Tag Archives: Arts

Black History Month Stickers

So far since the start of COVID-19, the Antigua and Barbuda creative community has lost  (though don’t quote me on the official cause of death) a pioneering pannist, an award winning calypsonian, and a well known writer. Respectively, they are founding member of Harmonites pan orchestra George ‘Macko, Nuni’ Weekes and 2-time calypso monarch and former road march winner (1994 with Vision Band) Edimelo (both of whom I wrote about in Carib Lit Plus Mid April 2020) – a man described by one social media commentator as “a true journeyman of our cultural stage…(and) Antigua’s Bunny Rugs [Third World]”, and this past week Timothy Payne. ABS Television/Radio, in a facebook posting headlined ‘Outstanding Antiguan Writer and Photographer dies’ said, “Antigua and Barbuda and the community of Barnes Hill has lost one of their treasured sons. Journalist, author, teacher and photographer, Timothy Payne has died. ‘Tim’, as he was fondly called, was the owner of the Reflexion Photo Studio and a former teacher at the St. Joseph’s Academy. Payne is also the former editor at the now defunct Antigua Sun Newspaper and its Sun St. Kitts edition. Many of his photographic work was captured in a Museum of Fine Arts which was mounted at the Multi-Purpose Cultural and Exhibition Centre at Perry Bay some years ago. He was passionate about the Barnes Hill community and was the main driver in the restoration of a reservoir and the establishment of a community park in the area. More in the evening newscast.”

ABS journalist Andy Liburd in a post on his facebook page said, “The best way to celebrate Timothy Anderson Payne is to continue his work. Don’t let it die simply because he never paused his efforts to add to the cultural life of Antigua and Barbuda despite overwhelming challenges. The projects were numerous and they all sort to capture the spirit of who we are. We worked side by side at the Antigua Sun but I knew him well before when Reflexion Photo Studio was the rave. Photography was his passion and he was enthusiastic in not only sharing his work but the skill as well. He started the Antigua Newspages, an ambitious project to fill a void that was left by the Sun, a stunning tribute to his commitment to the field of journalism. He has authored several books, some of which exposes his keen sense of observation, his amazing wit and his love, respect and caring for the Antiguan way of life. Village Life immediately comes to mind. The Barnes Hill community will miss him for the sacrifice and work he has put in to create a lasting cultural space at the Reservoir and Park. At the Multipurpose centre some years ago he almost single handedly mounted the Museum of Fine Arts that showcased his work in photography and storytelling which kept alive many of the memorable events and people that colour our beautiful past. He was to launch a biography on the Monarch, King Short Shirt in April, but then came Covid 19. I’m amazed at his collection of photography, which includes many that were taken by Gerald Price, whom he revered. I hope some good will be put to them especially at a time when we are quickly losing all around us by way of cultural erosion and mere loss of life. He was a teacher at the St. Joseph’s Academy and I benefited from his innate ability to share and am richer because of it. May his tribute be lasting in the way he would want it so generations to come may be reminded of life in this little village called home. Sleep on in peace bro.”

Dead Beat

You can find Payne’s books 2019’s fictions Dead Beat and Dawn Disturbed, and 2003’s Village Life in non-fiction in our bibliography of Antiguan and Barbudan Writings.

These recent passings draw me back to the Black History Month stickers the Daily Observer newspaper ran on their front page all through February, and the fact that I instinctively clipped many of them, not sure for what purpose. Though I suppose the purpose solidified in the first edition of my CREATIVE SPACE column I (and the Observer) published after Black History Month – Centering Us, Year Round. Consistent with what I have tried to do on this blog – with the obits I have written, the bibliographies I have researched and compiled, the documentation I have tried to do, of Antigua and Barbuda’s media history for instance, the arts-themed news bulletins I put out, and with posts like this – create a record of us. I would do a lot more of it than I do if I didn’t have to make a living (this work doesn’t pay me, time consuming though it is). Because I believe facts matter, the record matters, we must know our history, we must recognize the people who have and continue to shape us beyond personal likes and dislikes – I try to look past that always and just do the work. And today’s work finds me wanting to share those OMG stickers. For the record.

BHM 19BHM 18BHM 17BHM 16BHM 15BHM 14BHM 10BHM 9BHM 8BHM 7BHM 6BHM 5BHM 4BHM2BHM 3

There you have it. Tidbits on the first school room built to educate Blacks free and enslaved in our then British West Indies, on the 1736 insurrection that would have been led by King Court, on Bethesda born folk historian Joy Lawrence whose books can also be found listed in the bibliography mentioned and who is an Independence national awardee for her her contribution to arts and culture,on the world class cricketer Viv Richards who is a holder of many firsts and onlys, and hails from Ovals, Antigua, on school founder and social disrupter and national hero Nellie Robinson – the last two national heroes, and on others – scroll through. And, after that, if you’re still interested in reading up on our notables even as death thins their numbers, view our post on most influential Antiguans and Barbudans.

That’s it. That’s the post. Let’s continue the work. The record matters.

RIP to Tim, Edimelo, and Macko.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Carib Lit Plus (Mid February 2020) 2.0

This Bocas schedule

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Concerning Wadadli Pen, we are in data entry and processing mode as the submission deadline has passed – as anticipated most coming in at the 11th hour – which means the process of getting them out to the judges might take a bit longer. We will keep you posted.

Meantime, shout out to our 2020 prize patrons (in alphabetical order) not including the ones who requested anonymity: Adventure Antigua, Best of Books Bookstore, Brenda Lee Browne, Caribbean Reads Publishing, Cindy’s Bookstore & School Supplies, D. Gisele Isaac, Floree Williams Whyte, Frank B. Armstrong, Hermitage Bay Antigua, Jane Seagull, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Juneth Webson, Lawrence Jardine, Paradise Vision Centre

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Edwidge Dandicat made the previous round up for being short listed for a major prize to be announced later this month and here she is with a win already this month as the recipient of the Vilcek prize for literature. “For dazzling prose and profound understanding of our shared human condition embodied through her genre-spanning work that explores the Haitian diaspora and other personal narratives.”

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New book announcement from St. Lucian artist (and the creator of the Caribbean Lit bibliography on this blog John Robert Lee. The collection, Pierrot, is published by UK based Peepal Tree. The publisher writes: “In his ninth collection of poems, John Robert Lee contemplates his 70th year in St Lucia and the sad chimes of mortality as friends and literary and cultural heroes leave this life. It’s a time for a weighing up of where domestic, political, literary and spiritual journeys have reached. It is a time of both honest admissions but also renewed faith in all these journeys.”

