“East of Flatbush, North of Love” by Danielle Brown, Ph.D.

A Review by Jeff Hercules

If one word were acceptable as a review of Dr. Danielle Brown’s East of Flatbush, North of Love; An Ethnography of Home, the word would be, ‘Wow!

All that would be left is for me to explain my review.

It’s not often I read a book that speaks as if it were a replay of aspects of my life: This book does that.

It’s not everyday I realize a book has information that would have made me a more knowledgeable student in school: This book would have done that.

It’s also not everyday I identify with an author to the extent I feel flashes of kindred spirit, if kindred spirits can flash that is.

Do not be fooled by the number of pages this author takes to tell her story. Writing experts say take as many pages as you need. However, the 180 pages Dr. Brown takes to tell the tale of what she calls a, “few snippets of my life”, is deceptive. Her travels, the stops she makes along the way — both in real time and through time — along with the nuggets of information she provides would take anyone trying to summarize it all at least twice as many pages.

This book, the first of its kind from anyone as far as I am aware, chronicles aspects of her life in Brooklyn NY once born to, and raised by her immigrant Trinidadian parents.

In the spirit of it taking a village to raise a child, her early influences include more than what were Trinidadian. In fact, she would have been a centipede for her feet to be in all the worlds into which she was born. In the book, she focuses on the culture and heritage of the world of her parents and family members back in Trinidad and Tobago.

Parang Musicians Serenading

To label Dr. Brown a Trini who just happened to be born in Brooklyn would be superficial if not meaningless in its simplicity. From her book, it is obvious she knows more about her genealogy than the average Trinbagonian knows about theirs. She also knows more about the history of the country than its average citizen. Include me in both groups. I now know that along with not paranging the wrong house, parranderos’ song selection is based on where they are in the serenade. 

By the end of the book, I felt I knew Dr. Brown. Not all her experiences growing up in Brooklyn were my experiences growing up decades earlier in Trinidad and Tobago but, cut tails link us. My generation being closer to that of her parents made for some interesting reactions as I absorbed the book. Should I look at her sternly for fidgeting in church or, should I nod, thinking, “yes, dem services real long, ent?”

She uses over 100 musical pieces, mostly calypso and Soca, cueing up a different selection to set the tone and mood for a different section of her story. You want to set the scene for,  Part II: Of Ghosts and Obeah? Kitchener has Love in the Cemetery and Sparrow, Obeah Wedding.

Labor Day Carnival 2014, Brooklyn, New York

But, with music being her forte, she includes enough non-Trini music to show her breadth. If Kitchener predates you and Sparrow is but a bird, you will be happy when she cues up Draze for her lament about the effects of gentrification.

Yes, I would argue 100 plus cues in 180 pages shows both depth and breadth of someone whose musical research has focused on parang.

Dr. Brown identifies what is important by how much time she spends on that topic: Religion is important. Family is important. Culture is important. Self is important.

I am still debating when would have been better to know her story was as she described — snippets of her life; before or after she told it. Would I have had my initial struggle to align with the book’s style if I had had known that before? In the end, it may be of little importance.

Dr. Danielle Brown reading from her book, “East of Flatbush, North of Love”

All the book’s footnotes? Dr. Brown had been steeped in academia. Still, I enjoyed the reference to The Andrew Sisters and Rum and Coca Cola. I had waited for an opening to dispute reference to Morey Amsterdam and ownership of the song only to have Dr. Brown neutralize my planned counterpunch by recognizing Lord Invader in the mini scandal over the song.

Read the book for details.

The snippets of her life she had shared did not slake my thirst so I sought out more information about Dr. Brown. Now I know my membership in the Trinidad and Tobago diaspora meant I was targeted for reading her book. She said as much before realizing how wide a net she wanted to cast for readers. In her amended view, anyone who could read should read the book.

When I searched local Trini newspapers online using the book’s title, I did not get any hits. Not good.

So, to go along with my early, ‘Wow!, of approval, let me add this: If you are part of the  Caribbean diaspora you should read this book.

If you are part of the Trinidad and Tobago diaspora you have to read this book. Everyone else is invited.

Jeff Hercules blogs weekly on all things Trini at www.trinispeak.com. He has begun pulling his various writing projects into one location: Visit www.jeffhercules.com for that.

Independence and Nation-Making – Caldwell Taylor


 Independence and Nation-Making

 by Caldwell Taylor

A Nation is the ecstatic electricity that inhabits May Fortune’s* voice

Big Drum dance

A Nation is the healing thunder of Sugar Adams’ * drum
A Nation is a concert of comforting conceits
A Nation is  the repository of our dreams
And a Nation is the insurgent sea that lifts our boats
our nets 
our hopes 
our heroes 
our sheroes.
A Nation is a site and sight of struggle, a thing calypsonian “Black Wizard” noted:
If you want to get rid of Babylon and build a just Nation
You’ve got to struggle on and on…..”
* May Fortune (1909-1973)
*Furgueson “Sugar”  Adams (1890-1983)  
Caldwell Taylor is a former Grenada diplomat and editor of Big Drum Nation.

