Guyanese poet Jan Carew, new book


This video series is called JAN CAREW – Black Seminoles, and The Columbian Era.

By Andy Croft in Britain:

Walking the streets of eternity with a Guyanese great

Wednesday 24th February 2016

The poems of Jan Carew which have just been published are testimony to a passionate engagement with the struggle for human liberation which transcends his life and times, says ANDY CROFT

IN THE early 1960s, the new university in Georgetown, Guyana, asked the Guyanese writer Jan Carew (1920-2012), then living in London, to help them stock their library.

With a cheque for £16,000 to spend but with no idea where to start, Carew contacted comrades in the Communist Party who helped him select the books and ship them out to Guyana.

It’s a tantalising story, told almost as an aside in Carew’s posthumously published Episodes From My Life (Peepal Tree, £19.99).

Following his earlier memoir Potaro Dreams, it’s an account of Carew’s wanderings from Guyana to Europe and in Africa and the US.

An extraordinary book about an extraordinary life, it’s moving, funny and vividly written and full of fascinating pen portraits of people like Malcolm X, Andrew Salkey, Jomo Kenyatta, Claudia Jones, Paul Robeson and Cheddi Jagan.

Born in a village in Guyana, Carew was educated in the US, then at Charles University in Prague and the Sorbonne in Paris. A prolific author of fiction, history, essays, children’s books, plays and poetry, his books include Black Midas and The Wild Coast, Rape of Paradise, Ghosts in our Blood, The Guyanese Wanderer and Grenada: The Hour Will Strike Again. In the 1950s, he was a regular broadcaster on the BBC’s Caribbean Voices series and in the 1960s edited The Magnet, London’s first Black newspaper.

He acted with Laurence Olivier and with Wole Soyinka, visited Moscow as a guest of the Union of Soviet Writers and was active in the campaign to free Paul Robeson. Sammy Davis Jr appeared in one of his television plays. Carew reported from inside Cuba for the Observer during the Cuban missile crisis, was working in Ghana at the time of the 1966 coup and lived in revolutionary Grenada.

He was the personal adviser to several heads of government, including Cheddi Jagan, Kwame Nkrumah and Michael Manley. Later he pioneered the teaching of Black studies in US higher education.

When the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchov visited Harlem to meet Fidel Castro, Carew was there: “I remember a BBC team trying in vain to find someone in the huge crowd who would make an anti-Cuban statement. “One nameless brother in the crowd had been asked in front of the cameras, ‘Did you know that Fidel Castro nationalised one hundred million dollars of American property?’ “‘That don’t bother me none,’ the nameless man replied. ‘I don’t own no property… If them Cuban Cats took a hundred million from The Man, that don’t bother me none. The Man done ripped-off ten thousand times more than that from my folks…’”

In 1950 in Georgetown, Carew published his only book of poems, Streets of Eternity. But he was a prolific poet. Return to Streets of Eternity (Smokestack, £9.50), edited by Chris Searle and Carew’s widow Joy Gleason Carew, brings together for the first time poems written during a lifetime of passionate engagement in anti-colonial, civil rights, black power and liberation movements.

It’s a wonderful book, the record of half a century of revolutionary struggle in the “third world” seen through the eyes of a writer who shared the triumphs and the defeats of his time in Cuba, Guyana, Angola, Ghana, Sharpeville, Soweto and Grenada: “They say that Soufriere’s sleeping now/And Bishop’s lying in a nameless grave/But can volcanic fires die?/You can betray the revolution/for a moment/But you can never extinguish its fire.”

The book includes many previously unpublished tributes to 20th-century revolutionary leaders like Agostinho Neto, Patrice Lumumba, Che Guevara, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Maurice Bishop and Claudia Jones and to radical writers like Martin Carter, Walter Rodney, Dennis Brutus, Andrew Salkey, Alejo Carpentier and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The book’s editors have reproduced some of Carew’s news reports from Cuba (What the Cuban Revolution Means to Me), Ghana (Coup in Ghana: Season of Violent Change, and from the West Indian Gazette (What is a West Indian?) But, above all, it’s a book about Africa and the African diaspora, about exile and home and about liberation and imperialism:

“Wanted Dead or alive for a murder and a multitude of crimes A creature, armed, desperate, dangerous a creature wearing a humanoid disguise Usually carries a calling card touting freedom, democracy, free enterprise… Two thousand million are dying in twilight vales of starvation Where its surrogates Princes, Prelates, Pimp-Presidents, Buccaneers of profit are looting labour and life. Wanted Dead or alive for Murder, Ethnocide, Mayhem, Racism and the rape of continents, islands skies and seas Imperialism a creature armed, desperate, dangerous.”

‘Guyanese historian Walter Rodney murdered by government’


This video says about itself:

1 – A Historical Class Analysis of Guyanese Society – Dr. Walter Rodney

Guyanese activist and Marxist scholar Walter Rodney emerged from these post-colonial struggles. Rodney advocated a class analysis based on multinational workers unity. Although he faced threats and repression throughout his life, Rodney fought for socialism as a respected historian, professor and most importantly, a dedicated political organizer.

It was his work as a political organizer that led to his assassination in his native Guyana on June 13, 1980.

These three videos are the sequels.

By James Tweedie:

Guyana: Rodney family calls for murder report

Monday 22nd February 2016

Information implicates ex-PM in assassination

THE family of Guyanese Marxist historian Walter Rodney have demanded the release of a report implicating a former prime minister in his 1980 assassination.

His daughter Asha Rodney and supporters of the family’s fight for justice urged the People’s National Congress (PNC) government on Saturday to release the long-awaited report.

The call came after several Guyanese media outlets reported that the commission of inquiry established in 2014 by former president Donald Ramotar had confirmed long-held suspicions that former PNC prime minister Forbes Burnham had ordered Mr Rodney’s murder.

President David Granger’s government was criticised for halting the commission’s work last November, even though it had requested two more weeks to interview important witnesses.

“This is not the end. The report needs to be read and reviewed because justice still needs to be done,” Ms Rodney said.

“This is a very, very important inquiry. There is a lot more to be done with these findings.”

Walter Rodney was born under British colonial rule in 1942 and studied at the University of the West Indies and the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London.

He lectured in Tanzania at the University of Dar es Salaam — a hotbed of anti-imperialist scholarship — from 1966 to 1967 and authored How Europe Underdeveloped Africa and other important works on colonialism.

In 1974, he returned to Guyana and founded the Working People’s Alliance party.

Mr Rodney was killed on June 13 1980 by a bomb hidden in a handheld two-way radio.

His brother Donald, who was injured in the blast and later convicted of his own brother’s murder, said Guyana Defence Force Sergeant Gregory Smith had given him the booby-trapped radio.

Sgt Smith fled to French Guiana, where he later died.

Mr Granger defeated People’s Progressive Party incumbent Mr Ramotar in May last year by less than 5,000 votes amid allegations of ballot-rigging.

He promptly awarded offshore exploration drilling rights in the western Essequibo province to Exxon-Mobil, sparking a diplomatic row with neighbouring Venezuela, which also claims the region.

African diaspora artists exhibited in London, England


This video says about itself:

In the Sky’s Wild Noise: A documentary on Dr. Walter Rodney

17 December 2014

A short documentary based on an interview by Dr Walter Rodney on politics and society in Guyana in the 1970s.

By Christine Lindey in Britain:

Revelatory view of black artistry

Saturday 14th November 2015

CHRISTINE LINDEY recommends a challenging retrospective at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London

AMONG the immigrants to Britain from the Caribbean in the 1950s were Guyanese political activists Jessica and Eric Huntley and this fascinating exhibition at the Guildhall art gallery honours and explains their instrumental contribution to the African diaspora’s politics and culture in Britain from the late 1960s on.

No Colour Bar brings alive the experiences and issues faced by their community through a rich and diverse display of their archival material, along with the literature and art which they championed, among them artists’ groups such as the Caribbean Artists Movement and Black British Arts.

