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Both Jamaica and Africa had experienced colonization and the topic

is taken up in Reid's first novel New Day, which deals with the

rebellion at Morant Bay in1865. Both rebellions were over the

question of land and with the inequality of colonial society.


Kenneth Ramchand, ed. West Indian Narrative: An Introductory Anthology

Nelson Thornes Ltd; Rev Ed edition (June 1980)

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West Indian Narrative: An Introductory Anthology

Edited by Kenneth Ramchand


Part III


Edgar Mittelholzer -- Born 1909 in British Guiana. Died in England 1965. Publications include novels Corentyne Thunder, 1941; A Morning at the Office, 1950; Shadows Move Among Them, 1951; Children of Kaywana, 1952; The Weather in Middenshot, 1952; The Life and Death of Sylvia, 1953; Kaywana Stock: The Harrowing of Hubertus, 1954; My Bones and My Flute, 1955; Of Trees and the Sea, 1956; A Tale of Three Places, 1957; Kaywana Blood, 1958; The Weather Family, 1958; A Tinkling in the Twilight, 1959; Latticed Echoes, 1960; Eltonsbrody, 1960; The Mad MacMullochs, 1961; Thunder Returning, 1961; The Piling of Clouds, 1961; The Wounded and the Worried, 1962; Uncle Paul, 1963; The Aloneness of Mrs. Chatham, 1965; The Jilkington Drama, 1965). The Adding Machine (a short fable, 1954), With a Carib Eye (travel, 1958), and A Swarthy Boy (autobiography, 1963). [Note: The Old Blood (1958) and Kaywana Blood, 1958 may be the same book.]

Children of Kaywana is the first part of Edgar Mittelholzer's massive trilogy. the other parts are Kaywana Stock and Kaywana Blood. Mittlelholzer presents the history of the Van Groenwegel family from the seventeenth century to agitation for independence in British Guiana in 1953.

Children of Kaywana begins in 1612 with Kaywana, daughter of an Arawak woman and an English sailor, Adriansen van Groenwegel (a Dutchman) and ends with the stubborn but hopeless stand of the descendants of Kaywana against rebelling slaves in 1763.

There are six generations call van Groenwegel in the novel and in each there is a crisis. Mittelholzer explores a theory of heredity and expresses and interest in the connection of sex and violence.

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Namba Roy. Born 1910 in Jamaica. Died 1961. A sculptor and painter who held exhibitions in London and Paris. Educated in Jamaica. Publications included Ivory as the Medium in 'Studio'  (1958) and Black Albino (a novel, 1961); unpublished No Black Sparrows (a novel).

The Jamaica Maroons were among the earliest of the black men in the West Indies to achieve and hold their freedom from slavery. They established themselves in remote communities in the mountains. Namba Roy was a Maroon descendant. 

His novel Black Albino is set in a Maroon community in the Jamaican hills in the eighteenth century

This historical novel imaginatively reconstructs the Jamaican Maroon world. The early Maroons had fresh memories of Africa and Africa appears in the novel in how the Maroons' organizational life and language.

The beloved leader, Tomaso is banished by his envious  blood-brother Lago, who fears that Tomaso's wife Kisanka is a witch in that she has given birth to an albino child. And Lago convinces the community that the "white" child Tamba is a curse on the tribe and the family is exiled and suffers.

The misery and isolation of the black albino provides the reader with a unique angle on the "ugliness and irrationality of colour prejudice."

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Victor Stafford Reid -- Born 1913 in Jamaica. Educated in secondary and commercial in Jamaica. Publications included New Day (a historical novel, 1949), The Leopard (a novel, 1958), Sixty-five (a school text based on New Day).

"In Namba Roy's Black Albino, Africa appears in a semi-historical way. The Leopard by V.S. Reid invokes Africa in another manner." Kinya of the Mau-Mau Rebellion (1952-1953) is the setting for Reid's novel; his lead character  is part Kikuyu and part Masai. Reid had never set foot on the African continent.

Both Jamaica and Africa had experienced colonization and the topic is taken up in Reid's first novel New Day, which deals with the rebellion at Morant Bay in1865. Both rebellions were over the question of land and with the inequality of colonial society.

"The Leopard tells the story of how Nebu stalks and slays a white man, and how he, in turn, is stalked by a leopard." An objection to the novel: "The writing is beautiful and poetic but why does the author put in so much violence and why does he make his characters speak and think about it in such loving terms. After all these are people, not beasts."

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E.R. Braithwaite -- Born 1922 in British Guiana. Educated in British Guiana and United States. Served in R.A.F. Publications included To Sir with Love: Experiences While Teaching in a London School (1959); Paid Servant: A Report about Welfare Work in London (1962); A Kind of Home-Coming: A Visit to Africa (1963); A Choice of Straws (a novel, 1965). [Ramchand does not mention  Reluctant Neighbors (1972)]

To Sir with Love and Ways of Sunlight [Samuel Selvon] are two books which have been produced by West Indians in London. The first of these involves a black man with white characters. The second contains no white characters.


To Sir with Love is about the experiences of a black teacher in a slum school in London. Initially, the students are aggressive. But the teachers understand their insecurity. By the need of the book the teacher has taught patience and tolerance and thus has transformed "an undisciplined bunch of near-savages into a descent, civilized group of pupils.

Source: Kenneth Ramchand, West Indian Narrative: An Introductory Anthology. London, 1966

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The Flowering Rock Collected Poems, 1938-1974

By Eric Merton Roach

Black Yeats

Eric Roach and the Politics of Caribbean Poetry

By Laurence A. Breiner

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.

The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.

Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Natives of My Person

By George Lamming

Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although Natives of My Person has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.

George Lamming: Contemporary Criticism

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Season of Adventure

By George Lamming

First published in 1960, Season of Adventure details the story of Fola, a light-skinned middle-class girl who has been tipped out of her easy hammock of social privilege into the complex political and cultural world of her recently independent homeland, the Caribbean island of San Cristobal. After attending a ceremony of the souls to raise the dead, she is carried off by the unrelenting accompaniment of steel drums onto a mysterious journey in search of her past and of her identity. Gradually, she is caught in the crossfire of a struggle between people who have "pawned their future to possessions" and those "condemned by lack of learning to a deeper truth." The music of the drums sounds throughout the novel, "loud as gospel to a believer's ears," and at the end stands alone as witness to the tradition which is slowly being destroyed in the name of European values. Whether through literary production or public pronouncements, George Lamming has explored the phenomena of colonialism and imperialism and their impact on the psyche of Caribbean people.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 13 February 2012




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Related files: MAWA 2003  West Indian Narrative-- Part One  Part Two   Part Three  Part Four  Experiment in Haiti    West Indian Narrative   Eric Roach and Flowering Rock 

Kam Williams Interviews Colin Roach   Toward the Seventh PAC