Culture


Altering the Soundscape of New York City

Altering the Soundscape of New York City

 

Author Danielle Brown reflects on Radio Station WLIB which provided the Soundtrack of her youth and more…. This extract was taken from her latest work, East of Flatbush, North of Love: An Ethnography of Home which will be featured in a Community Discussion in celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month on Tuesday June 13, 6.00 pm @ Medgar Evers College with Roger Toussaint, former president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100, Dr. Lawrence Waldron, City College, CUNY and, the author, Dr. Danielle Brown.

Dr. Brown reflects on Radio Station WLIB which provided the Soundtrack of her youth and more. This extract was taken from her latest work, East of Flatbush, North of Love: An Ethnography of Home.

…..

“This is D. Brown rocking the mic for you. Caller, can I take your request? Hello?”

“Hello?”

“Hello. Yes. Caller, you’re on the air. Can I take your request?”

“Yes. Dis is Marcia. I want yuh tuh play ‘Ah Home’ by Iwer George, and I wanna send ah shout out to Mammy, Stacy, and Brian back home in Tunapuna. Big up TnT massive!”

“Ok. Thank you, Marcia, for calling in. Yes. Big up to all of Trinidad and Tobago and to the entire West Indian massive! Marcia, here is your request, and you know anywhere soca playin’, ‘Ah home!’”

* * *

Danielle Brown at May 14 book signing

A lot of the music that David and I listened to at home came from the radio, and Caribbean music was no different. Popular stations, like 98.7 Kiss FM, that mostly aired R&B and hip-hop dedicated some air time each week to playing Caribbean music. But perhaps the strongest radio presence for Caribbean music during my youth was WLIB 1190 AM, which specifically catered to the West Indian community. It was through this radio station that one could hear the voices of the West Indian diaspora in New York City.

Through WLIB we listened to much more than just music. In the early 2000s, I started studying the station and noting various aspects of its programming. The station aired talk shows and commercials for products and events catering to the needs of West Indians living in the city. WLIB advertised health-conscious events, such as walks for prostate cancer, as well as programs for budding entrepreneurs, like those offered by the Small Business and Development Center at Baruch College. There were frequent promotions for popular Caribbean nightclubs, like the Elite Ark, and advertisements for Travelspan, a travel agency specializing in trips to and from the West Indies. Major corporations such as Burger King, JC Penney, and First Republic Mortgage Bank sought to broaden their clientele base by advertising to a West Indian audience via the station and using (with the exception of JC Penney) persons with unequivocally West Indian accents as the speakers in their commercials.

In many ways, WLIB was crucial in crystallizing the West Indian community in New York. DJs would implicitly define the community by the music they played and the islands they would “big up” (or shout out) on the air. Musical programming played a vital role in creating bonds (or breaking them) within the West Indian community. There were times when, as a young girl, I felt that WLIB did not play enough calypso and soca, and that my heritage was being marginalized in favor of reggae and dance-hall, a sentiment that was echoed by others.

My friend Tiffany, whose father is Trinidadian and mother Honduran, once told me she used to feel slighted by WLIB’s programming:

When WLIB used to play more…specifically Jamaican music, you know…I used to be like sitting there just waiting to hear some…music from my country and it would be…one in between four reggae songs.

However, I should note that WLIB’s programming became more inclusive over the years and consisted of music not only from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, but also St. Vincent, Grenada, and Haiti as well. WLIB even began including a program—“Indo-Caribbean Today” with Amit Parasnath—dedicated to the East Indian community, which aired every Sunday morning from eight to ten. In many ways, the station grew to reflect the changing dynamics of the West Indian community in New York City.

While the music disseminated via WLIB helped to create bonds between different members of the West Indian community in New York, there were other aspects of the station’s programming that helped to foster a sense of community. WLIB provided broadcasts to and from several West Indian countries, allowing listeners to hear live radio from their respective homelands and communicate with loved ones back “home.” Listeners who called in to the radio program were able to send greetings and messages to family members living in their country of origin. Being able to communicate with loved ones was extremely important for many listeners, as talking to loved ones via the radio offset the cost of calling home directly, which in those days had the potential to be extremely expensive.

Equally important to listeners was the ability to receive up-to-date news information from their respective home countries, as well as general news information from the West Indies. Tiffany said she liked WLIB in part because “as the day progresses, you actually get to hear international news, or news with a specifically West Indian perspective, which makes me feel a little closer to home. You know what I mean? It gives me a feeling of nostalgia.”

Together, the musical and non-musical aspects of WLIB, as well as those of several pirated stations that emerged over the years catering to the West Indian community, served to create a space where West Indians in New York could feel connected to their native lands from the privacy of their own homes. The music and information flowing from these stations contributed to altering the soundscape of New York City, bringing immigrants and first-generation Americans closer to “home.” These radio stations created an environment that allowed many West Indian immigrants to simultaneously inhabit multiple spaces. For example, West Indians who live “ah foreign” could metaphorically occupy the space of their homelands through music, despite the reality that many would never be able to return home again.

Fortunately for me, my parents had their “papers,” which meant they could leave the country freely without fear of being barred from re-entering. My father would only return to Trinidad once during my childhood, and I was almost thirty years old before we touched Trinidad soil at the same time. However, my mom made several trips to Trinidad during my youth, taking my brother and me on several of them. It was important that we learned about the land of her birth.

East of Flatbush, North of Love, is available for purchase at www.mypeopletellstories.com


Book Discussion on a Pioneering Work on a Caribbean-American Enclave of Brooklyn

MUSIC SCHOLAR’S NEW BOOK HAS A SOUNDTRACK, READS LIKE A NOVEL, AND CLEVERLY TEACHES READERS WHAT THEY NEVER LEARNED IN SCHOOL ABOUT THE LEGACY OF COLONIALISM.

What happens when a Brooklyn-born and bred music scholar of Trinidadian parentage decides to challenge academia and write a book her way? The result is East of Flatbush, North of Love: An Ethnography of Home, a clever and witty portrait of growing up in East Flatbush— a West Indian American neighborhood situated in the middle of Brooklyn—in the decades before gentrification. On Tuesday June 13, 6 p.m., in celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month, Medgar Evers College, School of Professional and Community Development in collaboration with the Caribbean Awareness Committee, presents a community discussion on this highly acclaimed memoir with a distinguished panel.

Written like a novel, but ripe with historical and ethnographic information, Dr. Danielle Brown—a NYU-trained ethnomusicologist and former Syracuse University professor— presents a story that is accessible to all. Although East Flatbush plays a starring role, the book pays homage to all the West Indian neighborhoods that have made up Central Brooklyn since the 1960s.

