A Sense of Revenge

Anthony “Nagga” Austin let loose his anger on Mrs. Griffith, a greedy, seventy-year old woman, and did nothing to his main exploiters: the lawyers, the magistrates, the politicians and the judges.

Nagga’s great grandfather James Hunt Farnum bought, in the mid 1800’s, ten acres of land. He left the land to be divided amongst his children. Farnum’s granddaughter Nagga’s mother inherited piece of that land and so did his aunts and uncles. Nagga’s mother married a man who owned a small plantation house with a few acres of land. The lands stood within the family until the elders were all women. Lawyers and freemasons, legislation and courts dispossessed the family of the lands. Mrs Griffith set out to steal another piece.

Nagga worked for a hotel when he was twenty-years of age. The hotel sent him to Trinidad on a course. There he saw the black power riots and was introduced to the black power movement. On his return home he met a black power activist; a lawyer who became his friend and mentor.

“Forget the land.” He said when Nagga had run from archives to land tax and took his papers to him but he, the lawyer, black-power activist and mentor bought himself three acres of land and built a five-bedroom house.

“I don’t do murder cases.” He said, when Nagga was put in prison on remand for the murder of the old woman.

The lawyer, and mentor and black power activist is Robert “Bobby” Luther Miller Clarke was born in Barbados. Clarke left school before he sat his GCE certificates in order to help support the family financially. He worked in Dominica and married a Dominican who bore him four children. At twenty-nine years of age he went to study at science in Sir George William University in Montreal but he could not follow the course. He transferred over to England, to the London School of Economics and studied law.

Maurice Bishop was born in Grenada; and at nineteen-year-old he studied law at Grays Inn in London. A relationship started between Clarke and Bishop in London. Clarke sired two children from a fellow student with whom he lived in London. He returned to Dominica to his wife and four children with a law degree and Marxism. He talked to the banana growers about their right to create a corporative to handle the industry. At that time Geest Co. made more money off bananas than the producers did. Geest bought the bananas shipped them on their boats and sold them to supermarkets in London. This was not the kind of talk the government wanted. The police demanded Clarke’s passport; said they needed it to check to see if he had a criminal record; kept it for three months and when enquiries were made after its whereabouts they said, “talk to government.” They gave him back his passport. And he continued to talk. The Attorney General declared that an end must be put to his talks. Clarke talked. They said that it was his talks that upset the apple cart and made the Labour Party win the election.

The press attacked him in editorial and wrote that he was a communist and that he threw out all of his Christian pictures and in the mornings made his children bend down and say Fidel Castro. At a rumshop where he played bridge, in a little village, the police arrived to look for guns. Bishop and Clarke attended a gathering in a tiny island. The delegates called themselves intellectuals and left wing. After that meeting a chain of short-lived political groups were founded and some people started a thing. Guns were to come in from Castro and a plane was there to take out the Prime Minister of a twin island.

“Let us march to town,” said the leader.

“Not to march, let us wait for our comrades to arrive and take us.” The second in command said.

A Coast Guard cutter with an English man in charge who was employed to hunt pirates in the Gulf of Paria opened fired and that was the end of the commotion.

“This could happen anywhere.” said the Prime Minister of another island and called in the British Special Air Services (SAS) who sent a one-eyed killer to train the defence force in the art of killing people.

Somewhere in that time rumours that two Cuban agents had disappeared on a beach of another island circulated. The story was that they came to kidnap the Prime Minister and to make him resign on radio. This would give the coup legitimacy but the SAS flushed them out and killed them.

Clarke laid low. He went to another nearby island on a schooner. Two days later the police came and escorted him to the police station. He was deported. The radio that morning told of his deportation.

“Why you want to bring Black Power?” Said the Chief of Security and extra-judicial executor. “You thought you had got away with that.”

Next year he tried a next island. All went well for two days when the next morning he went to visit a friend and six policemen arrived at the door.

“Government says you have to leave.” They said.

Bishop organised a secret conference in a French island of “progressive individuals and organisations.” The goals were written:

1. Peoples' ownership of all resources.

2. The destruction of the old class structure based on wealth, colour and family.

3. Equal distribution of all resources

4. Equal access to education, health care, housing etc.

A decision was taken to infiltrate progressive movements i.e. political parties, trade unions, guild of graduates etc. Clarke returned to Barbados with his family. He spoke at meetings and wrote to the press. The police followed and the Prime Minister, passed the Public Order Act to prevent his talk.

“Give them a job.” The Prime Minister said of Clarke and his two other leading comrades in Clarke’s black-power movement. He gave one a job as an ambassador then made him a Senator. One day he disagreed with him over an issue and he fired him in the parliament yard.

“He is a failure. He has failed at everything he did.” The Prime Minister did not think that it was necessary to give Clarke a job. The other one became silent but there was never any evidence of a job.

Bishop at his home did as he was told and infiltrated and took over organisations. He got a group into the streets for a few protest marches. In a coup, he took over the country and four years later he was massacred along with the Minister of Education who was pregnant with his child and other Ministers and members by a faction led by his friend and number two man.

