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Contents No. 162 • March/April 2020

72

88 46

EMBARK

20 Wish you were here Klein Curaçao

22 Need to know

Essential info to help you make the most of March and April across the Caribbean — from a film festival in St Vincent to Carnival in Jamaica

40 Bookshelf and playlist

Our reading and listening picks

44 screenshots

Cuban filmmaker Carlos Lechuga talks about his hard-hitting, sepia-hued short Generation

46 Cookup

“I’m going to do something different” Chef Nina Compton discovered her passion for cooking as a teenager in St Lucia. After winning fame on the TV show Top Chef, she’s now turning heads with two restaurants in her adopted city, New Orleans 12

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IMMERSE

51 Closeup

All that jazz Musically, Trinidad and Tobago are best known for calypso and soca, but a thriving jazz scene proves there’s an avid audience for other genres. Nigel A. Campbell profiles Charmaine Forde, Vaughnette Bigford, and LeAndra — three jazz vocalists of different generations whose separate stories make a bigger narrative about paths to musical success

58 Portfolio

The rightest place “Art has to transform,” says Blue Curry. The London-based Bahamian artist puts unlikely objects into new contexts, writes Andre Bagoo — and sometimes out of place is where things belong

66 Snapshot

As far as it goes When Grenadian Anderson Peters won javelin gold at the 2019 World

Championships, it took observers by surprise. This was no overnight success, says Sheldon Waithe — but the product of steady hard work and staunch confidence. Now the young athlete is preparing for his biggest challenge yet at the 2020 Summer Olympics ARRIVE

72 destination

So near, so far There are parts of the Guyanese interior — in the heart of the vast Rupununi Savannah, or deep in the Iwokrama rainforest — that feel thrillingly remote. But daily air


CaribbeanBeat CaribbeanBeat An MEP publication

links make these wild adventures surprisingly accessible, says Nixon Nelson. And don’t forget the charms of Guyana’s capital, Georgetown

88 Album

Rite of Spring Celebrated in Trinidad since the nineteenth century, Holi — also known as Phagwah — is the Hindu spring festival, and a time to enjoy the company of friends and neighbours. At the 2019 celebrations in Aranguez, photographer Ziad Joseph captured the joyful free-for-all of colour

96 Bucket List

Bathsheba, Barbados World-class surfing and dramatic scenery are in ample supply on the island’s rugged Atlantic coast ENGAGE

Editor Nicholas Laughlin General manager Halcyon Salazar Design artists Kevon Webster, Kriston Chen Production manager Jacqueline Smith Web editor Caroline Taylor Editorial assistants Shelly-Ann Inniss, Kristine De Abreu

Business Development Manager, Tobago and International Evelyn Chung T: (868) 684 4409 E: evelyn@meppublishers.com

Business Development Representative, Trinidad Tracy Farrag T: (868) 318 1996 E: tracy@meppublishers.com

Business Development Representative, Trinidad Indra Ramcharan T: (868) 750 0153 E: indra@meppublishers.com

98 Green

Nature’s Bread It’s delicious, nutritious, and popular across the Caribbean. Even so, breadfruit — brought to the region from the Pacific more than two centuries ago — is still underappreciated for its potential role in increasing regional food security, and helping to green our cities. Erline Andrews learns more

102On this day

Be fruitful and multiply March brings the 180th birthday of the man who singlehandedly created the Caribbean banana industry. James Ferguson looks back at the life and times of Lorenzo Dow Baker, Yankee entrepreneur

104 puzzles

Enjoy our crossword and other fun brain-teasers!

Media & Editorial Projects Ltd. 6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago T: (868) 622 3821/5813/6138 • F: (868) 628 0639 E: caribbean-beat@meppublishers.com Website: www.meppublishers.com

Printed by Solo Printing Inc., Miami, Florida

Caribbean Beat is published six times a year for Caribbean Airlines by Media & Editorial Projects Ltd. It is also available on subscription. Copyright © Caribbean Airlines 2020. All rights reserved. ISSN 1680–6158. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. MEP accepts no responsibility for content supplied by our advertisers. The views of the advertisers are theirs and do not represent MEP in any way. Website: www.caribbean-airlines.com

112 Do you even know

Our trivia column tests your knowledge of Caribbean Easter traditions. See how many of our questions you can answer correctly WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

13


Cover Travelling on the Rewa River in Guyana’s north Rupununi Photo Les Gibbon/Alamy Stock Photo

Read and save issues of Caribbean Beat on your smartphone, tablet, computer, and favourite digital devices!

This issue’s contributors include: Erline Andrews (“Nature’s bread”, page 98) is an award-winning Trinidadian journalist. She is a regular contributor to Caribbean Beat and her work has appeared in other publications in T&T and the US, including the Chicago Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor. Andre Bagoo (“The rightest place”, page 58) is a Trinidadian poet, journalist, and arts writer, author of four books of poems, including Pitch Lake (2017). His book of essays The Undiscovered Country will be published in 2020. Nigel A. Campbell (“All that jazz”, page 51) is an entertainment writer, reviewer, and music businessman based in Trinidad and Tobago, focused on expanding the appeal of island music globally. Vaughn Stafford Gray (“Kingston bacchanal”, page 24) is a Jamaican-Canadian lifestyle, culture, and travel writer. His work is currently syndicated across multiple publications in Canada. Writing with glee on sport, politics, and culture, Sheldon Waithe (“As far as it goes”, page 66) fuses these facets into articles for both Caribbean and European websites and magazines. He is also the editor of Parkite Sports.

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A MESSAGE From OUR CEO The new decade has taken off at Caribbean Airlines with the addition of two ATR 72-600s to our fleet. The two aircraft are being used to support operations on the domestic airbridge between Trinidad and Tobago, and within the region. We will also soon introduce new routes, which you will hear and read more about. Caribbean Airlines was recognised as the Caribbean’s Leading Airline Brand at the World Travel Awards 2020. It is the fourth consecutive year

What’s new at Caribbean Airlines this month?

16

we earned the title, and testimony to our ongoing commitment to operational and brand excellence. We were also nominated in the Caribbean’s Leading Airline category, an award the airline won consecutively from 2010 to 2019. Our teams are excited about these developments, but more so about our upcoming brand refresh. What exactly is a brand refresh, you may ask. It’s an opportunity to enliven the brand we have worked diligently to build and to update many of the visual

Two ATRs added to our fleet to enhance domestic and regional operations

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Named the Caribbean’s Leading Airline Brand for the fourth consecutive year  

elements. It’s also a natural progression of the customer experience initiatives that we have focused on over the last two years — including new routes, new products, and service enhancements.  The brand refresh will take place in phases over several months, and will reflect the energy, passion, and creativity of the region, using modern, distinctive, and vibrant designs. The name Caribbean Airlines will remain — what will change are key visual elements, including our logo, signage, and the appearance of our sub brands like Cargo, Duty-Free, and Loyalty. The unveiling event will take place in mid-March, along with the launch of our new campaign, “I AM CARIBBEAN”. These are exciting times, and we are happy to share them with you. Improving your experience motivates all we do. Be sure to take your free copy of this magazine, and check out the Need to Know section starting on page 22 for events in and around the region. We will happily fly you there.

Garvin Medera Chief Executive Officer

Brand refresh to be unveiled in the coming weeks

I AM CARIBBEAN corporate campaign launching in March


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Glory on the field of play By Nasser Khan

W

ith the T20 World Cup of cricket looming later in 2020, the Caribbean will once again be rallying around the West Indies, as our region’s team defends its World Championship title from 2016. That our region’s unofficial national anthem is a cricket-themed calypso, David Rudder’s “Rally Round the West Indies”, is testament in itself as to what cricket means to us as Caribbean people at home and abroad. Rally, rally round the West Indies Now and forever Rally, rally round the West Indies Never say never From Jamaica in the north down through our archipelago of islands to Guyana on the South American mainland, cricket unifies us as a collective Caribbean people, in spite of the insularities we sometimes encounter on other fronts. Over the years, Caribbean Beat has profiled many of our star players, from Brian Lara to Chris Gayle to Darren Sammy. Along with sun, surf, and steelpan, cricket and calypso are often used to describe the spirit of the West Indies. As West Indians, we celebrate everything with great gusto and camaraderie, so when cricket enters the fray it is no different. Cricket is played just about everywhere, using anything available to serve as bat and ball. Be it with a tennis ball (“windball”) or a hard leather ball (“cork” white or red), we will play cricket — man, woman, and child, including a fete match version with an emphasis on “liming” and having a good time, as only we here in the West Indies can do. Since the late nineteenth century, cricket has been part of the lives of Caribbean people, adopted throughout the formerly British West Indian territories. As the game took permanent root in Caribbean soil, in schools and communities, it began to bear a crop of young players who brought their own unique skill and flair to the field of play. Since achiev-

ing Test status in 1928, the Windies have become known for their rhythmic exuberance, eventually being dubbed the “Calypso Cricketers,” capturing the admiration of the cricketing world. We have always rallied around our cricketing stars from the Caribbean nations: from Learie Constantine in the 1920s and George “Atlas” Headley in the 30s to Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott, Sonny Ramadhin, Garfield Sobers, Clive Lloyd, Rohan Kanhai, Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Darren Sammy, and — today — the likes of Sunil Narine, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, and Dwayne Bravo. Not to be excluded, our women regional cricketers and our under-19 men’s teams have also done us proud, winning the T20 World Cup titles in 2016. Suffice it to say that the game of cricket is deeply entrenched in our culture and our way of life. The successes of the West Indies cricket team have always given us great regional pride. Our phenomenal feats with bat and ball on the field of play have been showcased and exalted in the poetic, lyrical form and substance of our calypso music. We recall proudly the cricket World Cups we won in 1975 and 1979, etched forever in our minds, as are the later world champs glories of 2004, 2012, and 2016. We owe the sport of cricket a debt of gratitude for the mighty task it has accomplished in bringing Caribbean people together and fostering genuine regional love and unity. Cricket and calypso are more than just sport and entertainment. They are modes of self-expression that reflect our very identity. Since the early renditions of the 1920s, over two hundred cricket-themed calypsos have been composed and sung, capturing the progress and evolution of our players and the game itself, the ups and downs, the triumphs and tribulations. As a people, when the West Indies cricket team is doing well on the world stage, we are a happy bunch — such is the power of the sport that brings us together as one, in spite of us being separate sovereign nations. The great moments of Windies cricket are an essential part of our folklore and collective histories. In the ninety-two years since we played our first Test match, our heroes have represented us with great pride, determination, and tenacity, and have performed extraordinary and memorable feats the world over — all of which are etched in our minds and hearts forever. Nasser Khan is an author, researcher, producer, and journalist who has published nineteen different national and Caribbean educational works. This essay is part of a series reflecting on the Caribbean Identity and what it can be.

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wish you were here

20

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Klein Curaçao A sixty-six-foot lighthouse tower is the chief landmark on this small islet off Curaçao’s southeastern tip. Once used as a quarantine station for enslaved Africans, later mined for phosphates, Klein Curaçao — flat and relatively barren — is today a popular spot for day-trippers, thanks to its pristine surrounding waters and coral reefs, and expansive white-sand beaches.

Photography by Gail Johnson/Shutterstock.com

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NEED TO KNOW

Courtesy Hairouna Film Festival

Essential info to help you make the most of March and April: what to do, where to go, what to see!

At the Hairouna Film Festival, the vibe at community screenings is down-home and laid-back

Don’t Miss Hairouna Film Festival

Under starry skies, in communities spanning the length and breadth of St Vincent, the second annual Hairouna Film Festival (HFF) will screen some of the best contemporary films from across the Caribbean. There’s something about the relaxed atmosphere of an open-air impromptu cinema that makes a great film even more memorable, and last year’s inaugural edition of the HFF lingers in the minds of those lucky enough to be in the audience. The festival also offers a mentorship programme with filmmaking educational opportunities. Who knows, the next Caribbean celebrity in Hollywood just might hail from SVG. Grab a bag of popcorn and fall in as the HFF shares distinctive Caribbean stories on the portable big screen. hairounaff.org

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates three flights each week to Argyle International Airport in St Vincent from Trinidad, with connections to other destinations in the Caribbean and North and South America 22

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Dwayne Watkins

need to know

Word of Mouth Kingston bacchanal A true Jamaican Carnival lover, Vaughn Stafford Gray offers the low-down on Kingston’s annual festival. Just don’t revoke his passport . . . Carnival in Jamaica can best be summarised by Oscar Wilde’s adage: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, I’ve opened the floodgates now! I reckon some fellow Jamaican is readying to report me to the Passport, Immigration, and Citizenship Agency, and demand that my Jamaican “card” be revoked. To that person, I say: fight me. Facts are facts. It all started back in the 1950s, on the Mona campus of the University College of the West Indies — soon to be known as UWI. Students from Trinidad and Tobago and other eastern Caribbean islands who missed celebrating Carnival decided to bring their culture to the halls and streets of the campus. Of course, Jamaicans got in on the action also, because Carnival is, in a word, mesmeric. Cue the birth of UWI Carnival, and the genesis of Carnival celebrations in Jamaica — though it wasn’t until 1990 that notable musician Byron Lee 24

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established and formalised Jamaica Carnival as we know it today. Comparing T&T Carnival with the Jamaican version is an exercise in futility. It’s akin to the iOS vs Android debate — there will never be a clear winner. The events are considerably different, despite sharing soca music, bedazzling costumes adorned with feathers, walls of flesh, and taut, sculpted bodies that haven’t consumed a carb since noon on Boxing Day. The differences start with timing: Carnival in Jamaica takes place after Lent, and despite being popular, isn’t as universally embraced as T&T’s Carnival, Barbados Crop Over, or the grand dame of all Carnivals in Rio de Janeiro. But, although it’s had its fair

share of battles, Carnival in Jamaica is an extraordinary experience. The celebration is one of the few in the country that dissolves Kingston’s socio-economic lines, lowering the drawbridge over the moat that separates “uptown” and “downtown” experiences. For a few days, celebrants come together without having to overly obsess about postal codes and skin colour. Whether you play mas or not — there are three main bands: Xodus, Xaymaca, and Bacchanal — Carnival in Jamaica is a truly democratic experience. So, how should the uninitiated make the best out of the Carnival experience? Take a deep breath, jump into those skin-coloured tights, apply some baby oil and glitter — I’m taking you for a ride. Hot tip: don’t miss the breakfast parties. The name on the tin says what it does. These are some of the best events of Carnival season. Whether you wake up early to do a full face at dawn, or do an outfit change after partying all night, there are few other instances in life where you won’t be judged for having rum with your pancakes. Then there’s Beach J’Ouvert. Each year, attendees regale those who didn’t make it with stories of the goings-on — only to stop midway as the storyteller realises that it was him- or herself who did indeed bruk out. No need to selfincriminate: what happens at Beach J’Ouvert stays at Beach J’Ouvert. On Carnival Sunday, the day of the street parade — which Jamaicans call the road march — it’s best, in my experience, not to touch alcohol until the parade culminates. Don’t be that person carted away by event paramedics forty-seven minutes in. Stay hydrated with water, friends, and wear comfortable shoes! Buy an inexpensive pair of sneakers, and decorate them to match your costume. Don’t get fooled by the pageantry — Carnival is not a catwalk. And if you don’t enjoy yourself — you’re doing it wrong.