The author uses a wide variety of songs that form part of her cultural upbringing—from calypso to reggae to hip hop—as an educational tool to teach history and to illuminate how the legacy of colonialism and imperialism continues to impact people of color today.

About the book Roger Toussaint, former president of the Transport Workers Union, Local 100 and a member of the Caribbean Awareness Committee, notes, “As those obsessed with ruining America embrace and celebrate dystopia, it’s a pleasure to welcome Dr. Brown’s work as a subversive anthem that implicitly challenges the hallucinatory patter of our time. By recapturing the true spirit of that contested space she hoists aloft the banner of resistance against the galloping ‘social and economic invasion’.”

Additional praise for the book comes from Dr. Lawrence Waldron, City College, CUNY, author of Gypsy in the Moonlight and Handbook of Ceramic Animal Symbols in the Ancient Lesser Antilles: “Written from the viewpoint of a Brooklyn native, this is a contemplative and amusing first-person reflection on community and identity in the West Indian-American enclave of East Flatbush before the devastating gentrifications of the past decade and a half. Neither fiction nor straight biography, the evocatively written East of Flatbush, North of Love comes with tandem subjective and objective views on life in East Flatbush, and the rigorous supporting research that makes it An Ethnography of Home, as the author calls it in her subtitle. As the reader, you are well supplied with hard facts, historical dates, definitions, a running glossary of Trinidadian and other Caribbean idioms, and bibliographic (not to mention discographic) sources, all while you marvel at Brooklyn’s Caribbean cosmopolitanism, hum the tunes to all those transcribed songs, swallow hard through a delicious recipe or a bitter tragedy, thrill to a ghost story, wipe a tear at the loss of community, or laugh at a childhood adventure.”

And Toussaint, who will be moderating the discussion, adds, “Underlying this beguiling and deceptively simple work is a profound repudiation of eurocentrism and its practice of otherizing and objectifying people… Indeed, [this memoir] is a must read for our community and anyone interested in saving neighborhoods and uplifting our youth as it demonstrates how popular culture can be used as the engine for authentic self-education, activism, and change and renewal.”

This sonic trip–with Dr. Brown reading and singing her experience of life growing up as a West Indian-American in Brooklyn–on June 13, 6 p.m. @ Medgar Evers College’s Edison O. Jackson Auditorium, 1638 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, is free and open to the public. For information contact: Caribbean Awareness Committee at 718-532-6347.

East of Flatbush, North of Love can be purchased through the author’s website: http://www.mypeopletellstories.com/

 


Women’s Rights are Human Rights — Keisha-Gaye Anderson

March 8 is celebrated globally as International Women’s Day (IWD). Originally organized by the Socialist Party of America, the celebrations first took place in February 1909 and were called International Working Women’s Day.  Big Drum Nation is commemorating the occasion by posting women’s reflections on the struggle for equality.
Every year the celebrations embrace a special theme reflecting the urgency of the moment. This year, proceeding from the World Economic Forum’s prediction that the gender gap is unlikely to close entirely until 2186, the theme addresses this unacceptable state of gender inequity as a human rights urgency. Big Drum Nation joins IWD in the campaign to #BeBoldForChange following up on last year’s Pledge for Parity Campaign. It is a quest for women and girls to achieve their ambitions, challenge conscious and unconscious gender bias, push for gender balanced leadership, value women’s equality, encourage inclusive flexible cultures, and for more gender inclusiveness.
We asked Jamaican-born poet and writer Keisha-Gaye Anderson  what International Women’s Day means to her. Here’s her response:
“It is important that this day is earmarked to call attention to women’s issues worldwide. We are witnessing a very important shift in the movement for women’s equality, with the recent women’s marches all over the globe and organized efforts to push against legislation that would further marginalize women or dictate what they should/should not do with their bodies. Never before have we seen such broad awareness and acceptance of the notion that women’s rights are human rights. And given our interconnectedness via media and the internet, I see this movement only growing. In a sense, I liken this to humanity balancing itself to ensure it has a future on this planet. Under patriarchy, women everywhere have suffered so much, for so long, that injustices are calling out to be redressed. Genius is eager to be unleashed. Different ways of organizing society are ready to come to the fore. Human beings as a species cannot thrive while forcefully suppressing more than half of its population. In facing the necessary challenge of bringing about equality for women, may we all reach a higher, healing level of awareness with which to view our world, and each other.”

Keisha-Gaye Anderson is a Jamaican-born poet and creative writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of the poetry collection Gathering the Waters (Jamii Publishing, December 2014), which was accepted into the Poets House Library. Her writing has been published in a number of national literary journals, literary magazines and anthologies, including Writing the Caribbean, Renaissance Noire, The Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Mosaic Literary Magazine, African Voices Magazine, Streetnotes: Cross Cultural Poetics, Caribbean in Transit Arts Journal, The Mom Egg Review and othersShe is a past participant of the VONA Voices and Callaloo Creative Writing workshops, and was named a fellow by the North Country Institute for Writers of Color. Keisha has also been short listed for the Small Axe Literary Competition. She is a founding poet with Poets for Ayiti. Proceeds from their 2010 chapbook, For the Crowns of Your Heads, helped to rebuild Bibliotheque du Soleil, a library razed during the earthquake in Haiti. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The City College, CUNY and regularly leads writing workshops on CUNY campuses. Learn more about Keisha at www.keishagaye.com or at facebook.com/keishagayeanderson. Follow her on Twitter @KeishaGaye1 and Instragram @keishagayeanderson.

You can listen to some of her poems on Soundcloud

“Mask” – Keisha-Gaye Anderson

Bob Marley 1 : 0 Reggae Boys — Richard Grant

03/05/2017

Richard Grant

It is Pan-African, Pan-Caribbean, Pan-World. It is Pan Man. It endears Jamaica to the entire world; the essence of the Rastaman Bob Marley’s music and philosophy. It is One Love. The One Love ideal of social relations works well as a cultural and political construct. It is inclusive; a necessary myth for nation building, for positive international relations and for world peace, but it severely limits the goal average of Jamaica’s football team.

Let’s get to the point. Jamaicans need to make an important decision on February 6th 2017 about Bob Marley. Betta mus come.

The Reggae Boys team internalized this concept as its philosophy. This truth is a problem. One Love is a curse on the development of Jamaica’s football program. It was a serious blow to the aspirations of their fans to ‘repatriate’ to the motherland in 2010 for the Big Dance – the World Cup Competition in South Africa. Jamaica lost the prestige of the VIP designation it gained in 1998.

