Monday, August 18, 2008


I've put on a couple of blog items that relate to calypso music and related genres. Calypso has been a favorite of mine since I first saw the Andrews Sisters singing "Rum and Cococola" in a stage show at the Lowe's Paradise in the Bronx in the late 1940s. They had simply adopted Lord Invader's song, and it took him 10 years of litigation to get his rights recognized.

I want to put on more examples, and spotlight individual singers, but it wouldn't be appropriate because it would make this a Caribbean blog and I want this to concentrate on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

I do have a blog that has some old material on folk music, so I'll continue the discussion on Calypso there.

Go here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Garifuna Timeline Belize

Timeline Garifuna History Belize
By The Founder on August 13, 2008

1635 - Two Spanish ships wrecked off the coast of St. Vincent - West African slaves escape to the island, where they found the Yellow Caribs, a group that emerged from the intermarriages between the Venezuelan Caribs and the island Arawaks.

1675 - Another shipwreck brought another wave of Africans to St. Vincent. Also, African slaves who had escaped nearby slave plantations from places like Jamaica found their way to the island.

1750 - The new race of people - today called the GARIFUNA or Black Caribs, which emerged on the island of St. Vincent through the integration of 3 peoples - the Arawaks, the Yellow Caribs and the Africans - are said to have grown strong and prosperous on the island.

1763 - British colonizers established presence on the island; French had already partially colonized the territory. British and French were fighting for territorial control. The Garifuna sided with the French, with whom they had developed a trading relationship after an informal war truce/peace pact.

1763-1795: 32-year conflict between the Caribs and the Europeans, particularly the British. There was some intermarriage also between the Caribs and the Europeans, resulting in the so-called Red Carib race, known from the island of Dominica.

1795: On March 14, Paramount Chief of the Black Caribs, Joseph Chatoyer, died in battle.

1796: The French surrendered to the British; but the Caribs kept up the fight. They were famed as being "belligerent."

To subdue them, the British - who were after the land they had cultivated - torched their possessions. There were two major wars: the Caribs won the first in 1795, and the British won the second sometime in 1796.

It is reported that Chatoyer's daughter, Gulisi, was one of the first to settle in Belize. At the age of 24, she reportedly came to Belize from Honduras, with 5 sons.

1797: About 5,000 Garinagu were said to have "survived" the wars. In March, the British launched a manhunt for the Garinagu. They wanted to use those who had survived the bloody wars to help them fight the Spaniards. They were expecting a war, which came in 1798 - the historical Battle of St. George's Caye - and had uniforms made for the Garifuna men.

One year before the Battle of St. George's Caye, the British packed up the Garinagu into ships, reportedly with the intent of sending them to Belize. The popular traditional accounts say that they were "deported" from St. Vincent to Roatan, Honduras, then a Spanish colony. Perhaps the Garinagu refused to fight!

The Garifuna people were transported from Balliceaux, near Bequia, St. Vincent, to Roatan, Honduras, and half of them reportedly perished from the scourges of disease, starvation and harsh treatment by colonial powers. They were reportedly sent off with three months' food supply, and some allege their deportation was a deliberate attempt at genocide.

1799: First reported contact with Belize.

1801: On March 25, Garinagu arrive at Belize City, spotted many white buildings near the sea, and called it by the name YARBURA - which later became Yarborough. They were only allowed to stay temporarily for 2 days.

1802: 150 Caribs settled in Belize at Yarborough. Some surnames of the settlers include: Avaloy, Avila, Beni, Blanco, Cayetano, Ciego, Diego, Ellis, Enriquez, Guerrero, Lambey, Lewis, Martinez, Moguel, Noguera, Nunez, Rhys, Reyes and Serano. One of the prominent leaders at the time was Benito Beni.

1802: Village of Red Cliff - present day Barranco - established.

Today, Barranco, one of the first Garifuna communities in Belize, is one of the last havens where the Garifuna culture is preserved in one of its most dynamic

1823: 375 Garinagu recorded at Yarborough in Belize City.

On March 31, Elejo Beni, Romauldo Lewis, Elias Martinez, Alejo Lambey and Alejo Beni's cousin, Benito Beni, their interpreter, approached Sup. Major-General Edward Codd 1823-1829) for permission for Garinagu to migrate from Honduras.

1823: On Wednesday, November 19, 500 Garinagu settled in Belize. This was the largest recorded exodus of Garifuna to Belize.

300 Dangriga (then Stann Creek Town). 125 Punta Gorda (Toledo). 28 Seine Bight. 15 Jonathon Point. 8 Newtown (desolated by hurricane)

1941 - First celebration of Garifuna Settlement Day in Belize, called Carib Disembarkation Day. Founded by Thomas Vincent Ramos.

1943 - Ramos lobbied for a public and bank holiday and succeeded two years after celebrations began. Granted only for Stann Creek.

1944: Holiday extended to the Toledo District, where the third largest concentration of Garifuna lived.

1977: Carib Settlement Day becomes a national holiday, and name changed to
Garifuna Settlement Day.

2001: On November 15, UNESCO made a public proclamation of the Garifuna culture as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible heritage of Humanity.

2002: Chief Chatoyer celebrated as the first National Hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. His stalwart struggle against the British won him this acclaim 207 years after his death, when the country celebrated its first National Heroes Day on March 14, this year.

2002: On November 13, the Order of Belize bestowed posthumously upon T. V.
Ramos, now recognized as one of Belize's true patriots.

Contributed by Adele Ramos. Editor's Note. Ms. Ramos is a Garifuna nationalist.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Garifuna Women's Project: Umalali

The Garifuna Women's Project: Umalali, A Review

by Deanne Sole

Sofia Blanco is back! And so is a little bit of the squashy soft-rock electric guitar that squirmed its way into Andy Palacio’s Watina last year, but eh, we’ll cope. Palacio himself died in January after suffering two seizures and a stroke. His death was unexpected. The recent success of Watina [Click to hear] had given him international momentum. His professional take on Garifuna roots had attracted the kind of praise and attention that this music had never had before. Watina won him a posthumous award from the BBC. Obituaries appeared in foreign newspapers. So he was gone but he had left a legacy, he had cleared a path for other Garifuna musicians who might want to follow him to a larger audience. Here was their music on the world stage: a combination of rapid drumming, galloping, staggered rhythms, singing that was part-celebration, part-woe, something crisp and unusual, not quite Caribbean, not quite African, rattling with percussion, likable, lively, and new.

On Umalali that music has a different tone. The women’s voices are prickly and rough where the men’s were quieter and smoother. The songs bristle. Palacio entered Watina with a few words that were almost a sung purr. He sounded gentle and coaxing. Blanco comes into Umalali with a salty
alertness, strong as iron, pointed as nails, a fierce and mournful sound. The shuffling percussion of the introduction cues you to expect a sweet crooner in the style of Cesaria Evora and instead there’s
this. Blanco’s voice pounces on you. A moment goes by before you register the feeling in her voice, the maturity behind the nails, the dignity of the iron. It’s emotional but never pulpy, never self-pitying, even when she’s singing about physical suffering. Her daughter Silvia, who takes the
lead in “Barubana Yagien” and “Fuleisei”, has the same pounce as her mother but her voice is younger, cuter, lighthearted. The nip of citron in her inflections is the vocal equivalent of a slightly askew nose or buckled lip that turns an ordinary face into a remarkable one.

Chella Torres on “Anaha Ya”, “Marua”, and "Afayahadina"[Click to Hear] is deep and steady. Masagu Fernandez Guity on “Luwuburi Sigala” has the crusty tang of age. Julia Nunez sings “Lirun Biganute” with an evocative vibration that almost swerves out of tune, sounding like bad news crackling out of a very
old wireless set. The simple instrumentation behind her has been nicely shaped to show off her voice to its best advantage, downplaying the unevenness of the non-professional singer and giving space to the voice’s good points, the sincerity of it, the way it slides and quivers.

Some of the songs on Umalali are solo pieces, others are the call-and-response between a lead and a chorus. The lead singer sings a few words, then the chorus comes crashing in. There’s a lot of excitement in this music, not only in the voices but also in the pace of it, the quickness of the drumming, the way that a song like “Afayahadina” seems to spin in circles as the instruments and voices chase one another. So much happens so rapidly that 40 minutes go by in a flash. At times the music sounds like a samba, but a tough backwoods samba, sung by people who, if they lived in
other countries, might be singing fado, rebetika, flamenco, or blues. It has that same flavour of a tough life being transformed into music, people giving their hardships a purpose and a shape by turning them into songs, setting them forth as examples: see, this has happened to me, listen.
Umalali is Watina‘s successor, and, at the very least, its equal. If the other Garifuna roots albums that come after it are as good as this, then it’s going to be a genre to watch out for.
RATING: 8 of 10 — 11 August 2008

© 1999-2008

Monday, August 11, 2008


Calypso and Chutney merged to form Soca. The name may have come from "Soul" and "Calypso" but the music itself is clearly derivative from Chutney.

The two Calypso singers who were highly regarded in their own style were also able to drop into Soca at will.

Lord Kitchener often based his soca pieces around Pan as in Pan In Harmony.

The Mighty Sparrow combined flexible vocal lines with interesting ideas, as in
Life In Hell.

These days both classic Calypso and Soca can be considered Calypso. Other stylistic variations like Rocksteady, Ska, and Reggae, were primarily asociated with Jamaica. Songs in a more Calypsonian style from Jamaica are called Mento.


Along with Calypso there was a musical form that used rhymic patterns from the ethnic Indian population with Caribbean harmonies and, sometimes, english lyrics. This mixture was called Chutney.

One that is purely Indian is Doolha.

As sung by the Calypso singer Lord Beginner the song "Fed-A-Ray" sounds like this.


Just to illustrate some concepts in Caribbean music, here are three examples of pre-WW2 Trinidadian calypsos:

Lord Invader sings about Matilda.

King Tiger (also known as The Growling Tiger) sings about money.

Atilla the Hun sings about a politician in Nankivell

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vincies at the Olympics

National female 400m champion, Kineke Alexander, leads the Vincentian delegation to this year's summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The Vincentian delegation, comprising of only two athletes, arrived in Beijing on 28 July 2008. They were met at the airport and accommodated at the environmentally Olympic Games Village (OGV) where they will stay until the conclusion of the Games.

Alexander who is the lone athlete to have made the IAAF standards for the Games, will contest the 400m while the others elected athlete, Jared Lewis, will contest the 100m.

The team made an early entry into Beijing in order to facilitate acclimatisation. The OGV officially opened on 25 July 2008.

The coach of the team is Gideon Labban while Leroy Llewellyn is the Team Manager with Jacintha Ballantyne as the Chaperone.

(Thanks to John Hayes).............

The delegation passed the cameras during a commercial, but they flashed a still afterward.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

University of the West Indies

UWI celebrates its 60th anniversary as graduates run the show in the region
Published on Friday, August 8, 2008

By Oscar Ramjeet
Caribbean Net News Special Correspondents

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands: The University of the West Indies (UWI) is celebrating its 60th anniversary and graduates from the educational institution are in the forefront of political, educational, cultural and other developmental aspects in the region. More so, most of the top businessmen and entrepreneurs are UWI graduates.

Eight of the regional prime ministers are graduates of UWI. In addition, former UWI Pro Vice Chancellor and St Augustine Campus Principal, Professor Emeritus George Maxwell Richards is the current President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and alumnus, former UWI Pro Vice Chancellor and Mona Principal, Professor Emeritus Kenneth O. Hallis, the Governor General of Jamaica.

St Lucia’s Governor General, Dame Pearlette Louisy is also an alumni of UWI.

Dr Nicholas Liverpool, the President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, who was awarded Caricom’s highest award, OCC, a month ago, was a former Dean of the faculty of law at Cave Hill.

Lawyers seem to be dominating the region. The latest is Tillman Thomas, who is the new Prime Minister of Grenada. He joined David Thompson, Prime Minister of Barbados, Dean Barrow of Belize, Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Hubert Ingraham, who is a law graduate of Nassau, Bahamas. Former Prime Minister of St Lucia, Kenny Anthony, is also a law graduate from UWI. In fact, he gained first class honours in LLM at Cave Hill University.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister, Percival Patterson, is also a lawyer, but he is an English-trained barrister, who nevertheless obtained a degree from UWI at Mona.

The acting Chancellor of the Judiciary in Guyana, Carl Singh, and Chief Justice Ian Chang are also UWI graduates, as well as the Chief Justices of Cayman Islands, Anthony Smellie; the Eastern Caribbean, Hugh Rawlins; Jamaica, Zaila Mc Calla;and Trinidad and Tobago Chief Justice Ivor Archie, who graduated from Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago in 1986

The current Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Denzil Douglas, is also a graduate of the UWI and so was his predecessor, Dr Kennedy Simmonds.

Patrick Manning, the Head of Government of the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is also a UWI alumni and so were former Barbados Prime Minister, Erskine Sandiford, and David Brandt and Reuben Meade, former Chief Ministers of Montserrat.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, is also a UWI graduate, as well as Dr Keith Mitchell, who served three terms as Head of Government in Grenada.

Derek Walcott, St Lucian poet, Nobel Laureate, was also educated at UWI.

Reprinted from Caribbean Net News

Copyright© 2007 Caribbean Net News at All Rights Reserved
Licence is granted for free print and distribution.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sugar Mill Academy

Sugar Mill Academy photographed over the top of Caliaqua from our balcony.

Heritage: Black Point Tunnel

Sorry, I'll figure out how to roatate these.

There's a nice picnic park here.


Low income housing in Diamond

Retired returned expatriate housing in Diamond

Tourism: I Remember Antigua

Before we settled in St. Vincent, Sally & I visited a number of Caribbean islands. My work at the time slowed down in the winter, so we took a couple of weeks off and spent a week on each of a couple of islands. Antigua was a particularly uncomfortable example of something we experienced (more or less) on other islands. Antigua has a marvelous tourist area: docks for several cruise ships and blocks of modern construction containing the kinds of shops that tourists expect.

But when we went for a walk and got outside that tourist area you could cut the tension with a knife. The people sitting on the porches stared at us with open hostility. We had rented a car, so we stayed out of the tourist areas after that.

It was fine out in the countryside, and there were beaches that weren't crowded with tourist hotels, though they were hard to get to. But there were also seashore areas that were blocked by gated communities.

The key to the tension, in my opinion, was the gap between ordinary Antiguans and rich tourists (even if some tourists were only rich for a couple of weeks a year). And that is a danger that any area of touristic interest runs. Even St. Vincent, when it opens the Argyle airport and stops being a secret that only Caribbean people know about, will have to be careful that it doesn't create that gap between native and tourist that breeds hostility on one side and vulnerability on the other.

Tourism: New problems?

Here is an essay from Dominica.

bowen couple murder

Editor’s note:This is a guest post from Danielle Edwards - a Literature and History student and an aspiring Journalist.

Weeks after our Caricom leaders’ agreement to market regional destinations as part of a complete ‘One Caribbean’ regional experience instead of individual island territories, we’re faced with the growing challenges of sharing each other’s problems…

In the heat of this summer’s Carnival festivities, the brutal murder of a British couple honeymooning in Antigua has sparked outrage among locals, government officials and foreigners alike.

Only a fortnight after blissfully cutting their wedding cake together, the Mullanys were attacked and shot before sunrise at their secluded luxury cottage in the Cocos Hotel last week. A £66,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of their murderers, and authorities in Antigua & Barbuda are now scrambling to implement ‘extraordinary measures’ and ‘beef up security’ to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Unfortunately, it seems like officials may be trying to play this off as an isolated incident as they are extremely frantic about the country’s tourism image. The Tourism Minister Mr. Harold Lovell has said that ‘This isolated incident has deeply shocked our community and we wish to reassure visitors that Antigua and Barbuda is a safe destination’. This move has not gone unnoticed by the international media. According to a BBC news report, ‘people who live there say…that crime is increasing’.

There have been a whopping 10 murders so far in Antigua for the year in addition to numerous incidents of armed robbery and sexual assault- a big number for a little island. Most of these crimes remain unsolved, but some persons have, unbelievably, found comfort in the fact that the majority of homicides have been committed against locals and not foreigners. However there is no doubt that the crime rate is far too high. In 2006 alone there were 19 killings.

Many Antiguans are upfront about the problem, citing gang war as the underlying menace. There are allegedly more than 10 territorial gangs on the island! In fact, days before the Mullanys were murdered police discovered 100 rounds of .38 ammunition and a gunman’s mask in a local residence.
But while some of us may be inclined to brush this incident off as an Antiguan problem, in reality it has implications for the wider Caribbean. It comes just weeks after our Caricom leaders decided to market the region jointly as part of a ‘One Caribbean’ marketing campaign.

Since, according to Mr. Ralph Gonsalves, ‘We don’t have the resources to be aggressive individually’, our Caribbean nations will no longer be promoted as single islands, but jointly as a regional destination. There will no longer be different places and faces- we will all share one face for the prospective tourist.

While this agreement certainly has potential economic benefits, one of its foreseeable implications is likely to be that the negative impact of crimes such as the Mullanys’ murder on the Antiguan tourism industry would also be shared by other islands such as Dominica and St. Lucia. In other words, one island’s crime would inescapably affect the image of all the islands.

Already, territories like Jamaica, which has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and Trinidad & Tobago are grappling with the suppression of crime at home.

So the question arises- have our leaders prepared themselves adequately for this new tourism strategy? It’s worth wondering whether or not they are all currently aware of the circumstances surrounding this particular crime, which has already prompted several flight cancellations to Antigua, and the fact that its criminal investigations are being impeded by a ‘code of silence’.

We the people know how wonderful life is in the Caribbean, but many tourists can be easily discouraged from visiting the region by atrocious crimes, many of which are never easily solved. And now, our leaders are faced with the challenge of fighting crime all over the Caribbean and not only in their home territories- whether they wish to accept this reality or not.

And they may not be quite ready to deal with this challenge.

Sources: &

Quasi-Heritage: Pirates

I have put a lot of pictures on Flickr ( and the most viewed were the pictures of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movie set. So while these remains aren't really "Heritage" sites they are of interest touristically. After all a lot more peoplr know about the movies than know about St. Vincent. So the remains of the sets that are still out in Walilabou are certainly worth preserving--to the extent that their temporary mode of construction makes preservation possible.

And there is a bar-restaurant there on the shore, and a craft shop a bit up the street, and a nice little picnic place with waterfall a bit up the hill. We often pick up a lunch on the way and eat it by the falls.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Heritage: Orange Hill Aquiduct

Some of the sugarcane plantations had windmills, as shown on the blog describing the tower as Shugar Mill Academy; but others used the power of water flowing from the mountains. The remains of an aquiduct leading to the mill at Orange Hill Estate cross the windward highway north of the bridge over the dry river at Rabaca.


There is one rounabout on the mainland of St. Vincent. It is on the inand end of the airstrip of the E. T. Joshua Airport in Arnos Vale. There are three roads that lead from it, one going to Kingstown and the Leeward Side; one to the Windward Side and one over the rim of the volcanic caldera that contains Mesopotamia ("Mespo_). There is a road that leads out of Mespo to the Windward side at Peruvian Vale.