Wednesday, May 26, 2004

sign language in jamaica

This article from the mid-1980s discusses differences in sign language use between urban Kingston and rural Saint Elizabeth parish in Jamaica.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

a high point of our planned trip

We have many activities planned for our visit, but one of the last will be a hike into the Blue Mountains. This hike follows the historic Maroon trail from the Maroon village of Hayfield on the southern slopes of the Blue Mountains through the Cunha Cunha pass to Bowden Pen on the Rio Grande river on the northern slopes. According to an article, "Historical Maroon trail reopened" in The Jamaica Observer [Monday, July 14, 2003], this will only the second summer since its re-dedication.

A group of faculty and students will be staying overnight June 22 at the Ambassabeth tourist cottages, managed by members of the Bowden Pen Farmers Association. This site was formerly known as Four Feet, the place where the Maroons in the 17th,18th and 19th centuries assembled the animals carrying their goods for sale in the markets of the southern parish of St. Thomas. As the other group comes to meet us on the second day, lunch will be served at the cottages.

Later in July, 2004, Edu-Tourism Vice-chairperson Nicola Shirley will be taking a second group to the Rio Grande Valley [see also map] from the Port Antonio side to learn more about Maroon traditions and agricultural practices. A photoessay by Russell Kaye for National Geographic documents some of the physical and human assets of the valley.

June 15 - 25 Trip Participants

Jamal Benin, 215 877-2382,
Mike Dorn, 215 204-3373,
Emma Doyle,
Germaine Edwards, 215 204-6863,
Lisette Gonzalez, 215 300-6481,
Brendan Hayes, 410 992-1817,
Jessica Lique, 267 241-4014,
Mary Jane Lovett 856 86905369,
Jessica Passucci,
Biany Perez, 215 991-0244,
Daniel Savage,
Nicola Shirley, 215 545-8644 (work)
Harry Steen
Novella Keith, 215 848-5269,
Nelson Keith, 215 848-5269,
David Keith in Jamaica 876 805-8014 (cell)

Occasional Notes on Jamaica's Colonial History [I]

extract from Le Page, R. B., and AndrĂ¢ee Tabouret-Keller. Acts of Identity: Creole-Based Approaches to Language and Ethnicity. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

[p. 45] Aspects of settlement history. The settlement history of Jamaica has been told in Jamaica Creole (Le Page 1960). The expeditionary force which sailed under General Venables in 1655 contained, according to his own account, 2,500 men raised from various regiments and from the streets and gaols of England, and 1,200 seamen; also 1,851 horse and foot volunteers from St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat. Thus about one-third of the total force had been raised in the Leewards and Barbados. It is probable that a high proportion of these were men from the West of England or from Ireland, with some Scots: men whose indentures or sentences had run out and who were landless. About 1,000 of the force were lost in the fruitless attack on Hispaniola, the capture of which had been the original object of the expedition; and remainder reached Jamaica. There the Spanish colonists and their Negro slaves fled to the hills, and for the most part the survivors subsequently made their way to Cuba; they left behind them fewer than 40 Spaniards and a few hundred Negroes, most of whom (about 250) were in three isolated Maroon settlements in the interior. Some Portuguese settlers and Portuguese-Jewish merchants may possibly have submitted to the English forces and stayed in the island, but they could not have been very many.

The indigenous Arawak Indians of Jamaica had all been killed or had died some years before the English invasion. Their few legacies to modern Jamaica, transmitted via the Spaniards, are some place-names, a few rock-carvings and a number of middens. We have at present no means of knowing where the Negro slaves who replaced them under the Spanish came from. As has already been noted, the Spanish colonies did not at this time normally import slaves in their own ships, but where supplied by the Portuguese. The Spaniards in their turn left behind them place-names, their small towns such as their capital of Santiago de la Vega (modern Spanish Town), the abandoned north coast harbour of Sevilla la Nueva (St. Ann's Bay), Las Chorreras (Ocho Rios) where the Spanish defender Yssassi was finally defeated; and their hatos or grazing lands and arable farms. What language the Maroon Negroes in the mountains used among themselves we do not know, but it is quite possible that they had some knowledge of Portuguese Creole, and among those very few modern Maroon words which we have identified as having a special provenance, [p. 46] bracho 'pig' seems to be from Portuguese via the Gold Coast. Otherwise one must assume that they spoke their African languages and some form of Spanish. But the small Spanish element in the modern Jamaican vocabulary is most frequently due to migrant workers returned e.g. from Panama or Cuba or the Spanish-speaking areas of Belize or from Costa Rica within the present century.