Also, Curdella Forbes; A Tall History of Sugar which celebrated write Nicole Dennis-Benn has described as “an eclectic, feverish vision of Jamaican ‘history’ from the 1950s to the present”. It tells the story of Moshe Fisher, a man who was “born without skin,” so that no one is able to tell what race he belongs to; and Arrienne Christie, his quixotic soul mate who makes it her duty in life to protect Moshe from the social and emotional consequences of his strange appearance. Further, from publisher Askashic, it is written in lyrical, luminous prose that spans the range of Jamaican Englishes. Curdella whom I had the pleasure of sharing a panel with in Barbados in 2008 is Jamaica-born and now teaches at Howard University.

*(via Daily Observer, Antigua, January 2020)

I have a fondness for projects of this type (engaging children around the environmental issues of our day) because this was a large part of my focus during my time as environment officer – education with the National Solid Waste Management authority. My initiatives included an art competition to select a mascot which we then would use in all our communication material, a story which would then become a story book for dissemination to the schools (this only got to the drafts stage), school visits, and participation with the EAG and Royal Caribbean in a Mash the Trash initiative which set environmental goals for each school including messaging (I remember we brought out one of the schools to a workshop to perform the rap they had come up with as a part of that initiative). I remember that among those above me this approach wasn’t always understood and I even had one manager say to me what’s the point of focusing on children, they are not the problem – which of course meant that he hadn’t read my proposal nor reports re short, medium, and long term goals targeted at different audiences towards changing attitudes and ultimately behavior  OVER TIME. So, initiatives like this that get young people thinking actively about the environment, you love to see it. And it’s one of the reasons one of the Wadadli Pen 2020 Challenge themes is Imagine a Future, encouraging participants to create a climate change future vision story. Congrats to Old Road Primary for being among the winners and kudos to the Sandals Foundation.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which has a Spanish language edition). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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Carib Plus Lit (Mid February 2020)

brooklyn book fest 2020

Caribbean Reads – sponsor of the 2020 Wadadli Pen Challenge Schools Prize – at the Brooklyn Book Fair in 2019. The sub-regional independent publisher will be giving EC$600 worth of books to the winning school in this year’s Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge, some from its own booklist. Which may include pictured books like Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure by yours truly.

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On the subject of Wadadli Pen, I wanted to share that I am thrilled that this project has survived since 2004 – it’s always touch and go. Also, though it mostly manifests as a competition, it’s not about winning prizes. It’s about encouraging creativity and all of the reflection, imagination, and expression that comes with that.

In one of the targeted direct mailers I sent out, I noted that participation “can be purely fun and about self-discovery; it can also open a portal to expressing and coping with challenging feelings and experiences. Encouraging youth creativity also promotes mental growth, potentially improving academic performance and emotional maturity. Encouraging youth creativity gives young people an opportunity to try new things, new ways of seeing, new ways of thinking, and new ways of problem solving. The ‘Imagine a Future’ special prize in this year’s Wadadli Pen Challenge, for instance, will create an opportunity to explore the potentials of action or inaction on climate change – the existential challenge of our day – do we survive and how. This may emerge as a dystopian shadowland or a bright sci fi future. Who knows? As small islands, we are on the front lines of climate change; it’s an opportunity for young people to think through what will be the first major battle of their life time, for bad or good. If you are a youth in Barbuda, you have been in the headlines at least since 2017 and hurricane Irma, the trauma of which you may not have fully explored even as you grapple with historical and political realities beyond your understanding, where is your voice in this, what’s your story? ‘The Wa’omani Prize’ is an opportunity to remember that there are no small stories, that every experience matters – from fishing with your dad to being in the path of a storm to end all storms. The Wadadli Pen Challenge is not fixed on a theme – tell any story you want, about anything you want, however you want – but it is Caribbean, simply because we must centre our own imagination in our own stories. Storytelling is an opportunity to explore us. At the same time, it is an opportunity to experience our reality from a different perspective – where did the frigates go when they flew away …from the perspective of a frigate. For people working with young people it’s an opportunity to ask what if… allowing the imagination to zig from reality to fantasy and back again. The 3-strip comic panel is a challenge for those better at expressing themselves using visuals than words because visuals too can tell a full story filled with drama, humor, warmth, etc. Writers and artists can even collaborate for full expression of an idea. The thing to remember is that there  is no wrong or right, only the urge to write, to draw, to create, and the freedom to be on the page.” Time will tell if this and the other media (thanks to Observer Media Group, Antiguanice.com, 268 Antigua, ABS TV, Crusader Radio, and others for helping us get the word out) and social media, and direct pushes we made to encourage young people in Antigua and Barbuda to submit by February 16th 2020 moved the needle at all.

For full guidelines and submission form, visit https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/wadadli-pen-2020 Shout out to our patrons Juneth Webson, Frank B. Armstrong, Lawrence Jardine, Brenda Lee Browne, D. Gisele Isaac, Caribbean Reads Publishing, Hermitage Bay Antigua, Adventure Antigua, Cindy’s Book Store, Floree Williams Whyte, Paradise Vision Centre, Jane Seagull, and others.

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You’ll notice that the art category is back for Wadadli Pen but framed this time as a comic strip challenge. Here’s hoping we’ll see lots of entries from the winners of this other art prize, the Halo Christmas card competition, which has been one of the more enduring art initiatives – albeit under different headings, Halo in recent years – in Antigua and Barbuda. Shout out to my alma mater Christ the King High School from which winner Tiffany Dunnah hails. Here’s the report via 268.

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We join the Caribbean and the rest of the literary world in bidding well done and farewell to the late Barbadian scribe Kamau Brathwaite who died on February 4th 2020 (at age 89). He’s been covered a time or two here on the blog but the various tributes should provide a sense of the scope of his work and influence. Also, the Bocas Lit Fest reported “Just days before he died, Brathwaite agreed to accept the 2020 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters, presented annually by Trinidad and Tobago’s Bocas Lit Fest. The award pays tribute to Brathwaite’s landmark work as a critic — the author of many seminal essays on Caribbean literature and culture — literary activist, and editor, and was also intended to honour him in the year of what would have been his ninetieth birthday.” The award will now be presented to a member of Brathwaite’s family on March 5th 2020 at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill in Barbados during the annual KamauBrathwaite Lecture.

Peepal Tree publisher Jeremy Poynting said in his tribute (among the various tributes linked above): “Maybe there’s a room somewhere where Kamau, Derek and Wilson are talking together. Now wouldn’t that be some conversation to hear?” He is, of course, referencing Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and acclaimed Guyanese writer Wilson Harris, the statement an indicator of the company in which Brathwaite sits.