The successive failures to regain membership have been blamed on the ridiculous notions of poor planning and lack of vision by the Football Federation; terrible team selection, inexperienced coaching, nonexistent team chemistry, choosing international or foreign born players over locals, appalling organization, infrequent quality practice games prior to qualifying competition and even the absence of Usain Bolt from the squad. That is absurd.

“The great Brazilian teams of the past transformed the rhythms of their culture into a mesmerizing strategy that was destructive to their opponents’ resolve.” Frankly, the Samba analogy is trite and patronizing.

On the other hand, One Love is too deeply ingrained in Jamaican musical culture as a peaceful concept for it to acquire the deadly attributes of a weapon of war; a necessary condition for success in the arms race of the modern game of football. How ironic is it that Reggae music was such a tremendous source of inspiration for the South African revolution, yet the Reggae Boys are more deserving of the Noble Peace Prize than was president Obama.

Context: The genesis of the problem

Michael Manley, Bob Marley, Edward Seaga

“Oneness” a part of the collective consciousness since emancipation, is a symbol of confidence, perseverance, survival and primarily, hope. It is promoted as a unifying concept in the lie of our motto, “Out of many we are one.”

It is in our proverbs, “one, one coco full basket”, suggesting a progressively linear, deliberate economic, societal, and individual development. It plays a role in romance. “All mih want is one chance, putus”, a young man will plead with the object of his desire, confident that if allowed just one opportunity to prove himself, their lives will be happy forever; his partner’s, even more blissful than his. Why ask for only one chance though? How limiting? {Smh}.

Nigerian icon Fela Anikulapo Kuti

The psychology of Oneness preceded Bob Marley. However, he is singularly responsible for Jamaica’s One Love image around the world. A Nigerian taxi driver asked me once, “You from Bob Marley country?” I answered, “You from Fela Kuti country?”. We compared cultural notes for over an hour. He did not mind missing fares as a discussion about Bob, Jamaica and Reggae music was too interesting to abandon. He asked sarcastically if the Reggae Boys would ever return to the W.C., smiled, and started humming One Love. With a wink, he wished me good luck, and slowly drove away. How insightful was the connection between the Reggae Boys and One Love !

Context

The Reggae Boyz

Opposing teams come to The Office, as the national stadium located in Kingston, is called, full of confidence that they need to score only one goal to secure a win, or worse, to tie the game. Ironically, the enthusiastic, yet oblivious Jamaican fans will chant, “One Love.” The opposing team hears, “one heart. Let’s get together and feel all right”, as if the setting were a Peace Concert by the sea. What is the message to the defense? Should the forwards be saying “welcome to Jamaica? Be sure to visit the Bob Marley Museum before you leave our beautiful island. Don’t forget the souvenirs. Have you tried the best beer in CONCACAF?”

Football Diplomacy? Reggae Ambassadors?

It gives the impression that hosting a World Cup qualifying game, were a joint promotion by the JFF and the Jamaica Tourist Board. We should not forget the latter’s television commercial of the recent past, “Come back to the way things used to be.” The announcement then was, Make Jamaica great again! This scenario frames a confusing message which conditions the team to mediocrity and failure. It caps a limit on achievement. Who plays intentionally for only a 1:0 victory, unless it’s in the final minutes of a game? Begging putus for only one chance can be excused as age appropriate indiscretion of youth. Demanding One Love of a national football team is treason. Marley’s masterpiece applied in the wrong context; One Love’s unintended consequences.

Pan

Conclusion

The day of reckoning is February 6th , 2017. When I analyze this thing, the current state of the Jamaican football program, it makes a lot of sense that redemption will come only through a thorough rejection of One Love. Jamaicans should no longer deny the obvious. Even though unintentional, it stymied the development of Jamaica’s football. The critics of this proposal will shout, “ambush”, “blasphemy”. Their complaint is emotionally driven. “What do they know of football who only One Love know?”

Bob’s One Love, conditioned the team to fail. It is obvious that he would understand the need to denounce it. He was passionate about the game, and would not stand in the way. The supporters of the team, the Football Federation and the Jamaican people must come to terms with this alternative fact, and reconcile themselves to the necessity of a rebellion against their connection, conscious and unconscious, to the mental slavery of One Love in the context of football competition. Only Jamaicans can cure their own minds. Let’s celebrate a new Emancipation Day on Feb. 6th, 2017.

Long live Jamaican football!

Richard Grant is a freelance writer.

 


Happy Earthday to Brother Bob Marley, the Trench Town Messiah – Martin P. Felix

2017-02-06

Martin P. Felix

“Nathanael said to him, Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see‘. — John 1:46.

Like his biblical counterpart, Bob Marley took a socratic approach to unpack that recurring question loaded with upper class prejudice: “Can anything good come out of Trench Town?” and, with Philipian confidence, answered in the affirmative “…everyone see what’s taking place… / Another page in history.” And indeed it is.

Bob Marley was born on this day, February 6, 72 years ago in rural Nine Miles, Saint Ann, Jamaica but later moved to Trench Town where he spent his formative years. Today, Bob Marley is among the world’s most recognized icons, in the honorable company of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Che Guevara of Rosario, Argentina, and Frida Kalo of Coyoacán, Mexico.  Marley’s music is credited with inspiring numerous independence struggles around the world, providing a sound track of liberation movements and protests, as well as contributing to the personal intellectual development of many world leaders and activists. His artistry and magnetic personality continues to infect millions around the world even after his untimely death 35 years ago.

Bob’s contributions and legacy include his posthumous induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his album “Exodus” having been named Album of the Century by Time Magazine, and his song “One Love” being selected Song of the Millennium by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Marley’s album “Legend” has sold 250,000 copies annually, according to the Nielsen Sound Scan. In 1978, Marley received The United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World. The “Legend” album has surpassed 10 million copies since its release May 8, 1994. That same year, the album received its 10th Platinum Certification. Marley was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 2001. Robert Nester Marley is indeed everliving!

But perhaps the most fitting answer to the question “Can anything good come out of Trench Town?” was the Jamaican government honoring Bob Marley with the country’s highest award, the Order of Merit in 1981.

Clearly among the 20th century’s most prolific writers, philosophers, and charismatic personalities, Bob ‘flew away’ (a la “Rastaman Chant”) on May 11, 1981. This proverbial “stone that the builder refused” is now the global cornerstone of cultural resistance.