February 7, 2016

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


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]


Best Business Plan Writers Uk 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.

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
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]


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.

I Will Pay Someone To Do My Homework 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].

http://talkingtech.net/professional-resume-service/ Professional Resume Service Holder: But beyond having educated prime ministers, how would you assess the impact and reach of the university?

What Is A Personal Statement Essay 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.


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.


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]


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)


Sidney, Mr Fox, and the Paid Servant, was the title of E.R. Braithwaite’s novel published in 1962.
In his The Measure of A Man , a spiritual autobiography, Sidney
[Poitier] writes:
“When I was a boy there was a schoolhouse, and it was one room. Sometimes we went and sometimes we didn’t, because we were in the fields most of the time .
“I got to Nassau at ten and a half, and I quit school at twelve, so what I picked up between Cat [Cat island] and Nassau was just  just enough to read the basics.


“The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography”, Sidney Pointer

“But I had a great teacher in Nassau. His name was Mr. Fox. William Fox. We call him Bill. Mr Bill Fox,  and he was magical. I learned more from him than virtually anyone I knew.  I drew heavily on him as a model for my character in To Sir with Love” .

19th October, 1983: As the crows fly above…


As the crows fly above, the sun re-emerges after the light drizzle that moistened the bodies of the protesting crowd. Their bodies glistening with the mixture of sweat and raindrops, and pure adrenalineIMG_20160924_054117.jpg.

At this point, Maurice is surrounded by his comrades, in the Operations Room where major decisions are being made. There is a mixture of adults and youths, young and old alike, male and female, supporters and new supporters. With this deadly cocktail of people where values and ethics differ, comes the deadly decision made by his populace who hijacked his leadership, to fight the powerful and ideological military regime. His political chairmanship has been hijacked and has taken a course that is not of his own choosing—though, a few minutes later, he will pay for their choices.

Before the volley of gunfire ruptures the chanting demonstrators on the fort, the correspondence between Fort Rupert and Fort Frederick is heating up. The desire for vengeance, power, and thirst for blood is manifesting. At this point, the intention is set and there is no turning back. He must die. It is now or never—and they chose now.

No one expected the events that followed—the lining up of Maurice and his cabinet ministers along the walls of Fort Rupert, this relic of a colonial past. Its stones hardened with blood and memory of years gone by, of lives deceased, and the effects of weather patterns and the salty air of the Caribbean Sea. It will soon be accessorized with the ricocheted bullets of highly powerful automatic rifles, blood, bone fragments, brain matter and, ruptured flesh. The volley of gunfire will now become the official soundtrack to the terror and fear of 19th October, 1983.

And just like that, the tiny tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique has become world news. This moment will forever leave ripples and shrapnel in the lives of Grenadians near and far. To this day, the metal fragments from that day are logged in the minds, bodies, and the soul of a nation.


wall againt which they were line up.JPGLong live these names: Andy Sebastian Alexander, Nelson Steele, Simon Alexander, Vince Noel and Avis Ferguson (two of the first to die), Alleyne Romain, Eric Dumont and Gemma Belmar–this list includes “students, laborers, union leaders, New Jewel Movement members” (Puri 2014: 90). The PRA members killed that day, including Dorset Peters, are: Raphael Mason, Conrad Mayers, Martin Simon, Franklyn James and Glen Nathan. The ministers lined up and killed: Jacqueline Creft, Evelyn Bullen, Fitzroy Bain, Norris Bain, Unison Whiteman, Keith Hayling, Evelyn Maitland and Maurice Bishop.
road they were led.JPG

For the past nine years I have been carrying the memory of Fort Rupert with me. I did not live through it, I was born a month later. I actively started doing research on the events of 19th October, 1983 earlier this year with the simple hope of finding answers and closure for myself and hopefully for the grieving family members.  It has been a challenge. It has been rewarding. It has been complicated. It has been frightening. It has been cathartic. As I pay homage to the lives loss on that fateful day, I bid them all farewell. I must leave them here.IMG_20161009_111338483.jpg

InSongs of Blood and Sword, Fatima Bhutto, in describing the political climate of Pakistan and the violence that has persisted since its birth, hauntingly writes, “It has been a trial writing this book about my family. Through letters and notebooks, photographs and interviews, it has opened them up to me and made them, all my ghosts, whole. But by virtue of what I now know about them, I must close them off. I must take my leave and remove myself from their shadows, their glories, their mistakes and their violent, extraordinary lives. There is just one member I cannot leave behind, Papa. I started this book with the intention of making my peace with my father, of finally honouring my last promise to him—to tell his story—and then, to finally say goodbye. But I can’t. He especially became whole to me, flawed and ordinarily human, unlike the immortal being I revered as a child growing up. His choices, remarkable and dangerous, honourable and foolish, are not mine but I lived them. I have also lived, since his death, with an incomplete picture of my father as a murdered man—holding vigil for him daily in my thoughts, in my steps and travels, in my public moments and in my eyes blinking him in every morning and closing him off to sleep every night. I had forgotten, in these fourteen years, that he was once alive and, for a brief while, only mine. He seems very alive to me now. It is too sweet a thought to push aside, so I delay the thought of farewells, if only for a little while longer” (437). Unlike Fatima, I bid the dead farewell.IMG_8060.JPG