In his influence on and shaping of Caribbean poetry, West Indian Literature, Nation Language (a term he coined as a descriptor of Caribbean ‘dialect’), Africa-infused experimental linguistics in his creative expressions,the work of the UWI, the writers he’s mentored or influenced, the many he’s educated, Brathwaite is remembered as a literary lion and his legacy will surely endure.

For more on Brathwaite, read this editorial in Barbados Today

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Also via a Bocas mailing, the second year of the Johnson and Amoy Achong long list has been posted. It is, per usual, dominated by Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana (after being won last year by a Jamaica born, Barbados based writer). The developmental prize for emerging writers (this year focused on non-fiction) will go to either Amanda Choo Quan (T&T), Melissa Doughty (T&T), Ruel Johnson (Guyana), Otancia Noel (T&T), Kim Robinson-Walcott (Jamaica), and Amílcar Sanatan (T&T). Congrats to them.

Speaking of Bocas, check out some of the activity forthcoming at Writers Centre, described as an arts friendly, collaborative, enterprising space.

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New Books –

British Virgin Islands author Eugenia O’Neal’s latest book is March 2020 release Obeah, Race and Racism: Caribbean Witchcraft in the English Imagine (via University Press of the West Indies) which sounds very interesting (wonder if I can get a review copy). Here’s a partial synopsis from its Amazon page:

“In Obeah, Race and Racism, Eugenia O’Neal vividly discusses the tradition of African magic and witchcraft, traces its voyage across the Atlantic and its subsequent evolution on the plantations of the New World, and provides a detailed map of how English writers, poets and dramatists interpreted it for English audiences. …O’Neal examines what British writers knew or thought they knew about Obeah and discusses how their perceptions of black people were shaped by their perceptions of Obeah. …The English reading public became generally convinced that Obeah was evil and that blacks were, at worst, devil worshippers or, at best, extremely stupid and credulous. And because books and stories on Obeah continued to promulgate either of the two prevailing perspectives, and sometimes both together until at least the 1950s, theories of black inferiority continue to hold sway in Great Britain today.” Interesting, right?

Also coming soon is Trini-Bajan Ingrid Persaud’s Love after Love which landed with Faber and Faber after a bidding war because she’s dope like that. It’s due in April but this interview she did with Audible about her BBC and Commonwealth award winning short story The Sweet Sop and her writing journey to date is up now.

Excerpt: “Plot. You know how many times I wake up all two in the morning wondering if I will ever find a plausible plot? Or sometimes I have a plot, and I dream of all the black holes readers are going to find. One day I hope to create a story with a plot so exquisitely crafted that the reader is barely aware of being led through it.”

Finally, in new books, this one is already out I believe, Dominica’s Celia Sorhaindo writes I believe the first post-Irma book of its kind, Guabancex: “On 18 September 2017, a category 5 hurricane, the worst in recorded history, hit the Caribbean island of Dominica. Hurricane Maria destroyed lives and land. Nothing would be the same again. Guabancex explores the complex mix of experiences and emotions, both during and after the event. The collection is named in recognition of the ancient indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. One of these groups, the Taino, called the supreme female spiritual entity associated with all natural destructive forces, Guabancex.”

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Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we can also report that the Cultural Development Division has announced plans for a National Music Awards. It is not, as touted the country’s inaugural music awards (we’ve had the National Vibes Star Project Awards, which was a private/community-driven Grammy-style venture which actually had an even broader range of categories) but it is good to see an initiative to boost one aspect of the arts in Antigua and Barbuda. Lit arts still out here waving its hands but we’re not going to begrudge another category of artists getting a deserved boost. The NMA, per a release, is meant “to highlight and motivate practitioners in the field of music, in Antigua and Barbuda.” The person behind the initiative seems to be new deputy director of Culture, also a very talented, award winning musician and composer, Khan Cordice. As we’ve always said here on the blog (see reference to Barbara Mason) artistic disciplines benefit from having advocates who are passionate about the particular disciplines being in a position backed by the resources of state (limited though they may be) to move the needle. The announced awards categories, each with its various sub-categories, are Vocal, Instrumental, Steelpan, Recording Artiste, DJ, and Special awards. See breakdown.The announced NMA date is April 16th 2020.

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Culture has also unveiled the team behind Antigua and Barbuda’s staging of CARIFESTA. via Antiguanice.com “Leading the charge as Chairman of the Board of Directors will be the Honourable Daryll Matthew, and Senator Shenella Govia as Deputy Chairman. The other members of the board will include Dr. Hazra Medica as Executive Secretary to the Board, the Director of CARIFESTA, and representatives from the following entities, namely the Ministry of Tourism; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finance; National Festivals Office; Ministry of Health, Cultural Development Division; Environment Division; Immigration Department; Security Forces, and the Legal Department.” The announcement coincided with the launch of the new CARIFESTA logo selected from a competition in which Gamal Goodwin emerged victorious. You know what I’ve written about literary Antigua-Barbuda being written out of past CARIFESTAs but I think all of us in the arts community (including writers) still look forward to what may come.

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Another local government agency announcing an awards programme is Gender Affairs. Women of Wadadli is a people’s choice awards recognizing the contribution of “extraordinary work” by “ordinary women” in Antigua and Barbuda. 

(they’re out of order but I’m tired).

Here’s the link.

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Via the Daily Observer, we’ve learned of a film production webinar series, in progress, thanks to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States’ Business Development Unit. Facilitators so far, according to the report, have included St. Lucia’s Davina Lee and Antigua and Barbuda’s Howard and Mitzi Allen of HaMA Films. The series is reportedly aimed at “sensitizing filmmakers in the region to modern (and best) practices in film production.” FYI, Mitzi Allen is also one of the advisors, along with Shakirah Bourne of Barbados, Juliette McCawley of  Trinidad, and Kareem Mortimer of The Bahamas on the Commonwealth Writers Caribbean Voices project targeting filmmakers (writers, directors, producers) from the region. Apply by February 24th to participate in the May workshop and be in the running for funding for your film project. Details here just in case I don’t get time to add it to the Opportunities Too page in time.

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We’ve covered Dadli Hack before though it deals with tech, not arts, because it seemed a creative enterprise in the way it challenged participants to use technology to troubleshoot and innovate around the issues of our day. This year’s winner is also no stranger to the blog – Team Antigua Island Girls. Remember them? The first all Black all female team to row across the Atlantic. Per the Observer, Dadli Hack 3.0 is part of the United Nations Office of Project Services Global Innovation Challenge. Team Island Girls have won, from among a field of 10 from various Caribbean islands, US$5,000 towards the development of their project to improve eco-tourism via their youth ocean rowing project. The Hackathon includes a week of training and then the ideas pitch. It was held at Antigua and Barbuda’s Science and Innovation Park.

