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COLONIZATION IN REVERSE

 

By Louise Bennett

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008.

 

Wat a joyful news, Miss Mattie,

I feel like me heart gwine burs

Jamaica people colonizin

Englan in Reverse

 

Be the hundred, be de tousan

Fro country and from town,

By de ship-load, be the plane load

Jamaica is Englan boun.

 

Dem pour out a Jamaica,

Everybody future plan

Is fe get a big-time job

An settle in de mother lan.

 

What an islan! What a people!

Man an woman, old an young

Jus a pack dem bag an baggage

An turn history upside dung!

 

Some people doan like travel,

But fe show dem loyalty

Dem all a open up cheap-fare-

To-England agency.

 

An week by week dem shipping off

Dem countryman like fire,

Fe immigrate an populate

De seat a de Empire.

 

Oonoo see how life is funny,

Oonoo see da turnabout?

Jamaica live fe box bread

Out a English people mout’.

 

For wen dem ketch a Englan,

An start play dem different role,

Some will settle down to work

An some will settle fe de dole.

 

Jane says de dole is not too bad

Because dey paying she

Two pounds a week fe seek a job

dat suit her dignity

 

me say Jane will never fine work

At de rate how she dah look,

For all day she stay popn Aunt Fan couch

An read love-story book.

 

Wat a devilment a Englan!

Dem face war an brave de worse,

But me wondering how dem gwine stan

Colonizin in reverse.

 

Louise Bennett was a Jamaican poet and cultural icon. She was born on September 7, 1919, and has been  described by many as Jamaica's leading comedienne and the "only poet who has really hit the truth about her society through its own language". 

 

Through her poems in Jamaican patois, she not only raised the dialect of the Jamaican folk to an art level but also captured all the spontaneity of the expression of Jamaicans' joys and sorrows, their ready, poignant and even wicked wit, their religion and their philosophy of life.

 

Her first dialect poem was written when she was fourteen years old. A British Council Scholarship took her to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she studied in the late 1940s. After graduation, she worked with repertory companies in Coventry, Huddersfield and Amersham as well as in intimate revues all over England

 

In 1974, she was awarded the Order of Jamaica. She also received the  Norman Manley Award for Excellence in the arts and a honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of West Indies. In 2001, she was made a Member of the Order of Merit for her contribution to the development of Jamaican Arts and Culture. She died on July 26, 2006, in Toronto, Canada.

 

Please email comments to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

 


 


 

A Poem By Louise Bennett

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