“…one man a-walkin’ / And a billion man a-sparkin’ “ – Bob Marley “Rastaman Live Up!”

Martin P. Felix is an editor and regular contributor to BigDrumNation.

 


Sir Alister McIntyre, “The Caribbean Man” – Winthrop R. Holder [3 of 3]

2017/01/28

Preparing UWI for the Challenges of the 21st Century: An Interview with Vice Chancellor Sir Alister McIntyre [**Reprint**]

Link to part 1

Link to part  2

“If we don’t know from where we comin’ / Then we cyah plan where we goin”.

– Black Stalin, Caribbean Unity (1979)

The Caribbean and the Wider World: Commentaries on My Life and Career

Born in St. Georges, Grenada, Sir Meredith Alister McIntyre is considered one of the Caribbean’s eminent thought shapers and academicians. This highly celebrated Caribbean integrationist and internationalist has served the Caribbean in various capacities, representing the region in a wide range of international forums.

The December 12, 2016 launch of Sir McIntyre’s book, The Caribbean And The Wider World: Commentaries on My Life and Career, has come with great anticipation because of the reservoir of experience he is expected to share. It is also a moment when the region is in dire need of self-reflection. The book chronicles the wide range of Mr. McIntyre’s celebrated career in academia, regionalism and multilateral cooperation. Sir McIntyre assumed the role of Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (Mona, Jamaica) in 1988 serving in this capacity for 10 years.

As a precursor to a review of this timely book, Big Drum Nation hereby publishes the final segment of the interview between Sir McIntyre and Winthrop Holder of the N.Y. Daily Challenge during Sir McIntyre’s stint as VC of the University of the West Indies. This final segment, which is even more relevant today, was published on August 14, 1995. – BDN

The Interview

‘Not sun, sand and calypso’

In this, the final segment of a three-part interview, Sir Alister McIntyre, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, outlines the 21st century vision for the university which includes cementing ties with the United Negro College Fund and increased collaboration with other universities. In addition to highlighting the success of the university’s Distance learning Facility, which reaches satellite campuses in 14 English-speaking Caribbean nations, Sir Alister also comments on the changing landscape of Caribbean society and call s for a new contract between citizens and their communities. Winthrop R. Holder conducted the interview for the [NY] Daily Challenge.

Holder: In order to facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas and the infusion of new approaches, to what extent does the university employ people who are non-UWI graduates and encourage student and faculty exchanges with foreign institutions?

McIntyre: About 80% of the university is West Indian. And more than half of that 80% did their graduate work outside because our graduate programs are quite small. But as a matter of policy, we want to send people for graduate work outside for at least part of their graduate work—it might be the post-work component. We are developing split PHDs whereby a graduate student can do some of his post-work at UWI and go somewhere else to complete their post work and the foreign institution co-supervise the work. We have quite a number of exchange arrangements in place already. In Canada we have a very good one with the University of Toronto. Here in the States, we had one with John Hopkins University in History, now it’s a bit dormant. But it very much depends on the individual department. So we want to systematize this and negotiate cooperating arrangements that will more or less apply across the board.

 

Holder: Have any relations been developed with historically Black Colleges?

McIntyre: We are developing arrangements with the United Negro College Fund–the historically Black Colleges. And we are working with a number of them, particularly with Selma College, where we have student and faculty exchanges in the area of women’s studies. We are also working with Medgar Evers College and Texas A&M. And we’ve always done work with Howard University.

Holder: In what other areas of study has this been done?

McIntyre: We have done it in engineering and social sciences and even education. I think that’s the way to go. We are joining a lot of networks.

Holder: Can you explain the University’s Distance learning Facility and its success or failure to date?

McIntyre: The Distance Learning facility essentially involves the transmission of teaching programs and a certain amount of professional activity via satellite. This is still one of the most successful programs in the university. On the teaching side, we are now teaching first-year programs and mid-level programs like certificates, diplomas—a wide variety of fields. The registration for these is very substantial. As a matter of fact, we are thinking now—once we have laid the technology—we would bring to video teleconferencing. We hope, within the next 10 – 18 months to take it to the second year. And we might eventually put an entire degree program on the system.

Holder: Are there any drawbacks to distance learning?

McIntyre: What happens, of course, is that students do the first year on the University of the West Indies Distance Teaching Enterprise (UWIDITE) facility and they come on campus for the other years. And we have watched the performance of those students who started on distance in a variety of fields […]  Of course, a number of the distance students are more mature, so we have to bear that in mind..  

Holder: Has the application of the new technology led to connections with other universities? And how will this impact on enrollment and cost?

McIntyre: We are studying the feasibility of operating a 24-hour educational channel with three other universities n Latin America. We can’t use up 20 hours of online time. But if everybody takes the equivalence of six hours, we would be able to use educational television right through the region and beam it into Latin America.

The new technologies offer us enormous opportunities for increasing access to higher education and, of course, cutting the cost of higher education, which is very substantial. The cost of a UWI place is 50 times that of a place in a primary school. So one has to realize what we are dealing with. It’s a very expensive form of education. It gets more expensive because higher education is being globalized and academic staff is very mobile.

Holder: What percentage of the cost of education do students pay?

Marry show House, UWI’s Open Campus in Grenada provides public service, outreach activities, research and continuing education programming

McIntyre: They pay 16%. What we are doing is backing that up with a student loan program. And certainly in Jamaica—I am not sure what happens elsewhere—students can borrow on their own surety [but] a student coming from the lower income sector doesn’t have that choice.  And if they opt to go into a career of higher social priority, the government will rebate the payments of their loans for the years of service. For example, if they go into teaching, for every year in that profession, the government picks up their annual repayment.

Holder: What allowances are made for students who have the academic ability but may lack the financial resources?

McIntyre: The process works like this: In all of the countries we advertise places-for law or whatever. Then we send a list of those students who have been accepted to individual governments who would take up 85% of tuition. Then we arrange for them to go to banks and negotiate a loan for the [remaining] 15%. Students have to find funds for clothes, food, books and so on. We are trying to do two things: First, we are trying to get companies to give bursaries and link it to vacation employment… And, secondly we are trying to do something that we haven’t done much of; campus employment—[although] the students themselves are very hesitant… In Jamaica, about 40% of our students are from households below the poverty line…  We have been doing a lot of detailed studies of that. So we need to address this in a more substantial way.

Student Assessment

Holder: What benefit are there to American students studying in the Caribbean?