We Move Tonight: The Making of the Grenada Revolution

We Move Tonight:
The Making of the Grenada Revolution

A Review

Fadhilika Atiba-Weza
Brunswick, New York

We Move Tonight: The Making of the Grenada Revolution
by Joseph Ewart Layne
St. George’s, Grenada: Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation, 2014, 203 pages.

capturesnipDuring the colonial period, the British placed tremendous significance on Grenada and made it the administrative headquarters of the group of Caribbean islands which are collectively called the Windward Islands. Independence brought its benefits and challenges, and the Spice Isle, as Grenada is fondly called had its share — foremost among its challenges was the rule of Gairy, which was a blight on the island, and an embarrassment to Caribbean people.

Book cover of We Move Tonight by Joseph Ewart Layne

Book cover of We Move Tonight by Joseph Ewart Layne

The early morning of March 13th, 1979, ushered a new dawn as the Caribbean welcomed a rebirth as the people of Grenada, led by the New Jewel Movement (NJM) removed Gairy from office and began the process of a revolutionary transformation of the country. “We Move Tonight” is the story of the developments which led to the events of March 13th. Joseph Ewart Layne, a member of the Political Bureau of the NJM, and a leader of the People’s Revolutionary Army of Grenada was a participant/observer of the process which removed Gairy and created the “Revo” as the process of social transformation was popularly called.

Layne, who was one of the Grenada 17, spent 26 years in prison following the 1983, United States-led invasion of Grenada. During that period of time, he “reflected” on the events which led to the revolution, and those which resulted in its demise. He took the opportunity to earn an LLB and an LLM, and engaged in the kind of introspection which led him to renounce the kinds of activities which resulted in some of the rash decisions that were made during the four and one half years of the Revo.

According to the author, the primary purpose of this book is to present the story of the making of the revolution so that readers can gain an insider’s perspective on the activities which led to the creation of the People’s Revolutionary Government.

Maurice Bishop on Revolution Morning

Maurice Bishop on Revolution Morning

The book is organized in three sections. The first is a political autobiographical journey which begins with the author’s introduction to, and initiation into the National Liberation Army (NLA), and concludes with its triumph over Gairy’s police and paramilitary forces. Along the way we learn of the decisions which were made by the leadership of the NJM, the processes by which the decisions were made, the challenges and dangers which they faced. By identifying key players, the reader is treated to a narrative which contextualizes the decisions and activities of the NJM as the critical day arrives. We are provided with examples of the brilliance of the chief strategists of the revolution, along with some of the amateurish mistakes that could have been fatal.

It explodes the myth that the revolution was an act of desperation. We are provided with evidence of a deliberative and methodological planning process which at times frustrated the youthful and enthusiastic Layne and his peers.
The second section is a brief review of the political history of Grenada. After having read the first section, it appears that is section would have been better placed as a preceding section. Nevertheless, Layne places in a historical and political context the birth of the NJM and its predecessor organizations, the factors which influence some of the developments in the country, and the political climate in which the revolution triumphed.

The third section is most disappointing. The author briefly mentions that there was a problem in the party, but did not elaborate, nor did he address the issues which led to the problem. Given the detail with which he addresses the first section (activities leading to the attack on March 13th, 1979) one expected a similar treatment of the issues which led to the fatal day of October 19th 1983, but this a glaring omission. Given the delicate nature of this matter, and the emotions which it evokes, tremendous tact and diplomacy are required. One has to assume that there are political and legal reasons for the author’s decision to exclude this painful chapter in the history of Grenada.

In addressing the issues of October 1983, Layne states that, “When faced with a challenge to his absolute leadership of the party, PM Bishop did not go to the people with the genuine issue. Instead he issued a rumour that a plan to kill him was uncovered. The other side reacted by putting PM Bishop under house arrest. From there things catapulted out of hand.”

The above raises more questions than it has answered. What happened to the Bishop Coard Whiteman team that Layne proudly mentions in earlier part of the book? When did Bishop assume absolute leadership? How did it occur? What exactly, is absolute leadership? What kind of challenge was issued? How could the “genius of Coard” not have foreseen the consequences of such a reckless act of placing the popular PM under house arrest? There are many other issues that can be raised in light of the weakness of this section, but overall this publication is a welcome contribution to the literature on a very important development in the history of the Caribbean.

Previously published in In Motion Magazine August 26, 2014.







(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.


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.




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.”


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.



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