“Why was there only youths around Bishop and why did he not correct their ideology?”

“Maurice would have said; ‘these are assholes in front of me. They will learn as they go along because they were all young let them talk bull shit.’ Maurice was a listener and tended to avoid confrontations.” Clarke said.

“Did you see any signs of the conspiracy against Bishop in the days before?”

“I arrived the week before and no one came to pick me up - no ministers. Maurice played cool. I left the next day.”

“What about before that?”

“All Bishop’s closest friends were removed because of a problem with one of the group.” During the days leading to, the massacre and after the local media – both television and radio brought Clarke to the forefront. “Bishop stood for love. He would go down in some village and the people would ask for a village centre. He supplied the materials and they supplied the labour and later they asked for more buildings and he did likewise again. he was a gentle brother.”

The entrance to the house on the project, on the cliffs, had a security bar and a guard. The long driveway passed through a firing range and the nearest house was two miles to the east or a quarter of a mile to the west. A private gasoline pump, a mechanic shop and a metal workshop meant that appliances and cars were fixed and fuelled at home. Friends were at the plantation next door through a back road. Vegetables and services were purchased in the nearby village where everyone at one time or his relative worked for the project, a fact of which they were proud.

“When Bull was killed reporters come down here to talk to us.” The old men in the nearby rumshop said. Bull was the owner of the project and the ballistician of the century. He was assassinated a few days before Iraq invaded Kuwait.

The security of that life meant that I was inadequately prepared for the onslaught of a male-state consisting of forty-five percent of children raised by females only. Most of these females depended upon the support of one or more men depending on her economic situation. Four months after the Bishop’s massacre and four months since my new lifestyle an unknown man drove past me; pulled across my jeep and sent me off the road into a car park. He jumped out of his car.

“I did want to meet you ever since.” He said.

Clarke’s interview came to my head and I telephoned his law office. The answer to the women’s problem lay in socialism, Clarke said, and to achieve this it was necessary to go house to house and talk to person to person. I had neither the energy nor the inclination for such, nevertheless he showed me around his big house.

“I am surprised.” I said. We met around the corner on the patio and out of the blue …

I called my best friend on Friday, four days later to explain my absence. “He is not even good looking.”

“Some people do not have to be good looking. I am glad you can still feel that way at your age.” Later she would ask. “And how is your little addiction today?”

“He is working for a foreign government.” My writer friend from up state New York visited and said.

“He has money. You are kind and he will take advantage of you. I used to be a card carrying member of the Communist Party in London.” My English horseriding trainer said.

“Nagga chopped Mrs Griffith up over the age old question of land.” Clarke said seven years later. “I am going to get him out of prison soon.”

“That was gruesome even for me a doctor.” Said the doctor who translaved the injuries into layman’s terms.

“Blood spattered the white refrigerator, the floor, and the killer. Miss Griffith did not fall to the floor, instead, with a determination that must have surprised and aggravated her killer, the tough old woman managed to struggle against him, to scream “murder! murder! murder!” and to push through the kitchen door to the top of her back steps. Her killer, shocked or maddened by the vehemence of his victim’s struggle and unable to let her flee, pitched her down the steps into the back yard. He caught up with her about thirteen feet from the steps, dragged her back about six feet towards a layer of bricks to the west side of the front yard; gagged her with a piece of cloth to stifle her screams and delivered a frenzy of exhausting blows to her head. The killer worked and strained to beat the essence of life and will from her body. She would not die. Her skull was unusually thick. He chopped her about the head, her hands, her stomach. He used both sides of the hatch. She continued to breathe. Exhausted, he left her breathing, unconscious, but not dead. – her heart still pumped blood through her vein.

... There were thirty-five lacerations on her body. Seven chops around her right eyebrow and forehead with the sharp side of the hatchet exposed the bone. Several more to the right side of her head with the blunt end crushed the right temple and side of her skull into little pieces. Her right ear was chopped twice, almost severed and dangled loosely by a small piece of flesh. Her nose was disgorged at the root. They were ten chops around the left eyebrow, which exposed most of the bone underneath. Her eyes turned black and the left one protruded. The skull vault was visible and the base of the skull was fissured and in two pieces. They were several deep punctures around the left ear, and lacerations around her collar exposed the bone.

They were bruises on her body from the fall she took when he flung her down the steps. Heavy bruises were on the front and middle of her thighs and on her chest, and protective bruises on her hands. Seven ribs were fractured, only the two first ribs on either side were unbroken, and most of her teeth were knocked out of the cavities. She was chopped deep though her pelvis into her vagina back to her anus and deep into her pelvic cavity. Both her large and small gut was severed and the intestines exposed. A piece of intestine landed six feet away. Three pieces of flesh lay in the yard. There were numerous internal injuries. She lay in her yard in a pool of blood.

Miss Griffith was found immediately after the attack, unconscious but still breathing. …

. FARNUM LAND by Tatanka Yotanka