My family were never poor. We were well to do. Caribs, in their own territory and fighting on their own terms, were impossible to enslave and thus free and middle class – between the enslaver class and the slave class.
By definition they are nine classes. The first is the filthy rich, who have everything. Today they are recognisable with their quadruple basements: atomic bomb shelters which go all the way down, further than they go up, with safes in which there is cocaine and currencies called “the magnificent ten.”
Those currencies are US dollars, Deutsche marks, Japanese yens, British pounds, French francs, Swiss francs, Arabian reels and two South American currencies not Brazilian maybe Venezuelan bolivars. There used be a tenth currency - the South African Kruger Rand, but nowadays it is too unstable. This way they can go north, south, east or west.
Then there are the rich. These upper classes think to make money that is all they care about.
Next is the well-to-do.
Then come the middle classes. There are three middle classes: a professional class at top; a middle, middle class white collar worker and a lower middle class - large shopkeepers.
The working class consists of an upper working class – self employed, artisans, taxi men, carpenters, electricians, masons, blacksmiths, motor mechanics - most times these make more money than the lower middle class but they are still working class because they work with their hands. Under that is employed manual labour i.e. factory and farm workers. Then there is a last class, the bottom class - a lumpen proletariat, people, who do not work, cannot work and do not care to work.
Before 1950 the middle class was small but they occupied many seats in the House of Assembly. The present political class, who got their power by tricking and using the poor working class - people condition to think only about their next meal and their next job - say that the middle class is gone but most people would say that the middle class will have to stop the plunder by the political class. The problem is, unlike North America and Europe, where there is a large middle class; the island’s is not yet large enough to make a majority.
The word “slaveminded” was heard in our home. It meant:
“If you put money before human beings
you are slaveminded:
does not matter
if you are black or white.”
“Not one drop of slave blood:
Neither slave or slaver be!” … Maude Lowther
Where did the original people go? There is a way of telling people with Carib blood. There is a golden/reddish colour that comes through. They are still walking around but they have taken on the features of other peoples in terms of their mannerism and culture and so on. I look for tone and then I look for other things like eyes and the cheekbones. Caribs have survived much more than is thought.
Carib longhouses provided a source of shared freedom and corporation with little societal boundaries. A longhouse is a communal open house that everyone kept clean and food was available to all without request – anyone, no differential between family, friends and strangers were welcome to a meal. Today that custom is still a feature of our families. There is still a home, where people go to meet, drop off things and take meals.
Villages of about fifty families, usually matrilineal but there was no hard and fast rules, were built around longhouses about forty feet long by twenty feet wide. Individual dwellings for sleeping to the bigger strategically placed ones to block wind, sun or, and rain and where one hung hammock for lounging and sleeping, bow and arrows, loin cloth and kept some long lasting cassava bread.
Manioc, the plant, from which cassava derives formed another source of freedom and, much to our delight, has to be again in the coming depression. The acreage of cassava planted is on the rise.
During World War II an Attorney General built a factory that made cassava flour and it fed the island.
Arawak is a derogatory name meaning “cassava eater” and food is culture – there has always been farine – ground dried cassava meal - in our home and in my home, at present, being set in my coffee cup nearby and nearly every day is: bring 1½ cups milk consisting of 2/3 parts coconut milk and 1/3 part soya milk to near boiling, pour into a cup; sprinkle over slowly 1/3 cup of farine all the while stirring briskly. Leave and stir in 5 minutes. Let set and stir when cooled to taste.
This is a most creamy, delicious, nutritious, sumptuous breakfast. Cassava has more carbohydrate than any other food and it is anti-cancer food and in the coming collapse of capital all will be called Arawaks.
The freedom of manioc plant is that after early days of planting and nurturing it grows on its own without irrigation and when the root – cassava - is ripe in about nine months it is harvested as needed and remaining roots can be left in the ground for at least another six months to a year.
Main protein was stewed crab, caught at night with the aid of a torch and lobster, conch, turtle eggs, other shellfish and fish. Carib were supreme seamen, unequalled fishermen and exceptional swimmers. There was plenty fish and they were caught in pots, nets, by arrows, bows and spears and trained birds - the Pecheur and Grand Gosier - helped locate schools of fish served with lobsters’ eggs in lime and pepper. This seasoning was tamulin sauce: lime juice, pepper and the green meat from the crab.
Carbohydrates were sweet and poison cassava - they are completely different the poison one contains prussic acid - corn, beans, peppers and sweet potatoes. Bean plants enriched the soil and ran up corn stalks and sweet potato and cassava needed little attention. Cassava and sweet potato syrup were fermented together to make ouicou, a beer. Cassava was also chewed in the mouth, spat out into a container and left to ferment to make beer.
For fruit berries: dunks – I love - and guava, our family does unseen things with guava and pineapple and medicinal plants.
Aborigines in Sumatra, the Minangkabau, who have the largest matrilineal society and the Iroquois Indians of the North Eastern United States until 19th century are long house Indians. This made travel easy. Canoes – a Carib word – with oars, were capable to carry twenty to forty people, up and down the islands and into rivers of Guyana (Kwayana)– a Carib word meaning many waters.