McIntyre: I think they would be exposed to a much more different cultural setting than they would experience in the United States. We have tended in the past—although we are moving away from that—to follow the British system. Which means that every course you do you do a certain amount of lectures and a certain amount of tutorials… That is a very labor intensive way of teaching. So we might have to back away from it. We are doing that already. We don’t use the multiple choice system as heavily as American universities do. We have to mark a lot of scripts. On the other hand, it gives students a much better exposure to writing.

Holder: I hope your response spelling out the rigorous nature of the requirements doesn’t deter American students from considering UWI…

McIntyre: Well, I don’t want to portray a sun, sand, and calypso image and stuff like that. That’s there, of course. But we are a serious institution. So if you are a serious student, you are expected to work as everybody has to. It’s a good type of melting pot of people and it would be a new experience for foreign students.

Holder: What is the cost of tuition and board?

McIntyre: In the liberal arts, I would assume about $1,000 a semester.

Holder: What were the major recommendations of the West Indian Commission with respect to education?

McIntyre: I’ll tell you the one that really satisfied me. I am very satisfied with the Commission’s work. But the one that really satisfied me was at the last Heads of Government Conference; they agreed that with effect from January 1, 1996, all graduates would enjoy freedom of movement in the Caribbean. That’s a big plus for us.

Holder: Have governments become more tolerant of radical/activist faculty? Remember the expulsion of the late Walter Rodney from Jamaica…

McIntyre: In the 1970s we had a lot of problems. Today, there isn’t as much active political activity. When I left the university in 1972 during lunchtime there were political groups everywhere. When I came back—and I’m not terribly happy with this situation—and I saw all these lunchtime groups, I asked: “What parties are these? Political parties?” They were religious groups. The evangelists have taken over, particularly among women. I am worried about this because one of them tends to discourage [female] students from continuing their studies. That worries me a lot.

University of the West Indies’ (UWI) lecturer and historian Dr. Walter Rodney

Holder: What account for the seeming depoliticization of students and the populace at large?

McIntyre: The whole environment has changed. First of all, there is a widespread misbelieve and mistrust in government. The governments are really on the downside. Secondly, and I don’t particularly care for this either—students, like the rest of society are extremely materialistic. Their focus is on job, car, house, clothes…. Spare a thought for the community where you live!

I was telling some colleagues the other day who were talking about finding rich husbands: “Look for poor husbands who are rich in values; not rich husbands who are poor in values” Thai is the problem we face.

Holder: Any special message for the Caribbean community?

McIntyre: We are very much counting upon the Caribbean community in the U.S. to help us through this transition period.

Holder: In what concrete ways can the community help?

McIntyre: You are accumulating a lot of experience about what is going on in the United States, how the U.S. is changing. And you must have your own thoughts of how an area like the Caribbean must respond to changes. That is one thing. Secondly, take an interest in the university and its activities. Encourage your children and relatives to come down and take a few summer courses. And wherever you find it possible, send some financial support. It’s your university after all.

CHANCELLORS
HRH Princess Alice 1950-71
Sir Hugh Wooden 1971-74
Sir Allen Lewis 1974-89
Sir Shridath Ramphal 1989-03
Sir George Alleyne 2003-16
VICE-CHANCELLORS
Sir Arthur Lewis 1960-63
Sir Philip Sherlock 1963-69
Sir Roy Marshall 1969-74
Ashton Preston 1974-86
Sir Alister McIntyre 1988-98
Hon Rex Nettleford 1998-04
E. Nigel Harris 2004-15
Sir Hilary Beckles 2015-Present

Winthrop R. Holder

A New York City educator, Holder has written extensively on Caribbean cultural pedagogy. He is the author of  Classroom Calypso: Giving Voice to the Voiceless (Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2007)


Sir Alister McIntyre, “The Caribbean Man” – Winthrop R. Holder [2 of 3]

2017-01-25

Preparing UWI for the Challenges of the 21st Century: An Interview with Vice Chancellor Sir Alister McIntyre [**Reprint**]

Link to part 1

“If we don’t know from where we comin’ / Then we cyah plan where we goin”.

– Black Stalin, Caribbean Unity (1979)

The Caribbean and the Wider World: Commentaries on My Life and Career

Born in St. Georges, Grenada, Sir Meredith Alister McIntyre is considered one of the Caribbean’s eminent thought shapers and academicians. This highly celebrated Caribbean integrationist and internationalist has served the Caribbean in various capacities, representing the region in a wide range of international forums.

The December 12, 2016 launch of Sir McIntyre’s book, The Caribbean And The Wider World: Commentaries on My Life and Career,  has come with great anticipation because of the reservoir of experience he is expected to share. It is also a moment when the region is in dire need of self-reflection. The book chronicles the wide range of Mr. McIntyre’s celebrated career in academia, regionalism and multilateral cooperation. Sir McIntyre assumed the role of Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (Mona, Jamaica) in 1988 serving in this capacity for 10 years.

As a precursor to a review of this timely book, Big Drum Nation hereby publishes the second segment of the interview between Sir McIntyre and Winthrop Holder of the N.Y. Daily Challenge during Sir McIntyre’s stint as VC of the University of the West Indies. This segment, which is even more relevant today, was published on August 7, 1995. – BDN

“The Interview: Engaging the Wider World”

All too often, the innovative work done by the university is beyond the view of the public. Sometimes because of the parcelization of knowledge, even graduates are only familiar with their narrow field of interest. This needs to be corrected. In this the second part of the tree-part article, Sir Alister McIntyre, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, talks candidly with Winthrop R. Holder of the Daily Challenge about the regional impact of the University.

Holder: How has the university influenced the Caribbean? It has produced about six Prime Ministers….

McIntyre: Seven. Our latest count is seven. We just got two more: Edison James (of Dominica) and Denzil Douglas of St. Kits-Nevis. [PS. Today the count stands at 20 present or former prime ministers and presidents who were graduates of UWI].

Holder: But beyond having educated prime ministers, how would you assess the impact and reach of the university?

McIntyre: The Cabinets of the Caribbean are full of graduates and, graduates, increasingly are leading the private sector. If you go into the financial sector in Jamaica, for instance, it is littered with graduates at the level of CEO’s, senior vice presidents and so on. We produce 97% of the regions teachers; we produce [most] of the doctors, practically 90% of the engineers, etc. So we are having a very substantial impact by way of producing the leadership of the region in a numbers of sectors. I do not think that any committee, council, or commission—irrespective of what the subject matter is—can be set up in the region today without at least one person from the university.

Holder: Have the graduates been very successful in addressing the problems of the region? How would you rate your graduates?