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U.S. based Haitian author Edwidge Dandicat is one of three finalists for the Story Prize for book length short story collections published in 2019 from among 94 submissions. The other two finalists are Zadie Smith and Kali Fajardo-Anstine. If she wins for her book Everything Inside, Dandicat will win US$20,000 and if she doesn’t, she’ll win ‘just’ US$5,000. The winner will be announced on February 26th 2020 at the New School (co-sponsor of the prize) in NYC.

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Have you read Jamaican Marlon James’ A Brief of Seven Killings. Much of the world has and as such Entertainment Weekly, as reported by Jamaicans.com, has dubbed it one of the best books of the last decade. The multi-award, including Booker Prize, winning was an obvious choice for this list and it’s cool to see the Caribbean represented.

Another writer who would make any one’s best of list is Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie who, per AllAfrica, was named ThisDay’s Woman of the Decade. I know she’s not Caribbean but she’s still amazing so we won’t hold that against her.

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Also from the Observer…

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The NAACP Image Awards nominees have been announced and while attention has been on the film and TV categories and Bajan daughter Rihanna being tapped for the President’s award (go, Bad Gyal Ri-Ri!), I have been particularly interested in the book nominations. I am delighted to reveal that New Daughters of Africa which includes some 200 writers, yours truly repping Antigua and Barbuda among them, is a fiction nominee. The anthology is edited by UK-based Margaret Busby (pictured left below with two of the book’s contributors ahead of a panel at the Sharjah International Book Fair in November 2019) who has African and Caribbean roots.

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“Trinida­di­an born po­et and au­thor, Ian Williams has won Cana­da’s rich­est lit­er­ary award for fic­tion, for his nov­el Re­pro­duc­tion. Williams was named as the 2019 Sco­tia­bank Giller Prize…beat­ing out five oth­er au­thors for the prize. The first time nov­el­ist, who is an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of po­et­ry in the Cre­ative Writ­ing pro­gramme at the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Co­lum­bia, said he was shocked to earn the prize. ‘It’s a to­tal sur­prise, I mean there’s no prepar­ing for it. Even in your wildest fan­ta­sy like you imag­ine it and there’s noth­ing like it. Maybe it’s what pro ath­letes feel like or when ten­nis play­ers win Wim­ble­don or the US Open. Like we don’t write books for this mo­ment and then it hap­pens and you’re to­tal­ly off guard as a hu­man,’ he told the Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion. He said the win made him re­flect on his past, in­clud­ing his time be­ing raised in Trinidad and To­ba­go be­fore his fam­i­ly mi­grat­ed to Cana­da.” Read more.

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Another award winner, this one with Antiguan roots is lauded children’s book writer and illustrator Ashley Bryan who picked up another Coretta Scott King award for Infinite Hope: a Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace. Released last October, it is described as “a deeply moving picture book memoir about serving in the segregated army during World War II, and how love and the pursuit of art sustained him.” The story offers a reminder that though some have dubbed the WWII generation the greatest generation, it really depends on who’s telling the story. And here Bryan finally tells his own: “In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness–including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought.” Read more about the book and the other nominees, at AALBC.

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Another Caribbean writer, another accolade. ‘Toronto writer M. NourbeSe Philip has been announced as the 2020 recipient of the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature. The $50,000 U.S. ($66,445 Cdn) award honours a writer whose body of work shows “enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship.”‘ Philip is from Tobago. Read about her at CBC.

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There’s more; I’m always gathering stuff to share. But I have to stop for now. So, til next time.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which has a Spanish language edition). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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A & B Arts Round Up – November 25th 2019 —>

November 28th 2019 –

November 30th 2019 –

December 6th and 7th 2019 –

December 7th and December 13th 2019 –

December 12th, 14th, and 19th 2019 –

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December 14th 2019 –

December 15th 219 – 78546829_535029177084335_7697283746138947584_n (1)

January 18th 2020 –
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As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Carib Plus Lit News (late November 2019)

Since I decided to start this news round-up, it’s all I can do to keep up. Sorry for the things I missed. Here’s some news (some not so new anymore).

Death

Antigua and Barbuda mourns the passing of Vaughn Walter Mbe, a cultural actor and longtime Culture Director and former Carnival chair, who passed unexpectedly. Walter, son of the country’s second premier and national hero Sir George Walter, who himself ran for elected office in 1999, was assigned to lead prep for Antigua and Barbuda’s hosting of CARIFESTA 2021, and reportedly collapsed on the job. The self-styled ‘de Vagabond’ (Vagga for short) is, also, remembered in the larger public consciousness as a broadly comedic personality known for catchphrases like “you haffu come man, you haffu come”. He has acted in a number of plays and other stage (e.g. calypso) presentations, plus local films. Walter who was also a certified marriage officer and event (weddings) planner, was set to retire from public service after his stint with CARIFESTA. I couldn’t find a listing of Walter’s performance credits but I will share one from memory. When, in 2007, the Rick James Theatre Ensemble undertook to tell the story of Antigua and Barbuda, Our Country, Walter took on the role of the man referred to as the Father of the Nation. Incidentally, this man Sir V. C. Bird Sr. was also his father’s greatest political rival (and vice versa) during the pitched battles of the late 1960s to late 1970s  – arguably the most contentious time in modern Antiguan-Barbudan politics. The accuracy and authenticity he brought to the moment of delivering one of Bird’s rallying speeches was one of the highlights of the play.

Appointment

On the heels of an adversarial Carnival season, in which the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organization (ECCO) was at loggerheads with local event promoters over artist royalties, the copyright management organization has designated an Antigua-Barbuda director in the person of Vaughan Skerritt. Skerritt works in the industry as copy writer and producer,  and was a member of Antigua and Barbuda’s premier hip hop group back in the day – Da Rock 1761.

Awardees

The Antigua and Barbuda Independence honours list included two members of the arts community, musical arranger Jagger Martin and songwriter Rupert ‘Littleman’ Pelle, as well as educators Dr. Edris Bird, first and former resident tutor of the UWI Open Campus, and Glendina Jacobs, among others. Congratulations to them all.

Marlon James, Jamaican and former Booker prize winner, was a finalist for the National Book Awards in the US where he lives, thanks to his latest epic novel Black Leopard Red Wolf.

Congrats due as well to Dionne Brand, winner of the 2019 Toronto Book Award (and $10,000 CDN) for Theory. The awards are now in their 45th year and are intended to honour books of literary merit that are evocative of Toronto. Brand is originally from Trinidad and Tobago.

