carnival, John Canoe, Big Drum and more

Anansi and Tigue, Lajabless and steel pan

A heritage rich of Caribbean Man


And pepper-pot, oil-down, ackra and bush tea

With foo-foo and jug-jug, bul-jhol and bodi

And ginger beer, sorrel, all foods that we can

Be proud are produced by Caribbean Man


Walcott, Louise Bennet, Rhone, Peters and Hill,

McBernie, Keens-Douglas and many more still,

In drama and poetry, dance, none better than

These greats, they’re the soul of Caribbean Man


Our foods and our culture are not second place

The’re unique and reflect our multiple race

We’re a nation, a wonderful blended clan

We’re special, we’re vibrant Caribbean Man


And why, in this climate, continue to try

To ape the ex-masters with jacket and tie.

That garb is for cold clime, can’t we find a plan

Of suitable dress for Caribbean Man ?


That may seem a small thing but symbols must be

The pointers which prove to our children that we

Are not orphan people who catch as they can

At standards to govern Caribbean Man.


We must know and teach, we’re a people by right,

We’re not bastard offspring in desperate plight,

Pretending we’re British or African clan

Ignoring the fact we’re Caribbean Man


Let’s shake off inertia, let’s find a new birth,

Let’s lift our heads high, recognize our own worth,

Our future awaits with unlimited span

Awake and move forward, Caribbean Man. !!!


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

One of the Caribbean’s best-known journalists, Alister Earl Hewitson Hughes was born in St George’s, Grenada on January 21, 1919. Mr. Alister Hughes was not as well-known for his poetry but he was a proud poet.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *