OUR CARIBBEAN: Sovereignty and burden of women
IT IS to be expected that academics and students of the Cave Hill Campus would be involved in the programme of activities being finalised for Barbados’ celebration of its first half-century of political independence from British colonial rule. Also that pro vice chancellor and principal Professor Eudine Barriteau would be involved in a creative role given her authorship of “The Political Economy Of Gender In The 20th Century”.
I think that the iconic writer and social commentator George Lamming, who needs no formal introduction anywhere in the Caribbean region, would himself be pleased to learn that Professor Barriteau, author of The Political Economy Of Gender In The 20th Century Caribbean, would be appropriately involved in programmes yet to unfold.
Given, that is, the author’s own admirable concept and support for the “liberation of Caribbean women in the post-colonial reconstruction challenges. The planners and executers of the 50th anniversary celebratory, educational and related activities would in due course make public the relevant information details.
In his introduction to Coming Coming Home – Western Education And The Caribbean Intellectual [Conversations Two], dedicated to the late celebrated Gordon Lewis, Lamming noted the roles being often played by the elected (parliamentary) representatives and an ”elite corps” performing functions as “technocrats” and he contends that:
“This elite corps is a replay of one of the two great scourges which history inflicted on this region – class and race . . . Such a technocrat functions as the intellectual mercenary of a system whose institutions have a long and awesome history of male dominance . . . .”
Class, race and gender
Therefore, Lamming stressed that “the most effective vanguard for realising the true potential of regional integration will be the most wounded casualities of that dominance – women…”
He has further argued – controversially, some may claim – that historical and personal evidence is abundant that “all men , irrespective of their economic or racial status, hold a common belief about the subordinate role of women in their lives . . . The black male labourer and the white male executive director share a profound bond of allegiance and solidarity on that question of the relation of woman to man, whether the union is marital, extramarital or ultramarital.”
Hailed by the now late Rex Nettleford, while serving as pro vice chancellor of the UWI, as “’one of the Caribbean’s finest intellects and foremost literary artists”, Lamming also contends that the sovereignty of a literature “cannot be guaranteed by the excellence of individual works of the imagination or the ingenuity of discourse between writers and their crirtics . . .”
Rather, he argues, “the sovereignty of a literature depends on the possession of the text of the total society over the most varied terrain of mediation . . .”.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist. Email: email@example.com.