Jamaican writer Olive Senior, also Canada-based, won the Matt Cohen at the annual Writers’ Trust Awards in Toronto, celebrating her body of work.


She is pictured here in Antigua (with local author/Wadadli Pen founder-coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse -i.e. me) after attending the Alliougana book fest in Montserrat. We go back to 1995 when, as I have related more than once, I did my first writing workshop at the University of Miami, the Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute, which Olive facilitated. It was during that workshop that I began work on my first book The Boy from Willow Bend. Senior was by then already a Commonwealth award winning writer for her book 1989’s Arrival of the Snake-Woman and Other Stories.

Finally, shout out to the Antigua and Barbuda delegation to the Caribbean Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival. They cleaned up, returning home with awards for production, original script (historical drama, The Long Walk by Zahra Airall), directing (Airall), set design, sound, lighting, actress (Khadelia Williams), and best overall contingent. Her production The Forgotten previously won the main prize at the CSSDF in 2015. Without missing a beat Airall is planning at this writing a staging of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues which she originally brought to Antigua and Barbuda as part of Women of Antigua in 2008.

Repping Books

Antigua and Barbuda’s Best of Books bookstore, a Wadadli Pen patron and partner, won representative of the year from UK publisher Collins alongside Jamaica and Belize.

 

Young Composers

Antiguan and Barbudan Brianna Georges, 16, was a finalist for the Commonwealth International Composition Award. Georges is a former member of the prize winning Antigua Girls High School pan orchestra. The Antigua State College student reportedly wants to be both a forensic scientist and professional musician. Khadijah Simon is also a finalist, also from Wadadli. She is still a student at AGHS, where she serves as the choir’s pianist and as a musician at the Spring Gardens Moravian Church. Another Antiguan and Barbudan Erienne Peters, also had a highly recommended entry. The Composition Award’s stated purpose is to promote composition around the world and give young composers the skills they’ll need to further their careers. This is its first year.

Film Arts Awards (Local)

Did you know that Antigua and Barbuda had two film festivals this Independence season? Well, it did. I’m sorry to have missed both (the Motion Picture Association of Antigua and Barbuda’s International Film Festival back after a hiatus, the last one was held in 2012, and the first time Wadadli Short Film Festival led by off-island folks with Antiguan-Barbudan roots) – as not only a film lover but as someone who served as associate producer on Antigua and Barbuda’s first feature length film (The Sweetest Mango) and production manager on its second (No Seed), both written by D. Gisele Isaac, and as a writer and arts advocate. Especially though as someone who likes to see the arts thrive and the work of our artists and art producers celebrated. So congrats to the women in film recognized by the MPAA’s festival – Heather Doram, artist and former Culture Director, who cameod in The Sweetest Mango, starred in No Seed, and who has featured in a number of local productions on stage (Sweet Lady, When a Woman Moans), on TV (Paradise View, Keeping it Real), and on film (Maisie and Em film shorts) among other activities since the early 2000s; Julie Hewlett who has appeared in a number of UK TV series (e.g. East Enders and Turks and Caicos per her IMDB) and who was among the main supporting cast of The Sweetest Mango and is forthcoming in HAMA’s Deep Blue, in addition to teaching and facilitating workshops; and Mitzi Allen, a TV and radio producer, also independent producer of Antigua and Barbuda’s main feature films and TV shows (movies The Sweetest Mango, No Seed, Diablesse, The Skin, TV series Paradise View, and any number of commercial productions, and informational or edutainment programmes e.g. Pet Playhouse, Let’s Talk) as co-founder and co-director of HAMA. Also recognized, Sandie de Freitas who is Canada-based (not sure there’s a direct Antigua-Barbuda connection, the article cited was light on information, but she is festival director and founder for Commffest community film festival in Toronto). The Wadadli Short Film Festival is Antigua-Barbuda based but counts the wider Eastern Caribbean/Caribbean community as its constituency, and UK-based personnel as its principals, and its inaugural awards reflected that with best film going to London-based director Jordan Pitt’s Coffee, best OECS film going to French filmmaker Alain Bidard’s The Flight , and best music video going to Hard Knaxx’s Life in Paradise. See the full list of finalists and short list from 130 submissions. Speaking of Antiguans and Barbudans in film, the Peter Pan inspired Wendy, by critically-acclaimed Beast of the Southern Wilds’ director Benh Zeitlin includes local locations and children (notably Yashwa Mack).

 

Antiguan and Barbudan author  included in the line-up for the Sharjah International Book Fair

More here. And here.

New Books

Not all the new books – just the ones that came across my attention to this writing – including The A to Z of Caribbean Art which is due in early December (no Antiguan-Barbudan artists that I could see); Una Marson by Lisa Tomlinson (fifth in the University of the West Indies press Caribbean Biography series, spotlighting the Jamaican poet, dramatist, broadcaster, and advocate and curator of Caribbean literary arts – Media Release_Una Marson); the latest historical novel by ex-pat writer Apple Gibley’s US Virgin Islands historical novels (Transfer, which just came in the mail along with her earlier work Fireburn, courtesy of the author for review – hopefully I can finish reading them quickly enough to donate them to the Wadadli Pen challenge prize package); a memoir and/or biography by  Antigua and Barbuda’s former PM Sir Lester Bird (The Comeback Kid); US-based Jamaican writer and Howard University professor Curdella Forbes (A Tall History of Sugar); several social studies text and workbooks by local educator Anthea S. Thomas who wrote them initially to fill a material gap in her classroom and landed a publishing deal; and a new anthology, Winning Words, out of Barbados spotlighting winning pieces from the National Independence Festival Creative Arts writing competition.

Finally, on December 1st 2019, Haitian American writer M. J. Fievre drops her latest book – ‘Happy, Okay?’. The Florida-based writer’s book is sub-titled “Poems about Anxiety, Depression, Hope, Survival”. A recent press release described it as “an exhilarating exploration of depression, anxiety, grief, and loss”. It is, according to the release, meant for people living with mental illness and those closest to them. Edwidge Dandicat, another famed Haitian-American writer endorsed the book: “‘Happy, Okay?’ is a beautifully written meditation filled with poignant and lyrical meditations of the joys, pains, and complications of life and the daily struggle to survive, create, and love.” Here’s the press release in full: Fievre_Press Kit

Speaking of books

Sandals knows what’s up. Books makes good gifts. I do hope some Caribbean and Antiguan and Barbudan books are in the mix.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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A & B Arts Round up – June 10th 2019 —>

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July to August 2019 – Carnival

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July and August – (register by June 30th 2019) – sessions to be held on July 22nd – 26th & August 12th – 16th 2019 – flyer and registration form copied below – this is a paid workshop but with sponsorship will offer scholarship – contact Joanne C. Hillhouse at jhohadli at gmail dot com if you need more information or wish to sponsor.workshop promo 4JSYWP Registration Form 2019

July 18th 2019 – Wesley cover 2.jpg

Longtime Caribbean-media Association boss, Wesley Gibbings, is coming to Antigua and Barbuda. He’ll be launching his latest book – a collection of poems – July 18th 2019, 6:30 p.m., at the Best of Books, on St. Mary’s Street.

