“The lass days of KB and CowPastor Vandal”

[The following letter of protest from the late Kamau Brathwaite was circulating in 2005. It is at once a heartfelt plea for his own plot of land in Barbados and a tragically visionary comment on the future of the Caribbean’s ecology].

Pl circulate this ATTACH (ihope it will open!) as
widely as possible as a contribution to Caribbean
democracy, the freedom future of the artist, and a
statement about a dying Caribbean environment <Kamau>

Please circulate as wade as possible – let it wide in the water
Kamau Brathwaite [ mailto:kb5@—-.edu ]kb5@—-.edu + CowPastor, Wilcox
Lands, Christ Church, Barbados
see also Hambone 17 (2004), 126-173

15 Mar 05/(!!) The Ides of March (!!)/CP 2:43am

The lass days of KB and CowPastor Vandal: My Emmerton 2005

Dear AndreaNation and all Caribbean artists intellectuals cultural workers
& environmentalists w/in the sound of Marina

I sharing a letter i juss write to a wo at OUP <not inc in this new lett>
who deals w/permissions payments to authors who want to quote yr work etc.
This wo and me – we don’t kno each other – share a wonderful sense of
weather and the environment and at the end of my business w/her this
midnight, I describe and refer to (un)developments in my life i thot you
shd kno

w/the dust choking me from the destruction so that I can hardly eat – the
water that we drink returning to like its limestone white residual – and
have these DS(3s) and Beverley has already had to go the doc w/a dreadful
cough of corridor –

I’ve tried – in vain – to get an appointment w/the PS of the Housing &
Lands – a man i long respec & kno. . . and a letter of premonition &
desperation I senn in to yr NATION tho promise publication. . . has nvr in
fact appeared. . . I try contact Liz Thompson who when she was in NYC
sometime ago at an X/hibition of BaJam Wo artists, at which we share both
spoke, said yes i shd send her the details of my evident concern. Nuffen
of course followed from that. . . I tried lifelines to Dame Billie and Mia
– nuffen there neetha. And I note that whenever you respond to me on this,
you ask a whole series of Qs about ‘what am I doing’ – as if I doin

All I can in the end do – w/out community support – is set afire to
myself, as I’ve said before, on this very namsetoura pasture become the
criminal. and I don’t really want to do dat, because my spirit flies so
high – so many dreamstories and ideas seem to flow & flow – altho of
course who’s to kno if they gods not punishing mwe But I don’t think so,
or lets say I arrogant enuff to think that I don’t think so – which of
course is whe the danger lies. . .

I write to you now as I write earlier to that stranger. but w/the
difference that I have faith that as a wo of soul, there is something I
sure you can do,  if is nothing more than persuade one of yr colleagues
who’s still free and fearless – is there any such? – to come out to CP and
see whats happening. . . is there no voices in BaJam that can raise can
rise? It will be a shame if i hear people saying AFTER I GONE – that Kamau
use to talk about these things and no one lissen not a soul do a ting.
trapped – SURELY NOT FOR EVER – in our Mental Slavery

The plight of one person. the flight of one sparrow . is worth more than
all the kingdooms of this world. But very frew people can live this

What I saying is that my micro case here, is the macro case of us all. The
little done unto mwe, is the burden down upon us all upon us all

All night long, the trucks trundle & boom. Two mornings ago, to destroy
more duncks trees, so they cd swathe more space for the tractors, they set
fire to the slope under Thyme Bottom. if the Fire Beegrade didn’t come,
that fire might have swept down into our yard and run all the way down
west to Parish Lands. It was a clear day and a high wind

The destruction of CowPasture to put in an unnecessary and unethical road
– when there are two perfectly good xisting road in this quadrant – for
some new unxplained access to the airport, involves –

(1)   the death of the three dozen cows and flocks of blackbelly sheep
that use to ruminate CowPasture

(2)   the loss of rumination marks the end of peace & serengetti beauty
here and marks the arrival of vandalism. Abandoned houses further pillage,
and w/the blood up, even the duncks trees on the pasture under pressure –
their limbs & branches torn down this harmattan for their plunder, not
picked picked picked between the thorns, as happily traditional

(3)   the loss of pasture – here and all over Barbados and all over the
CARICOM Caribbean = also the closing down of the last sugar production in
St Kitts, and the verge of ditto in Barabados

(4)   the loss of pasture – here and all over the island and all over the
CARICOM Caribbean = the decline of cricket. Sir Viv and Gary S come from
BayLands not from roundabouts, hotels and clogged up death-mark highways

(5)   the road here is unethical because of this and because it is an
offence not only to the people who choose to live here, who are/were so
fortunate to live here to love here – and dispossessed of pristine coral;
thru no fault of their own, but via a willful remote control decision by
Authorities too arrogant & high & mighty to discuss plans that involve all
our futures fortunes w/us ‘out here’, who are still seen – MENTAL
PLANTATION MENTAL SLAVERY – as chattel anti-heroes have no voice – cannot
afford to be admitted to out voice

(6)   even as I write this, therefore, destruction going on – this old
plantation well, the little Lake (or Pond) of Thorns  – the natural water
catchment for this area – filled in and flattened – hence future floods.
And near the well, a fledgling BEARDED FIG-TREE (shrine of ancient African
& Amerindian spirits) its cinnamon beards just showing. a dear endangered
species. cruelly unethically soon to gone .  i cd go on an gone . like all
the people of Thyme Bottom already gone gone gone. . .

(7)   at 3 pm today, tractors break thru the last line of bush & duncks
between them and our house my yard. A noise as of bombing and a great
cloud of dust – FALOUJA – and now there’s nothing left between ourselves
and them – the slave well nxt, the bearded fig- tree nxt – today if not
tomorrow. My eyes are full of grit and helpless scars, as if I am the last
person in the world the lost poet, really, in the world. Rosina say this
morning I shd write it down. But write it down for who for what. . .

I walked out there towards the cloud of dust – the grit – my tears – and
my heart as if rebelled inside me, fit to burst w/grief & loss &
helplessness & pain

(8)   I had also hoped, when we found this place, to found my nation here
– my maroon town, resistance palenque. Bring in my archives from their
shattered world – shattered in Jamaica since the Gilbert Hurricane of 1988
– an archive stretching back now almost 100 years and covering from Bay
Street/Browns Beach/Harrson College days, thru Cambridge, Ghana, SL, 30
years at Mona, the Caribbean Artists Movement (London), Bim, BBC Caribbean
Voices, Savacou, Carifestas, paintings, sculpture (inc early postcolonial
W Af, early Rastafari), Colly, Timmy Callender, Broodhagen, jazz records,
tape recordings from almost ancient Ghana, from nearly every Caribbean
voice of say or song

      and all this a lament – the loss & dislocation of so much of this in
Gilbert (see SHAR.
      see Carolivia Herron’s ‘SAVING THE WORD’  hear ARK – these are our
      for our last our lost millennium – and still more loss from worm and
Ivan (2004) and a
      terrible break-in (5 March 05) – VANDALL INVASION of our hopes and

(9) The dream the vision was to in-gather the scatta archives (Ja & NYC)
here, try heal them and from this wound of miracle, set up a BUSSA CENTRE
for us all – enough peace & space & beauty surpassing any other in the
world – in a small sacred bless – to build a place to live to love, a
place for the LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA, a conference room, performance
outdoor places, chalets for writers, artists – that kind of possible dream
– because we had the dream we had the space we had the means – destroyed
by my own Govt – w/out DISCUSSION – and digging us down and STRANGLING the
holy past & constellation flute & future of this place – the egrets gone
because the cattle gone. the woo doves mourn. I itch from deconstruction
cement dust

I cannot even die here now. no strength to even burn myself upon this
pasture as I want to do. As I still may. Because my love, whe else is
there to go, to try to build again at 75? tho I not beggin for your
sympathy – tho that good too – I askin you to LISSEN . one mo Emmerton.
xcep unlike the Mighty Gabby song which sing & say far more than any prose
I prose can say, me na give up. me nvva will accept unrighteousness, If
this was SandlyLane wd we be treated so? again today the tractors wheel an
thump. I can’t accept to so unfairly go <Kb5>

p/s I’m being told that all this is too late – that time & the tide has
pass me by – not enuff effort too late! if that be so, let me then at
least hope that you will allow at least my faint words – faintly heard now
on the pasture – be at least a verbal memorial to mark the graveyard of
this place

Edward Kamau Brathwaite, May 11, 1930, Bridgetown, Barbados — February 4, 2020, Cow Pasture, Barbados.

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