McIntyre: I do not think there is any doubt about the quality of our graduates, if you judge them by the international accreditation that they receive. UWI is the only medical school outside of Britain whose graduates are fully registrable in the United Kingdom and in Europe—we are the only one. In the United States, our graduates have had no difficulty going into residency. None. I have never heard of any problems of a UWI graduate having difficulty getting into American graduate schools. So I don’t think we have a problem in that respect.

INNOVATIVENESS

Holder: To what extent has, the university and its graduates developed innovative approaches and programs to address the needs of the region…

McIntyre: Innovativeness always comes from a small number of individuals, or small groups. But look at what we have done in medical research: we have scored very highly in the whole business of mental development and nutrition. We have [developed] techniques to [address developmentally challenged] children and those are being used overseas. Right now, we are setting up a project in Bangladesh, financed by the Japanese government, to try to see if we can address that issue there. The Japanese are using it in the Korean community that was having this problem. We have scored very highly in sickle cell anemia. We were the first group to establish that it is not a disease peculiar to African people. We found it in the Mediterranean, Greece, Turkey, India, etc., and this has changed the whole perspective about the disease. We find institutions in Europe now having sickle cell anemia on their research agenda. We are now on the relationship between a particular type of virus and leukemia. We also found something, Jamaican neuropathy. It was a form of neuropathy, but couldn’t be explained. And from that work it led us into new areas of research. So in medicine we have done well.

Holder:  Other areas….

McIntyre: We have done very well in the field of comparative literature. Afterall, look at the people we have produced—Derek Walcott being the outstanding example. We have done very well in the field of heritage studies and history. We are regarded as the center of Caribbean history.

We have done a lot of work in the field of engineering. We have produced some very innovative software—I think in practically every field you can think of—in the social sciences, education, whatever, there are people producing and creating new knowledge, or new applications of existing knowledge. I do not think we have any problems to worry about in that field.

Holder: Has the economics department been as successful as other departments? How would you assess the contributions of the New World Group of which you were a member?

McIntyre: Well, I do not think that their policy prescriptions were very useful. Most economists are not fully useful in that respect. I think that one thing we did was to create much greater awareness of the role of the Caribbean in the outside world, which had not been the case before. When I went to Mona (Jamaica) in 1960 to take up a lectureship, I was amazed at the myopia that existed in the [economics] department. People did not see themselves as part of a wider world. And when it became necessary for the Caribbean to negotiate the first Lome Convention—I am not beating my chest—but I was the only in the region at the time who knew what it was all about. I had to spend 17 months working with delegates (from other developing countries) because they had to start from scratch and we had to bring them along.

So, the economics department has done, I would say, reasonable well although I’ve been disconnected from its work for about 20 years. Let me correct something: I was never a part of the New World Group. I do not know where the idea came from. I only wrote one article for its journal.

Holder: Apart from the Lome Convention, what other international issues did you focus on?

McIntyre: In 1977, I was in Geneva thinking about global problems.

Holder: The New International Order dissipated into nothing…

McIntyre: Yes, in the 1970s I spent a lot of my time on the New International Economic Order. It collapsed like a pack of cards.

SOCIAL POLICY

Holder: What has the university done in the area of social sector research?

McIntyre: The social sector policy group is doing very well. We have just completed a series of studies on poverty for the World Bank, which has influenced their thinking about poverty. One of the things that many of the international agencies assumed was that poverty was uniquely correlated with employment and that poverty was concentrated among the unemployed. We have shown that the highest incidence of poverty is among the employed. The highest incidence of poverty is among the female low-income earners who are heads of households and earn particularly low wages, whether they are in domestic service or in apparel, or whatever it is. [A] large proportion of the unemployed receive remittances from people abroad and their disposable income sometimes is higher than the employed. This is a reason, perhaps, why they are not employed because the so-called reserve price of labor is rather high for males but not for females. Therefore, we have done an agenda analysis of the employment problem and have changed the whole attitude of anti-poverty programs. So in the field of social sector policy, we have—I think—had quite an impact.

I led a mission on socio-economic performance in Trinidad a couple of years ago, and we recommended large-scale improvements in the social sector. One of the things I suggested was a community development find, which would fund small-scale projects for neighborhoods improvement. And the World Bank and the InterAmerican Bank contribute (US) $20 million.

Winthrop R. Holder

A New York City educator, Holder has written extensively on Caribbean cultural pedagogy. He is the author of Classroom Calypso: Giving Voice to the Voiceless (Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2007)

 

 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of 3 (Saturday, January 28)

Sir Alister McIntyre, “The Caribbean Man” – Winthrop R. Holder [1 of 3]

2017-01-22

Preparing UWI for the Challenges of the 21st Century [**Reprint**]

The Caribbean and the Wider World: Commentaries on My Life and Career

“If we don’t know from where we comin’ / Then we cyah plan where we goin”.

– Black Stalin, Caribbean Unity (1979)

Born in St. Georges, Grenada, Sir Meredith Alister McIntyre is considered one of the Caribbean’s eminent thought shapers and academicians. This highly celebrated Caribbean integrationist and internationalist has served the Caribbean in various capacities, representing the region in a wide range of international forums.

The December 12, 2016 launch of Sir McIntyre’s book, The Caribbean And The Wider World: Commentaries on My Life and Career, has come with great anticipation because of the reservoir of experience he is expected to share. It is also a moment when the region is in dire need of self-reflection. The book chronicles the wide range of Mr. McIntyre’s celebrated career in academia, regionalism and multilateral cooperation. Sir McIntyre assumed the role of Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (Mona, Jamaica) in 1988 serving in this capacity for 10 years.

As a precursor to a review of this timely book, Big Drum Nation hereby publishes the first segment of a three part interview between Sir McIntyre and Winthrop Holder of the N.Y. Daily Challenge during Sir McIntyre’s stint as VC of the University of the West Indies. This segment, which is even more relevant today,  was published on July 31, 1995. – BDN

The Interview: Building a Nexus of Partnerships

Holder: What is the state of the Caribbean [economy] and how does this affect the university?

Sir Alister McIntyre: We are in a state of contraction because we are trying to prepare ourselves for the momentous period ahead–momentous both for the Caribbean and, of course, in a wider global setting. The Caribbean countries are going through some very profound changes both in their economies and in the international setting in which they have–because of international trading sectors, agriculture, sugar, banana; even petroleum and bauxite–very limited growth potential. They are not dead, but they do not promise a great deal for the future.  So, that the tasks facing the Caribbean countries now are to find new lines of activity and, to a certain degree, to modernize the activities that are already in existence.