July 7th 2019 –

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July 3rd 2019 – 10 a.m. – 12 noon – The National Public Library hosts Local Author of the Month Timothy Payne 51MkRaGCYHL

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

 

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Mailbox – Saint Lucia – for the Record

I’m sure they have their complaints – and they did suffer the debilitating loss of their Folk Research Centre to fire earlier this year – but from where I’m sitting St. Lucia does a commendable job of researching and documenting its artistic resources, resource people, and accomplishments. I’ve written before about The Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative Writing Poetry, Prose, Drama by St. Lucian Writers 1948-2013, The Saint Lucian Literature and Theatre: an Anthology of Reviewsfor instance, and credited the work they’ve been doing in the area of documentation and research with funding from the state and private sector, and lamented the lack here – even as we do what we can here on the site – documenting what we can of our media history, art developments, and literary publications, to start, and in fact one of the ‘documents’ here on the site, a curated Caribbean lit anthology, was compiled by the man who is a common denominator of the various St.  Lucia publications – poet John Robert Lee.  I admit some low level envy that there is tangible support for this kind of work in St. Lucia as it suggests to me that the powers that be (and the private sector) understand that art and culture has real value (though, like I said, I’ve talked with enough of us artist types across the region to know that we all have our complaints).

All of that preamble to say, here they come with another one:

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Published by Papillote Press, it is due for release in early 2019. I’m told by John that March 1st 2019 is publication day. This is the original cover concept; watch this space for the final cover.

John goes out of his way to keep the community of Caribbean writers, inasmuch as we are a community, connected and informed; and because he does that for others, I thought it important to share this here.

Keep doing what you’re doing, St. Lucia.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. You’re also invited to follow me on my author blog http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

 

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Fu Arwe Ting: A Night of Creative Arts

file.jpgFu Arwe Ting is/was a new lit/arts event for Independence 2018 – a positive addition in my view. The ladies behind it – in collaboration with the Festival Commission are Linisa George and her Black Exhibit Project and Angelica O’Donoghue who you might remember as the winner of the 2006 Wadadli Pen Challenge (when she was 16!…well she’s grown now, a near 30 year old mommy of two with her own book in the works…as I told her backstage tonight, way to make me feel old…also delighted that she’s grown in to one of the sparks of Antigua-Barbuda lit arts). Delighted to be a part of the event and even more delighted to sit in the audience and enjoy.

My personal favourites –

Joy Lawrence’s reading from her book Barbuda and Betty’s Hope: the Codrington Connection, specifically the first person accounts of two survivors of a boating disaster between Antigua and Barbuda back in 2003. The vivid accounts were riveting and I had an emotional moment when one of the testimonials described the 17 year old boy seeing his mother jumping around on the shore as he was being pulled from the sea after fighting the water overnight for his life.

Honey Bee Theatre – all their performances but especially their first number which was about the contradictions and burdens of being a girl in a world that places so many labels and limitations …so many labels and limitations…labels and limitations that both boys and girls are confined within; the piece was both well written – rife with irony and humor – and well executed – with exuberance and maturity. It’s fair to say that gender issues were an unofficial theme as – from Shiva School of Dance’s opening number to Angelica’s entreaty that you are not your father to young boys and Marseille Jardine’s reflection on dem little girls – this wasn’t the only performance tackling it.

Other things I enjoyed – Jervon Tittle’s second poem especially was inspirational. “Start where you are/use what you have/do what you can”. How’s that for a kick in the ass?
Annia Matthew’s vocal performance had backstage (where I was during her performance) bouncing and, though I disagreed with how she summed up Caribbean literature (as I’ve found on my reading journey much more diversity of genres, topics, and styles than is credited), I am interested in reading Kimolisa Mings’ Into the Black Widow’s Web after the excerpt she shared – the detective character sounds about as hard-bitten and cynical as we’ve come to expect of the detective mystery sub-genre and the humor seems just dry enough to be salty.  Olsfred James’ take on writers’ block rang true. Zahra Airall’s end piece about black magic is worth thinking about – and, as ever, powerfully presented; though I did think to have people dancing out of the theatre the producers might have flipped it in the presentation order with the previous number – a rousing calypso-ish medley by Police Kings Bartimus and Singing Sudden. I say calypso-ish because it was those national songs we grew up being drilled in come Independence time when in school – Antigua Land to God Bless Antigua – set to a an uptempo and infectious calypso riddim. They’re much more fun that way.

The programme was rounded out with performances by Jojo Intsiful, Kadeem Joseph, and yours truly. I read from Musical Youth and also shared my poem Ode to the Pan Man.


Thanks to the organizers for the invite. And in light of conversations and criticisms last year, it’s nice to see such a prominent role for local literary arts in the Independence programme; continued growth.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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A & B Arts Round-up – September 22nd 2018 –>

Recurring and ongoing – Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series – in four week cycles. For information on this and other JWP workshops and/or individual coaching (creative writing, writing for media, written communication, coaching, and more) go here  or email jhohadli at gmail dot com

October 28th 2018 – Let’s Paint Antigua – 2:00 p.m. – here’s a link to their facebook page for more information

October –

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September 23rd 2018 – Let’s Paint Antigua – 2:30 p.m. – here’s a link to their facebook page for more information41719330_2271040146244890_5343970705375494144_n

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

 

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Wanted: Offspring, Talent, Inheritance and Assets Management

I told you I’d be reaching out to Lawrence Jardine for permission to re-publish the paper he originally published in the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books 2018 edition. Before that, the paper was presented at the University of the West Indies Open Campus Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua and Barbuda Studies Association, and the National Youth Enlightenment Academy hosted 12th annual Antigua and Barbuda Conference in 2017; specifically on the African Caribbean Liberation Movement (ACLM) panel on Friday 11th August 2017. Now, it is presented here for your dissection and discussion; hope you find it as interesting a read as I did. Author bio at the end. – JCH

warri

This image was not part of the original article but you know we need visuals for the blog; so what better to open with than the game that opens the piece – the African-Caribbean game of warri.

In Antigua and Barbuda we play a game called Warri, which is our national game. This game, which was played by kings, was brought here by our African ancestors. In the 1980s, I often stopped at the Bata Shoes Store pavement to watch Warri masters play. I can recall Dagon, a soft spoken character when compared to his peers, masterfully playing stump, which is the local name given to Warri’s endgame. It is at stump time – the endgame – when players concentrate most fiercely, displaying craft, patience and foresight, trying to acquire the final decisive seeds. During this battling period of stump – the endgame – players repetitively tally their seeds – doing the math. The player who captures the most seeds wins. Instructively, seed is a synonym for offspring. With that connection made, we could say that Warri is an African game for dignified men, engaged in meticulous offspring corralling and management. However, in 1997, Antigua and Barbuda’s Miss Saklie Richards became the World Warri Champion. From 1998 to 2002, it was Grand Master Trevor Simon, and in 2006, Grand Master September Christian won the World Warri Championship. On their journey to this prestigious title, they defeated players from Europe and our Motherland – because of their mastery of the endgame. We have not yet converted this achievement and talent to an industry. An endgame not envisioned, not realized.

Saklie Richards, Trevor Simon and September Christian, in collaboration with students at the Antigua and Barbuda International Institute of Technology, could have been commissioned to develop the definitive Warri software and smart phone app. That is, a computer Warri program against which local students and international players would compete. Of course, this would include a database to track the performance of top local students, thereby providing useful statistical information for STEM planning. My question really is, could Warri – our national game – an old gift from Africa, in a computerized version, as a component of an organized software industry in this electronic age, increase our foreign exchange earnings and directly employ one hundred (100) persons? Could these, what I call Talent and Tech industries, diminish the effect of Sandals Resort International’s punitive decision to close for five months, thereby affecting seven hundred (700) employees? In his book, Black and White The Way I See It, the visionary Richard Williams, father of tennis super stars Venus and Serena, illustrated the potential of sports, and, perhaps more importantly, the art and wisdom of stump as he managed his offspring to fame and fortune. What if Mr. Williams was an advisor and honorary director of the Antigua and Barbuda Sports Economy Board? Mr. Williams could also be a member of our Citizen by Intelligence Program (CIP). Preoccupied with the old relationships and developmental economic models, we fail to see, to believe and to invest in our own and the talents that we possess. What if we had Sir Vivian Richards International School of Sports, a state of the art Sports Academy? This institution would showcase our finest sport performance professionals – nutritionists, educators, historians, therapists, psychologists, strategists, etc. They would converge to produce the finest offspring. In addition to its positive effect on West Indies Cricket, probable direct employment one hundred (100) persons. But we have Crossroads and the American University of Antigua, among others. Why don’t we believe and build industries around our offspring and their talents? The anxiety and economic hardship that workers of Sandals will experience are nothing new; they are repetitive fouls from the capitalist’s playbook. It’s just a re-run of the same old sequel: episode 1, starring Moody Stuart; episode 2, starring Allen Stanford; episode 3, starring Butch Stewart.

All these re-runs have the same ending; the workers lose. But when will we start taking full and collective responsibility for our economic destiny? Continuously, our intelligentsia refuses to invest meaningfully in Antigua and

Barbuda to provide employment for our own. By intelligentsia I mean the top 20% of our older academic achievers. In fact, this class is prominent in the brain drain exodus, sometimes flaunting education for prestige and personal development, but not for local economic production and our collective liberation. Metaphorically speaking, this class has learned to fish, but it is not fishing. It is looking for the bottom 80% to be entrepreneurs. In my view, it is time that the top 20% envision an economic endgame to produce, and to recapture the landscape. I am not letting the politicians off the hook, but it is also my respectful opinion that the economically delinquent top 20% needs to pitch in to assist our desperate and wit-exhausted politicians, who are left economically stranded, genuflecting to foreign investors – even on the Sabbath. Endgames are the embodiment of vision and mission statements. For example, Walt Disney’s previous mission statement: Make People Happy. Or the woman who was so intoxicated by Carnival spirits and revelry that she told Calypsonian Stingray, “Do as You Like with Me.” Perhaps a more sobering, uplifting and dignified endgame is: “Never Again.” But let me continue with an economic relationship between the top 20% and the bottom 80%. In the last fifty (50) years virtually every major and minor enterprise created by the bottom 80% of African Antiguans, in and around the city of St. John’s, has disappeared. Here are some of my time: John I. Martin, Keith Edwards Wholesale, Dicky Lake’s Supermarket, Daniel Bakery, The National Bakery, Mary King Bakery, Laurent Drug Store, Mark’s Restaurant, Brother B’s Restaurant, Bailey’s Store, O’Neil Pharmacy, Shannon’s Upholstery, Wallace, Graham Supermarket, Alexander’s, Masses House, Stanley R. Walter Store, Cornwall Supermarket, Chelsea Electrical and Refrigeration, Outlet Printery, Benjies Department Store, H. C. Grant, Christian Windows and Doors, Food City.

And the list is increasing…

With few exceptions, the offspring of these early commercial pioneers have received tertiary education and have become members of the top 20% class. As the above closures would suggest, the economic and entrepreneurial baton was not passed, received and relayed. There has been no transition from a merchant class to an educated productive class. As such, when compared to our ethnicities, our top 20% has not acquired as much capital by the means of local commercial activity to create meaningful employment, and to financially assist our artists: musicians, painters, sculptors, poets, etc. As this trend is indicating, the typical African Antiguan family enterprise struggles to endure the second generation. Is there a communication gap or a philosophical divide between generations? Do the parents not trust their offspring? Is it offspring envy? Do the offspring scorn its parent’s business model, not understanding that assets are generally accumulated across generations, starting from very humble beginnings? What is the reason for this generational dissonance? Is it that African Antiguan businesses are poor at succession planning? This is perhaps a phenomenon that requires in-depth research and analysis. This economic discontinuity also means that acquired entrepreneurial wisdom and intelligence are not significantly transferred to or inherited by the offspring.

This creates an undesirable disruption in the continuance of economic enterprise and culture, as the nation struggles with the unemployment problems. Generally speaking, this IT generation, which is arguably void of the cultural moorings of its parents, is starting economically from scratch, again. Economist, Professor Thomas Piketty, in his book CAPITAL in the Twenty-First Century – a discourse on wealth, capital and income distributions, highlights the significant contribution of inheritance in related economic mobility. Do the African Antiguan offspring tend to prefer education as prestige – climbing a perceived social ladder, as compared to inheritable enterprises that require vision, discipline, sacrifice and frugality to successfully manage and expand?

As an example, I know of a successful organic farmer who cultivates a sizable acreage, and who has an aversion for artificial preservatives. To his resignation, his offspring is off to study AI – Artificial Intelligence. This disconnection between generations appears to be a pervasive African Antiguan problem, affecting our abilities to develop long-term enterprises and to transition to secondary production. So far, I have been sketching an observed generational disconnection in some Antiguan Black family enterprises and talents over the past fifty (50) years, and the fact that during that very same period, the offspring of Freed People have acquired unprecedented tertiary education. I have not discerned a comparable increase in corporations or co-operatives to suggest that our offspring have moved on to adopt those business models. In fact, I know that in the IT sector most are jobbing and freelancing – doing their own little thing on the side. Let me share with you one of the inherited dilemmas of our newly educated offspring. I am in the software development business, so I have met a few accountants, HR managers and IT professionals. Their “abundance” has led to this new trend; they are all working on contracts: twelve (12), eighteen (18), twenty-four (24), or thirty-six (36) months – if lucky, mainly in the hospitality and food supply sectors. There is basically no full and open-ended employment for these young qualified offspring anymore. One actually told me that because of this, they have become very proficient in writing resumes and job applications. Needless to say, they can hardly acquire a bank mortgage to construct a home, or start an enterprise. However, they can – and often do, purchase used cars online. We need to create new economic models and relationships for our offspring, by looking at other linkages between their managerial, technical and enterprising abilities.

For example, take a look at my neighbor of the 80% class, a road-side master automobile mechanic, who desperately needs administrative and technical assistance. What if Kebra the accountant, Marsha the business major, Deon the Information Technology wizard and Joyce the HR manager, harmoniously and respectfully rallied around Roy, the master mechanic? Just imagine the LED sign… Roy’s Professional Auto Repair Shop – the Trade-in Killer. We need to incentivize this entrepreneurial convergence and model for our offspring.

I have borrowed the term Freed People from Natasha Lightfoot, who used it in her book, Troubling Freedom. To my mind, Lightfoot used that term and wrapped it in a very creative narrative to zoom in on the predicament of a people in limbo – freed but still not free. As such, she mitigated some distractions of racial labeling, thereby moving a human struggle to the fore of her discourse. However, shouldn’t Freed People – even when they are celebrating, be always suspiciously looking over their shoulders, in perhaps a phobic and relentless pursuit to secure and extend freedom? Shouldn’t that be a primary agenda item of our curricula from kindergarten to university? Isn’t that what our education is also for – never again, but freedom? Are we just laid-back, with eyes wide shut, counting chickens, waiting for the Reparations bonanza, which from current projections, our offspring will most likely squander – one way or the other? Professor Hilary Beckles, in his book Britain’s Black Debt, which I believe should be compulsory reading in secondary schools – here, said this: “The British state believes that the longer the reparations case is denied, the more remote it will become. These officials seem to believe that as each generation comes to maturity, the less concerned they will be with matters of history. Playing the time game is considered their best strategy. Future generations of black youth, they believe, will have less interest in the experience of their forebears and are unlikely to commit politically to matters such as reparations.” Having recognized Natasha Lightfoot for the classification, Freed People, it appears to me that as Educated Freed People, we are losing our way; we are to some extent off course. So far, I have mainly looked at disconnections on the merchandizing side of the enterprise equation. Now, I would like to reflect at the consumption patterns and preferences of our offspring. If the world is a stage, then our offspring are members of the supporting cast, playing the roles of walking mannequins, spiritedly – but unaware, displaying our trade deficit.

Smart phones from China, leather shoes from Spain, ankle chains from Switzerland, tattoo ink from Japan, respectfully I will not numerate the items between the knees and the shoulders, gold chains from USA, lipstick from France, and false hair from India – all mainly acquired online, circumventing local brick and mortar enterprises. This deficit will be paid, if not by trade and foreign exchange earnings, then eventually by the currency of land. As the Russians say, the only place you can find free cheese is in a rat’s trap. Our offspring are offline, disconnected from our Troubling Freedom, schooled with a curricula that is history neutral, consumption loaded, pride insensitive, production indifferent, past experiences submerged, future blind-sided and liberation aborted.

When will the Educated Freed People rise to the occasion and eradicate this recursive pathological indifference in our offspring? To elevate their minds, straighten their posture, and sharpen their sense of justice and worth… Perhaps the success of the African Reparation Movement hinges on this. An Englishman, with whom I worked, once told me this: “Do you know what’s wrong with you guys; you don’t nip things in the bud.” Micro biologist, Ernst Mayer in his book, What evolution IS, said this: “Indeed, the selection event is to favor individuals that have succeeded in finding a progressive answer to current problems. The summation of all these steps is evolutionary progress.” In one of the most disturbing books I have read, Childhood Under Siege, Joel Bakan explains how corporations assemble the finest psychologists and marketing experts, who use concepts such as the Nag Factor – how children nag parents to purchase products – and addiction, to influence the youth, who internalize the subliminal suggestions of about thirty thousand (30, 000) video commercials per year. Incidentally, they also use racial factors when marketing to Black communities. Among other things, here is a fact Bakan investigates:

“A massive and growing kid marketing industry is targeting children with increasingly callous and devious methods to manipulate their forming and vulnerable emotions, cultivate compulsive behavior, and addle their psyches with violence, sex, and obsessive consumerism.” Brothers and sisters there is urgency to design and rollout new curricula of enlightenment for our offspring. As I have tried to show, the lack of formal education is no longer our major problem. We have the tools and the talents. But our mindset – the pregame – is wrong. This new curricula for our offspring must focus on pregame requirements to execute the economic endgame strategies as our celebrated Warri Grand Masters do – as they tally seeds. The Indians are doing it, the Chinese are doing it. They have moved homework to the classroom, and the Chinese are teaching mathematics at the rate of the slowest student. That is, they do not move on or change the topic until every student masters it. We must teach our Troubling Freedom and history at the rate of the slowest student, until they all understand. This too is a prerequisite and beginning of a new economy. As the Chinese are demonstrating, patience with our offspring could be a most rewarding virtue… I thank you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lawrence A. Jardine is the founder of the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Enlightenment Academy. He is a Software Developer and, the founder and manager of DMS – Data Management Solutions Ltd., which is the leading payroll software solutions developer in Antigua and Barbuda. Lawrence is a graduate of the Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology, Ontario Canada, where he studied electronics and developed his love for computer programming. He has worked for two parent companies, the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of Germany, for over twenty-five (25) years. He has also been the national champion in two (2) disciplines: Pocket Billiards and Dominoes. In 2006, he won the National Independence Short Story Competition. Lawrence is a Professional Billiard Instructors Association (PBIA located in the USA) Certified Pocket Billiards Instructor. He is also the chairman of the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Committee (LTHMC).

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