Natural abundance and life lived in harmony with it necessitated no real work and Caribs were what and when as they pleased. They neither needed nor wanted anything and as a result they did not trade. The islands provided all necessities for an idealistic life, from pure fresh air and water, good food and shelter; boat building and tools were made from and without harm to their environment. They saw that nature was good and they kept it sacrosanct.
Consumer goods necessitate toil but where the sun is warm and the atmosphere is lazy there is no need for heating and for BMWs. The present day people, who work the least amount of hours per week are Indians in Amazonia they plant and trade in a limited way for about three hours a week.
Weather and tides dictated travel. During hurricane season many descended on Ichirouganaim because hurricanes were less likely to occur here. Ichirouganaim is a Carib name, meaning red-skinned people better left alone, the red colour of the skin is caused by the seed of the roucou, botanical name - bixaoleranna, tree.
Roucou is good stuff: its pigment is red, and it was rubbed on the skin as an insect repellent and and sunscreen, taken for stomach ache, for snake bite and in the case of fresh injury, when there will be swelling a tea from the leave will stop inflammation - there are not many things that can do so. In modern times it has been tested against snakebite and it works; it also has brilliant and potent anti-oxidant properties.
Somewhere some branch of a Carib settlement at some hours ate meat but some cannibalistic Spaniards or Europeans were stranded or these European minds did it, put out a false claim that Caribs were dog eaters, as a university professor has written, this idea does not sit well with my first hand knowledge.
There is claim to dog bones in fires in Carib settlement. The only dog I know about were bark-less dogs we developed. There is also a bark-less dog somewhere in Africa. If my people ate dogs the stories would have been passed down through my family. My favourite dog is a whippet because it is silent.
Beef was introduced into the family from our European side and with a lunch of Irish stew in a private home in Ewhurst; Surrey came realization from where came our recipe for Irish soup.
We never consumed mutton. I grew to love mutton but only after I left my mother’s influence. Excluding jacks (a kind of sardine) and sprats and frays, net fish, we never ate small, bony, pot fish called “slave-food.”
Slaves were allowed to go to sea in a moses (small row boat) only, least they runaway to St. Vincent, and thus they fished with fish pots on the shore line from these small boats and caught these small fishes; free persons went out in big, deep-sea, fishing boats, had access to big fish, which they could also afford to purchase.
Today the circle is complete the order of the day is slave-food in an sumptuous package: a few grams of real food: nuts, soya, cereal, beans, and juices watered-down with cheap fillers of fats and grease, empty calories, sodium and chemicals (read the labels) and sold at exorbitant prices.
Our family did not eat yam (yam was an import from West Africa - a coarse tasteless root) and okra slush – boiled okras with lime. We ate cuckoo, the national dish, here the two cultures met and melded well: a blend of Indian corn, West African okra and African stirring method.
We ate a local dish, black-pudding processed from grated sweet potatoes - our food - without its pig belly casing, and not with the traditional slaves pigs’ intestine, we ate pickle pork: maugh and tongue but we did not eat pig feet, pig knuckles, pig snouts or pig tails. We ate salted beef but rarely salted pigtails. Up until my grandmother died she never ate frozen food except ice cream.
“The nation of the Caribs are looked upon as nobles among the Indians. It is a very good thing to have them as allies or friends, for they render excellent services, but they are formidable enemies, capable of more bravery and resistance than one would think.” … The Rise of British Guiana by Van Gravesande, Laurens Storm.
“Me neder Chrab [Carib], nor Creole massa – me troo Barbadian.” … Old Barbadian slave saying.
“Caribs were very outstanding people.” An all-powerful white Attorney General, who built a cassava flour factory, of the 30’s son, Rocky, an ex-accountant in England for the British Strategic /Special Services (SAS) and my good friend said.
“My father built the cassava factory so we would have flour. The struggle was to feed the people. The Cornwallis was a Canadian flour boat that came in here and a German submarine was on the surface operated by Hans Offerman, the net parted and he hit the ship and what was important was the Cornwallis had on it flour.”
There was and are SAS here.
“A Wing Commander, who can shoot you every single time from half a mile away, is fairly high. When you get to the man, who can raise funds you got to make him an Air Vice Marshall because, like my good friend Golda Meir, the old Russian Jew with a ski on the end of her name that was working for all those people that wanted guns, I knew how to get the money. They made her Prime Minister and she could not get the job done. They cannot get nowhere unless people collect money.
“The SAS acts when the state is in danger. It is about Nation, it is not to do with democracy. There is a threat to the Nation and they are a unit to do what is to be done. These men are very vicious killers. They are worst than the American Secret Service and worst than the French Dousien.
As individuals they are animals for protection purposes. People keep Rottwiellers dogs, do not think a Rottwielder or a grisly bear is stupid? They are like the Japanese Akitas, 1/2 wild dogs they are wild wolves. SAS men are the sting in the tail of the peace-loving scorpion. They might look like human beings but they are not human beings. They are throw-back criminals. It can be seen in their eyes. If they had not been in the SAS they would be in jail.
SAS operators are dangerous people, who have had something done to them. They have succeeded in indoctrinating them. They are nobody to go around or make friends with. Half of them are mad. Justice is not on the SAS agenda.”