Both tasks require a greater acquisition of knowledge in the production process than has been the case up to now.

Holder:  How does the university intend to facilitate this process?

McIntyre: Yes, the university has a role to play. We have to play it in two ways: First, we have to increase our output of graduates in the relevant fields and, secondly, we have to enlarge the knowledge base for economic development. That essentially involves a much greater level of activity in the field of research and development. At the moment, research and development are miniscule proportions.

In the last estimate for Jamaica, only 1/8 of 1% of the gross domestic products is devoted to research and development. When countries are spending less than 3% on research and development, they are doing very badly—the Asian tigers are up to 5%. Therefore, we have not simply to achieve a statistic, but to really develop a much greater stock of knowledge [about] economic development. In agriculture for instance, this involves much greater appreciation of biotechnology than we have done so far.

In tourism, we have to modernize the tourist sector, increase the range of attraction and make it more environmentally sustainable. All of these things require knowledge. Therefore, that is one part of it.

Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, in conversation with Sir Alister McIntyre, author of “The Caribbean and the Wider World”.

Holder: The question then becomes one of funding: Given the contraction of Caribbean economies where will the increased funding come from?

McIntyre: We did a simulation of what would be the likely proportion of funding that would accrue to the university in the period ahead. We made three assumptions: First, the economies would not grow on average by more than3% a year; Second, that we would get the share of education in the budget up to about 15%–it’s now and average of 13%; so we would get increases in the share of the public budget going to education. In addition, finally, we assume we have to double, in real terms, per capita expenditure on primary education. We do not need to get into that. However, the need there is so acute that we thought that a doubling in per capita was necessary. Then we keep the percentage of secondary education constant; and once those assumptions were inserted, it became evident that the share of public budget, in both relative and absolute terms for university education, would go down.

In other words, we are facing a situation where there is mounting demand for higher education and the work that higher education institutions can do, but decelerating possibilities of increasing the amount of public money that can go into education.

Holder: This raises the issue of private funding and relatedly, is not there perhaps a concomitant need for more innovative approaches of managing the existing allocations to the university…

McIntyre: Certainly, the university has to make itself more cost-recoverable in its work: Namely, we have to develop profit centers and self-financing activities. Moreover, we have to be extremely aggressive in mobilizing outside resources for our work. We are doing this in the Caribbean by, of course, focusing principally on the private sector and alumnus.

We have begun to make some progress, certainly in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. And, of course, we are mobilizing resources from outside the region. That means official donors–The International Development Bank and bilateral donors like the USA, Canada and Japan. These countries are cutting their budgets, so those prospects are not very good. There are also the Caribbean communities in the United Sates, alumni and foundations and corporations interested in the Caribbean.

Holder: Is this a new thrust? If not, how successful has any previous effort been?

McIntyre: In the past, we focused largely on official sources. When we developed our development plans in 1990, we ‘guesstimated’ that we needed U.S. $300 million over the nine-year period. So we decided to try to raise US $100m every three years. We raised $101m, of which $37m was in the form of grants, which we got from a number of sources like foundations and similar types of organizations and bilateral donors. In addition, we raised $65m in the form of loans: $56m from the Inter-American Development Bank—all loans at very good terms. A very significant blanket, but still it is debt, and one has to be careful that an institution as ours does not build up a very substantial overhang of indebtedness. So this time, with the second hundred million we are going for will be official assistance to the extent that we can get. We are relying much more on private support for the remainder.

Holder: So at present, the university is developing a strong footing, both economically and structurally in moving into the 21st century…

McIntyre: We have to. We have no choice. Moreover, we have to focus on our critical problems facing the region that additionally will have a greater impact. And related to that, we have to build up a whole nexus of partnerships and networks with outside institutions and outside companies and so on—both as a way of projecting our activities into the wider world, and also as a way of earning some financial support for the university—whether through consultancy income or whatever it is.  So, I think this is really the challenge we face in the world. This is much more difficult than negotiating with a multilateral institution. However, cumbersome it might be, it is an easier job to do, because we know that job. This one we are just learning.

Winthrop R. Holder

A New York City educator, Holder has written extensively on Caribbean cultural pedagogy. He is the author of Classroom Calypso: Giving Voice to the Voiceless (Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2007)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of 3 (Wednesday, January 25)

IN CARRIACOU: THE LONG-AWAITED MOTHER AND CHILD RE-MEETING, SEPTEMBER 27-30, 2016

grenada-sierra-leone

 

 

 

 

(part 2 of 2)

Caldwell Taylor

 

Home is the place where , when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

-Robert Frost

Our drum is the shortest route to Africa, and the Big Drum ritual signifies the unity of

Carriacou’s nine African nations. In order of precedence the nations are: Arada (Rada), Cromati, Igbo, Manding, Temne, Kongo, Chamba, Moko, Banda.

The Temne, Number Five in the Big Drum circle,will celebrate a historic reunion in Carriacou, September 27 to 30. The occasion promises to overcome the pain of centuries of separation.; this sacred  re-meeting will grow our faith in our ancestors and also  in our nation.

carriacou

What is a Nation?

This is truly a macco question. It is so big it compelled the intellectual energies of Frenchman Ernest Renan . In his celebrated 1888 essay “What is a Nation?”, Renan writes: “The essence of a nation is that all individuals have many things in common, and also that they have forgotten many things”.

So the Nation is the site of a strategic loss of memory.

Renan’s important inquiry came fifteen years following France’s crushing defeat at the hands of the Prussian-Germans in the war of 1871 -1872. The Prussian victory hastened the birth of a German nation.

The story of nation-making begins in the seventeenth century; perhaps nation-making helped to incite the struggles that kindled the Thirty Years`War [1618-1648] which came to an end in the Treaty of Westphalia.

The Peace of Westphalia ushered in a rapid decline of the powers of the Church,  opening the way for a secular congregation – the nation state.

In the name of the nation-state the New World was plundered. The nation-state inaugurated `Negro slavery’, and the Church gave generous assistance to the colonizing missions.

mcdaniel-big_drum

 

FRENCH DEFEAT AND THE COMMUNE

The French defeat at the hands of the Germans provided the conditions for the rise of the Paris Commune, a radical and revolutionary government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871.


“The Commune was the world’s first socialist working class uprising,” and it warmed Karl Marx’s revolution-seeking heart.

But the Commune did not go to Marx’s logical destination ; indeed Marx’s world -changing prophecy- international proletarian rule- remains unfulfilled. This failure has  caused political theorist of nationalism Tom Nairn to write: “The theory of nationalism represents Marxism’s great historical failure”.

