Chastity and Ambition, Big Drum Culture and Politics
The Long Enduring Road to Success
By Valentino A Jones
This controversial book set in Grenada, has a celebratory narrative of its own. Velma, the all-to-rare bright Black girl, struggles to maintain her chastity when put to the test by her boyfriend.
“Why don’t you unlock the door, let love fly out now?” he pleads. To which self-assured Velma replies “Ah know what you mean, but what account would I give to God for my virginity?”
Velma is not alone in her misgivings. The characters are drawn from the 1950s labouring-class generation of school leavers. They aim for success and escape from poverty. Hence, this story of star-crossed teenage love is a must read for Black British youth, parents and teachers.
An educator himself, Jones’s personal long road demonstrates his life-long equality commitment. He trained two generations of students in Hackney community schools from 1976 to 2004.
For further reading see We are Our Own Educators! Josina Machel: From Supplementary to Black Complementary Schools (London: Karia Press, 1986).
For academic views on race and identity read Winston James, ‘The Black Experience in Twentieth Century Britain’ in Black Experience and the Empire, ed. Phillip D. Morgan and Sean Hawkins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) and Trevor Carter, Shattering Illusions. West Indians in British Politics. (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1986).
One Slice of History
Bain’s Bee Wee Ballet program at the historic opening of the Federation of the West Indies in Trinidad, April 1958, marked a special relationship between politics and culture. It reflects the hoped for but ill-fated drive for unity of the Caribbean’s ten islands and three million people.
In text and performance pictures, One Slice of History honours the vision of federation champion Theophilus Albert Marryshow who thundered “The West Indies must be West Indian. – Educate, Agitate, Federate”.
The “Big Drum” traditional ceremonies, arts and dances complete the rousing message. Thus, Bain demonstrates the closeness of West Indian politicians with the island’s cultural identity.
Grenada-born, Bain is a veteran of British performing arts and plays, including works by fellow West Indians Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace and Michael Abbensetts.
On Black supplementary schools see Myers, K and Grosvenor, I. ‘Exploring supplementary education: margins, theories and methods’, History of Education, 40, 4 (2011): 501-521.
Both books are edited by Joyce Rennie-Pascall for Good Vibes Records & Music Ltd. She is a social anthropologist and critical theorist with degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies and London Metropolitan London University.