Within a few weeks of their arrival about half of the British expeditionary force in Jamaica were sick. The high mortality rate from tropical diseases and high excesses was one of the constant factors in the demography of the Caribean until very recently; it affects Blacks and Whites - the excesses effecting the Blacks, however, being mainly those of white behavior towards them.

At the end of 1655, 780 fresh soldiers came out of England. The next year 1,000 settlers and their slaves came from Nevis to plant lands assigned to them at Port Morant, under th guard of Scottish and Irish soldiers. By 1658, according to the Jamaican historian Edward Long, the populatuion was about 4,500 Whites and 1,400 Negroes. In 1660 it was decided to encourage men from all the other Caribbean islands to move to Jamaica to take up land; women were to be sent out from England as planters' wives; King Charles was to contract with the African Company to deliver 100 Negroes. An Act of Parliament of 1661 require the arrest of Gypsies for shipment to Virginia, Jamaica and Barbados, and there is evidence that many were so deported over the next half-century.

Inter-island movement. The movement of men around the various colonies at this period is worth noting, as are many of the other implications of this quotation from a petition to King Charles from the Barbadians in 1667:

[The island contains] not above 760 considerable proprietors and 8,000 effective men, of which two-thirds are of no reputation and little courage, and a very great part Irish, derided by the negroes as white slaves; and indeed except their proprietors, merchants tradesmen, officers, and their dependents, the rest are such as have not reason to discern their abuses, or not courace to leave the island, or are in dept and cannot go; for 12,000 good men at least formerly proprietors are gone off, and tradesmen, wormed out of their small settlements by greedy neighbors, are thus computed: - Between 1643 and 1647, to New England, 1,200; to Trinidado and Tobago, 600; between 1646 and 1658, to Virginia and Surinam, 2,400; between 1650 and 1662, to Guadaloupe, Martinique, Mariegalante, Grenada, Tobago, and Curacao, 1,600; with Col. Venables to Hispaniola and since to Jamaica, 3,300...Of men born on the island few are gone off... (CSP Col. 1661-8, No. 1657)

In Jamaica by 1673, according to Long (1774), the white population was 8,564; the slave population for the same year has been estimated at [p. 47] 9,500. By 1746 there were approximately 10,000 Whites and 112,000 slaves. The low ratio of Whites to slaves was so alarming to the Jamaican House of Assembly that it regularly passed Deficiency Acts, fining those planters who failed to keep a due portion of the white servants so as to meet the extra soldiers as guards against slave rebellions.

extract from Le Page, R. B., and AndrĂ¢ee Tabouret-Keller. Acts of Identity: Creole-Based Approaches to Language and Ethnicity. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

The most complete (and infamous) account Jamaican historical geography is Long, Edward. The History of Jamaica; or, General Survey of the Antient and Modern State of That Island: With Reflections on Its Situations, Settlements, Inhabitants, Climate, Products, Commerce, Laws, and Government. 3 vols. New ed. London: F. Cass, 1970 [originally published in 1774].

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Edu-Tourism Jamaica Links Page

The first weekend orientation session took place May 14 - 15. We got to know one another, discussed the philosophy of service learning, and learned a good deal about the history of Jamaica. On the afternoon of May 15, all of the participants engaged in research via the internet and found a number of web sites w/ background information for the trip. These sites have been collected and are available - simply click on the link above. NOTE: These links are updated on a regular basis, but the presence of a link on this page should not be taken as an indication of 'approval' by Edu-Tourism. These links are provided for informational purposes only.