To counteract the paucity of public support for African and Caribbean culture, the Huntleys founded BogleL’Ouverture Publishing.

Named after the Jamaican and Haitian revolutionary leaders, from 1969 it published seminal texts, poetry, novels, posters and greeting cards asserting the African diaspora’s cultural identity and fostering resistance to the sociopolitical injustices which it faced.

That same year they opened their west London front room as a bookshop and meeting place to encourage interaction between the community and its cultural workers. The bookshop moved to commercial premises in 1975 but consciously retained its informal, homely ambiance, generating a vibrant forum for creative and political cross-fertilisations and activities such as poetry readings by Linton Kwesi Johnson and Valerie Bloom.

It was renamed in 1980 to commemorate Dr Walter Rodney, the Guyanese thinker-activist assassinated for anti-colonial resistance at the age of 38.

An interactive multimedia installation by the Afro-Caribbean scholar-artist Michael McMillan recreates the bookshop’s ambiance and provides multisensory information about the ideas, preoccupations and historical events which conditioned black British life in the 1970s and 1980s.

Imaginative touch screens, digital photo frames, books and sounds introduce a plethora of themes such as readings by activists and poets or the story of the 1970s racist and fascist attacks on the shop and other progressive outlets, which led to their joint resistance through the Bookshop Joint Action Group.

McMillan’s installation is surrounded by a comprehensive exhibition of paintings by artists, some of whom like Tam Joseph arrived in Britain as children only to be stigmatised and undervalued for their colour.

Joseph’s 1983 painting UK School Report is an uncompromising accusation of racial stereotyping suffered by black boys in British schools.

Three portrait heads of the same young man challenge our gaze. Unsmiling as in ID photographs, they increasingly fill three identically sized, rectangular frames which are underwritten with comments in different handwritings, as in school reports.

In the first, Good at Sports, the boy wears a neat uniform and European-style short hair with a parting. In the second, Likes Music, he sports Afro hair and more informal clothes.

But in the last, Needs Surveillance, he sports long dreadlocks and his head totally fills its frame as if resisting the constraints of typecasting, while its title refers both to school discipline and police harassment.

The faces painted in red, white and blue assert the boy’s Britishness yet this identity is undermined by his society’s racial prejudice.

Sonia Boyce’s She Ain’t Holding Them Up, She’s Holding On depicts a lone young woman somehow managing to physically support two adults and two children from her raised hands but whose expression mingles resolute defiance with hurt and vulnerability. This is a powerful, feminist statement about Afro-Caribbean women risking losing touch with their sense of self as they shoulder the demands of others.

Keith Piper, founder member of the 1980s BLK Art Group, explores colonialism’s dark legacy in paintings such as (You are now entering) Mau Mau Country.

Martyred but defiant Kenyan warriors — one with his lips stitched together with thread — are furiously painted, blood-red paint dripping on raw, unstretched and torn hessian. Angry slogans such as “No Barclaycards here” and “No little white lies” culminate in the triumphant, anti-colonial “We are all pagans.”

Other works such as Claudette Johnson’s sensitive but decisive black pastel drawings of strong black women, Paul Dash’s intense Self-Portrait and Denzil Forrester’s joyfully rebellious Witchdoctor celebrate their people’s beauty, intellect, energy and strength.

A display of book jackets, posters and greeting cards sold in the Bogle-L’Ouverture/Rodney bookshop includes original artwork such as Errol Lloyd’s painting of the poet Accabre Huntley.

Its reappearance on her poems’ book jacket exemplifies the curators’ welcome refusal to rigidly demarcate between “fine” art and illustration.

Such sensitive echoes and connections permeate the exhibition. We hear speeches and poetry readings in the installation by authors whose books we initially discovered through the display of book jackets.

The exhibition can be experienced on many levels, ranging from visceral responses to the arts to a scholarly study of unfamiliar topics. There is much to see, learn and enjoy in this energising testimony of the socio-political power of arts. It’s free — go if you can.

