The Struggle for Freedom

CHAPTER 15
STARCH AND ANGLICANISM

The cultural face of both societies was shaped by the religious heritage of Anglo-American Puritanism so that, in both cases, although there are indigenous cultural resistance to the Puritan repressive psychology, there is little of the neo-pagan popular culture. This makes Trinidad Carnival, by contrast, so much a theatre of the streets, notwithstanding the massive ballyhoo propaganda that has paraded Hawaii as the fun-centre of the world. The Puritan heritage perhaps also explains the cultural backwardness of Barbadian life, for there is no adequate civic centre, no modern museum, no evening newspaper, no good theatre (for years the only theatre in Bridgetown was the Green Room theatre club, founded by and relying on “white” patronage). The literary culture has also been deficient, for Frank Collymore’s remarkable editorship of the pioneer journal Bim has been a personal odyssey rather than a national achievement. This can also be said of A. J. Seymour’s editorship of the journal Kyk-over-al in the Guianese case. It is suggestive, all in all, so pervasive is “Bajan” provincialism, that a novelist like John Hearne can “enlarge” his creativity in Jamaica, while George Lamming feels that his genius would be stifled in Barbados. In Barbados, finally, as in Hawaii, there is not so much a homogeneous world as a hierarchy of semi-segregated social worlds. The tight little group of “old families”, the newcomers who fail to get on to the “inside track” and whose resultant discontent takes on many forms. From the desire to see snow, to a yearning for a London show, these include the middle-class groupings with their militant philistinism and the Negro working class majority. These include also the women¬folk of this majority, in one observer’s phrase, “rigid with starch and Anglicanism”, but not so rigid that they do not possess a healthy resistance against the Judaeo-Christian fear of the sex life. It remain to be seen whether the recent advent of academic centres to both societies, the Liberal Arts College in Barbados, and the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii, will help in any way to break down those barriers.