Carnival in Jamaica 2020 runs from 15 to 20 April. For more information, visit the Jamaica Tourist Board website, visitjamaica.com


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In April 2018, the UK announced an expansion of its diplomatic network in the Eastern Caribbean. That vision became a reality in 2019 when, under the leadership of Her Excellency Mrs Janet Douglas CMG, the UK ’s High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, the UK opened British High Commissions in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. These new missions, each led by a Resident British Commissioner (RBC), join the existing regional office and RBC in St Lucia, and gives the UK physical representation in five of the seven Eastern Caribbean countries to which Mrs Douglas is accredited as British High Commissioner. British High Commissions can now be found in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The British High Commission in Bridgetown manages UK relations with Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis. This expanded presence provides an unrivalled opportunity for the UK to support and work more closely with the region on issues important to all of us. The UK’s engagement already covers a wide agenda, including promoting our shared interests in the Commonwealth and its projects — such as the Clean Oceans Alliance — providing development funding and assistance to help bolster the region’s infrastructure framework and resilience to natural disasters, as well as assisting with regional challenges such as security, and cooperating on global issues such as climate change. Later this year, the UK will host a key climate change conference in Glasgow (COP 26), convening world leaders, climate experts, business chiefs, and

Her Excellency Mrs Janet Douglas CMG (middle) with resident British Commisioners [from L to R]: Steve Moore (St Vincent and The Grenadines), Lindsy Thompson (Antigua and Barbuda), Wendy Freeman (Grenada), and Steve McCready (St Lucia)

many others to agree much needed measures to tackle climate change. Our new posts will be particularly valuable as we build up to this conference, helping to highlight the vulnerabilities faced by the Eastern Caribbean and other Small Island Developing States, and ensuring these concerns are raised and addressed. Our new posts will also enable us to engage more deeply in future with governments and NGOs at a local level, too. Already our new RBCs have been able to identify and support organisations and social projects able to make a difference, including working with local NGOs to provide important community support services and programmes to build stronger social cohesion, and supporting efforts to develop sustainable blue economy opportunities. This is merely a snapshot of how the UK is working with the region to support its ongoing development. Much more is planned for 2020 and beyond, as the UK looks for new opportunities to strengthen its relationship with the Eastern Caribbean.


need to know

A3pfamily/Shutterstock.com

For more information or to get involved, visit slowfoodbarbados.org and facrp1.webs.com

How to . . . Have a meaningful Earth Day The only constant in life is change, and our natural environment is doing that rapidly — with dangerous results for mankind. In recent years, the Caribbean has experienced several overactive and destructive hurricane seasons, while experts warn that the sea level is rising, coral reefs are dying, and increased fossil fuel use points us down the path to further climate change. So what can ordinary people do to make a difference to Mother Earth — and our own lives? As the world marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day on 22 April, Trinidad-based Barbadian Shelly-Ann Inniss checks in with environmental groups in both of her home countries for constructive tips.

Eat mindfully

Passionate about environmental sustainability, Slow Food Barbados works to educate and inspire the public to reconnect with farmers, fisherfolk, artisans, and the environment to produce food responsibly. Ultraprocessed and imported products have a heavier impact on the environment than whole and locally grown foods. Furthermore, when we consume crops or fish in their natural season, it gives the environment and marine ecosystem a chance to replenish properly. 26

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“None of us are merely eaters,” says Slow Food Barbados. “When we actively participate in sustainable food production, we also support livelihoods, and sustain vital culinary and traditional practices.” Their website and Instagram page offer seasonal produce guides to help you shop for groceries and plan daily menus. You can do this in your neck of the woods as well, by looking out for farmers’ markets and local producers who implement sustainable, organic, or biodynamic practices. Slow Food Barbados also recommends

creating gardens in schools: getting children involved from a young age shapes and ingrains customs so that they become habits. Remember, eating is an environmental act.

Plant trees

In Trinidad and Tobago, the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP) focuses primarily on restoring natural forests, as well as forest fire prevention. Forest fires, apart from damaging natural ecosystems, add to the volume of carbon in our atmosphere, while healthy forests are one of the best ways to sequester carbon emissions and foster climate cooling. In many countries, you can join community tree-planting events around Earth Day, or — if getting your hands dirty isn’t your thing — you can also join in by making a financial contribution towards a reforestation project. Or start at home: fill an empty corner of your front garden or backyard with a sapling which will grow into a beautiful tree offering shade, delicious fruit, and a home for wildlife. FACRP organises ongoing organic nursery sessions to get you started.


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need to know Jordan V.P. Martis, one of the 2019 Arte di Palabra winners

How did you become involved with Arte di Palabra?

I decided to help as an extracurricular activity linked to my studies. I went once, loved it, and remained so fascinated by the effect it has on the youngsters who participate that till this day, I have remained a part of the organisation.

Papiamentu is also spoken in Aruba and Bonaire. Does Arte di Palabra encompass these islands?

Yes, and after the contest on each island, we have Arte di Palabra ABC — a final competition between the three islands. This year it will be in Bonaire. One of last year’s highlights was an invitation to present at Carifesta [in Trinidad and Tobago], so besides Arte di Palabra on the ABC islands, we crossed the border!

What literary genres does the competition explore? Courtesy Arte di Palabra

It covers short stories and poetry. Junior high participants have the option of presenting an original or existing piece for each genre, whereas seniors can do an original piece in both genres.

The Read Papiamentu’s young voices Although Papiamentu is the most widely spoken language in Curaçao, it became a compulsory subject in secondary schools only twenty years ago. To mark this milestone, Ange Jessurun approached other Papiamentu teachers to create a literary event celebrating the inclusion of the mother tongue in the education system. The result was the annual Arte di Palabra competition (running this year from 14 March to 4 April), in which students in two age groups write and perform original pieces, vying for national titles. Elvira Bonafacio — a Papiamentu teacher and current competition co-ordinator — tells Shelly-Ann Inniss what it’s all about. 28

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What’s been the impact on participants?

The impact is immeasurable. Each presentation allows the participants to overcome their insecurities, fears, any other inhibitions, and grow into a writer and artist. They get more appreciation for literature, and their feeling of patriotism flourishes. Writing and performing serve as therapy to free their emotions.

Does Arte di Palabra extend beyond the competition? Every five years, we publish a collection of the winning pieces in a book called Pòtpurí. High schools on the three islands receive a free package, thanks to the sponsors, which can be used in class. You can imagine the pride this inspires, since it is written by the youngsters themselves. Additionally,


An excerpt from “Bida” [“Life”], by Jordan V.P. Martis, 2019 Arte di Palabra winner Sinta pensa un ratu di bo bida. Suku ta dushi pero no ta bon pa pone den sòpi. Grandinan sa bisa ku papiado di bèrdat nunka no ta haña stul pa sinta. Mi ke bo djis para ketu i analisá. Den bida bo tin ku plania, prepare, i praktiká. Tin hopi hende ku ta bai ku moda tambe tin ku moda no ta bai kuné. Ban kuminsá biba segun nos forsa. Sanger ku awa no sa midi. Haa . . . Lei di naturalesa ta Dios su promé minister. Pero kiko ta bo meta. Purba daña nòmber di mi pida klòmpi di tesoro. Laga kada kos ku pasa nos den bida ta un lès pa nos bira mas fuerte. Sit down for a while and reflect on your life. Sugar is sweet, but it ain’t good to put in soup. Elderly people say that a speaker of truth Will never be offered a seat. I want you to pause and analyse. In life, you have to plan, prepare, and practise. A lot of people follow fashion trends There are also those who don’t fit with fashion trends. Let’s start living according to our capacity. Blood and water don’t go together. Ahhh . . . The law of nature is God’s prime minister. But what is your purpose. Trying to damage the reputation of my pride and joy. Let every life experience Become a lesson to make us stronger.

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throughout the year, the winners perform at radio and television stations, as well as different social, cultural, educational, and government events.

What do you love the most about Arte di Palabra?

I love to watch the development of the child who did not like to write, and who has a piece on paper now — or the one who used to be shy, who now presents his work in front of his peers. Those things are priceless. Watching the three islands present, listening to each national anthem at the beginning, hearing the different variations of Papiamentu on one stage, is special. For more information, visit artedipalabra.com or artedipalabra on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

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need to know The view of Nelson’s Dockyard from Shirley Heights, Antigua

Quiggyt4/Shutterstock.com

tourist attractions. Said to be the most complete surviving example of a Georgian dockyard in the world, it’s now a national park, headquarters for Antigua Sailing Week, and a working dockyard for yachts. The surrounding hills are dotted with the forts that once protected the harbour — Shirley Heights being the most impressive, with its breathtaking views and Sunday sunset parties.

Yo-ho-ho and a barrel

All About . . . Nelson and Antigua At the end of April, as sailors from around the world converge at Antigua Sailing Week (26 April to 1 May), the prize they’ll all be eyeing is the Lord Nelson Trophy — named, like Antigua’s Nelson’s Dockyard, for one Horatio Nelson, the most celebrated naval commander in British history. Born in 1758, Nelson was just twelve years old when he joined the Royal Navy, sailing across the Atlantic to Jamaica and Tobago. But the West Indian island he’s most closely associated with is Antigua, where he was stationed at English Harbour from 1784 (complaining bitterly about the mosquitoes). His friendships with West Indian plantation owners influenced his staunch pro-slavery views, which have made him a controversial figure in the post-Independence Caribbean. He later won fame for his service in the Mediterranean during the Napoleonic Wars, before being killed at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Lord Nelson Trophy

First awarded at Antigua Sailing Week in 1968, the Lord Nelson Trophy — an impressive silver bowl — has been taken five times by teams from Antigua and Barbuda, but Puerto Rico is the Caribbean territory with the most wins: nine in all, including the inaugural year. Boats registered in other Caribbean territories account for eight other victories.

Where history docks

English Harbour on Antigua’s south coast, naturally sheltered from Atlantic hurricanes, was used as a refuge for 30

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British ships as early as 1671. In 1743, the Royal Navy dockyard was established at its current site — the chief facility for the repair of naval vessels in the British West Indies, built with the labour of enslaved Africans. Famous for its heavy fortifications, the dockyard was never attacked, not even at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. Closed in 1889, the dockyard was more or less abandoned for half a century, till the British governor of the island launched a restoration initiative in 1951. Ten years later, it was officially opened as a historical site, now named for Nelson, becoming one of Antigua and Barbuda’s most popular

Famously, after Nelson was killed at Trafalgar, his body was transported back to England in a barrel of brandy (rather than being buried at sea — the usual fate of less celebrated corpses). The incident was prefigured years earlier when Nelson departed Antigua for the last time. Ill, and concerned he might perish on the transatlantic journey, he travelled with a barrel of rum to preserve his body if needed.

Hero or — ?

Nelson’s best-known monument is the statue atop the column in London’s Trafalgar Square. But that was predated by almost thirty years by a similar monument in Bridgetown, capital of Barbados — for generations, the point from which distances on the island were measured. In recent decades, debate about Nelson’s role in British imperialism and his views on slavery have fuelled a campaign to have the statue removed. In 1999, the surrounding square was renamed National Heroes Square, in honour of Barbados’s ten officially recognised National Heroes. The statue itself was subsequently turned around 180 degrees, and has occasionally been splashed with paint and bedecked with placards, but thus far remains standing. For the Antigua Sailing Week schedule and other information, visit www.sailingweek.com


Escape the ordinary. Discover Hyatt Regency Trinidad.

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James Hackett

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Word of Mouth Breakfast with a view David Katz eats his fill at the popular West Indian Breakfast in Mt Moritz, Grenada Like many other places in volcanic Grenada, the close-knit hillside community of Mt Moritz is reached by a steep climb up a twisting road, a ten-minute drive from the capital, St George’s. The village has five churches, a sports ground, and a breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea. After the dramatic crest of Campbell Drive, there’s a winding descent to a large playing field, where — if you arrive on the right Sunday morning — you’ll find the irresistible aroma of bubbling pots, as vintage soca music wafts in the breeze. For the past eleven years, Mt Moritz has been home to a popular monthly West Indian Breakfast, where authentic local delicacies are offered to the public in a festive and communal atmosphere. Launched by Nicholas Harris of the Mt Moritz Community Development Organisation, the West Indian Breakfast was started to encourage community togetherness and to stimulate revitalisation, as all proceeds remain in the village, contributing to its upkeep. 32

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The event is renowned for its range of bona fide local foods, cooked the traditional way and served without the fuss and pomp of hotel restaurants. So, rather than starched white tablecloths, there are communal benches in a massive tent, allowing attendees to meet the “Mung-Mungs,” as Mt Moritz residents are affectionately known, along with islanders from other communities. And the food is not aimed at foreign palates, either. Everything on offer is the genuine unadulterated article, including dishes like pig-foot souse, blood pudding, and saltfish souse. Smoked herring is shredded and cooked with onions and peppers, yielding a delightfully savoury treat. There’s also cornmeal cou-cou, and although the giant trevally or jackfish is typically cooked whole in adult form, at

Mt Moritz they often serve it young, similar to fried whitebait. You’ll find an abundance of steamed ground provisions too, with a variety of yams, sweet potato, breadfruit, and plantain, as well as the bulky green banana known locally as “bluggoe.” And breakfast wouldn’t be breakfast without a choice of bakes, either baked in the oven or fried — with everything washed down by a cup of warming cocoa tea or an herbal alternative such as lemongrass. Grenada is known as the Isle of Spice because so many spices grow here in abundance. As Grenadians like their food well-seasoned, breakfast at Mt Moritz is guaranteed to be flavourful — and excellent value, as the entire meal costs a mere US$11. Since Grenadians tend to rise early, the Mt Moritz breakfast begins at 6 am. Even if the food typically finishes by 11.30, visitors often find themselves lingering into the afternoon, enjoying a friendly lime with the locals. The West Indian Breakfast is normally held on the last Sunday of every month, but before making the steep drive, make sure to check the community Facebook page for scheduling updates.

For more information and the schedule for the monthly Mt Moritz West Indian Breakfast, visit www.facebook.com/Mt-Moritz-CommunityDevelopment-Organisation-202684563081687


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Great Outdoors Every two years, Hash House Harriers from around the globe assemble in one location, for a grand jamboree of this international non-competitive running club. And this year, the World Interhash comes to Trinidad and Tobago for the first time, running — literally — from 23 to 26 April, as hundreds of hashers arrive to join the “Carnival of Hashes.” So what is hashing, for the uninitiated? Imagine groups of runners and joggers following trails (marked by “hares” with sprinkled flour) through challenging terrain, over hills and rivers, through forests and beaches, with the reward of copious amounts of cold alcoholic beverages at the end — hence the hashers’ self-imposed nickname, “drinkers with a running problem.” Over a hundred countries worldwide have hashing clubs, and in the Caribbean, it’s especially popular in Grenada, Antigua, Barbados, and T&T. Being fit is not a prerequisite for hashing, but it is a fun way of getting in shape at your own pace. If you’re a good sport, effervescing with energy and enthusiasm, Interhash Trinidad and Tobago is an exceptional way to explore the twin islands, with loads of laughter, meeting new people, and breathtaking sights along the way. The schedule includes an opportunity to run the trails of Les Couteau and Arnos Vale in Tobago, an inaugural Interhash J’Ouvert run in Chaguaramas, northwest Trinidad, and the signature Red Dress Charity Run, raising funds 34

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lzf/Shutterstock.com

Hash it out

New to hashing? Unfamiliar with the lingo? Here’s a quick guide to get you started: Hare Are you? Kennel BN Down, down

On, on

The person who lays the trail Yell this when you’re lost and cannot find the trail Hash club Hash mark indicating a beer stop is nearby (“Beer Near”) A ceremony of “immaculate” consumption administered for the fun of it, or for various hash transgressions, like being competitive. The “holy fluid” might be poured on your head, shirt, or simply guzzled You’re on the right track. Yell this when you spot a marker, or at the sacred end where more drinking begins

for T&T’s Shelter for Battered Women. Finally, for the hardcore, there’s the notorious five-hour Ball Breaker Run, over gruelling trails — the better to work up a thirst. At hashes, drinking alcohol is a normal activity, but when the beverage is dispensed from your shoe under the watchful eyes of your new hash friends, everyone will know you’re a hash virgin. Consider it a rite of passage. You might

find yourself rechristened, too: hash nicknames are often bestowed after a designated number of runs, on special occasions, or when the hasher has done something memorable. Happy Feet, Rigor Mortis, and Never Knees are some of the more printable nicknames. As you can tell, hashing is less about athletics and more about fun and camaraderie. T&T’s World Interhash could be your chance to join in. On, on!

For more information, or to register for World Interhash 2020, visit interhashtrinidad2020.com


need to know

Above The Bounce (2012; papier-mâché, oil paint; 37 x 27 x 23 inches)

On View Wendy Nanan at the AMA Over four decades, Trinidadian artist Wendy Nanan has created a quietly subversive body of work, tackling issues of cultural hybridity, gender, and sexuality — letting her visually arresting work speak for itself, and rarely venturing into the spotlight. A new retrospective show at the Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) in Washington, DC, running from 19 March to 14 June, assembles key works from all the stages of her career and offers an overdue survey of her oeuvre — and its implications for the unstable canon of contemporary Caribbean art. The eponymously titled Wendy Nanan includes one of the provocative, gaudily painted papier-mâché works from her Idyllic Marriage series of the early 1990s, depicting an uneasy union between the Hindu god Vishnu and the Roman Catholic Madonna — “an interrogation

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Opposite page, below From the Cricket Drawings series (1984–2011; brush and ink on paper; 9 x 12 inches)

Above Idyllic Marriage (1990; papier-mâché, oil paint; 21” x 14.5” x 3.75”)

of the necessary discomfort of mixing in the Americas,” writes curator Andil Gosine. The exhibition also assembles a large group of Nanan’s celebrated cricket drawings, a series begun in the 1980s (and a selection of which were published in this magazine back in 2002) — “sensual depictions of the sport and male athleticism,” says Gosine. Rounding off the show are six new works from Nanan’s recent Pods series, wall-mounted sculptural works made from papier-mâché and sea shells collected by the artist on Trinidad’s Atlantic coast — “concerned with anxieties about women’s bodies and sexualities.” An accompanying short video by the curator depicts the creation of these new works alongside Nanan’s recounting of her upbringing in Trinidad and the deep roots of her work in her home island. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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EFE News Agency/Alamy Stock Photo

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Datebook More highlights of March and April across the Caribbean

Caribbean Fine Arts Fair 11 to 15 March, Barbados

Over fifty artists exhibit their work at Barbados’s Central Bank in historic Bridgetown. An exciting itinerary of spoken word, theatrical performances, and fashion showcases kickstart the fair’s tenth anniversary, as it intertwines with the inaugural Bridgetown International Arts Festival. cafafair.com

Carriacou Maroon and Stringband Music Festival 24 to 26 April

A maroon, in Carriacou, is the name for a festival of gratitude: giving thanks for the most recent harvest ahead of the new planting season. It opens with the blowing of a conch shell, continues with mesmerising drumming, and the menu is “ancestral” smoked food. Then follow two days of unforgettable musical performances. carriacoumaroon.com 38

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Easter goat and crab races 14 April, Tobago

Family-friendly adventures are some of the best ones to have, and Tobago never disappoints. While most Easter celebrations end on Easter Monday, Tobago adds an extra day. On Easter Tuesday, wake up to the sweet sounds of steelpan and soca rhythms as a street parade gets underway. Then the races begin on the field in Buccoo. Goats — not horses — are released from the starting gates with their strapping “jockeys” connected to them by a rope. The crabs, on the other hand, would make easy targets for a pot. They are tethered by a string and prodded with a stick to the finish line, but not without haphazard jumps and comic manoeuvres from their handlers.

International Drum Festival 23 to 29 March, Cuba

The world’s best in rumba, percussion, dance, and art come together at Havana’s leading cultural venues to showcase the talent that each country has to offer. The festival is a loving tribute to musician Guillermo Barreto, one of the first Cuban drummers to play Afro-Cuban jazz and a major figure on the Cuban music scene for over fifty years.

Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival 4 April, Grand Cayman

From delicious street food to cocktails and gourmet masterpieces, there’s something for everyone’s tastebuds. Over eighteen thousand portions of Cayman’s diverse cuisine will be served up, as forty-five restaurants join this culinary celebration. tasteofcayman.org


bookshelf Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf, 240 pp, ISBN 9780525521273) The eight stories that make up Everything Inside are invitational. HaitianAmerican Edwidge Danticat wields prose like a full pitcher of water, pouring it with a measured grace, beckoning everyone to drink, and be well. The fiction herein is its own diagnosis and medicine, its own indictment and cure: Danticat never shies away from showing us the ways in which humanity sickens itself, yet no story here is a suffocating lament or, worse, a tirade from a bestseller’s pulpit. The church we are taken to in these stories is instructive and everywhere: on the shore of a coastline strewn with dead and half-living migrant bodies; in the well-worn booths of a Little Haiti bar where diasporic Haitians drink, sing, and are betrayed for love; on the sands of a horseshoe-curved beach where a wedding unfolds and an unnamed country holds its breath against chaos. Danticat invites us to see our inescapable human ill as bound tightly to our capacity for pure love. While the author pits morally thorny choices against masterful interpersonal tenderness in almost each story, this contrast pulses most strongly in “The Gift”, wherein two embattled former lovers are brought together amid the aftershocks of extraordinary grief. Anika, the former mistress of earthquake survivor Tom, admits an initial flood of relief on hearing his list of beloved dead, the better for him to finally be fully hers. Yet desolation stalks her all the same, a loss so deep it escapes even the language needed to define it: “She started sketching million-year-old birds because she couldn’t imagine how to sketch or paint what she really wanted to, earthquakes.” It is impossible to leave the universal pews of Everything Inside unaltered. The world, Danticat shows us, has never needed our attention more.

Sun of Consciousness

Nomad

by Édouard Glissant, translated by Nathanaël (Nightboat Books, 112 pp, ISBN 9781937658953)

by Yvonne Weekes (House of Nehesi Publishers, 80 pp, ISBN 9781733633314)

An originary essay demanding thoughtfulness across emotional dimensions, Édouard Glissant’s Sun of Consciousness has been translated for the first time into English. Nathanaël, in her translator’s notes to this volume straddling criticism and poetry, calls the work “a tender geography.” This gives us clues to interpreting the text, published in 1956 as Soleil de la Conscience, which explores Martinique-born Glissant’s yearning curiosity at the complications of his early years in France. The benefit of this new issuing to Anglophone readers is rich: in its passionate contemplation, readers can glean the nascent foundations of Glissant’s scholarship, of the “tout-monde” philosophy that renders the entire globe an interlaced series of experiences. Sun of Consciousness makes an island of every realm, then shows how, from these territories, we reach towards an understanding of each other in the living world.

How to capture the smouldering heart of an active volcano in one poem? Montserrat-born, B a r b a d o s - b a s e d Yv o n n e Weekes shows us, in “Stripped”: “The Mountain knows that it has stripped us / pushed us out into frothy oceans / kept us walking on rough lands / and into new dreams.” Weekes, who left the island of her birth following the 1996 Soufrière Hills Volcano eruption, does not rid her poems of the evidence of a Caribbean life marked by natural rupture. On the contrary, Nomad shares its track-marks of ash and sulphur with the reader, bearing witness to unfathomable destruction and rendering it in crisp, dramatic lines. Using her own life as ready canvas, Weekes’s poems reverberate with a refugee’s anguish; a survivor’s resolve; a migrant’s hard-won sense of belonging. The ocean unites us, these poems proclaim, salt-brined and free.

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bookshelf Q&A A–Z of Caribbean Art edited by Melanie Archer and Mariel Brown (Robert & Christopher Publishers, 304 pp, ISBN 9789769534490) To open the pages of this abécédaire is to walk into a living museum. Think of A–Z of Caribbean Art as an interactive passport, one that catapults you from an unassailably crimson vehicle with green plantains glistening in its red, red truck-bed (Puerto Rican Miguel Luciano’s Studebaker, Plátanos y Machete) to a riotous, blood-stippled woodcut print on paper (Bahamian Maxwell Taylor’s Burma Road). Archer and Brown’s curatorial vision is the best possible version of communityoriented; they’ve engaged as impressive a cast of writers to supply text on the artists themselves. It’s impossible to please everyone in assemblies of this nature; thankfully the work sets its sights beyond a “who’s who.” The question posed, instead, is “where are we, Caribbean makers?” The answer: everywhere, amply and beyond borders.

Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation by Colin Grant (Jonathan Cape, 320 pp, ISBN 9781787331051) In his memoir Bageye at the Wheel, Jamaican-British Colin Grant proved he could expertly handle the navigation of his family history on the page. With Homecoming, Grant steps behind the Pathé newsreels of the Windrush experience, to let those stories abundantly tell themselves. In the testimonies and archival recordings of nurses, slum landlords, activists, struggling lovers, and more, this meticulous, generous study brings these “forgotten” voices to the surface. Though devastated by deliberate neglect from the UK’s Home Office rulings as recently as 2019, the legacy of these Caribbean-British citizens cannot be obliterated, or massaged into modern conservative xenophobia: not, Grant urges us, while we have so much remembering, and honouring, to enact in their service. The chorus of voices in Homecoming sings clear, true, and sentimental, too, with not a recollection out of place.

In Sugarcane Valley, subtitled Stories of East Indian Folklore and Superstition (136 pp, 9789768280701), Vashti Bowlah weaves together elements of folk fable and social history in lively short fictions grounded in Trinidad’s Indian community. She talks to Shivanee Ramlochan about her belief in the value of tradition.

Sugarcane Valley presents a fictional but familiar village: does this setting represent one real location, or is it the creative product of several? Sugarcane Valley is the creative product of several rural areas where I spent my childhood. It bears similarities to Esperanza Village, California, as well as Perseverance Village and Orange Valley in Couva. There are even bits and pieces of Claxton Bay and San Fernando. Life in these areas along the sugarcane belt was full of adventure and excitement in all its simplicity.

Saapins, churiles, raakhas: do East Indian Caribbean folkloric spirits frighten or delight you as a storyteller? While these spirits may have some dark qualities, they make intriguing characters and are certainly a delight to write and read about. Elders made many references to these folkloric spirits, but I was only able to understand them as an adult. I recall being told to not go outside at noon or be caught out at sunset, especially near bushes and trees. There were also stories of widows who couldn’t keep a husband because they had “a snake in their back.” I was determined to create my own stories about these fascinating characters and the many superstitious beliefs that surround them.

Your stories cleave to Independence-era traditions in T&T: which of these rituals of yesteryear has been most essential to your creative writing? I grew up in the 1970s, and enjoy hearing stories from my parents and others about their experiences in the decades before that. You see, traditions are what bind families together and are an essential part of East Indian culture, lifestyle, and beliefs. When I make references to wanting to preserve our traditions, it’s not because I am stuck in the past, but instead I want us to remember the essence of what helped to make our families strong and humble, yet rooted in a culture that is rich and unpretentious. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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playlist Kijombo Yasser Tejeda & Pal (self-released) The Dominican Republic has blessed the world with the highly popular merengue and bachata genres of music. Native son and guitarist Yasser Tejeda has blended these and other elements of traditional Afro-Dominican music — palo, gaga, perico ripiao — with modern jazz, funk, and rock to create a fusion that is both danceable and indicative of the majesty of New World African music. On the eleven-track album Kijombo, the

Home Kalpee (FVP Global) The modern trend in creating short-form EPs sometimes gives the listener the hint that we are being teased for an upcoming high-value long-playing album. This EP is too short — less than fifteen minutes — but in that short burst, listeners are bathed in the island pop motifs that anchor much contemporary popular music: a dolphin whistle here, a millennial whoop there, and slow burn on the tropical soca riddim.

Rebel with a Cause Pressure Busspipe (I Grade Records) St Thomas native and popular reggae artist Pressure Busspipe — you’ve got to love that name — has released his seventh album since 2005, and on Rebel with a Cause listeners become aware of both the ubiquity of the roots rock reggae revival, and the march towards a kind of powerful testimony in the lyricism of reggae artists who are slowly receding from dancehall to find a secure market for this music. This new album is stacked with fourteen songs that

SOLEY Grégory Privat (Buddham Jazz) Martiniquan pianist Grégory Privat continues his elegant exploration of Creole jazz with this follow-up to his recent album Family Tree. This new album of trio music, with collaborators Canadian Chris Jennings on double bass and fellow Martiniquan Tilo Bertholo on drums, sparkles with a new energy, as it incorporates electronics and allows Privat the opportunity to sing. Fifteen tracks draw on the richness of Creole jazz heritage in the French Antilles, and juxtapose those 42

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music sails through moods and tendencies that form a study of how almost ancient and sacred sounds and rhythms can be applied to modern tropes to elevate the whole. The blurb from the record label says the album represents “a journey through a history of Dominican musical resilience.” The percussive pulse, that African heartbeat, is not replaced by electric impulses, but supplemented by ideas and song lyrics that speak to the retention of native excellence. This album is an ideal starting point for new musical discovery. Kalpee has the distinction of being one of the few artists from Trinidad signed to a major label. Going forward, he is finding new boundaries to cross with his laid-back Trini drawl and lyrics that speak of finding the centre here in his island. “Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends,” he says. The first single, “Wherever You Are”, a duet with Jimmy October, could be a hopeful anthem for the homesick wanderer. The other songs describe an arc that is rooted in his patriotic pride. address issues such as government corruption, institutional racism, injustice, and economic oppression, “especially for black people,” he says. Collaborations with fellow Virgin Islanders R. City, Reemah, and the late Akae Beka — alongside Jamaicans Sizzla, Protoje, and others, and rapper Redman — suggest the album has many points of interest for both the consumer and the listener. Contemporary reggae elements are sprinkled around to keep the album refreshing all the way through, never dulling its socio-political subjects.

aesthetic elements with sounds that can only exist in a synthetic medium, to enrich the band’s playing. Privat tells us that SOLEY is “a concept of Spirituality, Optimism, Light, and Energy (coming to) You.” The album represents continued mastery of technique and dynamics on the piano, and a full understanding of the Creole perspective. There is a sense of experimentation on this record, pointing to the idea that this music can be catharsis and spiritual haven: jazz illuminated and elevated. Reviews by Nigel A. Campbell


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screenshots

“Here I was free to create”

Courtesy Carlos Lechuga

Carlos Lechuga doesn’t pull punches. The Cuban filmmaker established his reputation with two excellent, independently made features, Molasses (2012) and Santa and Andres (2015), realist dramas that critiqued the Communist state. When the latter film was banned in Cuba, Lechuga’s future seemed uncertain. Now he’s back with a provocative new short, and a renewed sense of purpose. Set in the 1970s, the dialogue-free Generation centres on a group of Cuba’s jeunesse dorée at a large multi-level house perched, ominously, on a precipice. The camera observes the sepia-hued action with a detached irony, as the young people mix and mingle before proceeding to the rooftop where, one by one, they calmly step off the edge. The death of a generation in just under six minutes, set to a rousing bolero. While Generation is no less political than Lechuga’s previous films, it nevertheless represents a new artistic direction for the thirty-seven-year-old. Jonathan Ali speaks with him about this shift, and Vicenta B, the next feature he plans to make.

What prompted Generation? After the censorship of Santa and Andres, I was hopeless and without a clear project. Then, like a miracle, [the Cuban artist] Marco Castillo called me. He was preparing for the Havana Biennial and wanted to give me the opportunity to shoot again. It was to be a work of video art. We started working with mood, trying not to make a conventional movie. We studied the Cuban photographers of the 70s, and made a homage to them. Where did the concept come from? The original idea came from Marco: a group of people in a house killing themselves, representing an entire generation that the country messed up, that the government tore apart. I 44

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wrote a short script and made a huge mood board. I tried to imbue each of the images with personal drama, to create a concentrated capsule of every moment in the house. Making this film was like a jump into the non-narrative question. In my previous films I had this component, but the narrative component always won the battle. Here I was free to create. Tell me about “Polvada Mojada”, the Beatriz Márquez song that scores the film. I chose it because I have an old record of it — late 70s, early 80s — and I listened to it and I thought: this is it. In Cuba, Beatriz is called La Musicalisima — the most musical voice. She is very famous and was very happy to work with us.

This new direction in your work comes as you prepare to make your third feature, Vicenta B, your most autobiographical film yet. Vicenta B is the story of my grandma, who was a fortune-teller. It’s the story of an Afro-Cuban woman who has a crisis and starts to lose her faith. It’s an opportunity to give a voice to a huge group of people who don’t appear frequently in Cuban cinema, and to vindicate Afro-Cuban beliefs. You’ve said the idea for the film was prompted by the idea of “the existential crisis of a black woman.” In cinema, we’re used to seeing the existential crises of white and First World women characters, like in Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. I’m tired that every time we film the problems of Caribbean women we only see material problems — relationship or money issues. I want to go deeper, and in a very sensual and subtle mood. That’s why Generation is a bridge in my career. I’m changing, entering a new period, like a painter. So you’re finished with making overtly political films? Yes. I’ve already made them. And I was brave to do it. But I’m not interested any more in that. I’m going to make more personal films and pray for a better country. Do you anticipate any challenges with the authorities as you go into production on Vicenta B? If I want to make films, I cannot think about these people. The fear makes you freeze, and stop. I’m not going to stop, even if I have to shoot the film in my house. One thing is true: I’m going to continue being independent. Generation Directors: Carlos Lechuga and Marco Castillo Cuba 6 minutes


Give us a call T 246 429 5686 info.bb@massyrealty.com massyrealtybb.com

Education for Liberty by Fazal Ali

Attempts to end social inequality through ambitious education reforms fail simply because varying levels of education can only partially account for wage inequality. When level of education attainment is controlled, the effect of social origin is statistically significant at every career stage. Education for economic justice posits a recasting of the ecological frames of schooling.

For more information, see www.fazalali.com Available on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Education-Liberty-Dr-Fazal-Ali/dp/1975721950

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07/02/2020 1:59 PM


cookup

“I’m going to do something different”

Nina Compton was a teenager in St Lucia when she discovered her passion for cooking. After years of working in some of the most celebrated restaurant kitchens in the US, she shot to fame after appearing on Top Chef. Now based in New Orleans, Compton has a passion for sharing Caribbean cuisine, she tells Franka Philip

Photography by Denny Culbert, courtesy Nina Compton

H

er life has been on fast forward since she emerged as the runnerup on the popular Top Chef TV series in 2013. She’s opened two restaurants and won a heap of awards, including a highly prestigious James Beard Foundation Award — the Oscar of the food world. When I ask chef Nina Compton about finding balance in her life, her answer, with a laugh, is, “When I figure that out, I’ll let you know.” “It’s a funny thing how the past couple of years have gone by so quickly,” she says. “It’s kind of overwhelming, because after doing Top Chef and winning these awards, things just got bigger and bigger and bigger. The demands are crazy.”

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The New Orleans–based chef loves being able to fly to far-flung places to cook with her contemporaries, but her main focus is her two restaurants, Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro. “I never expected all this success,” she says, “but I’m very happy that it happened.” Born and raised in St Lucia, Compton is the daughter of late prime minister Sir John Compton, who, even as the leader of his country, never gave up his profession as a farmer. Sir John never much bothered with the trappings of office, and his children grew up like everyone else, walking to school and doing just as the other children did. The farmer’s daughter grew up with a love of fresh fruit and vegetables, and also the sea. In a 2019 interview on the Bon Appetit magazine podcast, she said her first food memory was “going into the ocean and dipping a beautiful ripe mango in the salt water, then having a bite.” Her culinary journey began with her English grandmother in St Lucia. Her granny was a retired nurse, who spent a lot of time in the kitchen, preparing meals for the family. “Her life was just cooking and organising meals for the family,” Compton says. “As I got older, I’d ask, ‘Granny, can I help? Can I cut the onions for you?’ That was important for me, because we became very close. Cooking was our bond.” Compton left St Lucia at sixteen to attend school in Britain. At first she thought it would be an adventure, but soon realised she needed to adapt quickly to the culture and the awful weather.


Compton knew about the ultra-competitive and stressful nature of the competition, but she felt Top Chef was an opportunity to feature Caribbean food in a positive way

Two years later, she returned to St Lucia and contemplated her next steps, but she knew that university was not for her. It was cooking the Christmas meal for the family with her granny that helped her to decide she wanted to enter the culinary field. “I remember seeing the reactions, how happy my family was . . . and I told my mom, ‘I think I want to cook.’”

H

er mother sensibly warned her about the arduous life that chefs endure — the long hours, the stress, and generally not having a social

life. Realising it was something she was intent on trying, Compton’s mother helped her get a job in the kitchen at the Sandals resort in St Lucia. After a year of working her way around the kitchen, Compton started feeling “stuck,” she says. She requested a transfer to Sandals in Jamaica, where she “had a blast,” but after two years, that familiar feeling of being stuck returned. Advised by her head chef to attend culinary school, she applied and was accepted to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York City. While

there, she made up her mind to work at one of the top restaurants in the city. What followed was a period in the early 2000s in celebrated chef Daniel Boulud’s “intense” kitchen. Under his exacting chef de cuisine Alex Lee, Compton built a strong foundation for the future. Put off by the New York winters, Compton set her sights south, and applied to work with Norman Van Aken in Florida. The so-called “founding father of New World Cuisine” was a trailblazer for his use of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, and African flavours, and this was a huge draw for the young St Lucian. “He was cooking with a lot of tropical ingredients and he was doing stuff that I wouldn’t have thought of. He was using yucca [cassava], conch, and ingredients nobody else was using.” Fast for ward to 2013: Compton’s growing reputation as a brilliant chef is cemented after stints at several top restaurants in Florida. Cable television channel Bravo calls, and asks her to be a contestant on season eleven of the series Top Chef. Anyone who has watched the show knows it puts the competing chefs under the microscope in a pressurecooker environment. Top Chef’s history is littered with a trail of chefs who simply cracked under the pressure. Compton k new about t he u ltracompetitive and stressful nature of the competition, but she felt Top Chef was an opportunity to feature Caribbean food in a positive way — and, of course, bring attention to St Lucia. “It was one

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Nina Compton at work in the kitchen at Compère Lapin

of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she recalls, but “Top Chef was actually a fun experience.” Season eleven was extremely competitive. Compton reached the final, and was pitted against Philadelphia chef Nicholas Elmi — the contestant who fellow chefs and viewers loved to hate, because of his perceived lack of humility and bad attitude. In the end, Elmi triumphed, but Compton won the hearts of viewers and TV critics, and was voted People’s Choice. Since then, life has been a whirlwind for Compton and her husband and business partner Larry Miller. The couple moved from Florida to New Orleans after falling in love with the city where some of the Top Chef episodes were filmed. “The culture was very similar to the Caribbean but also very different,” Compton told Bon Appetit. “New Orleans has a special feel, that you don’t feel like you’re in the States. It’s a fun environment, and people are about life.” In 2015, she opened her first restaurant, Compère Lapin (named after the rabbit character from Creole folktales), to praise and accolades. In 2017, Compton was named Best New Chef by Food and Wine magazine and Compère Lapin was also listed in Eater’s top thirty restaurants in the US. In March 2018, she collaborated with her sous chef Levi Raines to open her second restaurant, Bywater American Bistro, serving a menu that reflects

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contemporary American cuisine. In May 2018, the hard work truly paid off, with a coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef: South.

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atching Nina Compton for an interview is not easy — she has some ridiculous working hours. We eventually speak via Skype early one Saturday morning before she heads to the farmers’ markets. She spoke about the demands of owning two restaurants and the importance of creating positive and respectful kitchens, but she was most passionate about how welcoming the people of New Orleans have been to her, pointing out that the African-American community has really embraced her. “I’ve had people in the black community approach me and help uplift me,” she says. “People come to the restaurant and say, ‘I came to the restaurant because I wanted to support a black woman and what she’s doing.’” So what can an eager prospective eater expect on the menu at Compère Lapin — where the chef’s philosophy revolves around the complexity of simplicity, and the power of pure flavours? First of all, don’t expect a Caribbean take on Louisana’s most famous dish, gumbo. “If I do something, I’m going to do something different, and I want to bring my Caribbean heritage so people can understand where I am coming from,” Compton says. “One of the dishes I have

on the menu at the moment is curry goat. It’s something I grew up with, it’s my comfort food.” But although her Caribbean-influenced menu has been a hit in New Orleans, Compton is not sure if Caribbean food can go mainstream in the near future. “Caribbean food is so unique and different islands have different things,” she explains. “It’s hard, because you can’t put a collection of Caribbean food together — people say, jerk chicken is from Jamaica, or this is from here. People still identify certain things from particular islands. “We need to be more universal, and while every island is different, the islands are also quite similar. I think there needs to be a collective exploration of the Caribbean, that’s what needs to happen.” The forty-one-year-old believes that chefs from the region are elevating our food, but they need to draw more from history in developing our regional cuisine. As far as the future is concerned, Compton seems set to stay in New Orleans for the long term. Early in her career, she thought of moving back to St Lucia to open a restaurant by the sea, but that is now a “retirement” plan. “There’s a beautiful feeling when I reach home,” she says. “As soon as I land, there is no stress. The Caribbean, a lot of people take it for granted. Every time I go home, I think, man, this is where I’m from, this is the land.” n

Find out more about chef Nina Compton’s New Orleans restaurants: Compere Lapin comperelapin.com Instagram @comperelapin Bywater American Bistro bywateramericanbistro.com Instagram @bywateramericanbistro


courtesy leandra

Immerse

51 Closeup All that jazz: meet three jazz vocalists of different generations, all reshaping T&T’s music scene

Up and coming Trinidadian jazz vocalist LeAndra

58 Portfolio The rightest place:

Bahamian artist Blue Curry says “art has to do something”

66 Snapshot As far as it goes:

Grenadian athlete Anderson Peters goes for Olympic javelin gold


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WATERCOLOUR Brushes by McBadshoes

All that jazz

Trinidad and Tobago may be known as the land of calypso and soca, but the thriving local jazz scene proves there are many paths to musical success. Nigel A. Campbell profiles three remarkable women jazz vocalists — Charmaine Forde, Vaughnette Bigford, and LeAndra — of three different generations whose individual stories offer insights into a changing musical landscape

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he Caribbean is a fertile space for the evolution of global talent. Caribbean music has played a major role in the development of popular culture worldwide, and the building blocks of our island music industries are the singers and musicians who make all these beautiful sounds. The idea of being a globally popular soca star has a grip on many musicians in Trinidad and Tobago, but the three jazz vocalists profiled in the following pages — Charmaine Forde, Vaughnette Bigford, and LeAndra — coming from three different generations and three different starting points, share a belief that genres outside the circumscribed diaspora Carnival circuit also offer the potential for international success. Their stories chart a revealing pattern of ups and downs in the music industry, and describe what potential looks like from a Caribbean perspective. “A great quality about jazz,” guitar great Pat Metheny once said, “is that it seems to encourage people to bring the things that are unique to their own background to the music.” Singing jazz — whether as a fall-back choice, because of life-changing events, or as an economically viable option in the islands — has defined these three artists. Their personal stories have shaped how they sing, and how audiences everywhere will perceive their success.

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The classic

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ack in 2018, when Charmaine Forde returned to Trinidad after a storied career in the United States, fans of local popular music from the late 1970s to early 80s rejoiced. First winning wide acclaim on local radio, Forde was once the darling of the local impresario set seeking talent to make the leap outwards, when American record companies were doing business with artists from the islands. Hers is a story that needs to be told within the context of a legacy of singers from the Caribbean who have focused on the live music industry as a goal for success, as opposed to the highly profitable recording careers favoured by a more recent crop of pop singers. Born in Port of Spain, Forde grew up in the neighbourhood of Gonzales, where the influence of family played an important role in defining her craft and her sound. Her elder sister, a fan of jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson, had her records on constant rotation in the Forde household. That inspiration melded with Forde’s natural talent to forge a vocal timbre that resonates even today with a mix of the phrasing of Wilson and the power and tone of Shirley Bassey. Singing in church and school while growing up brought Forde to the attention of kaisojazz innovator and teacher Scofield Pilgrim, who put her in touch — and, critically, on stage — with local and regional jazz musicians, at home in Trinidad and then in St Lucia, Jamaica, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, at festivals and on the lucrative hotel performance circuit. One musician who was a lynchpin in her recording career debut was Trinidadian Michael Boothman, an early local jazz innovator and established recording artist on a US record label. He crafted an arrangement of the Bobby Caldwell hit “What You Won’t Do For Love” for Forde, inspired by Roy Ayers’s earlier soul-jazz recording, releasing it in 1980 to the nation and ultimately to the region, presenting her as a new voice that could swing with the best, with a powerful controlled dynamic range rarely heard locally.

The connections Charmaine Forde made on the high-end event circuit sustained a career where the intimacy of a pianovocal duet has as much cachet as a concert hall performance

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Jamal Du-Barry/Lumiere Brosse, courtesy Charmaine Forde

When the opportunity came to leave Trinidad and travel outside the Caribbean in the 1980s, Forde was up to it: she was seeing “greener grass outside,” she recalls. “It was bigger and better.” First Toronto, then California, until she finally settled in the Miami and Palm Beach area in Florida, becoming a fixture on the high-end event circuit — cocktail parties for the country club set and major corporate clientele — as a featured jazz vocalist. She admits she was a “singer for hire,” but prefers the moniker “song stylist.” The connections she made on that circuit sustained a career where the intimacy of a piano-vocal duet has as much cachet as a concert hall performance or a recording studio gig. The corporate event industry in the US is where Forde shared the stage with some of the greatest contemporary artists, including

Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, and her idol, Nancy Wilson. It was a full circle connecting Forde with her longtime idol. Another full circle brought her back to her homeland after more than thirty-five years away. Forde’s return to Trinidad and Tobago’s live music scene has included a handful of sold-out concert performances branded as “We Kinda Jazz.” In 2020, Forde is looking towards expanding her brand to regional jazz festivals. “People say I am trying to make a comeback, but I am trying to live in my craft and to do the best,” she says. “Just continuing my craft from where I left off in this market.” And, aware that some younger listeners and even artists may not remember or know her, Forde is giving back by helping develop the minds of her younger peers to understand the world of music.

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The mainstay

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hen Charmaine Forde debuted as a recording artist in 1980, Point Fortin– born Vaughnette Bigford was just six years old. Hasten forward to the present, and her name is now on the lips of a wide cross-section of the Trinidad and Tobago public as one of the country’s premier jazz vocalists — as one writer posits, “the Creole chanteuse who has made the local songbook the new jazz standard in the Caribbean.” The songbooks of the wider world and the languages of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East are no barriers to performance for this singer and concert producer. With her trademark shaved head and a cutting-edge fashion sense that says I am Caribbean glamour, Bigford confidently channels the aesthetic sprits of Miriam Makeba and Nina Simone, yet retains the expressive phrasing of her hero, jazz singer Carmen McRae, to make the familiar new for an audience trained in the language of jazz. As a child, she was not even considered a singer. “I was known more as an actress,” she admits. Though she also reminds people that, in her much younger days, she once placed third to future soca superstar Machel Montano in a calypso competition. As an adult, working in the oil industry, Bigford got into the music business later than many of her peers, despite knowing she possessed a smoky contralto voice. “I started with [jazz pianist] Carlton Zanda and the Coal Pot Band in 2004 at age thirty,” she recalls. Launching a professional singing career at that relatively late age, she believes, worked for her in terms of maturity and her ability to better understand the business of music. Together with her husband-manager, Bigford mapped out a ten-year plan to be among the top three jazz artists from Trinidad by popular commercial demand. That plan included setting a new standard for local jazz vocal concerts. Her event series Shades of Vaughnette translated into media adulation, and invitations to perform in Tobago and Barbados at the major festivals. A one-year sabbatical in 2010 to attend the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, and the performance opportunities arising from being there, inspired a better understanding of her future role. “I have to be an evolving person and prod-

Working in the oil industry, Vaughnette Bigford got into the music business later than many of her peers, despite knowing she possessed a smoky contralto voice

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Maria Nunes, courtesy Vaugnette Bigford

uct,” she says. “I have to be different — constant re-invention. I am now past the stage of being called a jazz singer. I am an entertainer.” She knew where she belonged, too: staying in the US in 2010 as an unknown singer was not an option for a highly paid oil industry worker from Trinidad. Things changed drastically, however, in 2018, when the oil company she worked at was shut down. Her new reality was to sink or swim. Bigford’s ten-year plan bore fruit, allowing for a smooth transition to a full-time career as an in-demand entertainer on the local jazz circuit. The path to that pole position included a series of recordings, first as part of the TriniJazz Project in 2014, then her first solo release, Born to Shine, in 2017, which together revisited the neglected canon of lyrically meaningful island songs.

Now, with her recordings and branded concerts securing a solid base of local and regional fans, and the freedom of not being tethered to a nine-to-five job, Bigford has turned her eyes towards Europe and an entrée into an international career: “Europe understands who we are in the Caribbean, and Africa for that matter,” she says. And, as with Charmaine Forde, the idea of mentorship is a prime consideration now, beyond the concert stage or the recording studio. “People can be taught, but it’s what is caught. I want to start with younger people and impart knowledge of my craft.” Her ideas for future growth are also influenced by the fact that, with a young son, she recognises the responsibility of creative people in the Caribbean to hasten towards the goal of collective sustainability. “We’re all in this thing together,” she says, “and as Carl and Carol, sang ‘We Gotta Live!’”

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The newcomer

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f Charmaine Forde and Vaughnette Bigford have mature careers in jazz singing and recording in Trinidad and Tobago, LeAndra represents the potential future in search of new opportunities in a connected world. With a voice tinged with the timbre of a young Billie Holiday, sans vibrato, with hints of British soul-jazz singer Sade, she sonically projects a tropical vibe reminiscent of João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim’s languid Brazilian bossa nova. She’s the darling among new T&T audiences hearing jazz voices for the first time. Her innocent enthusiasm is the charming counterpoint to her cool reserve. Born Leandra Head to a Trinidadian mother and a US marine based in the island, she was a precocious child with a voice that turned heads. LeAndra was winning television talent contests and garnering the attention of major festival promoters and music industry people before she was even a teenager. But that girl was human, not a machine. She felt stressed and developed stage fright, she recalls, and quit singing in front of audiences throughout her whole time in secondary school. “Until secondary school was over, I was always singing, but not performing,” she remembers. “My mother helped me by not pressuring me to perform while I was still young.” In that household, in those formative years, a world of musical influences opened up, from Barbra Streisand to Sade, from soca and calypso to the world of Broadway and Disney musicals. In 2013, she entered the University of Trinidad and Tobago to study for an undergraduate degree in fine arts, specialising in voice. “I was pretty much training for four years to be an opera singer,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of different styles and have many influences — from Amy Winehouse and Adele to Etta James and Nina Simone — so it’s hard for me to say that I am one type of vocalist.” A move away from opera was a practical decision in Trinidad, and a career with her now trained voice

LeAndra is the darling among new T&T audiences hearing jazz voices for the first time. Her innocent enthusiasm is the charming counterpoint to her cool reserve

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Andrea De Silva, courtesy LeAndra

began with a few shows on the local festival circuit before LeAndra headlined her first concert in 2018. The accolades began, and people took notice. Reviewing her Tobago Jazz Experience performance in 2019, one local newspaper noted how her “powerful and soulful voice with her clear, pure, and soothing vocals caught the attention of the audience, even those enjoying other performances at the two stages . . . Head was not only outstanding, but was clearly a crowd favourite and received a standing ovation.” Ingénue is an easy label to apply to young artists, but unfair

to attach to LeAndra, as she’s already faced the trials and tribulations of professional singing engagements in the US (at Ashford and Simpson’s Sugar Bar in New York) and in Hungary (in a production of Porgy and Bess), as she slowly recognises where her best options lie as a performer from Trinidad. Her awareness — even as a young woman not yet thirty — that the world is large and sometimes scary is notable, as she plots a professional pathway ahead, from recording an album in 2020 to developing skills in the music business to navigate from Trinidad to the world. n

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courtesy blue curry

portfolio

The rightest place For London-based Bahamian artist Blue Curry, the unlikely juxtaposition of objects and ideas is a technique intended to provoke thought about the viewer’s place in the world. “Art has to do something,” he tells Andre Bagoo. “Art has to transform”

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ake a conch shell, insert a strobe light. A car tyre, coat with beans. Two starfish, place on an oil drum. A ton of beach sand, ship to an art gallery. This is artist Blue Curry’s way of questioning what belongs where, and maybe who. “I came to London a little over twenty years ago, on the casual invite of my aunt who emigrated back in the 1960s,” Curry says. “I came for a short visit and never left. I consider London my base, and I do feel that I have become a Londoner, but the Bahamas is still home.” Curry takes an object from the place where it belongs and puts it into another. It’s little wonder, then, that migration is a key part of his story. He was born in Nassau in 1974. His father had a


courtesy blue curry

barbershop in the city’s business district. It became an important setting: a social meeting place that brought together everyone from top Bahamian politicians to fishermen. “A haircut side by side equalised their positions for a few minutes,” Curry says, “and conversations that weren’t possible anywhere else happened there.” Years later, pursuing that sense of possibility, Curry headed to London, where he obtained a BA in photography and multimedia at the University of Westminster in 2004, then an MFA in fine art at Goldsmiths College in 2009, making an appearance in the two-part BBC documentary Goldsmiths: But Is It Art? (2010). Art that is compelling is often art that is hard to describe. Even Curry has, on occasion, had difficulty explaining what he’s doing with his sculp-

tural assemblages, installations, and found-object poems. In the 2010 documentary, he struggled to give the filmmakers a mission statement. “You have this idea of a sculptor or painter just slaving away at this massive canvas, but if the conceptual artist just puts that rock on top of a piece of paper, you can’t see the labour involved with that, and so therefore it’s not an artwork,” he said. “It’s a funny thing to try to explain exactly what a strobing conch shell is saying. What’s happening here? I don’t know.” In the years since, however, others have not been as tongue-tied. “Dichotomies are at constant play in the work,” wrote Melanie Archer in a 2010 profile of Curry in The Caribbean Review of Books. She detected a sense of fun, alongside an “impossible elegance.” Art critic Carlos Suarez de Jesus positioned

Opposite page The façade of Ruby Cruel, Blue Curry’s new arts space in a former barbershop in east London. A handpainted sign by Trinidadian Bruce Cayonne is displayed in the front window Above Untitled, Taino lithic crushing tools, softballs, baseballs (2016; collection of Centro León). Made during a residency in the Dominican Republic, this installation juxtaposes prehistoric artefacts with used baseballs that hint at historic US cultural dominance

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nadia huggins, courtesy blue curry

Blue Curry at Ruby Tuesday

Art that is compelling is often art that is hard to describe. Even Blue Curry has, on occasion, had difficulty explaining what he’s doing Curry’s pieces as balanced on a “tightrope between cultural artefact and tourist souvenir,” while Benjamin Genocchio, writing in the New York Times, described one of the artist’s creations as “satisfying and silly at the same time.” “I’m less concerned about how people engage with my work, but that they engage, full stop,” Curry says now. “Strong juxtapositions of seemingly contradictory ideas and materials can make people engage. Whatever people take from it — fascination, confusion, anger, delight, amusement — boredom is never an option with my work.”

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he ton of sand ends up at the Nassauischer Kunstverein, an art space in Germany. On the shore in the Bahamas from where it is taken, Curry installs a cheeky sign: “This section of beach temporarily on loan for international exhibition.

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Apologies for any inconvenience caused.” After the show, some, not all, of the material is returned. The entire thing becomes Like Taking Sand to the Beach (2006). It points to how Curry’s work involves a carnival of symbols. His installations scramble icons of identity. The beach — for some, the quintessential embodiment of the Caribbean as paradise — is reduced to mere commodity. Something that should be immune to the idea of ownership is shipped, possessed, objectified, much in the way colonisation exploited black bodies. Forget seeing a world in a grain of sand, as William Blake did. We are in the realm of the absurd: the colonial nightmare. This


courtesy blue curry

theatrical dis-ordering of signs and ciphers emerges as the dominant theme in the artist’s work. And so in Curry’s Untitled (2010), two starfish are mounted, as if dancing or in amorous embrace, on top of a painted oil drum. There’s some frothy silver tinsel between them, and mirrored perspex appears to have become their dance floor. The starfish is an easily recognised symbol of the seaside, of the joyful things we associate with the marine environment. Placing two of them astride an oil drum is a harsh juxtaposition that makes us confront the environmental impact of oil rigs and fossil fuel usage on this same marine environment. The mirror gives you the feeling that the starfish

are walking on water — another symbolic gesture, which deepens the sense of their estrangement from where they should be, and adds a teleological twist: are they Christ-like figures about to be sacrificed? The green paint on the oil drum is yet another ironic symbol, green being the colour we associate with nature. Oil itself is natural, even if its harvesting has brought us to a most unnatural climate emergency. All of these elements bring us to a place where we must confront the dynamics of how smaller states are affected by the actions of larger, multinational entities, whether conglomerates or countries, in their quest to exploit natural resources. That

Detail of Untitled, starfish, steel drum, mirrored perspex, silver tinsel (2010)

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courtesy blue curry

dynamic has been the lynchpin of the relationship between developing and more developed countries for centuries. If Untitled (2010) is about the interplay of forces within nature and history, Souvenir (2014) is about politics impinging on the human body. The piece is a sculpture comprising four translucent hair combs arranged on a perspex plinth. Combs are representations of how we tame hair to fit our ideas of beauty. In this way, they are also emblematic of larger, more oppressive social ideas. In a world where black bodies are made to bow down to white standards of beauty, the comb is a reminder of the painful process by which a mother might try to iron out the kinks in her black daughter’s curly hair. Curry, who most would regard as white within a Caribbean setting, understands his nebulous place within the racial dynamics of the region: that the combs are colourless becomes

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a powerful gesture of solidarity. For a residency at Alice Yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 2016, the artist would return to this subject, this time making a group of assemblages from colourful afro combs. (Comb sculptures, in fact, have been a longstanding part of his oeuvre, going as far back as 2010.) Nor do the politics of class escape Curry’s gaze. In another untitled piece from 2010 — many of his works are officially Untitled, and otherwise identified by their materials — he fills a cement mixer with thirty litres of sunscreen. The cement mixer is a symbol of construction work, of builders, of tough, hardy, typically male figures who might have little concern for skincare regimes. The sunscreen is just like the starfish: a symbol of beach-going, leisurely life. The work offers a paradox heightening the estrangement between two class worlds.


Left Untitled, swimsuits, shower heads (2019) Below Untitled, combs (2014)

“Art doesn’t have to say anything, but it has to do something. Art has to transform or rearrange material or ideas in a way that hasn’t been seen before”

courtesy blue curry

The idea of the male is also present in 2019’s Untitled, swimsuits, shower heads, but via its dramatic absence. Twelve bathing suits — another signifier: there are twelve disciples, twelve moon cycles, twelve hours on the clock — are hung on showerheads lined up along a white wall. Bathing suits are, again, symbols of leisure, but here, arrayed in this way, they suggest something mercenary, perhaps prostitution. The artist may see tourism as a negative thing, but there’s also a deep critique of the place of women in society. The limp suits, hung up here, seem fetishlike, on display, lined up for an offstage and (likely) male gaze. Their very proliferation speaks to the absence of women in other more serious realms of Caribbean society. Women are numerous on the beach, but missing elsewhere, such as in the legislative chamber — women make up only about twelve per cent of the Bahamas Parliament.

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rt doesn’t have to say anything, but it has to do something,” Curry says. “Art has to transform or rearrange material or ideas in a way that hasn’t been seen before. It should complicate the familiar elements of the culture around us, and perhaps make us reconsider our position in it.” Of Untitled, swimsuits, shower heads he says, “I’m asking that these bathing suits, which might seem quite innocuous, be considered in terms of the mental subjugation of Caribbean people. At the same time, because of their ordinary nature as consumer items, they are underestimated as material for sculpture and art, so I am also interested in repositioning them as such.” Another kind of repositioning is occupying Curry’s attention these days, with his opening of a new collaborative space in London, named Ruby Cruel — an anagram of the artist’s own name. It’s a

courtesy blue curry

new dawn in a sense, located at 250 Morning Lane in east London. Besides the obvious symbolism of the address, the space was once the site of a barbershop, bring Curry full circle to his childhood. “I want it to have a unique and flexible mix of uses, including exhibitions, talks, workshops, socials, community projects, and an artist-in-residence programme, to name a few,” he explains. It’s already had its first opening night in late 2019, he tells me. On exhibition when we speak is work by Trinidadian painter and designer Bruce Cayonne, known at home for his distinctive fete signs, usually displayed in public locations. Commissioned by Curry, Cayonne has made a series of hand-painted typographic works experimenting with the nascent Ruby Cruel identity or brand. “I see Ruby Cruel as a sort of alter ego, or better put, an anti-ego,” Curry says. “It has little to do

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Opposite page Untitled, customised cement mixer, sun cream (2010; commission for the 6th Liverpool Biennial)

courtesy blue curry

Left Untitled, strobe light, conch shell (2009)

with my own individual artistic career, and more to do with working with others and creating creative possibilities and networks in general.” Those networks may involve straddling two seemingly disparate but, in fact, heavily interlinked worlds: the Caribbean and London. “I get back twice a year, and bounce around the Caribbean quite a bit working on various projects,” Curry says. “In two decades, I feel as though I’ve lived through three different Londons — which is hard to explain — but art, fashion, music, and attitudes have progressed and changed so many times since I’ve lived here. The city is not the same one as when I first arrived. “Just as there are challenges in operating from a small island space, there are challenges to working in a big city. I’m fortunate enough that I can move between the two. This has become intrinsic to

“Just as there are challenges in operating from a small island space, there are challenges to working in a big city . . . This has become intrinsic to the work I make” the work I make, and also to my own identity as a Caribbean person.” Blue Curry and his work stand out wherever he goes, but he clearly also fits in at many different places. The ultimate irony, perhaps, is that by habitually making things seem out of place, by pushing them across boundaries, he makes them belong. Suddenly, they seem in the rightest place, destined for his designs all along. n

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snapshot

When Grenadian javelin thrower Anderson Peters mounted the medal podium at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, it was not just a confirmation of his talent and hard work, but a breakthrough for Caribbean athletics. What’s next? The 2020 Olympics and the prospect of a gold medal, he tells Sheldon Waithe

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ver a magical eight-week period in 2019, a young javelin thrower put his tiny island nation on the map by winning a gold medal in a hemispheric games, then expanding his repertoire to do the same on the world stage. Cue several fairytale stories of the new Pan Am Games and Worlds champion having come from nowhere to upset the favourites — when a closer inspection reveals a résumé littered with titles, medals, and annual progression over a sevenyear career. For Anderson Peters, standing on the top step of the podiums in Lima and Doha — making the Grenadian anthem ring out once again — was the culmination of inspiration, an incredible support system, hard work, and staunch belief that resulted in a

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dpa/alamy stock photo

As far as it goes

positive trajectory year upon year. It was also a direct answer to the one-hit-wonder theorists, and something that bodes well for the expectations of his long-term success. If the world’s media seemed shocked, Peters’s post-event aura of calm confirmed his conviction that he came to win. “After the first throw, I believed it even more, consistently telling myself that I would become the World Champion . . . and eventually I became the World Champion,” he said after his win in Doha. Then he reminded himself that while Grenada celebrated his achievements, there were other immediate tasks to be undertaken. His sobering reality statement “I have an exam on Tuesday” referred to the world champion’s return to Mississippi State University, the place that became his finishing school in the specialist world of javelin throwing.


Anderson Peters at the 2019 World Championships in Doha

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Peters won gold at the 2019 World Championships with a throw of 86.89 metres

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o me, it was always a natural thing to throw,” says Peters. “As kids we used to regularly throw rocks to get mangoes and golden apples.” But though he had the best arm among all his friends — and broke his school record the first time he tried the javelin at ten years old — the young Anderson’s ambition was to run on the track, inspired like so many Caribbean youths at the time by the invincible performances of a certain Usain Bolt. He was good enough to run the 4x100m relay for his country, but by the age of fourteen he’d started getting recurring injuries, so he returned to the javelin. While his compatriot Kirani James sent Grenada into raptures with the country’s first Olympic medal (gold in the 400 metres) at the 2012 Games, Peters focused on another regional gold medallist. “Keshorn Walcott had a big impact when he won the London title,” he recalls. “It was an eye-opener for the Caribbean. Young athletes no longer had to think the only way they could become champions was in track events.” Peters maintains a healthy competitive rivalry with the Trinidad and Tobago thrower — “for years I’ve compared his stats against mine,” he says — while observing Walcott’s influence and legacy. “We all depend on each other more than we admit.” An unprecedented run of five CARIFTA Games titles interspersed with podium places at the junior Pan American and World level kick-started Peters’s dreams of Olympic gold. It’s

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almost an oxymoron to consider this lofty target against his background in the small village of St Andrew, but it keeps him level-headed, along with strong support from his family. The parental factor extends further, and by good fortune, forged the bond that has been crucial to Peters’s success: his mother Antoinette is a close friend of his coach Paul Phillip. “Myself and his mom went to school together,” says Phillip, “so she has given me the right to become a ‘parent’ as well.” The golden outcome

If the world’s media seemed shocked, Peters’s post-event aura of calm confirmed his conviction that he came to win at the 2019 World Championships is Peters’s total belief in Phillip’s regime, from their first meeting in 2011, as well as Phillip’s total belief in his charge’s ability to become one of the greatest javelin throwers of all time. “Injury is the only thing that can stop Anderson,” he says. It’s a match made in sporting heaven.


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The next generation of Caribbean field athletes Anderson Peters isn’t the only young Caribbean talent to watch on the field as the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics draw near. Here are five more rising talents poised to break the gold barrier

Jamaican discus thrower Kai Chang

Chantoba Bright Guyana’s most decorated CARIFTA athlete is now a long jumper for the University of Texas, with ambitions to make the qualifying mark for Tokyo 2020. An all-rounder, she has also competed for her country in the triple jump and 400m.

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Kai Chang The reigning U20 World Champion is eager to make his mark for Jamaica at the senior level in the discus throw. A first-year University of the West Indies student, he should also attend his first Olympics in 2020.

Tyriq Horsford A Mississippi teammate of Anderson Peters, the Tobagonian has four CARIFTA titles as well as a silver at the Commonwealth Youth Games. He’s hoping to emulate compatriots Shakeil Waithe and Keshorn Walcott as a world-class javelin thrower.

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teenage life of travelling to high school, training, travelling back home, and repeat, bore immediate results. By the age of twenty, with a Junior Worlds bronze in his pocket, Peters attended his first senior championships, the 2017 Worlds in Britain and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. The former provided exposure and experience, as a nervy Peters finished twentieth — “I was naive and disappointed,” he says, “it was my coach

“There’s only one other gold medal that I can win, which is the Olympic championship,” Peters says who showed me the positives out of that” — but, being a quick learner, he bounced back with bronze at the Commonwealths. The world started to take notice. During this time, he exchanged his fantastic Grenadian support network for that of an equally close-knit family at Mississippi State University, a school so keenly associated with their prowess in the field discipline that it’s also known as “JavU.” There could be no better place for a wannabe World

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Jonathan Miller The current CARIFTA champion is seeking a career on the professional circuit after completing his scholarship at Nebraska College. Qualification for the 2020 Olympics will be an important step for the Barbadian triple jumper’s ambitions. Lotavia Brown The Jamaican triple jumper currently holds the CARIFTA and U20 Pan Am titles, which should ensure a Tokyo 2020 place for experience of the big time.

Champion to ply his trade. It proved to be mutually beneficial: Peters’s scholarship gave him access to education, technique, and biomechanics, and he provided them with back-to-back national titles in the prestigious NCAA competition. With a full season of competition in those arms, he flew to Peru for the 2019 Pan Am Games and took gold with his first throw. The man one step below him with the silver medal? Keshorn Walcott. “Keshorn was Olympic champion at nineteen years old,” explains Peters, “so I wanted to be World Champion at nineteen years old.” Peters was no longer a teenager, but the words were partially prophetic, as he focused on the bigger prize in Doha. “There’s only one other gold medal that I can win, which is the Olympic championship,” Peters says. There is absolute confidence in his bold statement. And his coach has an even bigger mission. “I would be very disappointed if we stop at Anderson,” says Phillip. “I want Grenada to build a dynasty in javelin. We have it in our gene pool.” “What I love about the javelin is the uncertainty of how far it can really go,” says Peters. “The world record is 98 metres, but I still think a javelin could go further. This drives me to work even harder, to see if one day I could throw over 100 metres.” That’s what the rest of the world will be up against at Tokyo 2020. n


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Destination 72 Guyana: so near, so far

88 Explore Rite of spring: Phagwah in Trinidad

A Buff-necked Ibis (Theristicus caudatus), one of the numerous bird species found in Guyana’s Rupununi

Bucket List 96 Bathsheba, Barbados


destination

The Rupununi River lends its name to the vast savannahs of southern Guyana

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Out in the expansive savannahs of the Rupununi, or the green wonderland of Guyana’s rainforest, it can feel like you’re continents away from ordinary life. But these wild adventures in the Guyanese interior are actually a short journey away from Georgetown, writes Nixon Nelson. And don’t overlook the city either — full of historic sites but poised to be transformed by recent offshore oil discoveries 73


david di gregorio, courtesy the guyana tourism authority

Getting up close with giant Victoria amazonica waterlilies at Mobai Pond near Karanambu

Endless horizons domestic Ogle Airport. Even travelling by land, the Rupununi is a day’s journey (admittedly, bumpy and dusty) in a 4x4 or an overnight drive by bus from the city. The Rupununi’s wildness is real, but its remoteness is a matter of the imagination rather than practical logistics. Similarly, whereas visitors to the savannahs once relied on the hospitality of family-owned ranches, the past decade has seen many Rupununi villages establish community-run tourist lodges with comfortable if not sybaritic accommodations, easily booked via tour agencies in Georgetown or online. When I first came here, communication between far-flung villages was via word of mouth — messages moving along the savannah rivers in small boats — or by shortwave radio. Improvements in satellite communications mean that most communities now have Internet access (and just last year the government of Guyana announced plans to set up free WiFi in key north Rupununi villages). So the outside world isn’t really so far away (if it ever was) — though the Rupununi’s dramatic scenery and wildlife try their best to convince you otherwise. The red laterite savannahs, dotted with sandpaper trees — so named for the texture of their leaves — are home to giant anteaters and towering termite mounds, while the Rupununi River and its smaller creeks are home to sleek giant river otters and caiman sunning themselves on rocky banks.

A decade and a half later, I remember my first arrival in the Rupununi like it happened last week. Heading south along the unpaved red-earth road that runs all the way to the Brazilian border, we’d driven for hours through dense rainforest, the sky a narrow corridor between the treetops above us. We’d kept our eyes peeled for an elusive jaguar, known to be spotted along this route, though none appeared that day. As the Land Cruiser manoeuvred around deep ruts and potholes, we almost didn’t notice a subtle shift in the vegetation around us. Then suddenly — startlingly — the forest ended and we shot out into open savannah and a landscape that felt infinitely larger. How far away were those hills on the horizon? It was impossible to judge. That night, after dinner in the village of Annai — home to an airstrip and tourist lodge — I climbed the giant granite rock, really the size of a small hill, that was the most prominent landmark for miles around. It was the dry season, and the night sky was utterly cloudless and immense. The moon was a sliver, but the stars were so bright and numerous, I could see the savannah landscape rolling away to the east, etched with foot-trails, and make out the silhouette of the Takutu Mountains to the south. Propped up on an ancient rock ledge, gazing across the Rupununi, I felt the thrill of distance like a shiver. My ordinary life at home in Trinidad, even the bustle of Georgetown, Guyana’s capital on the coast, could have been continents away. But the truth is, as remote and wild as the Rupununi can feel, this savannah region of south Guyana, two hundred miles from the Atlantic coast, is a mere hour’s flight from Georgetown’s

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A practical base for exploring the Rupununi is the town of Lethem on the border with Brazil — a booming frontier town where Portuguese is as much the lingua franca as English. Daily flights on propeller planes connect Lethem to Georgetown, and tourist lodges can arrange land transport from here. Alternatively, key Rupununi settlements have their own airstrips, and pickups and landings can be specially arranged. The longest-established lodges are at cattle ranches like Karanambu and Dadanawa, and Rock View Lodge in Annai, but community-run eco-lodges are now found at villages and field stations across the north Rupununi, many of them offering specialised tours based on local wildlife. Surama has lodges in the main village as well as a forest camp along the nearby Burro Burro River; Maipaima offers access to stunning Jordan Falls and rich birdlife; the more remote village of Rewa, which requires a river journey, caps the number of visitors each year to keep surroundings pristine. Caiman House in Yupukari offers accommodation alongside scientists studying black caiman and other reptile species.

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Monkeys and parrots play in the surrounding clumps of forest. In the dry season, this is a landscape of ochres and reds. When the rains start mid-year, the savannah turns green almost overnight. Rivers rise, then overtop their banks, small pools begin to spread into lakes, and miles of savannah are inundated. Villages on high ground become islands, and boats replace 4x4s, until drought returns with the cycle of seasons.

Forest’s heart that region, adding others native to the highlands of the Guiana Shield. The forest canopy — up to a hundred feet high — is home to especially diverse populations of birds (over five hundred species recorded) and bats (over ninety species). More than four hundred fish species have been identified in its rivers and streams, and researchers continue to discover new ones. Those statistics are impressive, but for the average visitor, it’s the sensory overload of the rainforest environment that’s most astonishing. Whether you arrive by air — landing at the Fairview airstrip — or by road, driving from Georgetown, the sheer scale of the forest is breathtaking, seen from above or below. The low falls at Kurupukari, where the Essequibo River narrows, have been a traditional crossing point for centuries — when the water level is low, you can see ancient rock carvings on Kurupukari’s smooth black rocks. Nowadays a pontoon boat ferries vehicles across to connect the two ends of the Linden-Lethem road. The Iwokrama field station is a stone’s throw away.

Look at a map of Guyana and put your finger down where you reckon the very centre: it will land, most likely, on the middle reach of the Essequibo River, near the village of Fairview and the protected million acres of the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development. Founded in 1996, in an innovative partnership between the government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Iwokrama Centre is a research site, an experiment in sustainable forest management, and an opportunity for visitors to encounter the lushly strange world of Guyana’s rainforest, teeming with life. As defined by biologists, the Iwokrama Forest is bounded by the Pakaraima Mountains to the west, the Siparuni River to the north, and the Rupununi Savannah to the south. Near its centre are the Iwokrama Mountains, rising to over three thousand feet. The name means “place of refuge” in Macushi. For Guyana’s indigenous peoples, these mountains were a natural fortress in times of crisis. Today, Iwokrama is a different kind of refuge: considered one of the most biodiverse and unspoiled tropical rainforests in the world. Though geographically separate from the Amazon Basin to the south, Iwokrama shares many plant and animal species with

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Here, in a broad clearing on the bank of the river, are living quarters for staff, laboratories for scientists, and cabins for visitors. The dark waters of the Essequibo — stained cola-black by tannins from fallen forest leaves — slide by, tempting you into a swim. You could collapse into a hammock here and dream the day away, listening to the chatter of birds, but the forest awaits. Expert guides lead hikes on well-tended forest trails — bring

Whether you arrive by air or by road, the sheer scale of the forest is breathtaking sturdy boots and binoculars, and listen for the distinctive call of the Screaming Piha, a nondescript bird whose drab grey plumage is compensated for by its powerful voice. The hike up nearby Turtle Mountain ends, at the summit, with a view across miles and miles of forest canopy. I remember sitting there, gazing out

The canopy walkway near Iwokrama’s Atta Lodge

at the unbroken green, and thinking how little the landscape must have changed in a thousand years. Then nature gave me a reminder that the living forest is, in fact, constantly changing. There was an almighty crack, and half a mile away a giant tree, having reached the end of its lifespan, crashed down through the canopy, in a swirl of flying leaves and a confusion of birds. A moment later, the only sound was the wind. For a closer view of those soaring forest giants, Iwokrama has built a canopy walkway near Atta Lodge, close to the reserve’s southern border. Here you can ascend nearly one hundred feet, via a series of gently swaying bridges and observation decks, to a part of the forest usually frequented only by birds and monkeys, insects and orchids. Tours are timed to dawn and dusk, when the forest fauna are at their most active, and your stroll through the treetops may be serenaded by macaws and toucans.

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River run in 1616 the Dutch built Fort Kyk-Over-Al — “seeover-all” — which centuries later lent its name to a pioneering literary journal. What now remains of the star-shaped fort, abandoned in 1748, is a single brick arch, which still enjoys a commanding view of the surrounding country. Though there are no regularly scheduled tours, many boat captains at the Bartica stelling are willing to make the trip — price by negotiation. Nearer to Georgetown, and home to a Dutch Heritage Museum, is Fort Island — site of Fort Zeelandia, the Essequibo colony’s second capital. Once a busy trading post, the fort is now all but deserted on weekdays, but weekends and holidays bring visitors from the coast. Though the fort itself is a roofless though impressive ruin, the historic Court of Policy building was completely restored twenty years ago, and stands in meticulously tended grounds, dotted with cannon, interpretive signs, and gazebos for picnicking.

Guyana, any schoolchild there can tell you, is a name that means “land of many waters.” And of the country’s thousands of rivers, large and small, the most fabled is also the largest: the Essequibo, running like a backbone the entire length of Guyana, rising from the mountains in Wai-Wai territory that form the southern border with Brazil, and emptying, five hundred miles north, into the Atlantic, sending plumes of silt far out into the blue ocean.

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Guyanese like to tell visitors from smaller Caribbean places that there are islands in the Essequibo bigger than Barbados — which is manifestly a fib. But standing at the Parika stelling, looking out at a river as broad as a lake, you can almost believe it. From Parika you can catch a bigger ferry or a smaller speedboat across to the islands of Leguan or Wakenaam, or to the far bank of the Essequibo, or else thirty miles upriver to Bartica, a small but ever-growing town at the confluence of the Essequibo and the Mazaruni. Just as some Trinidadians have beach houses in Mayaro and Jamaicans dream of a villa near Ocho Rios, Georgetown’s most fortunate have river houses along this stretch of the Essequibo, for holiday retreats. (While Eddie Grant, Guyana’s most famous musical export, owns an entire Essequibo island.) If you aren’t lucky enough to get invited to one of these private escapes, you can opt for one of a handful of river resorts, which combine swimming beaches and watersports with proximity to nature — the rainforest is never farther than the nearest riverbank. But don’t miss the chance to explore Guyana’s history as well. The Essequibo was the location of the earliest Dutch settlement of this region. The first capital of what was then called the Essequibo colony was on a small island in the Mazaruni, where

Guyanese like to tell visitors there are islands in the Essequibo bigger than Barbados — which is manifestly a fib

A stretch of the Essequibo River chock full of islands

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City life Guyana’s wild interior is what draws many visitors: the promise of adventure and the intoxicating idea of experiencing beautiful, remote landscapes. But give Georgetown its due: the capital city, perched at the mouth of the Demerara River, has fascinated visitors for generations, with its broad avenues, canals and kokers (or sluice-gates, part of the Dutch drainage system), and historic buildings, many of them elegant structures of wood. Central Georgetown is compact enough to explore in a day — but it’s worth taking extra time to get to know this Caribbean city on the South American mainland, now in a period of rapid change as the discovery of offshore oilfields gives a huge boost to the Guyanese economy.

City Hall The turrets and spires of this Victorian Gothic Revival gem suggest a fairytale castle, but since 1889 it’s played a more practical role as headquarters for Georgetown’s municipal administration.

Where to start? Here are ten Georgetown landmarks to put in your itinerary:

St George’s Cathedral The city’s Anglican cathedral is sometimes said to be the largest wood building in the world, its spire soaring to 143 feet. The pristine white-painted exterior gives way to the natural finish of the interior, livened by Victorian stained glass and a magnificent vaulted ceiling.

Stabroek Market Opened in 1881, this historic riverside market with its distinctive clocktower — Georgetown’s skyline icon — is in many ways the heart of the city, a hub of traditional commerce and transport.

Walter Roth Museum Named for a pioneering ethnographer, this national museum of anthropology is home to an extraordinary collection of artefacts documenting Guyana’s indigenous peoples — from centuries-old potsherds to magnificent Wai-Wai feather crowns.

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Georgetown’s elegant City Hall is an architectural treasure

Moray House The elegant Camp Street residence of the de Caires family — proprietors of the Stabroek News — is now home to an arts centre hosting literary events, exhibitions, and more. 1763 Monument Commemorating a major eighteenth-century rebellion of enslaved Africans, this striking monument, with a sculpture by the late Philip Moore, depicts the rebel leader Cuffy, looking over the Square of the Revolution. Castellani House Once a residence for colonial administrators, then the official home of Guyana’s president, since 1993 this nineteenthcentury building has housed the national art collection, with over seven hundred works by celebrated artists like Aubrey Williams, Frank Bowling, Denis Williams, and Bernadette Persaud.

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The spire of St George’s Cathedral is a Georgetown landmark

Umana Yana This “meeting place of the people,” a traditional thatched WaiWai benab, was first built in the 1970s and has been a popular cultural venue ever since. Destroyed by fire in 2014, it was rebuilt two years later.

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Botanical Gardens Georgetown’s most popular park is where you can see the famous Victoria amazonica waterlilies, semi-tame manatees, and the double-spanned kissing bridge — favourite spot for selfies — and is also home to the national zoo. Sea Wall This is the place to end your Georgetown tour, at sunset. Protecting the low-lying city from the Atlantic high tides, the Sea Wall is a place for jogging, kite-flying, fishing, gaffing — as Guyanese call old-talk — and enjoying the ocean breeze.

Black is the new gold A glass bottle with a red plastic cap, three-quarters-full of an opaque black liquid, displayed on a child-scale pedestal: it doesn’t sound like the most exciting exhibit at Georgetown’s National Museum. But the artefact, on display since January 2020, represents one of the most significant developments in Guyana’s history. For this is a sample of Guyana’s “first oil,” the “light sweet crude” from the Liza oilfield discovered 120 miles offshore by ExxonMobil in 2015, which officially commenced production in December 2019. Minerals — gold, diamonds, and bauxite — have long been Guyana’s

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economic mainstay. Oil companies had prospected both on- and offshore since the 1940s, without finding commercially viable deposits. The recent discovery of substantial oil reserves off the country’s Atlantic coast — thought to contain the equivalent of 700 million barrels — is a major game-changer, offering the prospect of transforming Guyana’s economy and funding a new era of development projects. According to Guyana’s Department of Energy, even ahead of “first oil,” the discovery drew over US$500 million in foreign investment, creating 1,700 new jobs and benefitting over six hundred

service providers. The Liza well is expected to produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day, initially, increasing to 750,000 barrels per day by 2025. As a result, the IMF predicts that the country’s GDP could grow by eighty-six per cent this year. As new discoveries continue to be announced, Guyana is poised to be the fastest-growing economy in the Caribbean and South America, with all the accompanying possibilities and challenges. No wonder the milestone of “first oil” was celebrated with a massive fireworks display: managed prudently, Guyana’s black gold could be the fuel for a bright future.


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Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) network of libraries, which include the Heritage Library, public libraries, libraries in secondary and primary schools, as well as special libraries, attest to these principles. As Guyana is a stalwart of Caribbean strength and resilience, NALIS, through its vast collections, is the guardian of rich stories, history, and culture of the Caribbean. Discover the majestic beauty that is Guyana with affordable vacation loan packages from Aero Services Credit Union, a premier co-operative providing exceptional service, “enriching the quality of your life” over sixty-nine years — and soaring!

The unpaved Linden-Lethem road cuts through the Iwokrama Forest

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2019 was Ziad Joseph’s first experience photographing Phagwah celebrations. Arriving at the Aranguez Savannah venue on Saturday 24 March, he recalls, he was greeted by “a multitude of vibrant people of all ages and ethnicities. “In no time at all,” he says, “I, along with my camera and lens, was covered in all manner of colours: yellows, blues, reds, pinks, from deliberate or accidental encounters with zealous participants in the festivities. As the afternoon progressed and the sun began to dip

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closer to the horizon, a soft glow of light diffused through the clouds of abeer in the air like a rainbow. It was truly a memorable experience.” In 2020, the official day of Holi (or Phagwah), as traditionally calculated by moon phase, falls on 9 March, but local communities may schedule public celebrations on the previous or following weekends. In addition to Trinidad, Holi/Phagwah is widely celebrated in Guyana and Suriname, with smaller commemorations in other Caribbean territories with Hindu communities.


We’re investing up to US$5 bil ion on technology, people and innovation This investment will accelerate the digital transformation of KPMG and its clients, who will benefit from the latest technological advancements across Audit, Tax and Advisory with the expertise of highly-skilled KPMG professionals to help them transform their businesses. KPMG’s investment will be prioritised in three key areas to strengthen client relationships and capitalise on growth opportunities in a time of transformative change. These include: Technology: Developing consistent, global cloud-based platforms to drive the quality of service delivery while providing new client-facing business solutions and managed services. pr People: Augmenting the digital skills of KPMG’s global workforce and expanding talent in areas such as data science and digital architecture. Innovation: Extending the range of digital offerings through a diversified ecosystem of strategic alliances and a global innovation network. Contact us to explore how we can work together to drive your business forward. KPMG Savannah East 11 Queen’s Park East Port-of-Spain Trinidad W.I. T: 1 868 612-KPMG E: kpmg@kpmg.co.tt https://home.kpmg/tt

© 2020 KPMG, a Trinidad and Tobago partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

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bucket list

The island’s rugged east coast offers stunning scenery, Atlantic views, and world-class surfing

BARBADOS

Bathsheba

Bathsheba, Barbados N

ature’s restless beauty plays out in the constant motion of the Atlantic Ocean, which shapes the rugged and wild east coast of Barbados, creating numerous natural wonders. At the foot of the island’s hilly Scotland District — named for its supposed resemblance to the Scottish Highlands — the village of Bathsheba is known for its rock formations, protruding dramatically from the sea and sands of Bathsheba Beach, as well as the popular surfing spot called Soup Bowl. Here the Atlantic winds whip the waves up into a frenzy, making an ideal location for surfers. Further in, boulders shelter calm pools perfect for taking a dip.

Caribbean Airlines operates several flights each day to Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados, from destinations in the Caribbean and North America 96

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ENGAGE

Green 98 Nature’s bread

On This Day 102 Be fruitful and multiply

Industrial-scale banana production changed the economies of several Caribbean islands in the late nineteenth century


green

Nature’s Bread It’s a common staple food in the Caribbean, especially popular in dishes like oil down, but the nutritious breadfruit is still underappreciated, writes Erline Andrews. She talks to breadfruit advocates across the Caribbean about its versatility and the potential role of the fruit in increasing food security Illustration by Shalini Seereeram

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r Keith Rowley, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, is fond of breadfruit, the starchy, cantaloupe-size fruit — green on the outside, cream-coloured on the inside — that is one of the main ingredients in oil down, a dish popular throughout the Caribbean. A photo that made the rounds online last year showed Rowley, his face intent, standing at a kitchen counter cutting up pig tails, as a large breadfruit in the foreground waited its turn to go under the knife. Presumably he then cooked the meat and the fruit with coconut milk, the other main ingredient in oil down. Rowley’s affinity for breadfruit has inspired two philanthropists to use the fruit to try to bring about agricultural and social transformation in T&T. “Like everybody else, we buy breadfruit at home,” says Raul Bermudez. “We cook

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it, we eat it.” In 2015, he heard Rowley talk about breadfruit in a radio interview. “I Googled breadfruit for the first time,” he recalls, “and discovered what a wondrous, complete food it is. The following day I went out and bought a breadfruit tree.” Four years later, that tree is about fifteen feet tall and has finally started to bear. It’s featured in photos and videos on the Facebook page of Breadfruit Trees, the project Bermudez started with friend and collaborator Omardath Maharaj, an agr icultural economist attached to the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. Maharaj is a well-known eat-local advocate, previously responsible for bringing Sesame Street producers to Trinidad to film pineapple farmers for a segment on the popular children’s show. The goal of the Breadfruit Trees project is to cover as much of Trinidad

and Tobago as possible with the trees, beautifying the landscape, providing a bulwark against flooding, mitigating the effects of climate change, and providing a source of income and food for people in need. “When you drive into [Port of Spain], most times you’re met with traffic, pollution,” says Maharaj, interviewed in his small but high-ceiled office. A potted immature breadfruit tree stands in one corner, its broad, glossy, pronged leaves making it as attractive as any other decorative plant. “You don’t think it would be lovely to drive into the city and see it covered in breadfruit trees?” he asks. “That’s a message we could send to the world.” Working with the University of the West Indies, the Roman Catholic church, schools, community groups, and individuals, Bermudez and Maharaj estimate they have seen the planting of around three thousand trees in different parts of the country, including 210 on the sprawling compound of the prison facilities in east Trinidad. The trees will eventually help with a programme that trains inmates in food production. The goal is to plant a thousand trees on the prison grounds. “We can use agriculture for people coming out [of prison] to get back to an income and reintegrate into society,” says Maharaj. Maharaj and Bermudez buy trees from the state-run plant propagation station with their own money, and give them away. They encourage other people to do the same. “For a family to go and have a decent meal in a city restaurant costs what it would cost you to buy 105 trees,” says Bermudez.


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readfr uit is going through a worldwide revival. A slew of news articles and TV programmes in recent years have hailed it as a “superfood,” extremely good for both the human body and the environment. It’s gluten-free, low in fat, and packed with essential nutrients and fibre. The tree is easy to maintain and is one of the world’s highest yielding crops. It can be used in a dazzling variety of ways. The fruit can be used to make French fries, chips, and pasta. Other parts of the tree can make insect repellent and latex. “It’s a gift we’re ignoring,” says Mary McLaughlin, a retired geologist. She and her husband Michael founded Trees That Feed (TTF), another organisation that has been lifting breadfruit’s profile. McLaughlin grew up on a farm in Jamaica, where she was exposed to the fruit. “Even as a child, I knew that the breadfruit tree was special,” she says. TTF starting operating in Jamaica in 2009. Now it reaches eighteen countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa, and is responsible for 200,000 fruit trees, most of them breadfruit, planted in these regions. TTF’s focus at first was propagating and planting trees. Eventually, they started to help small business people make breadfruit products using simple, cost-effective equipment. With the backing of academic peers in Illinois, where the McLaughlins live, TTF developed hand-operated machines to shred and dry breadfruit, then grind it into flour. The flour is used in a variety of ways. Most importantly, it makes porridge to feed schoolchildren in Jamaica and Haiti. In the latter country, the flour is also used to make child-appealing

fruit bars by mixing it with dried fruit, shredded coconut, ginger, and molasses. “In Haiti, you’re saving lives,” says McLaughin of TTF’s work in that country, which is experiencing a food shortage crisis. “Children in the poorest communities have food, because there’s breadfruit flour.” In other parts of the Caribbean, breadfruit has even gone upscale. Captured on video and shared on Facebook, celebrated Barbados-based chef Adrian Cumberbatch demonstrates before a

The goal of the Breadfruit Trees project is to cover as much of Trinidad and Tobago as possible with the trees, providing a source of income and food for people in need food festival audience how to prepare one of his specialities: a breadfruit bowl. That’s half a roasted breadfruit hollowed out and filled with various ingredients. In the video these are beets, chickpeas, tomatoes, lettuce, and a creamy vinaigrette. The result, greeted with applause, looks mouth-watering. “It’s in the presentation,” Cumberbatch explains in a recent interview. He charges between US$25 and $30 per bowl, and believes he could charge more. “It goes like that!” he says, snapping his fingers. Cumberbatch also makes breadfruit bowls using shrimp, saltfish buljol, crayfish, flying fish, and lobster. Roasted breadfruit is a staple in Barbados, but now it’s increasingly ser ved at high-end restaurants and hotels. “The chefs are elevating it,”

All about breadfruit Originating in southeast Asia, the breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) was first domesticated in the Philippines around three thousand years ago, and spread across the islands of the south Pacific by human travellers. It was famously introduced to the Caribbean in the late eighteenth century by Captain William Bligh of the Royal Navy, intended as a cheap, nutritious food source for enslaved Africans on British West Indian sugar plantations. Initially unpopular, the fruit over time became a staple of Caribbean cuisine. A single tree can produce up to two hundred fruit each season.

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Cumberbatch says. “It’s becoming very popular. It’s something you must have when you’re in Barbados.” Meanwhile, in St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, chef and restaurateur Todd Manley has come up with the world’s first breadfruit vodka. “In the tropics, we grow a lot of breadfruit, and you walk around and you see a lot of people let it hit the ground and waste it. That bothered me,” he says, explaining the origin of the idea. “In Tahiti, they call breadfruit the island potato, so if

you want to make island vodka use the island potato.” His Mutiny Island Vodka, launched last year, is being distributed across the Caribbean and is due to launch soon in the United States. “My goal is to make the awareness of breadfruit — through Island Vodka — just blow up,” he says. Back in Trinidad, on the Breadfruit Trees Facebook page, Raul Bermudez and Omardath Maharaj encourage followers to give breadfruit trees as gifts for Christmas and other occasions. “When a child is going to be married, give them a breadfruit tree to put in their home,” says Bermudez. “By the time they start to have children, you have that there.” Maharaj adds: “We may be germinating something that will carry on itself for generations to come.” n


ADVERTORIAL

Guyanese student wins Eric Williams essay competition with a piece on “the migration challenge” Omari Obaseki Joseph of Queen’s College, Guyana (at left, with Erica Williams-Connell), is the most recent winner of the Eric Williams “School Bags” Essay Competition. Open to all lower and upper sixth form (CAPE or equivalent) students in the seventeen Englishspeaking countries of the Caribbean, the competition was organised by The Eric Williams Memorial Collection (EWMC). The biennial “School Bags” essay competition was named after a statement by late scholar-statesman Eric Williams, who led the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for a quarter century until his death in 1981. On 30 August, 1962, the eve of his country’s Independence from Britain, he famously exhorted: “You, the children, yours is the great responsibility to educate your parents . . . you carry the future of [the Nation] in your school bags.”

The winning essay was published online by UWI Today. The full text can read found at sta.uwi.edu/uwitoday/article16.asp

Joseph’s essay is on the topic “The migration challenge is one of the hinges on which the future of Caribbean integration rests.” “Tapping into the potential of the human resource, particularly through policies that allow for the free flow of citizens within the Caribbean community, presents a pressing issue,” he writes.

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on this day

Be fruitful and multiply Born in March 1840 — 180 years ago — in chilly Cape Cod, the American businessman Lorenzo Dow Baker singlehandedly started the export of bananas from the Caribbean, changing the economy of the region for both better and worse. James Ferguson recounts his story Illustration by Rohan Mitchell

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ananas really are a strange fruit. They once symbolised luxury and exoticism, but nowadays they’re cheap and widely available throughout areas of the world like Europe and North America that don’t grow them. Oddly, the world’s two biggest producers — India and China — export none, while Belgium is improbably listed as the fifth biggest exporter (it buys them from South America for resale in Europe). The most popular fruit in Britain and the United States, and worth nearly US$15 billion in global export sales, bananas are everywhere, from supermarkets to modest street stalls, all year round. Any visitor to the Caribbean can hardly fail to notice the distinctive banana plant (“tattered, green, photosynthetic machines,” according to US poet Joseph Stanton), which grows in every rural yard, up hillsides, and in fertile valleys. Most of the fruit is eaten locally, but for a few countries the crop is still an important export. The Dominican Republic has big, modernised plantations, but the smaller Windward Islands send bananas to Europe that are mostly cultivated on small family-owned farms. In recent years, though, the Caribbean banana industry has been outmuscled

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by big Latin American producers such as Ecuador and Colombia, where multinational firms dominate market access to the US and Europe. And one of these firms is the friendly-sounding Chiquita, with its familiar blue sticker. This giant Swiss-based corporation operates plantations in eight Central and

At its peak, United Fruit controlled huge areas of land in South and Central America, often intervening in the politics of impoverished states that were derided as “banana republics” South American countries and has annual revenues of some US$3 billion. In contrast, Jamaica, ravaged by hurricanes and underinvestment, abandoned the export market in 2008. Much of the infrastructure that once brought the island’s bananas to be sold overseas — railways, wharves,

warehouses — is now decaying. But go to any one of Port Antonio’s teeming street markets, and you’ll see a profusion of bananas and their plantain cousins, large and small, green and gold, piled high among an array of colourful produce. Why Port Antonio? Because this northeastern Jamaican town, now an ecotourism hub, is where the international banana trade — and Chiquita itself — was born.

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ellow bananas caught the eye of an American sea captain named Lorenzo Dow Baker one day in June 1870, as he wandered through Port Antonio’s market. He was on his way back to the US from Venezuela, where he had transported mining equipment, and had stopped in Jamaica to pick up bamboo and other exotic commodities. He added bananas to his cargo, waited for a fair wind, and set sail in his newly purchased schooner Telegraph. On arrival in New Jersey, the hold was opened — to reveal a load of blackened, overripe fruit. But Baker, who was born in the Massachusetts peninsula of Cape Cod on 15 March, 1840, was convinced that bananas would make his fortune. The following year, he returned to Jamaica, sold a cargo of codfish and textiles, and bought 450 bunches of green bananas at ten cents


each. Eleven days later, the now ripe fruit was landed at Jersey City, and sold for $2 a bunch. Baker, a man raised in the tough whaling and fishing culture of Cape Cod, had instinctively understood that American consumers would quickly embrace the tropical delights of the banana. Baker’s tr ips to Jamaica then became more frequent, and he and his associates invested in more ships to carry bananas safely to the eastern US. He also encouraged Jamaican smallholders to grow the crop, proclaiming, “the first man who has ten acres of bananas will be rich.” A miniboom took place, a godsend to the island’s depressed post-plantation economy. “It was said that on Banana Day (which was any day a ship was loading) carousing planters would light their cigars with five-dollar bills,” writes Margaret Morris in Tour Jamaica. Baker meanwhile bought run-down former sugar estates for banana production as well as investing in roads and warehouses. Such was his enthusiasm for Jamaica that he moved with his family to Port Antonio in 1881, returning to his hometown of Wellfleet each summer. Despite h is success, Baker could only go so far without more investment, and in 1885 he and Bostonian businessman Andrew P r e s t on for me d t he B o s t on Fr u it Company. With Baker busy in Jamaica, the ambitious Preston had free rein in Boston, and in 1899, unbeknownst to Baker, negotiated with the splendidly named Minor C. Keith, who had interests in Costa Rica, to create the United Fruit Company. This powerful business impor ted bananas on an industr ial scale from Central America via its own railways and a shipping fleet, which also transported tourists to Jamaica. Baker, the founding father, was soon pushed out and forced into retirement. He continued to divide his time between Jamaica and Cape Cod until he died in Boston in June 1908.

United Fruit was merged with another firm to become United Brands in 1970, then morphing into Chiquita Brands in 1984. At its peak, it controlled huge areas of land in South and Central America, often intervening in the politics of impoverished states such as Honduras that were derided as “banana republics.” The company was not known for an exemplary human rights record.

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he practices of the United Fruit Company were far removed from the paternalism of the stoutly Methodist Lorenzo Dow Baker, who even

today is viewed by Jamaicans in a favourable light. According to the website jamaicaportantonio.com, “He believed that his financial success was only a fulfilment of God’s will, and that it was his duty and obligation to help those who lived in his winter and summer hometowns. In Jamaica, he built a hospital and many schools; paid decent wages and provided better living conditions for his local workers and their families.” He was also a benefactor, as well as an entrepreneur, in Wellfleet, rebuilding the lightning-damaged Methodist church and opening a hotel that in summer he staffed with Jamaicans. The golden age of Port Antonio is now a distant memory, but traces of Baker’s legacy are still visible. With the profits from the banana business, he opened one of Jamaica’s first purpose-built tourist facilities, the luxurious four-hundredroom Titchfield Hotel, famed for its sophisticated amenities and stellar guest list. It eventually fell into the hands of the Hollywood icon Errol Flynn after years of decline, and enjoyed a brief period of notoriety in the 1950s before it succumbed to a fire in 1969, leaving only a few ghostly ruins. Perhaps in a reference to Ba ker ’s Cape Cod ch i ld hood , Boundbrook wharf is to be found by Port Antonio’s sheltered natural harbour, looking across to the Titchfield peninsula where the hilltop hotel stood. Baker renamed this district Boundbrook, formerly Bog estate, when he bought it in the 1880s. In its heyday, the wharf, which was owned by United Fruit, was the scene of frenetic activity when the banana boats moored. Now it is disused, though locals hope it may be resurrected by the cruise ship industry. Meanwhile, some 1,700 miles north, close to the Cape Cod town of Wellfleet, is an idyllically deserted expanse of dunes and beach called Bound Brook Island. Now connected to the mainland, this wild spot is where Baker was born and raised in a cottage before he went to sea aged ten. Did he name his Jamaican property after this, his first home? He eventually returned here. He, his wife, and daughter are buried nearby. n

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puzzles

Zoomers Word Search

adventure banana  border  breakfast  bun  climate  conch  crab  debut  diva  drum  dye river  Easter  folklore  gallerist groove 

hills Holi  jaguar  javelin  jazz  journey  kite  lighthouse  regatta  sail  sand  sculpture  south  surfing  tour  vocalist

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Spot the Difference There are 13 differences between these two pictures. How many can you spot? by Gregory St Bernard

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Across 1 Evergreen tree from down under [10] 6 It’s a long story [4] 10 It keeps Georgetown dry [7] 11 Paperwork, of a sort [7] 12 Monarch of the chess board [5] 13 In search of a lost ark?[6] 14 ___ vs them [2] 16 Guyana’s forest treasure [8] 19 Main vein of a leaf [6] 22 Original home of those famous Greek games [7] 24 Refined and graceful [7] 25 Written on gift tags [2] 26 Take over [6] 27 They cover a couple of feet [5] 30 Contrary word [7] 31 Free time at last [7] 32 Studious fellow [4] 33 Keepers of the flames [10] Down 1 Guyana’s biggest river [9] 2 Huge hoisting machine [5] 3 Acquire knowledge [5] 4 Visitor to a shrine [7] 5 A perfect society? [6] 7 Entertainment with acts [4] 8 Crisp salty snack [5] 9 How oil gets from here to there [8] 15 Length by breadth [4]

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Black gemstone [4] Rolling savannahs of south Guyana [8] Biblical wife of King David [9] Set with stones [8] Iron tablets are the treatment [7] Coach some coaches [5] Whirl, twirl, curl [5] Tiny morsel [5] The sun, for example [4]

If the puzzle you want to do has already been filled in, just ask your flight attendant for a new copy of the magazine!

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Fish team’s uniform has changed colour from purple to green; lady fish’s bonnet has changed colour from pink to purple; lady fish’s smartphone is bigger; sun is lower; second sailboat is added in the background; name of fish team’s boat is changed from Carib Queen to Carib Queue; starfish’s checkered flag is larger; colours of squares on checkered flag are swapped; colours of starfish’s float are swapped; pirate crab’s hook on right arm is smaller; a patch is added to pirate crab’s left eye; pirate crab’s beer mug is replaced with a bottle; skull and crossbones icon on side of pirate crab’s boat is removed.


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did you even know

Easter in the islands You think you’re an expert on Caribbean culture? Test your knowledge in our trivia quiz, and see how much you know about Easter traditions — and seasonal delicacies — across the region. Answers are at the bottom of the page.

1. What is the traditional accompaniment for Jamaica’s popular Easter bun? Butter Cheese

Guava jam A slice of ham

2. In Guyana’s border town Lethem, in the Rupununi Savannah, what annual sporting event is scheduled for Easter weekend? A boat race A track and field tournament

A rodeo A hot-air balloon rally

3. What common leisure activity do many Caribbean people avoid on Good Friday, following a long-held superstition? Drinking alcohol A family meal

Playing cards Going to the beach

cg om te r ck.c minal/shuttersto

6. On Good Friday, some Trinidadians keep up the custom of beating a bobolee — an effigy representing which historical figure? Pontius Pilate Judas Iscariot

Julius Caesar Napoleon Bonaparte

7. Easter weekend brings a highly popular fish festival to which coastal community in Barbados? Speightstown Holetown

Oistins Bathsheba

4. Tobago’s Easter traditions include racing which of these creatures?

8. What traditional toy have generations of Caribbean

Goats Dogs

A puppet A spinning top

Rabbits Tortoises

children made at Eastertime?

A boat A kite

5. What is the key ingredient of matoutou, the spicy stew 9. What exactly is penepis, the sweet treat St Lucians enjoyed on Easter weekend in Martinique?

enjoy for Easter?

Lamb Chicken

A kind of custard A ginger-flavoured biscuit Coconut bread

Pork Crab

A pineapple tart

Answers: 1 Cheese — from a tin 2 A rodeo 3 Going to the beach — swimming on Good Friday is reputed to turn you into a fish 4 Goats 5 Crab 6 Pontius Pilate 7 Oistins 8 A kite 9 A ginger-flavoured biscuit — penepis is the Kwéyòl version of French pain d’épices

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Caribbean Beat — March/April 2020 (#162)  

A calendar of events; music, film, and book reviews; travel features; people profiles, and much more

Caribbean Beat — March/April 2020 (#162)  

A calendar of events; music, film, and book reviews; travel features; people profiles, and much more