• No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 runs at the Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2 until January 24, opening times: cityoflondon.gov.uk/guildhallartgallery

Indian villagers protect rare bats


This video says about itself:

Vampire bats nesting in a cave – Expedition Guyana – BBC

1 April 2010

Canopy expert Justine Evans goes in search of red howler monkeys but instead comes across a group of animals with a fearsome reputation – vampire bats nesting in a cave deep in the forest.

From PTI news agency in India:

Meghalaya hamlet dedicates forest for conservation of bats

Pynurkba: A tiny hamlet in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district has dedicated its forest for the conservation of an extremely rare Wroughton’s free-tailed bats, considered to be a critically endangered species.

The decision in this regard was taken last month when the village elders were informed of the presence of these extremely rare bats, who are facing loss of habitat due to human encroachment, in their forests.

“The village council decided to declare ‘sacred’ a small forest which is roughly about one square kilometer for the conservation of these bat species,” Pynurkba village secretary Phillip Rymbai told PTI.

The decision followed after a long negotiation with the elders of the village because the forest belongs to the community and not a protected area of the government.

Conservation agencies have lauded the decision of the village and urged the state government to recognize the importance of such an initiative and call for rewarding those at the village with conservation schemes and livelihood programmes.

Though there are three caves in Lakadong area that these bats have made them their homes, biologist and researcher D K B Mukhim said the bat clusters at Pynurkba is the largest with over 55 individual bats spotted lately.

First discovered in 1913, these bats are confined to the Western Ghats area of the country and in a remote part of Cambodia besides the colonies here which were discovered last year, according to the researcher.

The cave is located inside a forest here where another mystery shrouds two streams flows directly into the cave and then disappear.

Locals have it that the cave is haunted and hence left undisturbed for years but biologists believe it won’t be too long before the habitat is destroyed.

“Their haunted stories have in a way helped conservation of the cave and its bio-diversity including the Wroughton’s free-tailed bat species in their caves,” Mukhim said.

The Meghalaya Adventurers Association (MAA) which is organizing expeditions to identify new caves in the south-western parts of the Jaintia Hills is also pleading for conservation of these habitats which are also home to many other life forms.

MAA chairman Brian Dally said at least 1,540 caves have been recorded and surveys are being done every year to help discover more caves.

Cavers have surveyed and mapped over 411 km cave formations in the state, one of the longest in the Indian sub-continent.

First Published: Sunday, June 7, 2015 – 11:26

Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys, anti-war song


After the pro-peace song written by Pete Seeger, sung by Marlene Dietrich, here is a music video, from Britain, by The Equals – Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys. Written by Eddy Grant, from Guyana.

The lyrics are:

Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

People: white is white
What’s black ain’t clover

Together we’ll be
When the war is over.
You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

They ain’t gonna fight no wars
Oh no.

Cool is school
But the teachers beat yer

When they see
That they can’t reach yer.

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys
They ain’t gonna fight no wars
Oh no.

They ain’t got no country
They ain’t got no creed
People won’t be black or white
The world will be half-breed.
The world will be half-breed.
The world will be half-breed.

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys
they ain’t gonna fight no doggone wars.

They ain’t got no country…
It’s a brand new day
With brand new people
In one big world
We’re just one people.
You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

They ain’t gonna fight no wars. Oh
no.
Baby
you know that we hate fighting.

Recent research about people in Europe, in the Mesolithic age, ten thousands of years after their ancestors had immigrated from Africa:

A 7,000-year-old man whose bones were left behind in a Spanish cave had the dark skin of an African, but the blue eyes of a Scandinavian. He was a hunter-gatherer who ate a low-starch diet and couldn’t digest milk well — which meshes with the lifestyle that predated the rise of agriculture. But his immune system was already starting to adapt to a new lifestyle.

Europeans may have evolved lighter skin in past 5,000 years: here.

How Europeans evolved to have white skin, starting from around 8,000 years ago: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta