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.”
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.
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.