George Lamming Out Of the Chattel House Of History

Jamaica Woman Tongue

GEORGE LAMMING AT THE 2012 BOCAS LIT FEST IN TRINIDAD

George Lamming, poet, novelist, essayist, political philosopher – one of the Caribbean’s finest writers – joined the ancestors on June 4. Born in colonial Barbados on June 8, 1927, Lamming intimately understood the racial politics of his times. A child of the chattel house, he knew he had no natural right to the great house. That was the domain of the landed white elite in Little England.

The traditional chattel house, a legacy of plantation slavery, symbolises the vulnerability of poor people who cannot afford land. The small wooden houses, put together without nails, are not fixed to the ground. They are set on blocks and can be moved from place to place as fate and fortune determine. The mobility of these chattel houses can also be seen as a sign of the ambition of the disenfranchised. They can eventually…

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