Nairn’s  observation attains greater force in 1979 when two Marxist countries (China and Vietnam) went to war.

Nationhood  is fortress of emotions

“What is a nation? “

Winston Fleury, Carriacou’s Big Drum icon

“The nation exists before all, it is the origin of everything. Its will is always legal, it is the law itself”, wrote Abbe Sieyes, priest and French patriot.

Sieyes’ opinion seems a restatement of Spinoza’s views on the nation in the Tractatus. Arguably the leading thinker of the Enlightenment,  Spinoza wrote: “There is no doubt that devotion to country is the highest form of piety a man can show; for once the State [he means nation – ct] is destroyed nothing good can survive”. 

Hugh Seton Watson asserts that the Nation eludes definition, “yet the phenomenon has existed and exists.”

The Concept of Nation: Lorna McDaniel, The Big Drum Ritual of Carriacou,

Praisesongs in Rememory of Flight

“In written documents of the eighteenth century the evasive term nation appears frequently. The word essential to the ideal of the Big Drum, also appears in the oral literature and vernacular Carriacouns to this day. Operating within two systems, basically, a nation denotes not only a geographical region but a linguistic/ethic group as well.”

praisesongforthewidow

Benedict Anderson: “The nation “is an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.”

And let us also remember that there once a time in Grenada when the word nation was often heard. But my great-grand mother and her partisans used the word to describe a family, or sometimes a village.

Example: “Dem Chantimelle people is a warrior nation”.

This concept of nation was almost always used to say something negative. This negativity will hinder our work of nation-making.

 

WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE?

Below, the view of Carriaouan Lebert Joseph, a shopkeeper in Paule Marshall`s Praise for the Widow:

“I’s a Chamba! From my father’s side of the family”, Lebert told Avey, an American visitor to the island. Assuming that all black people were aware of their specific ethnic identities, Lebert turned to Avey and asked: “What is your nation?” Is you Arada? Cromanti maybe?” Yarriba? Moko?” Is you a Manding like my mother, maybe?” (Paule Marshall, Praise for the Widow,1983:167)

Lebert’s interrogation and Avey’s puzzlement remind this writer of one of the more dramatic dialogues in George Lamming’s “In the Castle of My Skin“:

 

‘I like it’, I said. ‘That was really very beautiful’.

You know the voice?” Trumper asked. He was

very serious now. I tried to recall whether I might

have heard it. I couldn’t. ‘Paul Robeson’, he said.

One of the greats o’ my people.’What people?”

I asked. I was a bit puzzled. “My people’, said

Trumper. His tone was insistent. Then he softened

into a smile. I didn’t know whether he was smiling

at my ignorance, or whether he was smiling his

satisfaction with the box and the voice and above

all Paul Robeson.’Who are your people?’ I asked .

It seemed a kind of huge joke.’The Negro race’, said

Trumper. The smile had left his face, and his manner

had turned grave again… He knew I was puzzled…

 

castle-lammingAt first I thought he meant the village. This allegiance

was something bigger. I wanted to understand it….

(Lamming, 1953: 331)

 

 

To live is to belong . The individual is a page in the sacred Book of Belonging.

A nation is a  Bigdrum; it is the dance around the mythic navel of our world.    The Nation nurtures its roots; it remembers its routes.

 

September 23, 2016


BAI BUREH’S PEOPLE COME HOME TO CARRIACOU: “FOR TRUE, TIME IS REALLY LONGER THAN ROPE”

[Part 1 or 2]

By Caldwell Taylor

Bai Bureh (1840-1908) was the fearless Temne fighter who led the 1898 war against British colonialism in Northern Sierra Leone, and, no joke, in the course of his fight he offered a one thousand pound reward for the capture of the British Governor of the territory! The offer was proclaimed in response to the Governor’s call for Bureh’s capture; this call came with a one hundred pound sterling bounty to anyone who provided information that led to the capture of the rebel leader. Bureh was finally taken and was exiled. The hero returned to his country in 1903, and he died in 1908.

bai-bureh-b

Photograph of Bai Bureh, National Hero Of Sierra Leone

Death does not kill the hero: Indeed immortality is the hero’s rich recompense.

The hero makes history; and history has curious ways of doing the hero’s bidding.

The hero is a messenger. The hero is the emblem of what the mass makes inevitable.

Historical inevitability sails to a historic meeting in Carriacou– a sun-parched island that

has made more history than it could knead.

bf8a74b02c93e81b428559af84df7e25

World Renowned Carriacou Artist Canute Caliste

Carriacou made Canute Caliste (1914-2005); May Fortune (1909-1973); Ferguson “Sugar” Adams (1891-1983); and also “Mas’ Fred” F.B. Paterson, plantation owner (Belvedere), legislator, and according to historian Gordon K. Lewis (1919-1991), an “avowed socialist.”

Governor David Alexander Paterson has strong and deep roots in Carriacou. David was the first African-American Governor of New York State. David’s father, Basil (1926-2014), was a widely-known New York labor lawyer and politician. Basil was the first African-American Secretary of State of New York, and the first -African American Vice-Chair of the National Democratic Party. Basil’s father came from Carriacou, to New York back in 1917.

The name “Carriacou” cradles the memory of a martyred people, the so-called Caribs.

Carriacou is Kayryouacou, the Carib-named “island of many reefs.”carriacou_cmpsd_20

Over in Grenada, the Caribs fought to preserve their independence. This fight continued to a precipice where the Caribs were slaughtered at the hands of the French. This slaughter was celebrated high above a bloody sea of Gallic shouts:

Sauteurs!

Sauteurs!

Heroes never die!

The Sauteurs massacre completed the first stage of the French occupation of La Grenade. French rule in Grenada began in second half of the seventeenth century and continued until 1763 when the Treaty of Paris awarded the island to the British.

The treaty treated Carriacou as a ward of Grenada.

Politically and constitutionally a part of Grenada, Carriacou was a part of the electoral district of St Patrick’s until the 1930s.

Culturally speaking, however, Carriacou was very different from the “Mainland”.

TRIBAL ALLEGIANCES IN CARRIACOU

slave_trade_1650-1860_b-www-slaveryinamerica-org

Carriacou runs on ethnic lines and many Carriacouans self-identify as members of one of the following African “nations”:

Arada (Rada), Banda, Chamba, Congo, Cromanti, Manding, Moko (Ibibio), Temne, Ibo (igbo).

Caldwell Taylor is a writer, cultural commentator and member of the Bigdrumnation collective. Taylor lives in Ajax, Ontario.